January 25, 2007

Out of line

I'm not a celebrity or public figure, and so I don't pretend to know what it feels like to be one, but I do think that when a public figure, especially a powerful public figure in politics, tells us that a certain topic of conversation is off limits, he needs to tell us why. He can say, "I don't want to talk about it," or "I don't feel like answering that question," but if he says that the line of questioning is just "out of line," he should tell us why.

In an interview yesterday with Wolf Blitzer, Vice President Dick Cheney, after several minutes of telling Wolf how the war in Iraq is better than the media (and everyone else outside of the Bush Cabinet) thinks, was asked a question about his lesbian daughter Mary's recent pregnancy. Wolf prefaced his question with "a statement from someone representing Focus on the Family:

'Mary Cheney's pregnancy raises the question of what's best for children. Just because it's possible to conceive a child outside of the relationship of a married mother and father, doesn't mean it's best for the child.'"

Cheney responded that this question was "out of line."

I don't see how it is. This administration is a fundamentalist religious administration that openly opposes gay rights. Sure, Cheney may agree or disagree with his daughter's preference, but I think he owes people--especially gay people--an explanation as to how he reconciles his participation in a homophobic adminstration with his love for his daughters.

Certain things should be off limits. Questions such as Cheney's own marriage, or his relationship with his neighbors, etc. should be off limits because they have nothing to do with his policies. But Cheney himself brought attention to his gay daughter by running with a president who practices fundamentalist theology. He doesn't have to answer anybody's questions about anything going on in his life--he has a right to remain silent--but the question is not improper. For people who have to deal with the homophobic policies of the current administration in which he himself is the Vice President, Cheney should expect that people would ask such questions.

January 19, 2007

Chinese American Philanthropy

I just saw this today.

I somewhat agree with Jessica Chao, who says, "“The Chinese-American community really has an opportunity because there’s a critical mass that wasn’t there before,” said Jessica Chao, a vice president at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. “A critical mass of wealth and opportunity, and a critical mass of awareness of the social issues that impact poverty.”"

I agree with the "critical mass" part in terms of the numbers, but I don't think there has been enough investment in Chinese-American social and intellectual capital Without social and intellectual capital, it is hard to direct a community's energy in meaningful ways. The network and knowledge simply isn't there, and you get people doing stupid things like praising Maxine Hong Kingston and naming Asian American theaters after David Henry Hwang (I wish I were kidding about this, but I'm not).

January 3, 2007