December 23, 2006

Bible Thumpin' in Congress

The latest bit of news on the religious front is here. Representative-elect Keith Ellison of Minnesota, whose ancestors first immigrated to America in 1742, converted to Islam in college and wants to be sworn in over the Koran rather than the Bible. Republican Congressman Virgil Goode from Virginia has opposed Ellison's swearing in on the Koran, and he wrote a letter in response to Ellison's request that allegedly warns people of increased immigration by Muslims and people not of European descent. See here:

Goode, who represents Virginia's 5th Congressional District, said he is receiving more positive comments from constituents than negative.

"One lady told me she thinks I'm doing the right thing on this," he told Fox News. "I wish more people would take a stand and stand up for the principles on which this country was founded."

Goode also told Fox News he wants to limit legal immigration and do away with "diversity visas," which he said let in people "not from European countries" and "some terrorist states."

In his letter, Goode wrote that strict immigration polices are necessary "to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America."

"The Muslim representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don't wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran," he wrote.

I'm not exactly sure how Goode is correlating Ellison's religious beliefs with immigration. After all, Ellison can trace his ancestry in this country far back before this country even existed. And why does he draw a distinction between those who are "not from European countries" and those who are? If he follows the news, he knows that there is far more religious strife in European countries than there is in the U.S., so one would expect that he would want to include European countries in his blacklist.

Oh yeah, I forgot, "European" is polite-speak for "white."

Now don't get me wrong--I'm not a supporter of Islam. I think fundamentalist Islam is just as bad as fundamentalist Christianity--though with the Christian fundie attacks on stem cell research, a women's right to choose, gay rights, and the teaching of evolution, I still have to admit that the evils of fundamentalist Christianity are much more harmful to progress in the United States. I don't think Islam is a good religion; I have yet to see any fundamentalist religion that I would characterize as being good. At the same time, I strongly believe that Ellison has a right to his own beliefs. Keith Ellison is an elected official who was chosen by his constituents, and for that reason, he should be allowed to use whatever religious text he wants. Even if he wanted to swear on the Satanic Bibile, if people elected him, he should have that right. It's part of a living in a democracy that values religious freedom.

There is a good Op-Ed piece from the New York Times here. The last sentence says it all. While all these Bible Thumping Fundies and conservative talk show hosts keep saying that the U.S. is a Christian nation and that we're opposing the Founding Framers of the Constitution by allowing the other religions, these fundies and conservatives can't provide an answer to the the most important question--if the United States is supposed to be a Christian country, why didn't the Founding Framers institutionalize it? They came from Britain, a country in which religion was institutionalized, so if they wanted so badly to create a new Christian nation, why didn't they just make it a part of their law? In fact, not only did they not make it part of their law, but the very first amendment in the Constitution that they created prevents the governmental institutionalization of religion.

The hypocrisy by the far right and the Christian fundamentalists is appalling. I'm not a supporter of Islam, but in this case, I'm very happy that Keith Ellison is standing up for his right to publicly proclaim his religion.

December 20, 2006

Survivor update

Hey, it looks like the picture for my previous entry below changed.

So the final votes have been revealed. I was pretty wrong. Nate and Rebecca voted for Ozzy, while Candice and Sundra voted for Yul. All my other guesses were correct.

Incidentally, I'm surprised that so many people believe Ozzy should have won. I saw a lot of comments on the CBS messageboard saying that Ozzy deserved to win because no one ever dominated the physical challenges like he did. While I agree with this, I just don't see how the physical aspect is nearly as cool or exciting as the organizational aspect. I guess this is an example of "to each his own."

Yul has a good interview on the final (12/19) Survivor: Live. You can find it here. (I wanted to post the link directly but can't seem to do it, so you may have to look around.) What I found interesting is that he mentions specifically that he is now close with Candice and Jonathan. It's funny because Candice and Jonathan are two of the smartest people who were in the game, and if you watch their "final vote" interviews (also on Innertube on the link above), they voted for Yul mostly based on their respect for his strategy. Yul actually mentions Candice and Jonathan over Ozzy. It looks like this is a case of people being attracted to those of similar values. It's good to hear that these Survivor contestants have made what could be lifelong friendships.

December 17, 2006

Yul Wins Survivor!!!

Tonight was hands down the BEST day in history for Asian Americans in television. Hands down, no exceptions, nothing even came close. Management consultant Yul Kwon managed to get all four members of his Aitu tribe into the final Survivor four, and by a one vote margin, he managed a win over his tribemate Ozzy Lusth.

There really is no point in me telling what happened--since you can learn everything by going to the Survivor website--but here is a brief synopsis. First, as planned, they voted off Adam to bring the Aitu members into the Final Four. Ozzy and Yul decided to force a tie break between Sundra and Becky, but Yul was still willing to give Becky his immunity idol. Becky, showing her competitive spirit, declined. In declining, she was forced to go head to head with Sundra in a fire-building contest. They were both very bad at making fire, but when Sundra ran out of matches, Becky took her time and eventually won. This left Becky, Yul, and Ozzy as the final three who had to compete for votes from the jury.

I still don't know who voted for who. They revealed that Jonathan voted for Yul and Parvati voted for Ozzy. During the finale show, Adam said that he voted for Yul as part of a deal. Cool. So who did everyone else vote for? Maybe they'll reveal tomorrow on the Early Show? Personally, after the tribal council, I thought Yul made such a great case for himself that I didn't think there was any way he could lose. But then the votes were so close! He won by ONE VOTE. That, to me, is insane, given the fact that he played the game more openly, more honestly, and more strategically than anyone in the history of the game. But he won! I'd be curious to find out who voted for him. My guess is this:

Voted for Yul: Jonathan (admires strategy), Adam (made a deal), Nate (hates Ozzy), Brad (part of original tribe), Rebecca (admires leadership and brains)

Voted for Ozzy: Parvati (likes Ozzy, doesn't like Yul), Sundra (likes Ozzy a little bit better), Candice (doesn't like Yul), Jenny (prefers people with whiter complexions and Caucasian features)

I hope we find out the final vote results.

Other than the actual win, the best part of the show for me was when Yul told the jury (to Rebecca, I think) that he wanted to win because he wanted to represent Asian American men. He said that watching TV, people like him were always represented as stereotypes, and that he wanted to change this.

Go brother. Congrats on your million dollars. You deserve it.

December 12, 2006

Rosie O'Donnell

David sent these links this morning:

Asian Leaders Angered by Rosie O'Donnell's 'Ching Chong' Comments,2933,235842,00.html

Forget the Ni Hao Ma's, It's John Liu Vs. Rosie O'Donnell

Pol's 'View' of Rosie: She offends


You can see the clip here.

I'm not sure why anyone would think that it isn't offensive. I don't get usually don't get bent out of shape with incidents like this--mostly because I've heard it all before--but it really is pretty amazing that this is still happening is this day and age. It's especially shocking that it comes for Rosie O'Donnell, who is supposedly liberal and open-minded. Props to Councilman Liu again for protesting. Even if you don't change someone's views, it's good to make those views heard.

Rosie has responded with a typical dismissive you-yellow-people-have-to-just-get-over-it response, but you can write to Barbara Walters over here: The homepage for "the View" also lets you contact the other hosts.

December 2, 2006

The Godfather

It looks like Yul is now the number one target in the game for the old Raro tribe. Using his original strategy with the immunity idol, he swayed Jonathan to his side with the threat of his immunity idol. In this past week's episode, he allowed the anger between Jonathan and the rest of the Raro tribe to continue to fester. The Aitu tribe was so tight that it really didn't matter who won the immunity challenge. In the end, the Aitu tribe decided who would go home, and they decided on Candice.

Adam has called Yul the "ringleader." Parvati has called him the "puppetmaster." Next week's episode looks pretty funny too--in the preview of next week's episode, Yul says something funny like, "I feel like the Godfather, like I'm trying to arrange a hit on someone."

Incidentally, Adam, Parvati, and Candice have all vowed not to vote for Yul if he makes it to the final two. Personally, I don't think it matters--people tend to have a short memory when it comes to grudges in this game. I think they'd respect him for the game he plays.