Istanbul’s New Mayor Defies the Mainstream Media Narrative By Enjoying Support In Stadiums Across Turkey

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AUTHOR’S NOTE: This was originally written as a response to the New York Times Article “The Rise and Rise of the Turkish Right” by Halil M. Karaveli, published 8 April 2019 at https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/08/opinion/turkey-nationalism-right-wing.html . As is to be expected from the main (lame) stream media, they would not respond to my critical letter. This is why I am publishing it here after adding a few football-related items to it for context.


A recent New York Times piece makes a few points which might have a few long-time observers of the Turkish political scene—like myself—raising their eyebrows. Mr. Karaveli’s description of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) coalition with the IYI Party as “another version of the right-wing nationalism of the ruling coalition of the A.K.P. and the M.H.P” misses the point on many levels. First of all, to characterize the CHP as “right wing” ignores the fact that it is—even if nominally—officially a socialist party. Second of all, the A.K.P. are hardly a “right-wing nationalist” party as Mr. Karaveli claims. Rather, they are a globalist party focused on adhering to the values of neoliberal capitalism (something that Mr. Karaveli himself admits) while packaging it as “nationalist” so as to appeal to their mainly rural and socially conservative base.

Mr. Karaveli further makes the bold claim that this election is “no victory for liberal values”. If that is indeed the case, then one would have to ask Mr. Karaveli what his definition of “liberal values” are. If he is referring to globalist—and ultimately (neo)liberal values—then he would be correct. The elections in Turkey, as Istanbul’s opposition Mayoral candidate Ekrem Imamoglu stated, were not about Syria but about who would be collecting the trash on the streets of Istanbul. In short, these elections were a rebuke of the globalist neoliberal policies of the AKP government which have brought Turkey to the brink of economic recession. These elections also saw an informal alliance between the Kurdish HDP and Kemalist CHP, showing a broad rejection of the polarizing divisions fostered by the AKP on the basis of identity politics since 2002. Again, the author’s comments regarding “liberal values” seems to miss the mark.

The fact that the AKP refused to accept the results—and were asking for a new election–is a direct threat to the democratic process in Turkey. By presenting Turkey’s opposition in such a flawed manner, Mr. Karaveli is doing no favors to those who voted for a positive change in Turkey. As it stands, this piece grossly misrepresents the Turkish political landscape to readers of the New York Times, and poor quality reporting—like this—might be one reason that U.S. President Donald Trump has taken to calling the New York based paper “the failing New York Times”.

Indeed, Mr. Karaveli might have done well to look to the football stadium in order to understand the kind of widespread support that Mr. Imamoglu has received from football fans—especially those who could hardly be classified as “right wing”. While Mr. Imamoglu received his official mandate as the Mayor of Istanbul on April 17, ending 15 years of AKP rule in the city, this past weekend saw the Mayor-elect take in some local football including the Besiktas-Baskasehir game as well as the Istanbul derby between Fenerbahce and Galatasaray. At the Besiktas match, the fans—who are generally a left leaning crowd—chanted Mr. Imamoglu’s name, especially when the stadium’s loudspeakers attempted to drown out their chants—and called for the new mayor to be given his mandate. Before the Istanbul derby, CNN Turk was unable to block the voices of Fenerbahce fans who were chanting their support for Mr. Imamoglu. This kind of grassroots support for the new mayor is not unprecedented, indeed Galatasaray fans were seen in the subways chanting pro-Imamoglu slogans in the subway before their cup tie against Yeni Malatyaspor last week, while fans of Artvin Hopaspor in far eastern Turkey near the Georgian border were also recorded in the stadium calling for the Istanbul mayoral election results to be validated.


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The New Mayor Wishes All of Istanbul’s Teams Luck From Besiktas’ Stadium. Image Courtesy Of: https://halktv.com.tr/spor/taraftar-mazbata-nerede-diye-sordu-muzik-artti-stadi-inlettiler-390720h


Given this kind of support from the stadium—a place well known to harbor people from a variety of ideological and class backgrounds—it is clear that Mr. Imamoglu is not the “right wing” nationalist that the New York Times has attempted to portray him as. One truly has to ask what the value of the main stream media is when they attempt to spin every development to fit the globalist narrative of open borders and (neo) liberal globalism. Politicians are elected to serve their communities, their cities, and—ultimately—their countries. This is the reality, and to deny it—as the New York Times continually attempts to do—is dishonest at best and, at worst, represents a dangerous type of fascism that refuses to acknowledge any political developments which deviate from the constructed narrative.

The Hyperreality of Corporate Virtue Signaling: Nike and Colin Kaepernick

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Nike’s bizarre decision (bizarre because it cost them almost four billion USD) to make Colin Kaepernick, the mid-tier professional football player who started protesting what he calls “racial injustice” in the United States by kneeling for the national anthem, the face of their classic “Just Do It” advertisements. While this is of course an absurd reflection of the commodity fetishism of post-modern life, arguably the response has been even more absurd.



With a Multi-Million Dollar Sponsorship Deal, One Has To Ask: What Exactly Did This Gentleman Sacrifice? Image Courtesy Of: https://www.thenation.com/article/on-colin-kaepernicks-nike-ad-will-the-revolution-be-branded/


Surprisingly, various media outlets (like Yahoo Sports) have reported on the responses in an extremely partisan nature; the opening paragraph of Jason Owens’ piece says “In the time-honored tradition of consumers expressing their rage at companies aligning with perceived liberal policies, people took to Twitter on Monday to light their own property on fire”. While the idea of consumers lighting their own purchases on fire is absurd, to tie it to “rage” at companies with “liberal policies” is as absurd as it is untrue. Indeed, many so-called “liberals” burned (or at least threatened to burn) New Balance shoes when the company seemingly came out in support of U.S. President Donald Trump after his election. This is hardly a partisan issue, but it does raise some real questions.

CNN offered another piece of partisan “analysis”, with LZ Granderson explaining the “hypocrisy of Nike outrage” for readers. While this outrage is certainly hypocritical, Granderson—who is apparently a political analyst—offers a poor explanation of this hypocrisy. Granderson connects it to Donald Trump’s (and indeed wider conservative America’s) support for the military. For Granderson, the idea that Pat Tillman (the former NFL football player who quit football and enlisted in the army, only to lose his life in Afghanistan), sacrificed more (i.e., his life) than Mr. Kaepernick, and President Donald Trump’s praise for the U.S. military, are both hypocritical because of the bad blood between Mr. Trump and the late John McCain (widely recognized after his death as a war hero). Of course, Mr. Granderson here fails to recognize that Mr. Trump’s support for the military need not equate to sanguine feelings towards Mr. McCain, especially given the latter’s role in encouraging American adventures in Libya, Syria, and Iraq in the name of globalism. Thus, given the ideological divide between the two politicians, these claims of “hypocrisy” don’t really stand up to scrutiny; quite the opposite, it seems that Mr. Trump is in keeping with his nationalist—and anti-globalist—rhetoric, as (rhetorically at least) Mr. Trump has criticized America’s imperialist wars in the past.

While Granderson’s analysis leaves much to be desired, his assertion that there is hypocrisy in the outrage over Nike is spot on. Unfortunately for Mr. Granderson, however, that hypocrisy has nothing to do with Donald Trump, Colin Kaepernick, racial injustice, or “right” and “left” divides in politics. The hypocrisy inherent in the outrage over Nike, rather, has everything to do with the moral degradation and regressive nature of the American Social Justice Warrior (SJW) mindset. In this instance, the virtue signaling and self proclaimed “anti-capitalists” of the American “left” are lapping up the virtue signaling of corporate America, somehow believing that a transnational corporation—like Nike—is “standing” (pardon the pun) for “something”. The idea that Nike—a company that has based its manufacturing policies on the exploitation of child laborers and impoverished workers in the “third world” so as to sell their products at a premium in the “first world”—cares about morality is bizarre to say the least. Where is the “virtue” in manufacturing shoes for 1.65 USD (if even that) in southeast Asia and selling them for 165.00 USD in Manhattan? Is this standing for something? No, Nike is no paragon of virtue (like FIFA is no paragon of virtue).

Unfortunately, pundits like CNN’s LZ Granderson are not doing their jobs as journalists when they allow Nike to engage in a classic example of what philosopher Herbert Marcuse called “Repressive Tolerance”; capitalism takes what is critical of it (say, protest) and commodifies it before selling it back to the world having taken the teeth out of the criticism. By standing silent in the face of this insult to the American public—and by allowing Nike to engage in what can only be called corporate fascism—the media sends the message that corporations can join the virtue signaling of the SJW class. This is because of an increased focus on “morality”, given Donald Trump’s perceived lack of morality according to the main(lame) stream media. Indeed, Levi’s—a company highly identified with the culture of cowboys and the “wild west”—has picked up on this as well, teaming up with nebulously named “gun control groups” in a bid to signal their own virtue. Not only does this reinforce the dangerous message that corporations “are people too”—after all, they can virtue signal with the best of them—but it also represents the high point of extreme capitalism: the commodification of ideology.

By adopting Colin Kaepernick as the “face” of their advertising campaign—in a bid to virtue signal—Nike is insulting not only the American public, but also its customers all over the world. Nike is simply trying to generate a new “grand narrative” of corporate tolerance which stands in the face of their history of exploitation as they engaged in—to borrow Richard Falk’s term—“predatory globalization”, exploiting low-wage workers throughout the so-called “developing” world. Nike has, for years, been involved in the global “dictatorship of bureaucratic economy” which, as Guy Debord notes in The Society of the Spectacle, “must be accompanied by permanent violence”. In this case, the violence is wholly symbolic (to borrow Pierre Bourdieu’s terminology): those who stand with Nike win the virtuous labels of “tolerant” and “progressive”, and those who stand against Nike are violently tarred and feathered with the labels “racist” and “intolerant”. Of course, out of this paroxysm of symbolic violence, no winner can emerge.

This event shows, more clearly than ever, that French philosopher Jean Baudrillard was correct when he said that we are now living in a “hyperreality”, where “simulations come to constitute reality itself” and “the boundaries between information and entertainment, images and politics, implode” (Best and Kellner, 1991). As the masses eat up what is proffered by the culture industry and the mass media, I am left wondering just how the American educational system has failed so spectacularly and created a mass society of the spectacle (again, pardon the pun). Unfortunately, vast swathes of the American public continue to fake outrage at everything…except, of course, that which they should be most outraged at: their own complicity in becoming mindless pawns of the corporate interests of transnational corporations like Nike.



Just Do It! Listen To Our Virtue and Get Back In Line and Consume! Image Courtesy Of: https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/does-nike-still-use-child-slave-labor.557694/


This is why it is important that we all stand up for our countries against the dangerous ideology of globalism, which merely serves to legitimate corporate greed and exploitation.


New Teams and New Friendships: Gazisehir Gaziantepspor Congratulates Caykur Rizespor on Promotion to the Turkish Super League

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The final match of the 2018 Turkish Spor Toto First Division, between Gazisehir Gaziantepspor and Caykur Rizespor, saw an interesting scene. The Gazisehir FK players lined up to congratulate the champions, Caykur Rizespor, while the latter entered the stadium with a banner reading “We Wish Caykur Rizespor Succeds in the Super League”. While this is clearly good sportsmanship, it is also a sign of the kind of institutional power which has taken hold of Turkish football.

As I have written before, Gazisehir Gaziantepspor—itself a re-invented form of Gaziantep Buyuksehir Belediyespor (formerly the municipality’s team)—is a cheap replacement for the former Gaziantepspor which, for years, represented southeastern Turkey in the country’s first division. With them now out of the picture (indeed slated to drop down to the third tier of Turkish football just one year after dropping out of the Super League) a new hegemonic football power is rising out of Turkey’s southeast; Gazisehir Gaziantepspor (whose name is conspicuously similar to Istanbul’s similarly invented Basaksehirspor) might well fly the flag for Turkish football in the region going forward.

TRT Sports reports that many high ranking political officials including the Minister for Youth and Sport Osman Askin Bak, the ruling AKP’s [Justice and Development Party] Vice Chairman Hayati Yazici, the Turkish [AKP] secretary General Fahri Kasirga, and the Turkish Football Federation’s Deputy Chairman (and UEFA Executive Committee member) Servet Yardimci attended the match. This suggests that a cultural changing of the guard is underway.


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The Global Transnational Capitalist Class In Action As Gazisehir Gaziantepspor Players Congratulate Their Fellow Players on a Well-Played Season. Images Courtesy Of: http://www.trtspor.com.tr/haber/futbol/spor-toto-1-lig/caykur-rizespor-gazisehir-gaziantep-160157.html


In fact, the two teams even congratulated one another on their seasons via social media by using local dialects; the two teams–with Rizespor being the team from AKP President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s home town—are both supported by the Turkish political class. The fact that one of the bureaucrats who attended the final match of the season in the Turkish second tier is also a UFEA official is not insignificant. Indeed, it shows the continuing influence of a global transnational capitalist class on local processes—like football—in Turkey; it also shows the degree to which the Turkish state has become connected to globalization and globalism more generally.



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Gazisehir Gaziantepspor Congratulate Their Friends From Rize: Image Courtesy Of: https://twitter.com/gazisehirfk?lang=en

Prom Dresses and Football Shirts.: A Marginal Sociologist’s Critique of Sociology and “Cultural Appropriation”

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Its…Just a Dress, People. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/05/01/shaming-teen-for-wearing-racist-dress-to-prom-is-crazy-where-does-nonsense-cultural-appropriation-end.html


As readers of this blog will know, I often try to connect the topic of football to current events; indeed, if football shirts can in any way be involved, it is all to the good. Given that the modern world often throws out absurdities on a daily basis, there is no shortage of odd current events topics to respond to. Recently, in the U.S. state of Utah, a young high schooler was slammed for wearing a prom dress. Indeed, you read that correctly. A prom dress has now become grounds for slamming in the modern world. Apparently, the issue was that “On April 23, 18-year-old Twitter user Keziah, who is not Chinese, posted pictures of herself wearing a cheongsam, or qipao – a traditional Chinese dress – for her prom”. Whilst prom dresses are certainly not my specialty—nor are they anywhere near my area of interest at all—this issue demonstrates a real problem in the modern world. While I will not go into the idiocy—and rage—which was elicited by a high schooler’s dress choice (some of the rage and vitriol can be viewed here), there are some interesting points of discussion raised by this incident (although you wont find them in the main (lame)stream media).

What is “cultural appropriation”? What does it even mean? As a marginal sociologist, I have—indeed—heard the term, and one recent news story cites the term as originating in, sadly, the discipline of sociology. Michael Levin explains that:


The term cultural appropriation is borrowed from sociology – itself a dubious academic discipline to begin with. The term means that people from a majority culture are borrowing aspects of minority culture without the permission of those minority members.


Indeed, absurd terms like this are—sadly—making Sociology as a discipline more and more dubious. It is not a definition of Sociology that I want to agree with, since I believe Sociology can make real contributions in the modern world, but—like Hannah Arendt—I must admit that I take issue with the discipline of Sociology for this very same reason. The job of Sociologists should not be to divide people or spread hatred; rather it should be to spread light on the human condition and—in a humanist manner—attempt to seek understanding (Indeed, Max Weber’s concept of Verstehen is in line with this position). Yet, modern sociologists prefer to descend deeper and deeper into an oddly anti-intellectual cesspool.

When I first heard of the “cultural appropriation” debate surrounding the dress controversy, my mind went back to an odd experience I had in a Sociology seminar a few weeks back. At that point the topic of discussion was not “cultural appropriation”; rather we discussed a similarly dubious (in my mind) “sociological” term: “colorblind racism”. I really do not know what the term means; I look at people as people, and am more concerned with an individual’s moral character, qualities like loyalty, courage, trustworthiness, bravery, and intelligence, rather than something as banal as their skin color. So I asked a student what the term “colorblind racism” meant. With the typical attitude that only a social justice warrior could have, I got the response “Well . . . the minute you actually believe black and white people are equal . . . that is color blind racism”. To this I just stared blankly; there was no response I could have short of laughing (and that would have been disrespectful to my colleague).

My family brought me up to believe that people are equal regardless of the color of their skin (or any other identity they might have), and no claims about “structural racism” can change what I, as a person, believe to be true in my heart. Indeed, the Sociologists seem to forget that structural racism is quite meaningless when people—in their day to day interactions—believe people are equal since, after all, it is we as individuals who create the social structure through our interactions (numerous sociologists, from Merton to Goffman to Berger and Luckman have said the same, I am hardly the first). But this small interaction showed me just how absurd the state of modern sociology—and indeed the world—has become. The structure has become so internalized that there is no longer room for human agency.

And this is where I return to the topic of the “hated” dress in question. Why are we hating a young girl for wearing what she found to be beautiful? Who are we to attribute meaning and intent to the clothes she wears? Is it bad that this young girl showed respect for Chinese culture while wearing the dress? We—as Americans—should not forget that so much of “America” (indeed what makes it great, despite its flaws) is that we have been open to different cultures for more than three centuries. Even some of the things we recognize as the most quintessentially “American”—like a hot dog and a beer at a baseball game—came from another culture; as Andrei Markovits and Steven Hellerman point out in their book, it was German immigrants in Midwestern America who brought this custom to American sports (Markovits and Hellerman, 2001: 62). If, in 1870s America, we had shamed Americans for “culturally appropriating” German tastes at baseball games we might not even have a country to call home today! And that is absurd.

As someone who is an ardent collector of football shirts—and who values the experiences I have had in every country I have visited in search of a football shirt—I take special offense(!) to the term “cultural appropriation”. While I have two citizenships, that of the United States of America and that of Turkey—it does not mean that I cannot proudly wear a football shirt from any other country in the world. Indeed, it is my pleasure to wear the shirts of the countries I come from; there is no shame in being proud of your country. But this does not mean that you cannot be proud of other countries (and their cultures) and show it, even if you might not belong to those cultures. This is because “culture” itself is very real; it is not imagined (as postmodernists might claim). Indeed, to resist the ongoing global homogenization of globalism, we must all stand up for our cultures together. To attribute to this a negative connotation—or even intent—is problematic at best and downright malicious at worst. If it is a problem for me to wear a Swedish jersey, a Greek Jersey, a Costa Rican Jersey, or any other jersey, then that represents the true regressive nature of progressive politics. And the same goes for a simple dress. If we could just stop looking at the actions of individuals—and their human agency (to speak in sociological terms)—in a negative light, the world would be a much better place indeed.



This is Not Cultural Appropriation…Rather, It Brings Us Together. Image Courtesy of the Author.



Stand Up For Your Culture!



A small shout out to an internet user who designed jerseys for all 50 U.S. States. Perhaps, indeed, football shirts can—in some way—bring us together.


Image Courtesy Of: https://imgur.com/a/W1Les

The Grammys and the Pro Bowl: Two Cultural Spectacles Amidst the Attempted (Re)education of America


Sometimes it feels as if the whole of American society is going through a sort of attempted re-education. I have already written about the sad state of American academia, yet the attempts at re-education are visible elsewhere as well. They are evident in attempts to re-write American history (also here), and they are apparent in the demonization of police and the rule of law. The common denominator in these attempts at re-education is their focus on division, rather than unity. Unfortunately, the culture industry is a major tool in this divisive re-education.

Sunday 28 January 2018 is a good example of how this divisive form of re-education takes place. On this Sunday there were two major events vying for airtime in the United States: the first was the NFL Pro Bowl, the all star celebration between the AFC and NFC; the second was the 60th annual Grammy awards. The solution was . . . playing the Pro Bowl in the afternoon so as to not compete with the prime time Grammys. Of course, that also meant playing the football game in conditions which, at times, bordered on monsoon level. Despite the hiccups, I can say that Pro Bowl 2018 was definitely a nice experience; I have no doubt that it was much more pleasant than the Grammys (to be discussed later).

The Pro Bowl is, admittedly, a manufactured experience, as SB Nation notes. It is, of course, a great example of the kind of commercialization of sport that the United States is famous for. Ironically, the Pro Bowl is American football without the violence that is so often criticized . . . which means that, in the end, no one watches it. The situation is emblematic of what might be American English’s few proverbs: you’re damned if you and you’re damned if you don’t. Despite the rampant commercialization, it was still a human experience. Like New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees’ display of proper parenting on national TV (something that is usually missing in the United States, due to the demise of the concept of “family”), the Pro Bowl offered me many opportunities to interact with some amazing people.



The Pro Bowl had its Human Side As Well at Camping World Stadium. Image Courtesy Of the Author.


It was nice to see fans from all over the United States, donning the jerseys of their favorite teams, who had come to one stadium to quite literally hang out. I met a few Manchester United fans visiting from England who were able to point out the absurdities of the US: “So…the drinking age is 21 but you can go off to fight in Iraq or Afghanistan at 18?” . . . “Yep” . . . “Wait . . . you can’t bet on sports in the United States?” . . . “Nope” . . . and I had to add that, yes, few American football stadiums have covered stands when most top level European football stadiums—even lower tier stadiums—have at least one covered stand. It is the absurdity of America, it is also the uniqueness of America—uncouth and immature as it may be. I met a Denver Broncos fan from Cleveland who lamented the financial mismanagement of some NFL players, who manage to blow through millions of dollars without realizing that their careers are, quite dependent, on their own ability to stay healthy. Despite the over-commodified nature of the Pro Bowl, it was clear that—in American society—we can come together when we need to in the name of sports. As my British friends pointed out, in Britain the site of so many different jerseys would be enough to start a brawl.

What is shocking is that Sunday’s second event, The Grammys, was so different. It started with U.S. President’s Twitter spat with rap artist Jay-Z, whose criticism of Mr. Trump was met with a response that the unemployment rate for black workers is the lowest in 45 years. Unfortunately for Jay-Z, this was not his only embarrassment—despite being the most nominated artist at the Grammys he went home empty handed. Yet this feud was just a prelude to what the Grammys would become—a political s***(side?) show as music artists gave their political opinions one after another (a run down, which I will not deign go into here, can be found here).


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A Pretty Funny Tweet; Also Interesting That a U.S. President is Actually Interacting with a Citizen. Sadly, such Alternative Interpretations are Missing From Mainstream Media Since They Don’t Fit the Narrative. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/01/28/trump-rips-jay-z-for-remarks-on-african-american-unemployment.html


The irony of it all was, of course, that hyper-commodified music had become hyper-politicized. This is one reason I do not listen to new music; in a bid to follow the logic of late stage capitalism—where profit is king—most music has come to sound the same. It is emblematic of a society that has killed creativity. But it also begs the question: Why do we care what billionaire celebrities in a music business, that is less art and more money, think about politics? The last time I checked, neither Jay Z or Bono had been reading the latest theories in political science or sociology. They are not “left” in any traditional sense of the word; indeed Karl Marx is likely spinning in his grave after Hillary Clinton’s appearance on stage.  And that is why a technocratic government, propped up by the propaganda of the culture industry, is a very dangerous thing indeed. We are swiftly becoming two Americas: One that cares about mass culture, and another that does not. In order to bridge this growing gap, however, we will need new minds that can transcend the one dimensional thought emanating from the culture industry and academia. We are still human beings with an ability to think independently; I would say it is high time we recognize it in order to resist this cultural (re)education.

Back To School: The State of Education in the “Modern” World Is Poor…and Getting Poorer

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Every fall students around the world get ready for the new school year by purchasing clothes and notebooks. In theory, these students will embark on a nine-month journey of learning, free to pursue topics in a diverse array of subjects. In reality, education is quickly becoming a form of indoctrination, designed to support those in power (If you don’t believe me, just read Michel Foucault’s work on the intimate linkage between knowledge and power: knowledge itself is an exercise of power).

As the school year opens, new divisions in societies around the world are popping up as Catalans in Spain move towards an October 1, 2017 vote on Independence and Iraqi Kurds vote on increased separation from Baghdad’s central government September 25, 2017. How have we gotten to the point where more and more societies are fractioning into smaller and smaller entities? Perhaps one reason is that people have been taught to hate their own countries and instead support the visions of one globalist society, the “global village”. Personally I recall learning about Kenyan society in third grade instead of American history; the seed of this kind of “multicultural” education was planted long ago in order to engineer society into one which undermines the foundations of the nation-state.

Meanwhile in Turkey, the government is using education in the same way, as a tool to socially engineer Turkish society with the aim of creating a more pious generation. School children will now be learning about jihad—instead of evolution—while also learning that women and men have separate roles. In fact, the entire Turkish education system is in flux as the state struggles to solidify its vision for education. In Saudi Arabia, an image of Yoda has—somehow—snuck into a state approved textbook, suggesting that someone knows just how powerful education is in shaping the minds of young children. It also shows how powerful education can be: A young student could erroneously believe that Yoda did indeed sit with King Faisal! It is a shame that education is being used for social engineering rather than for the development of free and independent thought because without proper education—and free and independent thought—the world is headed down a dark path.



New Textbooks In Turkey Clearly Demarcate Gender Roles In Order To Build a Pious Generation. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-41296714



Adana Demirspor Footballer Aykut Demir Has Clearly Succumbed To the Zeitgeist of Piety. Image Courtesy Of: http://skor.sozcu.com.tr/2017/09/22/gorenler-sasirdi-aykut-demirin-son-hali-662049/



_97980292_yoda.jpgYoda and King Faisal.


A New Hope For the New School Year? Images Courtesy Of: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-41363156


As I noted earlier, the use of education for social engineering is hardly unique to authoritarian “Middle Eastern” regimes; it is present in the United States as well. Every child’s favorite crayon brand, Crayolla, introduced a new color for the new school year and not everyone is happy. The name of the new blue—which replaces the yellow “dandelion”—is “bluetiful”. While proponents of the non-word say it encourages “creativity”, I have to say that I do not agree. By encouraging young children to use non-words—which also are confusing, given that “beautiful” is a difficult word to spell in and of itself—Crayolla is aiding and abetting the creation of a poorly educated generation. Text messaging and instant messaging have already wreaked havoc on the spelling capabilities of many Americans, and this just furthers an unfortunate trend.


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Dumbing Down Or Creativity? You Decide. Images Courtesy Of: http://edition.cnn.com/2017/09/15/us/crayola-new-crayon-color-bluetiful/?iid=ob_article_footer 


Professional basketball star Lebron James offers proof of just how poorly educated Americans have become. In responding to President Trump’s call to “fire” NFL players who disrespect the American national anthem by kneeling, Mr. James Tweeted “U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain’t going! So therefore ain’t no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!” Regardless of Twitter’s 140 character limit, Mr. James’ Tweet represents a bizarre butchering of the English language. There is a misspelling (“U”), grammatically incorrect words (ain’t), and a double negative (ain’t no invite). There is even an insult (bum) to not only the President, but the thousands of homeless Americans who—I am sure—Mr. James cares about. In short, this is not the kind of English I would expect from a thirty-two year old American man! Of course, the media jumped on Mr. James’ Tweet and gleefully reported that this Tweet was more popular than any of President Donald Trump’s Tweets have been. It is not surprising that so many should love this poorly written Tweet; it shows just how low American media will stoop in trying to reach the lowest common denominator.


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Ain’t That Some English? Image Courtesy Of: http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/20816423/lebron-james-cleveland-cavaliers-salutes-nfl-response-donald-trump-comments


Personally, I believe that the protests against the national anthem are wrong even if Mr. James finds protesting the protests to be “divisive”. I would argue that the protests themselves divided Americans long before Mr. Trump was even on the scene, and readers know that I have written about divisions in American society in the past. Unfortunately, state media continues to assault nationalist ideas while—at the same time—supporting sports figures who do not care for their countries. ESPN ran a video of Turkish NBA star Enes Kanter, who says that the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the city of Oklahoma, will always be in his heart because “When I [he] lost my family and when I [he] lost my home, you guys gave me family and you guys gave me home”. What ESPN neglects to write in either of their stories (including the one regarding his loss of Turkish citizenship), is that Mr. Kanter supports the globalist Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey blames for the botched coup in July 2016. That American media should be so sympathetic to a man who openly supports a shadowy religious leader that supported a coup which killed over 200 people is an insult to readers, but it is part and parcel of a bigger plan: destroy the nation state and delegitimize all who support the nation state in order to create a globalist world system. By continually educating ourselves, independent of major news media, we can avoid falling for the traps of division.

Soccer and Nationalism in the United States: U.S. Soccer’s National Anthem Policy

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U.S. Soccer, the governing body of soccer (football) in the United States, finally contributed a sense of reason to the chaos—and the resultant divisions—that have been rampant in American society recently. On 4 March 2017 it was reported that U.S. Soccer announced that “All persons representing a federation national team shall stand respectfully during the playing of national anthems at any event in which the federation is represented”. Some media outlets, such as Rolling Stone, connected this decision to U.S. women’s national team star Megan Rapinoe’s decision to kneel before an international football game in solidarity with American footballer Colin Kaepernick’s protest against racial inequality in the United States (a subject I have written on before).



Megan Rapinoe’s Decision to Kneel For the National Anthem Prompts a Policy Change. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.rollingstone.com/sports/us-soccer-makes-players-stand-for-national-anthem-w470611


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U.S. Soccer’s New Bylaws. Image Courtesy Of: https://twitter.com/stuholden/status/838109929802063872


Personally, I believe that the U.S. Soccer decision is timely in that it does two important things: 1) It restores a semblance of reason to a confused populace by re-enforcing the positive aspects of nationalism and 2) it sends a message to the entitled masses that it is a privilege and honor to represent one’s country in international competition. In regards to the first accomplishment, it is useful to quote from Anthony Smith’s Nationalism and Modernism (1998):

It is because we know that our interests, indeed our very identities and survival, are bound up with the nation, that we feel such devotion to the nation and are prepared to make such sacrifices for it when it is in danger […] The concept of the nation, then, is not only an abstraction and invention, as is so often claimed. It is also felt, and felt passionately, as something very real, a concrete community, in which we may find some assurance of our own identity and even, through our descendants, of our immortality.

(Smith, 1998: 140).

Smith’s quote is useful in this context insofar as it recognizes the importance of “the nation” in modern society beyond the post-modern interpretation of the nation as either “abstraction” or “invention”; for some it is indeed very real and should—therefore—afford a modicum of respect. In the era of late-stage (or “extreme”) capitalism, the nation is one of the few entities that can bring together the disparate members of modern society beneath one unified conception and U.S. Soccer’s move emphasizes the importance of national identity along these lines. Regardless of our nationality, we do not need to think of our nation as superior to other nations; rather we must only acknowledge that the nation—by providing a semblance of shared culture and experience—has a use in the modern age. Until we find a better way to organize our lives and provide vital services like education and law enforcement, there is no alternative to the nation-state. Therefore, it would be more logical to perfect the workings of the nation-state, rather than reject it wholesale.

As far as the second result of U.S. Soccer’s announcement, it is clear that this move sends a message to current and perspective players alike that playing for one’s nation is a privilege; the least one can do is stand up and honor this privilege. Standing might be seen as an inconvenience to some, but the very fact that they are playing for their country renders all comparisons to the protest of Mr. Kaepernick (who plays for a private entity, the San Francisco 49ers) baseless. Since the nation is (not yet anyway) a private company, there can be little comparison.

Some soccer celebrities in the United States came out in support of U.S. Soccer’s decision. The head coach of the US Men’s National Team Bruce Arena said  “I’m very supportive of that policy. I think players should stand for the national anthem. I think representing your country is one of the greatest honors a player or coach can have. That would be my expectations of the players as well”. Goalkeeper Tim Howard, famous for his heroics in the 2014 World Cup that earned the moniker “Department of Defense”, also came out in favor of the policy saying “I’m a firm believer that you should stand and respect the anthem and the flag, but that’s Tim Howard speaking. I don’t speak for anybody else. That’s what I believe.” Howard added “U.S. Soccer is an organization who are allowed to make rules. Listen, I think if you’re going to wear the shirt, if it’s OK to play for the U.S. then surely it’s OK to stand for its anthem as well. Yeah, I’m OK with it”. The fact that the Denver Post felt the need to underline Mr. Howard’s stance may have been because he is African-American; it is an unfortunate recognition of a flaw in modern society (and also Sociology) which seems to posit that all members of particular demographic groups should think the same thing. For me, such thought processes are inherently racist but that is just one reason (among many) that I am merely a marginal sociologist.



The Department of Defense. Image Courtesy Of: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/302867143665717538/


The strongest supporter of U.S. Soccer’s policy was former star (and current pundit) Alexi Lalas who went so far as to suggest that players should also be made to sing the national anthem:

U.S. Soccer has the right to do this. The question is, is it the right thing to do, and I say 100 percent. It is a privilege, it is an honor, it is a choice to represent your country, and it comes with responsibilities and expectations. And I know nowadays sometimes the national anthem is viewed as background noise or as a reminder to some about the problems, the real problems, that we have as a country. But I look at is as a unique moment, when we come together, we honor and we celebrate being citizens of the greatest country in the world, and I think it is a tradition that should be preserved.

I have been in stadiums where I stood for the anthem and everybody has booed, where flags have been burned, where I have been called every name in the book. I have never served in the military, I have represented my country on the field, and I know that pales in comparison to the men and women in our armed forces that serve our country and some that paid that ultimate price.

So damn right I am going to stand, I’m going to put my hand over my heart and I’m going to sing. And I believe that all U.S. national team players should be required to do that. Just because we live in the land of the free doesn’t mean that we are free to do anything that we want. [Author’s Note: Emphasis added].



Mr. Lalas’ Iconoclastic Look. Image Courtesy Of: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/302867143665717538/


While Mr. Lalas’ views may be seen as “extreme”, he raises an important point in his last sentence when he discusses the “freedom” of the purported “land of the free”. As nationalism scholar Anthony Smith notes, nations that consist of immigrant populations (like Canada, Australia, and the United States) encourage “a ‘plural’ conception of the nation, which accepts, and even celebrates, ethnic and cultural diversity within an overarching political, legal, and linguistic national identity” (Smith, 1998: 194; emphasis added). While celebrating ethnic and cultural diversity is certainly important—and indeed laudable—such a policy can only be done within overarching frameworks related to national identity. Without the glue of some sort of national identity—one that is civic and inclusive in nature—the raison d’etre of nations based on immigrant populations (like the United States) is threatened. It is important to recognize the difference (one that many Sociologists I have spoken to fail to make) between respecting cultural and ethnic plurality and rejecting an overarching national identity; these two need not be tied together. Collective nationalism and individual cultural identity need not be mutually exclusive, especially in a country like the United States where a civic model of nationalism is stressed.

Of course, these nuances were not recognized by many pundits who responded to U.S. Soccer’s new bylaws. George Quraishi of The Lowell Sun made the claim that U.S. Soccer was—somehow—siding against the Black Lives Matter movement: “What interests me about the unanimous decision by U.S. Soccer’s board of directors is that it verbalized a message that the soccer establishment has been sending to black Americans for decades: This sport is not for you”. The most shocking thing about Mr. Quraishi’s (I am sure well-meaning) comments here is that they only serve to exacerbate the divide between Black and White Americans. Could it be that, in requiring players to stand for the national anthem, U.S. Soccer was actually trying to bridge the gap between Americans? And could it be that articles like Mr. Quraishi’s are actually perpetuating divides between Americans, by reading into things that are not there (after all, the Black Lives Matter movement was not mentioned in U.S. Soccer’s announcement)? This is understandably a contested subject, but it is the responsibility of all Americans to face these kinds of hard questions if we are to build a functioning society going forward; a society built not on divisions and recriminations but unity and mutual empathy.

Unfortunately, other mainstream sports media outlets in the United States followed Mr. Quraishi’s line. Some pundits from Sports Illustrated claimed that the new policy was “almost un-American” and “pretty tone-deaf”, while ESPN (predictably) slammed the policy calling it both “anti-American” and “anti-soccer”. Chris Jones’ article is exemplary of the faults that so much of U.S. news media has succumbed to recently: it often serves to divide more than it unites. Take this passage as an example:

Maybe the powers that be thought that by making this little show, they could appeal to a previously untapped audience of self-appointed super patriots.

That same audience would have a new favorite player in USMNT defender Geoff Cameron, a vocal supporter of Donald Trump’s Muslim travel ban. U.S. Soccer didn’t care to censure him for making that particular political statement, even though it put him at odds with several members of the team, including captain Michael Bradley.

(And no, Cameron shouldn’t have been punished. Freedom of expression does not mean “only expression I like.”)

Despite Mr. Jones’ disclaimer in the last line, he is still effectively calling out a player (Geoff Cameron) in public for expressing an opinion that disagrees with his own. This is absurd, and can be described as poor journalism at best. As public intellectuals (or perhaps, “intellectuals”) I hold journalists to higher standards than those that Mr. Jones met in his piece.

In order to tie this sports-based piece to politics, it is useful to quote a piece from a Breitbart article written by Dylan Gwinn, which quotes Mr. Jones’ piece in the first paragraph:

“More importantly, nobody can make a really solid, rational argument for why players must stand respectfully or otherwise, at least one that isn’t instantly invalidated by a photograph of Olympic medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos and their raised fists in 1968.”

 While no one would say our current day and age is without difficulty, it’s definitely not 1968 either. So that could be an argument couldn’t it? No early, post-segregation environment, no Vietnam War. Is poverty still an issue for millions of black people in America? Sure, but maybe it would be more instructive to go ask former President Obama why he focused on redistribution during his eight years in office?

 According to the Washington Times, under Obama the black labor force participation rate fell from 63.2% in 2009 to 61.2% in July of last year, in addition to black home ownership falling from 46.1% in 2009 to just 41.7% in July of last year.

Maybe addressing that, would be more productive than focusing on how awesome it is to kneel at a soccer game?

While I do not make claims for the truthfulness of The Washington Times or Breitbart, I do believe that it is important to actually address real issues, one of which is the poverty of Black Americans. By missing this point—and focusing so much on the criticism of smaller issues that could be beneficial in terms of creating a semblance of unity (like U.S. Soccer’s new policy)—journalists like Chris Jones only serve to pat themselves on the back in the short term while furthering division in the long term.

Judging by Tommie Smith’s words, I believe that both Mr. Smith and John Carlos had very different motivations for their protest in 1968. A piece from Time Magazine quotes Tommie Smith from an HBO documentary as saying: “We were just human beings who saw a need to bring attention to the inequality in our country. I don’t like the idea of people looking at it as negative. There was nothing but a raised fist in the air and a bowed head, acknowledging the American flag—not symbolizing a hatred for it”. [Author’s Note: Emphasis added]. Mr. Smith’s comments here are very important; they represent a desire for America to live up to its own ideals: liberty and justice for all. As African Americans during the Civil Rights Era Mr. Smith and Mr. Carlos had every right to protest as they did; they were striving for a more equal country with the acknowledgement that they were a part of that country. What we see more and more in the current United States is, however, a blatant disregard—even hatred for—the United States from its own citizenry. The search for equality and justice need not attack the country, since what we all strive for is a more inclusive and accepting country. I have, time and again, heard Sociologists lament the power of the state. While I too am wary of the over-regulatory power of the state (Seatbelt laws are but one example), I also recognize the need for some sort of organizing principle. Until a better form of organization supersedes the nation-state, I must side with Anthony D. Smith:

As for the predictions of a global culture, they fail to take into account the rootedness of cultures in time and place, and the ways in which identity depends on memory. A truly non-imperial ‘global culture’, timeless, placeless, technical and affectively neutral, must be memory-less and hence identity-less, or fall into a postmodern pastiche of existing national cultures and so disintegrate into its component parts. To date, we cannot discern a serious rival to the nation for the affections and loyalities of most human beings.

(Smith, 1998: 195; Emphasis added).



Tommie Smith and John Carlos Show That Nationalism and Individualism Need Not Be Mutually Exclusive. Image Courtesy Of: http://time.com/3880999/black-power-salute-tommie-smith-and-john-carlos-at-the-1968-olympics/

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