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[personal profile] theatokos
I'm feeling really disillusioned and a bit despairing this morning. Part of it is reading the news and following, even loosely, politics, particularly American politics. Part of it is the ongoing conversation with my cousin. It's like the conversation with my cousin is the microcosm of the macrocosm that is the news. Basically, people are stupid. People don't think. I'm pretty stupid and don't think in many areas of my life, so I'm not off the hook. My only saving grace is that I can think critically. I'm certainly no less judgmental than most, and maybe only a tad bit more compassionate, but this is a relatively recent development.

I am winding down the conversation with cousin. There's only so much a person can say. If a person doesn't have sound reasoning skills what can you do? And it's way too much work to read through his atrociously written responses. I am disappointed. Because my cousin is a Nice Guy, and I always liked him. But really, he's a sexist. Of course, he doesn't think he is, but he is. He doesn't see the consequences of his lines of reason. He has no excuse, either. It makes me think I'll never make it as a university professor. How do those of you who teach handle it? Do you cling to those students who are brilliant and/or really really try? I'm afraid my low bullshit tolerance will cause me to be rude and demeaning to the idiots. Teaching singing seems sooooo much easier.

I don't think that my cousin is all that unique. I think a lot of people are like him. For a variety of reasons. I recognize that I have a considerable position of privilege that I can sit around and study to such an advanced degree and challenge the status quo. There are a lot of people who have to work longer hours than I do, who have various other circumstances that prevent the navel-gazing I spend much of my time doing. But I also know that it's uncomfortable to challenge the status quo. The powers that be offer us tastes of power and privilege in hopes that we won't challenge them any further. I find this glaringly obvious in feminist politics (and I don't mean political politics only). If I am officially Sexy then I'll go a hell of lot further than if I am not. Sarah Palin is a great example of this.

And then there's just plain ol' politics. Not that I ever thought Obama was the second coming, but I am officially over his administration. We had loads of hope in the beginning, but I've seen no change at all. Just standard Democrat politics. And the recent hoo-ha over the Sherrod firing is disgusting. Instead of really discussing race, it was knee-jerk political correctness. I am no longer convinced that America as a nation can have a debate about anything. It is nothing but sound bites, sensationalism, and status quo rhethoric. Fox News and their hosts are the worst of the worst. I am embarrassed that those entertainers get airspace called 'news' and I am appalled that millions of people (some of them I know to be very nice!) consider that actual reasoning and debate. Where did our critical thinking skills go?? And the 'liberal' media is only a teeny-tiny fraction better. Their bias is veiled but its there. And most people don't seem to worry about this. Most people will eat up anything that's delivered from 'on high'.

I'm tired of xenophobia masquerading as patriotism. Britain, though more moderate than the US in many ways, definitely has its share of racist xenophobes running around. If I hear any more 'mosque at ground zero' nonsense I think I'll hurt some one. (It's not a mosque, it's not at ground zero.) I'm tired of people who don't question the justice system and assume that because 'justice' is in the title it is, actually, just. Basically, I don't think I can handle the masses anymore. Even though I'm getting a little bored here in bucolic west Wales, maybe I can just convince my thinking, creative friends to come join me in a commune?

I'm ready for the anarcho-feminist revolution now. Thanks.

(But not all is lost. It's not raining this morning and I found out this morning, thanks to [ profile] bravenewcentury that Avatar:the Last Airbender is getting a series sequel. I will die of the squee and of anticipation. Gotta focus on the little things. Also, my son is deadly cute, and deadly whingey this morning, and covered in corn flakes.)

Date: 2010-07-22 12:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think some of the media BS is easier to take if you're in the U.S. The people I talk to (a select group, of course; I spend most of my day alone, working at home) are well aware that the media are stupid. The comments on the Des Moines Register's stories, for example, often come from a few nutters with nothing else to do except rant about how Obama is really Hitler, but then there are usually a few other people who say, "Come on. Don't be so ridiculous. Now go take your meds."

Re: teaching, you usually have reading assignments to focus on, so it's not necessarily a battle of your personal views vs. the student's. I think that helps a lot.

Date: 2010-07-22 12:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
For some reason today it all seems so overwhelming. It's not even that I disagree! It's about a complete inability to think critically and engage. I kind of want to weep.

Being away from the US highlights the inanity of the media and politics. Even though I got worked up fairly regularly, I was much more inured to the whole mess.

I think the US is ungovernable. It's too big. Too diverse and divided.
Edited Date: 2010-07-22 12:44 pm (UTC)

Date: 2010-07-22 02:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It's too big. Too diverse and divided.

Yeah, can't say I'd complain if my "country" turned into everything from Pennsylvania north and east.

Date: 2010-07-22 02:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I love this post so hard. I have been getting increasingly depressed at, well, everything lately. I stupidly listen to a little right-wing radio from time to time just to see what they're saying, and it's downright DISGUSTING. Absolute lies that are easily disproven, but caller after caller expresses sycophantic agreement with every word out of the host's mouth. I'm no Obama fan, but when I listen to the criticism of him from the Tea Party people it's just so obviously racist, especially compared with criticism from the left and the middle-- all the birther/Barack HUSSEIN Obama/socialist/communist/nazi stuff isn't substantive criticism at all, and the complaints that the expansion of federal government will somehow result in dismantling federal programs would be ridiculous if it weren't so scary that so many people believe it.

I'm tired of the "these colors don't run" crowd. I'm tired of people who want to cut nonexistent entitlement programs that they think others are getting, but God help you if you cut their programs.

Anyhow, I'll stop turning a comment of agreement into a teal deer :)

Date: 2010-07-22 03:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
A teal deer? I've never hear that before? Whatever does it mean?

I'm taking my cousin's ignorance to heart. I gotta knock it off.

Date: 2010-07-22 03:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It's the phonetic reading of TL;DR, which stands for "too long, didn't read."

Date: 2010-07-22 03:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
And now I know what TL;DR means! I always thought it was an HTML error. Ha!

Date: 2010-07-22 03:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yep I get there too, but usually I'm more upbeat. I don't think people are stupid individually, but in groups people can get interesting. I really shouldn't have read the comments in here, though, because now I'm right there with you, Niki.

It's always their fault. They're the evil ones, the hateful ones. If they would just change/go away/get a brain/light themselves on fire the world would be a much better place.

It's that critical thinking you were talking about. Totally freaking missing. Which is why we, for the most part, are unable to discuss anything - not just race. Because people longer discuss their POV and find points of overlap or agreement or even just agree to disagree - they need to defend all the actions and intents of their side while proving how morally reprehensible the other side is - while ignoring the actual issues at hand.

You know what? My shit also stinks. But there's more to me than just my shit, a whole lot more. Just as there is for all of you.

Oh...and I'm an insane racist, lying, Tea Bagger who needs to be on meds. Or I may just be a fellow human being who is honest, intelligent, and much like you in my hopes, intentions, and actions.

Date: 2010-07-22 03:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
If you really do think Obama is Hitler, then yes, I'd say we strongly disagree. The people I was talking about literally do say that. I'm in Iowa, where the Tea Party had a billboard up that literally said that. But the point I was making was that most people in Iowa don't think that that point of view is reasonable, so I'm sorry if that was not clear enough. I'm disappointed that you'd immediately leap to the view that my critical thinking skills are totally freaking missing.

Date: 2010-07-22 03:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm aware of the billboard. Do you know why it is no longer up? Do you care? Have you ever seen other signs that liken other politicians to Hitler? Were you speaking out and disappointed about that? What about things that are equally dumb that Obama supporters are saying? Do you notice that or only when it happens against your guys?

I don't know and I'm not saying you specifically would answer any of that one way or another. I'm just ... irritated ... at how we can't discuss issues without it being this finger pointing morality/ethics/big dick contest. Not only am I right, but I'm more intelligent, more ethical, more sane.

As for the media - don't get me started.
Edited Date: 2010-07-22 03:51 pm (UTC)

Date: 2010-07-22 03:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Dood. I'm totally right and smarter and more ethical too. Don't you read my LJ?? But I'm definitely not more sane.

Date: 2010-07-22 04:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
OK. that is true. And sanity is overrated.

Date: 2010-07-22 03:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I know that when I get like this I too am the pot calling the kettle black: all those people who don't think critically, it's media's fault. I feel like I really try to live out my ethics and beliefs, but I know I stink too.

And I so agree with you about the not discussing and therefore not finding overlaps. I do believe that compromise is inevitable, necessary, and productive - to some extent, but most importantly among individuals. I wish we could discuss more and find areas of agreement, but that's the only place to start.

The TeaParty thing is so hard, because you are the ONLY person I know who is involved, I trust you, and you seem to be the minority. Of course, I do cast a jaundiced eye to the general media's portrayal, but seriously, you're fighting a massively uphill battle.

My friend MsMidge was only commenting on the billboard, and she does live in Iowa. I don't think she was making an 'all of those people' comment. I would go nuts if I had to look at that billboard too.

Date: 2010-07-22 04:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I get that. I do. Especially about the Tea Party. I'm pretty much getting resigned to the fact that no matter what the Tea Party stands for, no matter what we do - it just doesn't matter. The continual screaming of "RACISTS" drowns us out. It's done to marginalize us and silence us. Which is what those in power tend to do - especially when most of your group's leadership and a majority of your members are women. And when your group is challenging the status quo - you are now dangerous and radical. Yes, our group is mostly white - as is America - but 1 out of every 5 Tea Party members isn't white. Do you think that many non-whites would join a racist group?

This is frustrating. Especially how the media covers it. Which gets me to Journolist. A story that should be rocking our country right now - but no one cares.

Journolist was a private listserve of some of the top journalists in the USA, along with some law professors and other academia. You needed to be liberal to join. (And I'm not going into this story because it is about Liberals - I'm frustrated because this is a story that should horrify ALL Americans) It was disbanded a few months ago after some of the conversations were leaked. Conversations that showed some of our top journalists discussing tactics on how to cover or bury stories to affect public' opinion - and to swing the 2008 election. Orchestrating a united narrative on stories to effect political outcomes.

Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent urged his colleagues to deflect attention from Obama’s relationship with Wright by changing the subject. Pick one of Obama’s conservative critics, Ackerman wrote, “Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists.”

When the Wright story wouldn't go away....

Katha Pollitt – the Nation “I hear you. but I am really tired of defending the indefensible. The people who attacked Clinton on Monica were prissy and ridiculous, but let me tell you it was no fun, as a feminist and a woman, waving aside as politically irrelevant and part of the vast rightwing conspiracy Paula, Monica, Kathleen, Juanita,” Pollitt said.

“Part of me doesn’t like this shit either,” agreed Ackerman, “But what I like less is being governed by racists and warmongers and criminals.

I do not endorse a Popular Front, nor do I think you need to. It’s not necessary to jump to Wright-qua-Wright’s defense. What is necessary is to raise the cost on the right of going after the left. In other words, find a rightwinger’s [sic] and smash it through a plate-glass window. Take a snapshot of the bleeding mess and send it out in a Christmas card to let the right know that it needs to live in a state of constant fear. Obviously I mean this rhetorically.

And I think this threads the needle. If the right forces us all to either defend Wright or tear him down, no matter what we choose, we lose the game they’ve put upon us. Instead, take one of them — Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists. Ask: why do they have such a deep-seated problem with a black politician who unites the country? What lurks behind those problems? This makes *them* sputter with rage, which in turn leads to overreaction and self-destruction.

part 2

Date: 2010-07-22 04:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
OK. SO they worked to kill the Wright story because it would damage Obama and Obama's religion isn't newsworthy.

OK. But then McCain picked Palin and Journolist discussed how to discredit her. Among the ideas they floated out there -
1. It's irresponsible for a mother to work when she had a baby with Downs (can you say SEXIST?)

Ryan Donmoyer, a reporter for Bloomberg News who was covering the campaign, sent a quick thought that Palin’s choice not to have an abortion when she unexpectedly became pregnant at age 44 would likely boost her image because it was a heartwarming story.

“Her decision to keep the Down’s baby is going to be a hugely emotional story that appeals to a vast swath of America, I think,” Donmoyer wrote.

Politico reporter Ben Adler, now an editor at Newsweek, replied, “but doesn’t leaving sad baby without its mother while she campaigns weaken that family values argument? Or will everyone be too afraid to make that point?”

2. Her religion - so Palin's religous beliefs should be examined, but not Obama's.

Ed Kilgore, managing editor of the Democratic Strategist blog, argued that journalists and others trying to help the Obama campaign should focus on Palin’s beliefs. “The criticism of her really, really needs to be ideological, not just about experience. If we concede she’s a ‘maverick,’ we will have done John McCain an enormous service. And let’s don’t concede the claim that [Hillary Clinton] supporters are likely to be very attracted to her,” Kilgore said.

3. That picking Palin was a sign of the GOP's sexism.

Suzanne Nossel, chief of operations for Human Rights Watch, added a novel take: “I think it is and can be spun as a profoundly sexist pick. Women should feel umbrage at the idea that their votes can be attracted just by putting a woman, any woman, on the ticket no matter her qualifications or views.”

Mother Jones’s Stein loved the idea. “That’s excellent! If enough people – people on this list? – write that the pick is sexist, you’ll have the networks debating it for days. And that negates the SINGLE thing Palin brings to the ticket,” he wrote.

Another writer from Mother Jones, Nick Baumann, had this idea: “Say it with me: ‘Classic GOP Tokenism’.”

Notice all of those stories became common narratives during the election. Journolist members congratulated one another on using these talking points and successfully turning the perception on Palin. I'm not saying that these POVs shouldn't be explored or saying that our reporters can't have a bias (we all do, it's human) - but it is so wrong for our media to get together and decide as a group how stories should be slanted, positioned, or killed to press forward a political ideology or any kind.

The Journolist archives are being gone through now. It will not surprise me to learn to that the same unified narrative was created on Journolist to marginalize and control how people see the Tea Party, too.

So although you only know me in the Tea Party...I see the internal conversations that happen within the Tea Party groups. The conversations in Yahoo groups and the like. Which could easily be seen and printed elsewhere. So if they are so racist, why isn't proof, in the form of internal, private conversations of members, being brought forward? Because it just isn't there. When a wack-job White Power person butts in they are booted and everyone pig piles on them. They are not allowed at our rallies. They keep showing up because people they are told (like you) over and over that we welcome racists. So I guess you have to look at everything and make up your own mind. And ask a few questions.

Why is there such a difference between how the Tea Party is portrayed and the person that you know who is a part of it?

Is it possible, in light of the wonderful stuff coming out of Journolist, that public opinion is being purposefully shaped by some big players in the media?

Is the Tea Party just a another slice of Amercia - with as few and as many wonderful people and shitty people as anywhere else?

Heh. This was long. Mostly I'm just venting. *shrug*

Re: part 2

Date: 2010-07-22 07:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Conversations about "how to handle the other side" go on on both sides of the fence. They prove nothing.

Why do Tea Party people feel "they are out to get us"? They get lots of coverage. As the saying goes any publicity is good publicity as long as it keeps your name in the public eye.

If it were my call I'd ignore them. What our parents told us to do about kids who annoyed us. Ignore them.
Paranoia is boring.

Re: part 2

Date: 2010-07-22 07:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*sigh* ...and you completely miss the point.

Date: 2010-07-22 08:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
There seem to be several versions of Tea Party - Tea Party Nation? And others? I am wary of the one sided portrayal in the US media, but even the Economist seems skeptical. Not that they're perfect, but they aren't invested the way American media are. It's just ..... I don't see the Tea Party working hard to counter the continued racist and ignorant crap that gets put out there. That shit is really awful, so it can't all be a conspiracy. I want to like the Tea Party. I mean, grass roots and neither Republican nor Democrat. I certainly don't think you're a racist or bad person. But I do think you have yolked yourself to a losing horse.

Re: part 2

Date: 2010-07-22 08:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I also want to say that this, sadly, confirms the suspicions I've had about media in general. It's so deeply disturbing and disappointing.

Date: 2010-07-22 03:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I live in a community that 40 years ago had a segregated school system. My older neighbors went to that school system. Underlying segregation mentality is still present in the way things are organized. There are still "black" organizations and "white" organizations.

My neighbors are good people. They would help someone in trouble no matter what their color. But they are susceptible to "us poor whites are asked to do more because "they" aren't doing enough". They are suspicious of government. Their charity is one on one but does not extended to people they don't know. My neighbors can be taken in by braying of people with an agenda.

As to teaching - the students I enjoyed most were not the "intellectuals" but some very honest, not the brightest, ones who didn't understand my course but wanted to know enough to pass. I loved their honesty and their humor. I taught five sessions of the same course. It was a required course. They had to pass it. Some of my "bright" students were bored and resented having to take the course. The reactions ranged from students who asked me to teach an extra session on their own time on a point they did not understand to a student who refused to take the final exam.

Date: 2010-07-22 03:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I struggle with railing on against the people who don't think well critically - because I have family members who fall into the stereotypes I loathe: the Fox News followers, the people who think women shouldn't lead (Adam's feisty grandmother, who used to be an EMT, doesn't think women should be president! Ay yi yi), etc - and they are wonderful people. Adam's extended family tend to fall far into the Right and yet they know all about 'checkered' past and love me all the same. Knowing and loving them helps keep me in check, somewhat, in my railing, but it also frustrates me even more.

As for school, that's why I said brilliant AND/OR really try.


Date: 2010-07-24 07:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm certain it depends where you teach, and I don't mean what part of the country. I've heard from CC teachers that they've got the students who -- while not the top-scoring -- are truly motivated, whereas lots of kids at the big state schools are there because they're expected to have college as a kind of stage of life. I've met both kinds.

Part of the art and joy of teaching is tricking students into thinking critically. You frequently have to sneak up on them with a few examples they're not already emotionally invested in. They develop their chains of logic there. Then you ask them to apply the same logic to something else. Poof - minds blow left and right. I did this to an MA student in post-colonial studies a few years ago and to a colleague in another field who was sitting in on my class, and I've also seen it happen with first-years. It only takes a couple in each class to give you that buzz.


Date: 2010-08-21 07:35 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
You write: "It's not a mosque, it's not at ground zero." I am confused what you mean by this. The Imam's plans do include a mosque, and it is two blocks from ground zero.

A non-hysterical critique of the Imam's plan comes from, of all places, the ADL:


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