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Tensions Between the U.S. and Turkey Rise as Erdogan Attempts to Re-Brand Himself as a Nationalist: The View From the Football World

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On 27 January 2018 Voice of America reported that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was willing to risk a military confrontation with fellow NATO ally the United States in order to rid Turkey’s southern border of Kurdish YPG/PKK militants. While Turkey’s interest in the Syrian border has historical precedent since the region represents an area of crucial geopolitical interest to Turkey, the soundbite VOA chose to quote is an interesting one. According to the VOA article, “Erdogan has pledged to ‘crush anyone who opposes our [Turkey’s] nationalist struggle’.” Given the VOA’s framing of Turkey’s offensive in terms of “nationalism”—a term that has taken on a pejorative meaning in the West—it is useful to delve into this particular matter.

First of all, it is important to recognize that Mr. Erdogan is not a nationalist at all; rather his rhetoric is part of a wider re-branding strategy. That Mr. Erdogan is certainly not a nationalist was made clear last December during the opening of Trabzonspor’s brand new Akyazi stadium, an event that drew criticism from all walks of Turkish society. During the opening ceremony on 19 December 2016, four banners were hung from the stadium’s rafters. From right to left (and, ostensibly, in order of importance) the banners of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (the founder of modern Turkey), Recep Tayyip Erdogan (the current president of Turkey), the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Sani, and Binali Yildirim (the current prime minister of Turkey) were hung. Of course, the idea of the Qatari Emir’s poster appearing before a member of the Turkish government elicited criticism from many Turkish commentators. Yet, as if that was not enough, the Qatari national anthem was played before the Turkish national anthem at the opening. While Qatari involvement—and interest—in Turkish football is not unprecedented (indeed the Gulf state’s Qatar National Bank—QNB—is also Trabzonspor’s shirt sponsor), this degree of acquiescence to Qatari interests was unprecedented at the time. As commentators rightfully asked, “what was the Qatari Emir’s relationship to Turkish history”? In short, it is a manifestation of Qatari soft-power (and economic imperialism) through football. Turkey is effectively selling off its own infrastructure to Qatar, thereby succumbing to the rising tide of globalism, despite framing it as—alternatively—a Neo-Ottoman agenda or Turkish nationalist agenda. In reality, it is neither of these; it is merely a cynical attempt to attract foreign investment from a wealthy Gulf State.

 

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From Left to Right: The Turkish Flag, Turkey’s Founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Sami, and Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.diken.com.tr/akyazi-stadinin-acilisinda-katar-emiri-al-saninin-posteri-asildi-katar-ulusal-marsi-calindi/

 

The reasons for Mr. Erdogan’s re-branding are complicated. It is both a response to the so-called “populist” turn in the United States (due to Donald Trump’s election) and the United Kingdom (due to Brexit), while also being a response to Mr. Erdogan’s failure to hide his own party’s corrupt globalist agenda (most recently revealed by disgraced Iranian trader Reza Zarrab). A third reason that Mr. Erdogan has had to re-brand himself is due to the stress created by the presence of a large Kurdish militant force on Turkey’s southern border; as a Turkish leader tasked with preserving Ataturk’s borders Mr. Erdogan cannot afford to lose an inch of Turkish territory.

While Mr. Erdogan is in a difficult position, sandwiched between the neoliberal globalism demanded by American (Western) interests and the mandate of Turkish nationalism bequeathed upon him by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the contradictory situation is one that reflects the contradictory nature of globalism itself. In the West, the ideology manifests itself as part of a utopic iteration of “progressive” politics. Yet—as the impasse in Syria shows—the globalist world is a world of war. While most progressives—and in fact many Americans—will tell you that the last World War ended in 1945, citizens of Iraq, Yugoslavia, Iraq (again), and Syria might tell you that they have lived through World War III in the past thirty years—the “globalist period” post 1991 have been characterized by the constant destabilization and ultimate disintegration of nation-states defined by strong statist governments.

Of course, it was American meddling that caused these destabilizations, coupled with the poisonous addition of identity politics. In Turkey’s case, the idea was certainly one “born” in the West; the carrot of European Union membership had been extended to Turkey if they would just extend more “rights” to their Kurdish minority. Here an article by an American academic who subscribes wholeheartedly to the poison of identity politics shows how real the problem is. While the author argues that “Turkish prejudice against the legitimacy of the Kurdish identity reminds one in some respects of the former prejudice against African-Americans in the United States”, it is clear that the author is only exemplifying the tendency of Western researchers to use Western discourse to dominate conversations in reference to non-Western areas; it is an example of the neo-colonialist nature of “progressive” academia in the West.

The end-result of this neo-colonialism and identity politics is, sadly, an attempt to divide Turkey. The case of Turkish footballer Deniz Naki is a great example of this division based on identity politics. Mr. Naki, a Turkish-German footballer of Kurdish descent who plays for Kurdish side Amedspor decided, on 28 January 2018, that he would not return to Turkey following an attack on his vehicle while in Germany. Following that decision, the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) decided to hit him with a fine. On 30 January 2018 the disciplinary wing of the TFF hit Mr. Naki with a three year six month suspension; since the suspension was over three years it means a lifelong ban from Turkish football for the footballer. He was fined 72,000 USD for “separatist and ideological propaganda”, due to his sharing “a video on social media on Sunday calling for participation in a rally in the German city of Cologne to protest against Turkey’s military offensive into northern Syria’s Afrin region” according to Reuters. Another result of identity politics in Football means thatt Diyarbakirspor could return to the top flight soon,

 

 

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A Defiant Deniz Naki in Happier Times. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/haber/spor/915063/PFDK___Turkiye_ye_donmeyecegim__diyen_Deniz_Naki_ye_ceza_verecek.html

 

Unfortunately, the ugly tentacles of identity politics extend from the globalist West to all corners of the world. Just like the United States, Turkey is unfortunately not immune to the divisiveness of identity politics. Despite Mr. Erdogan’s rebranding he is still a globalist at heart; after all, no true nationalist would have allowed the Syrian crisis to unravel the way it did on Turkey’s southern border, just like no true nationalist would have stoked the fires of identity politics and divided Turkey between ethnic Turks and ethnic Kurds. While Erdogan is trying to frame his actions in terms of nationalism, most observers of Turkish politics know that—due to historical constraints—Mr. Erdogan had little choice but to act on anything that threatens the territorial integrity of the Turkish state. That said—and despite everything—Turkey will survive this crisis like it has so many before. As Serif Mardin writes in State, Democracy, and The Military: Turkey in the 1980s, “there does exist an enduring populist, egalitarian, democratic strain in Turkish history which shows greater institutionalization than in other Middle Eastern countries and which has enabled this country to emerge from a series of soul-searching tests with pride” (Mardin 1988: 27).

As for the United States, they will survive this as well. As U.S. President Donald Trump said during his State of the Union Address, “the U.S. must give money to friends and not to enemies”. In return, then, the United States must be a friend to friends as well. By succumbing to the globalist logic, the United States has turned its back on too many “friends”. The presence of U.S. Troops on Turkey’s southern border—aiding Kurdish militants—does nothing for American national security, especially while the southern border of the U.S. with Mexico remains as porous as ever. The United States must return to being a republic, as its founding fathers envisioned it to be. Instead of wasting money in the Middle East, the U.S. would be much better off spending at home in order to improve infrastructure and address poverty within the country.

 

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U.S. Soldiers–and the U.S. Flag Should Be At Home, Not Dispersed All Over the World. Images Courtesy of: https://www.voanews.com/a/ergodan-says-he-is-ready-to-risk-confrontation-with-us/4227613.html

 

This is why the end of globalization—and its ideological brother, globalism—will mean an end to WWIII and a fairer, more peaceful world in the end. It is up to us as citizens, however, to demand that our leaders resist the temptations that the corruption of globalization offers. After all, it is a system that enriches a global class of super-rich on the backs of a world-wide working class.

 

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Globalization only seems to work if you’re part of the “super rich”; an alernative explanation has been chewing tobacco. Image Courtesy Of: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/01/the-story-of-globalization-in-1-graph/283342/

A Social Issue Regarding Role Models: An Interpretation of Lebron James’ Instagram Post From the Perspective of C. Wright Mills

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Sociologist C. Wright Mills was influential for not only American Sociology, but world Sociology as well. In his book The Sociological Imagination, Mills distinguished between what he called “Personal Troubles” and “Social Issues”. For Mills, “Personal Troubles” were personal or private matters involving—and concerning—individuals. “Social Issues”, by contrast, were public issues that were experienced by society as a whole; they involved wider social structures and were indicative of wider social issues. As an example: if one individual is unemployed, that is a personal trouble; if the entire society is unemployed, then that would be a social issue since it might indicate a wider phenomenon (such as a recession).

In so many social and political events these days, we can see connections between personal troubles and wider social issues; in fact, it is possible that many things we are currently identifying as “personal troubles” in modern American society are, in fact, indicative of wider social issues. Lebron James’ absurd Instagram post—congratulating himself on reaching the 30,000 point mark in the NBA—is a good example from the sports world. Of course, the globalist media—like CNBC—championed his post, telling readers that it is “A great lesson in success”. NBA fans, for their part, mocked the self-congratulatory post. Below is the post in its entirety:

 

Wanna be one of the first to Congratulate you on this accomplishment/achievement tonight that you’ll reach! Only a handful has reach/seen it too and while I know it’s never been a goal of yours from the beginning try(please try) to take a moment for yourself on how you’ve done it! The House you’re about to be apart of has only 6 seats in it(as of now) but 1 more will be added and you should be very proud and honored to be invited inside. There’s so many people to thank who has help this even become possible(so thank them all) and when u finally get your moment(alone) to yourself smile, look up to the higher skies and say THANK YOU! So with that said, Congrats again Young King 🤴🏾! 1 Love! #striveforgreatness🚀 #thekidfromakron👑

 

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Lebron James’ Instagram Post. Image Courtesy Of: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/23/what-you-can-learn-from-lebron-james-confidence-on-instagram.html

 

Of course, there are multiple issues with this Tweet, and very few of them are indicative of a “Personal Trouble”, i.e. this is not a sign of Lebron James’ megalomania. In fact—as CNBC pointed out—it could just be a sign of his self confidence which, in itself, is not such a bad thing. However, this wider Tweet is indicative of many wider “Social Issues” which are taking place across the United States, and they are what I would like to discuss below (I have pointed out before that Lebron James’ actions have had a history of revealing many social issues in American Society).

First of all, we should all remember that Mr. James took time in October 2016 to pen an Op-Ed for Business Insider endorsing candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the U.S. presidency. Judging by this, one would think that Mr. James—as an American citizen—would have the best interests of his country (and community) at heart; after all, isn’t that the point of getting involved in political wrangling in the first place? Unfortunately, from this post at least, it is clear that Mr. James advertises more of what is wrong about America than what is right about the country. Please consider the following:

 

  • The writing in the post is pathetic, and this is something I have criticized Mr. James for before. I am far from the grammar police, but I do expect someone who is an idol to many in the United States to at least take a modicum of pride in their writing, even if they are barely a high school graduate. A thirty-three year old grown man should not be writing something as incoherent as “Only a handful has reach/seen it too and while I know it’s never been a goal of yours from the beginning try(please try) to take a moment for yourself on how you’ve done it!”. A thirty-three year old man should recognize that “The House you’re about to be apart of” means something very different from “the house you’re about to be a part of” (the space bar here is, indeed pivotal). And I will just translate this for Mr. James in bold: “There’s so many people to thank who has help this even become possible” = “There are so many people to thank who have helped this even become possible”. Again, however, Mr. James is not an English professor and I could forgive him if his only fault was poor grammar.
  • Yet, even if Mr. James’ honor of being the youngest to reach the 30,000 point threshold in the NBA is overshadowed by his honor of being the oldest person in the U.S. to write this poorly, his status as a major role model and cultural figure in the United States is without question. The problem is that he is not living up to that standard, especially for the millions of young African-American males who might look up to him. Sending the message that grammatically correct English does not matter—and, by extension, that education does not matter—is not the right message to send young African American children. Sending the message that it is all “ME, ME, ME”—by congratulating yourself—is not the right message to send to young African American children. And it is especially not the right message to send at a time when your team is doing horribly and your team-mates have just scapegoated a fellow team-mate by questioning that team-mate’s commitment. It is not team play, it is just megalomania. Unfortunately, it is indicative of a society that has been so utterly and completely alienated by extreme capitalism that the only thing they can think of is themselves.
  • Instead of praising himself, Mr. James could have posted something that could have sent a positive message to young African-American children, a message that could have combatted the harmful messages sent out by the mass media and music industry that glorify guns, money, and big bootyed-hoes (among other things). It could have been a message that emphasized the importance of hard work and determination being able to overcome the impediments of structural racism within American society, or perhaps something about the family and his gratefulness for his mother’s support throughout the years. Instead, there was nothing of the sort. Nothing worthy of a “role-model” at all. Just megalomania.

 

This is clearly a shame, especially considering the commendable emphasis that Mr. James puts on charity and various civic causes, such as offering college scholarships to over 1,100 underprivileged students. This is why Mr. James’ self-congratulatory post is really not a reflection of himself, or his humanitarian instincts. It is not a personal trouble. Rather, it is a reflection of wider social issues. In this moment, perhaps one of the biggest of his career, Mr. James forgot about the family, the team, the community—and ultimately the nation—he represents, while only thinking about himself. If the United States (and the wider world) is to move forward out of this age of darkness we have found ourselves in, we must all recognize that sometimes it is not all about “Me”. It is also about “US”.

 

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The Kids–Quite Literally–Look Up To Mr. James; He Should Remember That. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.businessinsider.com/lebron-james-why-endorsing-hillary-clinton-for-president-2016-9

Martin Luther King Day 2018: A Marginal Sociologist’s Take on How the Controversy Regarding “Shithole Countries” Reveals the Hypocrisy of the Modern World

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During a meeting with U.S. lawmakers regarding immigration policy, U.S. President Donald Trump’s allegedly asked a question: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”. According to the Washington Post, these comments were made by the President of the United States, despite the fact that no concrete sources were mentioned; the Post’s story mentions only “several people briefed on the meeting” and “people familiar with the meeting”. On the other hand, some U.S. lawmakers have come out to deny that Mr. Trump used such colorful language. Given that the Washington Post was unable to provide sources, it is still unclear whether or not these comments were actually made. For the purposes of this post, however, it does not matter whether or not said comments were actually made.

This is because there are a few things beyond argument regarding this incident:

 

  1. Trump’s comments were, clearly, less than ideal;
  2. This kind of event should have sparked real debate, in the vein of Sociologist Jurgen Habermas’ communicative action

 

Sadly, despite the fact that everyone could agree on number one above, it seems that no one could agree on number two. Instead of actually talking, there was only outrage, as evidenced by the sports(!) site ESPN’s focus on responses from the NBA (National Basketball Association) community (http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/22062684/raptors-president-masai-ujiri-criticizes-president-donald-trump-reported-remark and http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/22100611/adam-silver-donald-trump-controversy-discouraging ). Normally, one would expect that when a sports website focuses on politics that some sort of nationwide debate would be forthcoming; unfortunately, that was not the case at all. Instead it was the same old self-righteousness that most Americans should, by now, be used to.

Some readers may ask why this is a problem. Why should there be debate, some might ask, when Mr. Trump’s comments were so offensive? Sociologically, it seems to me as if the “offense” that so many have taken to Mr. Trump’s comments stems from the inner demons of many Americans. Perhaps, this is because many Americans might actually harbor the kind of condescending—and ultimately negative—view of other countries that Mr. Trump’s comments espoused (perhaps because they don’t travel?). It is possible that the president’s comments reflect the inner thoughts of many Americans, and to come face to face with this reality is simply too much for a great number of people.

Anyone who has traveled beyond their home knows that, inevitably, something goes wrong. It could be a missed train, a fully booked hotel, a closed restaurant, the inability to find Wi-Fi, or even something as banal as a convenience store that has run out of unsweetened iced tea. In a moment of exasperation, I am sure that most people have exclaimed “this place (town/county/neighborhood/or even country) is a shithole!”. To deny this would, in my opinion, not be realistic.

At the same time, I know for a fact that many people—who claim to be “liberal” and “tolerant” in their outlook—make the same value judgements about other countries (and cultures) as they allege Mr. Trump made. Of course, these people tend to not be as “eloquent” as Mr. Trump was in stating their opinion; instead they err on the side of political correctness. In college, a former girlfriend of mine—who was from a non-Western country—once told me how an ostensibly “tolerant” resident of our college town once told her (upon learning of where she was from) “oh, I heard it’s really bad over there”. During the 2013 Gezi Park Protests in Turkey, a neighbor of mine in the United States used the exact same terminology: “Oh, you’re going to Turkey? I heard it’s really bad over there”. Now, let me translate these statements for a moment from “politically correct” language to “real” language:

 

“I heard it’s really bad over there” = “I heard that place is a shithole”

 

While the latter may be more vulgar, and seem more disrespectful at first, it is clear that the former is no less condescending, no less insulting, and certainly no less disrespectful. And this is something that we, living in Western cultures, should be aware of when we discuss international affairs.

Importantly, this condescension manifests itself in other facets of the Western liberal mind as well. Take, for instance, the debate on illegal immigration in the United States (or the refugee crisis in Western Europe, since it is an analogous process). The globalist push to encourage immigration to the west is driven by the same sentiments of condescension and superiority. So many times, I have heard my fellow sociologists claim that illegal immigration should not be discouraged because “those people are trying to better their lives” and “escape from poverty”. Beside the fact that Mexico is far from the only “poor” country in the world (in fact, it is not even that poor, as Mexico is ranked 16th in GDP, just below Australia—where is the outcry for increased immigration from Guinea-Bissau, which clocks in at 181st?), the idea that lives will be “improved” by illegal immigration to the United States smacks of Western concepts of superiority.

 

Here, the logic goes:

 

  1. Your country is poorer than ours;
  2. Coming to our country—which is not poor—will improve your life;
  3. Welcome!

 

Of course, this logic could easily be translated as:

 

  1. Your country is a shithole;
  2. Coming to our country—which is not a shithole—will improve your life;
  3. Welcome!

 

And thus the Western individual’s sense of virtue and self-righteousness has been confirmed, another “third-worlder” has been rescued from the poverty, filth, and violence of the third world. Of course, it is never considered that—perhaps—the “third world” country that the immigrant hailed from had many positive qualities that the United States lacks: like a sense of community, a sense of family values, and a general lifestyle not dominated by the mechanistic and bureaucratic logic of extreme capitalism. These latter points are rarely considered because the Western countries tend to benefit from the cheap labor offered by immigrant populations. The economy of the United States is satiated by cheap labor from Mexico while the sense of national virtue and self-righteousness in Sweden is satiated by an influx of Syrian refugees; yet in both cases the underlying assumption is “our country is better for you than that shithole you came from”. Is it degrading? Of course it is. Is it insulting? Of course it is. And is it really that different than the comments Mr. Trump allegedly made? To me, I don’t see how it is, and there in lies the hypocrisy of modern liberalism in the West.

Since some of Mr. Trump’s comments were directed at Haiti—and even prompted CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, who choked up at times, to become emotional when discussing the topic—I will provide an experience I had with a former student who was from Haiti. My student was indeed a strong individual (as Mr. Cooper describes Haitians to be), but more importantly he was a strong thinker. He taught me things that I did not know about his country: this is one of the joys of teaching; often the teacher learns from the students. My student taught me that Haiti’s troubles were many, but they could be traced back to two sources: Politicians and Imperialism. This student told me that Haiti’s politicians were notoriously corrupt; they tended to take from their population much more than they gave. And he also told me that when the United States started providing rice to Haiti, it meant that the local agriculture business was destroyed; the island nation started to depend on the United States for rice and, rather than develop their own domestic agriculture, they began to rely on international sources. An excerpt from Thomas M. Kostigen’s The Big Handout, available on Google Books,  explains this situation well. Here it becomes abundantly clear—at least to me—that Haiti’s problems do not stem from it being a “shithole country” at all. But at the same time, their salvation is not to be found in more “international aid”. Rather Haiti—like all countries, including the United States—would be well served to embrace their own nationalism, their own country, to bring about a better future.

The hypocrisy of the outrage about Mr. Trump’s comments was brought home to me most recently on 15 January 2018 when a shooting took place at the Providence Place Mall in my hometown; that night my brother was at the mall. He was quick to point out the irony: Many people at his school had warned him about visiting me in Turkey over his Christmas vacation, they had told him that Turkey was “dangerous”. In short, they had warned him that Turkey was a “shithole country”, even if they didn’t use such politically incorrect language. Yet, he did not find guns blazing in Turkey—he found them in the United States, in his home town specifically, while out shopping for Matchboxes. Indeed, the idea that—somehow—other countries are much more “dangerous” than the United States is flawed. But don’t ask the politically correct to tell that to you, since they will only respond with politically incorrect formulations of their own thoughts and crocodile tears (Please see Anderson Cooper, above). Or—even worse—they will paint over the truth: that the globalist system desires to make all countries “shithole countries”.

Take the progressive mayor of Providence, RI, Jorge Elorza, who said the suspect was just “a knucklehead”. His further elaboration did not actually elaborate at all: “It was a terrible incident. Kids … rival groups, rival factions started beef at the mall and it resulted in someone pulling a gun out and shooting someone. It’s senseless, just dumb stuff”. That the Mayor, an elected official(!), of an American city could not come out and say what the police themselves could say—that they “wouldn’t rule out” gang involvement—is a testament to just how dangerous political correctness is for the city, for society, and for the nation. Senseless violence is not inflicted by “factions” or “groups”, senseless violence is inflicted by gangs.

But, sadly, this is the state of the United States in 2018. This is a country where people who imply that other countries are “shitholes” in a politically correct manner feign offense when the same sentiment is uttered in a politically incorrect manner without realizing that they do the same exact thing. This is a country where—in “honor” of Martin Luther King Day—the New Yorker magazine puts Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., kneeling, next to Colin Kaepernick on their magazine’s cover. I put “honor” in quotations because the fact that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. should be depicted as kneeling besides someone like Colin Kaepernick (whose divisive actions I have written about before) is a disgrace to the legacy of an American hero; in fact it diminishes his legacy.

 

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A Questionable Cover Image For The New Yorker. Image Courtesy Of: https://www.seattletimes.com/sports/seahawks/seahawks-michael-bennett-appears-on-the-new-yorker-cover-next-to-colin-kaepernick-and-martin-luther-king-jr/

 

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Perhaps this Would Have Been a Better Cover Image For The New Yorker? Image Courtesy Of: http://guides.ll.georgetown.edu/c.php?g=592919&p=4172699

 

But this is also a country where such division—for reasons I cannot fathom—is welcomed. It is a country where someone like Eduardo Bonilla-Silva is the head of the American Sociological Association (ASA). As a marginal sociologist, it is an insult to me that someone as seemingly racist as Mr. Bonilla-Silva represents my profession. This is man who has written a book arguing that, basically, all whites are racists, and has given a talk entitled “the real ‘race problem’ in sociology: the power of white rule in our discipline”; as a sociologist—as marginal as I may be—I take offense to this. In reading one of Mr. Bonilla-Silva’s book chapters for a graduate seminar, I was taken aback reading some of his generalizations punctuated by blatant racism; it was clear to me that he certainly was not judging people by the content of their character but by the color of their skin–something Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. urged us not to do. But this is because Mr. Bonilla-Silva—like Colin Kaepernick—is unlike Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The latter was a hero who wanted to bring people together, the former two are cowards who only want to drive people apart. Just like it takes strength to be positive in the negative world we live in, it takes a strong person to unite people—the weak will only resort to division. By the same token, most of us know that it is easier to break a friendship off than work to make a friendship grow.

This is because people have no respect—nor idea—of their own community, their own nation. We cannot abandon our countries to the mercy of globalist leaders and corporate interests, both of which have no respect for their countries. We owe it to ourselves as citizens of whichever country we belong to to make our countries as good as they can be; we must strive to make our countries live up to the messages that they send us regarding “freedom”, “democracy”, and “liberty”. I saw the football fans stand up for their country in a small stadium in Istanbul, as the fans of Sariyer supported their nation with a Turkish flag, a banner reading “Long Live Mustafa Kemal Pasha” (Yasa Mustafa Kemal Pasa), and a banner reading “Country First” (Once Vatan). For me it was an inspiration. And I see the same sentiments it in a quote by Martin Luther King Jr. himself: “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools”. It is words like these that inspire me, not the negative rhetoric of division that the globalist media tends to proffer.

 

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On an October Day the Sariyer Players Stood For Their National Anthem While The Fans Made Their Sentiments Clear Through Banners. Images Courtesy of the Author.

 

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A Sensible Sentiment Sociologists Would Do Well To Keep In Mind. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.quotesbycelebrities.com/martin-luther-king-jr.-quotes/we-must-learn-live-together-brothers-or For Audio of Mr. King’s Speech, Please See This YouTube Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNPpEQkep2k

U.S. Congressman’s Response to U.S. Soccer Team’s Failure to Qualify for the World Cup Confirms That Some American Politicians Have Forgotten How to Govern

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Given the amount of money invested in Soccer in the United States, it is certainly a disappointment that the United States will not be playing in next summer’s World Cup. Interestingly, the fallout from the team’s failure has also given us an opportunity to see just how far American politicians are from the very people to whom they are supposed to be accountable. USA Today pointed out some odd Tweets made by Congressman Brendan Boyle, a Democrat who represents Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District, in the wake of the United States’ unexpected loss.

 

Normally, Congressman Boyle’s Twitter feed is filled with the type of tweets one would expect from a Democratic lawman: Messages disparaging Republican President Donald Trump and typical messages pandering to identity politics. According to his Twitter feed, Congressman Boyle was educated at Notre Dame and Harvard University and—of course—unequivocally supports worker’s rights. No problems there. Congressman Boyle has represented Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District since 2014, a district that includes part of Philadelphia and is 87.2% White. Perhaps that explains the Congressman’s odd Tweets about football (or Soccer); few of his constituents are soccer fans!

 

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Alienating Potential Voters is Not the Smartest Thing to Do. Image Courtesy Of: https://twitter.com/repbrendanboyle?lang=en

 

His first Tweet, following the loss, was “I was really disappointed the USA men’s team didn’t qualify for the World Cup. Then I remembered I couldn’t care less about soccer”. Clearly, for anyone who understands a modicum about public policy, this was not the best thing to Tweet. When it comes from a man with a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Harvard University, it is even more surprising. One would think that alienating any part of your constituency—in the name of sports—would not be the best course of action. What is even odder is that Mr. Boyle dug in when a user asked, rhetorically, if he did not understand the sport.

 

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An Odd Response; I Wonder How Latino Voters Feel About This. Image Courtesy Of: http://ftw.usatoday.com/2017/10/brandon-boyle-us-soccer-twitter

 

Mr. Boyle, however, was not done. He followed up with another oddly antagonistic Tweet: “Had no idea soccer fans were such snowflakes. Guys, do yourselves a favor. Watch the baseball playoffs. You’re Welcome”. The irony of a politician from the Democratic party calling others snowflakes should not be lost on anyone, and it reveals a lot about the nature of politicians in the United States.

 

That Congressman Boyle did not shy away from telling sports fans what to watch (instead of soccer) is also telling as it reveals a fascistic streak of thought. Perhaps the Congressman should be reminded that supporting worker’s rights does not mean that one cannot be—or is not—a fascist. But this is the state of politics in the United States. Politicians are so removed from the people they ostensibly represent that they believe they can say anything. After all, the 13th District is Democrat and will likely continue to be. Little of what these politicians say is genuine and often party-line rhetoric serves simply to ensure votes. And, sometimes even off-hand Tweets like these reveal a lot about the character behind the political office. While the popular narrative tells us that Democrats are “tolerant” of others, I should say that Congressman Boyle’s Tweets tell a very different story.

Here I will give a shout out to writer Brian Hickey who–intelligently–pointed out one of contradictions of this tweeting debacle: “One might think a legislator who plays the pro-immigrant card would – y’know – not spit all over the sport many immigrants love. But, nope, that’s not what happened here”. Similarly, Philadelphia soccer writer Matt Ralph pointed out that Congressman Boyle’s district is a soccer hot-bed. Representatives like Brendan Boyle show just how broken the political system has become; it is not about Left and Right at all. It is about politicians who have absolutely no concern, whatsoever, about their constituencies.

The Case for Americans Studying Abroad (With Help From George Herbert Mead)

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Author’s Note: Parts of this post were written as an assignment for a graduate seminar in Classical Sociological Theory.

Sociologist George Herbert Mead’s concept of the “self” makes for interesting reading, even if it is presented in a manner that seems to be trying its best to be inaccessible to the layman. His theories are very useful when applied to the current state of Americans and their relationship to America’s role in the world. I read an article in The Atlantic recently about how a possible Donald Trump presidency could “change the world”. Even though I have my own personal doubts as to whether or not any particular U.S. President can, indeed, unilaterally change the country—let alone the world—I read on. The article makes the claim that the current world system, based on the post WWII order created by the United States through institutions like Bretton Woods and characterized by neo-liberal economics, is unequivocally good for the world. That makes me think—what does “good” mean? And is “good” for the United States necessarily “good” for the rest of the world? The interviewee in the article states “the record is pretty clear over the last five or six years that if the U.S. pulls out, things will get worse domestically in other countries, and they’ll become more fearful and more protectionist and more nationalist.” But who is to say that things are not bad now domestically in other countries? I can think of many examples where this is the case, and that is where Mead’s ideas are very useful.

Foreign Affairs ran a story last spring about how study abroad programs can make the United States “safer and stronger” by “opening the American mind”. As someone who enjoys traveling I have to agree, and George Herbert Mead’s ideas offer some perspective on why study abroad could help America in the long run. Mead states that

every human individual must, to behave ethically, integrate himself with the pattern of organized social behavior which, as reflected or prehended in the the structure of his self, makes him a self-conscious personality […] the sense which the individual self has of his dependence upon the organized society or social community to which he belongs is the basis and origin, in short, of his sense of duty (and in general of his ethical consciousness); and ethical and unethical behavior can be defined essentially in social terms (Mead, Mind Self and Society section 41; 3).

Mead’s ideas certainly are applicable to the individual, and I believe they can be extrapolated out to the larger “nation” and/or “state”. Is it possible that, since the United States is both geographically and culturally isolated from the rest of the world, many citizens do not have a “sense of duty” as regards the rest of the world? If the self is defined in terms of the other—and through interaction with it—as Mead argues, then it is possible that many Americans truly do not have this sense of ethics when it comes to international politics.

Interestingly, this separation of the U.S. from the rest of the world—and the relative isolation of its population—is reflected by the “asocial or personal aspect” of Mead’s self. This “differentiates it from, or sets it in distinctive and unique opposition to, the other members of the social group to which it belongs; and this side of the self is characterized by the individual’s feeling of superiority toward the other members of that group” (Ibid.). If we were to substitute the words “social group” for “international community” and “the individual” for “the United States” we would have a very good example of the concept that views the United States as “a city on a hill”; we are detached from the poverty and violence that plague the rest of the world which often makes many of us in the United States feel this “sense of superiority”. I have met many people who are, unfortunately, afraid to travel abroad because they have heard “its so bad over there”. Usually, I counter by explaining that living in a country where citizens are allowed easy access to firearms would be considered to be fairly dangerous in any other context; the point is it’s all about perspective.

George Herbert Mead’s ideas are very useful in the current geopolitical age, where American hegemony is in question. The self can only define itself in relation to the other; “it is the social process itself that is responsible for the appearance of the self; it is not there as a self apart from this type of experience” (Calhoun et al., 351). Like the individual’s “self”, the “national” self is formed in the same way. Without interactions with those from other national backgrounds, a national consciousness cannot be developed independently. Most nationalist identities are defined vis-à-vis other, competing, national identities. In the United States, this has not been the case traditionally. Rather, for the most part, American “culture” is imposed from the top down through cultural processes like music, movies, and sports. This does not, however, allow for an independent realization of what is “American”, or what it means in relation to other nations internationally. In order to foster a better understanding of what it means to be “American”, in relation to the rest of the world, I believe that social interaction is imperative. If America wants to continue to be a hegemonic power, it cannot neglect educating its citizens about the rest of the world; by doing so a more introspective—and ultimately stronger—American identity could emerge.

After all, the condescending “city on a hill” image is not really reflective of American values (at least not in the way that I interpret them). A recent New Yorker piece states that “The United States’ claim to moral primacy in the world, the idea of American exceptionalism, rests upon the argument that this is a nation set apart”. Of course, this is a highly conceited perspective that I—even as a patriotic American—find to be extremely misguided. The fact that the New Yorker ties it into race is even more disgusting:

The old presumptions hold that some element of national humiliation and decline predisposes nations toward fascism, or at least the appeals of fascistic movements. But in the U.S. this movement sprang up on the contrails of the first black Presidency—a moment that was, perhaps naïvely at the time, thought to be one of national affirmation and triumph. The unsavory implication here, of course, is that, for the cornerstone elements of Trumpism, that triumph was a national humiliation, that the image of an African-American receiving the deference and regard that the Presidency entails invalidated these Americans’ understanding of what the U.S. is, or at least what it is supposed to be […] In the broader context, Trumpism represents the demise of American exceptionalism, or at least the refutation of the most cogent arguments for it ever having existed in the first place.

This is just one troubling article that has come out following Donald Trump’s election victory, since Mr. Obama’s years in power have seen unprecedented chaos in the Middle East driven by American policies and arguably represent abject failure. To even imply that criticism of these policies is somehow racist represents poor journalism—the journalist’s job is to hold politicians responsible for their policies and a President’s skin color does not exonerate them from failure in office. As I have stated earlier, Mr. Trump’s presidency might just be a recognition that “American exceptionalism” has not only failed the United States, but it has also failed the world. After all, uninterrupted war—which Mr. Obama has presided over eight years of—is not the healthiest of situations for any country. Even if Mr. Trump wants to alter U.S. policies, he will still have to deal with the American deep state and its “deep secrets”. This in and of itself should temper any unilateral behavior on his part. In fact, the fact that state media’s Washington Post is already giving airtime to Islamists suggests that the stage is being set to discredit Mr. Trump before he even takes office.

These troubling articles have coincided with some troubling conversations I have had with close friends. While I respect these friends more than I can explain here—and I know they will be better scholars than I will ever be—their marked lack of knowledge regarding America’s role in the world is upsetting and tells me that we, as a county, would do well to encourage more international study at the college level. One friend told me that Mr. Trump’s election meant that his non-white friends were being threatened. When I told him that this was unfortunate and that such abject racists were disgusting fringe elements, I was accused of being an apologist for white supremacists. Unfortunately, I ended up raising my voice (and I apologize for that already) when coup—killed many people in Turkey during an attempted coup; actions speak louder than words for me. For some Trump detractors, it seems that the killing of “brown people” abroad can be completely swept under the rug, and that—to someone with an international outlook like myself—is just unacceptable. But that is the kind of thought process that American exceptionalism breeds! A second friend pointed out that my Turkish friends would not be able to come to the United States due to Mr. Trump’s proposed “ban on Muslims”. When I told this individual that my friends would have no problem getting a visa because they are educated and have been to the United States before, my friend was incredulous. “They need visas for the United States? They can’t just walk in with their passports?” was the reply. It was a typically “American” response, and fitting seeing as how the American passport allows the holder to just “walk in” to most countries in the world—174 to be exact , and this is one major reason that those born in the United States should really be thankful for the privilege they have. Sadly, this individual didn’t know that the United States’ visa waiver program  is—to use parlance that is in vogue following Mr. Trump’s election—very pro-“white”. The only non-European countries that enjoy visa free travel to the United States are Australia (white), Brunei, Chile, Japan, New Zealand (white) South Korea, and Taiwan. As if to make the list look longer, the U.S. State Department includes miniscule states like Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and Monaco—like a bad joke. The Visa Waiver Program added this provision in 2015:

Under the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, travelers in the following categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP):

-Nationals of VWP countries who have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited exceptions for travel for diplomatic or military purposes in the service of a VWP country).

-Nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria.

Brunei is the only Muslim country on the list; it is not a Middle Eastern country. When I told my friend that many Americans did not know the value of their own passport and that most foreigners have to obtain visas, it was insinuated that I was an elitist of some sort. It was never my aim, rather I tried to point out that life in other countries is very different than in the U.S., and that extends to travel as well. This friend then cleared up the misunderstanding: they had understood that Mr. Trump would be instating visas for Muslims traveling to the United States. Again, this is an example of many Americans who only vote (or protest) based on media hyperbole rather than any real knowledge of the issues. It is a sad state of affairs, when voters in the world’s foremost “democracy” show such ignorance in the face of the issues but I suppose it is just the way it is for now. I can only hope that more universities bring Study Abroad programs into their curriculums, since the world is opening itself up. Even if Mr. Trump’s presidency means a drawdown in American power (or application of said power) abroad, it doesn’t mean that we can afford to have a population left ignorant of the privileges they have.

 

Author’s Note: Readers; if you have a chance, please travel. It is the single greatest investment you can make in yourself over the course of your lifetime!

A Marginal Sociologist’s Take On America II: U.S. Election Reveals Parallels Between the United States and Turkey

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As protestors continue to struggle to come to terms with Donald Trump’s election victory, I can only chuckle. Its almost as if these people, mostly millennials it seems, have read about the romantic notions of “revolution” and “people power” in other countries that they want to have their own similar moment in the sun, snapping selfies while they are at it. Of course, since they live in the sanitized world of the United States—and not, say, somewhere like Turkey—it is all “safe”. No one will be shot, no one will become a political prisoner. It will just be another social media topic of the day.

Some on the left have begun to provide reasons for why Mr. Trump’s improbable victory happened. One article published in state media’s Washington Post says that “This [election] is an indictment of the monolithic, insulated political culture in the vast majority our colleges and universities.” As someone who has spent a lot of time in higher education in the United States, I would have to agree. Colleges and universities tend to show only one way of looking at things, which is unfortunate because ideally education should be about a “broadening” of the mind—not a “narrowing” of the mind in one direction. Of course, by “narrowing” the mind of college-educated people it ensures that a vast swathe of the population will think in a certain way; that is a very useful thing for the power elite when it comes to engineering elections since it virtually assures that a vast segment of the electorate will vote along a certain party line.

One admittedly humorous piece that also appeared in the Washington Post was written by the famous Garrison Keillor. Some of his better lines bear repeating below (complete with bolding!):

The Trumpers never expected their guy to actually win the thing, and that’s their problem now. They wanted only to whoop and yell, boo at the H-word, wear profane T-shirts, maybe grab a crotch or two, jump in the RV with a couple of six-packs and go out and shoot some spotted owls. It was pleasure enough for them just to know that they were driving us wild with dismay — by “us,” I mean librarians, children’s authors, yoga practitioners, Unitarians, bird-watchers, people who make their own pasta, opera-goers, the grammar police, people who keep books on their shelves, that bunch.

We liberal elitists are now completely in the clear. The government is in Republican hands. Let them deal with him. Democrats can spend four years raising heirloom tomatoes, meditating, reading Jane Austen, traveling around the country, tasting artisan beers, and let the Republicans build the wall and carry on the trade war with China and deport the undocumented and deal with opioids, and we Democrats can go for a long, brisk walk and smell the roses.

I like Republicans. I used to spend Sunday afternoons with a bunch of them, drinking Scotch and soda and trying to care about NFL football. [Author’s Note: Liking sports is not a bad thing] It was fun. I tried to think like them. (Life is what you make it. People are people. When the going gets tough, tough noogies.) But I came back to liberal elitism.

Clearly, these are some very humorous passages. According to them, many supporters of Mr. Trump will be “grab[bing] a crotch or two” before jumping into RVs with six-packs while supporters of Ms. Clinton—who can count among themselves “people who make their own pasta” and “people who keep books on their shelves”— will spend the next four years “reading Jane Austen” and “tasting artisan beers”. I honestly hope that people can do these pleasant things—but they would first need to finish their cry-ins before enjoying said beers and Jane Austen. [Author’s Note: This is the second time in history that “Jane Austen” has been mentioned in the same breath as “artisan beer”; the first time was in Mr. Keillor’s piece cited above. Enjoy it].

As someone who tries to take as close to a neutral stance as possible—but who has no love lost for Ms. Clinton due to her involvement in meddling with Turkish affairs and wider Middle Eastern affairs—I can assure readers that I do not want to grab even one crotch, let alone two, and that I actually do have (too)many books on my shelves. On the other hand, I also don’t make my own pasta (it’s a lot of work, instead I buy Barilla at Publix when it’s on sale) and I don’t care much for Jane Austen (I’m more a James Salter and Hemingway man). And artisan beer? No thanks, I like to sip Grant’s. All jokes aside, the problem with Mr. Keillor’s kind of perspective (as sarcastically exaggerated as I hope it is supposed to be) is that it is just so divisive. Of course, since division serves the power elite, it is understandable why these things get published (in state media, no less). This kind of division, however, is not good for American politics in the real (as in for the people—not the elite) sense.

Hemingway, Salter, and Grant’s. In The Current Environment I’m Sure A Few People Might Interpret This Trifecta As Being Too “Masculine”…But It’s Just What I Like. (Top Left; Image Courtesy Of: https://67.media.tumblr.com/05e5e37167c5232e40478e5218c73a58/tumblr_njuau20lKS1qmmlfco1_500.jpg. Top Right; Image Courtesy Of: http://www.historynet.com/online-extra-james-salter-gallery.htm. Bottom; Image Courtesy Of: http://www.brayleino.co.uk/ImageGen.ashx?image=/media/1109/grants-whiskey-find-your-past-campaign.jpg)

In Turkey similar things happened. The supporters of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) that ruled Turkey for so long were viewed as elitists—intellectuals sipping wine on the shores of the Turkish Riviera, never taking any interest in things beyond the capital of Ankara. Many had never been past central Anatolia, and never visited the struggling Kurdish areas of the southeast. This elitism caught up to them in 2002, when the (now) ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power, led by the uneducated former footballer Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Fourteen years later, the AKP is still in power and the (now) opposition CHP supporters are still seen as the same old elitists. They’re still sipping wine—albeit at much higher prices—and they still haven’t gone past Ankara (for the most part). If you really want to be a party that represents your people and your country, you just cannot be an elitist. Some people are lucky enough to afford an education—and others are not so lucky. Just because you are one of the lucky ones does not mean you can look down on those who have not been so lucky. Instead, do your best to try and understand where they are coming from, instead of denigrating them as “racist”, “sexist”, “ignorant”, or “bigoted”. I have seen how such misconceptions led Turkey down a very bad road.

A second similarity this election has pointed out is the prevalence of the “deep state” in both countries. Given that they are taking election results so seriously, clearly the millennials currently protesting in the streets are too young to know what it is and Mr. Keillor might be too blind to know what it is. But I digress. In both the United States and Turkey (Derin Devlet) there is a “deep state”. In the United States, it is a nexus of Wall Street, the intelligence community, and the military-industrial complex. It means that public policy is controlled behind the scenes by unelected interest groups; regardless of the political party in power the status quo continues unabated, essentially. This is related to the concept of sociologist C. Wright Mills’ “Power Elite” that I have mentioned before, and it is no coincidence that it came to the fore post-WWII (when most of the U.S. intelligence community was formed). As this video from the Rutherford Institute mentions, when JFK expressed a desire to end the secrecy in government…well, we know the rest, don’t we? It remains to be see if Mr. Trump’s election is a true populist movement challenging the status quo, or if it falls by the wayside.

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JFK and Dulles. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.salon.com/2015/10/15/every_president_has_been_manipulated_national_security_officials_david_talbot_investigates_americas_deep_state/

One positive result from this election has come regarding Turkey however. It has come out that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan looked to expand his influence in U.S. politics through donations to the Democratic party and now this might finally be recognized. An advisor to Mr. Trump, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn (ret.), came out and said what current President Barack Obama and Ms. Clinton have consistently failed to say as Turkey spirals further out of control—that Turkey is a U.S. ally that needs support. Lt. General Flynn compares the alleged mastermind of the attempted coup of July 15, Fethullah Gulen, to Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini and Osama Bin Ladin. This is refreshing to hear, given that Ms. Clinton received donations from Mr. Gulen. Hopefully statements like these portend an end to some of the disastrous meddling in the Middle East that many American administrations, Obama’s included, have engaged in—and that Ms. Clinton openly planned to continue.

A Marginal Sociologist’s Take On America: Burning New Balance Shoes and American Flags—“Third World” Solutions to First World Problems

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It seemed that things couldn’t get more ridiculous in the United States. But they do. I was told today at the University that “the era of free speech in the United States is over”. It seemed odd to me, given that the candidate with the most inflammatory rhetoric among the two—Donald Trump—actually won the election. But then I saw that after the sportswear brand New Balance said “The Obama admin turned a deaf ear to us & frankly w/ Pres-Elect Trump we feel things are going to move in the right direction” they were absolutely savaged. New Balance is an American sportswear brand based in New England that recently entered the football shirt market, manufacturing kits for Liverpool, Porto, and Sevilla among others. In a response to the savaging, the company released a statement:

“As the only major company that still makes athletic shoes in the United States, New Balance has a unique perspective on trade in that we want to make more shoes in the United States, not less. New Balance publicly supported the trade positions of Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump prior to election day that focused on American manufacturing job creation and we continue to support them today. We believe in community. We believe in humanity. From the people who make our shoes to the people who wear them, we believe in acting with the utmost integrity and we welcome all walks of life. Since 1906, we have carved our own path in being passionately committed to making things at our five factories in New England, even when nobody else did. New Balance and our thousands of employees around the world constantly strive to better our local communities. We always have and we always will.”

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Liverpool’s New Balance Kits, Complete With Inspirational Message. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.soccer.com/guide/ynwa-liverpool-new-balance-launch-first-home-jersey-together/

The company’s response seems fairly normal; they would like to make as many of their products in the United States as they can. And that really isn’t discriminatory. Contrast their statement with Nike’s, another major sportswear manufacturer that is very active in the football shirt world.

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Of Course Nike Supports the TPP–It Means More Money, After All. Image Courtesy Of: https://twitter.com/germanotes/status/796440633175113732

Nike’s support of the Trans Pacific Partnership free trade agreement (that Trump criticizes) may seem well and good for supporters of neo-liberal policies, but it also means there could be more—not less—exploitation. Remember the days of child laborers making Nike’s footballs?  We used to have critical discourse like this:

Only a boycott by the United States and other nations will have any impact on slavery and child-based industries. Futhermore [sic] the U.S constitution states that child labor is an illegal and inhumane practice and any U.S. company found guilty practicing and encouraging it will be prosecuted. GATT and WTO prohibits member nations, like the United States, from discriminating against the importation of goods made by children. Are dolphins becoming more important than children?

As recently as 2012 we saw outrage at Nike’s use of child labor in the making of their products. Yet now we see people protesting because another U.S. sportswear company, New Balance, is asking to return jobs to the United States, away from the exploitative practices born out of outsourcing production.

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But What If the Shoe Was On the Other (Western) Foot? Image Courtesy Of: http://www1.american.edu/ted/nike.htm

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A Pakistani Child Makes Footballs and Lives In Poverty So the Rich in Paris Can Play With a Paris St. Germain Ball. Please Tell Me Again How Global Free Trade Benefits Everyone Equally? Masking These Global Inequalities By Pretending to Address Local Inequalities Is What Has Driven–Not Resisted–The Rise of Extreme Capitalism in the West and Global North. Images Courtesy Of: https://globalpeaceandconflict.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/nike-and-modern-day-slavery/

What I suspect to be millenials in the United States have actually taken to burning—or throwing away—their New Balance shoes because the company dared recognize that outsourcing production hurts both Americans in the global north and others in the global south equally. It is a nod to a slightly more humane capitalism as opposed to extreme capitalism. But I guess the millenials are too young to remember the days when the American left protested Nike’s sponsorship of many universities due to their exploitative practices in the name of profits; when I was in college from 2004-2008 I saw it myself in Boulder. What is worse, however, is that this kind of behavior is reflective of the conceited superiority that many in the United States have when it comes to global issues. These people believe that their moral superiority allows them to burn or throw away their perfectly good shoes. Do they not realize that they are lucky to even have shoes—let alone quality ones like New Balance—when so much of the world goes without even these small luxuries? It is the epitome of a “First World Problem” when rich Americans—who can afford another pair of shoes—burn their own to send some sort of political “message”.

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Please Note the Ridiculousness of These Images. It Is One Thing to Take a Picture of a Lit Lighter Hovering Above Your 90 USD Shoes…It Is A Whole Other Thing to Actually Burn Them. Even If they Did Not Follow Through (I Doubt They Could) The Sentiment of Privilege is Still Stomach Turning. Images Courtesy Of: http://ftw.usatoday.com/2016/11/donald-trump-new-balance-burning-shoes-tpp

These actions are part of a wider trend where the supporters of Hillary Clinton, the ostensibly “liberal” candidate, are violently protesting the election results that didn’t go their way after believing that Mr. Trump’s supporters would be the ones to engage in such un-democratic actions. (This is why I use the term “third world solutions” in the title of this article. I do not aim to insult; rather, I try to point out that violent protests—including tear gas and wounded police—are generally not associated with the transfer of power in democratic American society). The irony, as I have noted before, is palpable. Indeed, it was a Latina supporter of Ms. Clinton who threatened escalated violence saying “people have to die to make a change in this world” while the portended crash of markets failed to materialize. Maybe this is why Trump backer Rudy Giuliani has called the protesters “a bunch of spoiled crybabies.”

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According to Ms. Clinton the Trump Supporters Were “Baskets of Deplorables” But I Don’t Know How Anyone Can Condone These Scenes. Images Courtesy Of: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/trump-win-sparks-riots-across-9225317

Unfortunately, in a bid to create more division state media (this time NBC) has turned to reporting about attacks on Muslim women, tying it into Trump’s victory. It is obvious that such actions are unacceptable; it is obvious that these attacks are carried out by fringe elements but—for some reason—they are used to distract people from the real issues of violent protests. It is also striking that the ostensibly “liberal” side has extended the attacks on free speech to … Muslims, of all people. The physical attacks come from the far “right”, the psychological from the far “left”.

Asra Q. Nomani, a “a former Wall Street Journal reporter and a co-founder of the Muslim Reform Movement” wrote a useful piece on the opinion pages of state media’s (!) Washington Post. In it, she explains why she—a female Muslim (two strikes against her in this election) voted for Mr. Trump. Like a post-ideological voter, she supports the “Democratic Party’s position on abortion, same-sex marriage and climate change” but she cannot afford Obamacare, and she “as a liberal Muslim who has experienced, first-hand, Islamic extremism in this world, [is] opposed to the decision by President Obama and the Democratic Party to tap dance around the ‘Islam’ in Islamic State”. In the end, she offers a reasonable explanation for why she voted for Mr. Trump:

The revelations of multimillion-dollar donations to the Clinton Foundation from Qatar and Saudi Arabia killed my support for Clinton. Yes, I want equal pay. No, I reject Trump’s “locker room” banter, the idea of a “wall” between the United States and Mexico and a plan to “ban” Muslims. But I trust the United States and don’t buy the political hyperbole — agenda-driven identity politics of its own — that demonized Trump and his supporters.

She takes some things from Mr. Trump that she likes and leaves others she does not like—it’s what a voter in any democratic society should strive to do. Unfortunately, she—like New Balance—was also savaged in an era where free speech is, apparently, no longer valued. It’s almost as if free speech is good if it’s what people want to hear but isn’t if it is something they do not want to hear. It’s like the American outlook on foreign policy and democratic regimes; some–those who follow the U.S. line, are “good” democracies (like Saudi Arabia” while others who do not (like Syria) are “bad” democracies…even though neither is–or was–ever a democracy.

Some of the language used to demean Ms. Nomani is, quite honestly, horrific. Dare I say (to use a word I detest) “offensive”. And it is certainly not befitting of people who cried because their candidate lost an election. Just look at a few of the screenshots below, taken from state media’s New York Times:

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The language is startling, from insulting Ms. Nomani’s intelligence: “puts moron into oxymoron” to public shaming: “shame on you” to downright hate: “go fuck herself” and “self-hating sellout”. Third Wave feminists would cringe at this kind of language and it is really not befitting of any “left” leaning party in history, supporting my theory that we may be watching a sea change in U.S. Politics, something that many of the old “left” have not yet noticed.

Amid the chaos it was refreshing to see that at least Forbes published one piece designed to cool people down; the fact that it was written by a graduate student and not either a career journalist beholden to his career or a Professor waiting on tenure is in itself telling; it allows for a (maybe) independent voice. Carlo Jose Vicente Caro rightly explains—in clear prose—what he thinks is necessary:

People need to both support and pressure Donald J. Trump to be an inclusive president. If he faults, then you protest. You do not need Bernie Sanders in order to create a political revolution. And he was right about that. Democracy is about being active and putting your leaders in check. You won’t be able to put them in check if they do not feel pressured.

As Mr. Caro reminds readers, “one thing was certain and that is that we will not see Hillary’s dangerous foreign policies again,” and it is a relief to see Mr. Caro’s words appear in a wide-reaching publication like Forbes:

the loss of Hillary Clinton means fewer weapons, training and finances to the allies of al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria. Many of the groups that are being aided under the Obama administration and which were supported when Clinton was Secretary of State have cooperated tactically with Jabhat al Nusra (I refuse to call it by its “new name”) and many have salafi ideologies akin to ISIS or al-Qaeda’s affiliate. These groups would have continued to receive support under a Clinton presidency, thereby making the threat of terrorism bigger for the entire world. Since the Soviet invasion to Afghanistan, the establishment in Washington D.C has failed to understand that it does not make sense to create an “ISIS” in order to defeat another ISIS. So believe it or not, the world (at least in terms of terrorism) will be a safer place with Trump in the White House.

As I have argued, a Trump presidency may (I emphasize it) mean “that the U.S will stop engaging in overthrowing dictators (Bashar al Assad was on Hillary Clinton’s list)” and “that the U.S will worry more about its hemispheric security rather than entangling themselves longer in conflicts that cost trillions of dollars in remote regions, and which are far worse than ever before”. This is part of the “Empire Endgame” thesis I outlined in my previous post; if President Donald Trump’s ideas are to be taken at face value it suggests that the United States will finally try to distance itself from the military-industrial complex that has led it into far too many wars in far too many far-away places that have only resulted in lost lives both in the United States as well as in the global south. I just hope that people can spare more time reading writing like mine and Mr. Caro’s in order to get a broader perspective instead of spending time crying, burning flags and New Balances, or engaging in social media shaming. This isn’t all about YOU, its about YOUR COUNTRY and the WORLD.

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A Piece Of Banal Nationalism, In Response To the Aforementioned Flag Burners Above. Image Courtesy Of: http://aflags.blogspot.com/2012/06/american-flag.html

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