Spirit of ’76

Spirit of ’76 (sentiment)
by Wikipedia

Historian Mellen Chamberlain wrote that the spirit of ’76 was embodied by Levi Preston, a veteran of the American Revolutionary War. Chamberlain asked Preston, then 91 years old, “Why did you go to the Concord Fight, the 19th of April, 1775? My histories tell me that you men took up arms against ‘intolerable oppressions.'” Preston responded:

Oppressions? I didn’t feel them. I never saw one of those stamps, and always understood that Governor Bernard put them all in Castle William. I am certain I never paid a penny for one of them. Tea tax! I never drank a drop of the stuff; the boys threw it all overboard. We read only the Bible, the Catechism, Watt’s Psalms and Hymns, and the Almanack. Young man, what we meant in going for those redcoats was this: we always had governed ourselves, and we always meant to. They didn’t mean we should.

Letter from Thomas Jefferson to William Smith
(commenting on Shay’s Rebellion)
Paris, November 13, 1787

What country before ever existed a century & a half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.

Fries’s Rebellion: The Enduring Struggle for the American Revolution
by Paul Douglas Newman
p. xii

While one recent historian located Shays’s Rebellion as “The American Revolution’s Final Battle” and another described the Whiskey Rebellion as the “Frontier Epilogue to the American Revolution,” the Fries Rebels would have disagreed with both implications. Rather than a story consigned to paper and concluded, the Revolution to them was a perpetual narrative for successive generations to retell, an experience to be relived, and an enduring struggle to be reengaged. Their rebellion testified to the democratizing forces in politics and society unleashed by the American Revolution. To them, the Revolution was more than a War for Independence, the founding of a national republic, or the parchment documents that defined each. It was a political, economic, and social process of expanding popular sovereignty. The Revolution was a spirit to be constantly revived and a set of political principles to be frequently redefined— always in a democratic direction— to provide more local and personal control of daily life as well as increased power over broader collective policies. The Fries Rebels believed they were upholding the Revolution’s promise and founding ideals, even when they engaged in their own discriminatory, majoritarian behavior against some of their neighbors. Perhaps other Americans equally estimated that the people could directly expand their own role in local, state, and federal government, making it more democratic and less republican in the fluid days of the post-Revolutionary political settlement when parties were only beginning to form and authority seemed so weak. Even if this was not the case, the Fries Rebels appear to have thought that way, and if we listen closely enough, we can hear them tell us so.

Benjamin Rush in 1787
“Address to the People of the United States”

There is nothing more common than to confound the terms of the American revolution with those of the late American war. The American war is over: but this is far from being the case with the American revolution. On the contrary, nothing but the first act of the great drama is closed. It remains yet to establish and perfect our new forms of government; and to prepare the principles, morals, and manners of our citizens, for these forms of government, after they are established and brought to perfection. […]

PATRIOTS of 1774, 1775, 1778—HEROES of 1778, 1779, 1780! come forward! your country demands your services!—Philosophers and friends to mankind, com forward! your country demands your studies and speculations! Lovers of peace and order, who declined taking part in the late war, come forward! your country forgives your timidity, and demands your influence and advice! Hear her proclaiming, in sighs and groans, in her governments, in her finances, in her trade, in her manufactures, in her morals, and in her manners, “THE REVOLUTION IS NOT OVER!”

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105 thoughts on “Spirit of ’76

  1. I threw Jefferson’s famous quote in there for context. I’m not personally advocating watering the Tree of Liberty. Over time, Jefferson mellowed in his views and his aristocratic side began showing more. But there was a time when he had a clear sense of the Spirit of ’76, before he got weighed down by politics.

    The revolutionary mood, that radical vision and inspiration, wasn’t really about violence. That is made clear by the first quote. The fundamental motivation was simple. It was (and still is) about self-governance.

    The fact of the matter is that most of the early American post-revolutionary protesters against corrupt government and economic cronyism weren’t violent at all. Many of them were veterans from the American Revolution. They didn’t want to destroy the US. They weren’t insurrectionists. They simply wanted their country to live up to the values and ideals they had fought for and that many of their family members, friends, and neighbors had died for.

    The demand for genuine democracy, in the end, was too much to ask of many of those who came to power. What the British government failed to do, the new US government accomplished. The Spirit of ’76 was violently put down. Yet it was too late. The democratic tendency had already taken root, however slow it would be to grow more fully.

  2. Stated in another way from Jefferson and with a different emphasis, MLK once said that,

    “I contend that the cry of “black power” is, at bottom, a reaction to the reluctance of white power to make the kind of changes necessary to make justice a reality for the Negro. I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard.”

    MLK was talking about black people, of course. The much earlier rebellions were from other oppressed groups, specifically the lower classes and ethnic minorities, those denied both political power and representation. Feeling unheard, they did what they felt necessary to make themselves heard.

    The Spirit of ’76 is simple. It is the defiance of oppression, the refusal to be silenced and remain silent. The Spirit of ’76 is always kept alive among those who long for freedom the most.

    When the American Revolution came to its conclusion, Benjamin Franklin said to Thomas Paine, “Where liberty is, that is my country,” Paine had a different view of things. He responded, “Where liberty is not, that is mine.”

    Paine understood what the the Fries’ rebels understood. Revolution isn’t a result, but a process. It is the beginning of democracy, not its ending. Newman also understood that, in his description of the Fries’ rebels, which is what inspired this post:

    “To them, the Revolution was more than a War for Independence, the founding of a national republic, or the parchment documents that defined each. It was a political, economic, and social process of expanding popular sovereignty.”

  3. A continuation of comments on the Moral Indignation thread

    First, a correction. My union experience was in a Midwestern rust belt city, not in Appalachia. The Appalachian experience was during summers when I lived with grandparents.

    Saul Alinsky in his book, “Rules for Radicals” wrote “Most people got through life undergoing a series of happenings which pass trough their systems undigested. Happenings become experiences when they are reflected on, related to general patterns and synthesized.” I especially recommend pages 13-80 to you.

    I hope not to create another retro happening for you. So except for the the three numbered responses at the end to three specifics in your last reply, I will attempt to be apolitical.

    For someone who claims to take a “long” view, I am a bit surprised that you see your description of my generation (succumbed to “lies”) and our experiences (“bullshit”) combined with the aggrandizement of younger generations as original. Every generation tends to think its insight and understanding is superior to that of the previous generation. For example, the 60’s generation claimed that loudly and with bombs (don’t trust anyone over 30). Some good and some not so good resulted. But not according to your statements. Appreciate that today’s successful revolutionary is tomorrow’s establishment. When you take over, the next generation will accuse you of bullshit and believing lies. The cycle repeats itself as it always has.

    I think you see a large blip in the economy that existed between the end of WWII into the 1970’s as the norm. It was not. After that war, we were the only major industrial nation not in shambles. As the only game in town, we had no competition. When competition arose, we failed to a) recognize it and b) when we did recognize it, it was too late, yet we expected, one way or another, to be able to return to the way things used to be. And many of us still operate under that illusion. Example: Prior to WWII, fewer than half of Americans owned property. My parents didn’t. We ran into huge economic problems when it was decided that owning property was a right. (Many factors caused the resulting economic meltdown and I won’t debate which were the worst.) I have not said all of your claims are incorrect. I simply attempted to show why they are not without flaw, as are all political convictions.

    On equality/inequity, every group of any kind of any size in any place has a top, middle and bottom. Ask any school teacher if all of her/his students are equal and how that inequality can be fixed. Some was/is within our control to change. But some is the way we are. I speak from (more bullshit?) experience regarding both. I have been on the top and I have been on the bottom. Everyone cannot be fixed. And bringing one down to raise another doesn’t change the numbers. That doesn’t mean nothing should be done. I suggest they can be done more realistically.

    Now to the three points:

    There is little disagreement that younger generations know more than older generations. That’s not the issue. Oops! Will send quote in a follow-up.

    2, Generally, top management does not hire and fire editorial people. The editorial department does in major and mainstream operations.. That may not be true in small newspapers, for example, where the loss of a few major advertisers could put them out of business. In fact, I suggest that most publishers aren’t much concerned with editorial content as long as the operation is profitable. Certainly you know that most major daily papers in the US have left-of-center editorial pages.

    The trend in higher education is on restriction of free speech and exposure to ideas to which some people object (similar to the 1950’s except from the left rather than the right and more insidious). Incidentally, I thought I made it clear that the problem was greatest in the liberal arts. And, yes, both right and left professors have lost their jobs for political reasons.

    The greatest threat to free speech and diversity of thought comes from the enforcement of “trigger warnings” and alerts to “micro aggression.’ A trigger warning advises students that that they may hear statements that can trigger traumatic memories. Professors should warn students before assigning such materials and even allow students to skip classes where such material is discussed. Columbia students have petitioned for trigger warnings on literature considered great works such as Ovid’s “Metamorphoses.” “Microaggression” is an accidentally offensive statement.
    A popular faculty training document considers calling the United States “a melting pot” to be a form of micro aggression as are “Everyone can succeed in this society if they work hard enough,” “I believe the most qualified person should get the job, and “America is the land of opportunity.” Maybe those are some of the “lies” you referred to, but imagine preparing a class under the threat of a student determining what you say or assign is a micro aggression or that you failed to issue a trigger warning. Some books thought to require trigger warnings are Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice,” Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway,” Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” and, of course, Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn.”

    Colleges also are having to protect, not invite or disinvite speakers who are thought to have ideas unworthy of a podium. After all, the left has found the truth, so what value is debate or listening to falsehoods? Recently Zineb El Rhazoui, a journalist from Charlie Hebo, came to the University of Chicago to talk about threats to free speech, including the massacre at her magazine’s office of 11 of her co-workers by terrorists who objected to a cartoon about the prophet Mohammed. Students objected because her words didn’t make the students feel “safe.” It appears that real world dangers are discounted but incorrect opinions are unsafe!

    To keep students “safe” from the “violent” remarks of Dr. Christina Sommers (who says, among other “anti-feminist” things, that male-female wage disparity is caused by choices, not discrimination). Georgetown University provided a “safe space” complete with furnishings, refreshments and staff members trained to deal with trauma. Sommers, meanwhile, was under police protection and Georgetown apologized for her words.

    Free speech advocate Wendy Kaminer spoke at Smith stating that “Huckleberry Finn” is a critique of racism that can’t be understood without Twain’s actual words. There were protest to such a notion. Smith’s president apologized for having such thoughts spoken at her college. Kaminer lamented that “It’s amazing to me that (people) can’t distinguish between racist speech and speech about racist speech, between racism and discussion of racism.”

    Two speakers recently disinvited from college campus because their words might be too upsetting are Ayaan Hirsi Ali by Brandeis and Charles Murray by Azusa Pacific. Efforts to suppress speech also were aimed at Condoleeza Rice, George Will and IMF Director Christine Legarde.

    I’m sure you also are aware that in the fight against sexual assault, a number of colleges are establishing their own “legal” systems in which the accused is deemed guilty until proved innocent and the bar of proof is much higher for the accused than for the plaintiff and, in a number of cases, is not even offered due process.

    (continued in next post . . . .)

    • Thanks for responding again. I do appreciate your perspective, even when I strongly disagree. Never doubt that I like hearing other perspectives. I take your views seriously and I don’t dismiss them out of hand. I get frustrated easily, but I don’t mean to be rude.

      Always feel free to voice your opinions here. I do like data. I want some meat on my bones, something to chew on. But I’m fine with opinions, as long as they are clearly stated as opinions. I often state opinions myself and so won’t hold that against anyone else.

      If you think I’m wrong, tell me so. I like those who are straight with me. Even more so, I like those who can offer me tough arguments that challenge me. Don’t pull your punches. I promise my feelings won’t be hurt.

      I want to fully understand where you are coming from, especially in terms of your personal experience. We all have limited experience in life. And I’m always fascinated to gain new perspective. It can irritate me trying to grapple with someone coming from a different worldview, attitude, or simply coming from a different angle. But I enjoy the challenge of seeking understanding.

      I actually wish I had more commenters on my blog with other views. I do have some diversity already. Many commenters on my blogs have been from other countries and from other regions in this country or else other ethnicities besides my own. It keeps me on my toes.

    • “First, a correction. My union experience was in a Midwestern rust belt city, not in Appalachia. The Appalachian experience was during summers when I lived with grandparents.”

      I was wondering about that. When I made my comment, I wasn’t entirely sure you were talking about Appalachia. Out of curiosity, where in the Midwestern rust belt was your union experience?

      I was born into a factory town. But I mostly have vague early memories of the places, besides later visits there. Both of my parents grew up in factory towns. My father used to be a factory manager for many years, until he became a professor of business management. I’ve had some good discussions with him about unions. His hometown of Alexandria, IN had troubles with labor unions and factory closings.

      I don’t dismiss problems with unions. Idealistically, I’m more in favor of more direct ways of democratizing the economy. I’d like to see more employee ownership, cooperatives, and other such things… which globally employ more people than do transnational corporations. The largest job creators (as a percentage of all jobs created) are small businesses, whether individually or jointly owned.

      That is what a free market means to me. It is a market where most people have great freedom to act in the interest of themselves, their families, and their communities. It’s a practical rather than theoretical freedom.

      I don’t have any strong opinion about unions themselves. As far as I can tell, unions are simply a reflection of how communities and sub-populations respond to economic conditions beyond their control in an increasingly uncontrollable globalized market. This doesn’t create the conditions for healthy social capital and well-functioning self-governance. It is unsurprising that the results aren’t always happy. Dysfunctional systems have dysfunctional results.

      Plus, when you look at many ethnic groups and regional populations, they were violent and poor and had other problems long before unions or even capitalism came along. Consider Appalachia where violent labor strikes happened. The Scots-Irish, Irish, and Scots (and some border people like Palatine Germans) who settled Appalachia had been poor and violent for centuries before they ever came to America.

      “Most people got through life undergoing a series of happenings which pass trough their systems undigested. Happenings become experiences when they are reflected on, related to general patterns and synthesized.”

      I do have Alinsky’s book. I’ve read some of it a while back, but I can’t now recall which parts I read. It did strike me as interesting and not particularly radical, as right-wingers made it out to be, like it were some manual for terrorists.

      “I hope not to create another retro happening for you.”

      I doubt you have ever created a retro happening for me. But maybe you have. I’m not quite sure what you have in mind.

      “For someone who claims to take a “long” view, I am a bit surprised that you see your description of my generation (succumbed to “lies”) and our experiences (“bullshit”) combined with the aggrandizement of younger generations as original. ”

      I neither claimed it was original nor that it was just your generation. I included my generation as well. My point is simply that specific conditions shaped our Cold War generations. It is hard for us to see outside of that, despite the Cold War having ended quite a while ago. Our minds have been shaped by the Cold War, whether or not we like that fact.

      “Every generation tends to think its insight and understanding is superior to that of the previous generation.”

      I don’t think it is superior. You aren’t likely to hear me frame issues in that manner.

      I merely spoke of us being in different times and needing new thinking. It is simply the nature of humanity that aging makes us less able to change our minds and understandings. Many have noted that people rarely change their minds. It’s just given enough time older generations with older worldviews and paradigms pass on from power and influence.

      There is nothing either remarkable or original about this insight. It is simply a repeating pattern of history. It applies to every generation. Conditions will go on changing and every generation as it ages find it increasingly hard to grasp the changes happening. It is the fate of now living in a world that changes so fast and at such a large scale, something we weren’t evolved to deal with.

      “For example, the 60’s generation claimed that loudly and with bombs (don’t trust anyone over 30). Some good and some not so good resulted. But not according to your statements.”

      I never said that. You read that into what I wrote. I’ve often defended older generations in posts and comments over the years. I’ve written in great detail at times about what various generations accomplished. But in this situation I was responding to something in particular, not making great conclusions about the totality of your generation.

      “Appreciate that today’s successful revolutionary is tomorrow’s establishment. When you take over, the next generation will accuse you of bullshit and believing lies. The cycle repeats itself as it always has.”

      That is my point. The cycle repeats. We are in a particular phase of a particular cycle. Somethings repeat while new things arise.

      “I think you see a large blip in the economy that existed between the end of WWII into the 1970’s as the norm. It was not. After that war, we were the only major industrial nation not in shambles. As the only game in town, we had no competition. When competition arose, we failed to a) recognize it and b) when we did recognize it, it was too late, yet we expected, one way or another, to be able to return to the way things used to be. And many of us still operate under that illusion.”

      I’ve stated all that many times before in my blog. You aren’t telling me anything I don’t already know. There are many things I don’t know, but American history happens to be one of the things I know in a fair amount of detail.

      That said, I would point out that it is more complicated still. What is considered the ‘norm’ is always relative. Compared to what and when? The world before WWII wasn’t the norm either, in the big picture. The entire existence of the United States and everything about our history is outside of the historical and global norm. Yet to us we take it all for granted, rather naively, not understanding most of the causal factors behind it nor what undermines it.

      Consider this post. Few Americans know about how complicated the early modern revolutionary era was. Instead, most Americans don’t realize that the revolution had much earlier origins and lasted beyond the fight with the British government.

      “Example: Prior to WWII, fewer than half of Americans owned property. My parents didn’t. We ran into huge economic problems when it was decided that owning property was a right. (Many factors caused the resulting economic meltdown and I won’t debate which were the worst.)”

      Example: Prior to WWII there were many blacks who owned land and houses. Sundown town policies drove many blacks from their homes by mob violence and they lost all their wealth, leaving nearly everything behind, which was then either destroyed by the white townsfolk or taken over by them.

      Another example: Prior to being isolated in inner cities by redlining and before those inner cities were ghettoized by factories moving elsewhere, most blacks had high marriage rates and were experiencing high economic mobility. Neither the black experience before or after the destruction of black communities was the norm, as up to that point the norm for most of American history had been black enslavement and other forms of enforced and coerced labor.

      “I have not said all of your claims are incorrect. I simply attempted to show why they are not without flaw, as are all political convictions.”

      The same back at you. I have not said all of your claims are incorrect. I simply attempted to show why they are not without flaw, as are all political convictions. It’s called disagreement. But, from my perspective, there was a difference that mattered. Wrong or right, I attempted to back up my opinions with data. If you want to disagree with my opinions, you have to deal with the data… or not.

      “On equality/inequity, every group of any kind of any size in any place has a top, middle and bottom. Ask any school teacher if all of her/his students are equal and how that inequality can be fixed. Some was/is within our control to change. But some is the way we are. […] Everyone cannot be fixed. And bringing one down to raise another doesn’t change the numbers. That doesn’t mean nothing should be done. I suggest they can be done more realistically.”

      This is one of the topics I’ve read and written about the most. I could throw a ton of links and data at you, but you can find the info for yourself if you so desire. An aspect I’ve written about isn’t just abstract theory and speculation, for I’ve looked at comparisons between countries on various issues, real world examples of change, and various studies exploring environmental factors. To put it simply, it isn’t a zero sum game, where bringing up one necessarily brings down another. The numbers do indeed change, depending on the conditions.

      “Certainly you know that most major daily papers in the US have left-of-center editorial pages.”

      Using data, I challenged the entire basis of this assumption. Left of what or whose center? Left of the center of the political and economic elite? I don’t know. Maybe. But certainly not left of center of the average American, at least on many major issues, as shown in polling and surveys.

      That said, we could argue endlessly about the cause of that disparity and disconnection between those above and those below, those concentrated in particular centers of power and those spread out across the country.

      “The trend in higher education is on restriction of free speech and exposure to ideas to which some people object (similar to the 1950’s except from the left rather than the right and more insidious). Incidentally, I thought I made it clear that the problem was greatest in the liberal arts.”

      I’ve never seen any data showing it is mostly in liberal arts. Maybe that is the case. I’d just want to see the evidence first, before assenting to that conclusion. Are you referring to a study done? If so, I’d like to know what they were measuring and how. Otherwise, it is just more rhetoric fitting the mainstream and often right-wing narrative, which for obvious reasons I don’t trust.

      “The greatest threat to free speech and diversity of thought comes from the enforcement of “trigger warnings” and alerts to “micro aggression.’”

      I know what you are talking about. But I doubt it is worse than the oppression in academia during, for example, McCarthyism. In my experience, conservatives and right-wingers have been among the best students in learning to use political correctness to control positions of authority, along with the public narrative. That is my biased perspective, though. A battle of biased opinions probably isn’t helpful. I’d refer to data or studies about this kind of threat to free speech, if I knew of any.

      I’m far from arguing there aren’t problems, as our entire society is problematic and has been since its inception. The challenges we now face have much to do with our becoming less ignorant about the complexity of the problems. Take as examples such things as stereotype threat, Pygmalion threat, golem effect, etc. Studies have shown a simple question at the beginning of a test, about gender or race or whatever, can entirely change the results of those taking the test. We are powerfully influenced by environmental factors, including words. We humans are just now beginning to grapple with this issue, having until this point been almost completely clueless.

      I couldn’t tell you what the right answer is. I’m just glad we are finally realizing we have to find a better answer. It’s a first step.

      “Colleges also are having to protect, not invite or disinvite speakers who are thought to have ideas unworthy of a podium. After all, the left has found the truth, so what value is debate or listening to falsehoods?”

      The implication of your question contradicts your earlier statement when you said that, “And, yes, both right and left professors have lost their jobs for political reasons.” Since the right controls large segments of academia and you have no evidence that the left is more guilty of either believing they have found the truth or suppressing the truth of others, I’m not sure what to make of your question.

      “It appears that real world dangers are discounted but incorrect opinions are unsafe!”

      We could lob anecdotal evidence at one another. I’m not sure what purpose that would serve. There are plenty examples of people on the left and right doing all kinds of things, but that isn’t the same thing as proving that such incidences are representative and all that common. I’ve looked into allegations of pervasive problems like this and the evidence always turns out to be skimpy, the listing of a few isolated cases.

      “Two speakers recently disinvited from college campus because their words might be too upsetting are Ayaan Hirsi Ali by Brandeis and Charles Murray by Azusa Pacific. Efforts to suppress speech also were aimed at Condoleeza Rice, George Will and IMF Director Christine Legarde.”

      So? Many speakers across the political spectrum get disinvited. Students are the customers of colleges. It doesn’t bother me if customers choose what kind of product they want. As long as we treat college as a product to be bought, that is what we must expect. Of course, I’d rather education be treated as public good and colleges as a public forum. But until that is a reality, we are stuck with a fiscal conservative model of education as consumerism.

      “I’m sure you also are aware that in the fight against sexual assault, a number of colleges are establishing their own “legal” systems in which the accused is deemed guilty until proved innocent and the bar of proof is much higher for the accused than for the plaintiff and, in a number of cases, is not even offered due process.”

      There are many problems or challenge or struggles, however one wishes to think of it. Special interests too often control universities. I’d rather have more democratic control of education, not the weird cronyism of special interests, whether activist groups or politicians enforcing their will. There has been many problems lately in politicians at the state level meddling in education for self-interested ideological agendas.

      I hope one day to live in a well functioning democracy of genuine self-governance and freedom. I’m a fierce defender of the Spirit of ’76, to tie this all back into the topic of this particular blog post.

  4. As I said, there is little disagreement (though I have no hard data!) that younger generations know more than older generations. That’s not the problem. Employers report that while they know a great deal in terms of facts and data, they have trouble thinking independently, pulling facts and data together to reach a conclusion As a consequence, they often don’t know what to do or even how to find out. That, of course, is not universal, but it’s enough of a problem to frustrate many employers with younger hires. College should be a place where students learn to think for themselves. Too many aspects of higher ed today are not helping students think for themselves. Rather, they shield students from diverse thought which encourages such thinking.

    Lastly, I agree that labels are misleading or meaningless (I used to call myself an 18th century liberal). Nothing I have written was intended as a defense of any political party. I attempted to write in terms of a left-right political spectrum which may or may not be party specific, depending on the issue.

    So be it. In the words of Edward R. Murrow, “Good night and good luck.”

    • “Employers report that while they know a great deal in terms of facts and data, they have trouble thinking independently, pulling facts and data together to reach a conclusion”

      Such unsupported claims still don’t mean much to me. I don’t know of any data that supports your claim. And the data I do know contradicts it.

      For example, the average IQ is increasing with every generation. Two points are relevant in this. The average IQ of the lower IQ demographics is increasing the most. Crystallized intelligence is concrete or factual knowledge, which tests show has increased as education has increased. But most of the IQ increase has come from fluid intelligence, the ability to think critically, perceive patterns, and to solve new problems.

      I don’t know which employers you are talking to or what kind of employees they have. Assuming they know what they are talking about in their own experience, it is obvious that their experience of young people isn’t representative of most young people.

      “As a consequence, they often don’t know what to do or even how to find out.”

      That would be a worthy topic of discussion. But taken in isolation without any backing data, it is largely meaningless. Just so much opinionating and speculation.

      “Too many aspects of higher ed today are not helping students think for themselves. Rather, they shield students from diverse thought which encourages such thinking.”

      I am often critical of education. Not because I think it is worse than it used to be. But because I think it could be better than it is.

      I’ve blogged about education a few times. I have looked at the data. I’ve yet to find any information that shows education is getting worse. Education used to be extremely bad and excluded most citizens. We’ve never had such an educated population in our history.

      The real problem is that most people are becoming increasingly useless in the economy. That is why a black market and mass incarceration has arisen. It takes care of the unemployed and underemployed, the growing permanent underclass. Education, even for those who get it, means less than it used to.

      Blacks, for example, with a college degree are less likely to get hired than whites with only a high school degree. That is severely demented, as a supposedly free and meritocratic society.

      “Lastly, I agree that labels are misleading or meaningless (I used to call myself an 18th century liberal). Nothing I have written was intended as a defense of any political party. I attempted to write in terms of a left-right political spectrum which may or may not be party specific, depending on the issue.”

      My complaint has less to do with mere partisan politics. The spectrum, specifically as you’re using it, is being framed by an inaccurate mainstream narrative. It obscures understanding, rather than offering insight. It is worse than meaningless, which isn’t your fault. I just think we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard of truth-seeking. The old frames and understandings are no longer sufficient, if they ever were.

      “So be it.”

      Yep. So be it.

      I hold no hard feelings toward you. I just demand much from those who wish to debate me. Feel free to disagree with me. But be prepared to defend your claims. There is no point in making claims that one isn’t willing or able to defend, so it seems to me, not that I always live up to this ideal of evidence-based argument, but I try my best.

  5. There does seem to be difficulty in our trying to communicate well with each other. I felt like you were responding more to who you thought I was than to what I actually wrote. Part of the problem is that you don’t have any context, either in knowing me personally or in knowing what I’ve previously written.

    The same goes for me in relation to you, especially as you constantly refer to information without offering any citations or links or any clue for how to look for the information. And you show no evidence of looking at any of the data that I’ve offered. It becomes a simple conflict of our opinions, which I don’t find as a satisfying encounter.

    It does feel frustrating. I like to be challenged. But you haven’t offered enough for me to get a concrete sense of where you are coming from. The most interesting part to me is your personal experience, but that doesn’t necessarily say much about the larger issues.

    In the end, I don’t know what to think about our ‘debate’. It didn’t really go anywhere. We both made valid points, in terms of bringing up important issues. There just wasn’t as much substance as I’d prefer. If I’m wrong, I want to specifically know why I’m wrong. I want to be challenged, which requires hard data or some kind of larger context.

    For whatever reason, you apparently aren’t interested in debate. You don’t seem concerned whether you convince anyone or if anyone takes you seriously. You simply throw out your opinions and that is that. Maybe you’ve reached an age where you’ve stopped caring. I guess that is fine. It is what it is.

    I, however, have not yet reached the age of not caring. I still care about truth, even to the point of obsession. Truth is one of the few things that give my life meaning. And as a severely depressed person who has attempted suicide before, meaning is all important to me. When I reach the age of not caring that might be the end of me, quite literally. I’m not ready for that yet.

    • I can’t help wonder what causes miscommunication sometimes. I’m used to it from the internet. I’ve come to expect it and I don’t get too excited about it at this point. Just par for the course.

      In this case, I kept noticing one particular thing. Anytime I made a direct and specific complaint about something, Derry Eynon kept interpreting it as my making a broad attack and generalized criticism. I’m not sure if my communication skills are lacking or if Derry is just too often reading his own expectations into my words. It’s probably a combination of both.

      Another thing is that context is so difficult. I’ve been writing this blog for so long that I know what I’m talking about when I refer to some issue, often something I’ve written about in detail previously. I can’t expect others to have read my entire blog and know the background of my thinking. But I don’t want to constantly repeat myself either.

      It is difficult trying to speak about race, ideology, generations, or anything like that. I don’t take a mainstream view on most issues. My thought has nuance or at least idiosyncrasy. I’ve developed my own views, sometimes my own theories. I use words in a particular way. I always keep the mainstream definitions and usage in mind, but I don’t limit myself to that or worry too much.

      Mainstream thought is full of so much ignorance and confusion. There is just no point in making that a starting point of discussion… yet it is the starting point for most people. That is problematic for someone like me who wants to dig deeper. At the same time, I want to communicate well and I want to encourage dialogue. It’s just takes too much work trying to clarify what I mean, when I’m often basing my views on vast knowledge I’ve picked up over the years. Even some basic social science research isn’t familiar to most people.

      Noam Chomsky discusses this problem of mainstream thought and public debate. New or alternative views can be so difficult to talk about that it can nearly be impossible, depending on the situation. This is particularly true for the mainstream media that rarely if ever delves into anything in detail, especially nothing that is too challenging to mainstream thought. But this carries over even beyond the confines of mainstream media, such as a blog like this and most of the blogosphere.

      The problem is this. Derry can’t have a clue about what I’m talking about unless he reads some of my previous posts and looks more closely at the data I use. I’m not talking out of my ass. But someone like Derry feels no motivation to spend the time doing that research or even offering data in his own defense. I’d like to have a more informed debate. I just know it won’t happen most of the time. It isn’t necessarily Derry’s fault. I’m sure he feels he has better things to do with his time.

      It’s just without that basic level of knowledge, no real debate ever occurs. Almost nothing came out of my dialogue with Derry. It basically ended where it began. I wanted him to challenge me with hard data and cogent arguments. But he wasn’t interested. And there is no particular reason he should accede to my expectations of worthy debate. Yet he obviously wanted to engage and spent a considerable amount of time in writing his comments. I just end up feeling dissatisfied. What was the point?

  6. You are correct. Our correspondence went nowhere. Yes, I have not sufficiently reviewed your extensive writing. And I am, indeed, a bit tired of politics in general because, while slow (that’s a price of a republican democracy), many (to me) think as though hardly anything has changed for the positive over the years. I do agree that the big have gotten too big, but I’m not going to debate the reasons because I no longer have the sources at hand you demand. I told you I had disposed of a storehouse of references to ease the cleaning up chore when I pass and that most of what I wrote was from memory and personal experience. But, for example, more than a decade on a large land grant university curriculum committee dealing with the issues about which I wrote doesn’t seem to be of much value to you because it was not statistical. Apparently you don’t accept Alinsky’s endorsement of experience vs. happenings. So, yes, our exchange, in the final analysis, was pointless.

    However, here are a few last points regarding employment issues and higher ed references you mentioned.
    1. My comments (by memory) on employment were from a study conducted by a national trade association whose name, unfortunately, I can’t recall. A couple of years ago there was an extensive piece in the Wall Street Journal in which corporate personnel managers were interviewed that covered the same issues. Another aspect of employment problems with the young suggests that what a person knows and their IQ may matter little if they fail other tests. Bob Funk, founder and president of Empire Employment Services, the fifth largest employment agency in the country, wrote in the 9/21/13 Wall Street Journal why, despite high unemployment, so many temporary and regular jobs remained unfilled. Aside from lacking specific skills for a particular job, Funk said, too many workers are functionally unemployable because they lack basic work skills such as 1) showing up on time, 2) being conscientious and productive, 3) having a willingness to get their hands dirty and, at times, working extra hours. He believes too many of the young who come to his door see a paycheck as an entitlement, not something to be earned. He added that it’s the Hispanic immigrants who have the strong work ethic. He reported that only one in six applicants can pass the three most basic criteria noted previously. And one out of every four can’t pass a drug test. But since all this is one person’s experience, despite being rather extensive, maybe that isn’t sufficient evidence for you.
    2. As stated previously, for information on the state of higher ed today, please Google the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a site that has lots of information. Of special interest is its nationwide study “What Will They Learn?” which examined curriculum requirements in hundreds of schools across the country. Also Google the National Association of Scholars (I think I erred in my first reference and called it the American Association . . .). ACTA may be a bit more to your liking, but both may be worth a look.

    Lastly, since you adeptly analyzed my shortcomings, I have one for you. Despite your conviction to the contrary (and I do not doubt your sincerity for a minute), I do think your open-mindedness, compassion and caring about all others (the latter in the Unity concept) is not as deep or compelling as you believe. That could be one reason you devalue experience (again, as opposed to happenings) and insist only hard data are credible. Having used both in various jobs, I can tell you that data are important, but data alone can be misleading because they often are flawed for reasons stated earlier and may lead one to believe the numbers present a complete picture. They frequently don’t.

    I apologize for my intrusion and wasting your time. I trust other exchanges will be more productive. Best wishes in fighting the good fight and, as the admonishment goes, don’t let the bastards get you down.

    • “You are correct. Our correspondence went nowhere.”

      Even so, I don’t think it was entirely pointless. I did get the sense that you are the kind of person I could have interesting discussions with. But for some reason it just felt like we weren’t quite connecting on the same level.

      I sensed that our interaction didn’t need to be as difficult as it was. Part of my frustration was that I was trying to find more ground for agreement or at least mutual understanding. I sensed we weren’t actually disagreeing as much as it seemed, and yet neither could we get past what I assume were miscommunications or something like that.

      “Yes, I have not sufficiently reviewed your extensive writing.”

      I genuinely don’t expect my readers to know my past writings. It’s just in cases like this it seemed like so much that was left out was central to the discussion. For some commenters, there is less struggle in trying to connect, maybe because more similar experience or sets of knowledge or maybe just personalities. Between you and I, neither of us seemed able to fully grasp where the other was coming from, and a major contributing factor was the lack of familiarity with each other’s views.

      “And I am, indeed, a bit tired of politics in general because, while slow (that’s a price of a republican democracy), many (to me) think as though hardly anything has changed for the positive over the years.”

      I feel that way. At this point in my life, I’ve spent more years in a state of severe depression than not. This has made me quite cynical, not entirely but probably more than for most people.

      I’m tired of politics and have never been particularly political. My interest in what others consider ‘politics’ tends to come from other directions. My real interest is about human nature and human society. It’s just that ‘politics’ is inseparable from all that is human.

      I’m a pessimist in the short term. Yet I have a certain kind of optimism when taking the long view. As I said, one of the topics I know the best is history, not just recent history or even the past few centuries but all the way back to ancient civilizations. Still, limiting ourselves to the past few centuries, I find it fascinating that we live in Thomas Paine’s America which for Paine was merely a set of beliefs and ideas, dreams and aspirations.

      Progress is best measured in centuries and millennia. I don’t expect life to necessarily get better while I’m alive. That is irrelevant to me. My life by itself means little. I’m a big picture guy.

      “I do agree that the big have gotten too big, but I’m not going to debate the reasons because I no longer have the sources at hand you demand. I told you I had disposed of a storehouse of references to ease the cleaning up chore when I pass and that most of what I wrote was from memory and personal experience.”

      That is fine. I’ve done that on a number of occasions. A number of times in my life I’ve had the impulse to give nearly everything away, and I acted on that impulse. It’s not a bad impulse, especially as one ages, instead of just letting clutter grow and grow, eventually for someone else to deal with.

      Nonetheless, that doesn’t make fact-based debate impossible. The internet offers more info than you ever had in every book you ever owned. In fact, Google books likely has a scan of every book you ever owned which will likely allow you to find much of that knowledge you gave away. If you know how to a web search engine well (in particular by wisely using AND and OR as connectors between terms), they can be powerful tools to find info quickly or sometimes even better info than what you were looking for. You’ve referenced a number of things that could be found through a search engine, if you had a few of the details of what you were looking for: dates, names, titles, topics, key terms, etc.

      That would require some time and effort, though. Not necessarily immense time and effort, but you’d have to be willing to spend at least a few minutes to see what a quick web search might bring up.

      “But, for example, more than a decade on a large land grant university curriculum committee dealing with the issues about which I wrote doesn’t seem to be of much value to you because it was not statistical.”

      It isn’t a matter of it being of much value to me. There is simply no way to deal with it, as it remains just another claim. I’m sure there are papers and documents, maybe even books or dissertations, available online that deal with the kind of thing you are talking about. But I don’t have the details of any of it. Nor do I have the context for what it means or what you think it means and why. I have no way to look at it and dig into it, to ponder it or analyze it. As is, it’s just something you stated, neither exactly with or without value, per se.

      “Apparently you don’t accept Alinsky’s endorsement of experience vs. happenings. So, yes, our exchange, in the final analysis, was pointless.”

      I still am not sure what you were originally talking about. I looked at my copy of that book. I read some of the section you mentioned. I understood some of what Alinsky was saying. I can’t say offhand that I either agreed with it or not, but it seemed interesting. Part of the problem is you spoke of a “retro happening,” something that Alinsky apparently never wrote about and which doesn’t come up in any web search. Maybe you could explain what you think Alinsky means, how you interpret these ideas in your own experience and understanding, why you think it applies to me and this discussion, and what the heck is a “retro happening.”

      “1. My comments (by memory) on employment were…”

      Those details are a bit more helpful. It isn’t any direct links, specific citations by title, or precise quotes. But at least it points me in the direction where I might find the info, by doing a web search.

      “But since all this is one person’s experience, despite being rather extensive, maybe that isn’t sufficient evidence for you.”

      It’s just a single viewpoint, nothing more and nothing less. By doing a web search, I might be able to find the original piece you refer to or else similar pieces or maybe interviews. I also likely could find response, analyses, and criticisms of his opinions, claims, and conclusions. Just in the description from your comment, it is insufficient. But placed in a larger context of knowledge and other viewpoints, it might prove sufficient enough as a contributing piece of info. That is how I roll.

      “2. As stated previously, for information on the state of higher ed today, please Google the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a site that has lots of information. Of special interest is its nationwide study “What Will They Learn?” which examined curriculum requirements in hundreds of schools across the country. Also Google the National Association of Scholars (I think I erred in my first reference and called it the American Association . . .). ACTA may be a bit more to your liking, but both may be worth a look.”

      That is even more specific, even with a title to a study offered. Those are the kinds of things that are actually helpful. That sounds like some of the meat on the bones to be gnawed on. It does sound like a lot of work, though. You still aren’t offering me the really tasty morsels of quotes and data, to better understand precisely what you are pointing toward. Your making me do all the work in finding the evidence for your arguments, which if I’m in the right mood I might be willing to do.

      “Lastly, since you adeptly analyzed my shortcomings, I have one for you. Despite your conviction to the contrary (and I do not doubt your sincerity for a minute), I do think your open-mindedness, compassion and caring about all others (the latter in the Unity concept) is not as deep or compelling as you believe.”

      Did I claim it was? No. Did I claim to be spiritually advanced and superior? No. Did I claim to not be a normal human being with normal limitations, weaknesses, and failures? No.

      I’m just some guy who struggles to do his best with the cards dealt. I’ve never claimed to be more than that and I never will. It isn’t necessarily relevant what I believe, though.

      My open-mindedness, such as it is, isn’t some principle of conviction. It merely is a personality trait. I’m simply curious by nature, which forces my mind to confront new info and viewpoints. I wouldn’t spend my time discussing things with someone like you if I didn’t have a basic desire to try to understand what I don’t understand, whether or not I end up succeeding in understanding.

      Combined with that inborn predisposition, my personal attitude and life philosophy has been shaped by having been humbled by life, in my simple daily living and just trying to get by. I didn’t choose humility as part of a value system. It’s just that I’ve known much struggle in my life, much failure. Life sucks, endlessly sucks. I know compassion and caring only to the degree I know suffering. It isn’t something I’m actively aspiring to, some noble notion of selfless love. I’m simply down here in the muck of it all, along with everyone else.

      I grew up with Unity Church and other New Agey forms of idealism. I know all of that in the way a person raised Catholic is haunted for the rest of their life by Original Sin, in the way a person raised Southern Baptist can’t shake the vision of fire-and-brimstone. New Agey idealism is embedded deep in my psyche, whether I like it or not. It simply doesn’t matter what you may think is deep or compelling. It is just part of my experience, something I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to come to terms with.

      By the way, over the years in my blog, I’ve on a fairly regular basis apologized for being an asshole, doubted my communication skills, and admitted to being wrong. I’m constantly including myself in criticisms I make or else turning my critical eye toward groups and labels I identify with—along with general self-deprecating commentary and humor. If you say that I’ve failed in various ways, I won’t argue otherwise. I just don’t know why it matters, in the big picture of an entire failing society and maybe at this point a failing biosphere. My small failures seem puny in comparison.

      To put it simply, could I be a better person? Yes. Do I do as much as I could to be a better person? No. Do my contributions to this world make it a better or worse place? I hope the former, but I honestly couldn’t say.

      I will say this much with certainty. If you want to get into a competition over who can criticize me the most and the harshest, I promise you I will win. I would take on that competition with glee. I’ve always been fond of beating myself up. I’m the only bastard that is going to keep me down.

      “That could be one reason you devalue experience (again, as opposed to happenings) and insist only hard data are credible. Having used both in various jobs, I can tell you that data are important, but data alone can be misleading because they often are flawed for reasons stated earlier and may lead one to believe the numbers present a complete picture. They frequently don’t.”

      I actually don’t devalue experience. That is another thing you’d know from reading my blog. Part of my problem is that I feel compelled to ground almost everything in experience. That is why I so often write from what I personally know, such as constantly writing about the Midwest and South while rarely writing about other regions. My writings tend to have a strong personal slant, both a strength and a weakness.

      I just never assume that anyone should accept my experience simply because it is my experience. That doesn’t seem like a helpful attitude to me. It is my responsibility to demonstrate to others that my experience is genuine and valid, and hopefully insightful and maybe representative. I don’t ever stop with my own experience, even though that is where I usually begin.

      From that beginning point, I look for the info and context that will either support or challenge what I think I know. I never assume my experience is worthy simply because it is my experience. As I see it, experience is just experience, and by itself it can’t bring meaning. It is by connecting experience to a larger view that it becomes something other than a mere ‘happening’.

      “I apologize for my intrusion and wasting your time. I trust other exchanges will be more productive. Best wishes in fighting the good fight and, as the admonishment goes, don’t let the bastards get you down.”

      No apology is necessary. It was neither an intrusion nor a waste of time. It was simply difficult and inconclusive, but that is life.

      I do appreciate your sincerity. I do sense that sincerity comes from your experience in living many decades on this planet. Your experience matters, as does everyone’s experience, whether or not it means what you think it means or supports what you believe it supports. But being sincere in coming from your own experience is definitely a good place to start from.

    • I’m working all this week. So, I’m a bit busy until next weekend. Later on, I’ll try to find some of what you were referring to.

      I am genuinely curious, especially after our long debate. I didn’t intend any of my comments as personal attacks. And I didn’t take personally anything you said. Our disagreements haven’t dampened my curiosity. Often, the more challenging the communication the more it makes me want to figure out where the other person is coming from.

      I don’t judge your views as wrong. They simply don’t fit what I know. I don’t dismiss your experience. I simply have no clear way to make sense of much of your experience within my experience. As such, I don’t assume that my understandings trump yours. It’s just that I have to work with what is before me, at the moment, until I learn or have an experience otherwise.

      Within that context, I’ll try to remain as humble as possible. I have a few comment to make. I want to consider some of the possibillities. But I won’t throw a bunch of links or data at you.

      You present one view, one possible interpretation. That is the claim of the younger generation of workers somehow being different and lacking.

      Offhand, I’m not sure what this would be specifically pointing toward. In terms of outward measures, the younger generationsare higher IQ and seemingly more well trained than previous generations, including my own generation. The youngins have lower rates of violent crime, teen sex and pregnancies and abortions, drug-taking and alcohol consumption, and consumerist spending than has been seen among the generations preceding them. They seem so responsible as to be almost boring.

      My favorite theory is changing rates of lead toxicity. I suspect it is the most central contributing factor. It offers immense explanatory power. The fact of the matter is that childhood lead toxicity steadily increased for several generations, peaked with my generation, and then declined with lead regulations. Correspondingly, violent crime rates followed about a twenty year lag as each generation reached adulthood when serious criminal behavior tends to begin.

      This lead toxicity spike was concurrent with the Cold War. It might not be a coincidence that there was a consistent pattern of increasing and then decreasing lead toxicity in countries around the world, increasing and then decreasing violent crime rates in countries around the world, and increasing and then decreasing massive conflict between countries around the world. Maybe it wasn’t just propaganda and paranoia screwing with the heads of the Cold War generations. Maybe our brains were being scrambled.

      I bring this up because lower lead toxicity rates explains the younger generations having higher IQs, lower violent crime rates, and seemingly better impulse control. Combine that with their being more highly educated and tech saavy and you’d expect they would be among the best potential workers in recent history.

      If that isn’t the case, that would be extremely strange. But that doesn’t by itself disprove your experience and the views of others that happen to conform to your experience—the question being do they confirm your experience. I can’t speak to that issue at the moment. For sake of argument and from an attitude of questioning, let’s consider other possible interpretations and contributing factors.

      An obvious possibility is generational differences and changes. We have already touched upon that, as it is central to the entire issue. Most of the time, new young employees are of a different generation than are their bosses. The differences aren’t just about the obvious things. Te entire context shifts from generation to generation.

      Take for example immigration. The last time there was more foreign born US citizens than now was in 1890. The young generations are the most diverse and mixed in living memory. So, it would be a culture clash on top of generational conflict.

      This would have serious impacts on relation well within the workplace. It might be true that many younger employees aren’t meeting the perceived standards and norms of many employers. But what kind of standards and norms are these?

      Consider the two largest immigrant groups: Latinos and Asians. Even though both are known as hardworking people (a standard characteristic of most immigrants of all races and ethnicities), ther are many challenging cultural differences, besides occasional language barriers.

      Asian-Americans are aboe average in IQ, education, and wealth. But they struggle with a bamboo ceiling. And at the same time some of the older Asian-American communities have been trapped in poverty for generations, with cultural issues magnifying an economic divide., similar to other minority groups.

      Hispanic-Americans, on the other hand, are on average poorer. This true in spite of their culture embodying so much that is idealized by white mainstream society. They have high rates of marriage, religiosity, and other forms of social capital. Yet white Americans fear and are prejudiced against them.

      The difference in culture does create behavioral differences. I remember my father talking about factories that moved down to Mexico. There was cultural conflicts that led to tension. Mexicans were used to taking long breaks in the afternoon during the hotter seasons. They may have worked hard when they worked, but they didn’t work in the way that their white American managers expected them to work. The French and Mediterranean people also have similar cultural behaviors, such as the French preferring long lunches. There is no moral norm that says when and how long one should take a break. There are, however, cultural norms for such things.

      That wasn’t as much of a problem during the mid-20th century. Immigration rates were at a historical low. Also, back then, there were fewer laws protecting workers from racial and ethnic discrimination. We are less accepting and accomodating of bigotry. Nonetheless, we haven’t yet figured out how to deal with all this diversity. We’ll figure it out eventually, just as we did in the decades following the late 19th century mass wave of immigrants.

      Another possibility has to do with shifts in economics, the labor force, education, training, etc. What was needed and expected from new generations of young workers was less in the past. Employers didn’t used to expect workers to necessarily be educated and trained. More companies back then were willing to do on-the-job training. Today, employers expect more from workers and offer them less, despite the youth now being more well educated and trained. Maybe the quality of employers and what they are willing to offer has in many ways declined: stagnating wages (and on the low end falling wages, in relation to buying power), decreasing benefits (such as secure pensions), lost job security, shrinking unionization to act as representation at work, weakening bargaining power, etc.

      It would be nice to hear the workers side of the story. But that is harder to do as most newspapers got rid of their labor sections and most big biz news media no longer does extensive and detailed reporting on labor issues on their own terms.

      What if the problem we face now is too many over-qualified workers for too few jobs. Mechanization, globalization, outsourcing, offshoring, and on and on. We haven’t kept honest unemployment numbers in decades, including both the permanently unemployed and the underemployed (those who work so few hours that they can’t pay the bills). Many low wage workers these days only keep afloat through welfare. Companies no longer are loyal to their employees and I’m sure in response employees no longer feel loyal to their companies, which isn’t going to inspire people’s best work.

      There are so many excess workers, many belonging to a permanent underclass, that employers now can be extremely picky and demanding. Maybe employers have developed a higher standard with so many prospective employees to choose from and they have taken this for granted, forgetting it wasn’t always this way. Maybe the complaints of employers is like right-wing media pundits in the mainstream media complaining about the liberal slant in mainstream media, even as the slant has shifted to the right as nearly all media has come to be owned by a few media conglomerates.

      There are endless factors involved in the changes that have happened and continue to happen. None of this proves that you are wrong in your suspicions. It’s just to point out it is immensely complex.

      Maybe some aspects of workers has declined, just as maybe it has declined for a reason, such as less compensation. Is there a reason workers will or should continue to work as hard as workers used to for less benefit? That is assuming that they really are working less hard or whatever. Maybe they are and maybe they aren’t. I just haven’t seen any data indicating that is the case. The average American, despite high rates of unemployment and underemployment, is working more hours than in the past. That means the still employed are working, if not harder, at least longer, often at multiple jobs. Maybe Americans are just tired and stressed out, especially as they see the American Dream fading with housing bubbles, economic crashes, stolen pensions, shrinking middle class, and disappearing economic mobility.

      It is all interesting to contemplate. I just don’t know how we disentangle all the factors and blame just one aspect or one group/demographic of people for all that has changed.

  7. You know, if the conservatives of today had been alive back then, they would have opposed the American Revolution.

    They would have seen it as the right of King George III to treat the colonies harshly. Just like they did when they fought for the Confederacy. Most of the Confederates who died were not wealthy slave owners.

    Today’s Tea Party of course fights for the wealthy corporate owners rather than against.

    It seems that there will always be a wealthy interest that opposes progress and a useful idiot faction that supports that wealthy faction at their own expense.

  8. I unsubscribed from your site because I was not going to pursue our discussion, and, frankly, I don’t want to spend much time in more back-and-forths. But I decided two things: 1) I don’t want to leave you frustrated as to why we had difficulty and 2) I had a thought about you.

    The thought about you is that you should have been a college professor, You have the mind and the joy of delving into things that make a good one. And I, too, prefer being in the background (which is why I was a much better inside person (editor and company officer) than an outside person (reporter) and don’t always feel comfortable in the spotlight. Yet I found great success and popularity as a professor despite a reputation as the most demanding faculty member in my department. If you can’t/won’t be a professor, you should write some books. You could broaden your audience, touch more minds and have greater influence with your views of what works for the good. You might also make a few bucks.

    Now for the 2-cent analysis. I think the simplest and most obvious answer to why we didn’t connect is that our experiences are different; thus, we have different reference points. That’s obvious. It’s the details. I know little about you, but my first guess is that you see yourself as one of the majority, though a critical one trying to separate yourself from the majority. I, on the other hand, have always seen myself as a minority, though often, but not always, having some respect for the majority. There are other factors. Here are some.

    Raised in a major Midwestern rust belt city where 66% of the population was foreign born at the time of my birth. My parents were not religious but always replied Protestant when asked about their religion. They wanted to make it in the big city, not in the villages and small town of their youth. Mom made it to a degree. Dad didn’t. We always had food, shelter and shoes, but that was it. My parents never owned property. They didn’t own a car until their 16th year of marriage. Vacations were what other people did.
    Was the only white person in my junior high home room identified as Protestant, a situation typical of the school. The majority was not Christian. The ethnic, racial and religious mix in high school was not quite so lop-sided, but I still was a one of a small minority. I did find three friends (Italian, Czech and English ancestry). We are still alive, married to our first wives and keep in touch despite living in four different states. Interestingly, I reconnected with a Jewish classmate of casual acquaintance who moved to Texas. We talk regularly at length via phone.
    When I transferred to the city public school in the 4th grade, I could neither write (print, yes) nor cipher beyond basic addition and subtraction and not well at that. So I was different from my classmates and stupid. It took more than decade for to realize I was unprepared, not stupid.
    Because so many of my classmates parents brought their European prejudices with them, I was keenly aware at an early age of ethnic and religious conflict. And since my dad’s family was union (steel, tire makers, machinists, coal miners, railroad) and my mom’s family was shop owners and farmers, I saw the differences close up between those who worked for someone else and those who were entrepreneurs. My sympathies became strongest for the latter because they were the risk-takers and I became genuinely thankful when employers gave me a job. When not yet 18, I was strongly against child labor laws that prevented me being hired for jobs that offered good money.
    Spent many summers with my grandparents in a small, isolated crossroads Appalachian town where the residents seemed more like me, unlike those at home. Yet, as “the city kid,” there still were barriers. Nevertheless, that was where I found peace in the rural life and thought I could minimize my dealings with people if a farmer. Often worked in the back shop of my granddad’s county weekly newspaper.
    Started earning money when in the fourth grade for myself (entertainment, school supplies, music lessons) and to contribute in a small way to the family budget. Was a latch-key kid – and an only child – for my parents had left for work and not returned when I went to and came home from school. I learned to be self-reliant in many ways and began budgeting at that early age.
    After working as a janitor and on a factory production line, it appeared that college would help me escape such boredom and learn more about farming.
    Majored in agriculture (not often done by city kids at that time) and worked my way through college as a dishwasher, on the university farm for three years, as a vacation cover back at the factory and then as a warehouse worker and delivery driver of plumbing supplies to contractors.
    Upon graduation, lack of money and no farm left anywhere in the family led to selling eggs and poultry for a poultry coop to grocery stores. Realized that was not what I did well, so explored other opportunities and wound up working for a farm magazine publisher where I was a minority – a city kid writing to farmers on how to do a better job.
    Subsequently, worked for a national weekly business magazine serving the metalworking industry (another area in which I was a minority because I was not formally educated in any aspect of the field) and after leaving teaching (was time for a change), with a start-up publisher in a computer technology (I knew and know little about any aspect of computers). In all three publishing jobs, was involved in some international aspect of operations and in one traveled overseas and to Mexico on a number of occasions. Began to appreciate and developed some skill in working under different cultural conditions (thus, working as a minority).
    Spent more than two decades teaching at a land-grant university. One of the last full-time faculty in my college without a Ph.D. to earn tenure. Though it usually was a bit light hearted, members of University committees on which I served often seemed to consider me not really one of them, politically or academically, despite positive recognition by students and off-campus organizations. Elected twice by department faculty to serve as temporary department chair. Was not considered as permanent chair thanks to lack of Ph.D. (another minority situation). In fact, was asked by two other universities to submit an application for chair. Offer withdrawn when lack of Ph.D. was noted.
    Most of my friends and my two very best friends were liberals of various shades. When living in the big city, I often was considered too far right. When living in rural Illinois, I was thought by some to be dangerously close to a Communist.
    In short, while I have fit well in a number of places as far as the physical place is concerned, when it comes to people, I rarely considered myself one of the gang for one reason or another.
    I have done a great variety of things in my life (also had a small consulting business for 25 years with small private, corporate, non-profit, state and Federal clients at one time or another) due, in part, to what I consider a short attention span and becoming eager to move on after getting to a certain depth on a subject. You are a deep digger. I am not. Maybe that’s part of our problem.

    This probably is more than you want to know and more than I should tell. But maybe you will see here something that helps you understand why our perspectives so different. If you do, I will appreciate knowing what it is.

    • Thanks for sharing! I actually do like to hear people’s personal stories and life experiences.

      To me, everything is personal. I always want to know the human side of things and to know where people are coming from. It probably has to do with my personality and also all the informal discussions I’ve had with my mother over the years about psychology. My mother isn’t an intellectual, but she has a natural interest in what makes people tick, almost obsessive in always talking about people.

      I’m not sure what offer insight in what you shared. I see some points of both similarity and dissimilarity. On the similarity side, I too was a latchkey kid who worked as a child. As for dissimilarities, you are correct that I like to go deep, for I inherited both my mother’s obsessive thinking and my father’s intellectuality.

      It does stand out to me that you think of yourself as a minority, as often not fitting in. In some ways, I could understand that in my own experience. My family did move around a lot while I was growing up. I lived in many different kinds of towns and in multiple regions. Moving down to the Deep South did make me a minority of sorts, as a Yankee. But I must admit I’ve never thought of myself in those terms, either as a minority or a majority.

      I must admit your experience of diversity is different than mine. Part of that is generational. By the time I was a kid, most of the ethnic white groups had assimilated. Here in this town, there used to be tons of ethnics, from German to Czech, with various religious backgrounds, but generations of assimilation have made all ethnic identities invisible at this point. In my generation, my peers rarely spoke of religion out in the open and so I simply didn’t know what religion my friends were raised in or if any at all. Most of my peers didn’t even know what their ethnicity was.

      In your childhood, you were closer to the early 20th century period of mass European immigration when ethnic group identities were still fresh in people’s minds. Maybe that is why minority and majority frames your thinking more than it frames mine. Many of the towns I grew up in were fairly diverse in certain ways, but it was always in the background. It wasn’t the focus of society at that time. I didn’t even have the terminology and knowledge to realize my best friend in high school was probably Scots-Irish, and it just didn’t seem to matter.

      You grew up in a different world. I’m reading a book right now on the Second Klan in Indiana. It is of interest to me because that is where much of my family is from. I want to better understand the world my parents were born into. As I recall, you are a bit older than my father. You were alive while the Second Klan was still around and it was mostly centered in Midwestern towns like Indiana and Ohio. You reached adulthood when there was still Jim Crow, miscegenation laws, sundown towns, redlining, etc. I, on the other hand, went to desegregated schools where race was becoming less of an overt issue. Interracial dating wasn’t common when I was a kid, but neither was it a big deal.

      I know a lot of that history, but I know it from a distance. It is less personal to me. It is just history. I have no strong emotional response about the Second Klan, for example, not even hatred. It was just an organization like so many others, mostly a civic organization really. I never lived through a time when the Klan was still a thing of immense fear, as was particularly during the Civil Rights movement, also before my time. All those things happened before I was born, the 1960s protests and assassinations, even all the Nixon fiasco. My earliest memory related to politics, sort of, was as a boy scout in maybe 2nd or third grade sitting in the front row of a speech given by then president Reagan. That was the world I was born into, the waning days of the Cold War, where the Vietnam War was simply something I watched in movies.

      Also, by the time my life began, unions were on their way toward a long decline. For you, unions were powerful organizations who could threaten life and limb. But to me, they were barely a faint shadow of their former selves, pretty much non-existent in my youth, my having not even learned of what they were until I reached adulthood. No one talked about unions, not usually even the mainstream media of my youth.

      Right and left were losing their potency as well in that era of the decline of the USSR and the decline of the New Left. I grew up in a world where so much was gone or destroyed or on the wane. My generation was largely apolitical, at least in overt ways. There just didn’t seem to be any point. The country had lost faith in what had inspired earlier generations. The American Dream seemed like a lie and hatred of government was promoted even by presidents. It was a bizarre time to grow up, especially as even children were hated, as endless movies were made of children as monsters, killers, and demon-possessed.

      The world you knew from earlier last century is so far outside of my experience. I read about it in books and watch about it in documentaries. That earlier America is almost like a vanished civilization to my mind.

    • I don’t think the main differences between us are exactly personal. That doesn’t seem to be the source of our not quite connecting. In fact, we are surprisingly similar in many ways.

      There is the fact that we were both latchkey kids who worked when young. We were raised with working class values and work ethic by parents who also were raised in working class environments. Also, this wasn’t just any working class values and work ethic, but specifically of white Protestantism in the Lower Midwest. Midwestern values are distinct, even the Appalachian Midwest. I’m familiar with the part of Ohio that is right by Appalachia and it has the same basic Midwestern culture as Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa.

      We also both have familiarity with Appalachian and Upper South culture, especially as it overlaps with the Lower Midwest. My mother’s family is from the Upper South and my ancestors lived in, around, or came through Appalachia. I was born in, lived for a number of years, and regularly visited Ohio in an area right next to Appalachia. I spent many formative years of youth and young adulthood in South Carolina which includes a section of Appalachia, and my high school best friend was a typical redneck (I don’t mean that in a negative way) and probably Scots-Irish. I spent several summers in North Carolina in area near Appalachia where I dated a local girl who was from a family that was typical Evangelical mountain folk.

      We both lived in different places and experienced much diversity when younger. We both knew people, had friends and peers who were across the political spectrum and of various religious backgrounds. We’ve both lived in liberal and conservative communities, working class and middle class communities. We both even have experience of academia, where you taught and where my father taught. Both of us haven’t lived entirely typical lives, as we both moved around when we were younger and as adults, although you moreso as an adult.

      We even have similar religious experiences. We are both non-believers with close family members who are religious. Yet neither of us has anything against religion or attending religious services. We both have been specifically influenced by the thought and worldview of the Unity Church, a not extremely common experience.

      Over the years, I’ve met many people online. But I don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone who I shared more in common with. That amount of similar background is quite amazing, when seen stated in detail. To the degree we don’t connect, it doesn’t have to do with not having enough reasons for connection.

      Our minds not quite meeting probably has more to do with personality and generational differences. It is obvious on a generational level we simply experienced the world very differently, even in the areas where our backgrounds share so many similarities. This is magnified by our seemingly different thinking styles, what issues we focus upon and how we frame them.

      You point out that I like to think deeply. That is true in a sense, but part of it is that my thinking is obsessive. Once I latch onto a topic or idea, I don’t tend to let go. And even when I do let go, I’ll likely come back around to it again and again over the years. You don’t seem to be that way. You also don’t seem to be a systematic thinker. I picked up some systematic thinking from my father, even though it wasn’t something that came naturally to me. Your comments tend to be less focused. In your comments here, you tend to throw out observations and opinions as they occur to you, without trying to make a coherent analytical argument. Neither of us is overly interested in debate in the standard sense, but I’m more willing to go in that direction.

      My thinking and writing is heavily driven by my personality. This is particularly true since my personality predisposes me to make everything personal. When you read what I write, you are getting a window into my thought processes. I lay it all out there to be seen. My personality irritates some people and interests others. I’m not sure I irritate you exactly, but I sense that you don’t exactly find my style pleasing and satisfying. Or else you wouldn’t be unsubscribing.

      That is fine. But I’m sad to see you go.

  9. Your last insight appears to be pretty close to target. My thinking (as in work) can be very structured. But if I get too deep, I feel suffocated and must move on to something else. My mind also is easily distracted by new thoughts. So your description seems to fit. That may be a factor in my career success (as I define it) once I got out of the trenches. I am comfortable with delegating. Thus, I dealt with the results of the depth, not the depth itself.

    You should feel somewhat blessed with the thinking processes of your parents. Neither of my parents were intellectual in any way or had much interest in history. That frustrated me as a child. On the other hand, there was not any detectable social prejudice. Never was exposed to legal segregation until I went to ROTC summer camp after my junior year in college. As noted earlier, my Appalachian county was an abolitionist center. Yes, there were areas where the races didn’t mingle freely, but there were blacks in every school I ever attended from the fourth grade on. Blacks visited my parents home socially occasionally and, as far as I know, there was no negative white reaction. Blacks have eaten at the table of my wife and I and we at theirs over the years. I never feared or was uncomfortable with blacks, though I confess people like Mr. Coates have managed to change that to a degree. I get tired of folks like Coates and others claiming to know how I think and feel based solely on the color of my skin. That’s the same old, same old from a different angle.

    Your comments on Germans in your area, etc, go back to one of my first comments when I said I thought you may not fully appreciate how the heritage of an area makes it different from other regions. The overtly German in the Upper Midwest may be gone, but the region still has those German values, though to varying degrees depending where you are. The small. rural, Illinois town in which I lived for 9 years was ethnically German. The difference from the other places I lived was striking. And my point also may relate to our differences. “The Journeying Boy” is a book written by a Welshman, Jon Manchip White, who taught at the University of Tennessee for many years. He returned to Wales after 20 years’ absence, a trip which generated the book. White, born and raised in Wales, was educated in England. There, he was at first refreshed by the cool logic and reasoning of the Anglo-Saxon mind. But after a time, he began to yearn for people with more emotion who he knew in the land of his birth. He would return to Wales and soon tire of the endless emotionalism. He would return to England and soon tire of the cold, emotionless reasoning. And so it went. Back and forth.

    “Cracker Culture,” by Grady McWhinney, a professor at TCU when the book came out in 1988, is the result of extensive research that showed the negative attitude of Saxon peoples toward Celts throughout history. Writings by Saxons consistently claimed Celts were lazy, drank too much, inclined toward fighting, sexually promiscuous, etc.
    For example, Saxons tend to be neat, orderly people. In this country, they were planters, sweating in the fields to grow crops in a neat, orderly fashion. Celts failed to understand the attraction of such hard work when you could keep some hogs who were pretty adept at taking care of themselves and, thus, didn’t require a lot of work, freeing one up to spend more time for singing, music, drinking and sex. If you wanted something to eat, you didn’t have to spend time and energy harvesting, storing and processing before cooking. You simply shot one of your hogs. Were the Celts lazy? Or were they efficient? Who should judge? That judgment of different cultural values and of difference itself is what creates issues. At the same time, I don’t accept that all cultures are equal. But that’s not a discussion for
    now.

    Bethany Bultman wrote “Redneck Heaven” a light, humorous book prompted by her discovery that she was Celtic, not Anglo-Saxon. That led her to the redneck theory which McWhiney supported. A Wisconsin (Saxon) professor she called scoffed at her notion, but before hanging up on her said, among other things, “. . . Celtic tribes sacked Rome in the 4th century BC and then turned around and left. They spoke the same mother language . . . fought to prove superiority, never to conquer; they hated cities . . . and they ate a lot of pork.” My parents were 99% emotion in their thinking. I took a psych test once that said while I examine all sides to a question, I frequently make a decision based on my emotional predisposition. There’s more old Celtic in me than I would like to admit. That could be what you detect that conflicts with I assume is your (at least partial) Saxon heritage. Old Wesh saying: “The English are nothing more than polite Germans.”

    I am keenly aware that I come from a different time and a different place. Our nation is a much better place in many ways than what it was, but it also has lost characteristics I wish were retained. One relates to safety and trust (at least as it was in the places I knew). When a child, neither my parents nor I worried about my safety as I explored all manner of neighborhoods and places via bike, walking or public transportation far from home. And I never did experience danger, though I was smart enough not to get into confrontational situations. One of the few the aspects of looking at the past that I reject out of hand is the judging of past behavior and events based on contemporary knowledge and standards. To understand, the context of the times must be accepted. Otherwise, it’s like condemning Civil War hospitals for providing improper medical care. That’s a stacked deck. What we consider proper medical care did not exist then. We did not even know there were things called germs.

    I’m not sure what word to use (not necessarily irritated or frustrated – possibly puzzled), but to me (right or wrong), in the words of our founders, there are things that can be “self-evident” (such as people who spend more than they earn are destined for financial trouble) yet you seemed to think only numbers were evidence. Despite that, though I will remain unsubscribed, if you really are sad to see me go, I might revisit you occasionally. In the words of the old bluegrass song by Mac Wiseman. “’tis sweet to be remembered.”

    P.S. “The Redneck Manifesto” by Jim Goad is a defensive rant but full of history and statistics. The style probably won’t suit you, but the substance has some meat on it, at least from one perspective.

    • “My mind also is easily distracted by new thoughts.”

      My mind actually is also easily distracted. I start a hundred books for every one I finish. But I’m focused in another way. I might start a hundred books all on a single topic and jump around between them and return to them again and again and again over the years. I’m distracted in a way that causes me to circle round and round. I’ll worry over an idea or a thought in a thousand different ways, always distracted and yet always coming back to where I was before.

      It’s like wandering lost in the woods and thinking to yourself that you’ve seen that tree several times before. I’m obsessive in tracking whatever elusive prey I’m after, but I can’t really say where it will lead me or exactly what I’m tracking or even necessarily why. I just follow my curiosity wherever it goes. Just because. It keeps me preoccupied and that is the only purpose it needs to serve, a distraction from depression and unhappy thoughts.

      I’m only focused to the degree something is compelling. I don’t choose to focus. It’s just some things latch onto my mind and won’t let go, like a pitbull that has chomped down on your leg. I’ve learned to not fight it.

      “That may be a factor in my career success (as I define it) once I got out of the trenches. I am comfortable with delegating. Thus, I dealt with the results of the depth, not the depth itself.”

      Well, I don’t define success or seek it. I don’t think that way. I’m an impractical person. A thinker and a dreamer, not a man of action.

      Delegating is what my business management father would do, but not I. I do what I want to do or what I’m compelled to do and everyone else can deal with their own problems. My depth is my depth and it is irrelevant to most other people. I realize my obsessions simple don’t seem all that interesting to many other people. I can’t even explain my motivations to myself, much less try to delegate anything. I’m just here for the ride.

      “You should feel somewhat blessed with the thinking processes of your parents.”

      I guess. It doesn’t really benefit me. I’m a college drop out who works as a parking ramp cashier while reading and thinking too much. It is simply how I deal with depression, to be honest.

      “As noted earlier, my Appalachian county was an abolitionist center.”

      I understand. i know nothing about that particular Appalachian county. I could imagine it would be interesting to research it. Who knows what interesting info might show up?

      BTW I’d point out that some abolition centers became Klan towns and/or sundown towns. Being for abolition didn’t always translate to wanting the freed slaves to live in the community, at least not for the following generations.

      People are strange creatures. Or rather we are strange creatures in sometimes projecting our thoughts and motivations onto others, especially in the past. They had their own reasons for doing things.

      For example, some abolitionists simply hated the Southern aristocracy that wanted to control the federal government and force slave laws on the rest of the country, but still didn’t want to have anything to do with blacks. Most Americans simply wanted the black problem to go away by the blacks themselves going away. Abolitionism wasn’t always motivated by charity and compassion…. most of the time it probably wasn’t or at least not entirely or perfectly.

      “Yes, there were areas where the races didn’t mingle freely, but there were blacks in every school I ever attended from the fourth grade on. Blacks visited my parents home socially occasionally and, as far as I know, there was no negative white reaction.”

      I have no reason to doubt you. If that was the case, you grew up in an extremely unusual place. I don’t get the sense that most of the country was that way back then.

      “I get tired of folks like Coates and others claiming to know how I think and feel based solely on the color of my skin.”

      I assume you mean Ta-Nehisi Coates. Correct? If so, I think you misunderstand him. I don’t think he generalizes any more than those who speak of German/German-American culture or Southern culture or whatever.

      Generalizations are simply generally true, not entirely true. Then again, the stereotyping kind of generalizations sometimes aren’t even generally true. We have to use generalizations carefully, but we shouldn’t dismiss them out of hand. When they don’t apply, they don’t and that is that. Still, they can offer insight about general patterns and general truths.

      I know from personal experience and studying history that many generalizations about white racism are extremely true and relevant. There are exceptions, as maybe that Appalachian county is an example. The point is, however, that they are exceptions that prove the rule.

      “Your comments on Germans in your area, etc, go back to one of my first comments when I said I thought you may not fully appreciate how the heritage of an area makes it different from other regions.”

      I should clarify. Iowa is a different kind of state. It was settled later and with different patterns. The town I live in follows the model of a New England college town surrounded by rural farmland. So, there is an English kind of culture here. On top of that, there aren’t just Germans but also Czechs.

      Where I live, we speak Standard American English, I.e., Midlands. But in Northern Iowa they sound more like Minnesotans with that mix of German and Scandinavian. And in Southern Iowa, you start to hear the Southern accent. Iowa is not quite either Upper or Lower Midwest, but a little bit of each. It also had some towns of extreme diversity, such as a coal mining town such as Centerville.

      https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2013/10/28/centerville-ia-meeting-point-of-diversity-conflict/

      “White, born and raised in Wales, was educated in England. There, he was at first refreshed by the cool logic and reasoning of the Anglo-Saxon mind. But after a time, he began to yearn for people with more emotion who he knew in the land of his birth. He would return to Wales and soon tire of the endless emotionalism. He would return to England and soon tire of the cold, emotionless reasoning. And so it went. Back and forth.”

      That actually describes what goes on in my own head. I’m a mix.

      My mother may have a fair amount of German in her, but much of it is low class Palatine German that was filtered through the cultures of Appalachia, Upper South, and Hoosier. Palatine Germans are what Benjamin Franklin complained about centuries ago. They were shorter and darker-skinned, a border people like the Scots-Irish. They lived on the border of Germany and France, the same place that Yiddish was developed. One of my ancestors was sometimes listed on censuses as from Germany and on other censuses listed as from France.

      My mother and her family are more emotional people. It is the complete opposite of an intellectual family. Her generation was the first to go to college. Her parents barely had any education at all. That side of my family is working class. There is no trace of the German ancestry left. It was lost long ago.

      My father’s side is even more mixed. His mother’s maiden name is Scottish. The ancestor back along that line was a wealthy Scottish slave owner in mid 17th century Virginia, living along with the French Norman Cavalier aristocracy. On the his father’s side, there is also some German and Prussian. But his paternal grandfather was orphaned in New Jersey, raised in a Shaker community, and ended up working for the rest of his life on a wealthy estate on Long Island Sound where my father’s father grew up.

      My paternal grandfather became a minister. That is how he ended up in Indiana. So, my father was raised in small working class Midwestern towns, but his father had a taste of the good things in life. That side of my family are the intellectuals.

      I’m a balance, not quite the right word, of the emotional and intellectual cultures you describe.

      ““Cracker Culture,” by Grady McWhinney”

      I’ve wanted to read that book for a while now. I’ll eventually pick up a copy of it. Some books I do own and have read reference it. I’m familiar with the various ideas about ethnic/regional cultures in the US. it is one of my all time favorite topics. I recommend any books by David Hackett Fischer and Colin Woodard is good as well. I also recommend Joe Bageant for the take on West Virginia Appalachia.

      ” Were the Celts lazy? Or were they efficient? Who should judge? That judgment of different cultural values and of difference itself is what creates issues. At the same time, I don’t accept that all cultures are equal. But that’s not a discussion for now.”

      It may not be the discussion for now. But it is the kind of discussion I love to have.

      “My parents were 99% emotion in their thinking. I took a psych test once that said while I examine all sides to a question, I frequently make a decision based on my emotional predisposition. There’s more old Celtic in me than I would like to admit. That could be what you detect that conflicts with I assume is your (at least partial) Saxon heritage. Old Wesh saying: “The English are nothing more than polite Germans.””

      I have very little English in me. Maybe some ancestors from long ago, back in colonial times.

      I think my writing is deceptive. You are only seeing one side of me. It is my dad’s intellectual side speaking through me. I’m in many ways more like my mom, but had my dad’s intellectuality driven into me. He was always demanding of me to make clear arguments, to write well, and provide evidence. I just don’t think that is my inborn tendency so much. I’m an extremely emotional person and am driven by my emotions. Even my intellect is driven by my emotions. I’m so emotional that I’m a mess.

      I’m too much of an American mutt to clearly show consistent traits of any particular ethnic cultures. Maybe if I had lived in only one place or even one region for long enough when I was younger. You have to understand that I spent quite bit of my youth in the Deep South (from age 14 into my 20s) and most of my ancestry comes from the South.

      I feel like a divided and conflicted person, not always well integrated in my sense of self.

      “When a child, neither my parents nor I worried about my safety as I explored all manner of neighborhoods and places via bike, walking or public transportation far from home. And I never did experience danger, though I was smart enough not to get into confrontational situations.”

      That would be another of the things we share. Generation X was given a lot of freedom as children. We were the last generation to have a normal childhood. We had paper routes and did chores. We rode our bikes, played in creeks, wandered aimlessly, played games in the street, dug in the dirt, etc. Most of the time my parents had no clue where I was. My friends and I would simply spend our free time doing about anything we wanted. We had little money, few toys, and limited technology. I grew up on network tv, not cable. It was a simple childhood.

      “One of the few the aspects of looking at the past that I reject out of hand is the judging of past behavior and events based on contemporary knowledge and standards. To understand, the context of the times must be accepted.”

      I don’t mind judging the past whatsoever. I assume future generations will judge us, as they should. We have failed in many ways. We are aware of our failures and yet we still do nothing about them. When one looks back, one notices that people were already well aware of their failures as a society. They knew what they should be doing, but like us they were afraid to do anything about it.

      Take slavery for example. Many new it was morally wrong and societally problematic for a long time before the Civil War. It wasn’t a lack of moral awareness. It was simply a lack of willingness to take moral responsibility and take difficult actions. It is understandable, but it still should be judged as a moral failure. Judging the past is our only way of judging the present and the best hope of avoiding the repetition of moral failure.

      “Otherwise, it’s like condemning Civil War hospitals for providing improper medical care. That’s a stacked deck. What we consider proper medical care did not exist then. We did not even know there were things called germs.”

      It isn’t the same at all. They actually lacked certain knowledge and medical technology. Moral issues are different.

      “but to me (right or wrong), in the words of our founders, there are things that can be “self-evident” (such as people who spend more than they earn are destined for financial trouble) yet you seemed to think only numbers were evidence.”

      Well, that actually was just in the words of one founder who was doing the writing. If all the founders really thought everything was self-evident, they wouldn’t have disagreed and argued so much. One thing I’ve studied in depth is how much the founders didn’t find so self-evident.

      It’s not that I see numbers as the only evidence. I’ve just experienced too many people who dismiss the numbers or often don’t even know the numbers. I don’t limit myself to knowledge of the numbers, but I also don’t want to limit myself to ignorance of the numbers. I’d rather know and then decide what to do with what I know, rather than simply not knowing what I don’t know.

      “Despite that, though I will remain unsubscribed, if you really are sad to see me go, I might revisit you occasionally. In the words of the old bluegrass song by Mac Wiseman. “’tis sweet to be remembered.””

      I really liked your comment here. It is truly sad that you are leaving just as it is getting interesting. This is the kind of commentary that I deeply appreciate, a balance of book knowledge and personal experience. That is what I aspire to in all of my writings.

      “P.S. “The Redneck Manifesto” by Jim Goad is a defensive rant but full of history and statistics. The style probably won’t suit you, but the substance has some meat on it, at least from one perspective.”

      I’ll see if the public or university library has a copy of this book and the others you mentioned. I love book recommendations.

      It’s been nice chatting with you. Please visit again.

      • I only knew of the KKK from reading about it. Never encountered it in real life. Jackie Robinson was not the first professional black baseball player. He was the first of the modern era. But in the late 1800’s and into the very early 1900’s, a number of blacks played professional baseball until the owners arbitrarily decided not to hire any more blacks after the turn of the century. The first black player of this era was Fleetwood Walker, who retired to our Appalachian county where he purchased and operated the only theater in the county for quite a few years. In the 1920’s (I think that was the high point of Klan membership nationwide) something happened (I forget the details) that made some whites believe they were no longer welcome at his theater. Walker ran an ad in the county papers (there were three or four weeklies then; but one today) saying all races were welcome. That apparently ended the matter. The county today is not well off. Its high sulfur coal no longer can be marketed and the county has fewer people than it had in 1840. It also has many fewer blacks. They left with the decline of coal because there are few remaining jobs.

      • I wrote my comment last night right before going to bed. It was written in a bit of a hurry. Some of my thoughts weren’t really explained.

        About the idea of “self-evident,” even the meaning of that term wasn’t self-evident. It was powerful rhetoric to obscure disagreements, as the revolutionaries needed a document to inspire unified action. It isn’t clear that Jefferson even believed in natural law, as did some founders. It was a contentious issue. Quakers didn’t believe in natural law. Neither did Burke who initially supported the American Revolution.

        You provided an example of what you consider to be self-evident. Of course, it is obvious that if someone spends the money they have or don’t have, then they don’t have money and that can be problematic. But businessmen and homeowners borrow money all the time and spend money they don’t have in order to invest. College students do the same in the hope of having a better future that will allow them to pay off debts.

        So, spending money one doesn’t have as being fiscally irresponsible isn’t self-evident. It also isn’t self-evident that those who have financial problems were being fiscally irresponsible, especially when the economy is built on a tilted playing field and when there are many factors outside of the control of individuals: housing bubbles, unemployment and underemployment rates, falling economic mobility, offshoring, outsourcing, mechanization, inflation, decreasing buying power, stagnating wages, rising healthcare costs, rising education costs, racial biases in employment, etc.

        Last but not least, there is the issue of judging the past. An interesting book is The Honor Code by Kwame Anthony Appiah. The larger argument of the book isn’t important for our discussion here, but his discussion of historical examples makes one thing clear. Moral and social reform isn’t an issue of mere knowledge.

        During the American Revolution and in the decades before the Civil War, plenty of people even among slave owners understood the social and moral, economic and political problems with slavery. It was openly discussed in publications and many saw it as being an issue that would divide the country, as it did. Lack of knowledge wasn’t the problem, as in the medical example.

        Also, we judge the past not just as a sense of present superiority and projecting our assumptions onto previous generations. The failures in the past are often still ongoing failures in the present. We still have problems with taxation without (genuine) representation, lack of a well functioning democracy, markets that aren’t particularly free or freedom-inducing to large parts of the population, social oppression, and racial injustice. We often judge the past as a way of seeing more clearly that those judgments are ultimately directed toward ourselves and our own moral failure to act.

        How we perceive the past determines how we will act in the present. By making excuses for past generations, it makes it easier for us to make rationalize away our own bad behavior and our own complicity by inaction. We inherit problems and attitudes from the past. We have to see them clearly for what they are and feel their relevance to us personally in the present.

      • Now, let me respond to your last comment. I get the sense that you feel you need to defend your town, as if you perceive me as having attacked its good name or doubted its moral quality.

        For some reason, you feel reluctant to take my words at face value. When I said I had no reason to doubt you, I meant it literally, in that there really was no particular reason to think otherwise. I merely pointed out that, if you were entirely correct, then that town was highly unusual for its time.

        That is to say, it wasn’t representative of most of America. Your childhood, in that case, wouldn’t be representative of most of the country at that time. Even with all the changes in the country, it probably still is atypical for much of Appalachia and the rest of small town and rural America.

        I did a web search on Steubenville, Ohio and Jefferson County. As far as race issues go, it does seem like a genuinely decent place. Back in the 1920s, the residents even chased out Klansmen who were holding some event.

        I also did a web search on that (Moses) Fleetwood Walker. I imagine he decided to move to that town on purpose because of the kind of place it was. But context is important. He chose to live there because so much of the rest of the country was severely racist and so he sought out an island amidst oppression. He experienced racism throughout his life and baseball career.

        Walker also shared the view of many racists in terms of the hope of race relations. He believed they would fail, that the only hope whites had for peace and blacks for freedom was for the entire black population to leave the country. So, despite the relatively nice town of Steubenville, it apparently didn’t inspire much hope in his mind. It was merely a small refuge from the racism that was nearly everywhere.

        I understand that you “only knew of the KKK from reading about it.” That is actually true of most whites of your generation. The Second Klan ended its reign in 1944. Much smaller Klan groups didn’t form again until the 1950s and 1960s, and they never regained the political power and numbers they once had, although they did become more violent and gained greater symbolic power during the Civil Rights Movement.

        Still, the country you grew up in had been largely formed that Second Klan. It may have been mostly a memory by the time you were old enough to think about such things, but its impact was massive and long-lasting. My parents grew up in or around sundown towns and old centers of Klan activity. My grandmother grew up in the Jim Crow South where the First Klan rose to power, and her grandfather grew up in a family that owned slaves. Yet my parents don’t remember much of the racism and no one in their family ever talked about it. It was all in the background.

        It’s highly probable that some family members at least on my mother’s side were in the Klan or joined in Klan activities. But if so it was a family secret that has now been lost to all memory as no one was going to write it down or tell stories about it to the grandchildren.

        That is how the past operates. What shapes our world the most powerfully is often what we are the least aware of. If we didn’t live in such a massively racist society, your town wouldn’t have a proud reputation of being unusual in not being racist. It is only because racism has been the norm that a not being racist ends up being a point of pride. If all or most of America had been non-racist, then no one in your town would ever think to mention that there were good race relations there. Non-racism would simply be a non-issue in a non-racist society.

        I never claimed there weren’t exceptions. I’m often interested in exceptions. But I just want to acknowledge them for what they are. And to understand them in the larger context.

  10. @Derry Eynon – You’ve said that fiscal conservatism trumps all else for you. You haven’t so far explained why, and I’ve been curious. I’ve pointed out that it is the opposite of self-evident that fiscal conservatism in practice has much of anything to do with fiscal responsibility.

    It is the liberal states that are the least drain on the federal government and the conservative states that are the biggest drain. Conservative states not only take more federal funding than they pay in taxes, but also have more poverty and inequality. They refuse to tax their own citizens to be fiscally responsible in paying for their own basic needs while being more than willing to suck the teat of big government.

    Consider the two areas of greatest federal spending: defense and welfare. Conservative states are the biggest recipients of both kinds of spending. They have most of the military bases and government-funded defense industry, which is the single largest sector of the US economy. And they have the highest rates of poor and hence people on welfare, mostly white by the way.

    Voters in conservative states support growing the military even further and constantly fighting unnecessary and immoral wars. Also, even Tea Partiers don’t want to eliminate social security and medicare, as many of them being older are recipients of this form of government-funded social safety net. Plus, voters in conservative states are for a strong police state with larger police forces and more prisons. Did you know that the prison industry is the third largest employer in the US?

    Besides, the Progressive Era and the New Deal was strongly supported by the conservatives of that era. Many big government progressive policies were put into place for conservative reasons and purposes. It’s the reason the KKK supported universal public education to force assimilation and supported the end of child labor to decrease competition for older workers, many of the child laborers being ethnic immigrants who would work cheap. And it is also why Mormons, Evangelicals, and mainstream Christians supported Prohibition, work programs, subsidized college education, etc. They supported all these things because they saw it as a defense of conservative society against the forces of social change.

    Two big progressive leaders were the two Roosevelt presidents. Both of them came from old industrial wealth. They embodied the old aristocratic ideal of noblesse oblige. Many like Theodoere Roosevelt used progressivism as a defense against communism, for they thought that if capitalists didn’t deal with the problems of capitalism then communists would. This was a defense of the fiscal conservatism of capitalism. The economy was booming, tax rates were higher and more progressive than ever, and no one saw any of it as being fiscally irresponsible. It wasn’t even really an issue of liberalism versus conservatism, as even most of the liberals back then were defenders of capitalism and critics of communism.

    Liberals didn’t take over the government and force a welfare state on the people. They also didn’t force deficit spending. Republicans have been amongst the biggest deficit spenders, with the federal debt proportionately growing more under their watch. It was Reagan who created the permanent debt through growth of big government spending on military.

    It is self-evident that fiscal conservatism is the complete opposite of fiscal responsibility. Yet the empty rhetoric of conservatives blames liberals. To me, that reality trumps all rhetoric to the contrary.

    I realize you’ve done your best to avoid political debate. But it has been bugging me ever since you said the following over at another post: “So I am a complex mix of libertarian, social liberal to a point and fiscal conservative (which I find to be, for better or worse, my trump card) and wary of the far left.” What does fiscal conservatism mean to you?

    In another comment at the same post, you mentioned this point: “3) growing up in a home where money was not plentiful – my parents never owned property and did not have an automobile until I was in high school” And stated that: “Point #3 made me a relentless fiscal conservative.” Since fiscal conservatism in practice obviously means both big government spending and the spending of other people’s money, why do you identify as a fiscal conservative?

    I’m always looking past rhetoric. That is part of why I love data so much. I don’t care what people say for I care about what people do and have done. I’m in favor of evidence-based politics, as I’m sure you are as well, even if you find my demands of evidence irritating. Based on the evidence of real world results, how does your supposed fiscal conservatism as fiscal responsibility trump all else when so few fiscal conservatives are fiscally responsible? I ask that as a sincere question.

    • It’s a tricky question, considering what fiscal responsibility genuinely means.

      Liberal states don’t just receive less federal funding than they pay in federal taxes. They also tax themselves more to pay for their own issues of public good, from infrastructure to emergency services, from education to social safety net. This might be why they have fewer social problems and less poverty than conservative states, which means they need less federal funding to deal with the problems they prevent or eliminate.

      Isn’t decreasing costly social problems fiscally conservative in the best possible sense? It is certainly a fiscal responsibility policy in terms of actual costs and who pays for them.

      I’m not a partisan. None of this is inherently about Republicans versus Democrats. I hate party politics. I just note that Democratic states tend to have more fiscally responsible results. Maybe fiscal liberalism is in reality more fiscally responsible than fiscal conservatism.

      Shouldn’t we be more concerned by results than rhetoric?

    • Here is an example from a conservative Republican state where a Progressive Era institution has survived into the present and has been highly successful (I’ve briefly posted about it here). It should be noted that the GOP itself used to be a progressive party.

      Is this fiscal liberalism or fiscal conservatism, fiscal responsibility or fiscally irresponsibility? Also, as it is at the state level, is it big government or small government, central government or local government?

      Why Is Socialism Doing So Darn Well in Deep-Red North Dakota?
      By Les Leopold

      North Dakota is the very definition of a red state. It voted 58 percent to 39 percent for Romney over Obama, and its statehouse and senate have a total of 104 Republicans and only 47 Democrats. The Republican super-majority is so conservative it recently passed the nation’s most severe anti-abortion resolution – a measure that declares a fertilized human egg has the same right to life as a fully formed person.

      But North Dakota is also red in another sense: it fully supports its state-owned Bank of North Dakota (BND), a socialist relic that exists nowhere else in America. Why is financial socialism still alive in North Dakota? Why haven’t the North Dakotan free-market crusaders slain it dead?

      Because it works.

      In 1919, the Non-Partisan League, a vibrant populist organization, won a majority in the legislature and voted the bank into existence. The goal was to free North Dakota farmers from impoverishing debt dependence on the big banks in the Twin Cities, Chicago and New York. More than 90 years later, this state-owned bank is thriving as it helps the state’s community banks, businesses, consumers and students obtain loans at reasonable rates. It also delivers a handsome profit to its owners — the 700,000 residents of North Dakota. In 2011, the BND provided more than $70 million to the state’s coffers. Extrapolate that profit-per-person to a big state like California and you’re looking at an extra $3.8 billion a year in state revenues that could be used to fund education and infrastructure.

    • Also, consider the economic issues of the revolutionary and early national periods. Were the founding fathers fiscal liberals or conservatives, fiscally responsible or not?

      They raised taxes higher after founding the US than the British ever had to the colonists. The issue wasn’t high taxes, but supposedly taxes without representation. They also subsidized newspapers and fisheries, for reasons of national interests. They used protectionist policies to help the US economy grow. They used tariffs among other things to fund the federal government, which is how they avoided an income tax.

      Economic issues were important back then. I’ve written about the topic a few times. The various groups and classes in America didn’t always agree about the same economic interests and agendas or even the same economic ideology. Those disagreements even led to rebellion by the citizens and violent oppression as a response by the government.

      Even so, no one was thinking in the economic terms we use today. They funded the revolution through debt. And it was just the way it was. It was a problem to be dealt with, paying off the debt, but not a problem in the way we make it out to be.

      Trump made the point a decade or so ago that, at the time when I think he was a Democrat, we could have through a one-time tax paid off the entire federal debt. It would have been a major hit to the economy, especially to the wealthiest, but we would now have no permanent debt. That may have been the last moment when we could have stopped the permanent debt.

      The founders couldn’t imagine how far we wold let the debt grow. They probably wouldn’t have thought it wise to have a permanent debt.

  11. By the way, in my thoughts here, I was reminded of this post (along with the discussion in the comments section):

    https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/conservative-minded-liberals-reactionary-xenophobic/

    The Spirit of ’76 is a radical impulse. That is inherent to liberalism. But there is also another side of liberalism.

    That is what makes liberalism interesting. It is complex and sometimes seemingly contradictory. Liberalism is predisposed to shifting or even entirely flopping the other direction. I’d argue that a conservative(-minded) liberal isn’t a contradiction, but maybe the normal mode under most or at least many conditions.

    Some of this is from my personal experience and observations. Other insights I got from reading social science research. It has been noted by social scientists that it is easier to shift a liberal toward conservatism than a conservative toward liberalism.

    Ideological predispositions are a hard thing to understand. Most of my writings, directly or indirectly, have been in trying to make sense of it.

    This fits in with the American Revolution. That event very much was motivated by liberalism. But they were a diverse group of liberals, included on the other side liberals who were against revolution entirely. When Jefferson switched his views from direction to another over his lifetime, he was just being a typical liberal.

    Liberals should learn to become self-aware of this tendency within themselves. Otherwise, they will be unconsciously controlled by it, a victim to their own lack of self-understanding.

  12. You are one county off. It’s Harrison. And Fleetwood’s town was the county seat, Cadiz. My town (legally a village and a very small one at that) is west of Cadiz off highway 22. Since my time there was the 1940’s, I would have heard about any KKK activity, especially because my granddad’s weekly would have reported it. Out of Ohio’s 88 counties, Harrison is the bottom five or six in population. Fleetwood sold the theater and left Cadiz in his old age for Cleveland where he died, ultimately disillusioned in regard to race relations for many of the reasons you cite. No, no defense intended. I simply thought Fleetwood’s story in terms of baseball and, for the time, as a leading businessman in the community, is interesting trivia. Just as is the story of Lusk, Wyoming when in the 1970’s the state of Wyoming decided to crack down on whore houses, many of which operated openly, some even having neon signs!! When it closed, the Lusk house had a big auction to sell the property and its contents which attracted substantially more people than the Lusk population. The Madam of the house was the president of the Lusk Chamber of Commerce.
    My fiscal conservatism comes from a childhood where pennies were important and no one had “extra” funds. From the 4th grade on, I managed my own money, and if I ran short, there was nothing to replace it. Even my granddad’s weekly was barely profitable. Of course people and businesses go into debt for various rational reasons. But at some point they must have enough to pay those debts, thus their income must exceed expenses. I am not going into a long debate on your last points. What I will say is that many communitarian projects, cooperatives, state-run operations work , etc. are more successful than private endeavors might be. I have no problem with taking the best ideas from a variety of sources and philosophies. So I am not against communitarianism in a variety of circumstances. In the private sector, in theory anyway, we have outlier watchdogs protecting us against untoward practices by at least the larger entrants. But in the public sector lies the risk of an operation, an agency or whatever losing sight of it purpose and becoming more focused on protecting its own (VA, IRS of late and so forth). Who provides the checks and balances in such cases? The government is supposed to keep tabs on itself. It is too easy to avoid accountability. Years back I was on a team asked to help a government agency with its “communication problem.” Long story short: It had dozens of people shuffling papers but not doing anything real, just promoting what a good idea was the notion it was promoting. It’s communication problem was that it had nothing of substance to communicate, thus it was wasting untold numbers of taxpayer dollars. There was no real accountability. The other problem I see with true communitarianism is the development of official groupthink. You must think and behave as you are told or you are out. Think Communism, unions of my youth, religions, all kinds of political movements. As noted previously, a major distraction in the US Communist movement, according to the biography of James T. Farrell, was the purging of Stalinists and Trotskyites from cells in which the other was dominant. Individuality (to encourage creativity) and communitarianism (to promote, for lack of a better term, fairness) are not incompatible. But a government controlling too much of our daily lives grows the risks noted above, just as an extreme degree of individuality (as in pure Libertarianism) risks (no – assures) chaos.

    Shifting all responsibility to government can have some odd consequences, as well. Several years ago a disturbingly high number of older people died in a European heatwave that was particularly serious in France. A study (you’ re right; I don’t have the source) found one reason for the high French loss was that a significant percentage of respondents said taking care of old people was the government’s problem, not theirs.

    • I did some web searches for Cadiz and Harrison County. I do love doing that kind of research. It makes me think that I should write some posts about my birth state. I’ve never spent a lot of time in Ohio as an adult and so I don’t have the personal sense of the place to a great degree, but I have a basic sense of it from visiting there so often over the years.

      Anyway, Ohio does seem interesting from the perspective of what I’ve been looking at recently. It does seem a bit differently than Midwestern states like Indiana and Ohio, two states that had much immigration up from Kentucky and have had large number of sundown towns. Being closer to the East Coast and New England, Ohio maybe has had some counterbalancing influences, something like how Iowa has more influence from the Upper Midwest.

      I noticed some of the people who came from around that area of Ohio. Clark Gable was born in Cadiz, as no doubt you already know. A Tuskegee Airman, Dr. Theodore Mason, was also born in Cadiz and in 1922, a year after the Second Klan was formed. General George Armstrong Custer was born in the same county in a nearby town. There was also Franklin College in New Athens, also in Harrison, which supposedly was a hotbed for abolitionism.

      On the other hand, it does appear there was conflict over the slave issue, with a Harrison County man playing a leading role in ensuring the slaves didn’t escape into Ohio.

      http://nkaa.uky.edu/subject.php?sub_id=87

      “this escape attempt as “the largest single slave uprising in Kentucky history.” Patrick Doyle, a white, was the suspected leader of the slave revolt; he was to take the 75 slaves to Ohio, where they would be free. The armed contingent of slaves made its way from Fayette County, KY, to Bracken County, KY, where it was confronted by a group of about 100 white men led by General Lucius Desha of Harrison County, KY. During an exchange of gunfire some of the more than 40 slaves escaped into the woods, but most were captured and jailed, along with Patrick Doyle. Doyle was sentenced to 20 years of hard labor in the state penitentiary, and the slaves were returned to their owners”

      Also, the Second Klan had a significant number of members in Harrison County. But their power seemed limited. And of course the Second Klan was gone by the mid 1940s.

      http://www.harrisonhistory.org/Historical_Blog/Entries/2010/12/2_Death_of_a_Dry_Deputy.html

      “The Ku Klux Klan was in charge of the burial service and 300 fellow Klansmen from around the county attended the graveside services. According the May 22nd Cadiz Republican, “Their (the KKK) services were very impressive.” […]

      “Frank Marcenik, 42-years-old Polish immigrant and miner, entered court on June 23rd for jury selection. The Cadiz Republican of May 22nd states, “It is possible the State will make a test case of the shooting of Forrest Sparrow and John A. Dean, the Miners’ union and the Klan will also figure in the trial, the Miners’ Union furnishing one or more lawyers for the defense.” All of the first day and most of the next were taken up by jury selection. Forty of the sixty potential jurors were released, two for Klan membership, before a jury was seated the next day. […]

      “Who was to blame? The Sparrows understandably blame Marcenik and Oda believed the shot that struck his brother in the head was meant to kill. Some in New Athens blamed Dr. Tubbs for this tragedy because he issued the warrant when he knew Marcenik had just been robbed. Many of the warrants issued at this time were for the mining camps; there were thirteen for Duncanwood that night alone. Could the law have been prejudiced against the immigrant miners? The likely answer is yes and the Klan involvement, Tubbs is said to have been a leader in the local Klaverns, points to deeper social issues.”

    • “From the 4th grade on, I managed my own money, and if I ran short, there was nothing to replace it.”

      That describes my own childhood. I had a paper route. If I wanted something, I bought it with my own money. Starting in elementary school, I was even buying Christmas presents for family members and I remember feeling proud that I had money to do so.

      “I have no problem with taking the best ideas from a variety of sources and philosophies.”

      That is good to know. Then we are of like minds. I’m not an ideologue.

      My initial response to your claim of fiscal conservatism was simply confusion. I had no idea what you meant. You simply threw it out there without explanation.

      That kind of thing drives my brain bonkers. I always want to know what people mean. It’s sort of related to my curious, as I can’t stand not knowing something, especially when someone makes an offhand comment that catches my attention.

      “In the private sector, in theory anyway, we have outlier watchdogs protecting us against untoward practices by at least the larger entrants. But in the public sector lies the risk of an operation, an agency or whatever losing sight of it purpose and becoming more focused on protecting its own (VA, IRS of late and so forth).”

      I’m not always sure it is a private versus public issue. I suspect a bigger issue might be size and centralized. A private organization that is too large and centralized can be more bureaucratic and unaccountable than a small democratically run government. My dad talks about having that thought one time while working as a business manager in a factory and considering how bureaucratic things were managed, especially as he considered certain Japanese models of factory management that were more bottom-up than the American top-down style.

      “Who provides the checks and balances in such cases?”

      In a democracy, the people do. But we don’t have a functioning democracy, not in a fundamental sense. What democracy we have is superficial and extremely limited. More aspects of our government are undemocratic and even anti-democratic than democratic. Voting every so often doesn’t a democracy make.

      “Shifting all responsibility to government can have some odd consequences, as well. Several years ago a disturbingly high number of older people died in a European heatwave that was particularly serious in France. A study (you’ re right; I don’t have the source) found one reason for the high French loss was that a significant percentage of respondents said taking care of old people was the government’s problem, not theirs.”

      I don’t see any reason to doubt that. It sounds plausible. I’d just point out that many European countries with their public healthcare systems have on average longer lifespans. So, when health is government’s problems, you are more likely to reach old age. There is something of value in that. In the US, you are more likely to reach old age the wealthier you are, health disparity matching the wealth disparity which continues to grow.

    • By the way, if you’re are curious about some possible sundown towns in Ohio, Loewen has a page for each state. Here is the page for Ohio:

      http://sundown.afro.illinois.edu/sundowntownsshow.php?state=OH

      He didn’t research all states equally. He began his research in Illinois and then expanded to Indiana. I’m not sure how much time he spent on Ohio.

      He was the first person to do systematic research on this topic. So, it was a lot of work. It required in many cases for him to visit towns and gather oral histories from older residents. Local officials, ministers, librarians, genalogical societies, and historical publications tended to either ignore or deny such things.

      There was no prior large body of scholarship he could depend upon, because even academics had mostly avoided this topic because it was so controversial. Some academics even worked at colleges in sundown towns, but for obvious reasons they rarely spoke of the issue. Doing so might lead them to losing their jobs.

      People are extremely defensive and protective of the reputations and public image of their communities. Even in sundown towns, people would often praise their communities as being egalitarian, which is sort of true in that all the people who had been allowed to live there were treated as equals. In other cases, there sometimes was a single black individual or family that was allowed to stay because they were servants, and these isolated examples would be held up as proof that there was no racism, even as it was conveniently ignored that all the other blacks had long ago been run out of town.

      For understandable reasons, this is a challenging subject to research. It’s amazing what Loewen was able to dig up. I think maybe we are finally getting enough distance from this that more people are willing to talk about it. That is a positive change. There is a changing zeitgeist this past decade, as the same year Loewen published his book another person also published a book on sundown towns, the first two books ever dedicated to the topic. Prior to that, still few seemed to even recognize sundown towns ever existed, especially in the North.

      No one ultimately knows how many sundown towns once existed and how many are still de facto sundown towns. Loewen also makes the point that no one knows how many lynchings happened in the North, because most of the research was done in the South, despite the fact that the most famous mass lynchings happened in the Midwest. Future research might discover a lot more that we don’t presently know, especially if the older generations still living are interviewed about various issues. Many people are carrying around all kinds of knowledge that has never been printed in a book or article, dark secrets that never before were uttered beyond close family, friends, and neighbors.

      Our society is amidst a collective awakening at the moment. Many people are still in shock and denial about how bad it all is. And that is with us only knowing a fraction of the truth of what has gone on and still goes on.

  13. Thanks for the info about the foiled escape of slaves, etc. I did not know that. You mentioned Franklin College in New Athens (locally pronounced A-thens as in ABC.) A great, great uncle (mother’s side) was president of Franklin for awhile. A University of Dayton professor wrote a book about Franklin. Have no idea why. Not much of a market, My mother was one (of many) of his sources. Franklin never was accredited because the accreditors considered it a Bible college. Attendance slid after 1900 and a move to Wheeling, W.Va. was considered. But the temptations of a big city were considered too great. Then a football coach showed up and convinced the Board that football was the attendance solution. He claimed within three years Franklin would be beating “those Catholics in Indiana.” The team was not victorious, even against the Wheeling Y. The coach disappeared with the Athletic Department budget and the school fell on hard times, folding after WWII. Muskingum College accepted Franklin alumni (I think in 1922) as its own because both schools had a connection to the Presbyterian church.

    I think Ohio is, indeed, a somewhat unusual state because it has three distinct cultural regions: In the northeast, formerly the Western Reserve of Connecticut (thus Case Western Reserve University), towns tend to have a New England flavor architecturally and have town squares. Even Cleveland has a large Public Square. Very much (in Colin Woodard’s term) a Yankee area. Central and western Ohio are where the corn belt ends. They look, feel and think Midwestern (accepting that not all of the Midwest thinks the same. Nevertheless . . . ). Harrison and neighboring counties are the top of Ohio’s “true” Appalachia, hill country with runs and hollows and much poverty. Branches of University’s have changed this a bit, but when I lived in Ohio, a state among those with the most colleges, only three, as I recall, were located south of Rt. 40 in the southeastern part of the state: Ohio U, the first public university west of the Allegheny’s, Marietta and Rio Grande. Muskingum is north of Rt. 40 by one block. This area was settled by Virginians, Kentuckians and Appalachian Pennsylvanians. Economically, culturally and in the manner in which its people speak, more akin the West Virginia and eastern Kentucky than the rest of Ohio. It’s not as easy as it used to be, but there was a time when you could, with fair accuracy, tell where in Ohio and Ohioan was from by his/her accent. And some of those differences are not subtle. My cousin’ son, the lawyer, married a girl from up by Lake Erie. When she first visited Cadiz, she couldn’t believe she was still in Ohio. The first time I took my wife to my Harrison county town, we stopped at a miscellaneous store (a cut below a general store). When we left, my wife had no idea what the clerk had said; she could not understand the clerk’s accent. Look at the town names in the northeast (east of Cleveland; north of Youngstown). Compare them with the town names in the counties east of Portsmouth in the hill country on or two or three counties back from the Ohio River. Then check the names in western Ohio. The nature of the names tend to be quite different, a reflection of the people who settled the regions, Ohio also is unusual in that it has no dominant major city, so no area “controls” electoral outcomes. Each region must be sold on its own terms.

    Southwest Ohio (roughly Dayton and south) is the area of Ohio that was most like the South in race relations. There were some segregated schools in the area into the 1960’s. Going north out of Cincinnati by the Interstate to Columbus, as of a few years ago, there still was a barn with a Confederate flag painted on the roof. Many West Virginians and Kentuckians came to Ohio to work in factories ruing and after WWII. An eastern Kentucky saying was/is the key to success is “readin’, writin’ and Rt. 23 to Columbus.”

    So much for now.

    • “Franklin never was accredited because the accreditors considered it a Bible college.”

      I wonder why that was. There are Bible colleges these days that are accredited. Many older colleges had religious origins, often founded by a particular denomination.

      I wonder if there was more to the story. America was highly religious back then, in all areas of the country and at all levels of society. I couldn’t imagine simply being a Bible college by itself would’ve stopped accreditation. Maybe it being a former hotbed of abolitionism had given it a bad reputation as politically radical, at a time when radicalism was less acceptable than today.

      “I think Ohio is, indeed, a somewhat unusual state because it has three distinct cultural regions”

      I assumed that was the case. I knew it had the Mid-Atlantic influence of immigration patterns, as seen with the rest of the Midwest. I also knew of Appalachia, along with the military land grants given to veterans which led to the metes and bounds system typical of the South. It borders and is near so many states, and also rather close to Canada.

      “Ohio also is unusual in that it has no dominant major city, so no area “controls” electoral outcomes. Each region must be sold on its own terms.”

      Maybe so. I haven’t traveled around Ohio enough to have that sense of it. What would exacerbate this is the fact it has the 7th largest state population in the country. Four times as many people live in Ohio than in Iowa.

      “Southwest Ohio (roughly Dayton and south) is the area of Ohio that was most like the South in race relations.”

      That is a difference from where I live presently. Iowa is right on the border of Southern culture, just barely bleeding over at the Southern border, specifically Southeastern corner. Across the Mississippi Southern Illinois has clear Southern influence and, with the history of Sullivan’s line, so does Missouri.

      “An eastern Kentucky saying was/is the key to success is “readin’, writin’ and Rt. 23 to Columbus.””

      Now, that sounds just like Indiana. My mother’s family came to Indiana for a better life.

  14. Ted Van Dyk, former assistant to VP Hubert Humphrey and active in national Democratic politics for 40 years, and I graduated from high school in 1951. In today’s Wall Street Journal (page A9 in the Opinion section) Van Dyk wrote a piece entitled “Taking the Political Pulse of a Blue-State Town.” In it, Van Dyk offers an answer to your question on figuring out how I, your humble correspondent, think and respond to today’s world and what are my reference points. Van Dyk, in describing himself and his fiends perspectives, also describes me. Worth a look.

    Next to the Van Dyk column, there’s a brief “Notable & Quotable” quoting a memo from Jimmy Carter’s Chief of Staff, Hamilton Jordan, citing reasons the Democrats should jump in bed with the teachers’ unions. In 1976, the NEA endorsed a Presidential candidate for the first time in its 114-year history. The teachers have been a Democratic political force ever since.

    On town names. I should have said the name differences don’t necessarily hit you in the face. But, for example, you won’t find a place with a name like Round Bottom anywhere in the state but the southeast, or a name such as East Claridon outside the northeast or a name like St. Marys anywhere but the Midwestern part of the state. An aside: Back in my day, St. Mary’s was the center of a heavily German area that voted Democrat. But during WWI and WWII, the area voted Republican. Interesting, eh?

    • I just read the Ted Van Dyk piece. Thanks for mentioning it. Here is the link:

      http://www.wsj.com/articles/taking-the-political-pulse-of-a-blue-state-town-1444429209

      I wanted to comment a bit on what he wrote.

      “The remaining members of our Bellingham High School class of 1951 convened here recently, along with adjacent classes. It was evident that our generational attitudes, formed while we grew up during the Great Depression and World War II, had changed little—although our hometown had changed a great deal. The city of smokestacks, blue-collar jobs, lumber, pulp and paper mills, coal mines and the world’s largest fish cannery had given way to one where higher-education and service jobs predominate.”

      My parents are slightly younger than that. My father was born in 1942 and my mother in 1945, he being on the young edge of the Silent Generation and she being on the old edge of the Boomer Generation. Of course, they both missed the Great Depression by a number of years, but also didn’t fully experience the political upheavals of the late 1960s. Even my dad unlikely has any memories of WWII from the first couple years of his life. They grew up in a relatively calm era, which I think shaped them in a particular way, especially as they lived in a conservative state.

      “Almost all of us came from working-class and poor families. Almost all the males did military service; some enlisted to fight in the Korean War after graduation.”

      My father did military service. He actually was sent to Korea, but there wasn’t much going on there at the time.

      “Maybe one in six of us went to college immediately after high school, but a remarkable percentage got degrees later on.”

      My parents were of the first wave of high rates of college graduates. They both entered immediately after high school.

      “There was a strong sense of egalitarianism that still prevails. Events of the era made us a “we” rather than a “me” generation.”

      Some of that I suspect is that Midwestern ethos. As for generational issues go, I tend to follow the Strauss and Howe model, as it seems to make sense. In that generations theory, there is a repeating cycle. My generation was more individualistic, but so was the Lost Generation that was born in the last two decades of the 1800s and fought in WWI. They didn’t have a noble war to fight in and they received a similar response by Americans as did Vietnam vets. The “we” attitude also supposedly repeats.

      “Bellingham, now a city of some 80,000, has the highest percentage in the country of citizens holding public-library cards (more than 70%). It brims over with cultural events. Democrats strongly outnumber Republicans, now as in our childhoods, but shrill partisanship, so common in Seattle and other liberal cities, is not in style. Coalitions form around environmental, growth, education and other local issues without regard to participants’ party affiliations, if any. No big company or employer dominates the public agenda. Public decisions—about taxing and development, for instance—can be wrongheaded but are generally cleanly made.”

      That would basically describe Iowa City, Iowa. Library cardholders, however, are split between the public library and the university with library, as one library is enough for most people. It’s a relatively small town here, but cultural events are continuous year round because of the university. It is also a Democratic stronghold, but certainly not left-wing. Very moderate in a Midwestern sense. It is a liberal city and extremely progressive, even within the local business community. It’s just liberalism and moderateness have large overlap here, as it does in much of the Midwest. Local issues are rarely framed in partisan ways. There sort of is a big employer with the university, but it isn’t dependent on the city nor does it have much direct influence over the city, as it is a state university. Public decisions are typically framed in community terms, a common framing for Midwestern politics.

      “But with the advent of the Black Lives Matter and related movements, two local groups have demanded that the bridge be renamed. Pickett, as other southern officers, joined the Confederacy as the Civil War began, later leading the famous, futile Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg. Critics in Bellingham have branded him a racist and would erase his works from the city’s history—much in the way out-of-favor Soviet leaders were removed from Kremlin Wall photos during the Stalin era.”

      The Civil War and such aren’t as major of issues here in Iowa, of course. There isn’t as much struggle of regional histories, cultures, and politics. Iowa had much diversity early on, but not in the way it existed in Ohio. I’m not sure about Indiana. I imagine some of those racial conflicts are more relevant in Indiana with its having been so close to a slave state and with its intense Second Klan history. Indiana also was a place of many famous battles with Native Americans and still has a tribe that remained there.

      “Having grown up witnessing the totalitarian crimes of Hitler, Stalin and Imperial Japan, and the subsequent McCarthy period of the 1950s, most of us, I found, were offended by the political and intellectual conformity demanded by the present day left and right.”

      Coming from a different perspective, I see it differently. Mainstream politics has become polarized, but it is all for show and rather superficial, hiding how much both parties share in common. Most people I know feel little motivation to conform to the demands of either the empty rhetoric of mainstream partisanship or the consensus of the ruling elite. That is why voting rates have gone down. The parties no longer represent most Americans of any generation. With increasing influence of national media, politics has become spectacle. Most people these days probably feel little need or desire to conform. The polarization doesn’t mean much of anything, other than a crude attempt at divide and conquer.

      “There was worry about Donald Trump and his Know Nothing candidacy, and regret that so many citizens were taking him seriously. Despite our proletarian origins, no one in our discussions spoke up for Bernie Sanders as a presidential candidate. Even in our mostly Democratic crowd, there were few enthusiasts for Hillary Clinton and even fewer for Jeb Bush. Republicans John Kasich and Ben Carson got favorable mention from the few familiar with them.”

      I doubt that is really different from other generations. Most people have a hard time getting excited about politics right now for various reasons. We’ve experienced 9/11, War on Terror, 2008 recession, endless obstructionism, first black president that changed nothing, same old same old with issues of racism and corporatism, and on and on.

      “Leaving the reunion and my old friends, I wondered if our dwindling generation, along with the now-disappearing Greatest Generation which preceded us, had not had our day. I wondered whether our work-study-save, burn-the-mortgage and do-your-duty values will be buried with us.”

      Millennials aren’t heavy-spenders, as the data shows. I’ve pointed out that they are an overly serious and conservative-minded generation. The economy isn’t booming as it did after the Great Depression and WWII, along with wages stagnating, economic mobility decreasing, etc. Also, all those old redistributionist policies (such as high progressive taxation and highly government-subsidized cheap college education and housing) have gone by the wayside. There are fewer economic opportunities now, but the younger generation does what it can with what opportunities available. Anyway, it was the older generations, not the younger generations, that created the massive permanent debt and stole from social security, in having started pointless immoral wars and having grown the military to a greater size than any empire in world history.

      “As part of the Great Society-civil rights political part of our generation, I am dismayed by what philanthropist Pete Peterson calls the “values posturing” of the present day. We had fought for and won historic battles for civil rights, social justice and economic opportunity and launched programs and policies to move forward with them. Now we see crude attempts made to use race, gender and class as wedge issues to inflame and polarize voters.”

      The older generations were also the same people who fought against civil rights and social justice (it was the Soviet Communists shaming American whites about racism that finally forced the hand of the US government) and who ensured economic opportunity was tilted toward whites (see When Affirmative Action Was White by Ira Katznelson). It’s the younger generations who actually know the real history of what happened, not hiding behind Cold War propaganda and institutionalized racism. Besides, I bet many older blacks who grew up in Jim Crow don’t remember that time with equal fondness.

      “America’s African-American communities are plagued by high black-on-black crime and murder rates, high school-dropout and incarceration rates, drug use and trafficking, and broken or nonexistent families. Yet political leaders are not focusing on tested Great Society programmatic approaches to address this crisis. Instead they are attacking the so-called white establishment, policing practices and former Confederate symbols.”

      That is partly because younger people are better informed. They know the truth and the truth once known can’t be made unknown again. Those Great Society programmatic approaches were useful in some ways, but they also were designed to be racially biased, as many young people know from learning the history that older generations never learned. Many programs and funding that helped so many whites move into the middle class were intentionally denied to blacks. There is nothing ‘so-called’ about the white establishment. Denying reality weakens the criticisms of older people who simply come off as clueless to the younger and more well informed. I’m sure there are valid criticisms to be made, but that doesn’t excuse ignorance, even if that ignorance was indoctrinated through Cold War propaganda and enforced through white supremacy, an important point considering Ted Van Dyk spent the first three decades of his life under the dominance of that white supremacy, prior to the Civil Rights Act.

      “What about jobs, poverty, decent and affordable housing, better public education, tax reform and health-care reforms to fix ObamaCare’s cost and coverage glitches? Where are the politicians we can trust to judge where American interests do and do not lie abroad and where, and in what circumstance, we should be ready to commit American lives and money?”

      Those are the very questions young generations are asking and the answers to which they are demanding. Why does he have to attack and belittle his fellow Americans who share his concerns, specifically those who have suffered and struggled more than he likely could imagine? Isn’t that the divisiveness he is complaining about?

      “Not surprisingly, our reunion crowd was generally disgusted with current public and private national leadership. But, somewhat to my surprise, few classmates expressed anything but optimism about our American future. We’ve seen hard times, most were saying, but came through all right. If we hang in there, things will get better. I pray they are right.”

      Most Americans of all generations are disgusted. Most Americans of all generations are basically optimistic, despite it all. Shouldn’t that be a point upon which to build a common sense of American purpose?

      I do have respect for the Silent Generation in many ways. They were a generation that was less conflict-oriented and more willing to work together.

      That is why I find disappointing to see someone from that generation come off as so divisively critical. Ralph Nader is a Silent (as are Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn) who never used divisive rhetoric, and I voted for him in 2000 (as a side note, Bernie Sanders is another Silent who also has avoided such things as fear-mongering, even reaching out to the Evangelicals when he spoke at Jerry Falwell’s college). But a Boomer, Bush, was put into the presidency by the Supreme Court. although of course Gore was also a Boomer. It was during the 2000s that Boomers became the majority in Congress and that is when division began, and I’d point out that Boomers by that point were hardly a young generation as they were in middle age.

      On the other hand, I’d point out that the worst elements of our present politics began to develop under the watch of the older generations. It was Reagan more than any president that brought the Southern Strategy to a whole new level of polarized and racialized politics with divisive culture war rhetoric to replace the ebbing Cold War propaganda (by the way, my generation is complicit in having the highest rates of voting for Reagan—was that motivated by the cynicism my generation has been accused of?).

      I’d also point out that the seeming consensus of that earlier era came at a high cost. The Cold War was extremely and violently oppressive. Those who disagreed with and challenged the status quo found themsleves on the wrong side of power. That was as true for the Klan as it was for the Black Panthers, both groups broken through the FBI’s COINTELPRO. I’d rather live in a world with groups like the Klan and Black Panthers than in a world with COINTELPRO suppressing democracy. That wasn’t necessarily even the worst of it, as many big businesses closed ranks to blackball individuals and destroy their careers and lives, driving some of them to suicide. Those who have nostalgia for that earlier era typically aren’t the kind of people who found themselves the target of both government and private oppression.

      That was when the authoritarian tendencies of our society more fully took hold. Before then, there was authoritarianism at the local level, but the federal government’s power was relatively limited. The new federal government may have broken the back of the authoritarian tendencies of the Klan, but they replaced it with something far worse. That paved the way for our present authoritarianism in this age of government fear-mongering about terrorism being used to attack American rights and liberties. All of the polarization is just distraction.

      If a Silent like Ted Van Dyk really wants to understand the world that once was and what has developed, he’d be wise to listen to the words of his fellow Silents who have spent their lives studying these issues, especially Chomsky who is still around fighting the good fight and also the now gone Zinn. The division there isn’t generational. It’s two sides of the same generation and that cuts across generations.

      I would think that Dyk would understand the larger context of how politics has developed. Partisan politics is hardly new or worse than it used to be. He even describes that in his other writings:

      http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB121944770970665183

      “Martin Luther King had been murdered earlier in the month. Debate about Vietnam had become shrill and divisive. Humphrey told me he was temporizing because he intuited that “terrible, wrenching events are just over the horizon. I do not know what they are. But, if I run, I sense that I will be engulfed by them.” Humphrey did finally declare his candidacy and, as he anticipated, was soon overtaken by such events.

      “The most jarring was the June 5 assassination of Robert Kennedy, on the night of his California primary victory.”

      In another article, he discusses Nixon’s enemies list:

      http://crosscut.com/2013/03/nixons-enemies-list/

      “Those on the list were to be harrassed by the Internal Revenue Service and punished wherever possible through other federal actions. […] my correspondence and phone calls were being monitored illegally by the Central Intelligence Agency. […] These were the kinds of things you might expect from a Nazi or Soviet regime, but not from one democratically elected in the United States.”

      He thought that was bad. It wasn’t nearly as bad as McCarthyism and COINTELPRO. Politics today, even with the intrusive security state, seems like a little girl’s tea party by comparison. Perspective is important. Maybe his memory is beginning to fade about how bad it used to be. The problem isn’t that politics is worst than it used to be, but that after all this time it isn’t clear that it is getting much better. The status quo remains. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Those of the older generations should understand that better than anyone else.

    • I’m curious what you think about such differing perspectives from within generations. The Silent Generation alone included quite the array of people. I listed a few of them, besides Dyk: Chomsky, Zinn, Nader, and Sanders. I have great respect for those people. It’s not a generational thing to my mind.

      Besides, many Klan members and leaders were Silents or else GIs, as were many of those who challenged and fought the Second Klan and its later versions. Silents were also many of the leaders and activists of the various protests movements from the 1950s to 1970s, and also included many unique thinkers and writers from that era: Martin Luther King jr, James Baldwin, Malcolm X, Huey P. Newton, Angela Davis, Bill Ayers, Harvey Milk, Timothy Leary, Wavy Gravy (born Hugh Nanton Romney), Hunter S. Thompson, Philip K. Dick, etc. I could add those like Saul Alinsky or William S. Burroughs who are from the GI Generation. (As a side observation, most of those people were born in either the Midwest or the South, not in the Northeast or the West Coast.) That still barely scratches the surface.

      That was one of the most radical, violent, and divisive times in American history. There was plenty of partisan politics back then, specifically when Nixon first used the Southern Strategy, but it went far beyond that.

      It was a time of massive protest movements and heavy-handed oppression. The government wasn’t just using COINTELPRO during that era and it wasn’t just oppression toward Americans. The US was toppling governments, helping to assassinate or overthrow democratically elected leaders, putting into place puppet dictators, and forming alliances with right-wing authoritarian states. The oppressive treatment of Americans was simply a reflection of what the US government was doing around the world. It was the suppression of democracy supposedly in the name of fighting for freedom against communism.

      Also, there were such things as sundown towns, redlining, and all that, even ignoring the racial discrimination within the New Deal. James W. Loewen has researched sundown towns and has come to the conclusion that half of the cities across the Midwest were sundown towns, including in Ohio. Blacks were literally herded into the inner cities.

      Anything that is going on today is really just a footnote to what began generations ago in the early 20th century and earlier. Politics wasn’t just recently racialized. There hasn’t been a moment in American history when politics wasn’t all about race. It’s just in the past that meant the exclusion and silencing of blacks, which created a false consensus. It was just the consensus of the white establishment. Of course, few people in the establishment talked about the white establishment because the ruling elite and mainstream media were mostly all whites. Starting in the 1890s, all the gains blacks had made were reversed and all the political positions they had won they were removed from. The wealthiest and most successful black community in the county, Black Wall Street, was firebombed by planes and obliterated by mobs in the 1920s.

      Recent violence and protests is small in comparison. The issues that we have yet to deal with are troublesome, but they aren’t nearly as bad as they once were.

  15. Despite the truths in your reaction to Van Dyk, I think you expect too much because, in part, looking backward and seeing more clearly the errors of the past is easy. One thing that happens when you get old, based on my experience and that of others I know, is an uncontrollable reliving of the past in your mind that, in essence, attempts to justify one’s life. It’s akin to the final scene in “Saving Private Ryan” where Ryan visits the graveyard and and expresses hope to the dead that the life that he lived was worth saving. When my mother was dying she asked me if she had been a good mother. I didn’t know what to say for I had no complete basis for comparison and I knew not what she knew, factually or intuitively, about the task. I had no serious complaints. But then I tend to roll with the punches and not blame others for what happens to me. And that’s what I told her and she seemed satisfied that she had been validated from whatever thoughts that bedeviled her.

    I don’t dispute most of the broader interpretations you make. But I think you assume a level of awareness and complicity that, for many, simply did not exist. Everyone knew, for example, about the racism in the south but many did not see the subtler racism of the North. Most of my aunts worked. My grandmother worked. (My dad’s parents died in 1912 and 1916, so I never knew them.) My cousins wives worked. Most of the authority figures of my childhood were women. Until she as 70, I never knew my mother not to have one, two or even three jobs. So I had no clue as to the opportunities not available to women until I was in college when I also realized how wide-spread racism was.

    The 60’s generation was a fake. It now is in control. It became just like everyone else except worse. I grieved for the me generation and was saddened by their materialism and indifference to others – and I believe collectively that generation’s values are the ones that got us in the debt mess – then it kicked the can down the road) But rather than debate generations, here’s my brief take on the people you mentioned:
    Milk – Know of him but have nothing on which to base an opinion
    Wavy Gravy, Phil Dick – Don’t know of them
    ML King – Credible initiator of the movement. Made things happen, albeit slowly. Know a guy who briefly worked with King. King was far more political in his approach than many realize. That’s one reason he was successful. Unfortunately, at the time he was assassinated, he was being undercut by a youth movement that believed in violence, not pacifism.
    Leary – In the long run, probably did more harm than good by helping create the drug culture. Drugs are not a victimless crime. Anyone who is a friend, relative, lover of a drug addict knows how drugs damage their lives, not just the life of the addict.
    Hunter Thompson, Wm Burroughs. Thompson was funny. Burroughs was depressing. Both were like movie stars – very much wrapped up in themselves as are a disturbing number of the literati. They may have called attention to some things for some people, but I never saw then as anything but celebrities who ha many who wanted to be imitators.
    James Baldwin – Like Thompson and Burroughs but with substance.
    Angela Davis, Ayers and their followers – Only in America can terrorists who were a threat to public safety make a good living on the public payroll indoctrinating our children. With malice of forethought they intended to kill people themselves or through their associates, and neither has a single regret except, as Ayers has said, for not blowing up more bombs.
    Huey Newton – A criminal. David Horowitz, one of our leading Communists through my early 30’s, and editor of the top left-wing magazine, Ramparts, when I first knew of him, served as PR director for the Black Panthers. Slowly Horowitz realized the Panthers really were a gang up to no good, He rejected his left-wing political roots and became a conservative after the Panthers killed a close friend for they feared she would squeal. His transition is documented in his autobiography, Radical Son. Though not remotely as exciting or dramatic, my son made the same transition as Horowitz for many of the reasons Horowitz outlines. My son felt a great kinship to Horowitz as a result.
    Ralph Nader – Did us great service through much of his work. In his old age, however, he became careless, at times inaccurate, and lost many who admired him and his work.
    Malcolm X – I greatly admired Malcolm because he had the courage to examine his beliefs and was willing to change. Had the nation of Islam not killed him, I think he would have become an effective ciivil rights leader for that reason.
    Zinn – Know of him but have not read any of his work, though I know his last book on American History is popular among academics, a fact that gives me pause.
    Bernie Sanders – Brings a necessary discussion to the table. Not prerecorded. I respect that. Appealing ideas. Who does’t like free stuff? But I think he will bankrupt us very quickly. Unless the printing presses roll to distort the value of the dollar, there”s not enough money in the country to do all the things he claims he will do.
    Noam Chomsky – Saved the best to last. Nothing in this country is good. Everything bad that happens anywhere is our fault. Condemns capitalism. Yet he is a raging capitalist. He is in the book business. He is in the speaking business. And much of his support comes from various capitalists peculiarly supportive of his predictable views.
    He also praises a French anti-semite. The Ant-Chomsky Reader by David Horowitz is a good source on the real Chomsky.
    I know this list of off-the-wall opinions doesn’t sit well with you, stylistically or probably substantively.But you did ask what I think. It’s much too late. I’ll reread your post later and maybe come up with something more acceptable.

    Forgot to mention when commenting about southwest Ohio racial issues, that Ohio has two historically black colleges, Central State (public) and Wilberforce (private). Both are in the southwest of the state. Neither is doing well financially (the state considered closing Central several years ago) and neither is well rated academically. Most student comments on the web are not favorable.
    Apologies for typos and such. As I said, it’s late and I didn’t proof it.
    .

    • “I think you expect too much because, in part, looking backward and seeing more clearly the errors of the past is easy.”

      I’m equal opportunity in this. I’m critical of my own generation. We were born in a cynical time and too many of us came to embody that cynicism. There are a surprising number of right-wing and reactionary politicians coming out of my generation, but also a lot of hard-hitting comedians. I don’t think my generation is up to the almost impossible task before us. And I doubt history will remember us kindly. There is no reason future generations should sympathize with my generation’s troubles or forgive our failures, as I’m sure there will be many. As my generation is on average fairly well educated and informed, we to that extent have even fewer excuses than the older generations.

      “One thing that happens when you get old, based on my experience and that of others I know, is an uncontrollable reliving of the past in your mind that, in essence, attempts to justify one’s life.

      I’ve spent most of my life reliving the past. Depression has made me very past-obsessed, and it also has made me critical… toward myself first and foremost. I just want to be honest with myself and to see clearly life for what it is.

      “But I think you assume a level of awareness and complicity that, for many, simply did not exist. Everyone knew, for example, about the racism in the south but many did not see the subtler racism of the North.”

      There is some truth to that, but I suspect not as much truth as many would like to believe. One of the things that fascinated me about Loewen’s book is his discussion of what people knew. Most people living in these sundown towns knew that blacks weren’t welcome there, often with signs indicating such or with well known events of what happened to blacks that came to town anyway.

      I’m in the process of writing a post about that. I was thinking about my parents. My father grew up in a town that was a sundown town and had a sundown sign into the 1950s when my father’s family moved there. He might have been too young to understand at the time, but his parents had to have known. My grandfather not only was the minister there, but also had been the minister at several other nearby towns. His parents moved to Indian in 1940 when the Second Klan still had immense power and was very active. My grandfather maybe grew up more isolated from the race issue. My father said he was racist, but maybe that was the typical xenophobia of what is unfamiliar, as he grew up as the gardener’s son on a wealthy estate in Connecticut, But my grandmother grew up in the Jim Crow Deep South where the Klan in the oldest area of Klan power. My mother’s family had spent many generations in central Indiana, Southern Indiana, and Kentucky. Many of the towns and counties her family lived in were sundown, and it is highly probable that some of her extended family was or had been in the Klan.

      Both sides of my family had to have known in great detail and with great familiarity the reality of racism all around them. But they didn’t talk about it, at least not to my parents. My parents knew of the racism of individuals, although the history had been denied them. Even so, even when my parents were old enough to know better, there still were sundown signs around and the violence against blacks was still common. It wasn’t a lack of knowledge. All of this was extremely well known. People just didn’t talk about it. Reading Loewen’s book, it made me aware that the people living in places where racism dominated must have felt immense shame in remaining silent. They knew it was cruel and unjust. They knew that others would judge them and their communities, if it became public knowledge reported in the media. And so they did their best to hide it most of the time, especially as time went on.

      There is no other word to describe that than complicity. We all face that same problem. Our communities and government, local and national, commit and are involved in moral transgressions and failures on a regular basis. Most of us know about these things. Our government kills hundreds of thousands of innocents in illegal and immoral wars of aggression. Americans know this and yet most of us don’t blink an eye. We just try not to think about it too much and for God’s sake we try our best to avoid talking about it.

      I’ve written a number of posts on a psychological phenomenon that has fascinated and appalled me for a long time, going back to the late 1990s when I first learned of it. It’s technically called dissociation and is surprisingly common. There are so many things that people simultaneously know and don’t know. It is the hardest thing in the world to wrap one’s mind around, and some of the examples including everyday examples of it are bewildering. So, in a sense we are both right. People don’t know about all of this on one level and in certain areas of their life, but on another level and in other areas of their life they acknowledge the realities and act accordingly. Our memories and self-awareness are extremely constrained and context-dependent. Humans lack a unified sense of self, despite how we like to think of ourselves.

      “The 60’s generation was a fake. It now is in control. It became just like everyone else except worse.”

      Part of my point was that many of the supposed 60’s generation were actually of the Silent Generation. The leaders and activists during that decade included a lot of Silents. It is unfair to blame it all on the Boomers, although I too often feel critical of Boomers. Still, what I was trying to clarify is the fact that generations are more diverse than many want to recognize. Too often, we look at those of the older generations as if all of them are and always were always conservative-minded and curmudgeonly old fogeys, but in reality some of the greatest radicals in American history came from the Silent Generation, whatever one thinks of those people as moral and political actors (some of them still living remain radical).

      “I know this list of off-the-wall opinions doesn’t sit well with you, stylistically or probably substantively.”

      To be honest, it’s not just that they don’t sit well with me. There is much you are leaving out.

      MLK was becoming radical as Malcolm X was moving in the other direction. In fact, MLK saved his greatest criticism not for racists but for the complicity of moderates. He didn’t tolerate excuse-making by any group or generation.

      If Angela Davis and Bill Ayers are terrorists, then anyone who supports the present US state terrorism is a thousand times more evil and will be remembered in shame by future Americans.

      Angela Davis was never found guilty, as there was no evidence that she participated in the kidnappings or even knew they were going to happen. In this country, we idealize the notion of treating someone innocent until proven guilty, although that standard hasn’t always held in practice. To treat someone as guilty, even when there is no evidence of their guilt, is hardly a moral act. As for Ayers, he was part of a group that tried to carefully plan their attacks on buildings so that no person would be around and be harmed. That isn’t the behavior of a terrorist. The US government regularly and intentionally kills innocent people, including the apparent assassinations of some black leaders.

      I’m not excusing either kidnappings or bombings of buildings, even in cases where no one died. But I find unacceptable the unprincipled hypocrisy of a double standard.

      The Black Panthers looked like a church bake sale compared to what the US government was doing at the time. The Black Panthers began as a civic organization for blacks that fed poor children and did other community services.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Breakfast_for_Children
      https://www.pbs.org/hueypnewton/actions/actions_survival.html

      They did become radicalized, but never nearly to the extent that US was radicalized in the violent suppression of democracy. Black Panthers were being attacked and killed by their own government. If your government was attacking you and killing your friends and family, how would you respond?

      You also call Huey Newton a criminal, even though he was acquitted. You apparently don’t have much respect for rule of law. The Black Panthers had the full weight of the government turned against them. COINTELPRO didn’t just heavy-handed means, but also subtle strategies. They forged letters and created a state of paranoia within the movement. The violence that tore the group apart was sad, but it was purposely fomented by the government. Neither of us can imagine what it would be likely to have the government using all of its means to not just destroy your life but to mess with your head. To side with the government in that kind of situation, is the lowest of moral depravity, which doesn’t require one to side with the Black Panthers either.

      Part of your problem is you’re getting your info from the likes of Horowitz who is infamous for his dishonesty and misinformation:

      http://mediamatters.org/research/2005/03/17/horowitz-corrects-prior-correction-claims-we-we/132909
      http://www.publiceye.org/magazine/v20n3/barlow_slurs.html
      https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2005/04/25/larkin
      http://crookedtimber.org/2007/06/11/why-we-shouldn%E2%80%99t-play-nice-with-david-horowitz-a-response-to-what%E2%80%99s-liberal-about-the-liberal-arts/
      http://antiwar.com/blog/2005/04/01/lies-of-david-horowitz-part-xxvi/
      http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2005/05/31/987/the-multiple-lies-of-david-horowitz/
      http://undercoverblackman.blogspot.com/2007/05/open-letter-to-david-horowitz-greetings.html

      To get more accurate and insightful view of things, you should read a book such as “Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels, and Black Power: Community Organizing in Radical Times” by Amy Sonnie and James Tracy. The authors point out that one of the few people who took poor white activists seriously were radical black activists. The FBI was targeting every group that spoke out back then, not just minorities. These diverse groups realized they needed to work together just to survive.

      Academics who support knowledge such as that of Zinn’s books give you pause. The next thing you’re going to tell me is that you don’t believe in anthropogenic global warming because most academics support it.

      As for Sanders, I can’t even take your comment seriously. The government is constantly giving free things away, not just money but also natural resources on public lands, to cronies and big biz who control our government. Not to mention all the waste that goes elsewhere with the government-funded defense industry being the single largest sector of the US economy and the government-funded prison industry being the third largest employer. If we didn’t waste all that money and resources, there would be more than enough to implement Sanders’ wildest dreams and still have money left over. The US isn’t poor by any means. The government is just corrupt and wasteful.

      Your views on Chomsky, I noted, also come from the known liar Horowitz. So, I’ll take your opinion with a large grain of salt.

      “But you did ask what I think.”

      I wasn’t asking so much about your opinions of individuals. I wasn’t offering up a list of people to be either praised or condemned. I was more asking about the diversity itself, the diversity that typically gets ignored by many older people who want to believe that somehow they grew up in a less radical and divisive time.

      “Forgot to mention when commenting about southwest Ohio racial issues, that Ohio has two historically black colleges, Central State (public) and Wilberforce (private). Both are in the southwest of the state. Neither is doing well financially (the state considered closing Central several years ago) and neither is well rated academically. Most student comments on the web are not favorable.”

      Given the proven institutional and systemic racism that has pervaded and continues to pervade our society, I’d imagine that funding and fundraising has been a challenge. That is particularly hard since the entire economy has been racially biased for the entire history of this country, from blacks not getting services and loans given to whites to even more qualified blacks than whites not getting hired or even interviews. As blacks have been economically suppressed, the very people who would like to financially support black colleges the most are the very people with the least ability to do so. That is how a racist society maintains itself.

      One day, we will have an honest moral accounting. Until the, the struggle for justice goes on.

    • You claim that people didn’t know better back then. Maybe so and maybe not. We could argue about that. It is obvious that many people knew more than they were willing to admit, not that I’m doubting that there knowledge was less than today.

      The danger I see is this. I’ve noticed a pattern of those who wish to excuse wrongdoings in the past tend to be the same people who want to excuse wrongdoings in the present. It’s part of the same thought process of rationalizing away uncomfortable truths.

      Whatever people may have known in the past, the willful ignorance we continue to see today is inexcusable. We have the knowledge. For those who refuse to learn or acknowledge the truth, we should have the moral courage to challenge them. When we ourselves fail on this account, we should have the even greater moral courage to confront ourselves with self-awareness and a sense of obligation to do everything within our power to lessen our state of ignorance.

      In my life, I’ve increasingly come to realize the many things I’ve been ignorant of. My formal education didn’t prepare me for most of this. I’m obsessed with evidence for the very reason that mainstream society would like to keep me in the dark. I fight for the truth because knowledge is power, not just power to be used against others but power to awaken one’s own mind and one’s own sense of moral righteousness. Truth isn’t a fact but a moral force, some might even say spiritual force.

      MLK didn’t make excuses. Paine didn’t make excuses. Jesus didn’t make excuses. Why should I hold myself or others to a lower standard?

    • I must admit that I was surprised to see you reference someone like David Horowitz. He isn’t a conservative, but a reactionary right-winger. I’m sure he was as rabidly dogmatic during his left-wing days as he is now. He is simply at present a different variety of radical.

      I have nothing against the political right, especially not traditional conservatism. I even read conservatives.

      I’m fond of Thomas Sowell, for example, as he brings up lots of interesting data even when I disagree with his conclusions. I appreciate the views of paleo-conservatives, as I share many of their criticisms (such as their Anti-Federalism) and have other areas of agreement (such as praise of Wendell Berry). I often find myself reading articles from The American Conservative. I also am fond of the more intellectual and principled right-libertarians. I enjoy a lot of what gets put out by Reason magazine. I would add that I read some other interesting strains of conservatism, such as The Imaginative Conservative and Front Porch Republic.

      Also, one of my favorite founding fathers is John Dickinson. He is a favorite of some conservatives, although I like him for his Quaker-raised mentality. Plus, I’m a fan of the conservative instinct of old school Republicans. I might have voted for some Republicans had I been alive and of voting age prior to the Southern Strategy. I like Ike, despite his participation in the military-industrial complex he later warned about. I can even admire Theodore Roosevelt to an extent, despite some reactionary elements that were typical for his day (racism, nativism, elitism, etc). Even with the present GOP, I see value and worthiness in someone like Ron Paul, not at all for his son though.

      I’m not an ideologue. But I have some basic standards. I will consider some of the more worthy forms of right-wingers and reactionaries. I’ve extensively read the blogs of human biodiversity activists, often called neo-reactionaries and sometimes considered a part of the Dark Enlightenment. I respect hbdchick, even when I disagree with her, although I don’t always respect the company she keeps.

      I just don’t respect someone like Horowitz. I consider him to be a rabble-rousing pundit, a step below a demagogue. I don’t like him for the reason he is an ideologue. I probably wouldn’t have liked any better when he was a left-winger. It has nothing to do with the ideology he happens to be latched onto at the moment. It’s his need to latch onto an ideology that bothers me, and how that biases everything he says. Ideology, for him, comes before truth. It’s the other way around for me.

      • I also read Wall Street Journal fairly often. My father has a subscription and is always sending me articles. But I used to read it in the past as well.

        They have sometimes great articles related to social and cultural issues. I recall some pieces that ran in a regular column by one of the authors of Patchwork Nation, Dante Chinni. I came across the book on an interview from NPR.

        I don’t know the political persuasion of Chinni and don’t particularly care either way. His focus is on the data, polling and demographics mostly, as he doesn’t seem to write mere opinion pieces. He is straightforward analyst, which I like.

        Other writings in WSJ are more obviously from the political right. That doesn’t bother me by itself. The articles my father sends me tend to be a mix, but often are from a conservative viewpoint.

  16. Thanks for all the “stuff” to ponder and for what you thought.
    1. I think we agree on the generations issue. Each generation, based on many factors including circumstance and perceptions of the times, does its thing, some good, some not so good. But with each generation, I think we take baby steps forward toward some good. Individually and generationally we make good decisions and bad ones. The 1960’s bad decision was the creation of the drug culture. (I’m speaking domestically now).)The good was moving forward (less than you wish, but forward still) in racial matters. Take such an insignificant thing as football. I recall a year when Penn State was picked to play in the Cotton Bowl. The Lions were told to leave their one or two or three black players home or they would be disinvited. Penn State said “up yours” and the Cotton Bowl backed down. I still am amused (in a good way) when I see an SEC game these days. Black players all over the place in a Mississippi v Mississippi State game where (except maybe for a janitor) not a black face was seen anywhere on the field, in the stands, or near the stadium as recently as 50 years ago. To even think that a mob of white Mississippians accepts the fact that a black person could play better than a white one and represent their school and state at a public venue (no mater what may happen – to a point – off the field) and sit shoulder-to-shoulder at such an event is a monumental change and a significant building block. I also read someplace that the number of elected black public officials is rather dramatic (much greater than in the north). Yes, it’s likely the black vote elected most of them, but no matter how much whites may grumble, they obey the black sheriff and the county clerk, etc.
    2. I find David Horowitz a fascinating person with an interesting story about growing up as a little communist in a communist family and how he wasn’t exposed to other viewpoints until a young man. He probably is , as you note, Eric Hofer’s “true believer.” Still, he was there. He was part of it all. So while his perceptions may not agree with yours, mine or others who were there, I do not think he is a liar. In reading his biography and his treatise on death, I think in his own way he is an honest man. As my son told me, when he started to slip away from the left’s party line, he was attacked, at least verbally, with the fervor of a radical Muslim attacking an apostate. That may be the source of many of the liar charges against Horowitz. Yes, he is an ideologue, which is why I often disagree with him, but a very human one. Chomsky, on the other had, unlike Horowitz, is not shrill. His rants are as calm and reasonable on the surface as my grandmother telling me how she and my grandfather met. He lulls you into agreement. Yet, when it comes to capitalism and the sources of his own wealth, he is a complete hypocrite. You don’t need to read Horowitz to figure that out.
    3. Ohio sundown towns. When I think of sundown towns, I think of Goreville, Ill. which had a sign at the edge of town warning “niggers” not to be caught in town after sundown. While my younger days did not expose me to the entire state, I never saw such a sign. I might add that no town I lived in or my parents lived or in Harrison County is on the list you provided which may be a factor n my thinking. I suspect many of the towns (and certainly the suburban ones that are plentiful on the list) were places with written or understood covenants against selling property to certain kinds of people. While blacks may have been the main target, eastern Europeans also were sometimes excluded. The suburbs where Slavic people did live had their own covenants against blacks. A number of places on the list are resort towns on Lake Erie. And University Heights is a predominantly Jewish community.
    4. Central State funding may, as you say, be sparse. I don’t know. At the closing down debate, the main issues were a) waste of existing funding which I believe was even noted in student evaluations of the school and b) in this day and age, was an HBC really necessary in Ohio? I mentioned the schools because I thought it interesting that both were located where the status of blacks probably was the worst of any part of the state. Since Wilberforce is a private institution, state funding is not relevant in its situation.
    4. Do you really believe waste in government can be successfully controlled? It is the nature of the beast, significantly influenced by the fact that spending someone else’s money is not done with the care one’s own money is spent. And the budgeting process often encourages waste. I know. I’ve death with a public budget personally. If you were efficient and do not spend the assigned budget, what you did not spend was not carried over. You lost it, not only for this year, but for the next because your budget was reduced to match your spending level. So at year-end, you spent just to spend to protect next year’s budget. My school’s director of the conference and services program did a class A job of attracting business and running a tight ship. So he had significant reserves to spend to enhance the program. When the state discovered the surplus, it confiscated it and shipped it to another state school that ran such a sub-par program that it was losing money. Good work and service was penalized and failure was rewarded. Our director quit and the program’s success declined. I’ve lost track, so things may have changed. But that is an example of why waste in government is so tough to eliminate.
    5. German citizens and the Jews during WW!! is a good example of disassociation + fear, I would guess.
    6. Zinn was subtle, but he had a political agenda. I would have pause no matter what his political proclivities. On climate change, I do not think the argument is about climate change because the globe has warmed and cooled many times when human pollution was no worse than pollution by wildlife. It is about human responsibility for climate change and to what degree will we diminish the nature of our living and our economy to address the answer to that question. Incidentally, I misplaced it or my wife threw it out (that’s always a good excuse) but I read an item yesterday that reported a) 20 professors wrote a letter to the Justice Department requesting that anyone or any professor or any scientist (I don’t recall if it was one, all or a combination) who denies the seriousness of climate change should be prosecuted/punished by the department for such thinking and b) Elizabeth Warren managed to get a Brookings Institute fellow canned because he disagreed with his fellow fellows on the climate change.
    7. We can waste a lot of each other’s time discussing whether you succumbed to the lies of the left or I succumbed to the lies of the right. And while each of us may grant points for various arguments, my guess is that we would end in an impasse. The truth probably will never be known because the detailed sources I’ve seen all have a point of view. The Panthers may have dome some good works but it may have evolved into a cover. Yes, the government (don’t forget J Edgar Hoover – who/what was he really?) did a lot of the things you note, but I reject the notion that justifies robbing, stealing and killing, which is what happened toward the end as the Panthers splintered. Realize that some white folks were involved with the group at the beginning. They were purged. So I doubt we want to spend the time. Maybe one of the more objective accounts of the period is “Family Circle – The Boudins and the Aristocracy of the Left” by Susan Braudy who was Kathy Boudin’s college roommate for a time.
    8. I can’t accept a response to the action of A being that B did it, too – and worse. That’s changing the subject. When talking about A, we should talk about A unless B has a clear and direct effect on the issue. Otherwise. it’s like my kid’s response to being penalized for a behavior being, “We’ll Charlie Smith does it all the time.” “Look, son. We are not talking about Charlie Smith. We are talking about you.”
    9. I also can’t accept a variation of “the Devil made me do it” as a valid reason for an action. Reminds me of Jimmy Cagney movies. He wouldn’t have been a criminal if something or someone hadn’t made him do it. No. He had a choice. He chose to be a criminal. Yes, there may be some unusual circumstances but that is, indeed, the exception.
    10. Lastly, you diminish the lack of awareness point. And your underlying argument is a good one. But to many, something doesn’t exist or isn’t real if it doesn’t touch them directly. My response to your challenge is that I was so busy surviving for a long period of time that I never thought about such things. In fact, I didn’t think about many things. That is a reason. But, as you say, no excuses.
    That’s it for today. Did I ignore anything for which you consider a response important?

    • Found it. George Mason U. professor Jagadish Shukla and 19 others wrote a letter to Obama, Atty General Loretta Lynch and science advisorJohn Holdren urging punishment for climate dissenters. And Sen Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) recently proposed any organization that knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change as a means of forestalling US response to climate change be charged under the RICO act.
      Correction: Elizabeth Warren drove Robert Litan from Brookings not because of climate change but because he got research money (openly reported) from a source of Elizabeth did not approve. Yet Warren accepted money from in the same organization in the past (apparently a Wall Street financial group).. Apparently times change. – 10/10 Wall Street H Journal, lead editorial, pg A110.

    • (1) I’m not exactly critical of the progress we’ve made. I tend to see things in the big picture, not just the past decades or generations but over the centuries. The progress is massive, when put in perspective, and I will never dismiss or devalue that. Despite my complaining, I’m a big picture optimist, sort of, more or less.

      But I believe further progress will be made by people demanding progress, even to the point of being irritable malcontents, not resting on our laurels. Many people despised Paine for no society of the time ever could live up to his ideals as he endlessly fomented for change, whether reform or revolution, and yet without him we wouldn’t be where we are today. Paine was an asshole who was irritable and irritated people around him. He put a fire under people’s ass. It was what the world needed at the time, even if many wished he would have just shut up with his righteousness.

      (2) I just don’t like ideologues. I’ve written a number of blog posts complaining about ideologues on the left. I can’t do dogmatism. I will do moral righteousness, though, which I see as another issue. Moral righteousness doesn’t follow along clear and easy ideological lines. I’m not sure why dogmatic true believers piss me off so much, but they do. Maybe it’s because I entirely lack that capacity. I can’t comprehend ideological purity or loyalty or whatever. It’s simply not how my mind works. I’ve never been a joiner of groups or group thinking.

      (3) I don’t have any particular opinion about sundown towns in Ohio. I’m just curious, in a general sense, about what I don’t know and maybe what no one knows at present. I’m always wondering about the world. I have a keen sense of my own ignorance, i.e., what i don’t know, which is infinite. My ignorance radar is permanently set on high. When my curiosity is triggered, it bothers me not know something. Ohio is largely a blank space in my knowledge. I’d like to be more familiar with the state, since it was where I was born after all.

      (4) I’m both an idealist and a cynic. I’m not sure which side is stronger. I often despair when I consider the world around me. Yet when I consider the large strides society has made these past centuries, it is amazing and makes me realize that anyone’s opinions at this point are mostly irrelevant. We haven’t a clue where we are heading, for the most part. Many things that weren’t possible in the past will be possible in the future, as that is the one thing that historical developments have proven. So, maybe one day democracy will actually be a reality, not just a set of ideals we miserably fail in our aspirations and rhetoric. Or maybe all of civilization will gloriously collapse.

      (5) Dissociation really does fascinate me. I have absolutely no doubts that I and everyone around me falls under its sway. But by nature, if you are a victim to this kind of disconnected thinking and internal division, you can’t know it while it is happening. Whatever dissociation we are under right now will only be fully apparent to future generations. I sometimes sit around wondering about all the things that I’m likely clueless about. We get trapped in reality tunnels and are ruled over by paradigms. In that sense, we are all true believers. It bothers me, endlessly. I don’t like being clueless, but that is the fate of humanity.

      (6) Climate change is one of those areas of science we know more than most others. To doubt that is to doubt all of science. That is a kind of cynicism that I’m unwilling to embrace, especially as the doubters generally are simply choosing to embrace dogmatism instead.

      The only serious skeptics one finds in climatology aren’t the denialists. Genuine skepticism should be embraced, but that is a higher standard than the opponents are willing to strive for. I so rarely see honest criticisms that It gets tiresome even paying attention. I wish there were more honest criticisms, as that is important. That is a great disappointment that the denialists are so unwilling to offer much of anything that is worthy in promoting public discussion.

      As for Democrats, I’m not a Democrat. I don’t know much about or have strong opinions for or against either Whitehouse or Warren. I don’t see Democrats as being the greatest defenders of science, even if they don’t take on the anti-intellectual and anti-science attitudes too common on the political right. We need to look to alternative and independent forums for the clarity in pushing forward scientific knowledge and debate.

      (7) I wasn’t really defending the Black Panthers. I feel no need to do so.

      My point is that the government wasn’t a moral exemplar. The political and moral evil committed by the US government at that time is simply inexcusable. The Black Panthers weren’t pretending to represent all Americans or claiming to be a democracy. I’m simply not one to make excuses for wrongdoing. I have no more reason to excuse the failures of the Black Panthers than the failures of the US government, but I do acknowledge that there is a significant difference between the two.

      It’s similar to why I hold the US government to a higher standard in their starting an immoral, illegal, and unconstitutional war of aggression in Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands of innocents. The fact that Islamic terrorists do evil is only relevant to the degree that the comparison shows the US government does far worse and greater acts of evil.

      (8) That wasn’t what I was doing. I was putting things in context. I’m in the habit of doing that. Without context, there is no understanding and any judgment made is to that degree meaningless. I don’t just want to judge and condemn, but to understand. It’s not enough to my mind to dismiss others, even when I may dismiss views that aren’t worthy, but I still want to understand what motivates. I spend much of my time studying those I disagree with because I want to understand. I may complain endlessly. I’m guilty as charged of that. Still, that won’t stop me from seeking insight.

      (9) I do think we need to differentiate excuse-making from genuine understanding. Context does matter. Even for the likes of Nazis and Klansmen, I want to comprehend the reasons and forces behind it all. If we don’t understand the wrongdoings of others, then we are that more likely to fall prey to similar moral failures. In that light, it is important that for example we understand what motivated Americans to support the government in killing hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens, when everyone knew that Saddam Hussein despised Islamic extremists. Why do we so easily fall under the power of unreason? Understanding that is more important than anything. We aren’t as different from Nazis and Klansmen as we’d like to believe.

      (10) I don’t mean to say I’m impervious of such moral failures. I’m absolutely certain that I should be spending more time taking the plank out of my own eye. I know I’m far from a moral exemplar myself. Nonetheless, I feel compelled to judge the moral failures I am able to see, even as I seek greater self-awareness and hopefully I’ll be humbled in the process. No one ever willingly chooses to be humbled, but we can learn to see more clearly our own weaknesses. It’s a life-long process.

      • I had the strangest formatting problem in posting that comment. It somehow was translating the numbered points into a formatting that made no sense. I couldn’t figure out what was causing the formatting. I had to change how I did the numbering. I entirely lost the numbers and so I hope I put my paragraphs back in relation to the right numbered points you were making.

        • Some good thoughts in your last post(s). I had a similar formatting problem several posts ago in which all the numbers disappeared. As time goes on, I think we are fairly close as to the basics. The details differ, though. One difference is that I am not so enthusiastic about moral indignation. I’m not sure exactly why. My usual reaction to such matters any more is pity. Moral indignation can be so judgmental in the wrong way, suggesting superiority/inferiority when the problem may be ignorance, failure to know what one doesn’t know, or failure of the indignant judge to appreciate all that’s involved, among other issues. Besides, it can be exhausting. For better or worse, I don’t want to spend my life indignant and exhausted. i don’t remember who said it (there I go again) but I liked the quote which was “Cynicism is what ignorant people pass off as wisdom.”

          Of conservative thinkers, I rank Tom Sowell and Shelby Steele at the top. My favorite liberal was Sen. Moynahan (sp?) from New York and is my local state senator who is up for re-election. I gave money to his campaign. I don’t do that very often because there are so few politicians these days who ˆI’m willing to support that way. Speaking of politicians, 60 minutes interviewed the President tonight and was asked his opinion of Boehner. Obama said they disagreed on everything but he will miss Boehner. He could work with Boehner, said the president, because he never demanded 100%.

        • “One difference is that I am not so enthusiastic about moral indignation.”

          Here is an article someone just shared with me:

          http://higherperspectives.com/overthinking/?utm_source=cleo&utm_content=inf_10_34_2&ts_pid=2

          That describes me well. I’m an obsessive worrier who overthinks everything. It relates to my depression, of course. But it also is connected to my sense of creativity and imagination. I’m a possibility-thinker, both in the positive and negative sense. I look for all possibilities.

          It can be dysfunctional at time. But it isn’t exactly a choice I make. It’s just how my mind works. I’ve been like this for a very long time. It seems to have its roots in my learning disability that was diagnosed in early elementary school. My brain operates in an odd way and that is just the way it is.

          “Besides, it can be exhausting. For better or worse, I don’t want to spend my life indignant and exhausted.”

          Sure. It is exhausting. But have you ever tried to change how your mind works at a fundamental level of awareness and perception? My thinking style is ingrained in my identity and personality. I wouldn’t know how to alter my brain functioning, since it has always functioned this way, although I have tried. It would be like changing the speed and rhythm my heart beats at. It is theoretically possible to learn to control one’s heart, not that it is easy or likely for most people, although some yogis develop such abilities.

          “Cynicism is what ignorant people pass off as wisdom.”

          For me, cynicism is simply the other side of my idealism. It’s part of my possibility-thinking. And it is a reaction to having been raised in an overly idealistic theological ideology. Plus, throwing depression on top of that is like throwing gasoline on fire. To what degree wisdom does or does not follow, I cannot say. It just is what it is.

          I’m fairly confident, however, that my cynicism doesn’t require wisdom… although neither does it obstruct it. Wisdom, whatever one thinks of it, is more related to humility and hence being humbled by life, which requires ton of failure and suffering that forces one to gain persepective, like it or not. Wisdom is rarely pretty or enjoyable, so it seems to me, from what little I can tell.

          As for the middle part of what you put in quotation marks, ignorance is only problematic to the degree you are ignorant of your ignorance. But ignorance as such is simply the default, the state into which we are born and never fully escape, no matter how hard we try. Even so, we can become self-aware within that ignorance and come to understand it, which to a degree lessens that ignorance or at least lessens the power it has over us.

          We shouldn’t fear ignorance or fear being perceived as ignorant. We are ignorant, which should be embraced, in order to progress. I never trust anyone who denies their own ignorance. But such obsession with ignorance may sound cynical to some people. Then I might be accused of a pretending to be wise. Ha!

          “Of conservative thinkers, I rank Tom Sowell and Shelby Steele at the top.”

          My father was all the time praising Sowell. Maybe that is what originally got me interested. But at this point I think I’ve read more of Sowell than my father.

          I have no interest in his specific views on either politics or economics. But he has some interesting pieces on culture and history. I was impressed by all the data he would bring up in making an argument and how careful he could be in his analysis. It really didn’t matter the disagreements I had in some areas because he was able to bring so much to the table and present it in an interesting way.

          “My favorite liberal was Sen. Moynahan (sp?) from New York and is my local state senator who is up for re-election.”

          I have had some curiosity about him because of the report. He sounded like an interesting guy. His motivations were apparently at least partly personal because of his own experiences growing up.

  17. I do not criticize worry and overthinking if that’s who you are. We are what we are. The hard part is figuring out the true answer to that question and leaning how to successfully (however you choose to define success) live with who you are. Seems to me you do a fairly good job of both from what little I know. I think I have some genuine understanding of your situation. My wife has anxiety disease. It can act like depression except the result is anxiousness which can render the person nearly catatonic with fear. The attacks are unpredictable and often curious. For example, running late and rushing to catch a plane may not bother her , but an off-hand negative comment by someone about a third party can kick it off. She used to bicycle, but began having attacks out in the boonies and had to sit down for several hours before the anxiety diminished to the point she could ride home (this was before cell phones). Then to bed. Though it still pops up occasionally at a moderate level, the anxiety is controlled by medication. But finding he right ones, the right combination, and the right dosage was an adventure because so many medications were worse than the anxiety.

    I have an immune system that can’t tell the good guys from the bad guys and sometimes treats low level bad guys as though they were life threatening. I can’t tolerate many foods (the most humorous being kangaroo and turnips), pollens, molds, wood smoke, coal dust, etc,, etc.. I won’t bore you with the long history and many dead ends in my managing this. I’ll simply say that a not-the-normal shot program helped a great deal. Unfortunately for me and a lot of other oddballs, medicare quit covering it with the advent of the Affordable Care Act (one of several coverages I’ve lost since the ACA began). The only sure treatment is avoidance, but that is rarely possible, One reason I got into college teaching was that it did not require me to be physically at work all day every day. If I felt crappy, I could grade papers, plan lectures, projects, etc. at home in bed. When I was younger I was better able to block out how bad I felt and let the adrenaline rush carry me through the day with reasonable success. With age, that is no longer possible.

    An advisory from Richard Rovere on who I am: On pages 69-70 in his book, Senator Joe McCarthy, Rovere writes ” . . . there was no doubt that he (McCarthy) was full of bodily afflictions commonly associated with an afflicted psyche.. . . . . he was a mass of allergies.” That proves I am a McCarty-like nut job.

    Speaking of McCarthy, you might consider looking at “Not Without Honor” by Richard Gid Powers. a history of American anti-Communism. One of Powers’ main points is that McCarthy, a fraud, was a disaster because, in the end, he prompted any and all people and organizations concerned about a Communist threat to be discredited in the public eye and essentially killed serious public discussion of the issue. Years later, documents released from Soviet files revealed that many of the concerns were, indeed, valid and the Rosenbergs, among others, were, in fact, Soviet spies. The book is an objective insight into that period of our history. Powers does not grind an axe.

    Ran across a quote from England’s Dr. Johnson which addresses your question about why people aren’t aware or don’t act against wrong-doing: “There are few wrongs in this world that do not have, in the eyes of their perpetrators, enough right in them to keep the wrong in countenance.”

    Lastly, on getting to know Ohio, from the “WPA Guide to Ohio”:
    “No sudden weather changes . . .Although Ohio is heavily populated and industrialized, it provides excellent upland game hunting . . . The better residential sections of most cities in Ohio show {an exceptional variety of prototype architectural styles} . . . Ohio has never had a group of writers as the Hoosier School in Indianapolis . . . .Ohio was settled too rapidly by all sorts of people, it was too much exposed to new developments in the turbulent 19th century , too busy cutting timber, plowing farms, building canals and railroads, smelting and doing a thousand other things to develop its provincial heritage, like Kentucky, or to bother its head or heart with the unprofitable job of creating a regional literature (Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio could have been a small American town in any number of places) . . . . Moreover, Ohio has never and a center . . . Ohio is neither cosmopolitan nor a group of provinces dominated by a great city . . . its authors have usually followed the custom of escaping to the East. . . .”
    From “State by State” a collection of essays on US states, the one on Ohio by Susan Orlean:
    “. . . the character of Ohio conveys a certain regularness, a lack of wild distinction, a muting of idiosyncratic extreme. The state is a sampling of nearly every American quality and landscape, but it levels into something quietly and pleasantly featureless rather than creating a crazy quilt of miscellany. It is an excellent place to live and less excellent place to describe, since nothing stands out in that theatrical way that allows easy description.”
    Maybe that’s a reason Ohio is a bellwether state. It is extremely diverse in so many ways.
    Years ago, I read a book that described Ohio, west in the minds of the East and east in the minds of the West and Midwestern, eastern and none-of-the above in the minds of its citizens depending on where they live, as a place where early settlers who started west, stopped and stayed. Ohio is one of the top two, three or four states in the percent of ithe population that was born there (Pennsylvania is #1).

    • “My wife has anxiety disease. It can act like depression except the result is anxiousness which can render the person nearly catatonic with fear. The attacks are unpredictable and often curious.”

      The advantage of depression, at least in my case, is that it is extremely predictable. My moods are steady and slow changing. That means I’m almost permanently and consistently in a more or less bad mood, an endless state that slightly shifts between negative emotions and states of mind: apathy, irritation, sadness, criticalness, etc. But mostly it is just a generalized depression that is in the background. It is more of a muting of emotion, as I don’t experience the extremes as much, except when I really fall into a funk.

      “Though it still pops up occasionally at a moderate level, the anxiety is controlled by medication. But finding he right ones, the right combination, and the right dosage was an adventure because so many medications were worse than the anxiety.”

      I tried many medications over the years. I finally gave up on them. I never noticed much difference. Nothing fundamentally felt changed. If anything, some of them seemed to mute my feelings even further, putting me into a bland state of emotional neutrality, not making me feel any happier or motivated.

      “I have an immune system that can’t tell the good guys from the bad guys and sometimes treats low level bad guys as though they were life threatening.”

      I’ve always had great health. I rarely get sick, don’t have allergies, and no other physical ailments. Just depression, but that is enough by itself. I don’t think I could handle any more than that. I am thankful for good health, so far.

      “Speaking of McCarthy, you might consider looking at “Not Without Honor” by Richard Gid Powers. a history of American anti-Communism. One of Powers’ main points is that McCarthy, a fraud, was a disaster because, in the end, he prompted any and all people and organizations concerned about a Communist threat to be discredited in the public eye and essentially killed serious public discussion of the issue. Years later, documents released from Soviet files revealed that many of the concerns were, indeed, valid and the Rosenbergs, among others, were, in fact, Soviet spies. The book is an objective insight into that period of our history. Powers does not grind an axe.”

      I must admit I’ve never had a lot of interest in or opinion about communist statism, either exactly for or against. That said, I’m opposed to authoritarianism in all of its forms, but it is irrelevant to me what form it takes or what ideological rhetoric it uses. As a topic of interest, I’d generally rather read about more small scale, decentralized, and local experiments, of almost any variety.

      As I age, I find myself less and less drawn to the Cold War worldview I was born into. I don’t have any reason to doubt there were spies in our government from communist countries, just as there surely were spies in our government from fascist, theocratic, and even social democratic countries. Likewise, we had spies in all of those countries. Every major country has spies in the governments of every other major government. As for specifically authoritarian governments, I’ve stopped taking their ideological rhetoric seriously. Our government sided with fascists to fight communism. We defeated the communists, simply to have taken on the traits of fascism. I’m not sure that was such a great deal (with the Devil).

      The problem with McCarthy was that he was just another authoritarian. As I’ve pointed out, there is nothing an authoritarian hates more than other competing groups of authoritarians. Authoritarians will always defend their territory using any means. McCarthy was just one man, but he represented the slow corruption of authoritarian tendencies in our government and among our ruling elites that crosses over to the economic elites, many big biz leaders having been major supporters of and even partners with fascist states.

      When there is a fight for power between authoritarians, no matter which side wins, authoritarianism is on the side of the victor. And the rest of us lose.

      “Ohio has never had a group of writers as the Hoosier School in Indianapolis . . . .Ohio was settled too rapidly by all sorts of people, it was too much exposed to new developments in the turbulent 19th century , too busy cutting timber, plowing farms, building canals and railroads, smelting and doing a thousand other things to develop its provincial heritage, like Kentucky, or to bother its head or heart with the unprofitable job of creating a regional literature (Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio could have been a small American town in any number of places) . . . . Moreover, Ohio has never and a center . . . Ohio is neither cosmopolitan nor a group of provinces dominated by a great city . . . its authors have usually followed the custom of escaping to the East. . . .”

      That does sound quite similar to Iowa. Even though Iowa attracts writers from elsewhere because of an international writers workshop, those writers while living don’t tend to write about Iowa. Also, Iowa was settled quickly. It went from wetlands and prairie to almost entirely developed land in a single generation. It is probably a record for the speed and extent of development in the entire country. No other state has more developed land per acre than does Iowa. The whole state is nearly one big farm. As you are quoting from a WPA guide, I’d point out that those New Deal programs first mainly focused on Iowa, maybe because it was such a developed state and needed attention to develop land and water management along with building parks. Also, like Ohio, Iowa has no center and is “neither cosmopolitan nor a group of provinces dominated by a great city.”

      “. . . the character of Ohio conveys a certain regularness, a lack of wild distinction, a muting of idiosyncratic extreme. The state is a sampling of nearly every American quality and landscape, but it levels into something quietly and pleasantly featureless rather than creating a crazy quilt of miscellany. It is an excellent place to live and less excellent place to describe, since nothing stands out in that theatrical way that allows easy description.”

      Iowa is sort of like that. That comes from it being so developed and most of that development being farmland. Even Amish country doesn’t really look any different than the rest of Iowa.

      Iowa has no big cities and metropolitan areas, no ocean and coastline, no large lakes although covered in smaller lakes and waterways, certainly no mountains or elevated plateaus, no great deserts or geography that stands out in anyway. The Mississippi river along one border is Iowa’s most exciting feature, but we are too far up North for anyone to associate that river with Iowa. Iowa is even the place of least accent in the country.

      There are slight accents along certain edges of the state, but we are simply the home of Standard American English. We are the very definition of normal and middling, plain and boring, flyover country. We are neither a rich nor poor state, and we have no distinctive culture. Still, it is interesting that so many people see us as the center of the Midwest.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_American#/media/File:Map_General_American.svg
      https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/7473/

      “Maybe that’s a reason Ohio is a bellwether state. It is extremely diverse in so many ways.”

      Iowa is also a bellwether. All of the Midwest is a bellwether, as a place of both diversity and hence of the melting pot ideal. This is because the Midwest has been the greatest concentration of population in the United States, ever since major immigration began. The Midwest is both the median and mean of the country’s population:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Median_center_of_United_States_population
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mean_center_of_the_United_States_population

      “Years ago, I read a book that described Ohio, west in the minds of the East and east in the minds of the West and Midwestern, eastern and none-of-the above in the minds of its citizens depending on where they live, as a place where early settlers who started west, stopped and stayed.”

      I guess Iowa is different in this respect. It is neither east or west in most people’s minds. It is simply in the center, at least of the Midwest. And the Midwest in general is the population and cultural center of the country. The center is sort of a no-man’s land, for most everything happens at the peripheries on the coasts.

  18. It seems your blog may be a method of release for coping with the nature of the depression you describe. Just a guess.

    Years ago when a bachelor in rural Illinois, I was a field editor for a farm publication and spent time traveling in northeastern Iowa, basically north of route 20 and east of Mason City. And because it was an easy day trip, I saw a number of football games in Iowa City. I don’t know when it was dropped, but in addition to the marching band, Iowa used to have a marching bagpipe band. Always enjoyed that. Also visited the Hy-Line poultry folks at Dallas Center just west of DesMoines. I guess I’m a bit odd, but we did some camping on our honeymoon. Briefly camped on the west shore of Lake Okobodji and spent a night dancing at the Roof Garden in Arnolds Park. Driven across your state a number of times via routes 2, 34, 6, 20, 18 and 9. Took my Dutch associate to Dallas Center and stopped at West Branch on the way back. He couldn’t believe a 20th century president came from such a humble background.

    If it were not for my health, I probably never would have left the Midwest. Maybe it’s not a good sign, but I feel very comfortable there.

    I disagree with your take on Joe McCarthy. He was a sick man, mentally and physically. From reading about him, unlike a genuine authoritarian, he seemed not to have a real plan, no true supporters essential to establishing an authoritarian situation and frequently made up stuff as he went along. My impression is that he wanted to be seen as important rather than be authoritarian. Revere claims that in his famous speech in Wheeling, he made up the number of communists in government on the spot. Such details often were not planned. They just came out.

    I , too, am fasciated by accents. In the US, I enjoy an old Maine accent. In foreign languages, I enjoy the sound of Portuguese and, unlike many, of High German. My oddest linguistic experience was in Mexico. I couldn’t understand my host’s Spanish and he couldn’t understand my English. So we spent several days together with him speaking his limited English and me speaking my limited Spanish and got along just fine.

    • Why did people support McCarthy at the outset? After the WWII when the USSR marched through eastern Europe without US objection, many Americans were in shock. Many of us had been indoctrinated as to the wonderfulness of the USSR. At the front of my 6th grade classroom just above the blackboard were pictures of four people: FDR, Churchill, Stalin and Chang Kai Chek (sp??). And underneath the pictures was a banner proclaiming the four men were “Fighting For Our Freedom.” In Geography, we read at least one book extolling the virtues of the USSR.. So it seemed possible that the USSR had used us and maybe was planning for us what had transpired in eastern Europe. McCarthy fed into that suspicion. Given what had happened, it did not seem unreasonable that Soviet spies and sympathizers had played a role in our childhood indoctrination and other post-WWII outcomes that showed Stalin had not been fighting for our freedoms. That was the thought of many an average Joe on the street. Later, of course, McCarthy revealed himself as a fraud.

    • I have seen pictures of the marching bagpipe band, but never saw them in action. I just now looked it up. They lost university funding in 1981 and that was the end of them.

      My brother lives in West Branch and a former girlfriend of mine spent part of her childhood there. I was just talking to her on the phone last night, as she lives in Oregon now. West Branch came up.

      I happened to mention sundown towns. I told her that Loewen had no evidence of West Branch being a sundown town, even though it used to have something like 5 black families. A lot of Quakers live there and they aren’t known for severe racism. But Loewen never came across anyone claiming it had been a sundown town.

      She told me that it probably wasn’t an accident that the blacks left. She had many negative experiences in that town. People weren’t accepting of those who were different. Back then, there was two minority families with children, one black and the other Asian. She says they were treated badly and both families left.

      That is one way to get rid of minorities. You don’t need a sundown sign, threatening cops, mob violence, arson, or anything so crude. You just have to make people’s lives difficult and unhappy, bully their children and ostracize them.

      You very well might be right about McCarthy. I’ll defer to your assessment. I’m not familiar with any personal details of his life. I might have been using the term loosely, when I labeled him an authoritarian. I was using that term in a broad way that was too vague, and I wasn’t thinking carefully enough. It was more of an offhand thought.

      When I speak of such things, I tend to be referring more to psychological research than political ideology. In studies, some important clarifications and distinctions have been made. Two related but separate categories are authoritarianism and social dominance orientation (SDO). Even though they overlap in some areas, the psychological motivations behind them are different.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_dominance_orientation#Connection_with_right_wing_authoritarianism
      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886909002542
      http://psycnet.apa.org/index.cfm?fa=buy.optionToBuy&id=2008-03474-005
      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886911003825
      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S019188690700058X
      http://www.psych.nyu.edu/jost/Another%20Look%20at%20Moral%20Foundations%20Theory.pdf
      http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2164&context=hbspapers

      Someone like McCarthy may have been more of a SDO type. He may have been a physically sick man. But to call someone mentally sick is to judge according to a perceived norm. There are many people in the world with similar personality traits. It might be a lot less unusual than one would like to think. It’s just typically that the worst and severest expressions of SDO tend not to lead to the kind of power that McCarthy wielded. He found himself in a unique position of power at an unusual point in American history.

      Still, I simply don’t know enough about McCarthy. But I suspect that personality traits may have played as big or bigger of a role than psychiatric issues. There is no way to know for sure now, as we can’t have him take a batter of tests. Anyway, it isn’t all that important. I don’t feel a strong motivation to try to figure him out. I would be curious to learn more about him at some point.

      About your classroom, I doubt it was even close to representative of the average experience of the time. You apparently had a left-wing teacher or principal or something. I know my parents didn’t have communists on their classroom walls and didn’t read about the virtues of the USSR. Most of the country was extremely conservative, especially at the local level of most schools. Even progressivism back then was quite conservative.

      In many other schools, they would have watched “Birth of a Nation,” learned of eugenics, and pictures of Confederate generals and Klan leaders on the wall. In areas with lots of Germans where the German Bund was popular, kids likely read Mein Kampf and had a picture of Hitler along with a German flag on the wall, at least until Germany declared war against the US. It was a diverse world back then, and education was more locally controlled and so often more determined by the ethnicities and politics of an area.

      All education is indoctrination into some worldview or another. It’s just that not all worldviews are equal and worthy. Even teaching kids to think for themselves is indoctrinating values into them. But few people ever think that what they are doing is indoctrination.

      I’m not saying suspicions are never founded. My point is that suspicions too often don’t have much to do with reality. Sometimes they do. At other times, suspicions miss even bigger or equally important sources of threat.

      In the end, fascism was more of a threat than communism, because fascism is closer to the ideology of mainstream American society and economics. But because fascism fit our worldview more closely, Americans didn’t think to fear it as much. We Americans ended up not only embracing corporatism and supporting fasicsm around the world. It is we Americans who inspired the Nazis eugenics program and eugenics in the US continued in the decades following WWII. Eugenics thinking, especially as it relates to the ethnonationalism and folk religiosity of fascism, is still popular among a surprising number of Americans, far more popular than what defines communist statism.

      This is why self-awareness is so important. But that is a hard lesson to learn. We tend to not fear the familiar or even give it much thought.

    • I do think that those in power had good reason to fear the changes going on.

      The KKK hated communists for the same reason they hated feminists, gays, Catholics, Jews, non-English ethnics, etc. It was also the reason they supported progressivism, not unlike why Theodore Roosevelt became ever more progressive, as he saw it as a way to undermine socialists by stealing their ideas and taking on their concerns and then formulating them for a capitalist society.

      I do take seriously the Businesss Plot. Those with wealth and power in the early 20th century America were in many cases overt fascists. It was largely a class war, with immigration exacerbating conflict and paranoia. It was true that many immigrants were bringing a diversity of ideas with them, including left-wing ideologies. But it wasn’t just communism. In many ways, they feared the anti-statism of anarchists more than they feared the statism of Soviet communists, because the anarchists were more directly threatening to American capitalism. There has always been a strain of anarchism in American thought in the self-governing traditions that go back to the colonial era, and so anarchism had the potential of great appeal to working class Americans who could challenge capitalism from within.

      It was for this reason that federal and state governments passed various immigration laws in the first half of the 20th century. Those were part of the same mentality that was creating sundown towns, which were never only about blacks. The immigration laws didn’t just limit who could immigrate according to national origins but also in terms of ideology. Anarchists, in particular, were banned from becoming citizens and typically kept even from entry into the country as visitors.

      It was a time of change. If those immigration laws (along with sundown towns) hadn’t been implemented, we would live in a different world today. It would have been too diverse of a country for communist statism to ever likely have been successful. But it is more than possible that various left-wing ideologies might have taken hold more fully at least at the local level, such as with the example of the Milwaukee sewer socialists. I could imagine different regions of the country having developed more unique governing traditions and political movements, instead of the national takeover of local politics by the bipartisan stranglehold. There used to be many powerful third parties at the local level.

      The threats to the status quo were real. Then again, the threats to the status quo were real for centuries. That is how all change happens. The British had real reasons to fear a colonial uprising, but we Americans today are kind of glad that it happened. Slave owners had real reasons to fear the ending of slavery and losing power of the federal government, but blacks and many whites are more than happy to live in a society of greater freedom for more people. Likewise, the fights of early labor organizers have given us rights we wouldn’t otherwise have. You can see the difference in the South where weaker regulations and protections lead to higher rates of worker injuries and deaths. To empower working class people to be independent and self-governing would be a threat to our present plutocracy, no doubt about it.

      Communist statism probably never was a reasonable fear in the US. We just don’t have the demographics and culture to support it, as communist countries tend to have more homogeneous populations. But had they not been oppressed left-wing movements in the US might have brought on changes even more radical, such as actual functioning democracy. That possibility scares the ruling elite more than any other.

    • Here is a funny thing. People in power sometimes create their own threats, even bring upon their own demise in some cases. In fear of communism, their decreasing American diversity by shutting down immigration made communist takeover even more likely if anything.

      That goes back to something I’ve been saying. The greatest thing authoritarians fear are other authoritarians. Similarly, it was those who wanted to keep the US as homogeneous as possible who feared the communist countries that were so homogeneous. Such people didn’t fear communism per se. What they feared was losing power and someone else gaining power.

      The greatest defense against communism and authoritarianism is to create such a diverse population that no one can agree about much of anything. That creates conflict in the short term, but in a functioning democracy it teaches people to find common ground instead of trying to enforce one worldview over everyone in authoritarian fashion, whether Soviet communism or American corporatism.

  19. Thanks for the info on the bagpipe band. Sorry it ended.

    Never was aware of “Birth of a Nation” until in college when it played at an “art” theater during a month of showing “significant” old movies. Only Confederate generals I recall from school are Lee and Pickett. Lee because he signed the surrender and Pickett because his charge was the beginning of the end for the Confederates. The KKK was mentioned as a group that created fear in the hearts of all the people it didn’t like. I didn’t know anything about the German Bund until I took a history course on German history in college.

    What you write about power, etc, is true yet I don’t agree with where you take it. Maybe that’s you cynical side. I’m not 100% sure but I can’t think of any revolution which really changed something that was started by the “oppressed” classes you say are so feared. Such revolutions were begun by one of the “oppressors” own or upper/middle class persons not of the worker/lower class. I don’t see T. Roosevelt as you do. I think he tried to preserve what he considered good` in the existing system while changing what he thought needed changing. That’s my idea of a revolution that builds up rather than tears down. I’ve worked primarily (here goes my non-statistical experience again) for a tiny family business, a small business and for a fairly large corporation (years 1945-1967 and 1991-1999 with 1968-1991 in the public sector) and, at that time, I never detected any involvement in any sort of conspiracy as you suggest. We were too busy competing in the market place with other companies with like or similar products to waste time figuring out how to take over the government, suppress workers or any such thing. Serving our markets while surviving financially was the focus. Consolidation to gain power was not on the agenda because THAT was the biggest threat to the life and livelihood of the people on top. The only time selling was considered was when interest in owning or managing waned and it was time to retire (and no family member was interested in carrying on) or move on to something new. The conspiracies I encountered were in the public sector. And they went on all the time.

    By the way, communism, socialism, capitalism, social democracy, etc. are easy to define. But I find many people who use the word fascism can’t define it when asked. I believe you do, in fact, have a definition and would like to know it. I may have said this before, but a case case be made that capitalism (at least in some form) allows democracy which no other modern system does. Of course, democracy can be defined in different ways and that may be a basis for disputing the notion

    I’m sorry if I offended you by saying McCarthy was mentally ill. I am conflicted here. A large part of our homeless problem was created (in the 60’s or 70’s) when a guy named Szaz (sp?) presented a notion, ultimately widely accepted, that there was no such thing as an insane person. He claimed insanity/sanity was defined by people who considered themselves sane, thus condemning those who are different or who failed to meet an artificial norm. So confining so-called insane people in institutions was a violation of their civil/human rights, The idea flew and thousands or millions (who really knew how many?) of institutionalized people were let loose. The majority landed on the streets and their kind are still there. Was this a benefit to the so-called insane? Was it a service to society?
    Though not officially designated so, I have a couple of physical handicaps (i.e., not only limiting what I can do but where I can do it). I would be quite happy to be called handicapped because it is true. The euphemisms offend me. They are patronizing. I am old. That’s what I am. And old it should be. Elderly is ok too, but senior citizen, mature and better, golden ager, etc. truly piss me off because they attempt to avoid the truth and everybody knows it.

    Also have some views on education and indoctrination but will save that for later.

    • “Never was aware of “Birth of a Nation” until in college when it played at an “art” theater during a month of showing “significant” old movies. Only Confederate generals I recall from school are Lee and Pickett. Lee because he signed the surrender and Pickett because his charge was the beginning of the end for the Confederates. The KKK was mentioned as a group that created fear in the hearts of all the people it didn’t like. I didn’t know anything about the German Bund until I took a history course on German history in college.”

      I’m not sure when I was aware of such things. But by the time I was in school they weren’t teaching anything radical, whether left-wing or right-wing. There was a confederate flag at the state capitol near my where I lived in Columbia SC, just not in the classroom.

      I’m fairly sure I never heard of the German Bund until I was an adult. That it is from a different era. My point was that back during that era German-Americans used to teach in the German language in private and public schools in areas where the majority was German-American. I’m sure some pro-German ethno-nationalism and such slipped into the education. The German Bund used to have large marches and at one point proudly carried the Nazi flag.

      The education system is far different these days. I guess you caught the tail end of the old system. No teacher now would get away with putting communists on the walls and praising their ideology.

      “I can’t think of any revolution which really changed something that was started by the “oppressed” classes you say are so feared. Such revolutions were begun by one of the “oppressors” own or upper/middle class persons not of the worker/lower class.”

      The American Revolution began from the lower classes, the working class and yeomen farmers. It wasn’t until the revolution had begun that the elite joined in. I have a number of posts around here that discuss the topic, if you care to read my perspective… or not.

      “I don’t see T. Roosevelt as you do. I think he tried to preserve what he considered good` in the existing system while changing what he thought needed changing.”

      I have a nuanced view of someone like TR. One side of him was a bigot, supremacist, imperialist, etc. But he was also an old school ruling elite born into wealth who genuinely believed in noblesse oblige.

      That is more that he had going for him than the present crop of ruling elite. If people want to be a ruling elite, they should at least be serious about noblesse oblige. I think that TR may have taken it more seriously even than the likes of George Washington who was too obsessed with image.

      “I never detected any involvement in any sort of conspiracy as you suggest.”

      I’m sorry I didn’t clarify. The Business Plot was a specific historical incident. Smedley Butler made allegations about the plot and there were investigations. The investigations were never fully published and it was hushed up. No one is entirely sure what they did or didn’t find.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_Plot

      There is other aspects to the history of fascism in relation to American groups and businesses.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascism_in_North_America#United_States
      http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-american-companies-that-aided-the-nazis.php
      http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/03/nazis-got-ideas-america.html
      http://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/sep/25/usa.secondworldwar
      http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v15/v15n3p6_weber.html

      There have been many books written about the topic. Here is one that looks interesting, as it comes at it from a different angle:

      American Fascism and the New Deal: The Associated Farmers of California and the Pro-Industrial Movement
      by Nelson A. Pichardo Almanzar and Brian W. Kulik

      “By the way, communism, socialism, capitalism, social democracy, etc. are easy to define. But I find many people who use the word fascism can’t define it when asked. I believe you do, in fact, have a definition and would like to know it.”

      I go by standard definitions, by which I mean the more detailed descriptions. There is a good Wikipedia page on definitions of fascism:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Definitions_of_fascism

      I think about the things that distinguish fascism and communism, at least in terms of statist or authoritarian governments.

      Fascism tends to be for ethnonationalist and communism tends to be internationalist. Fascism tends toward folk religiosity though not necessarily traditional religion and communism tends toward secularism though not necessarily anti-religion (many people remained openly religious in the USSR, but there was prejudice). Fascism tends toward closer relationship between big biz and big gov while the two are kept distinct to some degree and communism tends toward the economy being nationalized although in practice the Soviets unofficially allowed some relative free markets to operate as black markets.

      I would make another clarification. Fascism tends to be where big gov has the upper hand, even as it empowers big biz. Some have suggested a different relationship has developed in some places, where the the positions are switched. Some call this inverted totalitarianism, as big gov becomes a puppet state for big biz.

      “I may have said this before, but a case case be made that capitalism (at least in some form) allows democracy which no other modern system does.”

      I see capitalism and democracy as separate things. They can overlap, but there is nothing they inherently share in common.

      Take the Chinese government. Even though they used communist rhetoric, they were in some ways more along the lines of a neo-Confucianism. Whatever they were, it was an easy transition for them to develop statist capitalism with some elements of economic freedom and private ownership, and yet no need for democracy.

      An interesting example are the democratic forms of collective ownership such as anarchosyndicalism. Or you can consider examples like East Wind Community or Mondragon Corporation, both that use democratic processes and operate in the larger markets of capitalism, but they aren’t an economic model that most people are familiar with—yet both are successful.

      There are many kinds of capitalism. And many kinds of democracy.

      “I’m sorry if I offended you by saying McCarthy was mentally ill.”

      Your way of phrasing that amuses me. I wasn’t offended. I don’t have much opinion about McCarthy, one way or another. I was just thinking out loud.

      “I am conflicted here. A large part of our homeless problem was created (in the 60’s or 70’s) when a guy named Szaz (sp?) presented a notion, ultimately widely accepted, that there was no such thing as an insane person. He claimed insanity/sanity was defined by people who considered themselves sane, thus condemning those who are different or who failed to meet an artificial norm.”

      As with many things, I tend to take a middle position. I do think our society has come to use sickness as a model too often. That has increasingly been challenged over time and for good reason. There is no evidence that addiction is a mental illness, as recent research has offered evidence of a different way of understanding it.

      Also, there is a lot of confusion between mental illness and criminal behavior. Many people end up in prisons who should be in mental institutes. But this is a tough thing to understand for our society, as many people our society deems criminal are those who do have brain damage, such as from environmental heavy metal toxicity, and that does predispose them to breaking the law, acting aggressively, and having impulse control problems.

      But how do we as a society deal with those who have been harmed by the externalized costs of our society, e.g., pollution? Should we treat them as criminals, as mentally ill, or what? What is the culpability of someone who has been damaged by the actions of others, especially when those actions are collective? Who is responsible for those unable to take responsibility for themselves? Is being poisoned by toxins really mental illness or a health issue?

      “So confining so-called insane people in institutions was a violation of their civil/human rights, The idea flew and thousands or millions (who really knew how many?) of institutionalized people were let loose. The majority landed on the streets and their kind are still there. Was this a benefit to the so-called insane? Was it a service to society?”

      It’s difficult. Some good came from it and some bad. There were many people released who went on to live productive lives or at least were able to remain stable. But many weren’t.

      Part of the original problem was that the entire system needed reform. There was a lot of abuse and failure within the psychiatric institutes in the past. The system was broken and no one either knew how to fix it or was willing to try. So, they went for the simple solution and released them.

      It appealed to both ends of the ideological spectrum for different reasons. It was a civil rights issue for those on the political left and it was fiscal savings for those on the political right.

      This is similar to all the problems we face. Many of them are systemic and need reform. But we lack the ability or will to do what needs to be done.

      “Though not officially designated so, I have a couple of physical handicaps (i.e., not only limiting what I can do but where I can do it). I would be quite happy to be called handicapped because it is true.”

      As I’ve said, I have depression. But it is just a word. The label doesn’t really help me. The main point of the label is so for insurance companies. Being labeled by itself adds no additional insight, understanding, or practical knowledge. On the other hand, labels can be helpful for research and to that extent I can favor them, although I would want the labels themselves to be studied as well to ensure that they are valid categories in the first place.

      I also have a learning disability. That was the first label I got. I was a young child. Being labeled was necessary in the education system in order to receive special education. So, I guess that was good. But the label doesn’t really say anything. It’s just that my mind operates differently. There is actually a more technical label for what I have, which does clearly define what kind of learning disability I have. Even so, it’s not clear to me that it is a disability per se, as it gives me some intellectual advantages over the average person.

      It’s not so much the label that matters. Rather, it is the framing. We get into trouble in our thinking by how we frame things. It limits our thinking and can blind us to other ways of understanding and responding to the issue at hand.

      “The euphemisms offend me. They are patronizing. I am old. That’s what I am. And old it should be. Elderly is ok too, but senior citizen, mature and better, golden ager, etc. truly piss me off because they attempt to avoid the truth and everybody knows it.”

      I’m not a fan of euphemisms either. That is why I want clear language. Mental illness as a label is often too vague and conflated with too much else. I’ve grown wary of the misuse of language.

      “Also have some views on education and indoctrination but will save that for later.”

      I wasn’t letting my anarchist side showing a bit. Indoctrination is one of those words that we use to describe what other people do, not what we do. What other societies do, not our society. The only way to fight indoctrination is to become aware of the fact that we are all indoctrinated. And of course the most powerful indoctrination of all comes from parents. There are few people in child’s life who have more power than parents to fundamentally shape a child’s mind or else to truly mess it up.

      • I compliment you on your organization of references for what seems tob e just about everything. I would not have the patience to do such a thorough job.

        If we as a society choose to go there (and I think we have), I suspect we will learn more about how our minds work than maybe we really want to know. Already we know, for example, that serial killers and hired killers have a shortage of serotonin. Electronic brain scanning reveals an astonishing number of differences between the way male and female brains work, Some day we may discover that few behaviors are by chance, but controlled by various aspects of body chemistry.

        A problem I have with a variety of accusations such as indoctrination, oppression and so forth, is that it can be carried to an extreme where everything is seen (and may actually be) a form of indoctrination, oppression, etc. So the world and life become unbearable. My notion is that life is a temporary gift which you receive for a finite period and that’s it. Why waste it by seeing only the dark side all or most of the time. Some people have conditions that preclude that. I refer to those who are not so encumbered, yet choose to be angry, unhappy or whatever because of all our individual and societal imperfections. Life was not, is not, and will not be fair or completely equitable for many reasons beyond our control. As in the alcoholic’s prayer, the trick is figuring out what can be controlled and what can’t, what can be improved and what can’t, and to establish a priority of importance.

        Thus, from one aspect, all education is indoctrination. Yet subjects can be taught in a non-doctrinal way. I once taught a course which included a section about the role and operation of media in various political systems. At the end of the section, students always asked, “What’s your opinion?” I replied my opinion was irrelevant. The point of the course was to present material to enable them to think for themselves. Several students commented it was refreshing to have a class where the instructor didn’t reveal his/her biases and/or simply used the class as a podium from which to direct student thought to a particular point of view. Too often today, professors actively attempt such direction and are in the forefront of various demonstrations such as those for divestiture of certain investments by colleges. This summarizes my long rant on indoctrination vs. education in the academe today.

        • A book you may find interesting if one of your libraries has it is “The American Midwest – An Interpretive Encyclopedia,” edited by Sisson, Zacker and Cayton, Indiana University Press, 2007, 1892 pages. It’s not a regular encyclopedia but many essays divided by general topic into sections or chapters.

        • “I compliment you on your organization of references for what seems tob e just about everything. I would not have the patience to do such a thorough job.”

          I’ll take the compliment. But it’s obsessive-compulsion, not patience. If it required patience, I would never be so thorough. I get impatient all the time, including with my obsessive-compulsiveness.

          “If we as a society choose to go there (and I think we have), I suspect we will learn more about how our minds work than maybe we really want to know.”

          As a lover of truth and knowledge, I’m incapable of imagining such a thing. People have been saying that kind of thing since the dawn of time. Yet our understanding increases over the generations, centuries, and millennia… with no end in sight. It takes a while for new info and paradigms to be assimilated, but so far humans always seem to find a way. Once assimilated, it simply becomes the new norm and everyone forgets the former state of not knowing.

          “Already we know, for example, that serial killers and hired killers have a shortage of serotonin.”

          If that is a central contributing factor, then we could possibly decrease the number of serial killers by testing for serotonin shortage in all children and adults. Then either correct what is causing the shortage or giving them a drug to boost their serotonin. The impulse to kill people might decrease or entirely disappear. That would be an awesome world to live in.

          “Electronic brain scanning reveals an astonishing number of differences between the way male and female brains work,”

          I’m not sure why that matters. I think we will find all kinds of differences. Even gender differences might not be as absolute or unchanging as we presently assume, based on our present lack of knowledge. One thing we might discover is that the brain is way more fluid than we ever imagined and that there are ways to increase that fluidity so that people can access more of their potential.

          Besides, it might be like Myers-Briggs typology. Most women are Feeling types and most men are Thinking types. But it isn’t that big of a difference when you look at the data. Most people are moderate on either of these functions. Plus, there are around 30-40% of both genders that don’t fit the pattern.

          “Some day we may discover that few behaviors are by chance, but controlled by various aspects of body chemistry.”

          The world is too complex for there much of anything to be determined by a single gene, chemical, or whatever. Studies are actually beginning to show how everything is interrelated in complex ways.

          “A problem I have with a variety of accusations such as indoctrination, oppression and so forth, is that it can be carried to an extreme where everything is seen (and may actually be) a form of indoctrination, oppression, etc.”

          I didn’t intend it as an accusation. My purpose was more just to use a word in a way to reframe an issue to allow potentially greater insight and self-awareness. That is how I try to use language.

          “My notion is that life is a temporary gift which you receive for a finite period and that’s it. Why waste it by seeing only the dark side all or most of the time.”

          I also see life as a gift, a set of opportunities and potentials. It is for that reason I look for understanding. It is only through knowledge and awareness that we can act on those opportunities and manifest those potentials. From my perspective, it doesn’t seem dark. It’s like looking toward the horizon for the glimmer of the rising sun. I’m not looking at the darkness, but attempting to see what is beyond it.

          “Life was not, is not, and will not be fair or completely equitable for many reasons beyond our control.”

          That is true. But the opposite is true as well. Many things in life have been, are, and will be made more fair and equitable for many reasons within our control. That is why knowledge and awareness is so important. Without that, we are merely resigned to our fates, rather than embracing life in its fullness.

          “As in the alcoholic’s prayer, the trick is figuring out what can be controlled and what can’t, what can be improved and what can’t, and to establish a priority of importance.”

          That fits into my own view. But our ever changing knowledge and awareness does and should change what we prioritize.

          “Thus, from one aspect, all education is indoctrination. Yet subjects can be taught in a non-doctrinal way.”

          I agree, in the sense you mean that. I was pushing toward something deeper. We never escape some set of beliefs and values. The best we can do is try to think and act as consciously as possible, to influence others in an intentional and responsible way. We are always having an impact on others and the larger world. That is my point. Even withholding our opinions and framing a class discussion a particular way is being motivated by a particular worldview that will get passed on to some of those students… and that is a good thing. It really doesn’t matter what one calls it.

          “Too often today, professors actively attempt such direction and are in the forefront of various demonstrations such as those for divestiture of certain investments by colleges.”

          I don’t know if that is true. It might be. My father tried to instill moral values in his business management students. I think that is a good thing, even though I don’t share his conservative ideology. I don’t have a problem with that kind of thing. But some might think that was indoctrination and that my father should have limited himself to simply teaching business management and left morality to the religious studies professors. I guess it depends. Such things can be done well or badly.

  20. Yes, it was sincere compliment because I am truly impresses.
    Forgot to mention that I am keenly aware of the German culture that was exceptionally strong he the Upper Midwest. It began to fade after WWII when things Germanic fell out of favor and the government forbad teaching in German in the public schools. (I read a history of prohibition that noted an important factor in the success of its passing was that most US breweries were run by people with German names, Thus, many believed the Kaiser influenced our breweries to encourage drunkenness among our young men and women,) When I lived in rural Illinois before being married, I rented a room for a time in the home of Hilda and Evan Scheifelbien. Born and raised in central Wisconsin, they did not learn to speak English until after they graduated from the local public high school. Also recall that despite his heavy “foreign” accent, Lawrence Welk was born and raised in North Dakota.

    I agree with most of your comments in your last post, especially the idea that it’s difficult if not impossible to escape your upbringing (or youthful “indoctrination” however it may have occurred). Maybe 40 years ago I was asked to teach a week-long class at a United Communication Workers of America convention. The was to help organizers do a better job of signing up new CWA members. I thought the best way was to run an interactive class with emphasis on how no-CWA members might see the union so organizers might address joining through non-members’ vantage points. On the first day, class participation dwindled as the class went on. On the second day, it was dead. So I stopped, said I felt something wasn’t right and asked what it was. Silence. Finally, a woman in the back said, “If you really want to know, we don’t see how we can learn anything from someone who is as anti-union as you.” Of course, I denied the charge and explained what I was trying to do. We managed to finish the class, but it was not going well. You may recall my telling you I spent much of my youth in a overwhelming Democrat-union environment in which the unions were much like the KKK when it came to acts and thought not approved by the unions. The next day, I apologized to the class and admitted I probably was as anti-union as they thought. What made me agree was the night after our confrontation, I had a nightmare in which I dreamed I living with my wife and family in the house where I grew up. It was morning and I went out to get the home delivered paper. On my porch was a large grocery bag with the word “scab” scrawled across it and inside were the heads of my children. I left that environment more than 20 years previously and thought those fears were purged from my mind. They were, from my conscious mind, but not from my sub conscious. A good example of how difficult it is for victims of rape, racial violence, war, etc. to rid themselves of such feelings and memories. You think you are over it, then something happens that triggers a resurrection from some deep corner of your being. Curiously, after the convention, I was asked to teach the class at the next CWA convention. I declined.

    I disagree that the differences between men and women don’t mater much if you really want to understand what makes people tick. Yes, the findings are tendencies and there are all kinds of exceptions, but they can be meaningful. “Why Men Don’t Iron” is a fascinating and entertainingly written book by a British couple (Anne and Bill Moir) that summarizes research done up to about 1998 (the book came out in 1999) on the differences between men and women. A few examples from memory:
    * Women have more color rods in their eyes so the have a much better sense of color.
    * They have better hearing.
    * They have many more connections between their right brain and their left brain which is why they are better at multi-tasking than men. That’s also why men tend to focus more easily than women. Studies show that, for example, men’s right brains often shut down completely during the act of hunting and combat.
    * In serious confrontations, women’s brains tend to go into a retreat mode, while men’s brains are highly stimulated.
    The book has 276 pages of text, 44 pages of citations (just your style!!) and an index. (Citadel Press)

    Universal or significant testing for characteristics that affect behavior such as serotonin levels would be tough to do in the US regardless of merit. It is an invasion of privacy and would be vigorously fought by an strange mix of political groups.

    • Sorry for all the typos. Proofed it twice and obviously failed. My reason is that these things happen in one’s antiquity. But as I mentioned previously, reasons need not be excuses.

    • “Forgot to mention that I am keenly aware of the German culture that was exceptionally strong he the Upper Midwest.”

      I have much interest in it because it is part of my ancestry. But any ethnic identity and culture was lost long ago. It’s possible that some of my New Jersey relatives from a few generations back still had a German accent, as there was some concentration of German ancestry there. I never knew that part of my family, though.

      I have a few posts around here about German-Americans.

      “I read a history of prohibition that noted an important factor in the success of its passing was that most US breweries were run by people with German names, Thus, many believed the Kaiser influenced our breweries to encourage drunkenness among our young men and women”

      The late 1800s to early 1900s is a favorite period of mine. The background to prohibition is fascinating. The Klan was for prohibition, as were many others, and it indeed had to do with ethnic Americans.

      I saw a documentary a while back. It was about Templeton Rye which was produced here in Iowa during Prohibition. There is a fascinating story behind it that involves an ethnic community. They were so tight-knit that they were almost entirely able to evade the law. I discuss it some in this post:

      https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2014/08/25/the-fight-for-freedom-is-the-fight-to-exist-independence-and-interdependence/

      “I agree with most of your comments in your last post, especially the idea that it’s difficult if not impossible to escape your upbringing (or youthful “indoctrination” however it may have occurred).”

      I don’t see it as good or bad. It just is our human reality, just the way it is. Coming to terms with our upbringing is good entertainment that keeps us preoccupied for the rest of our lives.

      “Maybe 40 years ago I was asked to teach a week-long class at a United Communication Workers of America convention.”

      Nice personal story. It illustrates well what we bring to everything we do, often unconsciously.

      “I disagree that the differences between men and women don’t mater much if you really want to understand what makes people tick.”

      It’s not so much disagreement. I was just emphasizing a particular view to make a point. We seem to more or less agree. Differences matter. But I’m open to their mattering in ways we presently don’t understand. I see much of our knowledge as being in its infancy, which can be both frustrating and fascinating. Studies are constantly bringing forth new info and insights.

      “Yes, the findings are tendencies and there are all kinds of exceptions, but they can be meaningful.”

      They are meaningful. I didn’t mean to imply otherwise.

      ““Why Men Don’t Iron” is a fascinating and entertainingly written book by a British couple (Anne and Bill Moir) that summarizes research done up to about 1998 (the book came out in 1999) on the differences between men and women.”

      I haven’t come across that particular book. But I’ve come across similar ones.

      I’m somewhat familiar with what is known in this area. I haven’t researched it deeply. Gender hasn’t been a major focus in my mind, although I sometimes think I should spend more time exploring some of these kinds of issues.

      Fundamental differences are intriguing, which is what attracts me to personality psychology. I’m just not always sure what these differences mean, even as I’m certain they are meaningful.

      Part of my wariness is that I’m one of those atypical male Feeling types. I love general patterns in trying to understand complex issues. But I also love understanding the exceptions and what they tell us.

      “Universal or significant testing for characteristics that affect behavior such as serotonin levels would be tough to do in the US regardless of merit. It is an invasion of privacy and would be vigorously fought by an strange mix of political groups.”

      There would be resistance. But there are ways to increase testing. It could be made part of basic medical checkups, including for prisoners before they are released. People resist giving their kids vaccines, and yet laws have been passed. At some point, enough people see the value of it.

  21. The temperance movement began in the high/great plains. Women were isolated on farms and ranches and left alone to operate a spread should their man get drunk, fall off his horse, hit his head and die. Or freeze to death during winter. Temperance in the beginning was for the protection of women. Had nothing to do with morals, religion, etc. The movement eventually died when it became a singularly moral, religious and/or political issue.

    • Those with early concern for the issue may have been those isolated rural women. But temperance as a national movement never would have gone anywhere if it hadn’t become about broader social and moral issues.

      I’d say it died simply because it failed. Drinking and drunkenness actually increased during Prohibition, partly because what was being sold was even higher proof. It’s similar to why drug use and drug potency increased during the war on drugs. There is no way to better popularize an addictive product than by putting it on the black market.

      I was just reading about how the women who fought against Prohibition ended up using the same basic arguments as those who fought for Prohibition. Prohibition was turning their men into drunks. Plus, it was increasing violence and crime.

  22. I had a book on the temperance movement which covered the issue from its earliest beginnings to repeal of the Volstead (sp?) Act. My comments were based on my memory of it. Unfortunately, I loaned it to someone, I know not who, who did not return it. Don’t recall the book’s name either

    Thanks for the noting the Hari book.

    • I assume that the temperance movement is like similar such things. Typically, there are many causes and contributing factors to both what causes them to begin and end.

      You could be right about its beginning or partly right. The isolated rural women might have been the earliest advocates of temperance. But it might have related to their husbands going to town where the drinking establishments were located, often run by ethnic immigrants who were typically more concentrated in cities.

      There was populism and progressivism in the air which was fueled by complex concerns and fears, including clash between urban and rural along with other conflicts between groups such as ethnic immigrants and native born whites. The practical and the moral were inseparable in people’s experience.

      I do know that on practical terms that Prohibition failed and to that extent it was also a moral failure. But even failure, no matter the kind, doesn’t necessarily end things or at least not right away. The war on drugs has lasted long after it became apparent it was a failure.

      There has to be a tipping point that brings to a halt something so well established. Too many individuals, groups, and institutions become invested in such things as Prohibition or the war on drugs. Even in failure, there are people benefiting. But at some point the costs, not just financial costs, become too great for too many.

      • Some time ago you wanted evidence of suppression of free speech, etc. or some such on college campuses. In a tossing out mode today, ran across the Winter, 2014 issue of Academic Questions, the quarterly magazine of the National Association of Scholars. Contains an article, “Nondiscrimination Discrimination,” which details Christian student groups being tossed off campus at Vanderbilt, 23 campuses of the California State University System and Bowdoin (as has happened at other schools as well) for requiring members to adhere to principles of Christianity in which they believe. The groups in question are Evangelical and the basic problem is their stance on homosexuality.
        The schools justify their discrimination toward these groups on the grounds that they are anti-gay, thus discriminatory. (I do not agree with the groups, but that’s not the point here.) Thus, beliefs not consistent with those approved by the schools are not allowed on campus. Granted, this can be sticky if you are, say, Young Americans for Pedophilia. Nevertheless, the situation reflects suppression of thought and speech. At some schools, students who speak publicly about their religious notions on homosexuality can be charged with hate speech. Curiously, the Roman Catholic Church an Islam hold the same position on homosexuality but no Catholic or Muslim group was reported as kicked off campus for that belief when the article was published.

      • It is discrimination. But I’d say it was equal opportunity discrimination.

        If you had a group at a college that attempted to exclude Evangelicals or all Christians, your group would get closed down or kicked off campus. I’m willing to bet that even a white person could challenge a black group that attempted to exclude white people, if he were willing to bring the case to court. Any group can get challenged, as long as someone is willing to go to the effort to do so.

        Generally, we only hear about high profile cases where there is major conflict involved. But I bet there are plenty of other cases that get less media attention for various reasons.

        This is where data would be helpful and interesting. It wouldn’t surprise me if someone was keeping data on discrimination on campuses and the challenges to it. I’d like to see the breakdown of who gets challenged for what and who does the challenging and how they go about it.

      • I was wondering about some of the dynamics. It’s not just about why some incidences and conflicts get reported while others don’t. It’s also why some things happen in the first place.

        For example, it would be the simplest thing in the world for all-black groups and fraternities to be challenged.

        There are more so-called ‘whites’ than so-called ‘blacks’ in the US with African genetics. Plus, in the US, there are 1 in 5 so-called ‘blacks’ who are majority non-African genetics, typically European, and 1 in 20 so-called ‘blacks’ have no detectable African genetics.

        So, why don’t you hear about all-black groups and fraternities being challenged?

        It’s possible that they are constantly being challenged. But maybe the national mainstream media mostly ignores it. Then again, maybe something else is going on.

        The type of self-identified ‘white’ who would be inclined to challenge an all-black group isn’t the type of person to be willing to openly admit they have African genetics. Even racists ultimately are fine with all-black groups, because there is nothing racists love more than segregating the races. Racists maybe wish they too could have all-white groups, but on principle they have nothing against all-black groups and certainly they don’t want to join an all-black group.

        Besides, all-black groups don’t hold much power in our society. We live in a society obsessed with power. The relatively powerless only get much public attention when they do something deemed as bad, such as crime. Mostly powerless people peacefully organizing doesn’t threaten the status quo and norms of the power structure, which the mainstream media is a part of.

        If those all-black groups ever began to gain more power, it wouldn’t take long before they would be challenged in a thousand different ways.

        There isn’t just bias in how groups organize and what they organize around. There is also bias in which groups get public attention and media reporting and get challenged by others in society, especially by those part of mainstream society and even more especially by those with privilege. A person of privilege might complain about an all-minority group, but they don’t typically feel much threat. The bias in that case is toward power.

        Being a minority often has the advantage or disadvantage, depending on how one looks at it, of being ignored.

  23. You clearly see an underlying problem. The groups involved were not actively engaging in anti-gay activities. They simply required members to hold “Christian” beliefs to which they adhere. Untold numbers of groups have membership requirements which, by definition, are non-inclusive. If colleges were not so hypocritical, all religious groups and some sectarian groups as well, should be tossed off campus because all require agreement about notions often not universally shared and which many find offensive if not plain stupid. A factor in the groups mentioned being kicked off campus is that GLBT issues are a popular movement at colleges today. In point, the non-discrimination discrimination is not equal opportunity. It is trendy, punishing some and ignoring others for similar exclusivities. There also are different kinds of discrimination. Where is the line drawn regarding punishing a group or individual for thoughts and/or words? Shall religious belief be subject to government (i.e., state college) censorship?

    • Christianity is different than race. That is what makes the dynamics different.

      Unlike an all-black group, a Christian group is part of mainstream majority society. Most Americans are Christian. That is true of most demographics: rich and poor, white and black, etc.

      Also, the highest religiosity rates are found among wealthy whites, an odd thing when compared to other Western countries. I would further note that mainstream Christianity, especially among the middle-to-upper classes, tends to be relatively liberal on social issues; and the wealthier Christians are the more socially liberal they are (Charles Murray, a paleo-conservative libertarian, actually noted this in his recent book). That is the kind of Christian one finds in mainstream politics, media, and education. Only in certain places (such as a Bible college of in the Deep South) would you find a majority of Christians who both above average in wealth and are more strong in socially conservative direction, but most of the American population doesn’t live in those places (the North, for example, has always had a larger population than the South; and the North, including the rural North, has defined mainstream American society since the Civil War).

      A group that is part of mainstream majority society will be treated differently than a group that isn’t a part of mainstream majority society. No one is going to toss a Christian group off of campus, because most Americans are Christian. American society has a pro-Christian bias. But that bias is toward mainstream Christianity, which is the type of Christianity most people in positions of power and authority are members of. Forms of Christianity outside of mainstream Christianity are perceived as threats by the types of Christians that wield most of the power and influence in our society. So, it is largely one group of Christians being biased against another, a sort of turf war about who decides what are the social norms for our society and who gets to enforce them. It’s not unlike how during the Civil War both sides invoked God and made arguments based on the Bible.

      Hypocrisy is all through our society, in every area and at all levels. I wouldn’t say we are necessarily more hypocritical than other societies, but because we are an idealistic society our hypocrisy seems more blatant. I’m against hypocrisy. When I suggested it would be easy to challenge all-black groups, I wasn’t just thinking of it as a hypothetical. I’d find it interesting to see some people do exactly that, challenge them. But I was noting why I suspect such challenges happen less often or else why they are reported in the national mainstream news less often.

      Mainstream society is an odd thing. When you were a kid, the Klan was well within the range of mainstream views. The Second Klan is interesting primarily because it was so typical for its era. That was true even though at the time the country was at a multicultural peak. There were tons of immigrants and non-WASPs in society at that time, but they generally weren’t in positions of power and authority, which is what defines mainstream society. I’m sure mainstream society has always been hypocritical, but what has changed is that we are now less tolerant of hypocrisy than people were in the past. Partly, this is because we are more aware of hypocrisy as the proliferation of alternative media and international media has forced hypocrisy into greater public awareness.

      I was reading about riots that happened in the past. There were some riots that happened in Chicago around 1959, as I recall. The involved thousands of whites rioting and thousands of police officers. The rioters attacked both blacks and police officers, destroyed vehicles and burned buildings. Yet, most of the riots were never reported in the media, either local or national. It was a media blackout. That is unimaginable today. Nearly everything gets reported or otherwise discussed in this age of media saturation, especially with social media catching anything the rest of media misses.

      It’s not that the world has gotten worse. It’s just that we have become aware of every little problem. No halfway significant event escapes public attention these days. A school shooting in the US might not have even made it to the national news a half century ago, but today it becomes international news and social media obsesses over it non-stop, along with the 24/7 news reporting. Plus, here we are arguing about this. Before the internet, neither of us would have met and neither of us would even know much about anything. People used to exist in mostly blissful isolated ignorance. It’s been a slow awakening process for our society and it is an uncomfortable experience, both on the individual and collective level.

      We are coming to realize all the problems that exist, hypocrisies and much else. Many of these problems always existed and some are new or have taken new forms. Are awareness of these problems has gotten ahead of our ability to deal with them. Many people are starting to feel what is the point of knowing about problems that we don’t know how to do anything about. But obviously at this point we aren’t going to return to our prior state of isolated blissful ignorance.

      To put it simply, you are correct that hypocrisies exist. But pointing that out by itself won’t necessarily bring either understanding or solutions. The more we dig into our shared problems the more we realize how deep and pervasive those problems are. What we thought were isolated issues turns out to touch upon the very foundation of our society. To try to dig it up might threaten the social order itself. It is damned if we do and damned if we don’t. Even in trying to deal with biases, we just end up being biased in different ways, including being biased in how we focus on and deal with biases. Well, fuck! It can really put one in a bad mood, to say the least.

      That isn’t to say nothing is improving. But so much of the divisiveness seems endless and so many of the challenges seem insurmountable. We are coming to realize how much work there is to be done, and many Americans aren’t sure that we have what it takes to get that work done… or if it is even worth trying. If we can’t be unbiased in dealing with biases, should we still go on in our imperfect attempts? Or should we just throw our hands up in the air and admit defeat? That is a serious question.

    • About Christianity, it isn’t a simple thing. As I said, most Americans are Christians. This is even true with the youngest generations. The difference is that the majority Christians in the younger generations are more socially liberal. This is as true for Evangelicals and Catholics as for mainline Protestants.

      Yes, most people against secularism and homosexuality are Chrisian. But then again most people for secularism and gay rights are also Christian. It’s important to keep that in mind, in a Christian society like ours. The divide in our society is mostly within religion, not outside of it or against it.

  24. Don’t disagree with your points except that given the shrinking of mainstream Christian churches, the non mainstream not only are a threat, but are winning the numbers game. Jews have a similar problem for a similar reason. The liberal Jewish congregations are losing members while the conservative are gaining.
    An interesting aspect of Christianity in this country is that my guess is that most Christians do not really understand much of their religion. I doubt most mainstream Protestants can explain the theological differences between, say, the Methodist, Presbyterian, Congregational and Disciples of Christ churches. Or even Anabaptists, for that matter. And what are the real differences between Protestants, Catholics and Eastern Orthodox? Most sectarians I know who tend to be, for lack of a better term, anti-religious, don’t know much about what they rail against because they think a Christian is a Christian is a Christian. They are unaware of the differences, major and minor, because so many have no real first hand exposure to a religion.
    My point, I guess, is that the Christian influence on our society is no only fading, it is actively being rejected. Although, contrary to modern mythology, the US was not founded as a Christian nation, our moral underpinnings are based on religious thought. Even atheists use religion-based morals to support many of their arguments.

    • I guess I see this kind of thing as more fluid. We are more religious today in a formal sense than was the case in early America. There is an interesting book about the churching of America in the 1800s. Prior to that, a high rate of Americans didn’t go to church or wait until marriage to have sex. Religion at that time was for many either a personal issue or highly formal.

      I’m not sure about the exact numbers. I do know there is an increasing percentage of young Christians who are socially liberal and politically progressive. Religion in American has regularly swung back and forth on the political spectrum, every few generations. It’s just by the time it swings in a new direction enough time has lapsed that we collectively have forgotten about the last time it swung the other way.

      Some of the American Founders thought religion was going to mostly disappear. They lived during a time of waning religiosity. Many of them were religious heretics who either mistrusted organized religion or held it at as just another expression of social order for respectable people. Washington, for example, probably was a deist, even though he felt it was his duty as an aristocrat to attend church to set a moral example in order to maintain the status quo. On the other hand, Jefferson cut up the Bible and Paine simply denied it validity. Until the French Revolution, many (most?) people didn’t seem to take it seriously as a major social issue to worry about.

      The Founders were wrong, though. After the Revolution, religion began to grow and within decades was becoming a major force. America didn’t begin as one of the most religious countries, but it sure became that in the following generations after the Founding.

      As for understanding, I doubt there has ever been a time when most Christians were all that well informed about religion. Most religion has been about community, social events, and ritual—not about detailed theological knowledge. Most Christians today know little about the Bible, but that isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. It was only this past century or so that most Americans were literate enough to even be able to read the Bible, not that most ever bothered. Christianity existed for more than a millennia without the vast majority of Christians needing to know much of anything, for that was the purpose of ministers and priests to tell people what to believe and how to act.

      My parents have belonged to different churches over the decades. The present church they go to is Calvinist in theology, but neither of my parents care about the theology. They are highly religious, just in their own ways, more about a down-to-earth sense of religious community and social morality. When my dad is pushed on the issue, he basically admits that he is more of a deist or something along those lines. But ultimately he has little interest in theology, despite his being an intellectual who reads all the time and despite his having been raised by a minister. My mom cares even less, as religion is just something she has always known, a familiar habit.

      I always feel wary about speculating about long term trends. I know enough history to realize many things go in cycles, heading in one direction and then switching the opposite way… or else in taking some entirely new path. Social developments often don’t go in straight lines. And to state what has been said before: Even if history doesn’t exactly repeat, it sure does rhyme. So, I’m not ready to count religion out, not that I really care one way or another.

      Time will tell, as always. I’ll observe with curiosity where it is all heading.

  25. I was thinking about political correctness.

    I’m reading a few books about the early Cold War era following WWII. I wanted to read about that era because the early-to-mid 1950s througth the early 1960s are when my parents were children and teenagers. It’s a historical period I’ve known so little about, and I decided I need to lessen my ignorance.

    It is a surprisingly fascinating time of American society. It’s too bad it doesn’t get more attention. I’d like to write about it in greater detail at some point. Only one aspect is relevant here, though.

    A certain kind of political correctness ruled back then. There were the Comics Code Authority, blacklisting, FCC censorship of television, etc. That political correctness was much more oppressive than anything seen today. Alternative culture for a number of decades was driven underground.

    Still, it isn’t as if the Cold Warriors invented political correctness either. In light of this post, I was thinking back to the 18th century. One of the most revolutionary acts was talking about what wasn’t supposed to be talked about, and back then that included many topics.

    Even discussing economics was radical. Only the ruling elite were supposed to discuss economics and only behind closed doors, even then it wasn’t to be a regular topic. The revolutionaries, many of them not part of any ruling elite, dared to speak openly.

    But many of the revolutionaries who were aristocrats still had their limits. The likes of Washington and Jefferson may have been deists in private. It’s just that one didn’t flaunt one’s lack of belief. That was too close to challenging the social order. Paine was low class and talked about anything and everything openly, not just his deism but also democracy itself. Respectable people didn’t mention democracy.

    • I didn’t finish my thought. I wanted to tie it more fully into the discussion.

      Obviously, political correctness has existed for as long as the human species has existed. All that it really means is the social norms that determine the boundaries of what is allowable or respectable, beyond which every society has ways of punishment. In the past, punishments used to enforce social norms included such things official public shaming, torture, execution, indentured servitude, banishment, etc. Many of those extreme punishments continued in official and unofficial forms into the mid-20th century through Jim Crow, the Klan, the Italian Black Hand, Pinkerton thugs, and other legal systems, institutions, organizations, social practices, and forms of vigilante justice.

      There is always a struggle over who gets to define and enforce the social norms. And also debate about what is appropriate punishment. At least, we no longer consider acceptable the harsh social and economic punishments of the early Cold War or the even harsher punishments that were common earlier. Still, the punishments these days have tangible consequences and they shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand, even if at the same time we should keep them in perspective.

      What makes all of this stand out right now is we are a society in transition. WASPs, especially of the wealthy older male variety, have been trying to maintain control for centuries. They came close to losing power during the revolutionary era, when the combined forces of populists, abolitionists, feminists, religious dissenters and other radicals almost got the upper hand. It wasn’t a total failure, as these people did get their voices heard and began to get a toehold. That set the stage for the rest of American history. But it would take a couple more centuries for these disadvantaged Americans to get another chance to grab some power.

      That is where we are now. Still, it remains apparent older male WASPs maintain their hold onto a disproportionate amount of wealth and power. Their privilege and position has been more greatly challenged than ever before, even though not close to being overturned.

      We are amidst the struggle. Yet far from yet becoming an egalitarian society. Many Americans realize how little real power and opportunity they have and how uncertain what little gains that have been made. This makes the struggle all the more fierce.

      Universities are one of the few places disadvantaged groups have transformed into safe havens, to some limited extent, although they can’t wall themselves off from the biases and prejudices of the larger society. That is all the more reason they so strongly defend their turf. They may not control most of the political and economic power in the country and in the gobal world. Nonetheless, what they can control are certain narrow areas of public speech and debate.

      That does resonate with the earlier revolutionary era. The opening of the universities to greater diversity has had an impact not entirely dissimilar to the spread of the movable type printing press—also during a time of greater cultural mixing. In particular, there was the struggle about who would control the printing presses and what could be printed on them. During and after the American Revolution, the Federalists owned most of the printing presses. And they would send out mobs to destroy any printing presses owned by anyone who dared print Anti-Federalist writings. Then when the Federalists gained greater power, they put into place the Alien and Sedition Act to suppress whatever dissent was left. That touches upon present circumstances, since universities do a lot of their own publishing these days.

      Still, even in universities, the power of the disadvantaged is tenuous. These institutions remain beholden to the old power structure that remains mostly controlled by long established elites of mostly older white males, typically WASPs: wealthy private donors (much of it old inherited wealth), corporate funding (mostly from big biz), and government influences (funding and the threat of it being witheld, programs and policies, etc). Universities and education in general is constantly under attack, and so it is unsurprising that academics and professors act like a besieged group, using every weapon at hand.

      One could point out those seeking to gain power don’t always fight fair. But then again, those who have maintained power for centuries haven’t done so by fighting fair. We don’t live in a fair society, a massive understatement. It would be nice to have a fair debate about the ideal of a more fair society. But in order to make that possible, the basic fairness being fought for would already need to be in place.

      It’s a Catch-22. If you fight fair for fairness against those who fight unfair to maintain unfairness, you will inevitably lose. But if you fight unfair, how can you hope to ever move toward fairness?

      It’s easy to forget how unfair society still is and how even more immensely unfair it was within living memory. Right now, there are millions of Americans who at one point or another have done one or more of the following: watched a lynching, participated in a race riot or mob, were raised in various forms of overt bigotry, grew up in sundown communities or Jim Crow states, have been involved in redlining or ostracizing minorities or white flight, pulled out their children or were pulled out by their parents from a school because of desegregation, have used prejudices in their hiring practices, were members of the Klan or some other supremacist group, have voted for a politician because of prejudiced appeals or supported prejudiced policies, benefitted from racially biased government programs and funds, etc. Plus, there are all the implicit, systemic, and institutional biases that continue in every aspect of our society, even when people aren’t consciously and intentionally prejudiced, simply because centures of biases have become so interwoven into the very fabric of our society.

      Anyone who struggles for a more fair society, always imperfectly of course, is going to be charged with the mortal sin of political correctness. Instead of getting practical suggestions and assistance in creating a better world, they get atacked by people who simply seem afraid of all change or else people who are clueless. It’s a near impossible situation. Yet somehow slow halting progress is made across the centuries.

  26. No arguing with your basic point. But here are a few thoughts in no particular order.

    The blacklisting was an unfortunate overreaction to events of the times. But the fact was that there were some very active Communist cells (directed by Moscow according to files released after the USSR fell) in Hollywood that subtly influenced the content of movies so a Communist message came across here and there without mentioning politics per se. I forget the name of the book (maybe called Those Were The Days or What A Time We Had or something like that), by Ron Radoff, a former Hollywood Communist who recounts those days. Dalton(?) Trumbo. often held up as a prime victim of blacklisting, was a superb screen writer but also a lifelong, active, unrepentant Communist. The biography of author James T. Farrell, contains extensive detail on Farrell’s life as a Communist when he was in Hollywood. I might add that I read Farrell’s “Studs Lonigan” in high school and it profoundly affected my attitude toward living and changed me in a positive way. Famous Communist “spies” such as the Rosenberg’s who the left claimed were framed and railroaded turned out to be spies according to files later released by Moscow after the fall of the USSR. The point being that the Cold War was not a figment of some right-wing fantasy, but was, in fact, serious business during the 1940’s after WWII and into the 60’s. A case has been argued that the atomic bomb was what kept the Cold War cold.

    Yes, there was censorship, but it was, in my view, more silly than significant. Movie censorship banned swear words, nudity, opposite sexes sleeping in the same bed as I recall. Of those, I miss the censorship of swear words. I get so tired of the endless use of f— in the movies. A little to make a point doesn’t bother me. But some films have characters who can’t complete a sentence without the word. I confess to a degree of naiveté in my youth. Thanks to the nature of my family, I was not acutely aware of women’s inequality or the degree of prejudice against blacks. I was more aware of the prejudice against Slavs because I knew more of them. But I don’t recall the kind of thought and speech censorship that goes on today (except for swear words). We had a mock UN at my high school and those of us who were picked to represent Honduras (I forget how we were chosen) decided to be smart asses and voted with the USSR on everything. No one ever said anything about that to us or anyone else as far as I know. During college, liberals and left-wingers spoke with some regularity without protests or being shouted down, at least at Ohio State. The loyalty oath was somewhat of a joke. You swore that you were not a Communist and had no plans to overthrew the US government. I signed such an oath in 1968 and no one else of whom I was aware at the time who signed it changed their politics or was even censured for speaking out as long as it did not encouraging people to charge the White House and overthrow the government. The Weather Underground and such were harassed and at risk, but they were blowing up places and killing and kidnapping people which are crimes regardless of your politics.

    I think two of your conclusions are unfair:
    1. Most old folks, regardless of generation, ultimately are disappointed by some change. My bet is that you will be, too. And the problem with change becomes more difficult as you get older because, in most cases, you no longer are the person you used to be and that is frustrating. You also become more isolated as your friends, relatives and acquaintances die off, creating a sense of loneliness which makes change even harder because you face its alone. It is also much harder to make good friends when you are old than when you are young. There are theories as to why, but that’s not for now.
    2. The censorship then was not worse for me. I am much more cautious today about what I say in public and to whom (except regarding unions in my home town) than I ever was until maybe the turn of the century. I have never been so reviled for my words by folks of any persuasion as I have in recent years. I suggest that the censorship then was not worse. It was different.
    3. Lastly, fair is in the eye of the beholder, even fairness that enhances the greater good. There are any number of situations where something that is considered fair, in fact, may be unfair to somebody. Even actions that are wise and essential for the greater good can wind up screwing some people (example: the loss of jobs, collapse of communities, etc. withe the drive to expunge coal as an energy source). That’s one reason why, unless we become robots, we will never achieve equality. We still work toward more of that, but 100% rarely becomes reality in most anything.

    • Your extensive comment requires an extensive response. I do like people who make detailed arguments, for the very reason that I tend to make detailed arguments. I’m always glad for an opportunity to clarify and articulate my position.

      “But the fact was that there were some very active Communist cells (directed by Moscow according to files released after the USSR fell) in Hollywood that subtly influenced the content of movies so a Communist message came across here and there without mentioning politics per se.”

      I wouldn’t argue that you are wrong, but that you are only partly right. Every major government or organization seeks to put spies, operatives, cronies, or anyone who is sympathetic either into positions of power or close to those in positions of power in other major governments and organizations. If anyone bothered to do some serious investigative journalism, There probably were active cells of fascists, theocrats, supremacists, and all kinds of things. Not just from other governments, but also from private groups.

      The Wikileaks revealed at least one case of a corporation placing an operative in some government. During the Second Klan’s reign of power, they bought elections and bribed politicians. White supremacism ruled when you were a kid not because everyone was a bigot but because powerful groups controlled the government. That is still the case. It’s just today we are ruled by a new breed of oligarchs and plutocrats.

      Considering the corporatists successfully took over our government, the fear-mongering was obviously pointed in the wrong direction. (Some argue that this corporatism is soft fascism while others argue that the reality is inverted totalitarianism, but I’m not sure it matters since either way it ain’t democracy.) I agree with Fran Lebowitz when she pointed out that, “In the Soviet Union, capitalism triumphed over communism. In this country, capitalism triumphed over democracy.” Or as Sinclair Lewis put it, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” I’m no fan of Soviet-style communism, but it was less of a realistic threat in terms of taking over the US government. The countries with fascism such as Italy and Germany had way more emigrants living in the US, all of whom were potential spies and conspirators. Several large US corporations were directly tied to the Nazis, and those corporations were influential in this country.

      The battle of the twentieth century wasn’t between communism and democracy but between authoritarian communism and authoritarian fascism. The problem with that battle is that if you choose either side democracy loses. That is exactly what happened.

      The threat of authoritarianism in the US has always been homegrown. It wasn’t just blacklisting. Your generation was the most propagandized and censored in all of American history. Television, movies, newspapers, etc were all highly controlled and manipulated by both government and business elites. Even Hollywood was heavily involved in self-censorship of radicals. At the same time, the government was using private mass media as a new outlet for propaganda.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Mockingbird
      http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/The_CIA_and_journalism

      It didn’t just stop there.

      https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2015/09/06/early-cold-war-liberalism/

      The universities became a major operating ground for the CIA and FBI, both in looking for subversives and potential operatives. There were a number of CIA spymasters in the Ivy League schools. They were particularly interested in the liberal arts and they helped promote American studies, as a way of shaping views of America, both for American students and foreign students.

      “I forget the name of the book (maybe called Those Were The Days or What A Time We Had or something like that), by Ron Radoff, a former Hollywood Communist who recounts those days.”

      I did several web searches for that name. Absolutely nothing came up. That is highly unusual. Even a nobody like me shows up in a web search. I can even find my mother in a web search and she has never posted anything online in her life.

      “Dalton(?) Trumbo. often held up as a prime victim of blacklisting, was a superb screen writer but also a lifelong, active, unrepentant Communist.”

      So? Many influential people in our society throughout its history and into the present have been unrepentant slaveholders, neo-imperialists, authoritarians, fascists, plutocrats, white supremacists, theocrats, etc. Yet very few of them ever were blacklisted or suffered any harm. Besides, it isn’t as if communism is unAmerican, despite what the propagandists say. There have been communitarians, socialists, and communists in this country since the 1800s. Collectivist thought were already developing in the colonial era, especially in Puritan communities.

      In the US, these left-wing politics have always meant something different than elsewhere. It didn’t take long for most American left-wingers to grow just as wary of authoritarian communism as they were of authoritarian fascism. In studies, authoritarians in former communist countries tend to be left-wing in their politics, but in the US authoritarians tend to be right-wing. In the 20th century, the fiercest defenders of democracy and the most fearless opponents of authoritarianism have been left-wingers, including communists. It was often communists who were the leaders fighting for basic civil rights, the very foundation of democracy. It is no accident that those Americans who sought to suppress communism in the US also sought to suppress democracy. Those who spoke out for democracy and against fascism found themselves the target of oppression, often by the US government.

      http://spartacus-educational.com/USAantinazi.htm

      “Every time during the last few years that I have felt impelled to protest an injustice, to cry out against man’s inhumanity to man, or to espouse some social reform, I have been called a Communist. Because the founders of our country believed in justice, tolerance and the exercise of such social reform as would benefit the people at large, I insist upon the right to follow their example and still be recognized as a loyal American citizen.”
      ~ Frederic March

      http://www.onthisdeity.com/19th-september-1952-%E2%80%93-america-banishes-charlie-chaplin/

      Don’t forget that one of the greatest social experiments in US history was socialist. The sewer socialists governed Milwaukee for the first half of the twentieth century. They were able to eliminate the corruption, cronyism, and organized crime that had previously ruled that city. The economy and industry, especially small businesses, thrived under their leadership. They became the model of modern city governance, with their emphasis on infrastructure and public health. They were called sewer socialists because they had the first sewers built to serve the entire community, not just the wealthy as was the case elsewhere.

      As for Trumbo, I found this nice quote from a 1970 speech:

      “There was bad faith and good, honesty and dishonesty, courage and cowardice, selflessness and opportunism, wisdom and stupidity, good and bad on both sides; and almost every individual involved, no matter where he stood, combined some or all of these antithetical qualities in his own person, in his own acts.”

      He hardly comes across as a dogmatic ideologue, which is what you’d expect from an authoritarian. Like most American communists, his concern was about freedom. You have to remember that American communists were the earliest and strongest opponents of fascism and Nazism, when they were still popular among the economic and political elite running this country.

      “The biography of author James T. Farrell, contains extensive detail on Farrell’s life as a Communist when he was in Hollywood.”

      I’m not familiar with him, but I looked up info about him. He sounds interesting. He belonged to the Socialist Workers Party, the Workers Party, and then before his death he joined the Social Democrats USA. Many right-wingers consider social democrats to be socialists, and indeed the Social Democrats USA had been until 1972 called the Socialist Party of America. Bernie Sanders sometimes calls himself a social democrat and at other times a socialist, but by this he simply means that he holds the same position as polls show most Americans hold. So, if Sanders really is a socialists, then the majority of Americans are as well. In the end, such things as ‘socialist’ and ‘communist’ are just labels, and don’t necessarily say much by themselves. Anyway, Farrell seems to have been way more radical than Sanders is (unsurprising, as the latter is a professional politician, not a career conducive to radicalism). Farrell, even in his mellowing old age, was identifying himself as a “Jacobin.”

      “The point being that the Cold War was not a figment of some right-wing fantasy, but was, in fact, serious business during the 1940’s after WWII and into the 60’s.”

      The equal or greater point being that the fascist threat was no a figment of some left-wing fantasy, but was, in fact, serious business continuously from the rise of Mussolini to this very day.

      “A case has been argued that the atomic bomb was what kept the Cold War cold.”

      Anyone could speculate almost anything. A case has also been made for the complete opposite. The atomic bomb constantly threatened a hot war of the likes never before seen. Besides, through proxy wars, there was plenty of hot war going on. On top of that, it was the greatest war crime and crime against humanity in all of human history. It was pure state terrorism. The US will be remembered by future generations as a morally depraved country for that one act alone.

      “Yes, there was censorship, but it was, in my view, more silly than significant.”

      It wasn’t silly to those effected, an untold number of Americans. Many of them were minorities (racial, ethnic, and religious) who were attacked as communists, whether or not they were, simply for demanding equal rights and opportunities. Japanese-Americans and German-Americans were put in detainment camps, and in the latter case experienced cultural genocide and even threats to their lives. When organizing for labor or political reasons, many ordinary Americans were killed, imprisoned, blacklisted, and deportated (in the latter case, even deportation of Hispanics who in some cases had lived in the US for generations).

      “Movie censorship banned swear words, nudity, opposite sexes sleeping in the same bed as I recall.”

      That seems naive to me, if you really believe that was all that was involved. I mentioned above some of what else was happening during the early Cold War.

      “I confess to a degree of naiveté in my youth. Thanks to the nature of my family, I was not acutely aware of women’s inequality or the degree of prejudice against blacks. I was more aware of the prejudice against Slavs because I knew more of them. But I don’t recall the kind of thought and speech censorship that goes on today (except for swear words).”

      At least, you are aware of having been naive. But naiveté doesn’t go away simply because you grow older, as I’m sure you realize. There is obviously much you are still unaware of from what was going on in the US during your earlier life. As far as that goes, there is much I’m unaware of as well. That is why I’m constantly reading. I will be fighting the good fight against ignorance until my dying breath.

      “We had a mock UN at my high school and those of us who were picked to represent Honduras (I forget how we were chosen) decided to be smart asses and voted with the USSR on everything. No one ever said anything about that to us or anyone else as far as I know. During college, liberals and left-wingers spoke with some regularity without protests or being shouted down, at least at Ohio State.”

      Well, sure. The government or others in power weren’t going to bother you if you had no real power to challenge their power. It’s no different than blacks who were often ignored, until they politically organized for a protest or march or worse still for a movement.

      “The loyalty oath was somewhat of a joke. You swore that you were not a Communist and had no plans to overthrew the US government. I signed such an oath in 1968 and no one else of whom I was aware at the time who signed it changed their politics or was even censured for speaking out as long as it did not encouraging people to charge the White House and overthrow the government.”

      People who refused to sign a loyalty oath were in many cases fired, denied hiring, blacklisted, banned from television and movies, etc. This included not just actors, but also musicians, teachers, professors, pretty much any government position, and even unionized workers in the private sector.

      Of course, the year 1968 was a turning point, and the shift had been happening over the preceding decade or so. The power of overt oppression was beginning to weaken during that time. If you had refused to sign such an oath in the late 1940s and early 1950s, you’d have had an extremely different experience in life. But, yeah, the late 1960s was when the worst of the Cold War was thawing out a bit, although COINTELPRO was in full force at the time and if you had been a communist being targeted by COINTELPRO you would have realized how serious a loyalty oath could still be.

      “The Weather Underground and such were harassed and at risk, but they were blowing up places and killing and kidnapping people which are crimes regardless of your politics.”

      You won’t find too many people defending the Weather Underground. They were a terrorist group. But I would put it in perspective. They were an unusual terrorist group in their going to great effort in trying not to harm anyone, although they did end up accidentally killing someone. It is rare to come across a terrorist group that cared so much about human life, even those of their targets. Still, even if they had avoided killing all people, blowing up buildings doesn’t generally win you any popularity contests, even among potential allies.

      “1. Most old folks, regardless of generation, ultimately are disappointed by some change. My bet is that you will be, too.”

      I too bet the same thing. I’ve been disappointed for a long time. I’m a cynical GenXer, after all. I was born into an age of disappointment. But my ultimate issue isn’t exactly generational, at least not in a simplistic way of the young vs the old.

      “And the problem with change becomes more difficult as you get older because, in most cases, you no longer are the person you used to be and that is frustrating. You also become more isolated as your friends, relatives and acquaintances die off, creating a sense of loneliness which makes change even harder because you face its alone.”

      I understand. My general view is people don’t change. It’s conditions that change that create new attitudes and paradigms, new knowledge and understandings. It’s not personal. We are all similarly trapped in the world we are born into. It’s just the way life is. Maybe it would be different if humans could live and remain health for centuries, including maintaining their brain plasticity into old age, but that isn’t the case.

      My generation is the last Cold War generation. Part of me looks forward to a world where people like me no longer exist and no one bothers talking about the Cold war other than as distant history. The problem is that I won’t be around to see that world.

      “2. The censorship then was not worse for me. I am much more cautious today about what I say in public and to whom (except regarding unions in my home town) than I ever was until maybe the turn of the century. I have never been so reviled for my words by folks of any persuasion as I have in recent years. I suggest that the censorship then was not worse. It was different.”

      I’d point out that you grew up a native-born white male (and I assume heterosexual) in a hyper-patriotic white supremacist patriarchal society. You were born with some basic privileges. It isn’t as if you were wealthy and never had to work hard, but you had advantages that most Americans lacked. Of course, you never saw those advantages because you never knew a moment of your life when you lacked them. They were simply part of your personal reality, taken for granted.

      Your freedom to speak was largely because you were a native-born white male during a time when it meant a lot to be perceived that way. You could get away with a lot more back then because of your status in the social hierarchy. People, including authority figures, were more lenient and forgiving toward you in a way they weren’t toward immigrants, minorities, and women (also LGBT).

      Now, as an older person, some of your privilege has been revoked and you are treated the same as everyone else. Unsurprisingly, you experience this as a loss. Your sense of freedom was inseparable from your former greater privilege. Freedom has become more equal. Other people’s freedom has increased, but that has meant that you no longer have as much greater freedom than others. Still, it’s not an overall loss of freedom, not even for white males. In many ways, freedom is greater even for white males these days. The early Cold War was at times oppressive for a wide spectrum of the population, white males included, even though it was far more oppressive for everyone else.

      “3. Lastly, fair is in the eye of the beholder, even fairness that enhances the greater good. . . . That’s one reason why, unless we become robots, we will never achieve equality. We still work toward more of that, but 100% rarely becomes reality in most anything.”

      That is a straw man argument. No one is arguing for total equality. When people are speaking of equality, they mean less oppressive inequality. That is to say relatively more equal opportunity and mobility. It is looking to freedom not as an abstract ideal and empty rhetoric, but as a meaningful goal to seek. Freedom for all, not just some.

      Some reading material below for your edification, all that which you likely never learned from your education or from mainstream media. You really should at least skim all of the following. It’s mindblowing when you begin putting it all together, especially when put in context of the US corporate-fascism-Nazi connection, the financial and political support of Americans for Nazism, corporatist neo-imperialism that Smedley Butler warned about in terms of the Business Plot, the Military-Industrial Complex that Eisenhower warned about, the continuous US support of right-wing regimes (fascist states, theocracies, and dictatorships) and overthrow of democracies over the past century, etc. Fascism has been the single greatest threat that the US has ever face and still faces, because it is first and foremost the most powerful enemy within.

      http://www.nytimes.com/1993/12/27/books/books-of-the-times-what-was-lost-to-win-the-cold-war.html
      http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/uchistory/archives_exhibits/loyaltyoath/symposium/schrecker.html
      http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/02/23/anti-communist-oaths-persist-despite-court-rulings/1940865/
      http://www.rationalrevolution.net/articles/rise_of_american_fascism.htm
      http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Fascism/Support_Hitler_US.html
      https://www.academia.edu/777193/Culture_or_Propaganda_Fascism_and_Italian_Culture_in_the_United_States
      http://louisproyect.org/2014/08/09/when-columbia-university-was-on-the-mussolini-bandwagon/
      http://users.humboldt.edu/jcbaker/mussolini.shtml
      http://warfarehistorynetwork.com/daily/wwii/the-german-american-bund-confessions-of-a-nazi-spy/
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Paperclip
      http://archive.democrats.com/view.cfm?id=9099
      http://www.globalresearch.ca/operation-nazification-u-s-military-hired-sixteen-hundred-nazi-scientists-and-doctors/5369981
      http://forward.com/news/208152/americas-six-decade-nazi-spy-cover-up/
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duquesne_Spy_Ring
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Pastorius
      http://listverse.com/2013/06/12/10-nazi-spies-and-their-espionage-plots-in-america/
      http://histclo.com/essay/war/ww2/code/sci/ger/abw/abw-rusa.html
      http://www.examiner.com/article/pastor-preacher-german-spy-part-i
      http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/151962
      http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/697
      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2329556/How-JFK-secretly-ADMIRED-Hitler-Explosive-book-reveals-Presidents-praise-Nazis-travelled-Germany-Second-World-War.html

      • My prediction was correct. You did not see my response as outstanding!!

        I agree we are trapped in the world in which we were born. The world in which you are trapped apparently prompts blanket judgments based on skin color and gender. Let’s begin with your accusations as to my loss of power, privilege, etc. My sense of loss is personal and has nothing to do with anything you mention. (And if you divine power to be involved, it is not power I ever had). What I miss are everyday things. I miss, among others,
        – automobiles are that I can work on;
        – some things that are mechanical rather than electronic;
        – popular songs that rhyme and have melodies;
        – friends and relatives who have died;
        – making transactions without having to prove who I am;
        – shopping when it was not so impersonal;
        – places I lived before they grew;
        – small towns where I lived before they died;
        – agriculture before confinement rearing and million-bird poultry flocks;
        – a totally functional body so I could hike, climb, travel, camp, swim, ride a bicycle, play my musical instruments like I used to;
        – not having to lock my doors and car;
        – and so on.

        While I had privilege, earned or not, its loss fails to bother me. My first job out of high school was on a janitorial crew of five. All but me were black. I took orders from a black man and saw nothing odd about that. I even had two black instructors in college. I think I told you about becoming black when traveling across half the country with two blacks. You also forget that whites can be prejudiced against other whites. I was denied work because I was not in a union. I was denied a decent wage because child labor laws prevented me from being hired for such work. I was denied a visit to a business in France because I was an American. I was told after the fact that I didn’t get a career-type job because my name didn’t sound Anglo-Saxon (and it isn’t).

        As a minority (wrong religion; wrong ethnicity) in my secondary school system, I was denied acceptance by several school clubs and social groups. Maybe a third of my classmates’ parents were not native-born Americans, mostly eastern and southern European who brought their old world prejudices to the new world. It was common for parents, even second generation, to prohibit their kids from dating outside their religion and or ethnicity. In my junior high home room, only Jim Bennett, who was black, was like me in terms of being an odd man out. My school system practiced capital punishment. The rules were posted. It was here that everyone was treated the same. No exceptions.

        So, yes indeed, contrary to your assumption, I have had moments when the advantages of being a native-born, white male in a white supremacist, hyper patriotic, patriarchal society were lacking. And in my personal life, I was raised in a matriarchal society. In the old ways of my ethnic group, the women, though not officially, ran things with a firm grip. So women, not men were my power role models growing up. Our women had equal rights under our laws more than 500 years ago. Most of my aunts had jobs. I recall when my mother had as many as three regular jobs, two part-time. I knew no male power model until I had a male teacher in junior high school. I even asked my wife during our courtship what she planned to do for a living. It seemed a logical question.

        A company for which I was VP was purchased by an English company. The owner took his money and ran. So I was temporarily in charge. It was near year-end, so my job was to make recommendations for raises (we had about 50 employees) and for ideas on how to boost employee morale. All of my recommendations were rejected because company policy was for only the top executives to get merit raises. The rest got cost-of-living increases. My morale plan was rejected because “it is an open invitation for employee rebellion.” Apparently some UK firms practice or practiced what you oppose. After thinking it over, I decided I could not work for such a company and resigned. Found employment elsewhere soon after. As far as I know, no minorities applied and my boss was a woman. So maybe I was only a partially advantaged, native born, hyper patriotic, white supremacist, patriarchal white male.

        Now to your other comments in no particular order:
        1. If the mock UN incident you minimize had happened in my daughter-in-law’s school, the child would have been reprimanded and the parents charged with exposing the child to dangerous political notions and punished in some way including the possibility of jail time. The fact that the child there (or here) was without power is not relevant. The point was that the child had presented unacceptable political notions which must be suppressed so they are not repeated. Besides, children grow to be adults and adults with such thought can be dangerous.
        2. Yes, everybody had spies. The difference between US spies and Soviet spies was that the primary objective of the US government was not to take over the world and remake it into a capitalistic utopia under direct US control. The Soviets, on the other hand, had a clearly stated goal of creating a world-wide socialistic (its word) utopia under Moscow’s direct control.
        3. I have the disadvantage of having some dear friends (deceased) who fled Communism after WWII and a daughter-in-law and in-laws who lived under Communism and a successor government that was Communist except in name. They got and can get very emotional over their memories under socialism run amok. It is worse than you think. Yes, the Communist were in the forefront of some worthwhile causes such a civil rights. But that’s not because the party believed in civil rights. Ask the Kulaks in the Ukraine, for one. They believed in civil rights because it attracted members and sympathizers. In eastern Europe, after a successful revolution, the most active “useful idiots” were shot because they, with the goal accomplished, were now considered dangerous because they were thinking activists. Equality and civil rights are not the same. When I was in the USSR, the workers were equal in their misery. There were shortages of everything. Because everyone got equal pay for equal work, there was no incentive to excel or be creative, No matter how you performed, you were paid. So nobody gave a damn. People were afraid to make a decision. What if it was wrong? They could be sent to a Gulag. So everything was kicked up the line to Moscow where someone made a decision without much knowledge of the real situation. That’s why the USSR collapsed. Creativity was killed and nobody cared. Of course, the party operatives lived very well. They had the only cars in towns, save for the taxis. The had the dacha’s (sp?) in the country. They lived like the Czar and jailed anyone who said so.

        The only reading material in English available in the USSR was Soviet propaganda. Everything else was banned. Upon returning home, I was struck by the almost identical phrasing of what I read in the USSR and the words of proponents of far left policies. That was no accident. My trip to the USSR profoundly affected my political outlook. I decided it was less distasteful and to put up with the excesses of capitalism than the excesses of socialism. As Michael Harrington wrote in his book, “Socialism,” socialism has not worked to date (early 1960’s) because people screw it up. Of course!! People screw up every good theory, whether it be socialism, capitalism, some sort of joining of the two, religion or any political notion. So the real straw man is comparing theory with practice. Theory always wins.

        Equal outcomes is a very real goal for many. Look at unionized secondary education. Everyone with the same credentials and the same tenure earns the same, whether you are a good, just decent, or awful. Excellence is not rewarded. Incompetence is not penalized. Is it any wonder so many schools fail? And the equal pay folks want to do that to the whole country. Fair pay and equal pay are not the same.
        4. I will look at what you sent regarding fascism, etc. Assuming the web is always truthful, I predict there is little I don’t know (save for many details), suspect, or do not find surprising. My predictive powers, however, are not very sharp, So we shall see. After the review, I will attempt a response to you general comments about what’s dangerous.
        5. Before I forget,
        a) your lamentations about the treatment of native Americans are deserved. However, recognize that Native Americans did the same thing to each other with some regularity. In Ohio, for example, the Iroquois coveted land occupied by the Erie and a few small tribes. So they took that land and exterminated the Erie in the process. As you noted, certain things are the way of the world. Humans taking land and wiping out the land’s inhabitants has occurred since the beginning of human history.
        b) No idea why Radoff did not show up on you web search. Maybe I misspell his name. Unfortunately, I gave the book to the library book sale. I think he is still alive, so I might run across something to help locate him.

        • You are severely underestimating white male privilege.

          You’ve said how you have missed the loss of being able to speak freely. When you were a kid, not everyone had the freedom to speak as freely as you used to be. There were a ton of prejudices against blacks and females. The response, the rewards or consequences were quite different depending on who you are.

          Being the wrong kind of person speaking freely could even get you attention from the FBI, such as their trying to black mail MLK into suicide, not to mention COINTELPRO. But most everyday prejudices weren’t of that extreme variety.

          Even when you were younger, those black bosses, instructors, etc likely treated you differently (as that is what research shows). Blacks treat other blacks differently than whites. Racism gets internalized by everyone, which is what makes it so powerful.

          I don’t have the time, energy, or interest to teach you about the history of prejudices in American history. BTW it isn’t even entirely loss. Endless studies show various biases, racial in particular, continue to this day in many aspects of society.

          As for dear friends who escaped communist countries, there are more Americans who escaped fascist countries.

      • A problem with most of the articles is that they appear to think such behaviors are unusual or even unique to the US. Yes, American groups supported and/or admired Hitler. So did US groups admire/support Stalin. (A major distraction in Communist activity in the US was the conflict between US groups that supported Stalin and those supporting Trotsky.) Lots of people in the US admired Castro, Mao and Che and such. So I don’t see the point.

        You can also admire someone you dislike because they have skills you admire. Not saying that is a universal truth, but, for example, Obama and (oops, forget his name), the Republican senator from Oklahoma who resigned because he has cancer, greatly admire each other. That doesn’t mean they agree or approve of each other’s actions.

        Random responses:
        – Agree that a person of any political persuasion who meets the non-political requirements should be able to run for office and serve if elected.
        – Eugenics is an example of what was considered to be a good idea (even by progressives) but wasn’t. And it isn’t uniquely American. It could be argued that abortion and right-to-die laws are a form of eugenics.
        – People have been and are not hired or fired for having unacceptable political notions. But sometimes that claim is a cover for other reasons for a firing. In the early 70’s, a professor at my school in the sociology department was fired because: He did not give tests; he gave everyone in the class an A; he used his classes as a podium for “progressive” or “liberal” ideas. Students thought his classes were a waste of time and that they didn’t learn what the course description said they would learn. When the professor was fired, he claimed it was because he was a progressive or liberal, I don’t recall which. No. He was fired because he was a lousy teacher or, worse, he didn’t understand what teaching was about.
        – That American aggression was the cause of the cold war was a standard Soviet position. The Soviet citizenry was taught it in school and believed it. It is absolutely true that American capitalists actively tried to sell their goods anywhere in the world. I was directly involved in that activity. It is the reason I was in the USSR (1964), attending the first international trade show in the USSR since Stalin’s purges in the 1930’s. The Soviets INVITED US to their country to find ways to sell capitalistic goods there because the country suffered from so many shortages of food and material. Nothing ever came of it for our industry, however, because nobody was able to make a decision. As I wrote earlier, such decisions were kicked on to Moscow where the paperwork was “lost.” But it does seem a bit odd that the intent of the effort contradicts the public claim of the Soviets. Such contradictions were usually blindly accepted by those who had second thoughts (or first thoughts) about the US as a nation and its international relations. Recall that the left was strongly against Hitler and then enthused about Hitler after the German-Soviet agreement. Some followers were lost, but not enough to dispose of adequate support. As far as international relations are concerned, yes, we did a lot of meddling in the name of freedom (not capitalism). Also realize, however, we also were asked to become involved by some countries and groups, quite a few of which we denied. And the countries fell to Communism or other authoritarian power, some, in large part, because of our refusal to help. Hungary and Czechoslovakia are examples of the former. Syria is a contemporary example. And speaking of propaganda, is it not curious that so many movies and books, fiction and non-fiction, cover (deservedly so) the the atrocities of the Nazis, but virtually none exist about the atrocities of the Soviets when the resulting deaths from the Soviet work was (I forget the reported number) at least three times higher and continued after WWII ended!

        I think the key difference between us is that you choose to see your country through a negative lens, possibly even denying the positive things this country has done and is doing. Yes, as is the case with ALL world powers during their day (England, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Rome, the Ottomans, China, etc. and I would even add Argentina as an economic {rather than political power}), crimes were committed against humanity. It is the reality of the human condition. I, too, could go through a litany of things that I abhor, reject, etc. But despite it all, I retain hope because despite the things that go wrong, are offensive and even dangerous, we slowly move forward and hope remains. I guess that sounds a bit preachy, but it is the way I feel.

        I also think you tend to see plots and conspiracies to excess. Some are not off the mark. For example, the Obama Administration practices a form of crony capitalism of some magnitude. The government has picked who shall win and who shall lose in energy (solar yes, coal, oil, gas no) and banking (Wall Street), for starters. It has facilitated the consolidation of large businesses (pharmaceuticals, airlines, hospitals) into behemoths too large to fail, reducing competition and moving some industries closer to monopolies. At the same time, the level of taxation is pushing corporations to locate overseas.

        There are several efforts I would recommend to address some of your concerns:
        1. Independent, third parties should design House of Representative districts based on predetermined, non-political criteria, such as geographic proximity (districts should look like boxes, not snakes).
        2. Fine anyone who does not register and vote, in primaries as well as general elections This could be seen as creating a lot of ignorant voters, but it certainly would void one aspect of the complaint that the people don’t have a say.
        3. Limit campaigning of any kind (debates, mailers, etc) to 90-to-120 days before a national election and 60 days prior to state and local elections.
        4. Strengthen and enforce rules against government/corporate cooperation. However, there could be various levels of cooperation, depending on the objective such as helping third world countries.
        5. Confine in-person lobbying to a specific time frame prior to votes on specific bills.
        6. Enforce stronger conflict of interest regulations on Congress.
        7. Term limit everybody but make sure elections are such that not all old-timers are up for re-election in the same election. Equally stagger the number in each election.

        I realize this post is short on the references you like so much. I didn’t want to engage in an go-on-forever tit-for-tat. This way, if we wind up where we began, at least we haven’t wasted a lot of time.

        • “A problem with most of the articles is that they appear to think such behaviors are unusual or even unique to the US. Yes, American groups supported and/or admired Hitler. So did US groups admire/support Stalin. (A major distraction in Communist activity in the US was the conflict between US groups that supported Stalin and those supporting Trotsky.) Lots of people in the US admired Castro, Mao and Che and such. So I don’t see the point.”

          My point was directly related to yours. If you can’t see, then I’d suggest you open your eyes. I showed that fascism was a strong force and continues to be a strong force in American society. It was and is a threat, and always has been a greater threat than communism, as has been proven by the recent history of growing American corporatism. I think that is a valid point worth considering.

          As I said below in my prior comment, the fact that so many Americans came from countries that were fascist is not an insignificant detail. There were far more Americans from Italy and Germany than there ever were from the USSR. There was a false notion during the Cold War that ideology was all that mattered, but in reality ethnicity and culture can matter to an even greater extent. America’s failed history of democratic nation-building is evidence of that. No matter how much communists might have wanted to take over the US, the culture and traditions weren’t conducive to it. The communists failed, but the corporatists did not, far from a minor detail.

          Also, consider the large number of political and economic elites who were fascists or had fascist ties. Consider the large number of nazi scientists, agents, etc who came to work for the US government. Consider the close ties the US has had to fascist and other right-wing regimes this past century. It would take a fool to not expect the US government to become more fascist.

          “Eugenics is an example of what was considered to be a good idea (even by progressives) but wasn’t. And it isn’t uniquely American.”

          It isn’t uniquely American, but it’s origins are from Britain and the US. Where an idea originates and is first developed does make a difference. There is good reason why eugenics began in Britain and the US, two countries with a common history, culture, and ideological tradition.

          “It could be argued that abortion and right-to-die laws are a form of eugenics.”

          One could make such an argument, but it would be idiotic and ignorant. Eugenics is a forced program. Abortion and right-to-die laws are no more eugenics than using contraceptives or choosing to remain a bachelor.

          “People have been and are not hired or fired for having unacceptable political notions.”

          During the early Cold War, many people were not hired and being fired specifically for unacceptable political notions. That is simply known history. I never made any broad argument about every person ever not hired or fired in the entire history of the country.

          “That American aggression was the cause of the cold war was a standard Soviet position.”

          I’ve never argued that American aggression was the sole cause of the Cold War.

          “Recall that the left was strongly against Hitler and then enthused about Hitler after the German-Soviet agreement.”

          There is no “the left”. There has been a bunch of people on the left with diverse views and alliances. I don’t know of any evidence that most left-wingers of all varieties supported the Soviets and then supported the Nazis. The left always involved a diversity of people: communists, socialists, Marxists, Trotskyists, anarchists, left-libertarians, communitarians, syndicalists, social democrats, democratic socialists, sewer socialists, etc.

          “And speaking of propaganda, is it not curious that so many movies and books, fiction and non-fiction, cover (deservedly so) the the atrocities of the Nazis, but virtually none exist about the atrocities of the Soviets when the resulting deaths from the Soviet work was (I forget the reported number) at least three times higher and continued after WWII ended!”

          It’s not particularly surprising. We never fought a hot war directly against the Soviets. Many of the deaths committed by Soviets either happened at a time when many Americans were feeling isolationist or else when the Soviets were our ally during WWII. Stalin died when the Cold War barely was beginning. Most Americans have no memory of a time when Stalin was alive and in power. Certainly, most Americans never were impacted by that era of oppression.

          That is what makes the Nazis different. Not only many former Nazis came to the US. Also, a ton of Germans came to the US as well, not just Jews. German ancestry is the single largest ancestry in the country. Descendants of Russians and Eastern Europeans, on the other hand, are a small part of the American population. People tend to care about what they feel personally connected to. The Soviets were always the other, but the Nazis were culturally closer to home. When WWII began, an independent German-American culture was still going strong, despite WWI (German language being used in German-American newspapers, churches, and schools).

          “I think the key difference between us is that you choose to see your country through a negative lens, possibly even denying the positive things this country has done and is doing.”

          No, I don’t. Some Americans are more accepting of injustices and mediocrity than I am. It is because I see the positives, manifest and potential, in American society that I refuse to make excuses. I don’t want to be complicit in America’s failures when I could be a part of a vision of a better society.

          “Yes, as is the case with ALL world powers during their day (England, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Rome, the Ottomans, China, etc. and I would even add Argentina as an economic {rather than political power}), crimes were committed against humanity. It is the reality of the human condition.”

          Some countries are worse than others. There has never been a country as militaristically aggressive and domineering on such a large scale as the US has been in recent history. Even for other world powers, that is impressive in a not so good way. American is exceptional and that is the problem, but in other ways not exceptional at all. We should at least have the strength of national character to be honest with ourselves, which would be an act of true greatness worthy of praise.

          “But despite it all, I retain hope because despite the things that go wrong, are offensive and even dangerous, we slowly move forward and hope remains.”

          You seem to imply I don’t hope for the same thing. I’m not sure why you make that assumption about me. We may slowly move forward, but we also might slowly move backwards, which is what will happen if we aren’t careful. Many a great empire brought its own downfall by arrogance and over-extension.

          “I also think you tend to see plots and conspiracies to excess.”

          I only point to where the evidence itself points to. It is beyond obvious at this point that we live in something like corporatism or inverted totalitarianism, even if it is in some ways a paternalistically benevolent form.

          “Some are not off the mark. For example, the Obama Administration practices a form of crony capitalism of some magnitude.”

          My only point is that one would have to be naive to the point of blindness to not realize that this has been developing fr a long time.

          “At the same time, the level of taxation is pushing corporations to locate overseas.”

          Well, effective corporate taxes are relatively low compared to many countries. Certainly, taxes at the top end are far lower than they used to be earlier last century.

          “There are several efforts I would recommend to address some of your concerns”

          I agree with most of what you listed. I would only point out that we wouldn’t need to fine people for not voting. If we stopped disenfranchizing, suppressing, and purging so many voteres, if we created an official federal voting holiday, if we opened a polling center in every neighborhood and other voting methods easily accessible, and if maybe we actually rewarded people for voting (tax refund?), then it would be simple to get nearly everyone to vote. The problem is most of those in power don’t want most Americans to vote. So, they create the conditions that disincentivizes and makes it difficult to vote.

          • No, you do not have to educate me about the history of prejudice in the US and I am not overestimating white privilege.
            1. My personal comments were in response to your claim that I (me, personally) had NOT had A MOMENT where white privilege was lacking. And yes, the blacks treated me differently. For example, of the janitors, the one who recently moved from the South spoke basically two words to me: “Yes, sir.” The oldest two who moved North years ago treated me normally and I kept in touch with one for the rest of his life. The one who was born in the North didn’t care much for me and did his best to note my shortcomings. The black boss struck me as indifferent and I could not connect with him at any level. My point was that I’ve, indeed, had a few moments where my white privilege was lacking as well as a few moments where my whiteness was trumped by other prejudicial factors.
            2. I infer that a key difference in our experience is that you were raised in a fairly typical “mainstream” America in Iowa and in the worst aspect of “mainstream” America’s bigotry in South Carolina. I, on the other had, spent most of my childhood and teen years among some blacks, but primarily among eastern and southern Europe white people (including a bunch of Russians) who often intensely disliked other white people of different ethnicities who themselves were the object of prejudice and exclusion by the western Europeans you speak of. My neighbors and/or their close relatives left political situations quite unlike those western Europeans left. In other words, I believe I saw a wider range of bigotries, being aware as early as grade school that prejudice was everywhere by and toward all kinds of people. That, combined with my own exclusion in any number of instances, made such inequity appear more normative than did your experience. Having traveled in sixteen counties with a variety of politics, most of which have an identifiable people “on the bottom” reinforced that perception. I might add that while traveling on business in the boondocks of Mexico, my being approved as an OK Gringo by a native Mexican was essential for my acceptance at even the most basic level. All this does not justify anything. It simply suggests why I may seem less angry (or maybe just less very irritated) than you. My experience is that such matters are part of the human condition. Some are worse, much worse, than others. And we are human. Yet in the long run, we may be less deficient in our humanity than many, even regarding blacks in recent years.
            Maybe my attitude carries over to the political matters that upset you (fascism, etc). With notable exceptions, I tend to see things in terms of not only what is but what could be, both the positive and the negative. I am a firm believer, therefore, that insisting on perfection is the enemy of good. I accept imperfection. That does not mean I do not share your concerns. I do.
            I do not object to abortion or right-to-die laws, though I prefer some limits. I don’t want to ague those issues. But my point on eugenics is not ignorant if you believe that a baby’s life as a human commences before birth. If you do, then abortion is a form of eugenics. The right-to-die is a tougher argument, though one could say if eugenics are designed to dispose of unwanted people, right-to-die could fall in that category in some instances.

          • Okay. 🙂 I really misunderstood your comment.

            I still would argue that privilege, white or otherwise is never absent. I think even American blacks have all kinds of privileges. I see such things as privileges as being context-dependent and, of course, relative… yet always present in one form or another, so it seems to me.

            I honestly don’t know if my experience was ‘mainstream’. I’ve lived, worked, and went to school in various places with different social environments and racial/ethnic mixes. I wouldn’t even say South Carolina is the worst form of bigotry. It simply was the most race conscious and segregated place I’ve lived. However, I did live in Arizona where Navajo and Hopi were segregated in their own way—I worked with some of them and apparently they didn’t like each other, for whatever reason.

            I don’t doubt that you personally experienced ethnic conflict among whites. That is a large part of the history of this country. Nothing surprising about that. But even the most hated white immigrants have some distinct privileges that blacks lack. It particularly wouldn’t surprise me that Russian immigrants would be hated. It is the same reason Americans, who are disproportionately German ancestry, felt more conflicted over German Nazism than they ever felt of Soviet Communism. In America, Russian and Eastern European immigrants are ‘other’ in the way German immigrants haven’t been for a very long time.

            One kind of bigotry, anyway, doesn’t lessen other kinds. The US is built on hierarchies. There are whites who aren’t as far up the hierarchy, but they will always be above blacks. That is even true for the most poor backwards rural white rednecks.

            I’m just less willing to make excuses than you are. For you, it’s just the way it is. Even if that is the case, that doesn’t change the fact that any moral person should judge it harshly.

            I focus on the positive and negative. That is pretty much my whole blog. For example, I’m constantly talking about different cultures in this country: ethnic, regional, etc. I see that as this country’s greatest strengths. I actually think shutting down immigration in the early 20th century weakened the country and made it vulnerable to authoritarianism. BTW I’ve never insisted on perfection, just not constant rationalization of moral failure and injustice, a big difference between the two.

            About abortion, most Americans support both the right to choose and some basic limits to it. It is the same with gun rights and regulations. It’s just the idiotic bullshit mainstream media and political elite portray everything in polarized terms, because it makes a good narrative even as it doesn’t match reality of public opinion. Comparing such things to eugenics is that same kind of simpleminded thinking that the demagogues love to spew. It is the opposite of a helpful way of framing the issue.

          • I was thinking more about this. It still seems clear to me that you don’t fully grasp what privilege means or how it operates.

            Privilege isn’t something you can take off like a pair of pants. It is more like the trace minerals and chemicals that get incorporated into your bones when you were a child. You carry it around with you for the rest of your life.

            Or use a real world example. One of the privileges white Americans have is generally not having to live in heavily polluted areas. It was no accident that blacks ended up in highly polluted areas or that the sources of heavy pollution (e.g., toxic dumps) were placed in black communities. There is a vast literature on environmental racism.

            Heavy metal toxicity and other forms of pollution lead to many things. This includes health conditions that are caused or worsened by these environmental factors: asthma, diabetes, cancer, etc. But in some ways the worst results are the brain damage from toxicity, which causes psychological, social, and cognitive problems: aggressive behavior, impulse control issues, lowered IQ, etc. Entire populations of poor minorities have been poisoned and it is the privilege of whites to be ignorant and uncaring about this crime against humanity.

            All of that is just the tip of the iceberg. Racism plays out in every other aspect of society as well and leaves permanent marks on the body and mind.

            Your white privilege saved you from that. Imagine how different your life would be now if you suffered a variety of pollution-related health conditions and brain damage. You likely wouldn’t have done as well in school, had as successful of a career, made as much money, and on and on. Even your ability and opportunity to travel was dependent on many of these factors.

            You live and breathe white privilege.

            This isn’t to say other people don’t have other forms of privilege. Even American blacks have forms of privilege compared to other people in the world.

            An American black soldier has the privilege of the entire US military at his back when he helps to invade a country of dark-skinned people, even if he has darker skin than they do. Just as the Buffalo Soldiers hunting down Native Americans held privilege over those Native Americans who were denied the right of freedom, at a time when blacks had just won their own freedom.

            An American black consumer has the privilege of buying cheap goods that are kept artificially inexpensive because US power, including the aforementioned military power, enforces and maintains trade agreements favorable to the US. Black Americans may have higher unemployment rates because of racism, but they still have greater privilege than the Asian child working in a sweat shop.

            Most people are unaware of their privileges in life. That is what makes privileges so powerful and so dangerous.

      • I just finished reading your lengthy exchanges on what is and is not socialism (Finland vs. US) of several years ago. It provides some helpful insight as to where you’re coming from and why. Wish I had seen it sooner. One reaction was I wonder how I escaped banishment from your blog. You don’t need to answer that because banishment still may be in the future.
        I did forget to comment on server socialism, North Dakota state bank, etc. – and I suggest many anabaptists also qualify to your point, through they lack a formal worldly government as such. Yes, they are successful and are part of a free market society. I have no objection to groups that choose to go that route. But I will say that the smaller the numbers, the easier it is to follow that route. At some point, size can become unmanageable, not only in government but in the private sector as well. I lose track of time, but some years back, conglomerates were “the answer” to successful corporations. None survived. The USSR ultimately collapsed, in part, because too few were attempting too much.
        As you noted, what helps save the US to date from a similar fate is that we consist of many parts, each with some degree of autonomy.

    • I assume you are talking about the comment above. I do have to approve comments. But the person who posts the comment should be able to see it even before it is approved. I’m not sure why you’re unable to see what you post.

      • Thanks for the info. I will not obsess over the procedure again. But, unfortunately for me, you now have evidence for challenging my claim as to how outstanding the post is.

  27. I’ll get around to responding in more detail, but not at the moment. I just got off work and I’m tired. Let me just say a few things about your last comment.

    “I just finished reading your lengthy exchanges on what is and is not socialism (Finland vs. US) of several years ago. It provides some helpful insight as to where you’re coming from and why. Wish I had seen it sooner. One reaction was I wonder how I escaped banishment from your blog. You don’t need to answer that because banishment still may be in the future.”

    I’ve been at this blogging game for a little less than a decade now. In that time. I’ve probably had hundreds of commenters offering thousands of comments. I only recall banning maybe 3 people. You have to go pretty far to get banished from this blog. It is more about how much someone irritates me or how pointless it seems in interacting with them. I’m extremely tolerant, up to a point, beyond which my tolerance is approximately zero. I admit that our interactions can be frustrating at times, but you seem sincere and well intentioned, which to my mind goes a long way.

    “I did forget to comment on server socialism, North Dakota state bank, etc. – and I suggest many anabaptists also qualify to your point, through they lack a formal worldly government as such.”

    I have much interest in small-scale collectivism, whether overtly socialist or generally communitarian. Part of it is because my great grandfather was raised a Shaker. I’ve been fascinated by such communities. Examples of this used to be common all across the US and they still are fairly common, although the old style of religious communities are more rare these days.

    “Yes, they are successful and are part of a free market society. I have no objection to groups that choose to go that route. But I will say that the smaller the numbers, the easier it is to follow that route. At some point, size can become unmanageable, not only in government but in the private sector as well. I lose track of time, but some years back, conglomerates were “the answer” to successful corporations. None survived. The USSR ultimately collapsed, in part, because too few were attempting too much.”

    I have two sides to my personality.

    I have an idealistic side that would like to live in the world of Star Trek: The Next Generation. That is my utopia, but I recognize it as a utopia. The problem I have with many people is that they confuse their ideals with reality, which leads to ideological dogmatism.

    That is where the other side of my personality comes in. I have strong inclinations toward Anti-Federalism or what some consider true Federalism, which is to say not the kind of Federalism that leans in the direction of centralized nationalism with neo-imperialist aspirations. I like to point out that the Anti-Federalists turned out to be correct about many of the warnings they gave.

    “As you noted, what helps save the US to date from a similar fate is that we consist of many parts, each with some degree of autonomy.”

    If it were up to me, I’d strengthen this aspect of the American experiment. We’ve become way too centralized and power has become too concentrated.

    Even so, I don’t think that there was much danger in the early Cold War of the US becoming like the USSR. Communism of the authoritarian statist variety simply doesn’t fit American culture and political traditions. Soviet spies and informants could have caused a lot of problems, such as stealing important secret info, but the communists weren’t likely to have taken over the US.

    Fascism, on the other hand, completely fits into American culture and traditions. We have a history of slavery, Jim Crow, eugenics, crony capitalism, monopolies, Robber Barons, folk religiosity, etc. These are the kinds of things that make the US ripe for fascism. I personally think we already are largely what some would call soft fascism or corporatism. The danger in the US always has been the collusion of big government and big business, and the weird mix of populism and capitalism, often with some WASP ethnno-nationalism thrown in.

  28. Quote from Hillel’s “Ethics of Our Fathers” which, to me, explains why individualism and communitarianism are not contrary but two parts of the whole: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I?”

  29. Here is an interesting view from Bush sr. He seems to be talking about authoritarianism.

    http://www.nationaljournal.com/s/92075/george-h-w-bush-tea-party-clinton-marriage-dukakis

    “Tea-party con­ser­vat­ives and re­li­gious ex­trem­ists aren’t high on 41’s list. After an angry 1988 con­front­a­tion with a Ten­ness­ee Re­pub­lic­an zealot who re­fused to shake his hand, Bush dic­tated: “There’s something ter­rible about those who carry (polit­ic­al views) to ex­tremes. They’re there for spooky, ex­traordin­ary right-winged reas­ons. They don’t care about party. They don’t care about any­thing. They’re the ex­cesses. They could be Nazis, they could be com­mun­ists, they could be whatever. In this case, they’re re­li­gious fan­at­ics, and they’re spooky. They will des­troy this party if they’re per­mit­ted.””

    Barry Goldwater made similar statements.

  30. My interest in such things as race and privilege is broader than I portray it here. Or to put it another way, my focus is indirect, race and privilege just being notable examples at the periphery of my attention.

    That is why I mentioned that even American blacks have privilege. Most people can find someone in the world who is worse off than they are. Except for those who truly are at the bottom of the heap of the entire global population.

    I understand why, for many, race and privilege don’t quite connect to their experience of reality. I’ve only come to terms with this because I’ve seen so much data. It takes a long time for it to really sink in, the pattern is so immense and the systemic issues so all-encompassing. But after coming across a thousandth study showing implicit, systemic, and institutional biases, one begins to think about what it all means.

    This isn’t merely or primarily about bigots. It isn’t just about race. Class, gender, ethnicity, religion, culture, etc. It all gets mixed up together, in a way that is nearly impossible to disentangle. Each of us a tangled ball of threads, and those threads connect us in endless ways.

    It’s not even as if it is all bad stuff. What makes it fascinating is that the good and bad are mixed up as well. The very things that make a country like the US great are also what make it horrific.

    Over American history, millions of innocent blacks, Native Americans, and other minorities (ethnic and religious), along with millions of innocent foreigners have been sacrificed on the altar of American greatness. Genocide, slavery, wars of aggression, sanction-caused starvation, covert operations, overthrowing democratic leaders, allying with violent regimes, thugs trained at School of Americas, etc. It seems pointless trying to compare which country has caused the most death, oppression, and suffering. How are such things even measured? Ignoring any attempts at measurement, the US easily competes against the most violent and authoritarian governments in world history.

    Yet none of that lessens some of that greatness. Americans have done many interesting things. The entire country is a fascinating experiment, even with all the blood spilled in the process. There has never before been such a vast multicultural society nor one so technologically advanced, and no one knows what the results of it will be.

    That vastness and diversity has led to competing cultures and narratives. This is what allows each of us to live in our own worlds. Before the internet, most Americans were isolated and never worried too much about trying to make sense of the experience of others. But now we suddenly find that our narratives are being challenged and questioned. So much of what many Americans took for granted is being treated as suspect and fallen under public scrutiny, even if the mainstream is careful about averting its gaze when it gets too uncomfortable.

    Even history is up for grabs. Recent decades have seen a sudden increase of new historical accounts. Part of this has to do with old information finally becoming available (e.g., countries opening up their records), but more importantly technology has made research so much easier to do. Even academics can do a lot more of their research without having to travel to libraries and institutions in other countries, just to find some rare document. So much is getting scanned and digitized.

    Things we thought we knew maybe aren’t true. This is true for all Americans across various divides, ideological, racial or whatever. For example, the narrative of identity politics (whether used by white supremacists or black power types, fundamentalists or feminists) tends to obscure more than enlighten. At the national level, there are many narratives vying for power and influence. The Cold War has always been a battleground, not just between international ideologies but also the propaganda within countries directed toward their own people.

    Figuring out what is true and real is more difficult than we normally like to admit. Speaking of the Cold War, I was reminded of this when coming across a book by an author who just died, America and the Imperialism of Ignorance by Andrew Alexander. He questions the narrative told to the American public. It also is the narrative politicians were telling themselves. That is one thing that many don’t understand about propaganda. Any effective conman has to first con himself. A lot of rhetoric is about getting the person preaching it more fully on board. That is why Mormons send out young people to proselytize. Studies show that when explaining something to another person that conviction in that thing increases.

    What Alexander challenges is the narrative that has been endlessly repeated. That is the type of thing that interests me. What if there is another perspective that is more accurate and more faithful to the actual events and motivations? What if we find out that new info and perspectives undermine or even disprove what we were taught? What do we do then?

    There are real consequences to the stories we tell ourselves. But when we venture out of one explanation we end up walking right into a new narrative. Our minds will be limited in new ways.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2020000/Is-America-greatest-threat-world-peace–Forget-Russia-Forget-Iran–In-brilliantly-provocative-new-book-Mails-legendary-columnist-Andrew-Alexander-poses-extraordinary-question.html

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/mar/01/islamism-ignorance-cold-war

    “Andrew Alexander gazes down from his Daily Mail column like a stern and scholarly heron. No one could possibly call him leftwing, let alone a pacifist appeaser. He has no illusions about the evil of Stalin or Mao, any more than he has about Saddam and al-Qaida. But he combines cussedness towards conventional wisdom with historical scepticism. In a sensational but little-noticed book, America and the Imperialism of Ignorance, he marches to the conclusion that most recent foreign policy has been based on systematic ignorance. We were duped – and still are. […]

    “I believe Alexander is right to seek explanation not in the realpolitik of international relations, but in the motives of democratic leaders. America’s belief in itself as the “greatest superpower the world has ever seen” led Lyndon B Johnson to impotent fury at being thrashed by “a raggedy-ass little country” – Vietnam. It led Washington lobbyists to protect defence spending, as Truman was advised, by “scaring the hell out of the American people”. Today, a similar self-delusion leads Washington and London to claim the right to drop bombs on anyone they find “unacceptable”.

    “To this there is only one answer. Let no day pass without headbutting an ignorant politician, and kissing a sceptical historian.”

    http://new.spectator.co.uk/2012/02/real-and-imagined-danger/

    “Alexander argues that communism never posed an existential threat to the security of the West. Stalin’s primary aim was the preservation of his regime, and his only objective in Eastern Europe was to create a defensive buffer against any German advance. Not only did he lack the resources, the plans or the will to conquer Western Europe: he actively opposed communist revolutions around the world. If Western Europe was safe from Soviet attack, the United States — thousands of miles further away — was even safer. Nevertheless, an entire US policy industry emerged to argue the opposite, and to produce the most ingenious explanations of why a country like distant Vietnam could be, as Ronald Reagan claimed in 1963, ‘the greatest threat that ever faced humankind in its climb from the swamp to the stars.’.”

    https://www.rt.com/op-edge/319766-russians-us-syria-assad/

    “In truth, there was no Soviet threat to Britain – or indeed to the West generally during the Cold War, as the late Andrew Alexander (a conservative writer and no fan of communism) detailed in his book ’America and the Imperialism of Ignorance’.

    “”As I researched the diaries and memoirs of the key figures involved, it dawned on me that my orthodox view of the Cold War as a struggle to the death between Good (Britain and America) and Evil (the Soviet Union) was seriously mistaken. In fact, as history will almost certainly judge, it was one of the most unnecessary conflicts of all time, and certainly the most perilous,” Alexander wrote in 2002.”

    http://davidaslindsay.blogspot.com/2011/08/america-and-imperialism-of-ignorance.html

    “But, according to veteran current affairs commentator and Mail columnist Andrew Alexander in a provocative new book that rips apart decades of U.S. foreign policy, all that was totally unnecessary. The Cold War would not have happened — should not have happened — if it had not been for America’s profound ignorance of the rest of the world and what made it tick. Between 1945 and 1991, Washington’s gigantic power coupled with immense naivety made the world a much more dangerous place than it need have been. What’s more, it’s still doing so. In the Cold War’s successor, today’s so-called ‘war on terror’, only the enemy has changed. America’s skewed approach to international affairs remains the same.”

    http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2011/08/01/160302.html

    “I ask because Andrew Alexander, a crusty Tory of the old school and a resident commentator at The Daily Mail, thinks so and he has written a book, America And The Imperialism Of Ignorance: US Foreign Policy Since 1945, in order to lay out his arguments. I haven’t read it yet but I am familiar with the general thrust of Alexander’s views, which appear frequently in his columns. However, the gist can be examined in a review by Tony Rennell in The Mail.

    “Alexander follows in the footsteps of his beloved guru, Enoch Powell, a man sometimes described as the greatest politician never to be prime minister and whose anti-Americanism was aroused by his experiences working with Americans during World War II. Powell recognized very quickly that one of the (mostly unspoken) war aims of the United States was the dismemberment of the British Empire and its replacement by an American “empire.” Powell, an ardent British imperialist, took great exception to this and fumed that so few people in Britain, fogged as they were by “hands-across-the-ocean” propaganda, failed to see what Roosevelt was up to.

    “However, what’s done is done and both he and Alexander (and other right-wingers of their anti-American bent) aim their most devastating criticism at what they see as the gross failures of American policy during the so-called Cold War. […]

    “I should add that in my personal opinion, the views expressed by Alexander (and before him, Powell) have great merit and are mostly based on the facts. However, and here I confess my own unrepentant liking and admiration for America, I do not think they tell the whole story. To give but one example, if the US has indeed blindly blundered about the world since 1945, would we have been better off if, at war’s end, they had returned to their pre-war isolation during which they ran down their armed services to the size of a small European state? If in 1945 Western Europe had been left to its own devices would we have been content to take Enoch Powell’s words on faith that “good ol’ Uncle Joe” had absolutely no intention of shifting Soviet power even further westward? And, hey, who would have cared if they took over West Berlin anyway? And if American aid to Europe had not been forthcoming would we have worried if communist penetration of France and Italy had succeeded – which it came close to doing anyway? “

  31. Here is what actually took over the United States. Some call it corporatism or soft fascism. David Cay Johnston calls it corporate socialism. This is what was victorious not only in the US but in the world, while the plutocrats and the corporate media fear-mongered about communism.

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