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Richard Sheffield: Racial Preferences and productive debate

Take a look at this smart piece by Richard Sheffield in the Deseret News on how the Supreme Court can become a role model for the kind of discussions we ought to be having about our disagreements. Here’s a snip:

While anticipating the court’s decision, I wonder how we can better handle disagreement and tension between the two sides of tough issues. Also, the recent racial tumult at the University of Missouri has spread to the Ivy League and beyond, increasing the focus on competing racial issues and the related on-campus arguments.

What amount of ugly rhetoric should be allowed as free speech, even though offensive? Should race still be considered in admissions to increase diversity in campus debates? When do volleys shot between two sides become counterproductive?

Ironically, I think the Supreme Court justices themselves can serve as a model for fruitful interaction on highly charged issues — whether on campuses, in Congress or City Hall, or even at Christmas dinner.

Read the entire piece by Mr. Sheffield online at the Deseret News.



Tallahassee Democrat: Food, Conversation a Plenty at the Longest Table

longest-table-oct-4Under the sweeping canopy of live oaks, the 350-feet long table, bridging two downtown blocks, was filled with trays of brownies, berries piled atop cheesecake squares and powdered snow-white desserts. Sweet tea, Southern barbecue and conversation were plentiful.

The Longest Table, Tallahassee’s first community-wide dinner party of sorts, asked nearly 500 local politicians, faith leaders, educators, agency representatives and residents from all neighborhoods and backgrounds to go beyond small talk and discuss what was most at stake in their city.

A reel of paper rolled the entire length of the table, filled with tough conversation-starters, questions like, “What’s the biggest challenge facing our community?” and the fill-in-the blank, “Race relations in our community are ___.” to spark honest dialogue.

For many attendees, the event offered an opportunity to examine how Tallahassee has evolved in the last decade.

Read the entire article at Tallahassee.com.



Ibn Morgan: A Tribute to Martin Luther King



William Bratton: “If we can learn to see each other…”

“The police, the people who are angry at the police, the people who support us but want us to be better, even a madman who assassinated two men because all he could see was two uniforms, even though they were so much more. We don’t see each other. If we can learn to see each other, to see that our cops are people like Officer Ramos and Officer Liu, to see that our communities are filled with people just like them, too. If we can learn to see each other, then when we see each other, we’ll heal. We’ll heal as a department. We’ll heal as a city. We’ll heal as a country.”

–NYPD Commissioner William Bratton



Half right isn’t good enough

As part of a story on Nevada politics (and not the central point of the story), last night Rachel Maddow commented on Republican Sharon Angle’s advertising campaign against Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid. “His opponent had a ton of money. She used that money to blanket the state with brutal over-the-top ads accusing Harry Reid of everything short of murder, and she only just stopped short of that.”

This is absolutely and completely true.

Uh, half true.

Here is an Angle accusing Reid of paying for Viagra for sex offenders:

But what Rachel failed to mention was that Reid was responsible for an ad accusing Angle of siding with domestic abusers over the women they abuse:

If we’re going to call people out for bad behavior, we need to call them out consistently rather than only when they’re on the opposite site of the aisle. If we don’t, we continue to misinform the half of the American population on our side of the aisle and fuel the fury making it awfully hard to have a real conversation.



That’s only because he hasn’t funded a Village Square in every city (yet)

“On the heels of our victory over a year ago, there were some who suggested that somehow we had entered into a post-racial America. All those problems would be solved. There were those who argued that because I had spoke of a need for unity in this country that our nation was somehow entering into a period of post-partisanship. That didn’t work out… so well… “-President Barack Obama



“…a president matters. And so do we.”

This week brought us a typical brain-dead political discussion about who did what in the civil rights movement. King! Johnson! King! Johnson!

Politics played to our lizard brains, replayed endlessly in incomplete soundbites on the 24-hour cable news do-loop station of your choice, repeatedly asks us to pick “either/or”.

But reality is nearly always about “and.”

As a tribute to the Reverend Martin Luther King today, I want to share Bill Moyers nailing that concept.

As this day ends, the day we set aside to honor Dr. King, if I don’t miss my bet, he would have been all about sharing credit with President Johnson… possibly with one or two others…

Here’s to what real leadership is all about.

Moyers on the signing of the 1965 Civil Right Act:

Martin Luther King had marched and preached and witnessed for this day. Countless ordinary people had put their bodies on the line for it; been berated, bullied and beaten, only to rise and organize and struggle on against the dogs, the guns, the bias and burning crosses. Take nothing from them. Their courage is their legacy.

But take nothing from the President who once had seen the light, but dimly, as through a dark glass and now did the right thing. Lyndon Johnson threw the full weight of his office on the side of justice.

Of course the movement had come first, watered by the blood of so many championed bravely now by the preacher-turned-prophet who would himself soon be martyred. But there is no inevitability to history. Someone has to seize and turn it. With these words, at the right moment – “We shall overcome” – Lyndon Johnson transcended race and color – and history too – reminding us that a president matters.

And so do we.