Tag Archives: current-events

Jamila Bey? CPAC Atheist? Huh?

The American Conservative Union’s Annual CPAC conference was last week. The Conference plays host to the most conservative right-wing portion of the Republican party. Many identify as tea partiers and are pro-gun, anti-immigration, anti-union, anti-big government (and by extension many federal and public programs), and they are huge fans of free market capitalism. And given some of the extremely racist sexist, nativist, and homophobic things that have come out of this movement, it is a wonder that a so-called humanist organization would choose to be among them, to recruit, or to increase the visibility of atheist conservatives. What may have been more perplexing though was the appearance that was made by social and political commentator, columnist, and podcaster, Jamila Bey in conservative Stepford Wife drag complete with a wig.

It was baffling to many of us. Those of us who have often thought of Jamila as a liberal progressive given many of her prior stances on issues. Her program SPAR with Jamila certainly gave the impression of someone with a liberal progressive consciousness. We’ve heard her speak on everything from reproductive rights, gay rights, to other issues affecting the underprivileged and disenfranchised. So to see her rubbing elbows with the CPACkers, many of whom are undermining the the rights of women, those that identify as LGBT, and people of color is disheartening. Just as it is disheartening to see Dr. Ben Carson, who grew up poor and who should know how important the expansion of healthcare is, to condemn “Obamacare” as “the worst thing that has happened to our country since slavery.” SINCE SLAVERY! In another demonstration of mind-boggling ignorance Carson blamed feminism for single motherhood which he thinks led to the death of Michael Brown, despite the fact that both of his biological parents were involved in his life.  Equally infuriating is Congresswoman Mia Love, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, who favors policies that might have kept her own parents from staying in the US and who spoke of wanting to destroy to Congressional Black Caucus from the inside. Demonizing and pathologizing black people and other minorities has been a strategy of the Republican party for a long time, and having people of color willing to engage in this sort of behavior helps the party to justify their rhetoric as simply “tough” or “patriotic”. But no matter how they deflect, these types of statements are racist and bigoted and are designed to appeal to their largely white male base.

So, it sucks to see someone who you have admired use “we”, “our”, and “us to describe vague points of supposed agreement she shares with right-wing extremists, especially when she is known for challenging people and being outspoken on many progressive issues. For instance, I think many of us were proud of her when she openly challenged the representative for the Coalition of African American Pastors when they came out publicly against same sex marriage. But seeing her throw immigrants under the bus as she did came out of left field. She chose to say that children from outside the US had a better chances of getting into elite schools than American children, instead of challenging the conservative republican ideal of decreasing taxes and the size of government that has reduced state funding of institutions of higher learning. Reductions that in turn drive up the cost of tuition, reduces student financial aid, and reduces enrollment. And it is a little ironic and sad to see Jamila plea for acceptance and to be embraced by a group of mostly white male affluent bigots, whilst representing a self-professed “humanist” organization that appropriates civil and social justice language. A “humanist” organization that has expressed little to no commitment to causes that don’t concern privileged white males. A humanist organization whose president talks about equality and freedom but only for a narrow group of mostly white anti-theists and only when it puts him and the organization in a position to antagonize the religious.

In her brief speech she echoed the familiar revisionist history that so many Republicans use to try to appeal to the black community: that their party fought for abolition. As party they share a name with the Republicans of old who labored to help free the slaves but I doubt very seriously that the Republicans of the 1860’s would support the current incarnation of their party. I don’t think that Republicans like Frederick Douglass, who supported universal suffrage and spoke against abuses of the carceral system (which really amounted to re-enslavement), would have looked favorably upon the GOP’s support of voter suppression laws or an unregulated economy where rich corporate interests are free to run amuck.

Recently Jamila wrote a piece about her experience, and I’m not sure if she is being deliberately obtuse or what. But it is difficult to believe someone as polished and politically savvy as she seems to be would really think it odd that people are interested in knowing about her political views, after she decided to appear before CPAC and out herself as a Republican. Now all of a sudden she is “purplish”? I don’t get it. But I agree with James Croft, that coming out as a Republican (at CPAC of all places), whatever her views on social justice or civil liberties may be, tells you more than a little bit about her priorities-whether she cares to admit it or not.

Recommended Reading
CPAC: Hackneyed and Hollow

Yes, Atheists Can Be Conservatives. But Why Would We Want To?

American Atheists’ Outreach at CPAC: Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Conservatives? I Am.

The Lobbying Game

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Michael Baisden is Leaving the Airwaves… Yay!

And this skeptic thinks that is a good  GREAT thing. I have sort of a love hate relationship with Michael Baisden. Okay, to be honest its mostly hate. I think much of his show is just overhyped nonsense but I respect the fact that. he often highlights issues of social justice that are often missed by mainstream media. I also respect the fact that he uses his fame to promote charitable giving and activism. And he’s really one of few black celebrities who isn’t afraid to express his non-belief (though he is not an atheist per se). That said, I haven’t been able to stomach listening to a full program for a long time. And while there are many aspect of his program that I dislike, one of my biggest beefs is with the pseudoscience he promotes via his “expert guests”.

When I say that  I dislike his “expert” guests, this is not to suggest that all of his guests are not reputable experts  but a lot of the recurring ones  often have dubious credentials  to match their dubious claims.

“Dr”. Baruch , for example, one of Baisden’s frequent guests, claims that he earned his ND from the School of Prophets, Louisiana Baptist University. This university is unaccredited college and as far as I can tell doesn’t offer ND’s ( per http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louisiana_Baptist_University & http://www.lbu.edu/graduate.htm).

Here is an example of one of his lectures where he makes incorrect claims about vegetarian and omnivorous diets among other things. 

He also asserts that chickens urinate through their skin. which is what gives some chickens the yellowish color. This is absolutely untrue. One of the claims he makes in the video and I have heard him make on The Michael Baisden Show was that estrogen in chicken that we consume is making black males effeminate and  or gay. A causal relationship between impotence or sexuality and what one eats is not supported by scientific evidence. And it is clear that Baruch understand as much  about gender and sexuality as he does about a chicken’s ass. It is also clear that Baruch is a tofu-dashikiist and promotes various conspiracy theories. Note the part where he talks about “the enemy’s food’ and its supposed connection to impotence and homosexuality. This depopulation paranoia, mixed with misogynistic prioritization of procreation above all else, and obsession with hyper-sexual heterosexist masculinity is a hallmark of the tofu dashikiist.

Then there is “Dr.” Sunyatta Amen a.k.a. “The Belly Dancing Doctor”,  who claims to be a naturopathic physician but she never mentions where she attended school. And beyond her own claims there is nothing to verify that she has been trained  or licensed as a physician, naturopathic or otherwise. When George and Michael aren’t salivating over her, she promotes vegetarian or vegan diet as well as exercise in general but belly dance in particular for black women. I don’t see anything wrong with promoting healthier eating or even vegetarian or vegan diets or even exercise but where she goes beyond that is where the problems begin. She claims despite the lack of evidence to have healed black women from ovarian cysts, fibroids, etc. with naturopathic methods and belly dance. On one episode of the Michael Baisden show, she told listeners concerned about fibroids to cut dairy including eggs out of their diet even though scientific studies have shown that African American women who consumed dairy daily reduced their risk of fibroids. 

Other guests like Dr. Elaine George  have promoted  long discredited beliefs like the  supposed link between vaccines and autism along with a  host of other unsupported claims and misrepresentations concerning health.  He even had one guest. Dr. Julissa claiming that STDs and STIs can be cured “naturally”  with supplements like silver.  And whether or not Michael Baisden himself, believes in the things Baruch, Amen, and his other guests promote, their association with him legitimizes him in the minds of many of his listeners, who like Baisden tend to be less educated and vulnerable to misinformation. But considering his recent departure from the airwaves there is one guest appearance from earlier this year that I find particularly amusing: 

Strayhorn predicts using astrology and numerology (both of which are crap btw)  that this year will be a good year for ” people’s health, losing weight, going back to school, purchasing property, falling in love and out of love, as well as births, marriages and pregnancies…” or what I call life in general! But what kills me is with all those predictions he made he didn’t predict that Michael wouldn’t be able to come to an agreement with Cumulus Media. Unfortunately it looks like he is plotting a way to get back on the airwaves but at least he is gone for now.

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