recentpopularlog in

robertogreco : patriotism   18

Offering a more progressive definition of freedom
"Pete Buttigieg is the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. He is a progressive Democrat, Rhodes scholar, served a tour of duty in Afghanistan during his time as mayor, and is openly gay. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone [https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/pete_buttigieg-36-year-old-mayor-south-bend-indiana-2020-713662/ ], Buttigieg talked about the need for progressives to recast concepts that conservatives have traditionally “owned” — like freedom, family, and patriotism — in more progressive terms.
You’ll hear me talk all the time about freedom. Because I think there is a failure on our side if we allow conservatives to monopolize the idea of freedom — especially now that they’ve produced an authoritarian president. But what actually gives people freedom in their lives? The most profound freedoms of my everyday existence have been safeguarded by progressive policies, mostly. The freedom to marry who I choose, for one, but also the freedom that comes with paved roads and stop lights. Freedom from some obscure regulation is so much more abstract. But that’s the freedom that conservatism has now come down to.

Or think about the idea of family, in the context of everyday life. It’s one thing to talk about family values as a theme, or a wedge — but what’s it actually like to have a family? Your family does better if you get a fair wage, if there’s good public education, if there’s good health care when you need it. These things intuitively make sense, but we’re out of practice talking about them.

I also think we need to talk about a different kind of patriotism: a fidelity to American greatness in its truest sense. You think about this as a local official, of course, but a truly great country is made of great communities. What makes a country great isn’t chauvinism. It’s the kinds of lives you enable people to lead. I think about wastewater management as freedom. If a resident of our city doesn’t have to give it a second thought, she’s freer.


Clean drinking water is freedom. Good public education is freedom. Universal healthcare is freedom. Fair wages are freedom. Policing by consent is freedom. Gun control is freedom. Fighting climate change is freedom. A non-punitive criminal justice system is freedom. Affirmative action is freedom. Decriminalizing poverty is freedom. Easy & secure voting is freedom. This is an idea of freedom I can get behind."
petebuttigieg  freedom  democracy  2018  jasonkottke  everyday  life  living  progressive  progress  progressivism  education  water  healthcare  universalhealthcare  health  climatechange  politics  policy  poverty  inequality  decriminalization  voting  affirmitiveaction  guncontrol  liberation  work  labor  salaries  wages  economics  socialism  policing  police  lawenforcement  consent  patriotism  wealth  family 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Colin Kaepernick and What It Means To Be Patriotic In Schools – Student Voices
"In our classrooms, students are constantly asked to think deeper about the presented information, but simultaneously, our schools are structures for American obedience and compliance. Saying the pledge of allegiance before any learning happens means that any learning from the end makes the pledger assume that the learning happening shortly thereafter is part of this set of lessons that is impervious to critique and dissent. Every book, every equation, every piece of work that’s provided by every adult in the classroom is not worth amending or correcting because these are all American, and, if it’s American, it can’t be wrong. Obedience. Compliance.

Even though history scholars must read from multiple sources, first-hand accounts along with critical analyses of histories in order to get a larger scope of the narrative. In our K-12 schools, too many of our students are still dependent on one source, generally the story given by the winners. Slavery in America, for example, doesn’t always get taught as a longstanding crime against humanity that literally subjugated millions of people from the African continent that still has consequences until today. It gets taught as something that happened in the past and we’re all better now. The same goes for segregation, redlining, Native American genocide, Japanese internment, immigration policy during the 1920s and 30s, and any number of policies that don’t get taught as part of the grand American history.

Or that the pledge was part of a marketing scheme for the flags in schools. Or that it’s unconstitutional to compel kids to pledge allegiance to the flag.

America is religious about its American football, too. Certainly, football has taken over baseball as America’s most enthralling pastime. During the season, fans draw themselves along major league team lines and use pronouns like “our” and “we” to discuss the dozens of robust men on the field of play. Fans yell at other teams for their fortunes,embrace an unhealthy level of schadenfreude for successful teams that aren’t theirs, yell at their own teams for losses, and pick scapegoats they were once rooting for almost weekly. Sports fans don’t like to think that their players think about anything besides their given sport. They love to see ads showing players driven to success in the off-season. They love to see athletes signing memorabilia even after they’ve long retired from the game. They love to see athletes bruised, broken, beaten but ultimately coming back in the service of their teams i.e. billion-dollar corporations.

But the minute the athlete, especially the athlete of color, thinks to step out of line with their own visions of America, they’re relegated to the very status that made said protest possible.

When we look at post-9/11 America, our country offers “freedom” for countries which supposedly can’t speak for themselves and patriotism / nationalism for its own citizens. When our youngest citizens see the events of the past weekend, they should wonder why there’s been so much retaliation against a man who America otherwise forgot lead his team to a Super Bowl appearance. They should wonder why so few voters chose the current Democratic and Republican presidential nominees.

They should wonder why they’re told to wait and wait to engage in learning the depth and breadth of atrocities and victories that make our country what it is today.

They should ask themselves why so many of the people critical of a black millionaire athlete and a black President of the United States, who unironically wear Make America Great Again hats, also believe it’s unscrupulous to sit for the very America they don’t consider great anymore. Perhaps to many of its underserved and underrepresented citizens, especially the marginalized, this country’s never been great, but they do what they can. We need a new patriotism that embodies the labor and suppression that’s made the “America is great” narrative permissible.

Until then, it’s liberty and justice for some. I’ll pledge to that."
schools  education  2016  colinkaepernick  josévilson  protest  patriotism  nationalanthem  criticalthinking  compliance  obedience  publicschools  allegiance  pledgeofallegiance  us  policy  politics  history  flags  race  racism  sports  americanfootball  nfl  freedom  democracy 
september 2016 by robertogreco
Current Affairs: You Should Be Terrified That People Who Like “Hamilton” Run Our Country
"The American elite can’t get enough of a musical that flatters their political sensibilities and avoids discomforting truths."



"Given that Hamilton is essentially Captain Dan with an American Studies minor, one might wonder how it became so inordinately adored by the blathering class. How did a ten-million-dollar 8th Grade U.S. History skit become “the great work of art of the 21st century” (as the New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik says those in his circle have been calling it)?"



"Just as Hamilton ducks the question of slavery, much of the actual substance of Alexander Hamilton’s politics is ignored, in favor of a story that stresses his origins as a Horatio Alger immigrant and his rivalry with Aaron Burr. But while Hamilton may have favored opening America’s doors to immigration, he also proposed a degree of economic protectionism that would terrify today’s free market establishment.

Hamilton believed that free trade was never equal, and worried about the ability of European manufacturers (who got a head start on the Industrial Revolution) to sell goods at lower prices than their American counterparts. In Hamilton’s 1791 Report on Manufactures, he spoke of the harms to American industry that came with our reliance on products from overseas. The Report sheds light on many of the concerns Americans in the 21st century have about outsourcing, sweatshops, and the increasing trade deficit, albeit in a different context. Hamilton said that for the U.S., “constant and increasing necessity, on their part, for the commodities of Europe, and only a partial and occasional demand for their own, in return, could not but expose them to a state of impoverishment, compared with the opulence to which their political and natural advantages authorise them to aspire.” For Hamilton, the solution was high tariffs on imports of manufactured goods, and intensive government intervention in the economy. The prohibitive importation costs imposed by tariffs would allow newer American manufacturers to undersell Europe’s established industrial framework, leading to an increase in non-agricultural employment. As he wrote: “all the duties imposed on imported articles… wear a beneficent aspect towards the manufacturers of the country.”

Does any of this sound familiar? It certainly went unmentioned at the White House, where a custom performance of Hamilton was held for the Obamas. The livestreamed presidential Hamilton spectacular at one point featured Obama and Miranda performing historically-themed freestyle rap in the Rose Garden."



"Strangely enough, President Obama failed to mention anything Alexander Hamilton actually did during his long career in American politics, perhaps because the Obama Administration’s unwavering support of free trade and the tariff-easing Trans-Pacific Partnership goes against everything Hamilton believed. Instead, Obama’s Hamilton speech stresses just two takeaways from the musical: that America is a place where the poor (through “sheer force of will” and little else) can rise to prominence, and that Hamilton has diversity in it. (Plus it contains hip-hop, an edgy, up-and-coming genre with only 37 years of mainstream exposure.)

The Obamas were not the only members of the political establishment to come down with a ghastly case of Hamiltonmania. Nearly every figure in D.C. has apparently been to see the show, in many cases being invited for a warm backstage schmooze with Miranda. Biden saw it. Mitt Romney saw it. The Bush daughters saw it. Rahm Emanuel saw it the day after the Chicago teachers’ strike over budget cuts and school closures. Hillary Clinton went to see the musical in the evening after having been interviewed by the FBI in the morning. The Clinton campaign has also been fundraising by hawking Hamilton tickets; for $100,000 you can watch a performance alongside Clinton herself.

Unsurprisingly, the New York Times reports that “conservatives were particularly smitten” with Hamilton. “Fabulous show,” tweeted Rupert Murdoch, calling it “historically accurate.” Obama concluded that “I’m pretty sure this is the only thing that Dick Cheney and I have agreed on—during my entire political career.” (That is, of course, false. Other points of agreement include drone strikes, Guantanamo, the NSA, and mass deportation.)

The conservative-liberal D.C. consensus on Hamilton makes perfect sense. The musical flatters both right and left sensibilities. Conservatives get to see their beloved Founding Fathers exonerated for their horrendous crimes, and liberals get to have nationalism packaged in a feel-good multicultural form. The more troubling questions about the country’s origins are instantly vanished, as an era built on racist forced labor is transformed into a colorful, culturally progressive, and politically unobjectionable extravaganza.

As the director of the Hamilton theater said, “It has liberated a lot of people who might feel ambivalent about the American experiment to feel patriotic.” “Ambivalence,” here, means being bothered by the country’s collective idol-worship of men who participated in the slave trade, one of the greatest crimes in human history. To be “liberated” from this means never having to think about it.

In that respect, Hamilton probably is the “musical of the Obama era,” as The New Yorker called it. Contemporary progressivism has come to mean papering over material inequality with representational diversity. The president will continue to expand the national security state at the same rate as his predecessor, but at least he will be black. Predatory lending will drain the wealth from African American communities, but the board of Goldman Sachs will have several black members. Inequality will be rampant and worsening, but the 1% will at least “look like America.” The actual racial injustices of our time will continue unabated, but the power structure will be diversified so that nobody feels quite so bad about it. Hamilton is simply this tendency’s cultural-historical equivalent; instead of worrying ourselves about the brutal origins of the American state, and the lasting economic effects of those early inequities, we can simply turn the Founding Fathers black and enjoy the show.

Kings George I and II of England could barely speak intelligible English and spent more time dealing with their own failed sons than ruling the Empire —but they gave patronage to Handel. Ludwig II of Bavaria was believed to be insane and went into debt compulsively building castles — but he gave patronage to Wagner. Barack Obama deported more immigrants than any other president and expanded the drone program in order to kill almost 3,500 people — but he gave patronage to a neoliberal nerdcore musical. God bless this great land."
hamilton  alexnichols  browadway  politics  musicals  2016  neoliberalism  patriotism  barackobama  alexanderhamilton  idol-worship  rupertmurdoch  dickcheney  tpp  mittromney  hillaryclinton  diversity  horatioalger  lyramonteiro  freetrade  thomasjefferson  lin-manuelmiranda  hiphop  georgewashington  adamgopnik  captaindan  nerdcore 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Why Young Americans Are Giving Up on Capitalism | Foreign Policy
"Imagine that you’re twenty years old. You were born in 1996. You were five years old on 9/11. For as long as you can remember, the United States has been at war.

When you are twelve, in 2008, the global economy collapses. After years of bluster and bravado from President George W. Bush — who encouraged consumerism as a response to terror — it seems your country was weaker than you thought. In America, the bottom falls out fast.In America, the bottom falls out fast. The adults who take care of you struggle to take care of themselves. Perhaps your parent loses a job. Perhaps your family loses its home.

In 2009, politicians claim the recession is over, but your hardship is not. Wages are stagnant or falling. The costs of health care, child care, and tuition continue to rise exponentially. Full-time jobs turn into contract positions while benefits are slashed. Middle-class jobs are replaced with low-paying service work. The expectations of American life your parents had when you were born — that a “long boom” will bring about unparalleled prosperity — crumble away.

Baby boomers tell you there is a way out: a college education has always been the key to a good job. But that doesn’t seem to happen anymore. The college graduates you know are drowning in student debt, working for minimum wage, or toiling in unpaid internships. Prestigious jobs are increasingly clustered in cities where rent has tripled or quadrupled in a decade’s time. You cannot afford to move, and you cannot afford to stay. Outside these cities, newly abandoned malls join long abandoned factories. You inhabit a landscape of ruin. There is nothing left for you.

Every now and then, people revolt. When you are fifteen, Occupy Wall Street captivates the nation’s attention, drawing attention to corporate greed and lost opportunity. Within a year, the movement fades, and its members do things like set up “boutique activist consultancies.” When you are seventeen, the Fight for 15 workers movement manages to make higher minimum wage a mainstream proposition, but the solutions politicians pose are incremental. No one seems to grasp the urgency of the crisis. Even President Barack Obama, a liberal Democrat — the type of politician who’s supposed to understand poverty — declares that the economy has recovered."



"Does this mean that the youth of America are getting ready to hand over private property to the state and round up the kulaks? No. As many of those who reported on the Harvard survey noted, the terms “socialism” and “capitalism” were never defined. After meeting with survey takers, John Della Volpe, the director of the Harvard poll, told the Washington Post that respondents did not reject capitalism inherently as a concept. “The way in which capitalism is practiced today, in the minds of young people — that’s what they’re rejecting,” he said.

Capitalism, in other words, holds less appeal in an era when the invisible hand feels like a death grip. Americans under 20 have had little to no adult experience in a pre-Great Recession economy. Things older generations took for granted — promotions, wages that grow over time, a 40-hour work week, unions, benefits, pensions, mutual loyalty between employers and employees — are increasingly rare.

As a consequence, these basic tenets of American work life, won by labor movements in the early half of the twentieth century, are now deemed “radical.” In this context, Bernie Sanders, whose policies echo those of New Deal Democrats, can be deemed a “socialist” leading a “revolution”. His platform seems revolutionary only because American work life has become so corrupt, and the pursuit of basic stability so insurmountable, that modest ambitions — a salary that covers your bills, the ability to own a home or go to college without enormous debt — are now fantasies or luxuries.

Policies like a $15 per hour minimum wage — brought to mainstream attention not by Sanders, but by striking fast food workers years before — are not radical, but a pragmatic corrective to decades of wage depreciation. The minimum wage, which peaked in 1968, would have reached $21.72 in 2012 had it kept pace with productivity growth. Expectations of American life are formed on the premise that self-sufficiency is possible, but nearly half of Americans do not have $400 to their name. The gap between the rhetoric of “economic recovery” and “low unemployment” and the reality of how most Americans live is what makes Sanders seem unconventional: he describes widespread economic hardship many leaders rationalize or deny. Voters are not only rejecting the status quo, but how the status quo is depicted by media and politicians — the illusion that the economy is strong, and that suffering is the exception, not the rule.

We live in an era where heated rhetorical battles are fought over terms that have lost clear meaning. In an attempt to placate an angry populace, all three major candidates — Sanders, Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton — have at various times positioned themselves as “anti-establishment”: a dubious description of two career politicians and a billionaire tycoon. “Neoliberal” has gone from a term that describes an advocate of specific economic and political policies to an insult hurled indiscriminately on social media. Thanks to Trump, the word “fascist” has reentered the American political vocabulary, with some playing down Trump’s brutal and unlawful policies on the grounds that they do not precisely emulate foreign fascist leaders of the past. Meanwhile, Trump castigates Clinton for not using the term “radical Islam.” This sparring over labels illustrates the depths of our ideological confusion.

It is in this rhetorical morass that the debate over whether young Americans support “socialism” or “capitalism” takes place. Omitted from most coverage of the Harvard poll was the fact that youth were asked not only about socialism and capitalism but four other categories. “Which of the following, if any, do you support?” the questionnaire inquired, giving the options of socialism, capitalism, progressivism, patriotism, feminism, and social justice activism. None of the terms were defined. Respondents could choose more than one. “Socialism,” at 33 percent, actually received the lowest support. “Patriotism” received the highest support, at 57 percent, while the three remaining categories were each supported by roughly half the respondents.

What do these category-based questions really tell us, then, about the allegiance of youth to ideologies? Nothing. The real answers are found in questions about policies. When asked whether they support the idea that “Basic necessities, such as food and shelter, are a right that the government should provide to those unable to afford them,” 47 percent of all respondents said “yes.” Does this indicate support for socialism? Not necessarily. It indicates that respondents grew up in an America where a large number of their countrymen have struggled to afford food and shelter — and they want the suffering to stop.

You do not need a survey to ascertain the plight of American youth. You can look at their bank accounts, at the jobs they have, at the jobs their parents have lost, at the debt they hold, at the opportunities they covet but are denied. You do not need jargon or ideology to form a case against the status quo. The clearest indictment of the status quo is the status quo itself."
age  capitalism  economics  us  socialsafetynet  socialism  2016  occupywallstreet  ows  democracy  labor  work  minimumwage  education  highered  highereducation  debt  neoliberalism  progressivism  patriotism  donaldtrump  hillaryclinton  barackobama  opportunity  hope  despair  frustration  ideology  berniesanders  employment  unemployment  youth  politics  policy  statistics 
june 2016 by robertogreco
I Can Tolerate Anything Except The Outgroup | Slate Star Codex
[via: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/jacobs/the-outgroup-and-its-errors/ ]

"One day I realized that entirely by accident I was fulfilling all the Jewish stereotypes.

I’m nerdy, over-educated, good with words, good with money, weird sense of humor, don’t get outside much, I like deli sandwiches. And I’m a psychiatrist, which is about the most stereotypically Jewish profession short of maybe stand-up comedian or rabbi.

I’m not very religious. And I don’t go to synagogue. But that’s stereotypically Jewish too!

I bring this up because it would be a mistake to think “Well, a Jewish person is by definition someone who is born of a Jewish mother. Or I guess it sort of also means someone who follows the Mosaic Law and goes to synagogue. But I don’t care about Scott’s mother, and I know he doesn’t go to synagogue, so I can’t gain any useful information from knowing Scott is Jewish.”

The defining factors of Judaism – Torah-reading, synagogue-following, mother-having – are the tip of a giant iceberg. Jews sometimes identify as a “tribe”, and even if you don’t attend synagogue, you’re still a member of that tribe and people can still (in a statistical way) infer things about you by knowing your Jewish identity – like how likely they are to be psychiatrists.

The last section raised a question – if people rarely select their friends and associates and customers explicitly for politics, how do we end up with such intense political segregation?

Well, in the same way “going to synagogue” is merely the iceberg-tip of a Jewish tribe with many distinguishing characteristics, so “voting Republican” or “identifying as conservative” or “believing in creationism” is the iceberg-tip of a conservative tribe with many distinguishing characteristics.

A disproportionate number of my friends are Jewish, because I meet them at psychiatry conferences or something – we self-segregate not based on explicit religion but on implicit tribal characteristics. So in the same way, political tribes self-segregate to an impressive extent – a 1/10^45 extent, I will never tire of hammering in – based on their implicit tribal characteristics.

The people who are actually into this sort of thing sketch out a bunch of speculative tribes and subtribes, but to make it easier, let me stick with two and a half.

The Red Tribe is most classically typified by conservative political beliefs, strong evangelical religious beliefs, creationism, opposing gay marriage, owning guns, eating steak, drinking Coca-Cola, driving SUVs, watching lots of TV, enjoying American football, getting conspicuously upset about terrorists and commies, marrying early, divorcing early, shouting “USA IS NUMBER ONE!!!”, and listening to country music.

The Blue Tribe is most classically typified by liberal political beliefs, vague agnosticism, supporting gay rights, thinking guns are barbaric, eating arugula, drinking fancy bottled water, driving Priuses, reading lots of books, being highly educated, mocking American football, feeling vaguely like they should like soccer but never really being able to get into it, getting conspicuously upset about sexists and bigots, marrying later, constantly pointing out how much more civilized European countries are than America, and listening to “everything except country”.

(There is a partly-formed attempt to spin off a Grey Tribe typified by libertarian political beliefs, Dawkins-style atheism, vague annoyance that the question of gay rights even comes up, eating paleo, drinking Soylent, calling in rides on Uber, reading lots of blogs, calling American football “sportsball”, getting conspicuously upset about the War on Drugs and the NSA, and listening to filk – but for our current purposes this is a distraction and they can safely be considered part of the Blue Tribe most of the time)

I think these “tribes” will turn out to be even stronger categories than politics. Harvard might skew 80-20 in terms of Democrats vs. Republicans, 90-10 in terms of liberals vs. conservatives, but maybe 99-1 in terms of Blues vs. Reds.

It’s the many, many differences between these tribes that explain the strength of the filter bubble – which have I mentioned segregates people at a strength of 1/10^45? Even in something as seemingly politically uncharged as going to California Pizza Kitchen or Sushi House for dinner, I’m restricting myself to the set of people who like cute artisanal pizzas or sophisticated foreign foods, which are classically Blue Tribe characteristics.

Are these tribes based on geography? Are they based on race, ethnic origin, religion, IQ, what TV channels you watched as a kid? I don’t know.

Some of it is certainly genetic – estimates of the genetic contribution to political association range from 0.4 to 0.6. Heritability of one’s attitudes toward gay rights range from 0.3 to 0.5, which hilariously is a little more heritable than homosexuality itself.

(for an interesting attempt to break these down into more rigorous concepts like “traditionalism”, “authoritarianism”, and “in-group favoritism” and find the genetic loading for each see here. For an attempt to trace the specific genes involved, which mostly turn out to be NMDA receptors, see here)

But I don’t think it’s just genetics. There’s something else going on too. The word “class” seems like the closest analogue, but only if you use it in the sophisticated Paul Fussell Guide Through the American Status System way instead of the boring “another word for how much money you make” way.

For now we can just accept them as a brute fact – as multiple coexisting societies that might as well be made of dark matter for all of the interaction they have with one another – and move on."



"Every election cycle like clockwork, conservatives accuse liberals of not being sufficiently pro-America. And every election cycle like clockwork, liberals give extremely unconvincing denials of this.

“It’s not that we’re, like, against America per se. It’s just that…well, did you know Europe has much better health care than we do? And much lower crime rates? I mean, come on, how did they get so awesome? And we’re just sitting here, can’t even get the gay marriage thing sorted out, seriously, what’s wrong with a country that can’t…sorry, what were we talking about? Oh yeah, America. They’re okay. Cesar Chavez was really neat. So were some other people outside the mainstream who became famous precisely by criticizing majority society. That’s sort of like America being great, in that I think the parts of it that point out how bad the rest of it are often make excellent points. Vote for me!”

(sorry, I make fun of you because I love you)

There was a big brouhaha a couple of years ago when, as it first became apparent Obama had a good shot at the Presidency, Michelle Obama said that “for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country.”

Republicans pounced on the comment, asking why she hadn’t felt proud before, and she backtracked saying of course she was proud all the time and she loves America with the burning fury of a million suns and she was just saying that the Obama campaign was particularly inspiring.

As unconvincing denials go, this one was pretty far up there. But no one really held it against her. Probably most Obama voters felt vaguely the same way. I was an Obama voter, and I have proud memories of spending my Fourth of Julys as a kid debunking people’s heartfelt emotions of patriotism. Aaron Sorkin:
[What makes America the greatest country in the world?] It’s not the greatest country in the world! We’re seventh in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, No. 4 in labor force, and No. 4 in exports. So when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don’t know what the f*** you’re talking about.

(Another good retort is “We’re number one? Sure – number one in incarceration rates, drone strikes, and making new parents go back to work!”)

All of this is true, of course. But it’s weird that it’s such a classic interest of members of the Blue Tribe, and members of the Red Tribe never seem to bring it up.

(“We’re number one? Sure – number one in levels of sexual degeneracy! Well, I guess probably number two, after the Netherlands, but they’re really small and shouldn’t count.”)

My hunch – both the Red Tribe and the Blue Tribe, for whatever reason, identify “America” with the Red Tribe. Ask people for typically “American” things, and you end up with a very Red list of characteristics – guns, religion, barbecues, American football, NASCAR, cowboys, SUVs, unrestrained capitalism.

That means the Red Tribe feels intensely patriotic about “their” country, and the Blue Tribe feels like they’re living in fortified enclaves deep in hostile territory.

Here is a popular piece published on a major media site called America: A Big, Fat, Stupid Nation. Another: America: A Bunch Of Spoiled, Whiny Brats. Americans are ignorant, scientifically illiterate religious fanatics whose “patriotism” is actually just narcissism. You Will Be Shocked At How Ignorant Americans Are, and we should Blame The Childish, Ignorant American People.

Needless to say, every single one of these articles was written by an American and read almost entirely by Americans. Those Americans very likely enjoyed the articles very much and did not feel the least bit insulted.

And look at the sources. HuffPo, Salon, Slate. Might those have anything in common?

On both sides, “American” can be either a normal demonym, or a code word for a member of the Red Tribe."



"This essay is bad and I should feel bad.

I should feel bad because I made exactly the mistake I am trying to warn everyone else about, and it wasn’t until I was almost done that I noticed.

How virtuous, how noble I … [more]
politics  psychology  society  tolerance  scottalexander  partisanship  bias  favoritism  filterbubbles  segregation  darkmatter  tribes  subtribes  polarization  patriotism 
april 2016 by robertogreco
The Commonspace > June 2004 > Expatriates
"There are, as far as I have been able to discover, three cities in the world that share the name Saint Louis: the dilapidated colonial ruins on an island off the northern coast of Brazil, in the state of Maranhão; our sister city — the dilapidated colonial ruins on a fluvial island near the edge of the Sahara desert, in Senegal; and ours, the dilapidated colonial ruins that lie along the banks of the Mississippi. All once great. All once golden. Today, all lie in ruin.

I love our ruin. I have to. I am a product of that ruin, for better or for worse. To me, the ruins are completely surreal. They exist on a different physical plane, in a different time. Monuments to Indian burial mounds. Tenement complexes overgrown with vines. Vast expanses of natural grasses, where entire blocks once stood. Snoots and tips. Blues, jazz, and soul being played to almost empty clubs. Arson.

I have always suffered ridicule for being from Saint Louis, especially from East coasters who are fond of making comments like, "If you are not living in New York you are just camping out." But I know that Saint Louis, along with Memphis and New Orleans — the crowning gems of the American Nile — form the true cradle of American culture. We are the cultural standard-bearers of the nation, despite the fact the little credit is ever given, and despite the fact that Saint Louisans themselves rarely do their part to improve our image.

I should clarify that Saint Louis to me is just the part east of Skinker. The suburbs, the sprawl, and the people that contribute to them, are my real enemies. I think we ought to build a Great Wall around the City and charge toll for the suburbanites to visit the Arch, the stadium, the zoo, the museums, the parks, and the other marvelous public resources the City offers for free to all. Let's see where the suburbanites will draw their inspiration and cultural identities from when their access has been cut off. When I lived in Saint Louis I made a vow never to stray west of Skinker, on principle.

I have lived in Brazil for many years now, because I found that I am freer in Brazil than in the USA. Free of the Puritanism and false morality in the States; the sexual repression; the obsession with consumerism and material goods, and work, work, work, at the cost of friendships, family and quality of life; free of the terrible diet of fast food, processed food, industrialized, over-packaged food, and over-packaged lifestyles; free of the cold winters; and most importantly, free of the racism. Brazil may be a classist country, but it has at least recognized and embraced its African influences. Saint Louis, and the rest of the United States, owes a tremendous debt to the cultural contribution of African-Americans, a debt that can never be repaid. Yet no one wants to acknowledge this debt. In fact, Saint Louis continues to adhere to a social regime tantamount to apartheid. This makes me feel true shame.

I grew up near Delmar Blvd., at a time when that street practically divided the City in two halves — blacks to the north, whites to the south. Today, with "white flight" at its most expressive levels in decades, and with Saint Peters the fastest growing city in the state, the south side has taken on a more diverse character, but the dichotomy between white and black continues strong as ever. No contact between the races. I am not even surprised any more when I hear whites in Saint Louis say they have never heard of the St. Louis American.

I moved back to Saint Louis from Brazil in 1995, because I had decided to wanted to spearhead an urban pioneer movement, to repopulate abandoned areas of the city. Tax abatements, neighborhood associations and marketing campaigns only go so far. The war is won on an individual level. Someone has to move to the City and become an example, convincing others to follow. Someone has to dispel the myths of crime and hatred. Someone has to take action. So I bought an abandoned smokehouse from the LRA (Land Reutilization Authority) on Iowa, with a friend of mine, and without any financial resources to speak of we started fixing it up with our own four hands. The crack dealers on the block burned it to the ground, but we were relentless in our commitment. We traded the ashes for another building — squatting in the second without electricity for many months — until we had it back up to habitable conditions. It served as my home for several years. I made lasting friendships with neighbors that most Saint Louisans would never give themselves the chance to meet.

In fact, my friends from the suburbs continued intransigent in their stance. It was like high school all over again: attending the Priory, I was one of a handful of boys that lived in the City. My friends were not allowed to visit my home. Their parents thought I lived in the jungle, and that their children would be robbed, raped, or murdered if they left West County. In college, when I lived near Crown Candy, I convinced a few to visit. It was like taking them to a foreign country. They had never even driven through north city. They didn't even know it existed! Living in my LRA property I discovered that nothing had changed years later. People were still unable to overcome their prejudice and fear. They actually liked hiding out in Saint Peters. And so, recognizing that we live in a cultural democracy, where people vote with their feet, I accepted the defeat of my pioneer efforts and returned to Brazil.

I miss a lot of things about Saint Louis, especially the radio. When I was growing up there were more than five or six full-time jazz stations: KBIL, KWMU, WSIE, KATZ (on the prowl). Webster University had a real funky one, too, but I don't remember the call letters. There was even a smooth jazz station, though I never liked it much. Add all these to KDHX, and its eclectic array of programming, and man, we were in a really privileged position musically. That was a fact. I got hooked on funk, soul, R&B, jazz, blues, reggae, rap, African. You name it. If it had roots in the diaspora of African music, it got played on Saint Louis radio. Saint Louis is a deeply funky place, but so many people are unable to tap into the vibe.

I do not consider myself a patriotic person. I don't care much for the USA as a whole, but I have deep, unseverable ties to Saint Louis. And the reason for this is that Saint Louis is a very unique place. I just can't figure out why people are so self-denigrating, why they can't define and give value to what makes them so special. I have a different vision, but it doesn't seem like many people share it with me, so it has just remained a daydream that I indulge in moments of homesickness. Maybe my Saint Louis will only ever exist in my mind."
stlouis  2004  tomkarsten  friends  missouri  maranhão  mississippiriver  ruins  midwest  us  patriotism  brazil  brasil  race  class  society  segregation 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Mong Palatino » Blog Archive » Invisible violence
"Those who are banging hard at the wall are deemed barbarians and violent. But we often forget that the wall itself is a form of violence and the decision to build it is perhaps the more violent act. Structural violence escapes blame by naming itself as an objective reality. It insists that the wall was there since time immemorial; it has no history because it represents the natural order of things. It cannot be demolished because it is contrary to natural law.

It promotes the thinking that human miseries can be eliminated if individuals will modify their behavior. Violence is caused by the immoral choices made by man. The system can be reformed through little individual acts of kindness and heroism.

These arguments become easier to accept and understand once structural violence and its essential discontents are made to disappear.

And because structural violence is already rendered invisible, it is now able to inflict more harm and suffering in the world without being tagged as the culprit. Meanwhile, the chattering and twittering classes are echoing the reasoning of politicians when they invoke the laws and legal orders of the land to bring down the visible agent provocateurs and other uncivilized forces of society. Tragic because many of these moral defenders of the law are patriotic citizens who refuse to recognize the heinous link of symbolic violence in society. For them, structural violence is a theory concocted by lawless elements to destroy the social harmony in the Republic. Theory is fun, but they require evidence that can be presented in the courts.

The great political task therefore is not simply to smash the system to smithereens but to render its mysterious and insidious operations visible. Before the permanent shutdown of governments, the first priority is to unmask the dirty history of structural violence. During crisis moments, the inner workings of the system are partly open for public scrutiny but these are only brief periods because new remedies are quickly applied which make structural violence seemingly nonexistent again. What we should do in the next period of upheaval is to follow the great lesson of history: Seize the moment!"

[via: http://bettyann.tumblr.com/post/65394409086 ]
culture  resistance  change  structure  2013  raymondpalatino  darkmatter  violence  reality  objectivity  naturallaw  invisibility  visibility  transparency  institutions  institutionalization  infrastructure  law  society  provocation  persistence  patriotism  establishment 
october 2013 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: The Teaching of Tribalism
"Teaching tribalism. We do it all the time. In secondary school after secondary school across the United States we mix our national symbols with our local tribal symbols. And in both cases, our goal is to build tribal loyalty, and yes, tribal loyalty means that nothing is more important than "us" against "them."…

Loyalty is not all bad. Loyalty is essential to human society. But loyalty should never be taught as somehow involving unquestioning, or lack of doubting, or shutting off our moral compasses."

[See also: http://speedchange.blogspot.com/2011/11/cultures-of-compliance.html ]
loyalty  tribalism  2011  pennstate  irasocol  teaching  nationalism  patriotism  ethics  joepaterno  us  humanism  society  morality  pledgeofallegiance  sports  fanaticism  culture 
november 2011 by robertogreco
Jury Independence Illustrated, written and illustrated by Ricardo Cortés [.pdf]
“The fact that there is widespread existence of the jury’s prerogative, and approval of its existence as a ‘necessary counter to case-hardened judges and arbitrary prosecutors,’ does not establish as an imperative that the jury must be informed by the judge of that power.”<br />
<br />
–UNITED STATES v. DOUGHERTY (1972) U.S. COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT. 473 F.2d 1113 (1972)<br />
<br />
"Ricardo Cortés is an author & illustrator of books, including Go the Fuck to S leep, I Don’t Want to Blow You Up!, It’s Just a Plant, and the forthcoming Coffee, Coca & Cola."<br />
<br />
[via: http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2011/06/jury-nullification ]
juryduty  juries  law  legal  civics  citizenship  us  courts  nullification  rights  2011  classideas  patriotism  ethics  howto  unjustlaws  checksandbalances  judges  injustice  activism  power  politics  filetype:pdf  media:document 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Jury nullification: Just say no | The Economist
[Don't miss: http://www.rmcortes.com/books/jury/Jury-Illustrated.pdf ]

"Juries do not only decide guilt or innocence; they can also serve as checks on unjust laws. Judges will not tell you about your right to nullify—to vote not guilty regardless of whether the prosecution has proven its case if you believe the law at issue is unjust. They may tell you that you may only judge the facts of the case put to you & not the law. They may strike you from a jury if do not agree under oath to do so, but the right to nullify exists. There is reason to be concerned about this power: nobody wants courtroom anarchy. But there is also reason to wield it, especially today: if you believe that nonviolent drug offenders should not go to prison, vote not guilty. The creators of…"The Wire" vowed to do that a few years back ("we will...no longer tinker w/ machinery of the drug war," [they] wrote)…"

[See also: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1719872,00.html AND http://fija.org/ ]

[via: http://twitter.com/charlesdavis84/status/85402352378589184 ]
thewire  juryduty  citizenship  us  courts  law  legal  nullification  rights  2011  warondrugs  davidsimon  edburns  dennislehane  georgepelecanos  richardprice  drugs  drugoffenses  civics  classideas  patriotism  ethics  howto  juries  unjustlaws  checksandbalances  judges  injustice  activism  power  politics 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Osama bin Laden's death: The US patriot reflex | Gary Younge | Comment is free | The Guardian
"Given 9/11, a desire for vengeance is a legitimate emotional response. But it is not a foreign policy"<br />
<br />
"But those who chant "We killed Bin Laden" cannot display their identification with American power so completely and then expect others to understand it as partial. The American military has done many things in this region. Killing Bin Laden is just one of them.<br />
<br />
If "they" killed Bin Laden in Abbottabad then "they" also bombed a large number of wedding parties in Afghanistan, "they" murdered 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha and "they" gang-raped a 14-year-old before murdering her, her six-year-old sister and their parents near Mahmudiyah. If "they" don't want to be associated with the atrocities then "they" need to find more to celebrate than an assassination. Vengeance is, in no small part, what got us here. It won't get us out."
politics  war  us  patriotism  afghanistan  osamabinladen  2011  vengeance  policy  garyyounge 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Wendell Berry - The Mad Farmer Liberation Front
"Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed…'

[via: http://lukescommonplacebook.tumblr.com/post/782251236/a-text-playlist ]
poetry  farming  society  writing  manifesto  wendellberry  hereandnow  agriculture  local  localism  work  life  well-being  patriotism  citizenship  activism  economics  consumerism  consumption  freedom  manifestos 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Worldchanging: Bright Green: Letter from Copenhagen - Cities and Citizenship
"it's not just the visual evidence of US decline that's troubling; it's that we don't even seem to recognize how far from reason our public debate has drifted. Returning from Copenhagen, it's hard to explain to my fellow Americans how insane, unrealistic & out-of-touch US climate debate now looks to rest of world...what US needs is an upheaval that's much more innovative, fundamental, sudden. I don't think anyone quite has a clear sight of what that is yet. Industrial shifts to clean economy, new models of news publishing, government 2.0, street as platform, post-ownership & post-consumer identities, community resilience a growing cultural preference for participation & collaboration combining w/ search for transparency & backstories & authenticity: all...clearly in the code of whatever new system is emerging, but none defines it...new natural unit of civic change, especially in US in 2010s is going to be the city...a place for us as people to live new values...a hotbed of innovation."
worldchanging  healthcare  us  cities  change  innovation  policy  sustainability  urbanism  reform  activism  citizenship  copenhagen  denmark  climatechange  community  urban  politics  patriotism  alexsteffen  gamechanging  citystates  progress 
september 2009 by robertogreco
The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan - Before The Battle - "[from] an Iranian blogger, with more courage than most of us will ever know."
“I will participate in demonstrations tomorrow. Maybe they will turn violent. Maybe I will be one of the...killed. I’m listening to all my favorite music...dance to a few songs...Yes, maybe I will go to the salon before I go tomorrow! There are a few great movie scenes that I also have to see. I should drop by the library, too. It’s worth to read the poems of Forough & Shamloo again. All family pictures have to be reviewed, too. I have to call my friends as well to say goodbye. All I have are 2 bookshelves which I told my family who should receive them. I’m 2 units away from getting my BA but who cares about that. My mind is very chaotic. I wrote these random sentences for the next generation so they know we were not just emotional & under peer pressure. So they know that we did everything we could to create a better future for them. So they know that our ancestors surrendered to Arabs & Mongols but did not surrender to despotism. This note is dedicated to tomorrow’s children…”
patriotism  iran  culture  politics  history  courage  revolution 
june 2009 by robertogreco
Conceptual Trends and Current Topics
"This is the first flag I feel I could fly with unalloyed pride. Now all I need is a lapel pin version. The flag was designed by James Cadle. Prior to the US landing on the moon, there was hope a flag for humanity, rather than the American flag, would be erected on the moon. Some hoped the UN flag would fly, but that never happened."
earth  flags  patriotism  humanity  citizenship  world  global  politics 
october 2008 by robertogreco
The Flag of Earth
"The Flag of Earth symbolizes the Earth (the center blue disk), the Sun (the yellow disk on the left), and the Moon (the white disk on the right). The Earth and its most important celestial neighbors - the Sun and Moon - are overlaid on a backdrop of the darkness of space."
flags  earth  humanity  citizenship  world  politics  patriotism  global 
october 2008 by robertogreco
Laurent Haug’s blog » Blog Archive » America
"I just came back from two great weeks of vacation in the US, the first time I went to the country as a tourist, took time to meet people outside of my professional world, and went outside the cities. A few observations:"
us  perspective  travel  europeaneyes  laurenthaug  impressions  money  productivity  government  politics  europe  food  tobacco  obesity  patriotism  wealth  cars 
january 2008 by robertogreco
The Musty Man - Hating America
"An aversion to whitehats and fast food might be a reason to leave the country, but it's no reason to bash it."
travel  psychology  society  us  politics  economics  world  international  perspective  learning  education  consumerism  culture  poverty  geography  global  human  tourism  introspection  reentry  nationalism  patriotism  familiarity  luxury 
august 2006 by robertogreco

Copy this bookmark:





to read