Century Marks

Century Marks

History haunts us

Cotton was king in the 19th century, and the industry was dependent upon slavery. It wasn’t only southern plantation owners who reaped its benefits. Northerners and Europeans created a worldwide textile industry on the backs of slave labor, and they lent money to plantation owners to buy more slaves. We are still living with the legacy of that slavery, says Edward E. Baptist, author of the recently released The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism. Part of the legacy is that white households have almost $15 worth of wealth for every dollar held by African-American households (CNN, September 7).

Shut out

The U.S. Department of Justice has sued a small Minneapolis suburb for denying Muslims permission to create an Islamic center. The government said the municipality of St. Anthony Village is violating Muslims’ right to freedom of worship. The center was proposed for a building located in an area zoned for assemblies. The municipality said it denied the request because there is a limited amount of industrial space for job creation (Reuters).

Church and state

Evidence is mounting that some Russian Orthodox clergy have been aiding the efforts of pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine. One pro-Ukrainian editor charged that priests at an Orthodox church in Slovyansk, Ukraine, blessed the rebel fighters and let the rebels store ammunition on church property. Patriarch Kirill I, head of the Orthodox Church based in Moscow, suggested that the Ukrainian military actions against the Russian-backed rebels is an attempt to “overpower the canonical Orthodox Church.” The rebels temporarily took over a large Protestant church and murdered four evangelicals who belonged to another church in town (New York Times, September 6).

Good business practices

S. Truett Cathy, founder of the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain, died last month. He believed that Christian principles didn’t conflict with good business practices. He has kept the restaurants closed on Sundays and encouraged stores to become involved in their communities. The business, worth $5.5 billion, has given $68 million to 700 educational and charitable organizations. The company came under fire in 2012 when Dan Cathy, president, made antigay marriage statements and was accused of supporting groups fighting same-sex marriage. Chick-fil-A subsequently stopped funding such groups (Christian Science Monitor, September 8).

Take up your bed

Emma Sulkowicz, a Columbia University student, is carrying her mattress everywhere she goes as part of her senior visual arts thesis. Two years ago she was attacked and raped in her dorm room. Sulkowicz sees this performance art project as a way to show the burden sexual assault survivors carry everyday. Last year three women reported assaults by the same person; all three cases were dismissed by the university (Time, September 2).