Smart America 2020

Why Some Caucasians Struggle To Keep Perception Of White Superiority

The New Yorker has one of those must-reads as it places current white resentments and delusions during this time when much of the nation is fighting against police brutality.    This article places much of the current events into perspective.

To keep alive the perception of white superiority, these white Americans tuck their heads under cone-shaped hats and American flags and deny themselves the dignity of face-to-face confrontation, training their guns on the unarmed, the innocent, the scared, on subjects who are running away, exposing their unthreatening backs to bullets. Surely, shooting a fleeing man in the back hurts the presumption of white strength? The sad plight of grown white men, crouching beneath their (better) selves, to slaughter the innocent during traffic stops, to push black women’s faces into the dirt, to handcuff black children. Only the frightened would do that. Right?

t may be hard to feel pity for the men who are making these bizarre sacrifices in the name of white power and supremacy. Personal debasement is not easy for white people (especially for white men), but to retain the conviction of their superiority to others—especially to black people—they are willing to risk contempt, and to be reviled by the mature, the sophisticated, and the strong. If it weren’t so ignorant and pitiful, one could mourn this collapse of dignity in service to an evil cause.

The comfort of being “naturally better than,” of not having to struggle or demand civil treatment, is hard to give up. The confidence that you will not be watched in a department store, that you are the preferred customer in high-end restaurants—these social inflections, belonging to whiteness, are greedily relished.

So scary are the consequences of a collapse of white privilege that many Americans have flocked to a political platform that supports and translates violence against the defenseless as strength. These people are not so much angry as terrified, with the kind of terror that makes knees tremble.

On Election Day, how eagerly so many white voters—both the poorly educated and the well educated—embraced the shame and fear sowed by Donald Trump. The candidate whose company has been sued by the Justice Department for not renting apartments to black people. The candidate who questioned whether Barack Obama was born in the United States, and who seemed to condone the beating of a Black Lives Matter protester at a campaign rally. The candidate who kept black workers off the floors of his casinos. The candidate who is beloved by David Duke and endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan.

William Faulkner understood this better than almost any other American writer. In “Absalom, Absalom,” incest is less of a taboo for an upper-class Southern family than acknowledging the one drop of black blood that would clearly soil the family line. Rather than lose its “whiteness” (once again), the family chooses murder.

When No Words Are Required, Because Photo Is So True

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Our Changing Times

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A delightful winter day has unfolded across Wisconsin.  Snow and bitter cold were felt by most of the state this week but sunshine and warming temps today make any window you sit by a reason to smile.  While reading this week’s magazines (with mugs of coffee) it struck me not only how the recent headlines change and stories evolve but also how much we, as a country, are changing.

As noted in a letter to the editor in The Economist “a recent survey found that a third of millennial dads do not even own a hammer.”  Meanwhile, in Time the Conversation column is nothing more than a few words from tweets by readers which allows us the chance to read a selected phrase of their thoughts. The British publication, it should be noted, devoted a full page to letters.

The truncated style of writing is troubling for two reasons.  Most people are not adept at using a limited number of words to convey a thought.  ( I know how creating headlines for blog posts takes more than a fleeting thought, as an example.)  Secondly, most readers of magazines wish to have a broader perspective than that which is contained in a tweet.   Time wants to be ‘modern’ and meet readers ‘where they are’ as opposed to The Economist which values a readership who desires well-crafted sentences and fleshed-out ideas.

And then there was this large-font statement in an advertisement for Oatly Oat Milk.

“This tastes like (expletive)! Blah!”

In The New Yorker (page 13) appeared what I am seeing more and more.  The allowance for words that not so long ago would not have been permitted in these types of publications.  I am not the word police, or nor want to be one.  But there is a lowering of standards and foundations that do catch my attention and concerns me.

Words matter and how they are used does reflect on the person using them.  Trash talk just gives the perception of a lower-educated and less serious-minded person.  That is true if on the printed page of a magazine or made by the leader of a nation.

Perhaps there is marketing that shows younger demographics will try oat milk because it used an advertising gimmick.  But those of us who have a hammer in the house, and know how to use it, understand the necessity of drinking cows milk for muscles and good health.

And choosing word usage that reflects well on who we are.

And so it goes.

(Now get off my lawn…)

“The Real Emergency” By Barry Blitt

Perfectly illustrated.

A Hopeful And Inspiring Cover Of The New Yorker

Steve Bannon Should Have Been Interviewed At New Yorker Festival

For the record I am a subscriber to The New Yorker.  I deeply enjoy their lucid writing and perspectives about people and issues from around the world.   I also think highly of David Remnick, editor of the magazine.

But I also know that conversations and national dialogues matter.  In this time of loud, even at times shrill, back-and-forth verbal slaps we all should welcome the chance to lower the volume and talk about what is happening to this nation.  But that will not happen at The New Yorker Festival in October. The–‘gate-keepers’–the ones who think they are best able to define who or what is pure enough to be allowed on stage for interviews created enough of a stink to make sure Steve Bannon was removed from the festival.

The New Yorker, first and foremost, would have allowed for a civil and most insightful interview.  The approach of Remnick, as a professional and skilled journalist, would have allowed for a very telling close-up of Bannon.  There would have been no time for glib responses or non-answers.  Bannon would have known when the interview was over that Remnick is not a spineless mouthpiece from Fox News.

But due to some of the other guests for the Festival making a very loud outburst about Bannon being invited, has now made the event itself, the news story.  And that is just truly regrettable.

Bannon is a most detestable human being.  He is a racist, bigot, nationalist, and a xenophobe.  And his ideas and thoughts are fatally flawed.  As such no one should be timid or leery about placing his drunken pile of layered clothing on stage.  Remnick would have had him wishing for a costume change before the interview was half completed.

The ones central to this story think themselves most pure.  They now clap and grin over what they ‘achieved’.  Will they at least feel any sense of shame or irony when later this week they pretend to champion–in some other setting and for some other event–free speech?  Because their understanding of free speech is very flawed.

I wish Remnick had stood firm on the side of knowing sound journalism and sunshine would show all how dangerous Bannon and his ilk happen to be.  All that we now know for sure is that some liberals are too weak-kneed to put up an intelligent fight against the illiberal elements threatening this nation.

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