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Gender: Male
Hometown: Orlando
Home country: USA
Current location: Holistically detecting
Member since: Wed Jan 27, 2010, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 12,151

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Not the religious right, exactly. The religious center-left.

There are religious groups in America -- religious PEOPLE, anyway -- that are not entirely devoted to disturbing views on social issues.

The real vulnerability there, which I think the Pope is threatening to exploit, is that Christianity is essentially a liberalization of Abrahamic teachings, and Jesus' (supposed) teachings were chock-a-block with very lefty type stuff regarding the relationships between the rich and the poor and so forth.

What if American Christian groups stopped being hypocritical on Jesus' lefty socio-economic views, and shifted away from their rigid devotion to conservative Abrahamic social views?

Jesus was not, after all, a no-holds-barred capitalist or a champion of corporate personhood; nor did he seem particularly focused on old teachings about supposed sexual proprieties.

What if instead of obsessing over Old Testament rules about who is supposed to be having what kind of sex, Christians became more politically focused on the meek inheriting the Earth?

That could change things.

Institutional or systemic animus works systemically. Personal animus still matters.

So, yes, it's true people try to argue a false equivalency between systemic or cultural oppression based on identity and personal animus.

People who would like to dismiss widespread discrimination will imply that because anyone can be racist or sexist or religiously bigoted, that it all kind of "balances out" somehow, which of course it doesn't. It *matters more* when an empowered group hates or discriminates, but it doesn't make it the only thing that matters.

We have words for institutional or systemic or culture-wide inequalities already. "Racism" and "sexism" already have definitions, and they refer to personal, not societal thinking. One leads to the other, but that doesn't make them the same thing.

Trying to redefine personal animus based on race or gender or religion, which is always harmful and always a bad idea, so that only some people can ever be guilty of it is a weird, unsupportable dodge with some pretty terrible implications.

Under this rubric, we're supposed to excuse personal animus, which is just as foolish, just as narrow-minded, just as hateful, on the basis that someone engaging it can't really hurt anything, which simply isn't true. It invites an irrational scrutiny of everyone's cultural identity that relies on the same racist or sexist or bigoted thinking that causes the problems we're all talking about. It also doesn't allow for any fluidity in cultural norms.

How does that all work when we get past America's problem of the simplistic identities of "black" vs. "white?"

Are we okay with a Pacific Islander who won't rent his apartment units to Malaysians because he thinks they are lazy, based on weighing whose identity has the most theoretical power in society? Is no harm being done if an Atheist, whose group has virtually no societal advantage, assumes that Protestants are too stupid to be promoted at work?

How do we know, by the way, when judging these things, what people's identities really are? Race is a cultural construct to begin with. Even gender identity is being increasingly recognized as something that varies in ways we can't instantaneously recognize. Mike Huckabee spent last week talking up the Dredd Scott decision, which held

Any person descended from Africans, whether slave or free, is not a citizen of the United States.


This was in keeping with America's "one drop" (of blood) theory of racism, wherein any kind of African ancestry rendered someone a lesser person. Now we laugh when racists go on television and discover they are of African descent as well.

But we don't stop calling them racists.

Recall we are talking about what people look like, or really, what other people think they look like. The implications for how we treat each other are real, but how do you go about convicting or absolving people of racist thinking based on that? If a person from Asia is mistaken for someone from South America, what level of racism is okay for them to apply? And how do you mix in religion, physical ability, or whatever else we are mistreating each other over? Can someone "trump" someone else's entitlement to bigoted thinking by revealing an additional oppressed identity?

And what happens when things DO get better, as we hope they do, a little at a time? Will we give and take absolution for bigoted thinking based on how a particular identity is doing in the global or American pecking order?

Words have meaning for a reason. Hating, mistreating, assuming superiority over, or claiming a right to treat people differently based on appearance, background, or physical characteristics, -- yours or theirs -- IS racist or sexist or bigoted, whether society is carrying out your foolish thinking or not.

Obesity is a condition; being an asshole is a choice.

I've tried to imagine what's going on in the minds of people who feel the need to complain about or mock others for being overweight, or who obsess over their conviction that "It's simple -- just eat less."

My guess is that these are people trying hard to feel superior and don't have a lot of grounds to do it other than the rather un-amazing accomplishment of being thinner than someone else.

Everyone's got something they are working on about themselves, or struggling with. If it were easy to have 100% of our personal acts together, everyone would be perfect, and that pretty obviously is not the case. The fact that physical fitness or body mass or whatever is visible doesn't somehow make it fair game to attack.

What is fair game is people being vicious and willfully stupid. Like this person you mention.

Please don't let this person represent the human race in your mind. Most people are not like this.

Respectfully, I still think anti-EV grumping is mostly contrarian silliness.

To me the appeal of the emergence of EVs is that it's an efficient technology with a lot going for it and and the potential to be hugely useful. And as a car enthusiast, I find instant torque and quiet operation and fueling at home desirable.

Electric vehicles are cool, period. And the bottom line is that they do have the potential to be extremely environmentally beneficial, probably more so than any other current technology.

So someone "reminding" us all that EVs aren't magic energy-free perpetual motion machines doesn't seem that helpful. It assumes that people who like EVs think that, and I don't think they do.

And as far as that goes, electric motors are more than twice as efficient as internal combustion, they don't emit directly, and they can be powered by renewables. That's more than enough to make them a good idea, and all current information points to an easy net benefit in using EVs as far as energy consumption and pollution are concerned.

And respectfully, a lot of this, "But electricity still comes from fossil fuels for now" feels like bad-faith nonsense from people either automatically opposed to anything that smacks of green technology, which they seem to fear will be forced on them, or from pedants who revel in "debunking" potential radical advances of any kind.

And lest you think I'm making that up, I've read Car and Driver for years, and I distinctly remember Brock Yates and the other dirt-track era gear heads there whining that electrics were boring and slow and were being pushed by hair-shirt environmentalists out to spoil everyone's good time.

When the Tesla Roadster smashed the magazine's long-standing top gear 50-70mph acceleration stat -- a great measure of useable real world performance -- Car and Driver admitted it was amazed, but felt compelled to whine, "We still wouldn't want one."

And remember Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear, who ran down a Tesla's battery deliberately, and then claimed it crapped out on the track, dramatically pushing it back to the paddock? When Tesla sued, the show said it was just entertainment, and it was entitled to dramatize what a real battery failure would've looked like, if it had actually happened. Because Clarkson, a British libertarian whose sense of humor includes things like racist comments and punching a co-worker for not getting his dinner, has a childish hatred of electric vehicles.

And so on.

I think it's fine, if you stumble on someone confused about why they like electric vehicles to point out that they're not a compromise-free instant solution to the world's energy and pollution problems. Nothing is, so that's pretty hard to contradict. I'm just not sure there's a problem with people thinking that.

I often defend "the press." Getting harder to do.

I trained as a journalist, and have rolled my eyes for years at the "liberal bias" fallacy concocted to rationalize the pure propaganda machine that is Fox News.

And I likewise get frustrated with progressives who blame their perception that their favored truths aren't discussed enough on some unlikely global conspiracy among "mainstream media." By and large the press is not a monolithic thing, and it therefore doesn't make plans or push agendas as whole, because it's trying frantically to make some money, and not doing very well at it.

Largely, the "mainstream media" reflects whatever viewers and readers are demanding. It is not organized well enough to lie to us for fun or profit (except for Fox) even if it wanted to.

But I'm starting to see the treatment of the current U.S. Presidential primary season as, if not a deliberate plot, a queerly uniform willingness to emphasize and de-emphasize that doesn't line up with any kind of journalistic logic I'm familiar with.

My beloved MSNBC, home of Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow and Chris Kornacki, has been leading every show I have watched, for weeks, with 100% DONALD TRUMP. Hayes literally devoted the first five minutes of a recent broadcast to showing, without commentary, a modestly-attended Trump speech in Alabama, wherein he rented out a huge stadium and then proceeded not to fill it. A large portion of the remainder of the show, and in fact most of Hayes' and Maddow's recent shows, then went on to discuss Trump, his latest outrages, and what everyone on the planet has to say about the unexpected continuing existence of his campaign.

There is some excuse for this. Trump's a television star. He's demagoguing about giant anti-Mexico walls. He's following very little of the modern Republican script, which is supposed to be easing up, not doubling down on nativism. He's not talking about free trade or women's reproductive rights the way Republicans are supposed to. And he's leading the other dozen-plus would-be candidates in the polls. So he's worth some ink and some air time.

But contrast with the way Sanders is covered. Sanders isn't just doing the best splitting support among 15 or 16 or however many it is this week other candidates like Trump. He's pulling closer to a massively empowered and favored Democratic candidate, and drawing much larger crowds in doing so. And despite being a lifelong political leader, Sanders is nearly as unusual and unlikely a candidate. He wasn't supposed to get out of the gate with a Social Democrat platform, talking about expanding Social Security and Medicare; proposing a trillion-dollar investment in infrastructure. Those things were supposed to have been shoved off the table by conservative rhetoric long ago.

He is both more radical and more popular than Trump, but his ideas aren't coming from low-information voter's fears and fantasies.

These are American ideas, thought killed long ago by conservative rhetoric about the evils of taxes and government and anything else that doesn't accrue directly to the benefit of the wealthy.

How long has it been since a Presidential candidate has even come close to talking this way about the government's role in supporting the common good? How many Democrats have bought into the idea that Americans can't be made to listen to anything that can be characterized as "socialist?"

THAT is a news story. The fact that even MSNBC's deep-thinking policy wonks like Chris and Rachel can't seem to find the time to talk about it amidst all the chuckles and groans and eye-rolls over Trump strikes me as bizarre. I cannot imagine the editorial meeting where a 50-minute show that's supposed to be the thinking person's commentary on politics has time for 10-15 minutes on the Trump "phenomenon" and virtually zero to ask why Americans are getting behind the most FDR-like Dem to be taken seriously in 50 years.

Elements of authoritarianism abound long before Nazis appear.

Part of the problem is that we don't all seem to agree on what constitutes outrageous problems, short of a general consensus that Germany attempting to take over all of Europe and exterminate Jewish people, Gypsies, gay people, intellectuals, and the infirm was beyond the pale.

But that was the mistake the Germans made. No one proposed that level of insanity right out of the gate. They started by scapegoating minority groups, (Communists first, I think). Physical intimidation. Nationalism. Militarism. Indoctrination. Belief in a mythical past and a "pure" culture.

We have a lot of this going on right now.

So, yes -- Fox News and its subsidiary, the Republican Party, are absolutely pushing intolerance and authoritarianism, and are getting away with it to a disturbing degree.

But we've got to be able to recognize authoritarian elements without needing to conclude that we're headed toward the genocide of six million people by goose-stepping fascists. When we do that, people look around, don't see trains and gas chambers, and assume all is well.

There is a lot in the middle between a free democratic society and a fascist holocaust. We need to get better at rejecting the million tiny steps that lead from one to the other.
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