Century Marks

Century Marks

No respect

In an article lambasting Cornel West’s animosity toward President Obama, Michael Eric Dyson recounts a private conversation he had with West at a black newspaper conference. West asked Dyson how he escaped being labeled an “Obama hater.” Dyson said that whenever he speaks to a black audience he expresses appreciation for Obama, lauds his epic achievement in becoming the first black president, and focuses on the acrimony Obama faces as a black president. Only then does Dyson criticize Obama’s mistakes and failures. West responded: “Well, I guess that’s the difference between me and you. I don’t respect the brother at all.” West was Dyson’s mentor at Princeton (New Republic, April 19).

Minimum wage

Dan Price, owner and chief executive officer of Gravity Payments, has cut his salary and given each of his employees a $70,000 wage. This move raises the salaries for more than half of the 120-person staff at his credit card processing company in Seattle. Many business leaders have criticized his move. Rush Limbaugh called it socialist, predicting the company would fail. Tim Kane, an economist at the conservative Hoover Institute at Stanford University, said, “It will reduce turnover, increase morale, and help him build an even greater company.” The day after the new wage plan was made public, Price received letters from 3,500 job applicants, and Gravity signed up several new clients (New York Times, April 19).


The senior rabbi of the Movement for Reform Judaism in England is launching a web-based matchmaking service that will cater to same-sex Jews and opposite-sex couples. “The point to make is that we want to help people to meet other Jews, those who are interested in living a Jewish life,” said Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner. England’s Reform and Liberal Jewish movements have long approved of gay marriage, but it has not been accepted by the much larger Orthodox community in England. The Reform movement is willing to marry gay and straight couples as long as both are Jewish (RNS).

Reliving the pain

The day of the 2013 Boston Marathon was the worst day in the lives of Bill and Denise Richard’s family. Their eight-year-old son was killed, their seven-year-old daughter lost a leg, and both Bill and Denise were injured. They have asked federal authorities to take the death penalty off the table for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was convicted for his part in the Boston bombings. The Richards wrote that they “understand . . . the heinousness and the brutality of the crimes committed,” but “the continued pursuit of that punishment could bring years of appeals and prolong reliving the most painful day of our lives" (AP).

Religion on ice

Religion is often on display in professional athletics, with the exception of the National Hockey League. The few hockey players who are open about their faith buck a tradition of reticence or downright distrustfulness toward religion. Unlike professional football or basketball, many NHL players come from Canada or Europe, where the culture is much more secular and religious faith is closely guarded. There is also the suspicion in hockey that a person of faith might be too soft a player. Some hockey clubs make chapel services available, but far fewer than in professional basketball (Boston Globe, April 5).