Wednesday, July 11, 2018
I recently came across a new study by doctoral student Lindsey Disney exploring the question of whether a person's Christian affiliation was correlated with her othering and humanitarian attitude, including toward Muslims.
The findings are troubling and warrant further exploration. Disney found that "participants who reported that Muslims are incompatible with Western ways were nearly 1.4 times more likely to identify as Christian."
Below is the abstract to her paper, which you can find here.
Associations Between Humanitarianism, Othering, and Religious Affiliation
-- Lindsey Disney, Social Work & Christianity. Vol. 44 Issue 3, p 60-74 (Fall 2017)
"The Christian church in the U.S. has historically played the roles of both advocator and oppressor of the disenfranchised. Christian views on advocacy, justice, social welfare, and social services are often intertwined with the mainstream opinions of the time. Yet, some groups of Christians have also been at the forefront of human rights movements, convicted by their religious beliefs. Currently, in the wake of 9/11, mass migration, and the rise of populism in the U.S., there is a collective anxiety in the U.S. against immigrants, refugees, and Muslims.
Attitudes of othering--"us versus them"--have targeted these internationally vulnerable groups. This study examined whether othering attitudes and humanitarian attitudes could predict Christian religious affiliation, using the 2012 Chicago Council Survey on American Public Opinion and Foreign Policy, a representative national sample of adults (N = 1702). Logistic regression analysis examined the relationships between othering attitudes (belief that the U.S. is inherently greater than other nations and attitudes towards immigrants, refugees, and Muslims), humanitarian attitudes (importance of defending and promoting human rights and combatting world hunger), and religious affiliation (Christian or Non-Christian).
Results showed humanitarian variables were not significant predictors of religious affiliation. However, othering variables were significant predictors of religious affiliation. This study offers insight into the increased need to address the subtle discrimination that may be negatively affecting Christian community engagement with disenfranchised immigrant, refugee, and Muslim groups."
-- Read the full article here.
Sunday, July 8, 2018
Do We Still Need Constitutional “Equal Protection” in a Growing Multiracial World? Reflections on the the 150th Anniversary of the 14th Amendment -- Guest Post by Tanya Kateri Hernandez
July 9th, marks the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 14th Amendment’s equality principle of the U.S. Constitution. Does the pursuit of racial equality look different 150 years after the ratification of the 14th Amendment’s equality principle in today’s growing multiracial world? In 2010, 9 million people constituting 2.9 percent of the population selected two or more races on the census. The Census Bureau projects that the self-identified multiracial population will triple by 2060. Yet, in my own exhaustive review of discrimination cases in a variety of contexts like the workplace, educational settings, housing rentals, access to public accommodations, jury service, and the criminal justices system, the cases demonstrate that racially-mixed persons continue to experience discrimination today.While it is certainly true, that we have come a very long way from the 14th Amendment case of Plessy v. Ferguson, where in 1896 the Supreme Court decided that the constitutional equality principle was not violated by state mandated “whites only” railway cars, and that the racially mixed Louisiana resident Homer Plessy thus had no right to ride in the “whites only” car despite being “seven-eighths” white himself. Our nation has also failed to live up to the 14th Amendment promise of Brown v. Board of Education’s 1954 commitment to dismantle racially segregated public schools like those originally litigated in Kansas, and Loving v. Virginia’s 14th Amendment mandate against “measures designed to maintain White Supremacy,” such as Virginia’s then statutory prohibition against interracial marriage.
In gathering stories of how mixed-race people experience racial discrimination today, it was disheartening to find that not only is racial discrimination still rampant, but that it affects mixed-race people in a similar fashion to other non-whites. Even the criminal justice system, which has been notorious in its focus on the black body as inherently criminal, similarly targets mixed-race persons for heightened scrutiny in public spaces. Nor does the racial harassment stop when multiracial persons are incarcerated.
One recent 14th Amendment racial discrimination case is quite illustrative. When J.R., a multiracial inmate of African descent at the Five Points Correctional Facility in Romulus, New York applied for employment in a section of the prison outside of his cell block, he was denied without cause. No other inmate was restricted to employment in his cell block, and when J.R. contested the denial of employment a Correctional Officer stated “you’re not going anywhere unless I say so, and I say no . . .your black right . . . oh you’re a mixed race mutt black.” Thereafter, J.R. was assigned to a lawns and grounds position within his cell block area and denied the opportunity offered to others of being placed on a waiting list for employment outside of his cell block area. When J.R. filed an internal grievance, another Correctional Officer issued a disciplinary report and he was placed into 90 days of solitary confinement.
The 14th Amendment mandates the disestablishment of the ideology of racism by prohibiting the government from any act to “deny any person the equal protection of the laws.” J.R.’s experience strongly suggests that racial mixture does not shield one from racial discrimination, nor does it transform the manner in which the systemic exclusion occurs. Unfortunately, J.R.’s experience is not unique, and like the vast majority of multiracial stories of discrimination they involve a continued hostility towards non-whiteness in any form or mixture. 150 years after the 14th Amendment’s ratification, the multiracial discrimination cases highlight the continued need for attention to white supremacy and for fortifying the focus of civil rights law on racial privilege and the lingering legacy of bias against non-whites. Our current climate needs such clarity now more than ever.
Tanya Katerí Hernández is the Archibald R. Murray Professor of Law and an Associate Director of the Fordham University School of Law Center on Race, Law and Justice. She is the author of “Multiracials and Civil Rights: Mixed-Race Stories of Discrimination.” Contact her @ProfessorTKH.
Friday, July 6, 2018
The 5-4 decision sent a clear message to current and future presidents: So long as you use facially neutral language and invoke national security, we will not stop you from discriminating based on race, religion, or national origin in immigration enforcement.
This is music to the ears of a president who energizes his right-wing base through divisive anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant discourse.
Indeed, Justice Sotomayor's stinging dissent highlighted Trump's multiple anti-Muslim statements to show the executive order had little to do with national security.
On the contrary, Trump's travel ban on tens of millions of Muslims was precisely what he proclaimed when he issued it seven days after taking office, keeping a campaign promise to his right wing Islamophobic base. As early as December 2015, Trump reassured his supporters that if elected president he would support "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States," because "there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population." The statement remained on his campaign website until May 2017, four months after he issued the travel ban.
When pressed by a journalist in December 2015 on the legality of his proposal, Trump boldly pointed to President Roosevelt's internment of Japanese Americans during World War II as setting the precedent for his intended actions.
Throughout his campaign in 2016, Trump communicated his distrust of Muslims, association of Islam with terrorism, and intent on doing something about it should he be elected president. That his first executive order exempted Christian refugees further evinced he was targeting Muslims.
With such clear and convincing evidence of animus towards Islam, the Court could have easily applied the strict scrutiny test; thereby requiring the government to prove barring tens of millions of citizens from five Muslim majority countries (originally seven in the first version of the travel ban) was narrowly tailored to protect national security.
But instead, the Court upheld the ban because it "can be reasonably understood to result from a justification independent of unconstitutional ground". To put it simply, the Court was willfully blind to Trump's intent to unlawfully disfavour a religion.
This begs the question why America's highest court would approve such overt religious animus by a president who proudly wears it as a badge of patriotism. The answer lies in either cowardice or bias, neither of which bodes well for the Court's standing, while over half the public disapprove of a Muslim ban.
Afraid to take a stand in defense of the constitution at a time when the country is highly polarised, the Court hid behind the doctrine of plenary power - as it did in Korematsu, leading to the internment of hundreds of thousands of Japanese nationals and Japanese Americans.
It took decades for Americans to discover the purported national security justifications were a farce because the presiding Court declined to examine the facts.
Travel ban 3.0 still doesn't conceal Trump's anti-Muslim bias
In the case of the travel ban, the Court may have eschewed the facts due to some Justices' internalisation of pervasive stereotypes, namely that Islam is a violent ideology and that Muslims pose a threat to national security.