Why Is Clinton Disliked?

David Brooks has a short NYT piece with a title that offers a simple question, Why Is Clinton Disliked? He gives the data showing how unpopular she is and what most people think about her. It presents a harsh public perception about her as a politician.

“She is, at the moment, just as unpopular as Trump. In the last three major national polls she had unfavorability ratings in the same ballpark as Trump’s. In the Washington Post/ABC News poll, they are both at 57 percent disapproval.

“In the New York Times/CBS News poll, 60 percent of respondents said Clinton does not share their values. Sixty-four percent said she is not honest or trustworthy. Clinton has plummeted so completely down to Trump’s level that she is now statistically tied with him in some of the presidential horse race polls.”

Yet it wasn’t always the case. Before this campaign season, public perception was different.

As secretary of state she had a 66 percent approval rating. Even as recently as March 2015 her approval rating was at 50 and her disapproval rating was at 39.”

He goes overboard with his view of Hillary Clinton as being disliked for being a driven workaholic and an impersonal professional role. Still, I think he has a point.

Most people don’t connect with Hillary. Her husband is just as much a sleazy politician and yet people liked him because he connected to people on a personal level. The same thing with Bush jr.

People don’t vote for politicians. They vote for people. Elections really are popularity contests. Hillary is smart and saavy enough to know this. It’s just she lacks charisma and charm. It’s just not in her to be that way.

She is a capable professional politician. She knows how to play the game in Washington. I’m sure she is well liked or at least respected by those who directly work with and share her political goals, those who have careers that are aligned with or overlap with hers.

She just doesn’t have the personality for media attenion. She is a good professional politician. But that’s not necessarily a compliment. She flip flops and tells people what she thinks they want to hear. She is a player of the game of wealth and power. She does get things done. The issue is what she gets done.

That might be fine if no one knew her actual political record. That is where the problem begins. Before this campaign, few bothered to learn about her. Once people did learn about her, they quickly figured out that they don’t like her and trust her, much less share values with her.

It’s not complicated. They didn’t know her before and now they do. There is no point in blaming most people for not liking her for the simple reason they don’t find her likable.

Brooks mentioned another of what he considers a ‘paradox’. He writes that,

“[A]gree with her or not, she’s dedicated herself to public service. From advocate for children to senator, she has pursued her vocation tirelessly. It’s not the “what” that explains her unpopularity, it’s the “how” — the manner in which she has done it.”

That misses the point. She has dedicated herself to being a professional politician. That isn’t necessarily the same as public service. No one is arguing she has never done a beneficial thing in her life. It’s just that her doing good seems to serve the ulterior purpose of looking good, like a boy scout helping an old lady across the street to get a badge or a high school student volunteering at a soup kitchen to put on a college application.

Brooks does get to this point. Surely, she is a normal human with normal human interests, concerns, and preoccupations. “But,” as Brooks says, “it’s hard from the outside to think of any non-career or pre-career aspect to her life. Except for a few grandma references, she presents herself as a résumé and policy brief.” One gets the sense that to her everything is politics. That is to say, in this kind of political system, that everything is about wealth and power, about connections and cronyism.

She is all about big money politics. She isn’t ashamed of being a servant of corporate interests. And she isn’t ashamed of using her authority to force US power onto others, even when it harms and kills thousands of people. That is politics in her mind and her life is all about politics. One suspects she thinks about little else. She is ambitious and has dedicated her life to this aspiration, whatever one thinks of it.

Brooks states, because of her lack of presenting herself with a personal life, that therefore “of course to many she seems Machiavellian, crafty, power-oriented, untrustworthy.” It’s not that she seems that way. She is that way. That is what the minority of people who like her mean when they say she is experienced and effective. She gets things done, by any means necessary.

What the majority dislikes about her is not just how she gets things done, but also what she gets done. Even if people were able to see a more personable side to Clinton, it wouldn’t change that most people disagree with her values and policies. Most Americans don’t support neocon wars of aggression and neoliberal ‘free’ trade agreements, two areas of policy that only find majority support among the upper classes.

No amount of personal image rehabilitation and public perception management is going to change that. People dislike and mistrust her because of issues of substance. She simply doesn’t represent what most Americans want and support. It doesn’t help her campaign that right now there is another candidate, Sanders, who does represent what most Americans want and support. This is a rare campaign season in that people feel they finally have a real choice and, as such, they are intentionally not choosing Clinton.

All of this might change after the nominations, assuming Clinton is nominated as the Democratic candidate. Maybe more people will rationalize that Clinton isn’t so bad, after all, at least compared to Trump. Or maybe even then most Americans won’t be able to stomach voting for her.

The Hidden Desire of the Imperial Subject

Anti-Federalists were to Federalists as Marxists were to Stalinists. The Anti-Federalists considered themselves to be the real federalists, similar to how some Marxists have thought of themselves as the real communists.

The Federalists and Stalinists turned out to be just different varieties of imperialists, something the Anti-Federalists and Marxists opposed. That is what the Cold War ended up being about, which imperialism would control the world. Oddly, the rhetoric of Anti-Federalism and Marxism was sometimes used to this end, as a rationalization of and distraction from the real purpose of accumulated power.

People are so easily deceived by rhetoric. But I wonder if there is more to it than that. I’ve recently thought that people accept the rhetoric even though at some level they know it’s propaganda. Many people simply want to be lied to by their political officials because it gives them plausible deniability. That way, they don’t have to admit they too want an empire.

It’s understandable, this divide in the public mind. We’ve been taught that empires are supposed to be bad. And no one wants to think of themselves as a bad person or as part of a bad society. Yet as imperial subjects, we gain many benefits: cheap products, freedom to travel, a protected life, etc. As long as an individual doesn’t challenge that power, the individual can live a good life within the empire. We grow accustomed to such benefits and they make it easier for us to quiet the voice of our conscience.

It’s hard to gain the self-awareness, social understanding, historical perspective, and moral courage to speak out against injustice and immorality. Few ever do so.

Class Breakdown of the Campaigns

Has anyone noticed the interesting breakdown of whites for each candidate?

Clinton is winning the relatively wealthier, well educated whites who are content with the status quo and who are centrists fearing any challenges from the left or right. They just don’t want to rock the boat and so they passively float along hoping that somehow they’ll float to safety or at least not sink, as they poke their finger in the hole in the bottom of the boat. There are drowning people in the water all around them and they keep pushing them away. It’s better to save some people than to end up all drowning, they say to each other hoping to comfort themselves.

Trump has more upper working class to lower middle class whites. They are mostly middle aged, about average in wealth and education. They aren’t the worse off Americans. Rather, they are those who might be one or two bad breaks from losing their homes, falling into poverty, etc. These are the people clinging to the sides of the boat and won’t let go, threatening to overturn it. They think they deserve to be in the boat, but they aren’t about to try to save the lives of those struggling further away from the boat: poor whites, single mothers, the homeless, minorities, immigrants, etc.

On the other hand, Sanders has won the support of low income Americans. This includes poor whites and rural whites, the very people who many assume are solid Republicans. It is true that many of these low income people are more socially conservative than average, even more religious. This relates to the youth vote, as the young have been hit the hardest by the economy and the young religious are mostly on the political left. These are those aforementioned people who know they have no chance of getting close to the boat, much less getting aboard it. So, they are trying to cobble debris together to make a large raft for everyone treading water.

It maybe should be unsurprising that Clinton and Trump are liked and trusted by so few. Just as maybe it should be unsurprising that Sanders is liked and trusted by so many.

By the way, I’d love to see an economic class breakdown, either by income or wealth, for other demographics, such as race. He has won the youth vote, including young men and young women. It’s not just young whites, but also the majority of young minorities, blacks and Hispanics.

As has been shown, Sanders has the support of low income Americans. This is a demographic that is disproportionately minority. As such, I suspect the support for Sanders from low income Americans isn’t just white people. I haven’t seen the economic class breakdown for the minority vote, but I bet Sanders has won poor minorities.

It relates to the youth vote. The young have been hit the hardest by economic problems with high rates of unemployment and underemployment, along with college debt in the hope that a degree would make it more likely for them to get a job. The young are among the first to do worse than their parents at the same age.

Economic problems have hit young minorities hardest of all. But poor rural whites have also been hit hard. In both cases, the War On Drugs, school-to-prison pipeline, and mass incarceration has harmed an entire generation and ravaged entire communities.

Here is the challenge for Sanders and for American democracy in general.
 
He has the strongest support among the young and the low income. He has a majority of young men and young women, young whites and young minorities. This is probably true for the low income demographic as well, in that he probably has large numbers from the poorest minorities, especially considering there is much crossover between those who are young and those who are poor.
 
These demographics also are the least likely to vote. Young minorities, for examples, are the most likely to have lost voting rights because of being ex-cons. Young minorities are more likely to be poor than older minorities, and it’s in poor minorities where it is hardest to vote because of few polling locations and long lines. This is true for poor whites who also tend to vote at lower rates. Consider the low income rural demographic that Sanders has won at least in some states, a demographic that often doesn’t have polling stations that are close.
 
It’s because these people have been purposely disenfranchised and demoralized by the political system that they support Sanders. They are frustrated and tired with the status quo. They are feeling so outraged that they will likely vote at higher rates than ever before, no matter how few polling stations there, no matter how far away they are, and no matter how long the lines are. A candidate has finally given them hope, something many of them haven’t felt in a long time, maybe their entire lives.
* * *

What Kentucky Results Show About Clinton-Sanders Battle
by Dante Chinni

Rural, white counties have been a fairly reliable cache of votes for Mr. Sanders. You can see the same pattern in New York (where Mr. Sanders lost) and Michigan (where he won). The problem for him is it takes a lot of small, rural counties to equal the votes from one big, urban county. Case in point: He won more than twice as many counties in Kentucky and still lost the state.

The Graduating Class of 2016 By the Numbers
by Steven R. Watros and Cordelia F. Mendez

The picture in the general public is much different, with a recent CBS News/New York Times poll showing that 41 percent of registered voters prefer Trump in a matchup against Clinton, while 47 percent support the former Secretary of State.

But among certain populations of Harvard seniors, support for Trump runs stronger. Varsity athletes and members of traditionally male final clubs, for example, were more likely to report supporting Trump. And his supporters reported prioritizing different issues in the presidential election than those who support Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

While some news outlets have reported that Harvard students overwhelmingly support Bernie Sanders—and that Hillary Clinton supporters are met with backlash—data from a survey of the senior class suggests that those claims are largely false, at least among the Class of 2016: More than twice as many seniors surveyed said they prefer Clinton, and her supporters were more steadfast in their support, reporting in larger numbers that they would consider voting for a third-party candidate should their preferred candidate not prevail.

Racism, Proto-Racism, and Social Constructs

A less typical angle on race and racism is to look to the ancient world. Some early texts and other evidence can be used to this end. But these sources are sparse and the authors weren’t representative of the average person.

Plus, we end up projecting onto the past. That is how the early ideas of race developed, as those thinkers themselves looked to ancient texts. Scholars agree that modern notions of scientific racism didn’t exist in the ancient world. Still, it is normal in all periods for others to be perceived according to differences, although similarities are often emphasized.

It can be problematic to call this proto-racism, though. That is anachronistic. There is no proto-racism. There is just racism, which itself is inseparable from the rise of scientific thinking. It’s like calling the earliest Egyptian Empire proto-modern because it was an early example of what modernity would build upon millennia later. Or it’s like calling the Roman Empire proto-industrialization because they were an industrious people who liked to build infrastructure that helped their economy to develop.

Racism is a word with a ton of baggage to it. That baggage didn’t exist in the ancient world. Their entire way of looking at the world and identifying themselves is alien to us. This is something I don’t think many modern people appreciate, scholars included. Go far back enough in time and you’re in not just a foreign world but a foreign reality. It’s hard to enter a mindset so different from ours or even to imagine what that mindset might have been going by such limited evidence.

As an example, ancient people had a different sense of ethnicity, culture, language, and religion. These things didn’t exist to them. There was simply the world they knew. It also seems there was much fluidity in those societies. We can see that from how much people borrowed ideas and traditions from one another, and were regularly creating new syncretistic cultures and social systems.

The Greeks weren’t a single people. It took centuries for a collective identity to form through trade and travel. Greek culture became so influential that colonized people and even foreign empires adopted Greek mythology as their own origins. It was irrelevant whether or not people shared ancestry or necessarily looked like one another. A mythological system like that of the Greeks allowed for a fair amount of broad inclusion.

The same pattern was seen with the Celts. Like the Greeks, they had formed a large, influential trading society. It spread their Celtic culture, including religion and language, to other populations. The Irish weren’t Celtic when they took on Celtic culture.

To be Greek or Celtic was a specific worldview, not a race. It’s like calling oneself an American, an identity that contains diversity and means many things to many people. Yet Greeks and Celts, like other cultural groups, were perceived in terms of physical features. Romans saw as significant that Celts had blue skin. Were Celts born as a blue-skinned race. No, they dyed their skin blue. That is what Romans saw on the battlefield, a bunch of naked men who were blue all over.

Other cultures dyed their skin or hair various colors or else permanently modified their bodies in other ways: scarifying, tattoos, extending earlobes and lips, etc. Plus, each culture had a different way of doing their hair along with having different clothing, jewelry, etc that they wore or else lack thereof. Even two genetically near identical groups could appear as absolutely different in physical appearance, not to mention other aspects of culture, religion, language, and social behavior.

To ancient Romans or Greeks, the blue-skinned Celts were more foreign than darker-skinned Egyptians or even more foreign. Some Romans did speculate on such physical differences, but not more than they speculated about all of the thousands of other differences (and similarities) between various cultures. Besides A Barbarian was someone who spoke a different language, specifically a language that wasn’t Greek or Latin (or else accented, provincial Greek or Latin), no matter their physical appearance. And a foreigner was simply anyone who was outside of one’s door, which is to say outside of one’s home and homeland. Ancients perceived certain groups as ‘other’, but race as we know it wasn’t a mental category they had to place people in.

Sure, white and black were colors with great symbolic value in the ancient world, often indicating moral and aesthetic value. It’s just not clear how that applied to people. Ancients unlikely portrayed all darker-skinned people as ‘black’, considering that darker-skinned people are actually varying shades of brown. The Roman Empire, in particular, was a cosmopolitan society including many Africans who weren’t just slaves but also gladiators, charioteers, soldiers, entertainers, philosophers, theologians, priests, and even numerous popes and emperors—diversity was found both in Rome and at the frontier and this diversity led to intermixing, through culture and marriage. Also, I doubt various swarthy Mediterranean peoples looked to the Irish and Scandinavians as being superior because of their lighter skin, no matter what was their view of the symbolic value of light and dark.

Besides, we’re not entirely sure the skin color and tone of various ancient populations, as much population mixing has occurred over the millennia. For example, the early Jews probably were darker-skinned before outbreeding with Europeans and Arabs (Palestinians are descendants of the original Jews that never left). Or consider how those early Jews perceived the Samaritans as a separate people, even though they shared the same holy texts. The ancients had plenty of prejudices, just not our modern prejudices. There is much debate about when and how long it took those modern prejudices to develop, but they certainly didn’t exist in classical antiquity.

Lets just be clear that skin color was no more defining of otherness than anything else, although in any given context in a particular text a particular defining feature would be emphasized. Sure, someone could look for all the examples of ancient people focusing one thing while ignoring all of the many more examples when ancient people focused on other things (and many have done this). But how would that offer any insight into anything beyond the biases of the person looking for examples to fit a preconceived ideological worldview?

Worse still, talking about proto-racism gives an air of inevitability to racism. How could proto-racism become anything other than racism? The theory of social construction offers an alternative perspective—as stated in a review of Ian Hacking’s The Social Construction of What?: “Hacking provides an interesting perspective on this whole trend by de-emphasizing the social aspect and focusing on the construction aspect. He views this simply as a way of arguing against the inevitability of something.”

Maybe the precursors to racism could be interpreted differently. And maybe their subsequent development is much more historically contingent than many assume, which is to say maybe there are many pathways that might not have led to racism as we know it or anything like it. What happened isn’t what necessarily had to happen.

Seeing the past with fresh eyes is difficult, as the main evidence we have are texts, what people wanted to be remembered and how they wanted it to be remembered. The texts that survived were either written by or favored by a long lineage of victors that shaped what civilization would become. And traditions of interpreting those texts have also been passed down by the victors. To impose one’s ideological views, racial or otherwise, onto others is the ultimate privilege for who controls the stories a society tells controls that society.

Consider a specific piece of evidence. In Airs, Waters, Places, Hippocrates of Kos has a passage that indicates a worldview of environmental determinism. Some modern scholars have interpreted this as proto-racism.

The problem with this is that environmental determinism is often used as evidence against modern race-based explanations of human differences. What Hippocrates argues is that people are the way they are because of the environments they live in, but that leaves much left to explain. He never claims that people have inherent traits outside of an environment, that people can’t change by changing environment. That is significant for in the ancient world, entire populations were known to migrate to new environments. This point is emphasized by how, during the colonial era, Europeans began to worry that their unique identity or superior character could be lost by spending too much time in native environments. Also, Hippocrates seems to argue, using Greeks as an example, that people in other environments can sometimes take the best traits from nearby environments while making them their own and so not be trapped by environmental determinism of their own narrow environmental niche.

By the way, the majority of the Greek population were slaves and the majority of slaves were ethnic Greeks. When Greek thinkers sought to justify slavery, they sometimes argued about physical differences. These perceived differences, however, weren’t skin color. Instead, the slave was different, even more animal-like, because he stooped over or something like that. It’s not as if supposedly stooped over people represented a separate race. Greek society was rare in having so many slaves, possibly the earliest example. The reason there were so many slaves is because Greeks were constantly fighting each other and they chose to enslave rather than kill the defeated people. Africans and other non-Greeks were rare slaves among Greeks and they were highly prized as more valuable than the ethnic Greek slave.

The negative connotation was in being enslaved, not in being a particular ethnicity or race. This is why group identity was so often based on kinship, more than even ethnicity. What differentiated the enslaved ethnic Greek and the free ethnic Greek is that they didn’t tend to intermarry, unless a slave gained freedom or a free person lost it, which wasn’t uncommon but even then a former slave wouldn’t likely marry far above their own class. Kinship identity in such a society was to some extent class identity (and that remained dominant until the end of feudalism and persists to this day with the aristocracy in Britain), although most importantly kinship was about familial descent. It required later multicultural colonial empires for larger group identities to form, but the fluidity of ancient ethnic/cultural/mythological origins demonstrates an early form of larger identity (specifically in how origin stories were more mythological than biological). It’s hard to make clear conclusions with confidence, as much vagueness exists in ancient texts.

Even if we wanted to accept that proto-racism is a valid theory, how is environmental determinism (or whatever other similar theory) clearly, necessarily, and inevitably proto-racism? Others have noted this is extremely weak evidence being used in a biased manner. We are in severely problematic territory. Race has been shown to be scientifically meaningless, as the genetic difference between humans is smaller than found in most similar species and certainly couldn’t justify the classification of racial sub-species. Trying to interpret the past according to a proto-racism lens based on modern racialist thought is asking for endless confusion and hence false conclusions.

There is already enough confusion in the world. This confusion is even found among highly intelligent and well informed people. This was demonstrated to me recently when talking to a guy I’ve known for many years. He is a left-winger in the Marxist tradition, although when he was younger he was a right-winger, maybe a libertarian or something like that.

I’ve talked to him many times over the years about race and racism. He is well versed in views such as race being a social construct. In talking to him not too long ago, he kept repeating that he didn’t think race as social construct meant what liberals think it means. I wasn’t quite sure what he was getting at. He knows me fairly well and so knows that I’m not a typical liberal. He also should know that liberalism is a wide category, including much disagreement, as I’ve often explained this to him. Who are these ‘liberals’ he speaks of? And what does he think they think? I don’t know.

As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t seem like anyone really knows what it means to say race is a social construct. The one thing that is clear is that ideas are powerful in the human mind, in shaping imagination and perception. Talking about this, we are going deep into the muddy waters of the psyche. The confusion that exists goes far beyond a single ideological group such as liberals.

I didn’t think too much about this at first. I figured maybe he meant that people weren’t thinking carefully enough. I’d agree with that much, if that is what he was trying to communicate. Then he said something that caught me off guard. What he said was basically this: That Africans look all the same. Or at least look more the same than Europeans. Of course, he used scientific terminology to make this statement. But the basic message was too close to bigotry for my taste. I was surprised to hear him say it.

Ignoring the racist connotations, it simply makes no sense scientifically. Africa has the most human genetic diversity in the world, moreso than all the rest of the world combined. I told this guy that I doubt Africans would agree with him about his assessment. He tried to defend himself by saying he visited Africa, as if a visit to Africa would even begin to touch upon the vast number of distinct populations across a vast continent, second only to Asia in size of landmass.

This racist/racialist/race-realist viewpoint is even more meaningless in the larger historical context. In the ancient world, all Mediterranean people had more genetically and culturally in common with each other than they did with the other societies far away on the the respective continents. For example, some Greeks looked to the Egyptians as their cultural forefathers, as the source of great art and high culture. A number of great thinkers in the supposed ‘Western’ tradition didn’t even come from Europe, such as Augustine who was an African (even some ‘Greek’ philosophers weren’t born and raised in Greece: Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus, Proclus, Damascius, etc). Millennia of Mediterranean trade had not only spread culture but also genetics. The genetic aspect can still be seen today, as certain Southern European populations and certain Northern African populations remain linked by common genetics.

The statement about all Africans looking the same (or more simiar than other found on other continents) in order to justify racial ideology could, at best, be called lazy thinking. The guy who made this statment is normally a more careful thinker. And he wouldn’t accept that kind of simplistic comment from someone else. That is the problem with ‘race’ as an ideological lens. By design, it adds confusion to the thought process. That is its purpose, to obscure details and pulverize them into a mass of generalizations.

Having been raised in a society where racial ideology is ubiquitous, such a social construct gets embedded deeply in our minds. Trying to free ourselves of such maladaptive thinking is like trying to remove a barbed hook out of your chest. This is one of the most powerful memes ever released into the world. It messes with your head in a way few things can. It’s a mind virus of plague proportions, easy to be infected and yet no known cure.

It’s hard for us to imagine a society that might have operated with entirely different social constructs based on entirely different worldviews and cultures. This is why the ancient world ends up being a foreign land. Go back far enough and societies begin to seem incomprehensibly alien to us. And this can be disconcerting It’s more comforting to get the past to fit the present.

I would point out that we don’t even have to look to the ancient world to see how much the world has changed over time. The word race was originally used to refer to such things as breeds of cattle. It came to be associated with socioeconomic class in the feudal social order. Peasants were considered a separate ‘race’ from the aristocrats and monarchs. As some have argued, “in early modern discourse, the concept of race was primarily linked with notions of bloodline, lineage, and genealogy rather than with skin colour and ethnicity.”

It’s not just that broad groups were seen as different: Europeans vs Africans, Eastern Europeans vs Western Europeans, Germans vs French, Britains vs Mainland Europeans, English vs Irish, etc. Originally, race was seen as distinctions within a single society or some other defined population area, which is to say there wasn’t even an English race, much less a white race (such thinking persisted into modernity, such as how Antebellum American whites in the North and South talked about one another as if they were separate races, Roundheads and Cavaliers). If notions of race itself were so drastically different in the recent past, imagine how different was thinking millennia before race was even an idea.

It wasn’t until the era of colonial imperialism in Europe that Europeans even began to think of themselves as Europeans. This is because of their encounter with American Indians who were more different than any societies they had ever before seen. Europeans, Middle Easterners, and Africans had been interacting with and influencing each other for Millennia by that point. However, American Indians were foreign and strange beyond all imagination, and this required new ideological thinking.

If (proto-)racism existed in the ancient world, how would we recognize it without any word for and concept of ‘race’? Early texts show evidence of prejudice and othering. I get that some elite thinkers among an ethnic group like Athenians considered themselves as part of a distinct people, but that was such a small population that shared physical appearance, culture, religion, and language with neighboring Greeks. How could a tiny population be considered a race in any meaningful sense? Speculating on such meager and unclear evidence seems pointless.

Anyway, this isn’t ultimately and solely about race. Many scholars have questioned the application of a number of modern concepts to the ancient world, from the idea of a distinct thing called ‘religion’ to the experience of ‘individuality’ that we presently take for granted. The point being is that the ancient world isn’t merely the modern world in less developed form. The ancient world must be taken on its own terms. We must study those temporally distant societies as an anthropologist observes a newly discovered tribe.

It’s not only that our understanding of the present is projected onto the past. Also, how we interpret the past determines how we will see the present. More importantly, how we imagine the past, accurate or not, constrains the kind of future we are able to envision. And never doubt that imagination fueled by ideas is the most powerful force of humanity.

Anyone who claims to have all of this figured out is either lying or deceiving themselves. I could read something tomorrow that might change my entire understanding of social identities in the ancient world and how they relate to the modern world. Even the scholars in the the related fields disagree immensely.

One thing does seem clear to me, though. In the ancient world, all aspects of culture were central in differentiating people. That is unlike the modern world where race often trumps culture. It would have been incomprehensibly bizarre to the ancients that geographically distant and ethnically/nationally diverse peoples with different languages, religions, and customs would be considered as having a common social identity because of being categorized within an arbitrarily defined range of skin color and tone.

* * *

Nina Jablonski, Living Color: The Biological and Social Meaning of Skin Color
reviewed by Josh Trapani

The Color of Sin / The Color of Skin:
Ancient Color Blindness and
the Philosophical Origins of Modern Racism
by Nicholas F. Gier

The central question: what was Hellenization
by Monte Polizzo Project

Hellenicity: Between Ethnicity and Culture
by Jonathan M. Hall

Ethnic Identity in Greek Antiquity
by Jonathan M. Hall

Ancient Perceptions of Greek Ethnicity 
by Irad Malkin (Editor)

Lee E. Patterson, Kinship Myth in Ancient Greece
reviewed by Naoíse Mac Sweeney

Denise Demetriou, Negotiating Identity in the Ancient Mediterranean: The Archaic and Classical Greek Multiethnic Emporia
reviewed by Meritxell Ferrer-Martín and reviewed by Álvaro Ibarra

Greeks, Persians, and Perseus: Oh, My!
Herodotus and the Genealogy of War
by Carly Silver

Herodotus’ Conception Of Foreign Languages
by Thomas Harrison

Race and Culture in Hannibal’s Army
by Erik Jensen

Us vs. Them: Good News From the Ancients!
by Carlin Romano

Understanding The ‘Other’ In An East Greek Context
by J.D.C. McCallum

Philosophy and the Foreigner in Plato’s Dialogues
by Rebecca LeMoine

Roman Perceptions Of Blacks
by Lloyd Thompson

Egypt In Roman Imperial Literature:
Tacitus’ Ann. 2.59-61
by Lina Girdvainytė

Papyrology, Gender, and Diversity: A Natural ménage à trios
by M. G. Parca

The Archaeology of Ethnicity: Constructing Identities in the Past and Present
by Siân Jones

Alterity in Late Antiquity: Disrupting Binaries
by Susanna Drake

The Origins of Foreigners
by Emily Wilson

Erich S. Gruen, Rethinking the Other in Antiquity
by Michael Broder

Rethinking the Other in Antiquity, by Erich S. Gruen (Book Review)
by Craige Champion

Review: E. Gruen, Rethinking the Other in Antiquity (1)
by Jona Lendering and Bill Thayer

Reading Rabbinic Literature: It’s Not All Black and White
(A Response to Jonathan Schorsch)
by David M. Goldenberg

Jew or Judaean?
by Michael L. Sa

The Beginnings of Jewishness: Boundaries, Varieties, Uncertainties
by Shaye J. D. Cohen

 

Assholes for a Good Cause

“I no longer look for the good in people, I search for the real… because while good is often dressed in fake clothing, real is naked and proud no matter the scars.”
~ Chishala Lishomwa

Having good intentions isn’t the same as fighting for a good cause.

There are some people who can be gruff, confrontational, argumentative, and such. One might be tempted to call them assholes. But quite a few of these people are among the strongest defenders of truth and justice you’ll ever find. And behind the rough exterior many of them can be fiercely compassionate.

They are the kind of people you want in a fight. They will have your back and they won’t abandon you. They are often people who have had struggles in life and have dealt with serious shit. They know the dark side of life and they know full well the problems we face. They’ve sacrificed much and they are willing to sacrifice even more, when that is what is needed.

Without these people, the world would be a thousand times worse. Yet these people rarely get credit for all that they do. The more polite, moderate, civilized people find them offensive, radical, or even dangerous. Yet what a horrific world we would live in if not for those who are willing to put themselves on the line, again and again.

The trick is to be an asshole for a good cause.

Marbles are for Fishbowls

In movies portraying kids from earlier last century, it’s not uncommon for there to be a scene of a game of marbles. It’s such an iconic image.

Yet that was my childhood back in the mid-1980s, when I was in elementary school. I remember playing marbles on the school playground. What a strange game is marbles.

That was back when low-tech was cool. But high-tech quickly took hold. Even as my childhood self played old school games, there was a simple computer and Atari system back at home, presaging the future.

On a related note, I was showing my nephew a hacky sack trick, specifically what is known as the Flying Burrito. Now there is another ancient game from the waning days of the 20th century.

My nephew had little interest in my antics. But he did get me to participate in a a different activity from the marble-era of my childhood. He was using his toy trucks to excavate a hole in the yard. If he only had some GI Joe figurines (any figures will do), we could have had a real good time.

I did notice something interesting from a couple of years ago. This same nephew of mine was having a birthday. As he opened his presents, I couldn’t help noticing that all the toys came from my childhood: Transformers, Ninja Turtles, Legos, etc.

But no marbles. These days, marbles are for fishbowls.

Fate of the Frog

A Clinton presidency would be a continuation of the slow boiling of the frog. A Trump presidency would be to throw that same frog straight into boiling water. It could instantly kill the frog. Or the frog might manage to jump right out.

In the second scenario, the frog will know it’s being boiled and has an opportunity to respond, possibly preventing it’s own death. The first scenario, however, is inevitable death, just slower and maybe not as slow as some might think.

Endless Nonsense of the Misinformed Mind

This campaign season, I’ve been surprised by quite a bit. I knew the Democratic establishment and the mainstream media were powerful, but I never realized how powerful.

Even among intelligent educated people I know, a remarkable number don’t seem all that well-informed or interested in being well-informed. I continually come across people who repeat talking points and false claims, even long after they’ve been disproven or the data has changed.

There also is a lot of simplistic opinions. I know I shouldn’t be shocked by this. It’s just for some reason it seems worse this time around. Many people are really caught up in emotional reaction or else simple partisan groupthink.

Let me give an example of some comments I’ve seen. Some people still seem to think of Bernie Sanders’ campaign as a failure. He should just give up, bow out, and hand the nomination to Hillary Clinton. They’ve assumed from the beginning, like Clinton has assumed, that the nomination was in the bag. It’s as if campaigns are just formalities and it’s really the political elites who declare who will represent us.

Such arrogance. And also such naive optimism about their candidate. Have these people been living under a rock? Haven’t they seen what’s been going on with Sanders’ campaign?

Sanders is the most well liked and most trusted candidate running right now, along with having a low negativity rating. He has raised massive amounts of money, all with small donations, setting a record in accomplishing this. He has also set a record in the largest crowds a candidate has drawn in US campaign history. He is running  neck to neck with the candidate promoted by the party establishment and the mainstream media, a candidate who would have been losing long ago if the system wasn’t rigged in her favor.

Sanders’ campaign is the most impressive in my lifetime. The voting public hasn’t been this engaged in a long time. Even Obama never got this kind of groundswell.

It’s amazing how wrong people have been about Sanders, proportionate to how certain their opinions were stated. Consider the whole Bernie Bros allegation. And then how vicious Clinton supporters became when they found out that young women have turned against Clinton and sided with Sanders. Having learned their lesson from that, they now try to ignore all the data that shows how Sanders is taking the lead in numerous demographics that Clinton supposedly was guaranteed.

This is seen with demographics from low income to young minorities. Sanders has masterfully won them over. The response is to ignore it or confidently state the opposite is true, no matter what the data shows. I hear people say such things as, “Sanders never caught on with minority voters” and “Sanders always seemed to be speaking to fairly affluent white college students.” These kinds of statements are patently false.

Then there are all the other unsubstantiated allegations. Chairs were being thrown or whatever. It’s an endless smear campaign. Clinton supporters rarely talk about the issues and, when they do talk about them, they merely demonstrate they know little about the issues. I’m genuinely shocked that Clinton supporters know so little about her political record and the consequences of the policies she has supported, not to mention all the endless shady dealings. I could write an entire book detailing all of this and some people have already written such books.

So many people can’t be bothered to research the data for themselves. They simply know what is true because that is what they heard someone say, either in Clinton’s campaign or from the MSM.

I seem to have an endless capacity for being amazed at willful ignorance and intellectual laziness. I never want to believe that knowledge means so little in changing minds. I’m naive in my love of knowledge. I just think knowledge is awesome and wrongly assume most people share this attitude.

I just don’t get personality politics, partisanship, groupthink, and blind loyalty. It isn’t my nature to think that way.

I don’t even care about Sanders, despite my support of his campaign. No one is likely to tell me any criticism or data about Sanders that I don’t already know. And if someone did surprise me with something new, it wouldn’t really bother me. If I found out that Sanders did a fraction of the immoral and anti-democratic kind of crap that Clinton regularly does, I’d drop him in a heartbeat and not give it a second thought. Sanders as a person is as irrelevant to me as is the fact that he is running as a Democrat.

I just don’t care about such things. I want reform, however that might be achieved. And, most importantly, I want truth.

* * *

Which Candidate Do the Poor Support?

Bernie Sanders and Civil Rights

Five demographic arguments for Bernie Sanders
by Carl Beijer

The story here is clear: one can only call Clinton an advocate of the powerless by ignoring women, Hispanics and other non-black voters of color, ~30% of black Americans, gays, lesbians, bisexuals and other non-straights, the young, and the poor. The narrative being aggressively advanced by writers like Tomasky and Goldberg – that Sanders is the candidate of privilege – can only be made by a stunning degree of demographic gerrymandering that ignores the dramatic sea changes in preference that have taken place since the beginning of the campaign.

Oldest African-American Newspaper in US Endorses Bernie Sanders
teleSUR

“Sanders has supported policies and programs that would be in the best interest of all Americans and African-Americans, specifically. He has been a consistent fighter for a more just and equitable society,” the oldest African-American newspaper says.

How Bernie Sanders won Michigan
by Kathleen Gray & Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press

While many said the race in Michigan would come down to demographics — and Clinton’s advantage with African-American voters — exit polling done for CNN suggested it was more about issues and widespread dissatisfaction with the federal government.

A Shock: Bernie is Actually Bagging Black Votes
by Earl Ofari Hutchinson, Huffington Post

The first hint that Sanders’ halting efforts to break Clinton’s iron-grip on Black voters paid some dividends came in the early March Michigan Democratic primary. Sanders got almost one-third of the Black vote in that primary. It did more than raise a few eyebrows. It was just enough to edge Sanders past Clinton and nab the win. It also did much more. It proved that in close contests in the Northern states with a significant percentage of Black votes, Sanders need not top Clinton’s Black vote total. This won’t happen. He just needs to slice into her percentage of the Black vote to be competitive, and as Michigan showed, to even defy the oddsmakers, and win.

 

Youth of Color Talk About Sanders
by Christen McCurdy, The Skanner

Sanders went on to win Washington’s caucus Saturday and clinched victories in Alaska and Hawaii the same day.

Exit polls on the racial breakdown of Saturday’s caucuses are not available. Critics have noted all three states have notably smaller Black populations than the national average and that Clinton’s wins in southern states were apparently solidified by Black voters.

On the other hand, Alaska and Hawaii are two of the most racially and linguistically diverse states in the nation, and Sanders polls well with younger voters of all races, enjoying a slight edge over Clinton among young African Americans.

According to the polling firm Edison Research, 51 percent of African American Democratic voters aged 17 to 29 said they support Sanders, versus 48 percent supporting Clinton. Sanders leads 66-34 among young Hispanics who are likely to support a Democrat.

 

Clintons wrestle with a black generation gap
by Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune

Much has been said about the generation gap that has caused younger women to prefer Sanders over Hillary Clinton. As the parent of a politically savvy African-American 20-something, I have seen the same gap open up between black millennials and their elders.

Too young to remember the peace and prosperity of the 1990s, today’s youths are more familiar with mass incarceration, violent crime surges, viral videos of police brutality and losses in many black households of economic gains they made in the Clinton years.

New Twitter-age movements like Black Lives Matter are fueled by such experts as Michelle Alexander, 48, and her best-seller “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.”

In an essay in The Nation titled “Why Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Deserve the Black Vote,” Alexander harshly questioned the “devotion” of black voters to the Clintons.

“Did they take extreme political risks to defend the rights of African-Americans?” she wrote. “Did they courageously stand up to right-wing demagoguery about black communities …?” No, she wrote, “Quite the opposite.”

Why Young People of Color Are Rejecting Hillary Clinton
by Hector Luis Alamo, Latino Rebels

Hillary has a problem, and her problem is the Democratic Party’s problem: How are they going to excite young voters, and particularly young voters of color? Now that we’re being told Bernie Sanders has no path to the nomination, Democratic strategists and status-quo pragmatists are hoping young people will take the immense energy that has exalted the Sanders campaign and inject it into the scheme for Hillary. That ain’t happening, but not because young people are naïve, impetuous or are being fed lies about Hillary’s record, as Democratic operatives the likes of Dolores Huerta would have us believe. On the contrary, young people won’t vote for Hillary because “we just don’t trust her,” as a young black Bernie supporter recently explained on CNN. “We don’t trust what she says, and we don’t like what she’s done. And for those combined reasons, we won’t vote for Hillary Clinton.”

The more young people learn about Hillary, the less likely they are to vote for her. Her betrayal of female workers during her time on the board of directors at Walmart, her betrayal of children, families, people of color and immigrants during her time as first lady, her pro-Wall Street years in the Senate, and her betrayal of the United States’ neighbors in Latin America during her tenure as secretary of state. Hillary indeed has plenty of experience in government. Unfortunately for her, it mostly involves her taking neoliberal positions. There’s nothing wrong with Hillary being a neoliberal and not a “true” progressive, but at least tell me the truth.

The Generation Gap Between Latino Voters
Latino USA, NPR

Is there a generation gap dividing young and old Latino voters? Young Latinos seems to prefer Bernie Sanders, while older Latinos like Hillary Clinton.

Bernie Sanders rally in Stockton draws many Latino supporters
by Cynthia Moreno

An NBC analysis that tracked the voting preference of Latino Democrats back in March found that Latinos under 30 supported Sanders on exit and entrance polls in primaries and caucuses held in 19 states.

 

Young Latino Voters Trending to Bernie Sanders as Latino Vote Emphasized
by Alvaro Nino de Guzman Jr., Media Milwaukee

“It seems that Sanders is getting a lot of attention and momentum in the Latino community as well. Things might change especially because Sanders seems to have a broad appeal to young constituencies and among the Latino, the millennials are the majority. Forty-four perspective voters among the Latino community are young voters,” said Muniz.

How Hispanic Millennials Are Driving the Bernie Sanders Brand
by Elena del Valle, HispanicMPR

The Millennials now represent the largest voting bloc in the U.S. so they cannot be ignored – these 86 million young people will represent 40 percent the electorate in 2020. The proportion of Millennials that are Hispanic is higher than other age segments – e.g. one in four Millennials are Hispanic and their median age is 27 versus 37 for the remaining population, so their influence will be significant.

Why Bernie Sanders Really Did Win Nevada’s Hispanic Vote
by Doug Johnson Hatlem, CounterPunch

In a press release, Gonzalez and WCVI lamented that “[l]ost in this controversy is the fact that the data shows a record high Latino vote share in the Democratic Caucuses with Latinos representing 19% of the vote compared to 13% in 2008.”

WCVI is “one of the nation’s largest Latino voter registration groups.” It has worked since 1985 out of Los Angeles and San Antonio under a non-partisan mandate to get as many Latinos as possible registered and to the polls on election days, and will be hosting Latino Vote Summits in several key states beginning this Friday at the University of Texas San Antonio. SVREP’s work in Nevada saw Gonzalez quoted for a story in the Los Angeles Times last Wednesday suggesting that millennial Latinos, who may make up almost half of all eligible Latino voters in the U.S. in 2016, might just make the difference in the outcome.

“The leadership that is older is all Clinton, but the younger Latinos, they’re with Sanders,” Gonzalez told the Times. “Gonzalez said the rift is present in his own family. ‘My daughters are Sanders people,’ he said. ‘My wife is with Hillary’.”

 

Six in Ten Latino Teens Identified as Democrats And Most Prefer Bernie Sanders as President
by Glen Minnis, Latin Post

While youth voter turnout typically lags, pollsters found that 62 percent of the 28,141 teens surveyed that will be eligible to vote come November’s general election plan to do so.

The study found six in every ten Latinos identify as Democrats, with just 26 percent of respondents considering themselves members of the GOP.

Among those surveyed, Sanders leads overall democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton 43 percent to 16 percent. By comparison, Republican front-runner Donald Trump managed just six percent support.

Latinos also proved to be the group that most believes immigration to be a key issue in the overall presidential debate at 30 percent.

The Latin Vote: What Do Latinos Think Of Hillary Clinton And Bernie Sanders?
by Pedro Moreno Vasquez, XpatNation

When it comes to voting, Latin women seem to be more supportive of democrats. The 2014 midterm elections indicated that 66% of Latinas voted for democratic candidates. Among Latino men, the adherence for democrats is lower: 57% of them voted for a democrat, while 41% of Latino men voted for a Republican. For both sexes, Latinos over 45 are more likely to vote for a democrat.

It seems obvious then, that Latinas will strongly support Hillary. This has been a consolation for a candidate who, in recent months, has seen a shocking drop of support from nationwide female voters. In July 2015, 71% of democratic-leaning female voters supported Hillary Clinton. In a matter of eight weeks, Clinton lost almost 30% of those votes. Now only 42% of female voters support her.

Hillary is not considering something: Latino families in the US still have a strong patriarchal background. This may affect her appeal toward male Latino voters to a degree. In general, Hillary is not taking advantage of her Latino women support. She should do more to expand it. Clinton recently assigned a Dreamer Latina named Lorella Praeli as her Latino Outreach Director. Praeli has neither wide following nor charisma. There are, of course, Dreamers who are more popular, articulate, and have more presence, such as Erika Andiola, Cesar Vargas and Carlos Padilla.

But they support Bernie Sanders.

Huge Wins Ahead for Bernie Sanders if Latinos, Independents, Youths Vote
by Garrett Griffin, Weekend Collective

Sanders crushed Hillary by 20 percentage points in two-thirds of his victories: New Hampshire, Minnesota, Colorado, Vermont, Kansas, and Maine. This was not a fluke. He will likely have more big wins if young people, independents, and Latino voters register and cast their ballots.

Southwest and Western states with large Latino populations will likely flock to Sanders. He barely lost Illinois, but surveys the week before saw him with 64% of Latino support in the state, compared to 30% for Clinton. (Nearly half of Latino voters are millennials.) Of the 20 Iowa counties that have the largest Latino population, Sanders won 15 of them. He also may have won the Latino vote in Nevada, far better than expected, and Democracy Now reported after Colorado: “Latino vote helps Bernie Sanders surge to victory in massive Democratic caucus turnout.”

Upcoming states like New Mexico, Washington, Arizona, and California (with its whopping 546 delegates) with big Hispanic populations could cause Clinton’s lead to evaporate

Interview: Young Latinos Are Ralllying for Bernie Sanders
interview with José Manuel Santoyo, teleSUR

Although it has been often reported in this election cycle that minorities are overwhelmingly voting for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, many members of the African-American and Latino communities have banded together to support Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

Sanders has been especially popular with young voters, inspiring many to participate in the democratic process for the first time.

TeleSUR spoke with José Manuel Santoyo, the online marketing strategist for Young Latinos For Bernie, about his organization’s efforts to bring his fellow young Latino’s into Sanders’ camp.

Huge!! New PPP poll: Sanders runs ahead of Clinton with Hispanic voters in a race against Trump
by vl baker, caucus99percent

If being a US citizen was like being run over by a car…

If being a US citizen was like being run over by a car, this is how elections would break down.

Republicans would say we must not punish the car driver who was doing important things and, anyway, it was probably the pedestrians fault for not leaping out of the way in time. Besides, one day you might be a car driver who runs over people and so the only way to defend your interests is to support the liberty to run people down, ya know the type that deserves it.

Democrats would offer some kind words and give an inspiring speech. If lucky, maybe the victims would get a crutch to hobble around with for the rest of their lives, although even that’s not guaranteed. The Democratic politician will make sure to get a photo-op with the victims. After they get your vote, you’ll learn that the Democratic candidate was getting donations from the car driver association and the car insurance companies. Of course, nothing will change.

As for the genuine reformers, they’d first make sure the victims got the healthcare they needed to heal. After that, they’d promise that we’re going to get that sonabitch who ran those people over. Then, once bringing the guilty to justice, they’d implement new laws and build infrastructure (sidewalks, pedestrian bridges, road signs, etc) to prevent future accidents.

Being Asked For Directions

I had a nice chat with a stranger the other day.

On my work break, a lady asked me for directions to the university hospital. I started to tell her how to get there, but I realized she probably didn’t know the town at all and I hate trying to give directions. So I decided to walk her there, since I had the time.

On the way, we had opportunity to talk. She said she is from China and came here as a cancer researcher. She was meeting a friend at the hospital.

She explained to me that universities in China are enclosed by a wall. I guess they are entirely separate from everything else. this town must seem chaotic and confusing to her, as there is no way to figure out where the city ends and the university begins. This is literally a college town where the university dominates.

It got me thinking about how different societies can be.

The US can be a rather disorderly place in many ways, even in a smaller town like this. We Americans aren’t the most talented when it comes to building a planned society. This country is a mess of competing interests and jurisdictions. And this can be seen here in the overlapping of city and university with the haphazard location of buildings that don’t share common architectural style.

Even the naming of streets in this town is mostly random. And how some streets connect can be hard to explain. All reasons I try to avoid having to give anyone directions.

All of that despite Iowa being the most orderly planned out state in the entire country.

I suspect China would be quite different in many ways. But I couldn’t begin to guess what a Chinese city or university is like.