New Civilization News: We and They: The Polarization of America    
 We and They: The Polarization of America9 comments
picture30 Mar 2006 @ 08:03, by D

Goya: Fight with Cudgels [detail]. 1820-1823 – Oil on plaster – 48 1/4" inches x 104 1/2 inches – Prado Museum, Madrid
"Here are two men – possibly brothers – are shown fighting with heavy cudgels – slowly, rhythmically, as though they are driving a post. Their legs disappear into the ground, like Goya's Colossus, yet they appear wedded to the land and so their fight must be to the death. Bitter clashes between monarchists and liberals in northern Spain at this time imply that Goya may have intended this painting as an allegory of civil war."
----Patricia Wright, Eyewitness Art


"Beliefs are what divide people. Doubt unites them."
--- Peter Ustinov

"There are two kinds of people in the world, those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don't."
----Robet Benchley, American Humorist

"If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail."
----A. Maslow



According to Michael Oakeshott, Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays:
"To be conservative, is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss. Familiar relationships will be preferred to the allure of more profitable attachments; to acquire and enlarge will be less important than to keep, to cultivate, and enjoy; the grief of loss will be more acute than the excitement of novelty or promise. It is to be equal to one’s fortune, to live at the level of one’s own means, to be content with the want of greater perfection which belongs to itself and one’s circumstances. With some people this is itself a choice; in others it is a disposition which appears, frequently or less frequently, in their preferences and aversions, and is not self chosen or specifically cultivated."

By and large, I do prefer the unknown to the familiar, the untried to the tried, the possible to the factual, the unbounded to the limited, the distant to the near, the superabundant to the sufficient, the perfect to the convenient, and I value the utopian bliss just as much as the present laughter. So, I am not sure what that makes me, but I guess that as per Michael Oakeshott's standards, it apparently doesn't qualify me as a conservative.

The funny thing is that I’ve never thought of myself as a "liberal" either. I don’t believe that America can be so simplistically divided along such lines. I want to believe there is more to America than this artificial imbecilic "if you are not with us you are against us" blue hat - red hat division, conservatives vs. liberals, Republicans vs. Democrats, "we" vs. "they." I've never really thought of myself as a conservative, but I’ve never really thought of myself as a liberal either. As a matter of facts I've a profound distrusts of any such labels and of the “divide and conquer” hyper-labeling ideologies which spawn them. I agree, at times, with SOME liberal principles and I do agree, at other times, with SOME conservative principles.

I don’t believe either that anyone in America, Republican or Democrat, wants to starve children, kill old people or destroy the environment.

Where does the division come from, then? And who is exacerbating the divide?

Who will rather create enemies and accentuate stereotypical images rather than discuss problems and issues.

Who write these jokes:

You might be a Democrat if

You might be a Republican if

Who dumbs down the debate on almost every issue? Who is killing any genuine political debate? Who write such inane stuff.

Who ask questions like this:

Should a Christian be a Republican or a Democrat?

Who say stuff like this:

Being Pro-America Makes You Anti-Democrat!

I do not believe either that disagreeing with a conservative policy, position or agenda makes one unpatriotic or even "liberal."

In an article named the View from my window, I recently ran into, the author, Darren Stansbury, comments on the scarecrow that has been made of the word "liberal":

1: A subversive pagan who engages in or encourages sexual debauchery and wants Christianity abolished, all churches razed, all Bibles confiscated and burned, the Anti-Christ for president, public orgies, homosexual love festivals, a porn shop on every corner and pot, coke and crystal meth sold in pharmacies.

2: An America-hating, child-coddling, vegetarian, anti-business environmentalist who is either an atheist, Unitarian Universalist or an adherent of a polytheistic faith. See also: Satan Incarnate.


And denounces how this kind of rhetoric has taken away from some of the debates that are no longer taking place in America as a result:

"I believe in fair hiring, housing, lending and education, fair business practices and in occupational safety standards, and don't want to drink, eat or breathe poison anymore than anyone else. I also believe in personal responsibility, self-reliance and sacrifice. What sane person would oppose these principles?

So, if my views must be labeled I guess you could say they're moderate. I happen to disagree with our current president leadership style--brash and irresponsible. I also disagree with much of his policies and agenda--seemingly driven by an appalling and alarming ignorance of history and the world.

Bush seems to have taken the war in Iraq and his re-election as a carte blanche to do as he pleases. Exhibit A is the recently disclosed domestic wiretapping--which sounds much like the FBI's 'Countelpro' wiretapping of activists in the '60s. Can you say ‘abuse of power?’"


While mailing a letter earlier on, this month, looking at the picture of the American Flag and the Statue of Liberty on the stamp I had put on the envelope, many of those issues flooded my mind and my heart.

I have never given much thought about what stamp I buy of use on my mail. So, why the emotional upset? Was it the flag on the stamp? The Statue of Liberty? Or was it what had been made of them----not what they were intended to stand for, but what they have been turned into.

Was it what I heard a dear friend’s mother, who was visiting from Nevada, say about San Francisco and most of our coastal cities, and how she couldn’t care less if they were, in her own words, to "providentially fall into the Ocean," and how "there are people and things going on over there that respectable folks do not approve of." This was so unlike her. How did she come up with something like that? Who had she been listening to? Who had been poisoning her mind thus? Is it what this country has come to? Is it the kind of stuff the good people of the heartland are fed when they go to church, listen to the radio or watch TV?



I love my Flag and my country. I love the Statue of Liberty. When I see that picture, I still feel thankful to be an American. I still feel that it is a wonderful country that I was fortunate to be born in. I'm still thankful. Yet when I see that same flag on a bumper sticker on the back of a pick-up truck driven by some proud redneck (the word can be used either as a pejorative or as a matter of pride, depending on context) who has swallowed the nonsense he has been spoon-fed for years---the kind of nonsense leading to the kind of hatred that has been dividing this country---then I'm upset at what has been made of the flag. I'm upset at the same thing that has been upsetting me all my life---ignorance, stupidity and bullish aggressiveness. I'm upset at people taking advantage of other people’s ignorance, fears or prejudice.

Standing on the deck of the Arabella in 1630 off the Massachusetts coast, John Winthrop famously said, "We will be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us…" I'm sadden that we who are so lucky have failed in being that city upon a hill. I am sadden that we have not used the good hand, that we have been dealt, to take our place as a responsible and inspiring member of the global community and show the way in addressing the dire needs of the world we live in. I am sadden that instead of crossing the bridge to the 21st century, and looking toward the future and laying the foundations of a new and better way of doing things, we have turned back to repeat and compound the mistakes of the past.

We are blessed with what used to be a perfect climate, plenty of fresh air, fresh water, not too hot, not too cold. We have a population made up of people from all over the globe, each bringing a different perspective, different education, different culture--a mix that has made our population rich culturally. We still have the best technology, the best opportunities for our people, the knowledge and ability to make the best possible lives for our citizens---and to help others. Are we like the spoiled rich kid who has no concept of just how lucky she is and proceeds to squander her fortune? Are our leaders so entrenched in maintaining their power and schmoozing the system, that they haven't got a clue what a vision is, much less come to one of their own? Isn't there anyone who can sit on top of an American mountain and clearly see and say what they see? If it were I sitting on that mountain, I would see what I no longer see--clear air, fresh water, family farms, healthy people, good people, people who could get a job even if they didn't have an education, people who could get an education even if they didn't have any money, people who were not addicted to cocaine, heroine or some other harmful drug, people who did not depend on some pill, legal (like Prozac or Ritalin) or illegal, to get them through the day. Was America the beautiful but a dream, or have I just been this whole time under the spell of some monumental brain-wash? I don't know. What I know is that we are squandering our wealth, and, most precious of all, we are squandering our human resources, and the wealth of the planet we live on. We have the means, the know-how, the capacity to house our people, feed our children, take care of our sick, employ our able, educate everyone, clean our house, take better care of the planet, and generally be a wonderful country. I do not believe that one American, blue state or red state alike, does not share that same faith.

So, who has been poisoning America?

Who does the promotion of prejudices that accentuate stereotypical images profit?

Who is supporting all the divisive propaganda?



Is there a precedent?

Who supported---even organized and funded---militant Islamic radical groups dating back to the early cold war and peaking with the furious anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan in the 1980



Who supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in the 1950s to circumvent Egyptian pan-Arabism?

Who courted the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran, after the failed and misguided attempt to support the Shah---figuring Iran's fundamentalists would be tough on communism and a bulwark against the Soviets?



Who supported the ultraorthodox Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia?

Who used the Hamas to drive a wedge in the secular PLO?

Who supported the Jihads in Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden?

Who supplied Afghan schoolchildren with textbooks filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings?



Who saw the rise of a religious Right in the middle-East in general as a way to contain left-leaning ideologies, on one hand, and pan-Arabism on the other?

Who were the pushers who promoted (Islamic) religious fundamentalism, then, in the Middle East?

Who are the pushers who are promoting (Christian) religious fundamentalism, now, in the USA?

Who are the pushers who are selling the concept of a "war of civilization" today in the world?

Who are the pushers who are promoting the concept of a "culture war" here at home?

Who does the polarization of America profit?


=====================================================================

Previous Related Entry:

We And They

Imagination vs. Pride & Nationalism





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9 comments

30 Mar 2006 @ 17:55 by Hanae @69.33.46.10 : John Stewart on Crossfire:

After his browbeats of CNN's Crossfire hosts for their "PARTISAN HACKERY," comedian John Stewart become my hero of the day at the time (10/15/2004.) Many suspect this now-legendary appearance prompted CNN to remove the show from their line-up.

Remember this, anyone:

STEWART: But the thing is that this -- you're doing theater, when you should be doing debate, which would be great.

BEGALA: We do, do...

(CROSSTALK)

STEWART: It's not honest. What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery. And I will tell you why I know it.

(...)

STEWART: You know, the interesting thing I have is, you have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.

CARLSON: You need to get a job at a journalism school, I think.

STEWART: You need to go to one.

The thing that I want to say is, when you have people on for just knee-jerk, reactionary talk...

CARLSON: Wait. I thought you were going to be funny. Come on. Be funny.

STEWART: No. No. I'm not going to be your monkey.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: Go ahead. Go ahead.

STEWART: I watch your show every day. And it kills me.

CARLSON: I can tell you love it.

STEWART: It's so -- oh, it's so painful to watch.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: You know, because we need what you do. This is such a great opportunity you have here to actually get politicians off of their marketing and strategy.

CARLSON: Is this really Jon Stewart? What is this, anyway?

STEWART: Yes, it's someone who watches your show and cannot take it anymore.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: I just can't.

CARLSON: What's it like to have dinner with you? It must be excruciating. Do you like lecture people like this or do you come over to their house and sit and lecture them; they're not doing the right thing, that they're missing their opportunities, evading their responsibilities?

STEWART: If I think they are.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: I wouldn't want to eat with you, man. That's horrible.

STEWART: I know. And you won't. But the thing I want to get to...

BEGALA: We did promise naked pictures of the Supreme Court justices.

CARLSON: Yes, we did. Let's get to those.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: They're in this book, which is a very funny book.

STEWART: Why can't we just talk -- please, I beg of you guys, please.

CARLSON: I think you watch too much CROSSFIRE.

We're going to take a quick break.

STEWART: No, no, no, please.

CARLSON: No, no, hold on. We've got commercials.

(CROSSTALK)

STEWART: Please. Please stop.

(...)

----------- COMMERCIAL BREAK -----------

Now back to CROSSFIRE.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

We're talking to Jon Stewart, who was just lecturing us on our moral inferiority.

(...)

STEWART: ...let me ask you guys, again, a question, because we talked a little bit about, you're actually doing honest debate and all that. But, after the debates, where do you guys head to right afterwards?

CARLSON: The men's room.

STEWART: Right after that?

BEGALA: Home.

STEWART: Spin alley.

BEGALA: Home.

STEWART: No, spin alley.

BEGALA: What are you talking about? You mean at these debates?

STEWART: Yes. You go to spin alley, the place called spin alley. Now, don't you think that, for people watching at home, that's kind of a drag, that you're literally walking to a place called deception lane?

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: Like, it's spin alley. It's -- don't you see, that's the issue I'm trying to talk to you guys...

BEGALA: No, I actually believe -- I have a lot of friends who work for President Bush. I went to college with some of them.

CARLSON: Neither of us was ever in the spin room, actually.

(BELL RINGING)

BEGALA: No, I did -- I went to do the Larry King show.

They actually believe what they're saying. They want to persuade you. That's what they're trying to do by spinning. But I don't doubt for a minute these people who work for President Bush, who I disagree with on everything, they believe that stuff, Jon. This is not a lie or a deception at all. They believe in him, just like I believe in my guy.

(CROSSTALK)

STEWART: I think they believe President Bush would do a better job. And I believe the Kerry guys believe President Kerry would do a better job. But what I believe is, they're not making honest arguments. So what they're doing is, in their mind, the ends justify the means.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: I don't think so at all.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: I do think you're more fun on your show. Just my opinion.

(...)

QUESTION: Renee (ph) from Texas. Why do you think it's hard or difficult or impossible for politicians to answer a straight, simple question?

STEWART: I don't think it's hard. I just think that nobody holds their feet to the fire to do it. So they don't have to.

(...)

----------Full transcript here
 



12 May 2006 @ 12:58 by Cyberotter @66.162.124.66 : Polarization
I thought this was very well done article. I would like to get your opinion on some pieces we have been working if I could>?

http://nohattip.blogspot.com

Thank you for the consideration



---------------------------
Will do.

~D link


 



26 Jun 2006 @ 00:44 by Nasir Al-Subaai @71.106.32.254 : Is there a precedent?
Thank you for asking.

How did a small group at odds with most of the U.S. foreign policy elite, Republican as well as Democratic, manage to take over Washington and steer the U.S. into a Middle Eastern war in Iraq unrelated to any plausible threat to the U.S. and opposed by the public of every country in the world (with a few rare exceptions and, of course, Israel)? After the al-Qaida attacks, any U.S. president would likely have gone to war to topple bin Laden's Taliban protectors in Afghanistan. But everything that the U.S. has done since then would have been different had America's 18th century electoral rules not given Bush the presidency and had Cheney not used the transition period to turn the foreign policy executive into a PNAC reunion.

"Who does the promotion of prejudices that accentuate stereotypical images profit?"

"Who is supporting all the divisive propaganda?"

Those questions are germane to the issue.

I also like the lighted matches in your article.

Tapping into the resource of religious zealotry, those who feel that God created the U.S. specifically for them and who feel that atheists, secular-humanists and yes, even Satan himself are standing in the way of their prophesied kingdom on earth, is not new!

It's no accident that its counterpart can be found in the Middle-East.

(...)

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: See relevant comment dated 25 Jun 2006 @ 21:49
by Nasir Al-Subaai, Willful near-sightedness on related
entry, "Pulling Back from the Brink."

Should the relevant blog become unavailable, a snapshot
of Nasir's comment is also available here: link
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

(...)

It would now appear that the "divide and conquer" strategies that were put to the test in the Arab World, and in Central and South America also, for similar reasons, are now at work in the U.S., turning people against people.

Or maybe it's just human nature.

The politics of hate permeate deeply into the collective psyche of people anywhere in any place. I've heard otherwise good and decent people fall prey to its lure.

Hate begets hate.

It's what those to whom hate profits counts on and cultivate.

Those who manipulate hate out of short-term domestic or international political and economic calculations are playing a dangerous game because there is no more time for hate. The writing is on the wall: Humanity must wake up.

In the long run hate will profit no one, not those, in America, who steer up the fears and stereotypical prejudices within the Christian right to turn people against each other in the U.S., nor those, in the Arab world and in the Middle East, who have been stirring up hatred amongst their people, nor those, in Israel or in the West, who have been its duplicitous instigator, and least of all the poor souls lost in the middle of the conflict, especially those who are losing all faith in the world and do not even care anymore because they have come to believe that they have nothing to lose.


--------------------------------------------------------------------
Thank you, Nasir!

Please note that, since part of your lengthy (but welcomed) comment was a repetition of elements you had already covered in the more immediately relevant entry about the Middle East posted by Jeff Starrs, Pulling Back from the Brink, I have, for the sake of clarity, taken the liberty of snipping that part of your comment above to replace it instead with a link to your earlier comment on the said entry.


~D  



4 Jul 2006 @ 07:24 by Hanae @68.164.61.194 : Willful nearsightedness

Thanks for the snapshot link of Nasir's comment, D. It helps. I had missed it the first time around as the related entry, "Pulling Back from the Brink", on which you said it is posted does appear to have been temporarily taken off line.

Nasir's point that so called realpolitic is "how such policies always are justified by people who subscribe to the philosophy that 'the end justify the means' or that 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend'" is one of the not too subtle topic of Lord of War (I just finished watching the film, just a few minutes ago.)

It's not in the same class as Syriana, but it touches to some similar geopolitical issues----and, mainly, that it is a game in which (without even having to bother about talking about conspiracy theories) it is obvious that not all the players play at the same level, or with the same chips.

As the main character of the movie, Yuri Orlov (Nicolas Cage), a global arms dealer, is eventually apprehended by Interpol and told to expect a long jail sentence, he proclaims:

"The reason I'll be released is the same reason you think I'll be convicted. I *do* rub shoulders with some of the most vile, sadistic men calling themselves leaders today. But some of these men are the enemies of *your* enemies. And while the biggest arms dealer in the world is your boss--the President of the United States, who ships more merchandise in a day than I do in a year--sometimes it's embarrassing to have his fingerprints on the guns. Sometimes he needs a freelancer like me to supply forces he can't be seen supplying. So. You call me evil, but unfortunately for you, I'm a necessary evil."

The movie ends simply stating that the U.S., the UK, France, Russia and China (the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council) are the world's leading arms dealers.

The film also claims to be "based on actual events."

In 2004, the United States ranked first in arms transfer agreements with developing nations at $6.9 billion.

Russia ranked second at $5.9 billion.

The four West European suppliers, as a group (France, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy) registered a significant increase in their collective share of all arms transfer agreements with developing nations between 2003 and 2004. This group’s share rose dramatically from 5.5% in 2003 to 22% in 2004. The collective value of this group’s arms transfer agreements with developing nations in 2004 was $4.8 billion compared with a total of $830 million in 2003.
 



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