An effort to show racial solidarity in Montgomery, Ala. is under fire because the symbol being displayed as a sign of that solidarity is a cross and and that might offend non-Christians, according to WSFA-TV.
Local religious leaders started the One Movement effort to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the bus boycott that kicked off the civil rights movement. They wanted 10,000 black-and-white crosses displayed all over town.
Some in town aren't buying into the program, however.
Rev. Elizabeth O'Neill of Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Montgomery says the cross is the wrong symbol and worries that people of other faiths are being excluded.
"It feels much more to me like an evangelistic crusade than a community celebration," she said.
Danish Muslims are demanding a retraction and an apology from a Copenhagen newspaper that printed 12 drawings of the prophet Mohammed, reports DR News, a practice that is forbidden under Islamic law.
Members of the Islamic community say the newspaper, Jyllands Posten, is abusing freedom of speech "to enable a democratic oppression of all Muslims in Denmark."
The editor of the paper says he printed the pictures because the western world has become too scared to discuss Islam openly. He says he has no intention of apologizing.
The Copenhagen Post says that since the drawings were published, the staff at the paper have been receiving death threats and been forced to add additional security at its offices.
Another Seal Debate
The 100-year-old state seal of Massachusetts is under fire from a group of activists who believe the image of an arm wielding a sword over an American Indian is demeaning and insensitive for the Indian, according to the Berkshire Eagle.
The state legislators who want to change the seal also complain that it erroneously portrays Native Americans as the aggressor against English settlers and features inaccurate clothing for Indians of that era.
California's Marin Independent Journal says a local U-Haul dealership is catching hell from immigrants' rights activists who say a sign at the business beseeching customers not to hire illegal day laborers from the corners nearby is racist.
Employees at the dealer in San Rafael, Calif. say the sign is there to protect customers. The sign reads "Please do not hire illegal laborers. We have had numerous reports of injuries, thefts and damages to personal belongings. It is a federal crime to employ or pick up illegal day laborers, punishable by a $5,000 fine."
Tom Wilson, co-executive director of the Canal Alliance, an agency that provides assistance to local laborers, says he has received about a dozen complaints about the U-Haul company's sign.
"The tack they're taking is a particularly troubling one," Wilson said. "They're painting illegal day workers as criminals, making generalizations about a group of people."
Public school officials in Tampa are poised to remove religious holidays from the official school calendar altogether rather than honor a request from local Muslims to add an Eid-themed holiday, reports the St. Pete Times.
In the interest of church-state separation, school board members want to eliminate vacation days coinciding with Yom Kippur, Good Friday and Easter Monday and replace them with time off on Presidents Day and later in the spring.
But board member Jennifer Faliero, who believes the secular calendar "waters down our values" by suppressing religious expression, has offered up an alternative. Hers would give students a day off for the Eid al-Fitr instead of the Monday after Easter. Faliero also wants the holidays called what they are instead of the current term "nonstudent days."
Debate over the holidays started when local Muslims asked for a holiday like everyone else. They said removal of all religious holidays was the last thing they wanted.
"This is not what we asked for," said Ahmed Bedier, Florida director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "We were simply asking for equal representation."
VP for 'Inclusion'
An AP report out of Austin, Texas says the University of Texas, as part of a wide-ranging effort to make students of color feel more comfortable, has added a new position to the ranks of its leadership: Vice Provost for Inclusion and Cross-Cultural Understanding.
Ben M. in California writes:
About the article on the Irish bookmaker who spoofed Da Vinci's painting of the Last Supper—I think that's hilarious! And I'm a pastor, myself! Some religious people need to re-think what they decide to get up in arms about. I actually think that the humanizing effect that this parody has on Jesus and the Apostles is a very good thing.
So many people today can't relate to Christianity because it's supposedly about "super holy people a long time ago." I don't have any trouble imagining Jesus playing a little poker with some friends if he were on earth today. And today, just as in His day, there would be certain people up in arms saying things like, "this man is a friend of gamblers!"
Cullen K. writes:
I want to respond to the "Nuttiness" of Catholics in Ireland being offended by a billboard of the Last Supper picturing Jesus and the [Apostles] gambling. I can only note that the Last Supper is one of the most important points in all of Christianity. And Leonardo da Vinci’s painting has come to be the enduring image of that moment.
Last, but not least, most Christians, including myself, find gambling to be a sinful activity. So you have the Son of God, at one of the most important settings in history, gambling. How could a Christian not be offended by this?
Keith S. writes:
I laughed aloud when I read the response of the offended mayor of Topeka, Kans., Bill Bunten. He is offended by Hallmark's humorous mention of his city. So what does the good mayor do in return? He retaliates by making a slur against the people of West Virginia! Surely I'm not the only one who sees the irony here! Yes, I am from West Virginia; however, I'm not so much offended as I am humored by his hypocrisy.
Terry S. in Kansas writes:
I just had to respond to your item on the Hallmark card making fun of Topeka. As a resident of Kansas and having been to Topeka on numerous occassions myself, I can certify that the card is 100 percent accurate. Not to mention funny. Also, Mayor Bunten's assertion that the card was "probably drawn up by someone in West Virginia who hasn't been here" ignores one very important fact: Hallmark is based in Kansas City, Missouri.
Tim M. in Arizona writes:
I read your column every week, just to raise my blood pressure a bit and have a good laugh. One thing struck me though. I don't recall rednecks ever complaining about being insulted. And yet they are, everywhere. Maybe the rest of the world can learn a thing or two from rednecks — except for fashion tips and proper grammar.
Ross W. writes:
I've got an incredibly simple solution for the French symapthizers irate at subway for dressing a chicken as Napoleon, for the Arabs outraged at Boeing for ... whatever... for the Mayor of Topeka hurt by Hallmark, and the Irish Catholics righteously indignant at some Dublin gambler: Don't patronize those establishments. Francophiles: eat at Quiznos. Arabs: buy Lockheed. Mr Mayor: send American Greetings cards from now on. Catholics: stick with bingo. Now, you're all happy and we don't have to hear you complaining.
Adam B. writes:
It is quite amusing to read responses from your readers to the "Tongue Tied" column. Recently there has been a lot of feedback about how white people are "discriminated against" and "belittled" because they can't gain access to all minority groups. The ignorance of these people is overwhelming.
Minorities are faced day in and day out with racism or discrimination of some kind. No longer is it as outright as it may have once been, but it exists and minorities of all kinds still feel the effects.
We live in a culture that is aimed at the straight white majority. So minorities create groups where they can be the majority for a few hours of the day, vent about their frustrations and support each other (It is the same reason that there are women professional societies and such). Then the white majority becomes upset because they are turned away and wonder why this happens?
The bottom line is that minority-only meetings and groups arise because they are one of the few opportunities these people have to feel entirely at ease, without fear of being prejudged. If that ticks off some people... so be it. When we create a truly inclusive environment for all people then maybe white people can have something to complain about.