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Valentine’s Day Special: Sports as a Window on to the Regressive Nature of Progressive Ideology

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The United States has, since the early 1990s, been engulfed by a cultural ideology in youth sports that encourages what are called “participation trophies”. This is where it is not the first (or second or third) place finishers in a given competition that get trophies, rather all participants get trophies. I witnessed it growing up, as my little league and youth soccer league gave out meaningless trophies (in spite of, at times) poor performances on the field. At the time, I certainly understood—even as an eight-year-old—that I had done nothing to warrant a trophy. I also remember, as a child, when my school did away with valentines in school on Valentine’s Day, lest some students feel excluded for not getting as many Valentines as the next. I could have never known how harmful these policies could be at the time; it is only now—as an “adult” that I can reflect on the results of these policies. Unfortunately, I cannot say that they have made me—or any of my generation—“better”, per se. Rather than making us resilient—making us resistant to the inevitable bullshit that life will throw at us—it made us complacent, all-too-ready to succumb to adversity (and, consequently, anything that promised to “fight adversity). And that is no way to raise a society, or a country.

The head coach of Washington State University’s football team, Mike Leach, made his feelings clear regarding “participation trophies” in a 2016 post-game press conference. Mr. Leach, bemoaning the poor performance of his team, said “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s the team that has the most fun. All the crap like that. All the stuff that’s contaminated America where they give everyone a trophy and don’t keep score in little league anymore”. To be honest, one cannot take much issue with Mr. Leach’s comments; indeed a book The Wussification of America was written on the topic.

 

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Mr. Leach May Be a Contraversial Figure, But He Makes Very Important Points That We–As a Society–Ignore at our Own Peril. Image Courtesy of: http://www.dbknews.com/2017/12/15/mike-leach-washington-state-coach-maryland-football-interview-randy-edsall-dj-durkin/

 

Even globalist media specialists Huffington Post published an article entitled “When Everyone Gets a Trophy, No One Wins” bemoaning this trend in 2012. In this article, by Michael Sigman, the author rightly points out that grade inflation has become a major problem at American universities; 43% of students got A’s in 2011 compared to just 15% in 1960. Did Americans suddenly get smarter, as a group? Or did they suddenly become more catered to? Judging by my own experiences teaching at an American University, I will say that it is mire the latter; as knowledge has become more commodified (to borrow some terminology from sociologist Jurgen Habermas), the pressure to give good grades has risen. After all, people are paying for, what they assume, will be good grades.

 

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A’s Are Easier To Get Now More Than They Have Ever Been. But What Does This Say About Our Country’s Education? Image Courtesy of: https://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/tag/stuart-rojstaczer/

 

Despite this obviously problematic trend in U.S. society, media outlets have recently changed their tune. Fellow globalist media specialist Forbes published a 2016 piece entitled “Only a Few Win Mentality More Dangerous to Kids Than Participation Trophies” in which author Bob Cook claims that the “only a few win mentality” leads to an interpretation of “life-as-a-zero-sum-game”. What Mr. Cook fails to realize is that life sometimes works in just that way: Either you feed your family, or you don’t; either you make enough money to survive, or you don’t; either you live, or you die. Unfortunately for us, the media in the U.S. has a tendency to “flip-flop” or change their tune as a result of the Zeitgeist; the irresponsible nature of American media is a topic I have written on before. That the media supports this odd form of coddling, for lack of a better term, is odd. It is odd because it is this coddling that has neutered American society (to borrow words from coach Leach) to the point of not even realizing when the progressive mentality can become regressive.

A recent event at a Utah elementary school shows just how this can happen. According to CNN’s story:

Kanesville Elementary School in Ogden, Utah, holds a sixth-grade dance on Valentine’s Day each year. The dance is intended to promote inclusion and kindness, and students have traditionally been told by their teachers to say yes when a classmate asks them to dance.

CNN went on to seemingly lament the “changing times” with this passage:

But times have changed, and some parents were angry when they got wind of the dance’s protocol this year. Natalie Richard was shocked when her sixth-grade daughter told her she couldn’t refuse a dance with a boy at the upcoming dance. “The teacher said she can’t. She has to say yes. She has to accept and I said, ‘Excuse me?,’” Richard told CNN affiliate KSTU.

Doubling down, CNN frames the story by seemingly encouraging more progressive ideology:

At a time when parents are teaching kids they don’t need to hug a friend or even kiss their grandparents, there’s been a movement toward children maintaining control of their own bodies. To many parents, not being able to turn down a dance partner goes against that.

 

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Anderson Cooper the Snakeoil Salesman: CNN’s Recent Advertisement on the Aforementioned Post. Unfortunately, CNN Sells More Opinions Than It Does Facts [“Summarize the News” Should Never be an Option for Any News Organization with a Modicum of Self Respect]. Image Courtesy of: https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/13/health/utah-school-children-dance-trnd/index.html

 

More than any other recent news story, it is this one which most exemplifies the regressive nature of modern progressive thought. To force young girls to do anything that they do not want to do is, under any circumstance, unquestionably unacceptable. To not allow young boys to face rejection—and deal with its consequences—is similarly irresponsible. To encourage this kind of fascistic social engineering is to encourage a weak and divided society. Girls are not trophies, and school dances are not places where one gets “participation” trophies. To argue anything else, to me, would be fundamentally anti-humanist.

On this Valentine’s Day, everyone should remember that they are free to dance—or not dance—with anyone they choose to (or don’t choose to), and I will leave you with George Strait. Happy Valentine’s Day.

 

Author’s Note: After I had organized this post, I learned of the tragic shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. 17 innocent people lost their lives on this Valentine’s Day, and it is something that should make every American uncomfortable. This kind of violence has no place in American society. While the politicians will, likely, try to make it about gun laws, we should all recognize that it has nothing to do with gun laws; there is no quick and easy fix to social ills as the sociologist C. Wright Mills would point out. The United States has had the second amendment since 1791, and mass shootings did not become commonplace until the 1990s. Like sociologist Emile Durkheim’s study of suicide—which showed that there were social causes for suicide apart from psychological ones—we should see that mass firearm-related violence is symptomatic of wider societal troubles. The uber-individualistic culture of the United States has alienated many while progressive ideology has attempted to paint over the cracks of this individualism with fake buzzwords like “tolerance” and “kindness” and “inclusion”, as the case of the dance mentioned above exemplifies. Until we solve the root causes of the problems in U.S. society—such as alienation and extreme individualism—it is not likely that we will be able to avoid other tragic events like today’s in Florida.

I will revisit a quote from the above post, taken from CNN, which mentions a recent trend: “At a time when parents are teaching kids they don’t need to hug a friend or even kiss their grandparents . . . “. Again, we see that progressive/globalist news outlets like CNN subconsciously (or perhaps consciously?) encourage the fragmentation of American society. Why should we—as citizens (and for those who are, parents)—be encouraging our children to avoid physical displays of affection to their friends and family? This kind of “parenting”, if it can be called that, will only result in a more fragmented and alienated society for future generations. As someone who values the stability of my society and my country, that is something I do not want. We must all stand up to “progressive” ideology when it approaches its most regressive. Otherwise, we will all suffer. May I remind readers once again: United We Stand, Divided We Fall.

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Image Courtesy Of: https://www.zazzle.com/patriotic_american_flag_heart_stickers-217018501992539322

 

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A Marginal Sociologist on Strange Bedfellows: The Sad State of Academia in the United States and Korean Unification at the Winter Olympics as Examples of What a World Without Empathy Will Look Like

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After another savage graduate seminar I came home. I had wanted to grade some student papers yet, after three hours of enduring the rabid anti-intellectualism of my peers, it seemed that I had little left in the tank. For the sake of my students I decided to hold off on the grading; I care much more about them than I do about my own work. They are the ones paying thousands of dollars for an education, after all.

It has become more and more exhausting to deal with the savage wrath of my fellow students for daring to offer an opinion that deviates from their form of one-dimensional, progressive, and ultimately neo-fascistic thought. Some days it feels like I am living in a novel set in a dystopian future. Unfortunately, however, this is no novel. And this is no dystopian future; this is my life.

In class the discussion focused on qualitative interviewing, an important component of any true sociological study. The student in charge of presentations decided to show us an interview he was involved with, conducted during the 2018 Women’s March on Washington D.C. following the election of U.S. President Donald Trump. The interview was predictably a train-wreck; it was as if the interviewers had searched for someone who would fit the bill of their preconceived notions of an “ignorant Donald Trump supporter”. Needless to say, it was hardly sociological but wholly ideological. When the professor and students started noting how the respondent’s derogatory comments towards women reflected his own “sexism” and “position of power as a white man”, I had to object.

I offered that while the gender differential played a role, could it also be that the man was upset at being made a caricature? Could it be that the entire exchange just exemplified the toxic environment that identity politics has created? After all, the man knew full well that the interviewer—being a female from the university—had a certain political view that could only be diametrically opposed to his own just like she knew she was conducting the interview for that very same reason? Secondly, could it be that this white male had no “power” at all in this interview, seeing as how the female interviewer was imbued by the power of being connected to the University (especially after the interviewer mocked the man by asking “where did you go to college”, likely knowing full well that the man would respond “nowhere”, as he did)? Furthermore, isn’t the point of interviewing to establish rapport with your interview subjects, rather than insult them? Wasn’t that why I was wasting three hours of my life sitting in an indoctrination chamber, to learn how to conduct interviews? Of course, due to the fact that I dared object to the one dimensional thought prevalent in the room, I was predictably savaged. No one could even offer a single constructive comment and I was left counting the minutes until I could escape what, at that point, felt like a prison cell. At that moment, it felt like not a single seed of intellectual curiosity existed in that room.

At home all I wanted to do was escape from the world for a few hours. I wanted to forget just how alone my “peers” had made me feel. Predictably, I turned to sports for succor. The first story I read was about the return of the XFL. As I read through, I caught the following sentence “Given [the owner of the proposed new league, Professional Wrestling mogul Vince] McMahon’s closeness with the current presidential administration, and that administration’s public stance on players protesting during the national anthem, players also might want to watch out to make sure this isn’t just some thinly veiled political propaganda vehicle”. Clearly, it is impossible to escape from the (over)politicization of American society that is so clearly dividing people along the stupidest of lines! The next story I found regarded the decision of North and South Korea to field a unified women’s ice hockey team in the upcoming Winter Olympics. The headline, “an illusion of unity” had caught my eye.

Indeed, the unification of the Koreas—for these Olympic games—had long seemed, to me, like a glorified political stunt. In typically technocratic language, the author describes well the rehearsed nature of this faux unity:

 

“The Olympics is more than just a global sporting event,” Kim Jae-youl, the executive vice president of the local organizing committee, told me in an office at the committee’s headquarters in Seoul last year, delivering the line with a lilt, as if it were from scripture. “The Olympics is the occasion where people put aside differences and come together to celebrate the greatest festival on earth.”

 

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A Unified Korea In The Olympics? Image Courtesy Of: https://qz.com/1179399/food-is-the-new-battlefield-among-museums-and-singapore-is-setting-the-bar/

 

Clearly, the powers-that-be at the Olympic committee see this as a feel-good story which they believe will provide a story line amenable to globalist sensibilities in order to increase revenue. It seems as if—in the modern world—people are more concerned with making money, even if it means playing political games at the expense of people who truly suffer from the issues the technocrats are claiming to save them from. In many ways, this is a situation echoed by the state of contemporary ethnography in modern sociology and anthropology.

Ethnographer Bryan C. Taylor advocates post-modern analysis because it “restores to public consciousness marginalized cultural voices that relativize and challenge dominant narratives” (Taylor:67). While this is certainly a laudable goal, ethnographers should instead be careful to not re-create the colonialist forms of discourse that Maria Cristina Gonzalez criticizes. Gonzalez argues that colonialist ethnographies “were written in order to justify, legitimize, and perpetuate the colonization of those about whom the texts were written. Colonization implied cultural conquest” (Gonzalez:78). In this context, the “marginalized cultural voices” Taylor invokes become owned by the ethnographer. Gonzalez defines colonialist ethnography as “one that is written primarily to serve the interests of agents who have taken upon themselves the privilege of owning the voices of others” (Gonzalez:80). Paul Stoller’s prologue to Sensuous Scholarship points out just how the “rational” and detached nature of academic text tend to re-enforce the subjugation of “marginalized voices”. In Stoller’s words: “their [Foucault and Butler’s] bloodless language reinforces the very principle the critique—the separation of mind and body, which, as we have seen, regulates and subjugates the very bodies they would liberate” (Stoller:xv). Herein lies the danger: If modern social scientists aim to give voice to marginalized voices—without becoming detached from the human sensory experience—they must be careful that, in attempting to approach their subjects in a less “rational” manner, they do not replicate the pitfalls of colonialist ethnographers who sought to “own” the voices of others.

I personally saw just how dangerous this can be in the experiences of the ethnographers interviewed by the authors of one of the texts my professor gave me. Since a majority of the ethnographers interviewed were Americans pursuing research either in the global South or within marginalized communities in the United States, there was a quasi-neo-colonialist dynamic inherent in their work to begin with. In some cases, some of these ethnographers—in detailing their struggles—seemed to making value judgements on cultures very different than their own; in a sense they were viewing their research subjects—and locations—through a colonialist lens. Examples stemmed from an ethnographer who resented “sticking out” in Sub-Saharan Africa as a white American female to another who thought she was being “discriminated against” for having to use the female entrance to a mosque because she was . . . female. The ethnographer further denigrated the situation, resenting the presence of toys and children in the mosque. The ethnographer’s reaction seemed to come from a neo-colonialist perspective; she wanted the other culture to resemble her own and, because it doesn’t, she took it as a personal slight. Yet some knowledge of Muslim culture would have made her recognize that men and women have separate entrances to Mosques; since often women come with their children the women’s section tends to have many toys in order to amuse visiting children while their mothers pray.

It is in contexts like these that researchers should remember that—as French Sociologist Pierre Bourdieu pointed out—it is the researcher who has the power to define what constitutes “knowledge”. In order to not become “post-colonial neo-colonialists”, for lack of a better term, researchers should recognize the problems that bringing themselves into the research can have, especially in cross-cultural contexts. It can risk making the research less about the subjects and more about the (often Western) researchers, and that risks taking ownership of others’ voices. Similarly, by viewing the cultures they study through their own cultural lenses, they risk “regulating and subjugating the very bodies” that some researchers, ostensibly, claim to “liberate”. If researchers judge non-Western cultural contexts in terms of the West, are they not—in effect—“justifying” and “legitimizing” the colonialist enterprise which, in the modern world, is called globalization?

Of course, my rhetorical question will likely fall on deaf ears. But could it matter? After my day in class, it was all to clear to me that—unfortunately—the scholars who once sought to “liberate” people had become petty fascists, unable to even engage in any sort of intellectual debate. The neo-Marxism within academia has produced fascists. And that is most certainly a problem for academics in the United States. Once the researcher’s aim becomes re-making the cultures they research into a version of the Western culture they come from, they destroy that culture. And that is the same process that is evident in the article I read on Korean unification and the Olympics. While many in the West—such as, evidently, South Korea’s Olympic committee—might think that unification is the ultimate goal, wouldn’t they be better of talking to South Koreans and North Koreans? The article in question does a good job at pointing out how many North Korean immigrants to South Korea feel alienated and discriminated against in South Korea. In fact, many even consider going back! At one point, the author even gives these damning statistics:

 

Numerous studies have shown that as many as half of North Korean defectors experience depression after arriving in South Korea, and a 2015 survey by Korea Hana Foundation found that about 20 percent of refugees had had suicidal thoughts in the preceding 12 months — nearly three times the percentage of South Korea’s general population. Even more striking is that some aid organizations estimate that as many as 25 percent of North Korean refugees in the South consider going back […] In 1994, surveys found that about 92 percent of South Koreans wanted to see unification with the North; by 2007, that had dropped by nearly 30 percentage points, and a government survey in 2011 showed that only 9 percent of 19- to 29-year-old South Koreans are “very interested” in a unified Korea.

 

What, then, can this tell us? Is it that a unified Korea is a dream? If so, is it an impossible dream? Or is it a dream that the technocrats believe can be realized through the social engineering of modern social scientists and the global culture industry, of which the Olympics are a part, without ever acknowledging social reality on the ground?

Personally, I would say—especially after seeing the fascism of my fellow students—that all dreams of social engineering should be abandoned (after all, they should have been abandoned long ago; weren’t the previous examples of social engineering in the USSR and Nazi Germany enough to show that societies cannot be built by technocratic bureaucrats?). Instead, societies should be left to develop organically. If the Koreas eventually decide to unify, let them do so on their own terms. Clearly at this point the cost of accommodating impoverished North Koreans is too much for South Koreans who—judging by the low percentage of young South Koreans supporting unification cited above—are more concerned with their pocketbooks than they are with unifying with their “brothers” and “sisters” north of the border. This is the divide between visions of the future which vacillate between the utopic and dystopic and . . . real life. Nations, countries, and societies cannot be willed into existence by technocratic and bureaucratic elites according to their own relative concepts of “social justice” and “progress”. Instead, they should be left to develop at their own pace, according to their own desires. Life is hard enough as it is, and we—as both social scientists and individuals—would do well to avoid social engineering.

The next day I visited the local police department for a meeting related to my research for a class project. It was there that, once again, I saw first hand just how dangerous the divisiveness in modern society has become. No, all police are certainly not racists, as the progressive mindset has one believe. Rather, most are just regular people looking to make their communities as livable as they can be. Does this mean that racist police do not exist? No, it doesn’t either—police are people, and all types of people exist in the world. Understanding that would be the first step towards a true kind of progress, rather than the “progress” that academics continually express their desire for.  The police officers told me that it was alienation—a need to belong—which drives the youth to become members of gangs. As the officers were explaining the process to me, I couldn’t help but let my mind wander: it is the same kind of alienation—the same kind of intense need to belong—which drives academics to seek a community in the arms of identity politics. In that respect, then, there is little difference between a graduate student caught in the throes of identity politics and an impoverished young African-American pursuing gang membership. Both look to find somewhere to belong in the alienating world we live in; both do not realize the dangers that membership will have.

After the meeting I am still thinking about the intense need to belong in the modern world. A colleague of mine tells me she doesn’t go on Facebook anymore, because no one posts anything “fun”. It is all about political debate (debate is a generous term here) now, and it just furthers people’s alienation from one another. In the future—if no one has any connection to their fellow humans that extends beyond their “smart” phones, then what will we have? We will have a world without empathy, and that will be a dark future. My friend told me a story recently: She dropped her purse when disembarking from her car; while helping her mother with the door her hands were full and her purse just fell. At the time, she didn’t notice it and went into a restaurant for dinner. When she noticed that the purse was gone, she ran back outside into the parking lot. There, she found a curbside flower seller holding her purse. He had caught a man emptying the money out of the purse and chased him off; then he returned the purse to my friend, the rightful owner. Such cognizance of humanity—of the need to help, rather than stifle—our fellow human can only be furthered by empathy. In a future world, where people’s heads are buried in “smart” phones as they seek “communities” in the digital world in order to escape the fractured worlds—divided along the lines of identity politics—of their “reality”, there will be fewer people to stop the thieves.

Yes, the seeds of a world without empathy are what I saw in the classroom; it is what we see in relations between South Koreans and North Koreans, who base the value of their fellow men and women in economic terms; and it is what we see in the battles being fought on social media daily. This attack on empathy is furthered by globalist news outlets like the Huffington Post, who attack anything that could possibly bring people together in mutual empathy; in their most recent interactive segment “I am an American”, they offer many options for readers to identify as: one can be a Simon and Garfunkel fan, a Game Warden, a Game of Thrones Addict, a Gaimanite [Author’s Note: I do not know what this even means], a Gay Person of Color, a Gay Woman, a Humanist, Senegalese, or even a Dynamo. The one thing a person can not be is, just, “An American”. In fact, the option does not exist. Such is the poisoning nature of identity politics.

 

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According to the Globalist Logic of the Huffington Post, You Can Be Anything You Want to be…Except American. Image Courtesy Of: http://interactives.huffingtonpost.com/2017/i-am-an-american/

 

My mind goes back to class. Our professor had given us a reading in which some of the writers implied that 9/11 was an inside job so as to “take away our freedoms”. That such armchair conspiracy theorizing has no place in an educational setting goes without saying; that it is a disgusting form of indoctrination should also be obvious. As sociologists our job should be to unify—and not divide—society. But the situation in classrooms also hits on something much deeper, and fear mongering like the “Doomsday Clock” should not stop us from addressing the problems in our societies. From all that I have experienced, it is—more than ever—clear what the issues are. It is political correctness and identity politics that will divide us and take away our freedoms. This is what we all must know, and this is what we all must resist.

 

 

Image Courtesy Of: https://www.amazon.com/United-States-America-American-sticker/dp/B00B1Z8XOS

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Image Courtesy Of: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flag-map_of_Turkey.svg

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.

 

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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

 

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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.

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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.

A Marginal Sociologist’s Musical Perspective on Humanism Vs. Rationalism: The Sad State of American Education That Has Failed To Separate The Two

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As a mobile marginal sociologist who likes to engage in conversation with anyone willing, I have more than a few adventures. As one great Sociology Professor at my university once told me, “to be a good sociologist you have to actually like people”. I take this advice to heart inside—and outside—of the classroom, and the last few days were no exception. In a few conversations with individuals involved in higher education in the United States I learned that higher education is not really education at all. Rather, it is a form of indoctrination. After all, how can an individual with a Master’s Degree not know who Nietzsche is? And how can someone receiving a liberal arts degree not know the distinction between humanism and rationalism? It is not because these people are dumb; quite contrary, they are intelligent people who are seeking to learn about a world that the educational system has—unfortunately—left behind. One reason may be that the educational system—in following the modern trend of rationalization that Sociologist Max Weber warned against—has failed to separate rationalism from humanism.

Since humans are not rational, humanism is not compatible with rationalism. The famous Turkish rock group MFÖ makes this point clear in the popular song “Ali Desidero”. While the video is an amusing throwback to mid-nineties Turkish pop, the lyrics are certainly prescient in that they show the odd form of confusion that defines the thoughts of the modern generation.

In the song the young man falls in love with a young lady in his neighborhood. The only issue is that the young man and the young lady come from different worlds: the young man is a self professed “simple man” hanging out at the coffee house watching football, while the young lady is a bit of an intellectual. Since the lyrics are clever (pointing out that the young man thinks Machiavelli is a footballer), they also point out the contradictions in the young lady’s intellectual thought:

Elbetteki feminist bir kız
Metafiziğe de inanmakta

Bir kusuru var yalnız kızın
Biraz entel takılmakta
Optimizt hem de pesimist biraz
idealizme de savunmakta
Ali Desidero Ali Desidero

Teoride desen zehir gibi
Pratik dersen sallanmakta
Bazen ben hümanistim diyor
Bazen rastyonalist oluyor
Değişik bir psikoloji
Bir felsefe idiotloji
İdiot idiot idiotloji

(Turkish Lyrics Courtesy Of: http://sarkisozuceviri.com/mfo-ali-desidero-sarki-sozleri/ )

 

Of course the girl is a feminist

She also believes in metaphysics

There is just one flaw with the girl

Shes a bit of an intellectual

She is an optimist, sometimes a pessimist

And defends idealism
Ali Desidero Ali Desidero

In terms of theory she’s got it down

In terms of the practical she’s a little shaky

Sometimes she says “I’m a humanist”

Other times she becomes a rationalist

It’s a different type of psychology

A philosophy, idiotology

Idiot idiot idiotology

(Author’s Translation. An alternative translation—which I did not enjoy—is available at http://lyricstranslate.com/en/ali-desidero-ali-desidero.html )

 

The kind of confusion that MFÖ sing about is not inherent to Turkish culture, it is a confusion that plagues much of the West (and yes, Turkey is part of the West in terms of its acceptance of globalized culture).  In the United States—and, arguably, most of the West—the education system is skewed to the political “Left”. Thus, it pushes a “humanist” idea while simultaneously pushing rationalization; it is characterized by a social science dominated by numbers. Sociologist C. Wright Mills was the first to point out the flaws of this kind of thought system in his famous work The Sociological Imagination by focusing on the academic field of Sociology:

…[S]ociology has lost its reforming push, its tendencies toward fragmentary problems and scattered causation have been conservatively turned to the use of corporation, army, and state . . . To make the worker happy, efficient, and co-operative we need only make the managers intelligent, rational, knowledgable (Mills, 1959: 92).

Here, Mills points out that socioligists began to serve the goals of the wider power elite in society—the corporations, the army, and the government—by pushing “rationalism”.  This has meant that:

[T]he human relations experts have extended the general tendency for modern society to be rationalized in an intelligent way and in the service of a managerial elite. The new practicality leads to new images of social science—and of social scientists. New institutions have arisen in which this illiberal practicality is installed: industrial relations centers, research bureaus of universities, new research branches of Corporation, air force and government. They are not concerned with the battered human beings living at the bottom of society—the bad boy, the loose woman, the migrant worker, the un-Americanized immigrant. On the contrary, they are connected, in fact and in fantasy, with the top levels of society. (Mills, 1959: 95).

From this quote we see that the “rationalization” of society has come at the expense of what Mills calls “the battered human beings living at the bottom of society”; this is—quite clearly—far from humanist.  In fact, to Mills, the political philosphy of those subscribing to this mode of thought is “contained in the simple view that if only The Methods of Science, by which man now has come to control the atom, were employed to ‘control social behavior,’ the problems of mankind would soon be solved, and peace and plenty assured for all” (Mills, 1959: 113). The problem with the mode of thought that Mills criticizes is, of course, the fact that human beings are not atoms. Since human beings have a minds of their own, no type of scientific rationalization can control them; to do so would mean to treat all human beings as if they were all uniform (like the aforementioned atom). This negates the diversity of humanity, and understanding this simple fact means understanding humanism; it also means that humanism is not compatible with—nor analogous with—rationalism.

A recent news story shows the problems with confusing humanism and rationalism. On 4 July 2017 The Canadian government agreed to pay a Canadian national—who admitted to killing a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan—the whopping sum of 10 million US dollars. According to a CBC editorial, Omar Khadr deserved this payday—despite being a murderer and a terrorist—because he was mistreated as a Candian citizen. According to Amnesty International, Mr. Khadr’s “rights were violated” (despite the fact that he admitted to killing another human being). Although those who approve of the Candian government’s settlement may see the decision as a rational, one (since Mr. Khadr’s human rights were violated) as well as a humanist one (since he was a child soldier at the time of the murder), they miss the absurdity of a terrorist being paid over ten (10!) million dollars after killing someone. This is not rational, nor is it humanist (especially if we take into account the feelings of the family members of the man Mr. Khadr killed!), and that is why this one case serves as a perfect example of the risks inherent in conflating humanism with rationalism.

To continue with the musical theme, I will offer another small example from American country music. While writing I was listening to Luke Combs’ “When It Rains It Pours” on Youtube and—like any good sociologist—I perused the comments section. In it, I came across a gem where a user asks “Is it wrong If [sic] I like this kind of music and am black?”. Of course, fellow Youtube users responded in the right way: You can like any kind of music regardless of your skin color! Thats the point of a free—and humanistic—society. However, one reason this type of comment may have been posted, is that the rationalists (due to their obsession with the classifcation of human beings) like to believe that  “rap music is for black people” and “country music is for white people”. This is, of course, absurd, yet (sadly) there are many sociology articles out there that deride country music as being “white” music and for not being “inclusive” enough.

 

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Without digging into the academic works, this blog will serve as a useful example of this type of misinformed thought. The author complains that African-American country artist Darius Rucker’s songs“contain the same themes of family, whiskey drinking, heartbreak, and Southern culture (such as the food, chivalry, clothes) and the same avoidance of touchy subjects as those of any white artist”. That Mr. Rucker is not fitting into his racial stereotype—by avoiding racial topics in his songs—is apparently offensive to the blog’s author. It is just one more sad example of the toxicity of rationalization at work, since the blogger assumes that a black singer needs to sing about “black” topics to fit into his “category” as a black country music artist. With all due respect to the sociologists, I prefer a humanistic approach—not confused with rationaliztion—which allows singers to sing about whatever they please, regardless of their race. And yes, us listeners can listen to whtatever we like, regardless of our race as well. Such is the beauty of a humanist perspective; it is a perspective that unifies unlike the divisive perspectives of rationalism.

A Marginal Sociologist’s Take On America V: Dispatches from the (Battle)Field of Academia

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A few weeks ago I woke up to some very alarming news reporting that the San Francisco Teacher’s Union was offering a lesson plan to area high school teachers that describes U.S. President-elect Donald Trump a “racist and sexist man”. Regardless of one’s political beliefs, such indoctrination of high school students is reprehensible. To me it seems like an attempt to re-engineer society in the way that communist societies did. A quote I have used before, from Miroslav Vanek and Pavel Mucke’s Velvet Revolutions explains it nicely:

Among other things, they launched a campaign against ‘reactionary’ values and ‘bourgeois and petit-bourgeois relics,’ with the goal of controlling as many ‘human souls’ as possible and creating a ‘new human being’ within a ‘progressive’ society constructed (or rather re-arranged) according to the Soviet Model (Vanek and Mucke 2016, 10).

I have seen these sentiments in my own graduate seminars, when a student proposed that the best way to end discrimination in America was to “educate them at an early age”. She proposed teaching children as young as five about same-sex marriage. While her aims are certainly noble, I can think of at least a few parents who wouldn’t be very happy with this—and rightly so. Parents have a right to raise their own children as they see fit, that is not the state’s job. I argued that engineering societies—through education—is a slippery slope but it, predictably, fell on deaf ears.

 

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s very readable novel Herland was assigned in one of my seminars and—if one gets past the extreme feminist perspective—one can see that Gilman is warning against a totalitarian, and borderline fascistic, society where the community, rather than families, educate children. The only result is a sort of brainwashing, where all emotions—specifically human emotions like love—have been erased. Of course my fellow sociologists could not see this, they could only opine on how utopic a society without men would be. They could only opine on how a misogynist male rapist is the same as the misogynist male who opens the door for a woman because “she is too weak”. As much as they may not like it, I personally will continue to open doors for women. It is, after all, the right thing to do to help out fellow human beings—male or female.

To me this kind of discourse, at a university no less, is disturbing. It is a totalitarian thought process completely detached from reality; this kind of societal engineering is the purest form of the rationalized society Max Weber warned against. The worst thing is that this hate emanates from ostensibly “progressive” people; the people who organize cry-ins and lobby for “safe spaces”, the same people who have made “I’m offended” the new buzz phrase of America. But do they ever stop to think about how equating rapists with those who open doors for women is problematic? Or that saying “being white is racist” is a racist statement in and of itself? The short answer is…they don’t.

At a small get-together with friends a few weeks ago the conversation came to my personal life. A student I am friendly with asked me if I was worried about my (Turkish) girlfriend coming to visit me in the U.S. I asked why I would be afraid? The student said “Because Trump will put her in a camp for being a Muslim”. I wanted to ask the person to specify what kind of camp—labor or death—but resisted. The truth is, this kind of discourse is offensive to me; insinuating that someone I love could be murdered is extremely hurtful. But I don’t blame this person for their misguided views since it isn’t their fault.

Arguably, it all boils down to the failure of America’s education system. Examples have been pouring in from campuses all across America in recent days. At UNLV, a math professor was shamed for daring to use the term “illegal aliens” rather than the politically correct “undocumented immigrants” on his personal Facebook page. Apparently, free speech is no longer the norm on American campuses. At my former school, the University of Texas, a professor of philosophy admitted that he cannot teach his course because of political correctness. Professor Daniel Bonevac said:

Students clam up as soon as conversation veers close to anything controversial and one side might be viewed as politically incorrect. The open exchange of ideas that used to make courses such as Contemporary Moral Problems exciting doesn’t happen […] For decades the University of Texas at Austin has been an ideal place to do that. Students bring a wide range of opinions. They’re open-minded. They argue for their own views vigorously while listening carefully to the other side and treating its advocates respectfully […] One or two students who don’t share those qualities mentioned above can shut down discussion and destroy such a course.

I can sympathize with Professor Bonevac because I have seen this toxic environment in my own classes.

The worst part is that, even when the metaphor of “battleground” used above becomes real, educators still don’t know how to react. After a brutal attack on students at Ohio State University, one student said administrators “are more scared of the Right and Trump than they are of this terrorist attack that just happened on our campus. It’s sickening to me because I feel like they are gambling with my life in order to reach this multiculturalism lie that they worship in all of my classes — and it’s crazy.” If you don’t believe it, just look at a Facebook post from The Ohio State University’s Director of Residence Life.

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A Strange Post Made Stranger By the #Hashtags. Image Courtesy Of: http://usherald.com/liberal-apologists-already-urging-sympathy-osu-terror-attacker/

 

In short, this is ridiculous. There was a vicious attack, yet instead of condemning it a University official is saying something quite different. In a bid to pay respects to the attacker, the University is actually insulting the victims. It is an odd situation indeed, and it shows a fundamental lack of moral sense. The question is, how did we get here? I would argue that it is a result of the  most glaring example of America’s failure to educate: the censorship of literature.

I am a proponent of literature since I believe that the best fiction can tell a person more about life than most positivist social science research. Auguste Comte may argue with me but I stand with my perspective, especially after a Virginia school district decided to erase certain literary masterpieces from their curriculum: “The Accomack County Public Schools (Virginia) have banned the classic books The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird because a parent complained about the racial slurs contained in them”.

This is saddening news since it doesn’t bode well for the American education system. Two weeks ago I saw at my own university library the perils of this failure to recognize literature’s value. I asked the student working at the front desk for a copy of The Great Gatsby. The student asked me the author, and I—incredulous—just said “Fitzgerald”. The response? “Which one…F. Scott?”. The idea of a university student not knowing the author of one of the most enduring classics of American literature is disconcerting to say the least. Education is not just about 2+2 being 4 or elementary Spanish or French. It is also about achieving a certain level of culture, a view of the world that only literature can provide.

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A Masterpiece. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4671.The_Great_Gatsby

It would be helpful if educators focused less on political indoctrination and more on making the students of our country well-rounded citizens; giving students the valuable skills of critical thinking and emphasizing individual thought is one of the most important—and long-lasting—gifts of education. It is dismaying to see the quality of education slowly decline as educators are more focused more on presenting personal political views in the classroom than teaching things of real value. Politics are ephemeral, literature is eternal.