New Essay at The University Bookman

Posted: July 10th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Outside Essays | No Comments »

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A Partial Introduction to Black Conservatism

By Chidike Okeem

Book Review

Black Conservatism, a collection edited by Peter Eisenstadt, is an introduction to the lives of lesser-known figures who can be categorized as some strain of black conservative. When assessed as singular pieces, the essays are elegant and informative, which is unsurprising given that they are written by experts in their fields; however, the collection is hampered by its grievous inattention to some of the most important figures in the history of black conservatism.

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The Errant and Hubristic Theology of Anti-Lottery Zealots

Posted: January 12th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: VOC Essays | 16 Comments »

On Wednesday, January 13th, 2016, the largest lottery in world history will take place. As it currently stands, people will be vying for a chance to win $1.5 billion. This has led to some, allegedly speaking for God, attacking the idea of Christians playing the lottery. The notion that playing the lottery is a sin is the epitome of false theology and pseudo-spirituality. There is nothing in the Bible that demonstrates that playing the lottery in a responsible fashion is a sin against God. It is perfectly acceptable for a Christian to decide not to play the lottery, but the idea that Christians who do play the lottery are somehow in contravention of God’s will and are living in sin is Biblically unsupportable bunkum.

Curiously, last week, as the current jackpot began climbing to its current billion-dollar range, Calvinist preacher John Piper wrote a piece titled Seven Reasons Not to Play the Lottery. When the article was posted on Twitter, it arrived with a message that said “every penny [of the lottery] offends God.” When one sits and reads the article, it becomes clear that Piper, like most from this school of thought, has no sound theological arguments to defend his point. The rest of this article will expose the weaknesses of his arguments.

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The Odious Xenophobia of Donald Trump

Posted: June 29th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: VOC Essays | 6 Comments »

Earlier this year, when activist Pamela Geller engaged in her pointless trolling of Islamic terrorists by holding a ‘Draw Mohammad’ competition, Donald Trump correctly responded by saying her actions were unnecessarily provocative and put the lives of innocent Americans in danger. In deliberately provocative comments of his own, Donald Trump decided to use his platform announcing his run for the presidency of the United States to trash Mexican immigrants by suggesting they are rapists and criminals. This commentary from Trump is an ancient bigoted talking point advanced by many white supremacist writers. However, as a presidential candidate, Trump’s rhetoric deserves special scrutiny and condemnation, inasmuch as he is privileged to have a megaphone that the aforementioned writers do not have. It is especially contemptible that Trump is using his platform to engage in this kind of hate speech. His comments were specifically designed to make life difficult for Mexican immigrants who come to America to make life better for themselves—and contribute to America in meaningful ways. This irresponsible speech from Trump labeling Mexican immigrants as criminals will likely lead to actual crimes against them.

In response to Trump’s illiterate and bigoted comments, Univision executives announced that they will no longer carry the Miss USA contest on the station—a contest that Donald Trump owns. Following suit, NBC released a statement severing its professional relationship with Donald Trump. Donald Trump is the kind of narcissist who would gladly blow up the GOP for the attention that it will bring him, knowing that the Republican National Committee is run by Reince Priebus—a man who only offered a tepid, timid disagreement by saying Trump’s immigration comments are “not helpful” to the Republican cause. Without the courage to call out people like Trump with verve, the GOP will always struggle to win minority votes—particularly given they are contending with a Democratic Party that does not presently traffic in, or have politicians who are rewarded for engaging in, such plainly bigoted rhetoric. Evidently, the votes of xenophobes are of deep importance to the modern Republican Party. What Trump does not seem to have calculated, however, is that unlike the white supremacists who can simply engage in vile, bigoted rhetoric because they have built careers on selling books, radio shows, and television shows to racist rubes, Donald Trump actually has things to lose.

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Anti-Black Terrorism in Charleston, South Carolina

Posted: June 19th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: VOC Essays | 14 Comments »

In Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17, 2015, a 21-year-old named Dylann Storm Roof opened fire at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church killing nine people who were engaged in Bible study. This was done after an hour of Roof sitting in the study and listening to the preacher, Clementa C. Pickney, who was one of the nine people killed. The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is of particular historical significance inasmuch as Denmark Vesey, a noted abolitionist, was one of the people who helped to found the church, and it has been a refuge for African Americans for centuries. This is not just a race-motivated hate crime, but it is an act of domestic terrorism perpetrated against black churchgoers—a norm in American history.

The killer’s age, 21, is highly noteworthy. His age should completely end the outlandish fiction that white supremacists are all old and dying off. The fact of the matter is that white supremacy is an ideology that is easily passed down; Dylann Roof is indisputable evidence of its ease of generational permeability. White supremacists continue to espouse their ideas and cultural norms—and those ideas continue to be transmitted to future generations. The suggestion that white supremacy can be ended by old people dying out is a recipe for its continued existence.

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The ‘Freedom of Speech’ Farce

Posted: June 11th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: VOC Essays | 1 Comment »

The idea of freedom of speech is perhaps one of the most overused—and abused—constitutional concepts in American society today. Whenever someone is justifiably criticized for using offensive speech, the First Amendment right to free speech is almost invariably cited. The first point that many seem to show immense difficulty understanding is that the Constitution restricts the actions of the government when dealing with citizens. Breathlessly citing the constitutional right to free speech outside of the correct context of addressing the government’s desire to quash the speech of citizens is nonsensical. Moreover, it is generally those who cite “freedom of speech” whenever people disagree with their offensive speech who are trying to shut down debate. People have the right to make offensive remarks, just as others have the right to say that those remarks are abhorrent. Dissenting speech is also a part of free speech. Many think that free speech entitles them to say offensive things without having to deal with the consequences of anyone being offended. While the Constitution protects the right to offend, the Constitution does not protect people from censure and other social consequences of being deliberately offensive.

Recently, in McKinney, Texas—a part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex—a bikini-clad teenage girl, Dajerria Becton, who was attending a pool party with her friends, was manhandled by an overly aggressive police officer, David Eric Casebolt. Casebolt wrestled her to the floor, handcuffed her, and placed his knee on her back. The incident was filmed by an intrepid white teenager, Brandon Moore. From the footage, it is clear that there is no conceivable way that it can be argued that she posed a threat to the officer. It is also clear that his use of force was utterly unnecessary and barbarically excessive. The video evidence was so damning that Casebolt resigned from his job as an officer. In the wake of this incident of police brutality, there have been many reactions. Despicably, Alberto Iber, then a principal of a school in North Miami, left a Facebook comment in support of the demonstrably abusive officer. He wrote: “He did nothing wrong. He was afraid for his life. I commend him for his actions.” Iber was later fired from his job. While this principal is entitled to his opinion, the clearly visible video evidence shows that the officer was hyper-aggressive and none of his actions, or the actions of the teenage Becton, would lead a reasonable person to believe that he was, or should have been, in fear for his life. This is an open-and-shut case of police brutality. Those defending the officer are willfully defending the abuse of citizens.

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