1022 Comments

Uhm, excuse me Matt, "family" is a white Christian heteronormative construct invented to oppress intersectional feminists, and support for the concept proves you're on the Wrong Side of History.

... kidding, obviously. I'm gonna go cook with my parents and then probably watch a Mel Brooks movie with them. Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Expand full comment

Blazing Saddles is a classic!

Expand full comment

“Back off or I’m going to shoot the n-word!!!!!”

Expand full comment

The n-word? Oh, you mean Niagara falls!!

Expand full comment

“Baby please! I am not from Havana!” Remains the best non-sensical way to tell your significant other you’re not in the mood.

Expand full comment

The sheriff is near!

Expand full comment

“Let me whip this out…”

Expand full comment

Harumph!

Expand full comment

"Candygram for Mongo! Candygram for Mongo!"

Expand full comment

That guy didn't harumph!

Expand full comment

Give the governor a harumph! You watch your ass...

Expand full comment

"Hold your ears folks, it's showtime!"

Expand full comment

'Mornin' Maam, and isn't it a looovely mornin'?' I great my staff that way every morning, none of 'em get the reference...

Expand full comment

My team at work regularly calls the change orders we issue “working up a number 6”.

Expand full comment

IT'S TWUE, IT'S TWUE.

Expand full comment

Lol gotta read with glasses on. I read gotta go cook my parents at first. Lol

Expand full comment

That's a helluvan idea.

Expand full comment

My mother is from Mexico and she grew up beyond dirt poor as migrant farmers.

The story as I'm told when she brought me as a baby to my grandfather in Mexico in which he ran all through town boasting to everyone he didn't owe money to and even then some of them that his grandson "He's an American! He'll be president!!!"

I was always rather embarrassed by the story growing up never understanding why it was a big deal.

"Son where I'm from you don't escape who you are, we are Lozano's everyone knows that we aren't good for our debts. He saw a child by virtue of just being born in the States could be free of that. Be his own man and however improbable maybe even be President"

That's what what I'm grateful for today.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and safe travels!

Expand full comment

I am so thankful my parents immigrated to the United States in 1950. My Grandparents had immigrated to Canada from some German speaking area of Europe in the right after WW1. They took over a one room shack, abandoned by the previous homesteaders, out in the middle of nowhere in Manitoba. The family had one cow. No running water and no insulation in the shack. It was a two hour walk to the one room schoolhouse. According to dad, only frightening when the wolves would howl. He learned the English language at the schoolhouse and his mother grasped some English from the text books the children brought home. Seven children, only one died. Temperatures could reach 40 below zero and the winds blow hard across the prairie. My father was slight of built and was beaten up occasionally for being German by his the local kids. They weren't so receptive to the blond haired kraut.

The Great Depression forced the family to move to the city of Winnipeg where they went on "Relief", AKA welfare. When my father, who was the youngest of the seven, was fifteen years old his mother gave him five dollars and told him he was on his own. He jumped on a freight train eastbound to the fields in Ontario to work in the tobacco fields. After a while he got back to Winnipeg and completed an apprenticeship program at the railroad. He married my mother, had one child and left for Southern California. HIs skilled trade satisfied one of the requirements to immigrate. Some of the other requirements were an active bank account with some money stashed away, a letter from the local police department stating he was a decent person and "sponsor" from California, someone who would back them up if they should become a burden to the system.

I never went to college. I became a railroader till I realized I didn't like the job. I found a career in sales and did OK. Sure I had to work late nights, weekends and most holidays but I earned a decent income. I was able to stop working at 60 years of age and now live comfortably and am confident about my future. I'm not so sure I would of had the same outcome if my parents decided not to immigrate.

Expand full comment

Welcome to America, friend.

Expand full comment

I love this so much <3

Expand full comment

On one hand it is a good thing to think of American's as having an ability to escape their past. On the other hand it is sad that as a Mexican your grandfather felt he couldn't escape his past.

Expand full comment

Yes, it is different elsewhere. In Tbilisi, in the Republic of Georgia, a Russian family exiled from Russian society there by the Czar, over 250 years ago. They thought they were accepted, but they could never be Georgians. I know the daughter. She escaped with her father's help, and that of a sympathetic Georgian family, to America. After the secession, because she was Russian, she was raped over and over - I guess because nobody would stop it, and because she was identified as one of the oppressors. But, her family line was cast out of Russia and had no choice in the matter. The rapists were classmates, families she knew. She still has the psychological scars from that, although she married in America, had a daughter, graduated college, and bought a house. She doesn't sleep well, still. I won't say where she is, but when you see someone, you never know what their story is.

Expand full comment

Stuff is different outside of North America. My grandfather’s family in Ukraine moved to their village in the 1850s and 80 years later were still called “the new people”!!!

Expand full comment

Friend of mine born and grew up in Chicago in a Croat neighborhood. His cousin married a Serb who was also born and grew up in Chicago. My friend told me that at the wedding the Serbs sat on one side of the church and the Croats on the other and hardly spoke to each other, but their Chicago born children all grew up in the same schools, were friends and mixed well with each other at the reception. They were Americans. The wedding itself showed it.

Expand full comment

Nice story, but free of debt? Not for most Americans.

Expand full comment

I believe the point is that in America you have the chance to escape from your birth station, while his grandfather perceived that in Mexico you are forever trapped by class and name.

Expand full comment

Yea, I know it comes off clunky and yes contrived but for one day I force myself not to care.

Expand full comment

Neither clunky nor contrived at all. It obviously resonated with many people.

Expand full comment

Good point here Deco. Allow me a few thoughts as a counterpoint - not in competition to your point but as a consequence further down the road of it.

One area that concerns me with this (and I am not really in a position to condemn or revere anyone in this), is that immigrants are vulnerable to messages (especially 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants) of neoliberal, financialized messages around ownership, taking on risk, and being appropriated much more easily because their desire to escape their current place often implies an urgency of "doing almost anything".

My world view happens to believe that, in some sense, we all want to belong and feel that we are a part of a relationship, family, community, country or culture. But because the dominant culture has won wars, taken other countries resources, and decimated their enemies --- all that is left to do is to change history - redefine the US as winners (and desire to be one too). And this is most easily done if we embrace certain internal beliefs (greed is good, USA first, if you do not love the US then leave it -- a whole host of American exceptionalistic ideas.

So, my response is that the US wants a certain kind of immigrant (almost like universities want a certain kind of student), someone who will be pliable, responsive, and go into debt or take on great risk just to carve out a piece of a huge pie cut into small pieces.

Now, I realize this existence might change station at the individual level and is broadcasted to loud decibels on the right using John Alt as its hero --- but this self-made person is such a fiction if you study the history of east coast elites, banks, and networks of power over the 20th century.

I am not saying to anyone, they should stay in Mexico (or fill in the corrupt state) but what I am saying is the trap still exists here in the US - and how do you begin to know what it is you are unfamiliar with as an immigrant? While there may be resiliencies and huge benefits that protect immigrant families --- often times there are things to learn here that take generations to understand and combat.

So, while I totally respect and support your idea of America as an escape hatch notion (one that my family think about too in other areas of the world as this country becomes more fascist), traps are ubiquitous and the governing principles are crony capitalism (either dressed up or tossed out).

Would enjoy hearing your response.

Expand full comment

Interesting perspective. As you note, the typical 1st gen immigrant comes here in response to an immediate, usually dire need without any thought of what they’re signing up for long term. I assume your characterization of the kind of immigrant America wants relates to who it attracts, and not any US process that screens for those characteristics. Because there is no screening. So it comes down to who is motivated to come here and why.

That’s a very diverse group, with different motivations and different type and severity of risk to overcome. There are Mexicans who simply walk across the border because they’re sick of narcoterrorist disemboweling people. There are those whose local economy and community was wiped out because of NAFTA, as Tedder130 pointed out. There are people who overstay their student or tourist visa because they like the culture or have gotten accustomed to life here. There are refugees fleeing a hollowed out war-zone. There are people fleeing suffocating, dead-end lives under the thumb of overtly corrupt, oppressive, murderous governments.

What these people are likely not thinking is whether they are going to end up a cog in some system that will exploit and trap them even worse than they currently are. If you travel through very impoverished parts of the world, you will see oceans of people, standing on their native soil, desperate to find someone who will exploit them, right then and there. Economic survival immigrants (I don’t know what percentage of all US immigrants they represent) don’t have the luxury of declining to be duped into a different trap in America. I don’t doubt your description of the down the road consequences of economic immigrants. I also don’t disagree that America plays a role in creating conditions abroad that spur desperate migration, coupled with propaganda that America is heaven on earth. But I also don’t see that immigrants in droves regret coming here upon realizing they’ve been sold a false dream. They're not telling their relatives or friends back home to stay put. Hardly any of the immigrants get the full American Dream and slide into the top 10%, but they got the improvement over the alternative they came for. What their children experience, if they fall into the debt and rat-race trap of America, is no different than what the rest of Americans experience. I don’t know how you measure whether the 3rd gen immigrants are better off in America vs if grandpa had never left.

Your point about America wanting a certain kind of immigrant reminded me of something I once ran across. A researcher argued that part of what defines America’s characteristics, as a nation, is the gene pool of the early settlers. I don't know how well documented this is, but I found it hilarious if true. The story goes that when England was trying to recruit people to encourage them to populate the colonies, they ran extensive bullshit riddled ad campaigns to entice people to start a new life in America. The reality was that America was a pretty miserable offer on all fronts: dangerous, untested, no amenities/resources/services/infrastructure, no established communities, raw undiscovered (to the Brits) terrain with lots of unknowns, dangerous passage over the Atlantic, shitty conditions all around. The takers who went for it, despite these hideous conditions, were predisposed to being 1. extremely gullible and susceptible to advertising, and 2. reckless risk takers unfocused on analyzing risks or cost-benefits. That's the DNA they carried with them to the new world. The claim isn’t that this DNA is over-represented in all US immigrants, but it was overrepresented in the very early settlers. Sounds to me like the VHS syndrome. Just as VHS beat out BetaMax because it arrived and entrenched itself first, and not because it was superior, these characteristics became entrenched in the American culture.

This hilarious link made between America's character and the DNA of the early settlers rings true to me in some sense. One thing that stands out here, uncommon in the other places I've lived or visited, is that America is a dictatorship of the extravert. It's not enough to live, achieve, do, be, unless it's publicized. I'm not saying all or even most Americans are like this. I'm just saying that these things are not only not frowned upon, but are encouraged and rewarded. In other cultures, exhibitionism is distasteful, being loud and commanding attention are distasteful. Tooting your own horn is really distasteful. Yet here it's damn near obligatory. If you don't shout your achievements from the mountaintops, they never occurred. Advertising and marketing are respectable pursuits, not thinly veiled deception, a perception perhaps baked in via the DNA of the earliest settlers.

Finally, I echo your concern about America sinking into fascism. I'd hate to pack up and leave all over again, and I hope it doesn't come to that. But I'm definitely not sticking around to subject my daughter to the horrors I thought I'd escaped when I immigrated here.

Expand full comment

Some fantastic insights Deco!!! I want to borrow the "dictatorship of the extrovert" phrase as it is something I've experienced myself too.

And just to clear up my meaning (although you did a wonderful job going into the different aspects) of America wanting a certain type of person as their immigrants - I think they are on the look out for those people who come from abject poverty, had little hope but could slowly find a way to rise to the top of their community and profession in such a way as they could be marketed as the "American Dream 2.0" but rebranded for people of color, or different nationalities. George Carlin said it best, American dream - you have to asleep to believe. Here is his concert but do not let your daughter hear it because his language is more comedic than family oriented (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acLW1vFO-2Q

The notion that newly turned Americans could rescue the elite class from the current milieus they created from the political class for the past few decades (as our sacrifice zones - Pine Ridge, South Dakota or Immakalee Florida https://truthout.org/video/journalist-chris-hedges-on-capitalisms-sacrifice-zones-communities-destroyed-for-profit/ ) seems optimistic and yet I sincerely believe that so many want that feel good fix that America could be a land of promise.

Anyhow, I enjoyed this dialogue and wish you the very best Deco!

Expand full comment

These are all very good, and largely well-informed posts, but I think you are still falling for the knee-jerk, late-20th-century trap of "Amurrica Bad, M'kay?"

I mean, to posit that "American is looking for..." or "America is on the lookout for..." is positing some sinister organization that is in control of what "America" wants, and that's post-Alex-Jones nuttery.

Can you not see that, as you write it? There are huge elements of randomness and chance that our pattern-seeking brains desperately want to impose simplistic cause/effect patterns on.

Which is a mild and understandable error, until we get all the scholars and academics trying to EXTRACT INSIGHT FROM THE VERY FALSE ORDER THEY HAVE IMPOSED!

And they do so, not because they are stupid, or inexpert, or ill-informed, but because incentives exist for them to do so. Papers get published, tenured faculty positions are awarded, awards are given and seminars are commissioned...and never for the conclusion "This the result of a million random inputs to the system", which latter is, I suspect more true than any number of scholarly works.

Not that any specific conclusion is wrong, just that the aggregate, the consensus, is way the f off.

Expand full comment

Likewise, mcelroyj. Very much enjoyed your thought provoking posts.

Expand full comment

A series of excellent, thought-provoking posts.

I would add only that "risk-taking" and "gullibility" are only peripherally related to actual genetic makeup. They are traits largely generated in response to social and cultural conditions, not DNA.

Expand full comment

That settler VHS theory is fascinating

Expand full comment

Super creative and spot on.

Expand full comment

This is a fascinating and thoughtful perspective. A pair of my own ancestors fled Scotland, not because they wanted 'a new life' in America, but because they had broken the social law--a footman married a lady--and were ostracized. The famed 'Scots-Irish' settler-colonialists were already seasoned killers as they had been brought over to Northern Ireland to displace--literally--the rebellious natives. I can see this perverted American DNA...

Expand full comment

Immigration stories tell you so much about other countries at different times in history. I never would have encountered the history of the famed Scots-Irish but for a discussion of where we Americans came from.

Expand full comment

Betamax (1975) hit the market two years before VHS (1977). Betamax was technologically superior to VHS and offered a much better sound and viewing experience. However, VHS allowed the user to record programming up to two hours, while Beta was limited to one hour of recording.

This seemingly secondary function was a big hit with consumers and allowed VHS to quickly overtake Beta and eventually drive Beta out of the market. I can still hear my father, an early Beta enthusiast and noted cinephile, grumbling at the inferior quality of VHS after he was forced to abandon his beloved Betamax and switch to VHS.

Expand full comment

Still, it was probably much better to be a serf on a prosperous estate in Czarist Russia than a poorly managed one. The idea of a "better life" is relative. I like to think of migrants as fleeing so they don't die.

As a side note, when I worked in a Mexican village in 1972 as an interpreter for some kind of flying doctors, I found that almost every young man, even of considerable means, had made the journey "al otro lado" where they worked and brought back dollars. It was a kind of rite of passage and opportunity to build a nest egg--literally as they wanted to marry. When the border closed in the 90s, men like either did not go or stayed in the US.

Another note: people in my village were 'poor' in money, but they had plenty to eat and enough cash for necessities and some luxuries. NAFTA changed all that and bankrupted these small farmers so they had to emigrate to the US in order to "not die".

Expand full comment

Good insight re: metrics around relative "poverty", as the stories of my people living in the Mississippi woods during the Depression (for whom "tenant farmer", a slightly nicer for of indentured servitude, was an upgrade), and for whom "living off the land" offered a plenitude of dietary choices, mostly healthy and free, except for the effort to obtain them.

There 𝑚𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡 be some economic theory or government policy of the era that explains how my parents' families both ended up in California (my Grandmother was basically sold off as laborer/prospective sex slave at one point, though she escaped and made it back to the distant relatives who were in charge of her after she'd been orphaned. So she was even worse off than "living in the woods".) by the end of the 30s.

Needless to say, pre-war California, and eventually post-war California was, as the Beverly Hillbillies theme clamed, "the place you oughta be". Two generations of academics, hard work and playing music for the members of the Southern Diaspora in central California later, and you've got a very prosperous clan of white Californians, being lectured about their fucking privilege.

I am not fond of simple immigration narratives.

Expand full comment

Aren't you suggesting that immigrants are less resistant to capitalist predators than the native born?

My life experience suggests it's a wash.

Expand full comment

Trapped by class and name? Trapped by debt? Trapped is trapped the last time I checked.

Expand full comment

Last time you checked did you also confirm that socio-economic mobility in both countries was equally doomed?

Expand full comment

I believe that was what my comment pointed out.

Expand full comment

Unless you have one of those money printing presses, like the Fed does. Then it's all just a matter of perspective and narrative.

Expand full comment

Hmm. Have you forgotten the Mexican Revolution? Pancho Villa, Emiliano Zapata were both peasants.

Expand full comment

I should have immigrated to Mexico.

Expand full comment

It's not too late.

Expand full comment

This was 36 years ago now, I don't this he had the foresight of easy credit and massive student loans.

Expand full comment

Thank you for this. Strange times when the irreverent, non-conformist, toothy-smirking, levity-promoting independents are the ones urging us to enjoy *Thanksgiving*, *tradition*, and *family*, while the official airwaves issue mirthless scoldings by the most desiccated souls clinging to long lost relevance. The notion that we ought to hang our head in shame over genocide is laughable. There are descendants and survivors of genocide who came here in order to, you know, be rescued from genocide. There are immigrants here whose counties and lives in those countries were destroyed *by America*. Imagine how deranged you have to be to tell these people that they must reflect upon how they bear the stain of America’s sins. I don’t care what anyone says. Even Columbus’ own children don’t bear the sins of their father, much less 300 million people unrelated to him, hundreds of years later. And news flash, every one of us descended from some genocidal maniac or other. No one is ancestrally blameless and pure.

And you’re wrong about one thing, Matt. America is exceptionally good. It’s under attack by an evangelizing rot on the inside. This rot aims to make America the horror show it claims it always was. But this is my home, my country, and those who defy the rot far outnumber the rotevangelists. I’m thankful that I got to immigrate here, become a citizen, and make a good life for myself, a life entirely out of my reach (what a euphemism) in my native country.

Expand full comment

During the 2020 "Summer of Protests," when soulless blue bloods like Anderson Cooper and the entire staffs of MSNBC and NPR, and many at the Times and the Post, were telling us to question the celebration of the 4th of July or just to absolutely reject it as a tool of "white supremacy," I thanked my lucky stars that I live in an immigrant-heavy, non-hip part of New York City where I could go to my rooftop and enjoy a dizzying, 360-degree display of illegal fireworks as far as the eyes could see. It was a thing of wonder, and way better than any overly ordered Macy's display.

Immigrants (and first-and second-generation Americans) love the 4th of July, and celebrate in the highest of style. I'm happy to be celebrating the 4th with them, rather than the miserable "radical" Brooklyn gentrifiers that quadrupled that borough's rents over about 5 years, and destroyed its soul in the process.

Expand full comment

It's hard to deceive immigrants about how awful America is. We've lived the far worse alternative, and choose to be here. We're not here by default or accident of birth, but through years of patience, effort, cost and uphill battle.

Expand full comment
founding

My parents came here in the 1950s and I don't feel like I belong here, neither does my son. My mother cried before dying about having come here. It never should have happened, and we are successful Americans. The culture here has no sense of honor, people have no tolerance, respect, or self-discipline. That is why I write about values and behaviors.

Expand full comment

Unfortunately, you arrived here just as the campaign to undermine community and replace it with "rugged individualism" was just beginning. It reached its zenith about 20 years later when neoliberal economics and consumerism became essentially the law of the land. By then, the advertising industry had already trained one generation that belonging is a function of having the right clothes and the right car and the right kind of lifestyle and getting more than other people instead of working with your neighbors and family for the general benefit. That's why nobody feels like they belong anywhere, and why it's so easy to create a cult mindset with well-constructed propaganda.

Expand full comment
founding

One thing I noticed is there is no trust. Trust with others in society comes from our values and behaviors to achieve the values we aspire to. Consumerism started in the 1980s, and the Reagan regime tried to get people to buy things because of the recession he inherited. By 1985 Madona was singing Material World, which set the tone for the decade.

Boomers were the ones spending money Boomers who were calling for social justice because of the Vietnam War, and social inequities now turned into Yuppies, seeking societal success. To move up, they used capitalistic values; they had no societal values. Yuppies were the Wall Street monsters and aspiring CEOs that looked at workers as a commodity. They are the ones that flourished in creating the predatory capitalism we have today.

We went from Social Justice values, to values to help businesses thrive. While working at Bell Labs, all of our purposes were to create value for the company. There was no concern about self but respect for the company. People believed this was what the Japanese thought. American cars had horrible quality. Deming's theories of quality, and quality teams were instituted. In 1990 when Nafta came in, all the Quality teams were shuffled aside as jobs started to leave the US. By 2000 semiconductors were also gone, and engineers like me were out of a job.

I don't think public relations groups were smart enough to institute this change into material thinking. It seemed as though a synchronicity of events moved the US into this thinking, which affected collective consciousness. Durkheim's definition of collective consciousness can be thought of as trust (I think so anyway). Jung says collective consciousness is more profound than trust; it is more spiritual. I agree more with Jung.

We have no trust in society anymore because of the Capitalist beliefs. There is no ethics in business other than making a profit. That is why the WEF is trying to sell stakeholder capitalism. People have to trust their community's employer, and this is wrong; people have to trust each other based on behaviors that create trust. The social justice they are pushing is CRT which has no values. It uses relative morality not universal morality.

I do not trust the government we have because the first priority of a government is protecting property, which they don't want to do. The dog wants to go out, and I have a lot of things to do. I have to stop writing sorry.

Expand full comment

We are right to distrust the institutions we have allowed to decay. Now they have their own skewed incentives, none of which have "the good of the country" or "the good of the citizens" as more than a small component.

Expand full comment

Curious, is there anywhere you feel you do or might belong? I'm interested in your perspective because the sense of belonging is something that has eluded me my whole life. The only place I've experienced flashes of it are in America, but it's very contextual and far from persistent.

Expand full comment
founding

My father and mother came from Eastern Europe, (Poland and Hungary) lost their farms to the Russians. Poland and Hungary now believe in keeping their culture al values, and inclusion means accepting cultural values.

America never had any cultural values when I was in grade school in the 60s and high school till the mid-70s. American schools never taught values. Our Civics class on the constitution bored me to tears in 7th grade. I think as you do that, we ended up here. The values of this country eroded with the Vietnam War in the 1960s.

Poland, Hungry, Chech, Slavic, and Croatia seem to start flourishing and want intact values and culture, Germany had its culture destroyed, but they still have values. Values of character build trust. I do not trust this government, the narrative being presented, or the oligarchs and politicians who want these presented. My soul is not at peace here. The ethical values this country should have are:

1. Trustworthy; (don't cheat, don't steal, reliable, dependable, be faithful to your family and your character, do what you say, honest),

2. Respect; (tolerance, listening to others, using good manners, not bad language, being considerate of the feelings of others, don't threaten, hitting or hurting anyone , dealing peacefully with anger, insults),

3. Responsibility; (self-control, be self-disciplined, think before you act, consider the consequences, be accountable for your words, actions, and attitudes)

4. Fairness; (play by the rules, take turns and share, be open-minded; temperate, analytical, sincere, truthful, don't blame others carelessly. treat all people fairly or equally, objectivity)

5. Caring; ( Be compassionate and show empathy, express gratitude, forgive others, Help people in need)

6. Citizenship; (Volunteerism, the environment, don't pollute. paying your taxes no loopholes or hiding money, honoring ideals country was founded on, getting involved in community affairs , stay informed; vote, be a good neighbor, obey laws and rules, respect authority)

The moral character could be learned in a church, temple, or synagog. I think if America had ethical values and behaviors like this, people could trust one another. Religion does make your mind stronger and assists with imagined self-identity and achieving goals. But ethical values are the basis

Expand full comment

From a family with roots so far back we don't know when our ancestors immigrated. Don't tell anyone but my family continues to instruct our young in the values you listed. As many of these values have become microaggressions, we instruct secretly. Saying "character and integrity matter" is now considered offensive by some. I can understand why immigrants might consider all of us dirt bags. I would think the same if I didn't know better. I hope it helps to hear that the work continues all be it in secret.

Expand full comment

You think America had no values because your older family members weren’t American. If your parents or grandparents were GI Generation you would believe something quite different.

Expand full comment

But Deco, those things aren't COOL.

And we have long ago decided that being perceived as "COOL" was waaay more important than those old-fashioned values you cite. More important than actually 𝑏𝑒𝑖𝑛𝑔 cool, by a long shot.

Expand full comment

I'm sure the "you know who I mean" people are exactly as you describe them. Where I live, and the people I know, are not like that. But suffer or leave or change it for what I assure you will NOT be "the better". I won't tell you to love it or leave it but you really should set as a goal: finding and moving to the great place where people DO have the sense of honor, tolerance, respect and self-discipline you are unable to find here.

I try not to speculate as to your national or cultural origin. but I kind of suspect...

Expand full comment
founding

Right now, the people with the most character on the planet seem to be the Japanese. Their elderly offered to go to the Fukushima power plant and be subjected to radiation to save the young. There is no integrity among the people or the leaders.

If a man of integrity that wanted to do good morally for the people of this country came in, he could be taking the most powerful person in the world.

I'm taking an online course at Hillsdale College that is free. The first lesson talks about the Greeks and the Romans. One of the ancients found that the middle class supports the country the most and asks for no financial favors. Rome fell because the rich did not want to keep foreign ventures, the middle class shrank, as Rome expanded, more people came into Rome, it became culturally diverse, and it had open borders. The and ancients knew a lot about government and citizenship. Check out https://online.hillsdale.edu/#course-offerings The course on America and its Citizenship In decline is free.

I have to stay here. My son may be able to move back, but he does not know the language. My goal is to write about building values and becoming honorable people. The politicians and corporate leaders have none of this.

Expand full comment

We need to defund NPR. Let them compete. Time for state media to go.

Expand full comment

It has already been mostly defunded for a long time. It is a corporate tool now.

Expand full comment

Yeah, that didn't pan out like I would have liked (the network becoming more ethical and even-handed) or expected (becoming a minor league reincarnation of Pacifica Network).

In retrospect, I don't think anyone forsaw that the interests of the corporate oligarchs and the anti-American cultural elites would dovetail so neatly.

Expand full comment

I eagerly look forward to losing the MSNBC class forever in a bloody Terror. I’ve taken up knitting.

Expand full comment

"The blades' aim is inerrant true

the game's in choosing necks."

Expand full comment

Thank you. All of my grandparents were first generation. Escaping poverty and communism to come here and now all of their descendants are supposed to atone for the sins of those before them according to 50% of the country it seems. The same people whining about somebody's privilege fail to acknowledge they too have many privileges.

Expand full comment

Also I will punch in the face the next person who says blacks are responsible for American wealth. Not to minimize slavery being bad but if you honestly think the incremental added value of free cotton picking labor available only to a tiny minority of plantation owners is what made America the richest nation on earth, with no regard to centuries of innovation and millions upon millions of immigrant laborers, and have not the faintest idea that African slavery dwarfed that of North America in scope and scale without making Africans rich , then you understand history and economics exactly as badly as your shitty test scores say you do.

Expand full comment

I'm not sure how much longer this country will remain rich and full of innovation. It's very troubling to see a large segment of the population center their entire identity on being victims. Too many people have become lazy, obese and long time malingerers finding every excuse to not excel in life or work.

Expand full comment

Well, the feelings of 10th graders are more important than such white supremacist concepts as "innovation" and "excellence" and "right answers" and "achievement". So, we get rid of advanced classes, and hard grades and make sure we respect other "ways of knowing" things like math and chemistry. This way, people who don't learn math can pass math classes.

And we should totally incorporate tribal math because "The zero wasn't invented by white men!"

Yeah, we're about to be out-competed, and sooner than later.

Expand full comment

People can barely read these days as well. I can't tell you how many times I see people with the reading ability of a third grader who somehow got a college degree. I put myself through college later in life and the things I witnessed there were downright disturbing. It's all about diploma mills.

Expand full comment

The fact that 10th graders are poor learners has everything to do with the defunding of public education--a piece of the neoliberal wet dream of privatization. America could learn from other countries who do this right.

Expand full comment

Oh sit around any corporate meeting where they talk about micro aggression and women ask pleadingly why men won’t stop raping them and you’ll start watching prepping videos pronto.

Expand full comment

Pretty thin soup, Sevender. The wealth of the South, in slaves and in cotton trading, was vast. We are not talking about what made America the richest nation on earth" in contemporary terms, but in the reality of pre-Civil War South which had yet to benefit from "millions of immigrant laborers." There is little doubt that the South helped birth the capitalism of modern America by virtue of enslaved Blacks. You just don't want to acknowledge the debt.

Expand full comment

The South had a few people with great wealth, in a society that overall was poorer and less developed than the North. Basically, Anglo-Brazil.

It was the dynamic and innovative North that made us a wealthy country, instead of another Brazil. It is true that the Northern textile industry needed Southern cotton, although freeing the slaves didn't seem to hurt it in the least.

Expand full comment

Fits the example of all the other former slave societies in the New World that ended up poor even today. So much Hannah Nicole Grift or whatever her name is.

Expand full comment

You fight like a girl.

Expand full comment

Now you are just getting lazy...

Expand full comment

Anyone who comes from sub-blue collar stock knows how this country was built, it was on the exploited, worked-to-death backs of white people (not entirely, of course). If you never saw this dynamic, you are the enemy, and should atone for your unearned "privilege".

Instead, those who pretend to think the country was built on the labor of black people are the very ones who benefitted from exploiting EVERYBODY, and lecture the broad class of "people not me" about privilege.

No wonder there's "white rage" (which I feel every time I see that corrupt, jowly PoS Gen. Miley, among many).

Expand full comment

My parents were immigrants from Germany in the mid 1930s. One of my grandparents got here in 1946, two died of illness, and one was killed by the Nazis.

Expand full comment

It would’ve been worse if they were Blacque.

Expand full comment

It's way less than 50% that even remotely has that expectation or atonement, at least in the streets that I walk.

Expand full comment

Probably less than 1 percent who even THINK about it, let alone form expectations. And then I ask---what expectations?

It's a debate composed of several talking points raised to a high order by the busiest and loudest bullhorns. I'll keep saying it---it's both diversion and preventive measure from tackling the real issues. Promoted and promulgated by all sides and from all quarters.

The issues involved have a role to play in any debate over the future of the U.S. debate, but the debate has veered off track and has taken faulty aim and misfired at the wrong targets.

Expand full comment

Ah yes, "both sidesism".

Equally bad, equally off track, of course. Except one side has control of the teachers' unions, the media, academia and the permanent bureaucracy. ("But what about Fox? What about the Heritage Foundation? What about my crazy uncle?". No. Not equal.)

As for the future of "the debate", what does it mean when one side (the one with, you know, the intelligence agencies and the Army) seems to be maneuvering towards demonizing the other as "domestic terrorists"? It's a very successful debate tactic, I guess, going off the examples of Pol Pot, Stalin, Mao and Hitler.

I suspect it's going to make "McCarthyism" look like a minor stunt that hindered the careers of a few screenwriters. (Yes, I know it was HUAC.)

Your "bothsidesism" is pretty strained.

Expand full comment

"....Except one side has control of the teachers' unions, the media, academia and the permanent bureaucracy..."

"I'm your typical intellectually lazy right-winger and these here things are things I was told not to like so I don't like them and because I don't like them we're gonna make them all leftist and stuff and anything leftist ain't good and these things especially is all dirty leftist stuff."

Expand full comment

Some things are so obvious it doesn't require much "intellectual work" to see them. And do you 𝑎𝑐𝑡𝑢𝑎𝑙𝑙𝑦 think lefties/wokies/progressives arrive at their conclusions via rigorous thought and adversarial analysis, and conservatives/libertarians/right-wingers just accept what they are told to think?? Wow. Contrafactuals it is, then. ​Thanks for the gaslighting, straw manning and projection though.

Oh, and for the fine example of complete lack of self-awareness. You can't possibly know how you sound when you say stuff like that.

Expand full comment

That 50% is 1% raging morons, 2% woke profiteers, 12% real bigots, and 35% cowards.

Expand full comment

That's a lot of canvassing and collating.

Expand full comment

I think one concept that is in great need for resurrection is the Middle Way (Golden Mean). I can understand a little why young people lean to binary, black and white thinking due to their lack of experience. But aren’t we all supposed to learn from other peoples experiences? Perhaps It would help if more people had jobs that actually dealt with real things, such as a mechanic or cook.

Expand full comment

Hand me a monkey wrench and a meat cleaver and I'll deal with some real things, you betcha.

Expand full comment

The Columbus Day holiday we’re now supposed to observe as a day of “mourning” 🤣 😂 was actually introduced as an inadequate apology to Italian-Americans who famously had been so railroaded through the cRiminaL juStIce system that two of their names became permanently attached to it as an example of courtroom racism; who had literally been shot down on the streets en masse—men, women and children alike—by shotgun-toting sheriffs as they cruised down the street in their sedans; who had been imprisoned in concentration camps during WWII (although with far less whining than the Japanese); and who had been the targets of the largest-ever lynching in US history, although you wouldn’t know that from visiting the new melano-fellating “Lynching Musuem.”

If Indians have any actual point to make I’d love to hear it. I’ve almost always supported protests advocating for specific programs to improve the material condition of actual live Indians, which we could easily do given they are an infinitesimally small minority despite the deafening noise they make. Mostly of their leaders though just seem to want to spoil things and make other people feel guilty for forcing them to rape and kidnap their women. I don’t know what this is supposed to accomplish, although it feels like a setup to a grift. Until the tune is changed, I’m tuning out.

Expand full comment

Please tune out. If you can actually write, "make other people feel guilty for forcing them to rape and kidnap their women..." about Indians, you cannot have much rational to say.

Expand full comment
Comment removed
Expand full comment

The case of Elizabeth Warren is interesting; she never put Native American ancestry on the record in any of her college applications or applications for academic jobs or tenure, and only included it after she was hired as a professor, apparently responding to a request by someone within the administration who wanted to use her claim in college materials for the purpose of Diversity Publicity. So if there was fraud or grift involved, it was on the part of the institution, going for maximum social justice cred by using any means that worked to inflate the result. Even if that happened, as infractions go, it's borderline. Indicative of something squirrelly, but trivial in and of itself.

Expand full comment

Here's the thing: throughout the existence of homo sapiens, stronger groups have taken from, abused, and killed weaker groups (whether because of technology, superior strategy, or sheer numbers). The word slave comes from the Latin for Slavic people, whom the Romans vigorously enslaved. Slavery existed in Africa for millennia before Europeans came. Tribes in the Americas waged war on the others long before Columbus or Cortez (see, Aztec wall of skulls in Mexico City). The history of Europe is mostly a history of war and bloodshed from prehistory through WWII. None of this is meant to be an excuse, but to say that the issue is not a unique feature of America but a feature of humanity. By nature we're much more like chimpanzees than bonobos. If the tables were turned and the Apache had guns and cannons and sailing ships and armies and large numbers and came to Europe where those things were unknown, how would that have played out? Similarly. It's a tragedy but humanity is doing somewhat better these days and we need to stop the self flagellation, and stop the hubris of thinking that the sins of 200 years ago are unique VS the sins of 1000 or 2000 or 10,000 years ago just because they are fresher in memory.

Expand full comment

Well put. Those truths are why I roll my eye at every descendant of a formerly enslaved group or abused tribe who claims current victim status. You are not a victim. You are a self-indulgent waste of human flesh. Get up, get out, live without blaming others for your own misery.

Expand full comment

Hell, we most likely killed off the Neanderthals, except to the extent we bred with them and preserved a bit of their DNA. (And how likely is it that those were loving consensual encounters?) My great grandfather was Choctaw so I have a sense of the tragedy of what happened to the Native Americans (at least, the ones who were here at the time after probably killing off some earlier folks who crossed the land bridge from Asia). But there is literally no possible way the encounter berween Europe and the Americas could have played out differently. What happened is what happens every single time there is a vast power difference between two groups of humans.

So let's celebrate that we're doing better at managing our aggressive violent natures. The polar bears aren't going to stop eating baby seals and we don't blame them for it, it's what they do. But we have the ability to stop killing and hating each other so let's keep going with that, without wallowing in a narcissistic dream world of nonsense.

And by the way the way, if the chimpanzees, who dearly love a bit of the old ultra-violence, ever manage to cross the Congo River, the peaceful, matriarchal, free-love bonobos will be in deep shit.

Expand full comment

"(And how likely is it that those were loving consensual encounters?) "

Oddly enough, quite. Since modern humans (other than Africans) sport Neanderthal DNA, that means that Homo sap. women bore children to Neanderthal fathers and raised the babies in H. sap. bands. Granted, there may also have been captured Neanderthal women; but Neanderthals were massive and muscular - they would have been dangerous captives. On the other hand, since they were European natives, they would have been valuable guides and tutors for incoming Africans.

In other words, our ancestors who met them thought Neanderthals were humans. It isn't clear why they died out - and questionable that they did.

Expand full comment

Hot af

Expand full comment

Not just a vast power difference, but a vast epidemiological one as well. That’s what was responsible for the “genocide.”

Expand full comment

Questionable anthropology. Do you have any sources for that contention?

Expand full comment

That's generally acknowledged fact. Jared Diamond's book Guns, Germs, and Steel has a lot of details on that. So do books specifically devoted the North American exploration, like Undaunted Courage, by Stephen Ambrose (about the Lewis and Clark expedition) and David Ewing Duncan's biography Hernando de Soto.

Having read all of those books, it was eye-opening to learn just how few Europeans were required to infect the North American peoples with the novel pathogens that they hosted; the consequences for the Europeans often passed unnoticed, but the effects of the same viruses and bacteria were experienced as plagues by the indigenous tribes. In the case of de Soto, a few dozen Europeans were sufficient to wipe out the Coosa civilization in the 16th century in a matter of decades. De Soto's small company of conquistadores sometimes found villages that had already been decimated or abandoned due to European diseases spread by the handful of shipwreck castaways who had preceded their arrival. As for Lewis and Clark, soon after their expedition left St. Louis in 1803 to travel up the Missouri to Nebraska and the Dakotas, they also began to encounter entire villages that had been abandoned, and massive mortality among the tribes from novel diseases that had been contracted from contact with a handful of European fur trappers, most of them French voyageurs who ranged from the Great Lakes region through what had formerly been New France.

Expand full comment

It’s eerie to read the accounts of the early Europeans who encountered vast tracts of cleared forestland in New England without hardly anyone dwelling there. Most of the natives felled by European diseases had never met nor had even heard of the arrival of the Europeans, and many of the Europeans settled land that had already been abandoned by lost tribes they never encountered, though other tribes still lived nearby. (The actual Massachusetts may be one example iirc, unless it was a different neighbor I’m thinking of.) Given Puritan religious beliefs it was impossible to think other than this land had been prepared for their arrival by the hand of providence.

Expand full comment

I think I see the point. Fascinating! So, the newcomers brought endemic diseases to the native Neanderthals, right, just as in the Americas (the Americas gifted Europe with syphillis in return)? It still seems far-fetched theory in that there were no concentrations of humans at that time, which I believe is necessary for endemic diseases--but I don't really know this. So, is there any anthropological 'evidence' that Neanderthals succumbed to new diseases?

Expand full comment

You people really are idiots, aren’t you?

Don’t try to say something smart in reply. It’s just too sad.

Expand full comment

I was going to heed your advice, but I just have to ask, "What is so sad?" This seems the tamest of conversations.

Expand full comment

Sometimes this is the way it plays out with or without "a vast power difference between two groups of humans."

Expand full comment
founding

Your hell is coming and narcissists with no values will rule. You will wish you could be violent, but won't because you would be too scared. Happy Thanksgiving AHHAAAAHHHAAA

Expand full comment

What about people like me who descend from a highly privileged caste and yet STILL make claims for victim status? We're the fucking worst! Frankly, I don't believe I could live (at least not comfortably) WITHOUT blaming others for my own misery.

Expand full comment

For as little as $100 per month, you can blame me for all your problems. That’s right! Unemployment, depression, broken relationships, stomach ache and head ache, nasty looks from strangers on the street . . . It’s all my fault. How is that for peace of mind?

You can start your new life today, with one easy payment.

Why wait? Peace of mind is one mouse click away.

And that’s not all. For $200 per month you can blame me for all your county’s problems. You heard that right! They’re all my fault! Don’t confuse yourself blaming the president, congress, the mayor or the governor. Blame me! Your cares will melt away the moment you click “subscribe” Order now! Does this sound too good to be true. Try it for 30 days and if you’re not the happiest you’ve ever been, we’ll give you a full refund. Your new life is within reach!

But wait. For only $300 per month you can blame me for all of history’s problems. Wars, genocides, murders, arson and death. I’m responsible for all of it. Don’t give yourself a headache trying to make sense of history. Do something fun instead!. You want all those nasty thoughts to go away. Why feel guilty and sad? You’re OK. I’m the problem. Now, how do you feel?

That’s right, only $300 and heaven itself is yours.

Www.itsmyfault.com

A division of:

My Fault Enterprises

24 Victory Way

PO Box 99

Grand Banks, Nebraska 494949494

Expand full comment

Will you be franchising? Considering a change and used to being blamed.

Expand full comment

I knew it would be worth my time to dip into the comments, thanks

Expand full comment

Professional scapegoat-worth a try!!!

Expand full comment

I'm starting my Happiness Fund right away!

Expand full comment

I often find myself thinking, and saying, that much victimhood thinking comes from lives that are essentially too easy. To be charitable, perhaps our brains have legacy structures that expect (and look for) adversity. And if not actually present, we will invent it--and then relish the our emotional response.

Expand full comment

I’ve often thought that. Ultra-rich people will often make mountains out of molehills: e.g. complaining about “the help” who do work for them that ordinary people do themselves. It seems like most humans need some minimum amount of conflict and/or stress in their lives, and will scale problems up or down depending on how full their plates are.

Expand full comment

“The rich like to be treated like invalids”

Expand full comment

In the grand scheme of things, we're all victims and we're all oppressors.

Expand full comment
founding

Except for white men — for some reason intersectionality doesn’t apply to them, so apparently a short, fat, unattractive, dumb, homeless white guy is the oppressor regardless!

Expand full comment

I've thought something along the lines of this. I think the curse we carry is a tendency towards discontentment with sameness. But that is both a curse, because it's not fun and stirs conflict, and a blessing because it propels us to agitate for improvement and advancement. If humans were predisposed to be content and thankful for what they already have, we may still be living in grass huts and dying of a finger cut. At least that's the story I like to tell myself for why there are so many malcontents in advanced and fortunate countries.

Expand full comment

I haven't lived in a grass hut on a beach, avoiding death by finger cut, but I have lived in the high mountains of the Mexican Sierra. People there were mostly content with growing their milpas and doing other productive things for a living. When NAFTA came, followed by the drug cartels courtesy of the US War On Drugs, that culture was destroyed.

Expand full comment

You should read Jerry Kamstra's book Weed, from 1974. Kamstra split his time between the US and the mountains of Mexico for years in the 1960s, even before he got involved smuggling pot over the border. Kamstra describes the advent of the globalized War on Drugs that began under Nixon, and its impacts on the locals of Sinaloa, Michoacan, Culiacan, and Chihuahua. From an idyll to an invasion. With much worse to come; read the book God's Middle Finger by Richard Grant, from 2008, to get an idea of how much worse it got. And it's gotten even worse since then.

Expand full comment

Boredom is a terrible condition for a human - they will do damn near anything to escape it.

Expand full comment
founding

Fighting for survival will be coming soon, that should rev you up. The men who want to be Gods will rule the earth. The valueless, sociopathic, narcissists who view people as things will rule, your freedom will be gone. Would you have the courage to be violent or lose your soul cowering like a dog. Happy Thanksgiving, in your boredom.

Expand full comment

Boredom and decadence are the root to the whole catalog of problems (as you describe in other comments). It is why we end up a nation of hysterics over an amped-up flu virus.

Expand full comment

Do tell.

Expand full comment
founding

More to the point, basically everyone alive today is living on land “stolen” from some previous people. You’re upset that the U.S. “stole” land from the Lakota? Well, they “stole” it from the Cheyenne, who “stole” it from the Kiowa, etc., so hard to see why only the U.S. is blamed for doing the same thing. The way of the entire world prior to very recent times was that stronger cultures unapologetically displaced weaker cultures, mostly through force. This includes the aboriginal cultures that modern progressives like to falsely hagiographize as noble stewards of the land who who were getting along in peace and harmony until those damn Europeans came and ruined everything. Native tribes frequently attacked one another and enslaved members of conquered tribes, and I am not aware of any Native tribe that has continuously occupied its land since prehistoric times without conquering or being conquered by any other group, so I see zero reason for dead Europeans, let alone living Americans, to be assigned some special guilt not shared by pretty much every culture for living on “stolen land” — the European colonizers were just better at doing what every culture was doing (i.e., displacing weaker cultures through force) than the others.

Expand full comment

I think right intention is important. That history needs to be acknowledged- all of it- but it needs to be done so that we the human beings of today can find the way out of the trap, not to normalize it as the perpetual state of "humanity." Humanity is supposed to connote something better.

But- and this is crucial- if all we do is a "blame the European settlers" self-flagellation number, that's a false narrative. And it implicitly sets up the rationale for a cycle of revenge. So it's important to realize that the history of other ethnic groups and civilizations all over the world includes a record of their own ghastly atrocities.

To return just to the territory of the present-day US, one book that I found particularly eye-opening was the 1995 biography of Hernando de Soto, by David Ewing Duncan. DeSoto got around, from central America to Peru to Cuba- and, finally, to Florida and the southeastern region of the present-day US, a saga that makes up about the last one-fourth of the book content. The reader will learn a lot about the barbarities between 16th century Europeans in the earlier pages, as well as the harsh character of the indigenous civilizations of MesoAmerican and Peru. But the history I really hadn't known about before reading Duncan's account was about the native American Coosa civilization that the deSoto expedition encountered in North America. Let's just say that Europeans did not bring the institution of slavery to North America; it was already well-established before de Soto arrived. The reader of that book will also learn just how fast novel communicable disease epidemics passed on by outsiders to a population with no immunity can decimate a population and destroy its civilization, as a worst-case scenario.

To be clear, I'm not recommending that part of the book as whataboutism to exculpate white Europeans- Duncan's book also makes it cleat that the Spanish conquistadors have a lot to answer for- or for atroctitie of the Dutch and the Anglos who arrived later, some of whom showed no hesitation to torch a building full of native Americans despite the fact of their previous friendly relations (and even previous conversion to Christianity), or to behead warriors of native tribes and display them as trophies, etc. I'm trying to point out that societies on every continent have engaged in these atrocities, and that the current politicized pop-academic fad for portraying European settlers as the prime villains of human history is a false accounting, of the sort that could only be swallowed by naive people who think that just because they've learned the disillusioning details of one particular chronology of atrocious conduct, they've been awakened to the entire history of atrocity and oppression all over the world. Anyone who extends their researches to other peoples and other continents will eventually learn better. (But we live in a society where people have a way of imagining themselves fully educated after reading only a small number of books. After which they rest on their laurels to bask in their imagined superiority over anyone who gainsays their facile conclusions about human history. I read Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee soon after it was first published; it was discussed in my high school classes. I read Stamped From The Beginning last year; when Ibram X. Kendi sticks to the facts of history, his scholarship is on firm ground. And then he goes off the deep end...)

My introductory list of Nightmare History books (as chronological as I can make it):

Chasing The Sea

Lords Of The Rim

A World Lit Only By Fire

A Distant Mirror

Hellfire Nation

The Fatal Shore

King Leopold's Ghost

The Gulag Archipelago

The Rape Of Nanking

Tail-End Charlies

Stalingrad, by Anthony Beevor

The Bitter Road To Freedom

Behind The Killing Fields

We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families

That's only a partial list. I don't read books like those over the Christmas holidays; I usually reserve them for the doldrums of late February, when I get a touch of cabin fever and start feeling sorry for myself. And then I curl up under the blankets in a warm household with a mug of hot tea and honey, and read about people sleeping in frozen ditches with festering yaws and balls of lice under their armpits, I realize I have it pretty good, and I thank God for The Better Angels Of Our Nature. Which is incidentally the title of a pretty good- if somewhat overoptimistic- book by Steven Pinker. (It's a little early for self-congratulation. We aren't over the hump yet, as a species.) I suggest reading that one for Christmas season.

Expand full comment

King Leopold's Ghost was a page-turner. Well, not actually. I found myself dreaming of toppling bronze statues into the sea. But on this tread, I suppose that makes me a party pooper. As in: "Why all of the negativity? Can't we just party like it's 1900, again? After all, someone else enslaved and killed some other people, somewhere else. Can't we celebrate the discovery of Congolese rubber?"

That said, your comment points out the only responsible approach to history--own it all (as much as you can) and transcend it (if you can).

Expand full comment

Actually a great project for Fair for All would be a remedial book list.

Expand full comment

The reason for the 'stolen land' narrative is not to undo some imagined past injustice but, if we are repulsed by the idea of settler-colonialism and murder, to just stop these practices in the present day.

Expand full comment

Thomas Sowell wrote three books that describe this in detail for the whole world: Race and Culture, Migrations and Cultures, and Conquests and Cultures.

He explains how the Europeans had good land connections to Asia and the Middle East and made use of inventions in those lands (such as numbers, from India and the Middle East), while the Americas had poor north-south communications that limited transmission of new discoveries.

Also, note that the current American Indians are now considered the third separate migrants from Asia, with the first coming here more than 15,000 years ago. They are not "native Americans; they came from Asia.

Expand full comment

Hear, hear!

Expand full comment

The only "peaceful societies" were the ones who benefitted from geographical/terrain isolation, so it was not worthwhile to go conquer them.

And even there, Pacific Islanders used to get in boats and row/sail across hundreds of miles of open ocean to find people to war with (with admirably brutal weapons, I might add).

Do NOT accept any historical analysis that posits Europeans as especially bloodthirsty or conquest-prone. Better at it than most? Taking advantage of superior technology when they had it? Sure, but these are not unique traits. The Aztecs were taken down because of their harsh treatment of the peoples they conquered, who jumped at the chance for revenge even if it meant allying with brutal, smelly Spaniards!

Expand full comment

Not quite accurate, Trollificus. The Pacific Islanders went on long journeys for trade, wives, and maintenance of cultural ties. They had plenty of their neighbors to fight and kill--which, by the way, is an excellent means of population control.

As to your other point that the Europeans were just as vicious killers as anybody else, maybe so, but the point of civilization is to stop killing, not to glorify it.

Expand full comment

Here's the thing. the hypocrisy of 'stronger groups' bulldozing through waving around a claim to certain unalienable rights is a thing some members of society can't simply look past with 'welp, we're just like chimps' or 'it worked for the romans'. But I agree nobody that never engaged in the bad stuff needs to be self-flagellating, everything in your last sentence, and for the most part it seems we aren't, at least to me.

Expand full comment

I wouldn't say that the long history of human group conflict is a matter of claiming "unalienable rights". It's really the opposite of that: everyone's rights are highly alienable anytime someone else comes along who is able to take them away. And I'm certainly not saying that's a morally good thing but it is reality.

Expand full comment

True about the long history, I was using 'unalienable rights' to focus in on USA bulldozing. One of the great things that ostensibly marks USA as something special/unique is the very specific statements its founding documents make which should break it from that long history, with lofty claims of inalienable rights. Yet it regularly has failed to live up to these in its actions, often deploying ridiculous legal excuses (generally centered on citizenship and/or security) to justify the hypocrisy. Doing better requires acknowledging at least this much. Ignoring it allows that veil of exceptionalism to maintain the status quo, which is fine for people satisfied with the way things are and treating founding principles as marketing slogans when it's deemed necessary.

Expand full comment
Comment removed
Expand full comment

The basic principles were around for a long time and their codification here indeed was likely throwing a bone, but nobody uses a fact like this to signal their society as the city on the hill quite as loud or obnoxiously while carrying on the usual business.

Expand full comment
Comment removed
Expand full comment

All of us have ancestors who engaged in bad stuff if you go back far enough.

Expand full comment

Totally true, but I won't be using that to lighten my responsibility to do better (not accusing you of this, just saying). At the same time, at least partly as a result of the facts you describe, I won't be demanding anyone shoulder extra due to their genetics.

Expand full comment

Completely agree with this statement.

Expand full comment

As I wrote in another reply, the purposes of what you called 'self-flagellation' are 1) to contradict the narratives that justify these wrongs; 2) to really try to stop doing evil.

Expand full comment

But if that's done without any attention to the wider context, it just turns into more group axe-grinding for the purpose of revenge. There's a difference between providing a more accurate historical record and scapegoating the descendants on an offending population. Which is quite frankly how I'm most often seeing this done by the Wokist critique of "Whiteness." As the targets of the criticisms, people with entirely European ancestry are somehow expected to be responsible for decoding and debugging the massive amount of semantic noise attendant to the statements being made, notwithstanding all of the sweeping generalizations, stereotypes, resort to mythology, etc. That's properly the responsibility of the speaker.

To refer to a more specific problem: symbolic shifts like capitalizing 'White' and 'Black' carry unintended consequences. The inherently polarizing connotations aren't to be effectively finessed with rationalizing about good intentions. Ironically, the color polarization was initiated by the oppressing side in the slavery era...why continue with that reification? How much opportunism is there in the doublespeak- even triplespeak- that claims that 1) "whiteness" is not a category that refers to genetic European ancestry; 2), that the construction of "whiteness" is inherently racist; and 3) that "white" and whiteness" are perfectly okay as signifiers directed at any and all individuals with a physical phenotype that indicates entirely European genetic heritage...? Especially when that identification is practically always attached to a boatload of accusatory assumptions that are phrased as truisms directed at attributed status group membership, instead of on the basis of background knowledge about an individual's own life experiences. "Whiteness." It's impossible for me to figure out how that implicitly essentialist conceptualization serves the purposes of justice. And "Blackness" (or Fanon's "Negritude") is no better in that respect. I recognize that African Americans have developed cultures and subcultures that are distinct from the European settler population, and that the features of those cultures also include a component of resistance. But reifying essentialist views- often in conjunction with valorizing one false concept over another false concept- adds nothing to the conversation but compounded confusion.

But from my observation and readings, the chance that anyone in the Wokist movement is going to give those criticisms any attention is practically nil. It's too convenient- and often, to immediately gratifying- for the adherents to keep parsing the discussion in terms that serve spurious purposes, like self-flattery or demonization. Theoretically, that's no different than White Supremacy.

The typical defense offered in the rare case when those observations are acknowledged is that "Power differential" somehow justifies an identically offensive gloss in one case while invalidating it in the other. That's absurd on its face. Particularly given that political activism is traditionally supposed to be all about shifting a balance of Power in the direction favored by the activists. So either the Wokists can guarantee their claim to Superior Virtue on the basis of Perpetual Powerlessness, and thereby resign themselves to the status of self-marginalized passive-aggressive grievances that maintain their supposed validity by never being addressed; or else they're intent on bidding for the Power to govern, with the eventual goal of becoming as bad as White Supremacists. That's the implicit logic that underpins making "Power differential" the stated defense for the twisted doublespeak at the Wokist extreme: that while it's intolerable to stereotype nonwhites, it's entirely acceptable to apply stereotypical truisms to the group category defined (subjectively and somewhat whimsically) as White. In fact, Wokists apparently view such doublespeak as a vital component of the cause of social justice. (Admittedly, all I have to go on to support that conclusion is their statement, and the parts of their policy agenda which follow that twisted logic to its inevitable conclusions.)

Expand full comment

So true. It is all gang warfare, just bigger more violent gangs

Expand full comment

My people were freed from slavery in the 1860s as well-it was just called serfdom.

Expand full comment
founding

I do not know why this isn't better known. Russian serfdom was terrible. 𝑫𝒆𝒂𝒅 𝑺𝒐𝒖𝒍𝒔 is a good place to start.

Expand full comment

Dead Souls is actually in my library queue-I plan on reading it soon.

Expand full comment
founding

After I read it I realized how many times I've read references to "Chichikov" and not known that 𝑫𝒆𝒂𝒅 𝑺𝒐𝒖𝒍𝒔 is where that allusion came from (Chichikov is the main character). Also, because it is unfinished I stayed away from it a long time, but now realize of course it doesn't make any difference..it's not so much a novel as a lot of episodes.

Expand full comment
founding

Stop Whining; your hell will be coming soon; you will be a Technocrat's serf. War may be bloody, but life as a serf is a bitch. I predict your children's children will not have kids.

Expand full comment

Remember kids: “we’re uniquely bad” is just as much American Exceptionalism as “we’re uniquely good.”

Expand full comment

As are the comments here, which impose vast generalizations on 'progressives' and 'leftists'. I wouldn't call it exceptionalism, however; it looks like simple tribalism to me. I'd feel tribalistic, too, if it weren't for the fact that, like Groucho Marx, I wouldn't want to join any tribe that would have me.

Expand full comment

Self-hating tribalism is still tribalism,

Expand full comment

It could be a tribal defense mechanism. 'You can't hate me because I already hate myself. Been there, done that. Life still shitty? Your fault; I've done my self-hating for the week.'

I'm just guessing, though. Enough people seem to hate me to cause me to figure the job's done; no need to worry about it.

Expand full comment
Comment removed
Expand full comment

It's not exactly the exercise of a privilege; it is (in my hypothesis) a _defense_ of privilege -- in the view of some of the privileged, tedious but necessary. And, as I said, fashionable.

Expand full comment
Comment removed
Expand full comment
Comment removed
Expand full comment

As I said in my very first phrase, I was referring to the particular comments _here_, not everything 'progressives' and 'leftists' do. These categories are so vaguely defined that you can say anything you want about them without risking meaningful confirmation or contradiction.

Slagging on Marcuse, I believe, is beating a very dead horse; I suppose one might get some random flies out of the effort, but is it worth it? Have you actually made your way through _One-Dimensional Man_?

Expand full comment
Comment removed
Expand full comment

To my perhaps poor degree of perception, 'Left' and 'progressive' have not been defined around here in any way that imposes a rational framework on the content of the ideologies in question. Instead, what seem to be similar but hostile tribes are alluded to -- for example, the characters in your academic squabble, where the 'abuse of power' has little nothing to do with ideological principles and characteristics and everything to do with petty rank-pulling and bullshitting in a naturally repulsive academic environment. I admit that the false assertion 'rightist equals psychotic', credentialized by some of the squabblists, must have gotten one subtribes's pants wet, because an authoritarian institution was putting down a different subtribe, but that's not my fault. The fact remains as I said: the categories so defined do not mean much of anything outside of the accidents of style, manners, accent, locale, and so on.

Expand full comment
Comment removed
Expand full comment

Your“we’re uniquely bad” depends on the definition of 'we'.

Expand full comment

Right on! This applies to every we,

Expand full comment

American exceptionalism? "Uniquely obnoxious?"

Expand full comment

Parenthetically, once upon a time I was describing some of America's crimes and follies to a Canadian, and she said, 'You goddamned Americans not only have to be better than everyone else, you have to be worse than everyone else, too.'

Expand full comment

You need more turkey. You aren't in the tryptophan zone.

Expand full comment

Exactly so. Another name for this is inverted patriotism,. MLK and other American radicals have called on us to be true to our best selves; contemporary Progressives tell us that we are totally depraved (and therefore, it seems, incapable of reform).

Expand full comment

Holy shit, you're right.

Expand full comment

Lol

Expand full comment

Mr. Taibbi:

Our firm represents the estate of the late EA Kline.

Tragically, Mr. Kline joined the choir invisible this morning.

His wife reports that when he read the line “…the People’s History could have been titled ‘Hitlers and Baby Seals’” it engendered such paroxysmal laughter that within a couple of minutes he asphyxiated.

Paramedics attempted to restore normal breathing rhythm by reading David Brooks columns, but to no avail.

While our firm wishes you all due respect as a writer, we must advise you that writing this funny can be hazardous to vulnerable segments of the population.

Our staff of associate drones will be spending their Thanksgiving drafting a Wrongful Death complaint, naming you as the sole defendant, since you so arrogantly decided to leave behind the world of Legacy publishers.

Please advise if you will accept service by mail, or if we have to track you down wherever you may be hiding out during this joyful holiday season.

Sincerely,

The Law Firm of Your Tragic Misfortune Is Our Path to Unseemly Riches, LLC

Expand full comment

And by the way I think Zinn’s book should be taught in every American high school.

Expand full comment

Brilliant. Though they should have tried Chomsky, which has been known to not only interrupt such episodes of "paroxysmal laughter", but to cause a total "Acomical Blockage of the Humoral Artery".

I may have read somewhere of a lawsuit resulting from that, though.

Expand full comment

I went to Gettysburg a few weeks ago. It's hard to imagine the magnitude of the sacrifice when you arrive in bucket seats listening to satellite radio. The melodramatic Burns-esque slide show was hardly able to convey the bitter sadness of one death let alone thousands. But it did show us sacrifice on a scale most of us have only read about. When the show was over the doors open opposite the cavernous gift shop. I was jolted into our present retail reality. It's a huge gift shop with all sorts of over priced reminders of ones trip to someone else's hell, someone else's sacrifice. It was defiantly a "money changer in the temple" moment for me. I felt like the "litter Indian" of Madison Avenue fame. The national parks of my youth had a few post cards and trinkets. This was a gift shop super market.

Back at home I dove back into the culture wars that we should hope to G_D never break out into open warfare. We have it awfully good in the here and now.

I grew up as one of 9 kids in a family where we cut up the few pork chops we could afford. We thought everyone cut up there pork chops. I still enjoy a good lettuce sandwich. We learned that there is always someone worse off. We learned that we have to be the sunshine on the rainy day; that we are only as happy as we want to be. My one sister always gave her birthday ice cream to the birthday boy or girl.

We're all between 60 and 75 now. My mother would never allow us to "not talk to" one or the other. She saw how that went in her generation; so we all mostly get along - eye roll.

The Zinn people violate one of the rules my mother taught me. You can't wear someone else's sacrifice as your own. Go out and sacrifice something in private and have it discovered by accident.

Thanks to Matt for reminding me. Sorry I went off topic. Good thing Matt doesn't mark these rants.

Tim

Expand full comment

This is was beautiful. Your mother's words will stay with me.

Expand full comment

Your story reminds me of Johnny Rotten’s comments on his childhood in London. He described his parents as “working class Thatcherites (Reagan Ds/deplorables), and said “the one rule in my house was no self pity”.

Expand full comment

Mayonnaise Sandwiches. Sugar sprinkled on saltines for "dessert".

Expand full comment

Thank you for this.

Expand full comment

One of the reasons that Cortez was able to defeat the Aztec Empire was not guns, germs and steel, but simply that Aztecs were deeply hatred by their neighbours - the Mizteca, Olmeca, Tolteca and a dozen other tribes who banded together with the Spanish under the (mistaken) impression that nothing could be worse than the Aztecs.

The Aztec gods required constant human sacrifice on a massive scale, preferably of the denizens of subject tribes. The Aztec armies proved entirely unsuitable because they aimed to take prisoners (for human sacrifice) rather than to kill the enemy outright. The Spanish soon understood and modified their tactics accordingly

Expand full comment

Prescott’s Conquest of Mexico is “interesting” reading. As is anything on West African life in 1618. Here’s the Kingdom of Dahomey, whose growth “coincided with the growth of the Atlantic slave trade, and it became known to European traders as a major source of slaves.[4] The kingdom captured prisoners during wars and raids, and sold them into the Atlantic slave trade in exchange for European goods such as rifles, gunpowder, fabrics, cowrie shells, tobacco, pipes, and alcohol.

And their religion? “Human sacrifice was an important part of the practice. During the Annual Custom, 500 prisoners would be sacrificed. In addition, when a ruler died, hundreds, to thousands of prisoners would be sacrificed. As many as 4,000 were reported killed In one of these ceremonies in 1727.”

All from Wikipedia.

Hey Wokesters. . . . Take a look at global cultures in 1618 and then ask yourselfs . . . Is Enlightenment thought so bad? LOL.

Pass the turkey!

Expand full comment

If you really want to acknowledge an inconvenient truth, taking and keeping slaves was a normal feature of humanity for thousands of years until white Europeans ended it.

Expand full comment

You are quite right about 'taking and keeping slaves' for millennia, but the chattel slavery the Europeans initiated was unique. In the South, Black slaves in agriculture were the foundation of capitalism; perhaps in economic terms, the North's base of capitalism was workmen running machines, or just machines, so its capitalism was not dependent. There never was a moral rational for slavery and it always implied a rejection of the humanity of the enslaved. Perhaps the white Europeans just got tired to that mental gymnastic. It was not because they were 'good'.

Expand full comment

Oh don't get me wrong I'm not saying white people didn't profit hugely from slavery for a long time. As did many cultures before. But the closing of the slave trade in Europe, Brazil, and America didn't happen randomly, it happened because people decided to make it happen.

Expand full comment

The discovery-and yes Zinn, it was-of the New World opened up an entire new chapter in human thought, economics, and behavior. The frontier mentality was created from scratch-for good or for bad, and the nature of slavery-like every other human institution imported across the Atlantic-changed radically. Attitudes towards abolition also changed just as strongly.

Expand full comment
Comment removed
Expand full comment

The Spanish colonies had de facto independence of action from Spain due to the realities of 16th-18th century technologies. The colonies had a saying “If death was only imported by the royal court, we would be immortal”.

Expand full comment

Careful. "Yourselfs" is what "yourselves" sounds like when you're slurring. ln-laws come early this year?

Expand full comment

We've been pre-drinking for a week now.

Expand full comment

I suspect they will avail themselves of the easier (and oh, so much more virtuous) route of rewriting Wikipedia.

Expand full comment

There is virtually no difference between taking slaves and killing prisoners of war for sacrifice or whatever. Slaves, because their conqueror did not take their lives, give up autonomy and essentially owe an unpayable debt for that life. Many slaves took their own lives; compare to the American patriotic phrase, "Death before dishonor."

Expand full comment

Almost true but not quite, since there were some societies and masters who frowned on mistreatment of slaves and allowed slaves to rise to positions of considerable power and influence (largely ancient European and some midEastern cultures, not US version) and that’s arguably better than killing them in a religious ceremony. . . But that’s beside the point. The larger point is: maybe “whiteness” isn’t the problem. Maybe skin pigment isn’t the problem. Maybe “the problem” is something entirely different. Maybe the problem is something so fundamentally human it’s invisible, especially to the loudest and most ignorant voices who’ve taken over the public mind spaces today, it’s the structure of group consciousness for good or for bad.

Pass the turkey!

Expand full comment

Of course. My main point is that 17th century European slavery was unlike slavery in the past. It has nothing to do with skin color, except as point of fact, in the Moslem countries during the Middle Ages, white-skinned, blond Europeans were favored slaves. I agree with the statement that slavery involves making the slave into an 'other'; thus, the Europeans could hold onto their strict religion while brutalizing their slaves--it just turned out that these were mostly Black. I am sure that the white indentured servants in America and Australia were not treated very well, either.

One Zinn point is that the landowners created 'racism' precisely to keep the white servants, Black slaves, and wild Indians divided and easily controlled.

Expand full comment

Although it must be noted that most of the Black African slaves brought to America were not prisoners of war, but kidnap victims, a different thing entirely.

Expand full comment

They were conquered. Same thing either way. Try not to overthink it just to demonstrate your " virtue".

Expand full comment

Why do you resort to "overthink...'virtue'" nonsense. 'conquer' and 'kidnap' have very different meanings. War slaves conceded to their slavery in exchange for their lives while kidnapped slaves had no choice. No particular 'virtue' involved.

Expand full com