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March Madness: A Marginal Sociologist’s Note on Sports and Linguistic Censorship on Campus in the Postmodern Age

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As if watching my university unceremoniously bow out of the NCAA basketball tournament was not punishment enough, I had to endure a battle with my ideological colleagues at the same time. It was certainly March Madness in more ways than one. As we watched our university throw away their championship hopes, the conversation turned to our day jobs and a topic I am very concerned with: political correctness and the ongoing loss of free speech in the United States.

I mentioned a professor from our department who told me that a journal once criticized him for using the word “seminal” in an article; since the word referred to “semen” it was, therefore, a masculine word and thus off-limits. I was appalled that, for instance, writing the sentence “Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism is a seminal work in sociological thought” could ever be grounds for censure. Unfortunately, the Brave New World of postmodern identity politics loathes free speech. Indeed, the brown-shirts of “progressive” ideology will be the first to tar and feather any who step out of line. Simply put, if you do not want to be labeled as a “racist”, a “sexist”, or some other “’cist”, you might not want to raise your ugly head in modern academia by going against the dominant strains of one dimensional thought. I know the punishment one will face because I live it every day.

In my conversation with colleagues, I recalled out loud a graduate seminar from a few months back where the professor explained to us that the word “penetrate” should be avoided because—like “seminal”—it has a masculine connotation. Shockingly, my colleagues seemed to agree with this assessment of “penetrate”. They told me that “penetrate” was a “sexist word”, and shouldn’t be used. I informed them that “penetrate” is certainly not a sexist word. At that, one colleague told me “well, it comes from ‘penis’”. At that I had to ask—was my colleague now a linguist? I thought we were studying Sociology! Unfortunately, my colleague had clearly not taken four years of Latin in high school; “penetrate” comes from the Latin “penetratus” and related to “penitro” meaning “to place within” (see https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/penetrate and http://www.dictionary.com/browse/penetrate ). Indeed, the word “penetrate” has nothing to do with “penis” but, I guess, it is my colleagues who have their minds in the gutter.

 

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Its Not the Word Origin. Imags From: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/penetrate (Top) and https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/penetrate (Bottom)

 

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The Cambridge Dictionary Seems to Have No Qualms With Using Penetrate Alongside Female Pronouns. Image From: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/penetrate

 

As if to prove my point, the announcers on the television in front of us lamented the failure our team’s offense: “they just cannot penetrate the paint” was a familiar refrain. Indeed one of the main tactics in basketball is to “penetrate the paint” in order to get as close as possible to the basket so as to have an opportunity for a high percentage shot.

 

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A Diagram Of How To Penetrate the Paint in Basketball. Image From: https://www.google.com/search?q=penetrate+the+paint&client=safari&rls=en&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj-tKavnvXZAhUU8mMKHZYnAGoQsAQIWg&biw=1268&bih=628#imgrc=pkNbq7XuVzAeNM

 

Unfortunately for my university, however, the players were not able to do this. Perhaps, it shouldn’t be surprising: given that instructors at the university are all too happy to do away with the word “penetrate”, I should not blame the players for not penetrating the paint. After all, at this point, they may not have even known what the word means! As students and educators alike, we must all stand up to the attacks on free speech which are taking place on university campuses across the United States. If we want to raise the next great generation of American citizens, we must stand up in the face of fascism and censorship regardless of the form it takes. In fact, some might say that we must “penetrate” the walls which political correctness have erected around our thoughts. Who knows, it might just have a positive effect on our basketball teams as well.

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Why Should We Listen to NBA Players About Anything?

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As readers will know, I am all for individuals from the sports world voicing their political opinions. After all, athletes are citizens and they have every right to express themselves regarding their opinions on the state of their (respective) nations. However, it is important to engage in such protests while still respecting the nation that one belongs to so as to maintain a basis for implementing the social change being protested for. Similarly, we should recognize that there is a difference between the organic protest of sports figures and that which can be used for propaganda, as we have seen in Turkey.

Unfortunately, in the United States, the media has become more and more involved in actively searching out political opinions from sports figures in what amounts to the perpetuation of a propaganda campaign. It should go without saying that these are hardly “organic” opinions, rather they are opinions that are being searched out in order to further certain political positions. Recently, ESPN reporter Cari Champion rode around with NBA stars Lebron James and Kevin Durant in a perfect example of the kind of “searching” I am talking about. In the interview Mr. James says, without mentioning the President of the United States by name, that the “appointed person [is] someone who doesn’t understand the people, and really don’t give a f— about the people.” Again, Mr. James’ poor grasp of the English language (something I have criticized previously) comes through in this statement.

 

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Mr. Durant (L) and Mr. James (R) Are Apparently Political Scientists Now, According to The Washington Post. Image Courtesy Of: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2018/02/16/lebron-james-and-kevin-durant-discuss-how-trump-doesnt-give-a-f-about-the-people/?utm_term=.d531f33d0c39

 

What’s worse is that Mr. James’ political opinions can have little effect on the majority if he uses terms like “appointed person”; by furthering the divides in his country Mr. James is not really voicing his own opinion, instead he is merely parroting the opinions of the main (lame?) stream media. In effect, Mr. James is being used by the culture industry. That, in itself, should be food for thought, but you won’t hear this opinion in The Washington Post. Indeed, their columnist who specializes in “identity politics” criticizes Mr. James’ detractors by connecting it to (predictably) race. I would argue that it is more racist to use an athlete for propaganda purposes, but I am not The Washington Post (thankfully).

Throughout the controversy, I am left wondering: Why should I care about an athlete’s political perspective? Why should it be a topic of conversation in a national news outlet like the Washington Post? What makes Mr. James’ perspective more valuable than my own, other than the fact that he is supported by the culture industry? Indeed, if we were to take the opinions of NBA players as “truth” we would be in big trouble. In February 2018, NBA star Kyrie Irving repeated his support of the “flat earth theory”, which he first came out in support of in 2017. Shockingly, a former NFL quarterback also seemed to support Mr. Irving’s “theory”.

 

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Mr. Smith Is Certainly Correct When He Reminds Us To “Have An Open Mind”, It Would Just Be More Useful To Have An Open Mind About More Immediate Questions. This Is How the Culture Industry Re-Directs Our Own “Open-Mindedness” (For Lack Of A Better Term). Image Courtesy Of: https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/geno-smith-i-may-be-with-kyrie-irving-on-this-whole-flat-earth-vs-globe-thing/

 

It is absurd that we are being told to take athletes’ political opinions seriously when these same athletes are also coming out in support of outlandish theories that dismiss gravity itself. Despite the absurdity of it all, we must all recognize that these events are indicative of wider societal issues. Due to the internet and increased social media usage, there are a multitude of opinions proliferating all over the internet. Unfortunately, many of these opinions have little basis in reality and are merely used to distract us all from the real questions that need to be asked. In this sense, people are encouraged to have “different” opinions only when they are clearly absurd. People can question the idea that the world is round, yet they cannot question the relevancy of an NBA player’s political opinions. People would undoubtedly be better off questioning the progressive fascism happening all around them—furthered by the culture industry—than questioning things that were settled a long time ago. 2,000 years ago, to be exact.

 

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If We Want The World To Stay Around–No Pun Intended–It Would Be Best to Address The Immediate Problems We See In Our Own Societies, Like Progressive Fascism. Image Courtesy Of: https://www.popsci.com/best-images-earth-from-space#page-6

Why One Dimensional Thought in the Modern World Hinders Our Ability to Actually Have Conversations, and Why It Might Lead to a Very Dangerous Future

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Sociologist Jurgen Habermas wrote a lot about his theory of communicative action, where individuals could exchange in discussion with the purpose of, among other things, “a mutual search for understanding”. Unfortunately, in the context of the increasingly intolerant world we live in, Habermas’ ideal may be becoming more and more elusive.

This is because too many people are more than ready to dismiss the “other” outright, without even engaging in communicative action in the first place. Recently, three members of the newly-crowned NFL champion Philadelphia Eagles announced that they would reject any invitation to the White House, should U.S. President Donald Trump extend one, as U.S. Presidents typically do to championship winning squads in U.S. sports. Torrey Smith said clearly that “It’s not about politics; I just don’t think the president is a good person. I don’t want to go out of my way to go see someone who isn’t even welcoming the men in this locker room and our different cultures”. Despite Mr. Smith’s claim that its “not about politics” something tells me it is; after all, he “thinks” the president is not a “good person” without having, most likely, ever even spoken with him. And here is where communicative action becomes impossible: When we refuse to acknowledge another person and write them off before even speaking with them, instead choosing to judge them based off of portrayals in the media or—even worse—based off of personal opinions that are being projected onto the “other”, we get into dangerous waters.

That the media “paints” pictures of individuals with their words is undeniable; in the modern world corporate mass media has become a master of propaganda, even though they are often very wrong. Take a recent Foreign Policy article, for instance, which mistakenly reports that Mosul is in Syria. Why should anyone—in their right minds—trust a media outlet that does not know the difference between Syria and Iraq? Perhaps it is because Foreign Policy sees both as being “shithole countries”, but I digress.

 

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Apparently, Foreign Policy Needs a Little Lesson on Middle Eastern Geography. Image Courtesy Of: http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/02/06/the-storm-before-the-storm-trump-middle-east/

 

What is remarkable is that it is not just main(lame?) stream media that is guilty of such heinous propaganda. The Jacobin, a publication that calls itself “a leading voice of the American left, offering socialist perspectives on politics, economics, and culture” and boasts of 30,000 print subscribers and a monthly web audience of one million is—despite its self professed “left” perspective—just as guilty of propaganda as the ostensibly “mainstream” outlets. Of course, given the “left’s” proclivity for propaganda—think Pravda in the USSR—this should not, necessarily, be surprising.

The magazine recently published a piece written by Harrison Fluss, a lecturer in philosophy at St. John’s University and Manhattan College, entitled “Jordan Peterson’s Bullshit”. Since I find Jordan Peterson’s perspective to be vital in the current climate characterized by a growing tendency towards one dimensional thought, I decided to take a look at just how one could characterize it as “bullshit”. After reading, however, it became clear that the article should have been entitled “Harrison Fluss’ Bullshit” because the writer seemed to lack even a basic knowledge of Marxist thought, despite being a self-professed “leftist”. Indeed, if this is the caliber of lecturers at St. John’s University and Manhattan College American college students are being severely short changed and must certainly begin to take their educations back. Judging by his piece, Mr. Fluss has no place teaching at any institute of higher learning.

Mr. Fluss casually dismisses the growth of one dimensional thought (“the Left allegedly has turned authoritarian”) while himself taking a very authoritarian perspective while imputing views on Mr. Peterson that were never expressed in his half hour interview with Channel 4. The number of Mr. Fluss’ errors in this article are too numerous to note here, but—as a marginal sociologist myself—I cannot forgive this particular line:

“In response to Newman’s statistics about the wage gap, Peterson argued that this inequality was a necessary part of the capitalist dynamic.”

In order to make this criticism, it means that either Mr. Fluss has never actually read Karl Marx—despite his, apparent, “red” political stance (pardon the pun)—or that he is just ignorant. I’m not sure which would would be better in order for him to save face amongst his “comrades”! This is because—as all my students of sociology know, “Marx believed that the capitalist system is inherently unequal. The capitalists automatically benefit more from the capitalist system, while the workers are automatically disadvantaged. Under capitalism, those who own the means of production, those with capital, make more money from their money” (From George Ritzer’s Sociological Theory, Eighth Edition: Page 69). This was a quote from the textbook that my students read. Either Mr. Fluss has never taken an introductory Sociology course, or he is just a left-wing nut-jub ideologue masquerading as a scholar, since one of Marx’s main arguments was that capitalism is based on an unequal system. Clearly, Mr. Fluss is a product of the failing cesspool that is American academia at the moment.

 

Yet while I might be able to excuse pure ignorance, I cannot excuse calls for fascism. Mr. Fluss argues that

“When we theoretically confront Peterson, we need to do more than refute his pseudo-scientific claims, his bad pop psychology, and his Cold War–inflected version of history. The real challenge is overcoming his fundamental irrationalism” [Emphasis Mine].

Mr. Fluss seems to forget that we are all human beings. We are all, to some extent, irrational. This is because we are individuals.  And, if that is a problem, then there could only be one solution: Fascism. The drive to make us all “rational” would mean making us act with one and the same motive at all times; it would mean  erasing our individuality once and for all. Of course, given the history of Stalinism, it is not surprising that the someone writing for a “leftist” magazine should encourage fascism; it is par for the course since it has been attempted before.

This makes Mr. Fluss’ subsequent criticisms of Mr. Peterson even more comical:

Peterson does not speak for what is “normal.” His jargon of authenticity — that he is just a simple academic fighting for truth amid so much political correctness and censorship — masks his authoritarian ideas. He calls Marxism a “murderous ideology,” but his paranoid and conspiratorial politics are hard to distinguish from the alt-right’s denunciations of cultural Marxism. Indeed, the line between Peterson’s authoritarianism and Richard Spencer’s paleo-Nazism is a blurry one.

Here Mr. Fluss resorts to a common tactic that has become popular in the progressive era; label anyone that does not agree with you a “Nazi” or “Fascist”. No, society cannot continue to work under the assumption of an assumed dichotomy like this, especially when people are not even willing to talk with one another and instead prefer labeling people based on tropes popularized by the main(lame) stream media.

The only solution to this state of affairs is communicative action; that is people talking with one another not with the preconceived purpose of disagreement but with the purpose of mutual understanding. Otherwise, we kill off the logic of Hegel’s dialectic and risk a dark future indeed. I leave you with some images I took in the bustling working class district of Karakoy in Istanbul. Monday through Saturday it is bustling with a variety of businesses, on Sundays it is quiet without a soul on the streets; it is eerie to see what the area looks like when it is so chillingly empty. If we refuse to even talk with one another based on—in the case of the Eagles players mentioned above—images proffered by the media, or, in the case of Mr. Fluss, factually incorrect information, then we will only destroy the societies we live in. We can still avoid such a grim and dystopian future, it just requires an escape from one dimensional thought.

 

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A Dystopian Future of Empty Streets is Not What We Should be Aiming For. Images Courtesy of the Author.

Industrial Football, Globalism, Homogenization Consumerism, Imperialism, and Football Shirts: The Case of Leeds United’s New Crest

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Most football fans will already be aware of how industrial football works. As it encroaches on football clubs it first globalizes them, distancing them from their localities and their fans, before homogenizing them into a form more compatible to the consumerist culture of extreme capitalism. At the same time, industrial football serves to only benefit the same groups that stand to benefit from a globalist, “borderless” world: multi-national corporations.

Leeds United is the latest club to face the wrath of industrial football gone mad, with their hideous new logo. Like Juventus, Leeds United’s technocrats came up with a brand new logo, prompting ridicule from the football world. Even heartburn remedy Gaviscon recognized the ridiculous new logo as what it is—hideous.

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The New Crest is Definitely “Soulless” and “Offensive in its Robotic Inoffensivity”, Which–I Suppose–Is Important In a World Where People Look For Ways To Be Offended.

 

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FC Zenit’s Fans Always Know How to Point Out Absurdity in Industrial Football.

 

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Point Well Taken Mr. Short, Leeds’ New Crest Is Depressingly Ahistoric.
Images Courtesy Of: https://www.express.co.uk/sport/football/909386/Leeds-United-badge-logo-salute-LUFC

 

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Image Courtesy Of: https://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/heartburn-remedy-gaviscon-posts-ad-mocking-new-leeds-united-crest-1-8983602

 

The Independent’s Jonathan Liew gave a good reason for why Leeds United’s new crest should not, necessarily, surprise us. Liew notes the “faux-inspirational” dogma with which global corporations speak to us these days, referencing a message he saw inside a package of muesli: “No-one ever looked back at their life and wished they’d spent more time at work”. I have long railed against this kind of faux-inspirational language emanating from the corporate world; for me the Gap’s ridiculous holiday slogan of “Love” is a cheap attempt to frame consumerism as a humanist virtue when, in reality, it is just boring clothing with no emotional value whatsoever being sold as something more. Liew correctly notes the reason that such cheap marketing ploys work on us:

 

Part of the reason our muesli and our shower gel have started talking to us, I think, is to do with the way we interact with each other these days. The face-to-face and the voice-to-voice conversation have been supplanted as our primary means of communication by the email and the instant message. Though we are all theoretically closer together, we are actually more alone, and more detached, than we ever have been. And so into this torrent of words and pictures slide the brands: cleverly disguised as your friends, talking just like the sort of regular people you would meet, if you ever met people, or talked to them. We have replaced genuine human connection with an ocean of talking machines spouting cutesy banter, and when most communication has been stripped of its basic human signals, it’s tempting to wonder: what, really, is the difference?

 

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The Gap, A Globalist Company That Sells Our Human Emotions Back To Us. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.lovemarkscampus.com/gap-love-comes-in-every-shade/

 

In a world where social media has alienated us from one another more than we could have ever imagined, we are seeking emotional connections to…corporate brands. If this is not absurd, then I do not know what absurd is.

The Sunday Express’s Joe Short labeled the new badge “soulless” and “offensive in its robotic inoffensivitiy”. At the same time, Mr. Short connects the entire process to globalism and the homogenized consumerism it encourages:

 

Make no mistake, Leeds in rebranding are setting themselves up for the world. And to do that you need to play by the world’s game. And that includes design, it includes marketing. It’s why Everton changed their logo to a simpler design so it can go on pencils and key rings and all the other crap a football club mass produces.

 

Hopefully, the fan’s protests will reverse the team’s decision. Sadly, I am not very optimistic. This is because this same process has happened elsewhere, and not just at Juventus.

The uniforms for the Dutch women’s national team changed in summer 2017, with the classic Dutch crest’s lion undergoing a sex change. According to shirt designers working with Nike “It’s a message that gives female players something of their own to rally behind and to help drive sports participation amongst women in the Netherlands and beyond”. At the outset it seems like a suitably noble endeavor; couched in the language of “gender equality” and “social justice” the casual observer would think that there is nothing wrong. Yet—as one commentator on Dezeen’s online story points out—hidden in the “lioness’” tongue is a Nike logo! This is how the globalist world works. It tries to sell us corporatization and consumerism and homogenization with catchwords like “equality” and “tolerance” and “progressive ideology”.

 

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Notice the Nike Logo? Image Courtesy Of: https://www.dezeen.com/2017/07/13/royal-dutch-football-association-replaces-lion-crest-with-lioness-national-womens-team/

 

This is how a memorial for a heinous terror attack becomes mere product placement for a budding artist; using a tragic event to sell art must be one of the lowest forms of life but . . . people do it. This is how the European Union, sold to us as the panacea to Europe’s political problems and the end of fascistic nationalism, becomes—itself—the prototype for a fascistic world government. Because it sounded so good to progressive minds, no one could see that taking away national sovereignty—and governments for the people and by the people across Europe—would result in a technocratic form of fascism.

Now, the fans of Leeds United have learned just how fascistic extreme capitalism in the globalist world can be. Juventus fans learned it last year. Just how many more teams—how many more communities—have to lose their teams to consumerism before we all wake up to the undeniable fact that globalism and globalization are a lie?

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

Fascism in the United States? Both Football Fans—and Journalists—Seem to be Looking in the Wrong Places

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Antifa Fans at a Colorado Rapids Match. Image Courtesy Of: https://sports.yahoo.com/news/trump-presidency-created-quiet-anti-fascist-movement-americas-soccer-stadiums-225443656.html

 

A few weeks ago a friend alerted me to an interesting article written by journalist Leander Schaerlaeckens. The article, from Yahoo Sports, is titled “How Trump presidency created quiet anti-fascist movement in America’s soccer stadiums”. While Mr. Schaerlaeckens correctly recognizes that “[s]occer stadiums have historically been hotbeds of political sentiment”, he fails to question why this movement has risen. Mr. Schaerlaeckens takes the easy route by regurgitating media tropes:

quietly but surely, “antifa” – as the anti-fascist movement is broadly referred to – is on the rise in American soccer stadiums. This is a direct reaction to the current political climate in which the far right has made very visible inroads since the election of President Donald Trump.

 

Without bothering to engage the issue critically—like a journalist should—the author goes on to quote a supporter of the New York Cosmos’ (a second division team in the United States football pyramid) Antifa fan group “Metro Antifa”, who says that:

 

The election of Donald Trump has made many people feel scared, like they do not belong in our country. We want to show all Metro supporters that we do not care what your ancestry is, what your skin color is, what your sexual orientation is. If you support the same club we do, you are more than welcome to stand with us without fear of exclusion.

 

While this particular fan’s intentions are certainly laudable, I am left wondering what would happen if a fan entered their group not with a different ancestry, skin color, or sexual orientation, but with a different political opinion. Something tells me that they would not be welcomed in “Metro Antifa”. The political “left” in the United States has become more and more intolerant of dissenting views—despite their own “tolerance”—and it makes me wonder how real these self proclaimed “Antifa” groups truly are. It makes me wonder if modern society has—as Herbert Marcuse argued in his One Dimensional Man—already become totalitarian (and fascistic)?

Two recent examples—from personal experience—tell me that American society has exhibited signs of fascism long before Donald Trump; in fact, it is a form of fascism that comes from the opposite end of the ideological spectrum. While sitting among fellow students at my university one asked what our summer plans were. Knowing that this particular student was one of the best in our department—a hard-working and intelligent individual—I spoke honestly: I was going home to take care of my mother and father who have not been well recently. When she asked me what I could specifically do since I am not a medical doctor, I told her that I would be assisting my mother and father with day to day activities while also taking care of my brother. That is when I made the fatal mistake of adding that “obviously, my father wants to see me before his surgery”. At this the girl exploded, telling me “Obviously? My father would not want to see me even if he was dying”. At this I paused…it was a deathly silence and I simply said “this is not a competition”. At that she added “Well don’t say obviously”. I was shocked. I was being silenced—censured, if you will, for using the word “obviously”. That a father should want to see his son before a serious surgery seemed fairly “obvious” to me. Yet, to this girl, it was “offensive”. That her family was less than stellar is not my problem. That her upbringing was less than stellar—and that it did not give her basic manners—is also not my problem. In fact, judging by her response, I have little sympathy for her going forward. Such callous responses—in the name of “tolerance”—are fascistic in nature and must be resisted. While this is just a personal anecdote, this process has also worked itself out in national politics in the United States.

A statue of Jefferson Davis—the president of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War—was removed from the city of New Orleans on 11 May 2017 at 5 am. It is a statue I myself have seen (and photographed) during a visit to New Orleans, and its removal reminded me of similar social engineering projects in fascistic societies.

 

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Jefferson Davis in New Orleans…When it it existed. Image Courtesy of the Author.

 

It reminded me of the occasional removal of Ataturk statues from Turkish cities (to make way for 15 July “democracy” monuments (!) ) by the ruling Justice and Development (AKP) Party. It is an attempt to erase history, a tactic that the fascistic rulers of Nazi Germany and the Stalinist Soviet Union wrote the book on. Yet this is not Turkey, this is not Nazi Germany, this is not the USSR; it is the United States of America.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu justified the removal of the statue by saying:

These monuments have stood not as historic or educational markers of our legacy of slavery and segregation, but in celebration of it. I believe we must remember all of our history, but we need not revere it. To literally put the Confederacy on a pedestal in some of our most prominent public places is not only an inaccurate reflection of our past, it is an affront to our present, and a bad prescription for our future. We should not be afraid to confront and reconcile our past.

 

With all due respect to Mr. Landrieu I have to ask a simple question: How does removing a statue work to “confront and reconcile our past”? Erasing history—by forcibly removing it—does not confront the past, it merely pushes it under the rug. These are the same tactics that the USSR engaged in; it is fascistic in nature and must be resisted. All such events do is exacerbate the divisions within American society—adhering to the fascistic doctrine of “divide and conquer”. Some of the protestors came with banners that read “America was never great”, trying to exacerbate the divide between Whites and Blacks. Unfortunately, what these so called “antifa” don’t realize is that they are feeding, and not healing, the division. By dividing Blacks and Whites further they are playing in to a true fascistic system that can take total control in the name of “globalism”.

 

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Images Courtesy Of: https://www.bestofneworleans.com/thelatest/archives/2017/05/11/jefferson-davis-comes-down-second-of-four-confederate-era-monuments-removed-in-new-orleans

 

It is my hope that these two examples of the rampant fascism that exists in American society—a type of fascism which has nothing to do with Donald Trump—will open the eyes of the football fans that Mr. Schaerlaeckens wrote about. Those fans (as well as the author) might want to get out a little more. While the United States is not perfect, it is certainly not (yet) fascist. There are far worse places in the world, and the sooner football fans in America realize that they are feeding—and not fighting—division the more effective they will become in fighting for their cause. Fighting “fascism” and being “antifa” is not a child’s game in order to further ones’ own sense of moral superiority; fascism is real—it just takes more than regurgitating media tropes to understand where it comes from.
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