Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

The rise of idiot America has been mainly for profit.

…Ten years ago, the most popular songs read between a third and fourth grade level, but the inanity only increased with time, and after a five-year downward tumble ending in 2014 (the last year of the study), chart-topping hits had a reading level equivalent to second or third grade. Broken into genres, the levels measured just 2.6 for Hip-hop/R&B, a tie of 2.9 for Rock and Pop, and faring best was Country at 3.3 — though declaring a winner in this insipid race to the bottom seems somewhat defeatist. Even further to that point, the most intellectually stimulating song, Blake Shelton’s Country hit “All About Tonight”, measured just 5.8, while wading deeply into the ludicrous was Three Days Grace’s “The Good Life”, at a level equivalent to 0.8 — begging the question, did they have to try to craft lyrics a kindergartner could easily read?…

Source: How Popular Music’s Lyrics Perpetuate American Idiocy

This is a pretty good summary and exposition of what many of us have known for years. It’s basically an elaboration of the false-equivalency argument many of us have been screaming at journalists. Go to the link for the full article.

Thanks

PG

Journalism cannot be neutral toward a threat to the conditions that make it possible.

Source: Donald Trump and the rise of tribal epistemology – Vox

As the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump is being sorted out, a common theme keeps cropping up from all sides: “Democrats failed to understand white, working-class, fly-over America.”

Trump supporters are saying this. Progressive pundits are saying this. Talking heads across all forms of the media are saying this. Even some Democratic leaders are saying this. It doesn’t matter how many people say it, it is complete BS. It is an intellectual/linguistic sleight of hand meant to draw attention away from the real problem. The real problem isn’t East Coast elites who don’t understand or care about rural America. The real problem is that rural Americans don’t understand the causes of their own situations and fears and they have shown no interest in finding out. They don’t want to know why they feel the way they do or why they are struggling because they don’t want to admit it is in large part because of the choices they’ve made and the horrible things they’ve allowed themselves to believe…

Source: An Insider’s View: The Dark Rigidity of Fundamentalist Rural America | Alternet

American militarism

Posted: March 1, 2017 in American Politics, Culture

by Peter Guenther

 

After watching Trump’s speech to the joint session of congress last night I have to say one thing – It always amazes me how much militarism is baked into the American psyche. People weep and cry for lost loved ones every day but when it’s a military death due to illegal American military operations, the whole country melts into a pool of tears and gut-wrenching sorrow. From where I stand it just looks crazy – and scary. Americans don’t even seem to realize that their Empire is an Empire ruled by military force. They believe they are ALWAYS the good guys in white cowboy hats civilizing the world in their own image. They assume they are better than everyone else. Their arrogance is nauseating.

Trump is the quintessential American stereotype, proud, arrogant and self-righteous. He embodies the American spirit. He is not an anomaly. He is as American as it is possible to be.

Ok. Ok. That is a bit harsh. There is a rapidly decreasing number of Americans supporting Trump but, at his peak, he had half the country conned. I think it is currently down to just over forty percent. That is still far too many.

revised: 1:20 AM March 2, 2017

Some weeks, it is not possible to highlight thoughtful conservative perspectives – but it is important to note the divergence in human values

The end of the Milo show is exposing the worst of American conservatism. I’m not just talking about Milo Yiannopoulos’s own apparent defense of pedophilia, but the reactions of the people who enabled and promoted him.

There are weeks when it is not possible – as it has been in earlier editions of this column – to bring to light thoughtful conservative perspectives, and to highlight areas of common ground. This is one of those weeks. Those who aren’t trying to blame Milo’s nihilism on the targets of Milo’s abuse are shiftily backing away, or using it as an opportunity to redouble their own attacks on those who happen to share Milo’s sexuality.

Yet this, too, is useful. Now and then we need to remind ourselves that human values really do diverge sharply. It’s not just a misunderstanding that we can talk through. A hatred of marginalized people really does animate some conservative minds, and a love of hierarchy may be baked into all of them. We can only really get a full sense of this by reading what they write, and taking them at their word…

Source: Burst your bubble: five conservative articles examining Milo Yiannopoulos | US news | The Guardian

Given the linguistic, geographic, and cultural diversity of the Muslim world, it is facile to suggest that Islam is the source of all these problems. There is after all very little relationship between the Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia and that practiced in Egypt, Malaysia, or the United States. To the extent that there are problems in Muslim-majority countries, it is far more likely that they arise from a shared history of colonialism, oppressive governance, poverty, disease, and war—especially over natural re-sources—than a common religious underpinning.

 

Source: Reclaiming Tradition: Islamic Law in a Modern World | International Affairs Review

No child should be taught that the only options in this life are to “hate or be hated.”

How do you change the mind of a diehard Trump voter? You don’t. It’s a waste of your time and you have better things to do. We are not going to unite as a country anytime soon after what has happened.

I was raised in the ’80s to be a right-wing extremist like my father. I was sent to an extreme right-wing (John Birch Society) summer camp where I was brainwashed to be a heartless, paranoid conservative, just like my dad. I used to believe that homosexuals, atheists, immigrants, liberals and anyone who wasn’t white like us, were out to take away our rights as good, god-fearing Americans. When I heard the words humanist, environmentalist, feminist, educated, and equal or civil rights, I’d get irritated, suspicious and angry.

I was taught that if someone challenged my statements or beliefs, they did so because they were scared or intimidated and afraid of the cold hard truth. I was taught that liberals and Democrats were brainwashed and trained to ignore the truths regarding what was really going on in America. Arguing with a liberal was a complete waste of time, my dad would say. They were too dumb, too brainwashed and there was no way we could change their minds. Every time someone argued with me about anything, I felt contempt. I felt ridiculed. I felt like they were telling me I was stupid and wrong. I felt they were telling me that my parents and everything I knew to be true was a lie. Just having someone argue with me or having my point of view challenged made me angry, regardless of the facts presented. I was taught not to believe your facts.

If you are wondering how to deal with a member of America’s extreme right, forget it. It’s a waste of your time. In fact, the harder you try to convince right-wingers or Trump voters that Trump is destroying America, the more they’ll support Trump and argue with and belittle you. As much as we all want every American to be mature, compassionate and to believe only in actual facts, it’s not going to happen anytime soon. They think of us as their enemies. The GOP has been overthrown by the extreme right and they have zero interest in working together to actually keep America great…

Source: How I escaped being a right-wing extremist