While researching my post on migration and the Civil War, I came across a curious twist in American history: out of all the states in the union prior to 1860, one, South Carolina, never let its citizens vote for president. The popular vote did not come to South Carolina until after the Civil War, when democracy was imposed.
In America’s first election, (George Washington, 1789,) the country hadn’t really worked out how this whole “elections” thing worked. Three states didn’t even participate in the election; six states had no popular vote but let the legislature choose electors instead; three states held a popular vote for electors; and one state–Delaware–totally meant to let people vote, but forgot to get ballots.
Everything worked out, though, and Washington received 100% of the electoral votes.
By the election of 1800, 6 states had something resembling popular votes, and 10 did not.
In 1812, the country was evenly divided: 9 by popular vote, 9 by legislature.
In 1824, 18 states had popular votes and only 6 still used the legislature.
In 1828, only two states–South Carolina and Delaware–still had no popular vote, and by 1832, South Carolina was the only one left.
The citizens of South Carolina were not allowed to vote for president until the election of 1868, after the Civil War and the passage of various legislation related to reconstruction, black citizenship, and popular voting.
Strom Thurmond’s incredible 48 straight years as Senator from South Carolina makes me wonder, though, if democracy ever truly took hold in this final hold-out.
Liberals find repellant the idea of insult*, not because they refuse to be crass or impolite–they are perfectly skilled at being both–but because to say that something is bad and outline the traits that comprise its badness is to say that one thing is better or worse than another thing and that there are certain traits which are, inherently, better or worse than others. Such judgmentalism does not jive with the quest for full equality–equality of spirit, body, and soul.
*except against personal enemies
There’s one strain of thought which holds that liberals (and perhaps conservatives) are a specific ideology that has been transmitted over the centuries, and another that liberality and conservativeness are just personalities that people happen to have.
A related quote:
I tend toward the personality hypothesis, and that society needs both liberal and conservative personalities for optimal functioning (one side is good at generating novel ideas, and the other side is good at preserving things that shouldn’t be changed,) but this is dependent on both sides recognizing this and letting each other be. (Ideally, this is where something like federalism comes in.)
Wow, is it Wednesday already? Time definitely flies when you’re busy.
In interesting news, Politico ran an article with a long (and somewhat misleading) section about Moldbug, and further alleging (based on unnamed “sources” who are probably GodfreyElfwick again*,) that Moldbug is in communication with the Trump Administration:
In one January 2008 post, titled “How I stopped believing in democracy,” he decries the “Georgetownist worldview” of elites like the late diplomat George Kennan. Moldbug’s writings, coming amid the failure of the U.S. state-building project in Iraq, are hard to parse clearly and are open to multiple interpretations, but the author seems aware that his views are provocative. “It’s been a while since I posted anything really controversial and offensive here,” he begins in a July 25, 2007, post explaining why he associates democracy with “war, tyranny, destruction and poverty.”
Moldbug, who does not do interviews and could not be reached for this story, has reportedly opened up a line to the White House, communicating with Bannon and his aides through an intermediary, according to a source. Yarvin said he has never spoken with Bannon.
Vox does a much longer hit piece on Moldbug, just to make sure you understand that they really, truly don’t approve of him, then provides more detail on Moldbug’s denial:
The idea that I’m “communicating” with Steve Bannon through an “intermediary” is preposterous. I have never met Steve Bannon or communicated with him, directly or indirectly. You might as well accuse the Obama administration of being run by a schizophrenic homeless person in Dupont Circle, because he tapes his mimeographed screeds to light poles where Valerie Jarrett can read them.
*In all fairness, there was a comment over on Jim’s Blog to the effect that there is some orthosphere-aligned person in contact with the Trump administration, which may have set off a chain of speculation that ended with someone claiming they had totally legit sources saying Moldbug was in contact with Bannon.
Here we identify very recent fine-scale population structure in North America from a network of over 500 million genetic (identity-by-descent, IBD) connections among 770,000 genotyped individuals of US origin. We detect densely connected clusters within the network and annotate these clusters using a database of over 20 million genealogical records. Recent population patterns captured by IBD clustering include immigrants such as Scandinavians and French Canadians; groups with continental admixture such as Puerto Ricans; settlers such as the Amish and Appalachians who experienced geographic or cultural isolation; and broad historical trends, including reduced north-south gene flow. Our results yield a detailed historical portrait of North America after European settlement and support substantial genetic heterogeneity in the United States beyond that uncovered by previous studies.
Wow! (I am tempted to add “just wow.”) They have created a couple of amazing maps:
IQ generally measures the ability to learn, retain information, and make logical decisions and conclusions. It is not about mathematics nor reading, at least in modern testing (since about 1980).
Modern IQ tests typically do not have any math or even reading. Many have no verbiage at all, and there is no knowledge of math required in the least.
For example, a non-verbal, non-math IQ test may have a question that shows arrows pointing in different directions. The test taker must identify which direction would make the most sense for the next arrow to go.
I’m very sorry to disappoint, but I’ve done considerable research into IQ testing over the past decade. The tests have had cultural biases removed (including the assumption that one can read) in order to assess a persons ability to learn, to retain information, and to use common logic. …
Looking back at American history, there’s one big group of whites that harnessed the power of the Federal government to oppress another big group of whites, in what was likely the largest of all internal American events other than the conquering of the country itself.
600,000 white people died in the process of one group of whites imposing its values on another group of whites. I happen to agree with the victors that slavery is a great moral evil, but I note that most other western countries managed to end slavery without slaughtering their own people in the process.
Now let me stop and declare outright: I am not a Civil War historian, and I know there are thousands, perhaps millions of people more knowledgeable on the subject than I am. I do know, however, that Southern secession was motivated by fear that the North would outlaw slavery and use the power of the Federal government to enforce it.
According to Wikipedia:
The war produced at least 1,030,000 casualties (3 percent of the population), including about 620,000 soldier deaths—two-thirds by disease, and 50,000 civilians. Binghamton University historian J. David Hacker believes the number of soldier deaths was approximately 750,000, 20 percent higher than traditionally estimated, and possibly as high as 850,000. The war accounted for more American deaths than in all other U.S. wars combined.
Based on 1860 census figures, 8 percent of all white males aged 13 to 43 died in the war, including 6 percent in the North and 18 percent in the South. About 56,000 soldiers died in prison camps during the War. An estimated 60,000 men lost limbs in the war.
You might think that all of this was at least for the good for the slaves, but according to historian Jim Downs of Connecticut College, thousands of the freed slaves died of hunger, disease, and exposure in the aftermath of the war:
as Downs shows in his book, Sick From Freedom, the reality of emancipation during the chaos of war and its bloody aftermath often fell brutally short of that positive image. Instead, freed slaves were often neglected by union soldiers or faced rampant disease, including horrific outbreaks of smallpox and cholera. Many of them simply starved to death.
After combing through obscure records, newspapers and journals Downs believes that about a quarter of the four million freed slaves either died or suffered from illness between 1862 and 1870. He writes in the book that it can be considered “the largest biological crisis of the 19th century” and yet it is one that has been little investigated by contemporary historians. …
Downs reconstructed the experiences of one freed slave, Joseph Miller, who had come with his wife and four children to a makeshift freed slave refugee camp within the union stronghold of Camp Nelson in Kentucky. In return for food and shelter for his family Miller joined the army. Yet union soldiers in 1864 still cleared the ex-slaves out of Camp Nelson, effectively abandoning them to scavenge in a war-ravaged and disease-ridden landscape. One of Miller’s young sons quickly sickened and died. Three weeks later, his wife and another son died. Ten days after that, his daughter perished too. Finally, his last surviving child also fell terminally ill. By early 1865 Miller himself was dead. …
Things were so bad that one military official in Tennessee in 1865 wrote that former slaves were: “dying by scores – that sometimes 30 per day die and are carried out by wagonloads without coffins, and thrown promiscuously, like brutes, into a trench”.
So bad were the health problems suffered by freed slaves, and so high the death rates, that some observers of the time even wondered if they would all die out.
The echoes of this moral imposition are still with us. There are those who refer to the government as “we” and “us,” as in “We ought to do something about poverty” or “we should make healthcare a basic right” and then there are those who refer to the government as something alien and outside, as in “the government killed 85 people in Waco.” (By the way, it looks like the Branch Davidians set their own compound on fire.) or “the government is raising taxes on the middle class.”
Surely one of the most grievously forgotten authors of the 20th century is Freda Utley. In the immortal words of Rutger Hauer, Utley “saw things… you people wouldn’t believe” – she moved to Moscow as a Communist true believer in the 1930s, lost her husband to the Gulag, and never remarried. Her honesty and fearlessness did not make her popular, especially when she spoke out against American abuses in the occupation of Germany, or against Maoism 40 years before it was fashionable. …
Perhaps Utley’s most acute realization in Odyssey, though on a trivial subject, is when she notices that her friend Bertrand Russell always uses the word “we” to refer to the government. She points out that this little linguistic tic is an unmistakable mark of any ruling class.
Apparently this “nostrism” (if I can risk another obscure quasicoinage) was more unusual in the ’50s than it is now. Because, although I have tried repeatedly to break myself of the habit, I use exactly the same pronoun. It’s an unmistakable sign of my Brahmin upbringing. I can’t imagine counting the number of times I’ve heard someone say “we should…” when what they really mean is “the government should…” Language is repetition, and though my considered view is that it’s just as bizarre to define “we” as the US Federal Government, especially for someone who isn’t actually an employee of said entity, as it would be to use the first person plural for Safeway, Comcast or OfficeMax, habits die hard.
Today, Russell-style nostrism is peculiar, I believe, to the Brahmin caste. Certainly Helots, Dalits, and Vaisyas all think of the government as very much “they.” If Optimates go with “we,” it’s probably because they’re so used to having to pass as Brahmins. I find it rather hard to imagine a cardiologist or a hedge-fund hotshot genuinely thinking of Uncle Sam as “we.”
Given that this is Moldbug, this is actually a short quote.
More culturally, there are those who generally think the government is on their side and can be used to solve social problems, (or at least they did before Trump was elected,) and those who think the government is basically against them and creates social problems, and which side you’re on probably has a lot to do with whether or not the government marched in and burned down your great-great-great-grandparents’ farm in 1864. Today the South remains poorer than the North, which they blame on the long-term effects of the war and punitive reconstruction policies. (Which is about as true as the story about Japan being poor today because the US military bombed its cities to smithereens.) Nevertheless, much American politics can be simplified as a continuing conflict between poor southerners and rich northerners.
The group that currently talks a lot about “institutional racism,” “white privilege,” and the importance of using the government to correct social ills through programs like Welfare and Affirmative Action happens also to be on the side that did the marching back in 1864 (even if they are actually just the children of immigrants who only recently moved to the area.)
Let’s take a quick look at poverty in America:
(Obviously poverty is relative and few of us are living in what passes for poverty in the third world, but let’s stay on topic.) So here is the census data (pdf) on poverty rates by race:
Obviously blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans have the highest poverty rates, while whites and Asians have the lowest.
But remember that there are a lot more whites than anyone else in America. When you multiply poverty rates by actual numbers, you get 17.8 million whites in poverty compared to 10 million blacks. (source.)
And as you might have noticed, we still live in a democracy, where numbers matter.
Summary: The side that thinks it imperative that we listen to their ideas for how government should end the poverty of black communities doesn’t understand why the white communities whose ancestors were invaded and killed by that same government, who are actually the biggest community of poor people in the US, disagree with them on the matter.
This might just be coincidence. I’m certain there are other factors involved (including genetics.) But it might also be an important thing to keep in mind when trying to convince others of the importance of using the government to enforce social change.
Those of you who remember history may recall that the South used to vote solidly Democrat. FDR and his ilk represented an alliance of poor southern farmers and norther factory workers against rich capitalists. This was the triumph of American socialism, the proletariat united against the bourgeois.
This worked until LBJ, with the Civil Rights act and Immigration Act. After LBJ, southern whites began voting Republican. Democrats haven’t gotten a majority of the white vote since LBJ. Republicans became an alliance of rural, poor, morally-oriented Christians and rich, war-mongering assholes like George W. Bush. Dems have often questioned this coalition.
Dems have been an alliance of working-class unions, college-educated, and minorities.
Trump captured the Dem’s working-class whites, who have felt increasingly alienated in a party that has been focusing on “white privilege” to the exclusion of “poor people’s economic problems.”
Whites are a steadily decreasing % of the population, and they’ll be a minority first in the Democratic party. Traditional white union concerns, exemplified by Sanders, lost out to racial politics, exemplified by Hillary’s “If we took down the banks, it still wouldn’t end systemic racism,” speech.
Trump didn’t capture a significantly larger share of the white vote than Romney did, and Romeny lost. He did snag disaffected white-collar voters in swing states who had previously voted for Obama. He simultaneously lost well-off whites, like the entire neocon establishment.
Hillary couldn’t drive turnout the way Obama did because she isn’t black or POC, and her party’s strength is now dependent on getting out the non-white vote. The Dems are increasingly, like South Africa, a party where the leaders are an ethnic minority with little legitimacy in the eyes of their base. Dems need candidates who energize their base to get the turnout they need.
(Funny that when Christian whites vote in favor of Christianity and we end up destroying Iraq, that’s sort of okay, but when poor whites vote in favor of their economic interests, that’s suddenly “racist” and people are protesting in the streets.)
Hillary lost twice now (to Obama in ’08 and Trump in ’16,) not because Americans are sexist, but because she is white.
Trump has re-forged the old Democratic alliance of FDR, and he’s done it in the ruins of the Republican party.
Americans have a reputation for being loud, rude, warmongers–basically some of the last people you might want to have nukes.
And while we are definitely loud and probably rude, ironically, we’ve been trying to get OUT of wars since at least 1945.
Remember Truman? He succeeded to the presidency on Roosevelt II’s death in ’45, then was narrowly defeated by Dewy in ’49. Then, after 20 straight years of Democrat rule, the Republican Ike (whom everyone liked) was elected in ’53.
Truman oversaw the surrender of Nazi Germany (on his birthday, no less,) the conclusion of the Pacific war (by dropping atomic bombs on Japan,) and America’s return to peace. Nonetheless, his popularity plummeted from 85% (in 1946) to 22% (1952)–making him possibly the least popular president in history (even Nixon had a 24% approval rating when he resigned.)
Truman had a genuinely rough job: he had to oversee the end of a colossal war, then the demilitarization of the US and its economy and the return of our troops, and navigate an entirely novel role for the US, as one of the world’s two remaining superpowers. Should we prepare for nuclear war with the Soviets? Would communism consume Europe and China? Should the US help Europe and China rebuild? What about Turkey? And on top of that, North Korea went and invaded South Korea.
For the first century or so of America’s existence, such an invasion would have been none of our business–indeed, the average American likely would have heard nothing about it. Now, as the world’s only counter to Soviet hegemony, Truman thought we had to do something–and so began the terribly unpopular Korean War (1950-1953.)
Ordinary people understood very well why we entered WWII–the Japanese bombed us, an event that is still seared into our national conscience, and then Germany declared war on us. But the North Koreans weren’t attacking us–they just wanted South Korea. Yes, you can make some intellectual justification about stopping the spread of communism, but as far as the average Joe is concerned, Koreans ain’t us and their war was, therefore, none of our damn business.
When the war began, 78% of Americans approved of Truman’s decision. By 1952, only 37% agreed. The war only received the support of half the American people again when it ended.
The war’s unpopularity was Truman’s.
Eisenhower ran against the Korean War and won with an electoral margin of 442 to 89, (though the popular vote was closer.) In ’53, he brought the war to an end. According to Wikipedia, “Since the late 20th century, consensus among Western scholars has consistently held Eisenhower as one of the greatest U.S. Presidents.”
All went well until Kennedy (’61-63.) His term opened with the disastrous, CIA-run Bay of Pigs invasion. By the Cuban Missile Crisis (’62,) fallout shelters were common, schools were running nuclear attack dills, and people were convinced there was a very high chance we were all going to die. (The state of Florida was particularly terrified.)
Kennedy almost immediately changed Ike’s policy on Laos & Vietnam, and one month after the Bay of Pigs went south, formally committed America to a more active role in Vietnam.
In ’63, Kennedy was assassinated by a homegrown communist and Johnson took office. Kennedy has been glorified because of his death; it is hard to speak ill of a man who was murdered by your enemies for trying to defend you, even if his policies were not the greatest.
Johnson enjoys no such halo. He increased the American presence in Vietnam from 16,000 non-combat advisors in 1963, to 550,000, mostly troops, in 1968. Crime (which people tend not to like) also soared under LBJ’s tenure, due to scaleback in policing and general integration of African Americans into US cities.
1968 is known as the year America went crazy. Students at Stanford rioted, striked, burned down buildings, torched the president’s office, and fought with the police:
April 29: Cambodia invasion protested… a day-long sit-in at the Old Union erupts into a rock-throwing, club-wielding battle between several hundred students and more than 250 police.
April 30: ROTC, Cambodia protest… demonstrators demanding immediate elimination of ROTC battle police… Property damage for the moth is estimated at $100,000, with 73 injuries in the past two nights.
Say what you will for student protesters, draft dodgers, or Marxists, America had no business being in Vietnam (we could barely scrounge up a single American who spoke Vietnamese to translate for us!) I have multiple relatives who were drafted or volunteered for service in Vietnam and one who died there, so I have opinions on the matter.
Oh, and a Palestinian Christian assassinated Kennedy’s little brother, RFK, for helping the Israeli military.
Despite Johnson’s electoral victory in ’64, his ratings tanked in ’68 (down to 35%,) and he decided not to run for re-election. Wikipedia relates:
One of the most tumultuous primary election seasons ever began as the Tet Offensive was launched, followed by the withdrawal of President Johnson as a candidate after doing unexpectedly poorly in the New Hampshire primary; it concluded with the assassination of one of the Democratic candidates, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, just moments after his victory in the California primary. …
Nixon’s Democratic opponent in the general election was Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who was nominated at a convention marked by violent protests. Throughout the campaign, Nixon portrayed himself as a figure of stability during a period of national unrest and upheaval. …
He stressed that the crime rate was too high, and attacked what he perceived as a surrender by the Democrats of the United States’ nuclear superiority. Nixon promised “peace with honor” in the Vietnam War and proclaimed that “new leadership will end the war and win the peace in the Pacific”.
Nixon came into power, ended the Vietnam War, ended the draft, and opened peaceful relations with China (a major pivot from America’s previous stance.) He was reelected in one of the largest landslides in US history, before the WaPo and Judge Sirica decided to destroy him.
After the Nixon fiasco, Americans elected Carter, one of the peaciest of peaceful guys ever to peace in the White House. Carter, though well-liked as a person, had, shall we say, bad luck: the oil embargo, Iran hostage crisis, economic troubles at home. He was replaced by Reagan, who, despite his tough rhetoric got the Iranian hostages released and negotiated nuclear arms reduction treaties with the Soviets.
Bush I, Reagan’s VP and successor, won handily in ’89 and oversaw the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. He entered into a new kind of warfare, the UN-backed, fast in-and-out, minimal American death removal of Saddam from Kuwait. Americans do not mind wars so long as they are fast, relatively bloodless, and we win.
Bush got done in by economic troubles and lost to Clinton, who oversaw prosperity at home and tried to broker peace abroad, from the Oslo Peace Accords to UN “peacekeepers” in the former Yugoslavia. Clinton was popular despite Republicans’ best efforts to sabotage him.
Clinton was not eligible to run in 2000, but the Republican candidate, Bush II, positioned himself in opposition to Clinton’s “nation building” and advocated for a more isolationist, less interventionist American foreign policy.
Bush turned out to be a liar. He was just telling people what they wanted to hear, and then he went and spent trillions of dollars and got thousands of Americans killed in Iraq.
Yes, Americans supported the war in Afghanistan, because they blamed Afghanistan (or at least people in Afghanistan,) for the attack on 9-11. But support waned quickly for the Iraq War II, Bush II became hugely unpopular, and the current Republican candidate, Trump, is running on his opposition to the war vs. the Democratic candidate’s support for it.
Obama ran on “Hope and Change”–a promise to pivot foreign policy away from Bush’s disastrous wars. His campaign was so successful, he was almost immediately awarded a Nobel Peace Prize (though by Swedes, not by Americans.)
In our current election, people on both sides of the political aisle are concerned that the other side’s candidate is a war-monger who will get us into another war. Trump’s supporters are concerned about Hillary’s history/support for violence in Libya, Benghazi, and Syria, not to mention her aggressive stance toward Putin, leader of the world’s other nuclear superpower. Not to put too fine a point on it, I’m concerned about Hillary starting a war with Russia, something Americans have been trying to avoid since 1945.
And the pro-Hillary side is concerned that Trump is a violent hothead who will send US troops to Syria, get embroiled in a bunch of costly wars like Bush II did, and maybe launch off some nukes just for the fun of it. And they’re concerned that he’ll put illegal immigrants in concentration camps and make Muslims wear yellow crescents on their clothes.
Regardless of which side you think is right, both are trying to avoid being killed in yet another stupid war that has nothing to do with our actual interests.
America might fight a lot of wars, but we sure as hell don’t want to.
I was originally going to use La Griffe du Lion’s Smart Fraction Theory to calculate this, but then I discovered that it doesn’t make any practical difference, so went with the simpler metric of IQ.
We have a correlation, but it’s not huge. There are a few states that seem like obvious outliers–the two states with the highest GDP per cap were Alaska (oil) and Delaware (tax haven of some sort.) Among under-performers, I speculate that Maine is being held back by geography (it’s really cold.) California has a low average IQ, but an abnormally wide IQ range, due to the presence of Stanford and Silicon Valley and the like, while West Virginia may have the opposite problem of an unusually narrow IQ range (it also has the problem of being in the mountains.) In these two cases, if I could actually calculate the smart fraction instead of using Griffe’s assumption of Gaussian distribution around the average, I’d probably get a more accurate result.
I decided to try running the regression again without the states with obvious external factors–California, Hawaii, Nevada, Alaska, West Virginia, Delaware, Maine, and Vermont–like tourism, climate, gambling, or oil. I did not eliminate outliers that did not have (potentially) clear reasons for their under- or over- performance (for example, I have no idea why Idaho should do worse than Wyoming. I also left in Louisiana, whose over-performance may be due to having a significant port and/or tourism.)
Random chance matters. An oil boom in your area, nice beaches, or a long, harsh winter can push a state (or country) into wealth or poverty.
I suspect that redistribution strategies (ie, welfare) prevent states from dropping below a certain level, hence the near-flat line around $32,000. (Outliers at Mississippi and W. Virginia.)
“In Operation Desert Rock, the military conducted a series of nuclear tests in the Nevada Proving Grounds between 1951 and 1957, exposing thousands of participants – both military and civilian – to high levels of radiation.
“In total, more nearly 400,000 American soldiers and civilians would be classified as ‘atomic veterans.’
“Though roughly half of those veterans were survivors of World War II, serving at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, the rest were exposed to nuclear grounds tests which lasted until 1962.”
Sure, we could have tested it on pigs, or monkeys, or cows, but nothing beats marching your own people into an atomic blast to see if it gives them cancer.
One of my–let us say Uncles–died in Vietnam. He was 17. His mother, who had signed the papers to let him enlist even though he wasn’t 18, who had thought the army would be a good thing for him, sort him out, get his life on track, never recovered.
His name is not on the Vietnam Memorial.
And for what did we die in France’s war to retain its colonies?
Despite my inauspicious start, it turns out that I do have history of my own. For privacy reasons, I can’t give too many details, but so far, after reading family histories assembled by my grandparents, I’ve found immigrants in the early 1700s, the 1600s, and sometime between 60 and 12,000 years ago–the exact dates of that particular migration episode is still being debated–but none in the 1800s or 1900s. (This may, of course, be merely an issue of incomplete genealogy.) I can count over a dozen ethnic groups in my family tree (though I should note that I consider the “American Nations” ethnic groups, which you may not.)
If anyone has a right to call themselves an “American,” then I suspect I do.
My husband’s family I laughingly refer to as immigrants. Okay, half of them are good, old-stock Americans. The other half, though, seem to have immigrated at some point during the 1800s. Or maybe even the early 1900s.
I have no connections to the old country; indeed, I don’t really have an old country–there is no one place that a majority of my ancestors came from. I have never had any sense of being anything other than what I am, and for much of my life, not even that. For many years, actually, I operated under quite incorrect assumptions about my origins.
On a practical level, of course, it doesn’t really matter–I would still be me if it turned out I arrived here as an infant from Kazakhstan and my whole “history” was a colossal mix-up with someone else’s. But this is my history, and as such, it is special to me, just like that ragged old bear in the closet my grandmother made. It might be worthless to you, but it’s mine.
What does it mean to have a history?
When I read about the various Bering Strait theories, I think, “Some of my ancestors were there, hunting mammoths.”
When I look at the British, French, and Spanish colonies and the American Revolution, I get to think, “Some of my ancestors were there.” Indeed, some of them were influential folks in those days. When I think about the values of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, I can say, “These were my ancestors’ ideals.”
When I look at the Civil War, well, there’s a lot of family history. My grandmother still tells the stories her great-grandmother told her about watching the Yankees burn down the family farm.
Some ancestors were pioneers. Some were farmers and some professors and some scientists who helped develop technologies that sent satellites into outer space.
And yet… Nationalism isn’t really my thing. Bald eagles, Stars and Stripes, the Pledge of Allegiance… they’re all a big nope. I don’t feel much of anything for them. I have no interest in the “Southern Cause,” and I don’t even have a particular affection for Americans–most of my close friends are immigrants. And as previously stated, I am not a white nationalist–IQ nationalist is a much better description. I like smart people.
I look out for American interests because I happen to live here. If I lived in Japan, I’d look out for Japan’s interests, simply because anything bad that happened in Japan or to the Japanese would also be happening to me–even though I’d be an immigrant with no particular history there. It is natural (particularly among leftists) to assume, therefore, that immigrants to the US may do the same.
(Edited to clarify: Commonly assumed things are often wrong. Many on the left assume that unprecedented numbers of immigrants from non-Western cultures will adopt American culture in a way that does not substantially change it. The whole point of this post is to discuss the nebulous effects of cultural change and ethnic identity. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of graphs for “How proud I feel while looking at a picture of George Washington,” so this is difficult to express.)
In fact, I know plenty of immigrants who have far more nationalism for their adopted country than I do.
(Edited to clarify: I happened to write this after visiting the home of an immigrant family that had framed versions of the Pledge of Allegiance and the Signing of the Declaration of Independence on their walls. I recognize that these people are really glad to be in this country, which they consider a vastly superior place to the one they came from.)
Is it of any importance that people have some sort of cultural connection to the place where they live?
I’ve tracked down a bunch of graphs/pictures related to immigration over time:
(Oops, looks like a bit of text snuck in when I cropped the picture.)
ETA: Note that % of immigrants in the population is really at unprecedentedly high numbers, and the countries they come from have changed radically, too:
Total quantity of immigrants by region of origin.
ETA: I thought this was obvious, but immigrants from whatever country they happen to come from tend to bring with them the norms and values of their own culture. Sometimes those norms easily mix with American ones. Sometimes they don’t.
ETA: Another graph showing the ethnic makeup of American immigrants.
ETA: So what happens when immigration goes up? Well, for starters, it looks like a lot more crime happens:
And wages seem to stagnate:
(The increase in household median income is due to women entering the workforce, thus increasing the number of workers per household.)
I know there are other things going on in these time periods that could also affect income inequality, but that graph looks remarkably similar to the immigration graphs. Also:
A lot of these came from Migration Policy Institute, but I’ve tried to use a variety of sources to avoid any particular bias or inaccuracies.
Now here we began with poetic waxing about one’s ancestors, and are whining about Irish criminality in the 1800s and how hard it is to get a job. BTW, Irish criminality was a real problem.
The correlations are suggestive, but unproven, so let’s get back to nostalgia:
In the period from 1890-1920, the most common elements in the song titles seem to be family relations, friends, and nostalgia: Pal, Mammy, Home, Land, Old, Uncle, etc. This is in stark contrast to 1990-2015, when some sort of apocalyptic accident destroyed our ability to spell and we reverted to a savage state of nature: Hell, Fuck, Die, U, Ya, Thang.
Even in my own lifetime, historical nostalgia and appreciation for America’s founders seems to have drastically waned. As a child, Westerns were still occasional things and the whole mythology surrounding the settlement of the West was still floating around, though obviously nothing compared to its height in the 50s, when people were really into Davy Crockett:
(Look like anyone you know? , )
The “American Girls” line of books and toys was a big deal when I was a kid, featuring historically-themed dolls and books focusing on the American Revolution, Pioneers, Civil War, Industrialization, and WWII.
Today, the line has been re-branded as “Be Forever,” with far more focus on modern girls and cultural groups. Even the historical books have been re-designed, with “American Girl” reduced to fine print and “Be Forever” scrawled across the covers. The Revolutionary War, Pioneer, and WWII dolls have all been “retired” from the line. Yes, American history without the Revolution. The Civil War doll is still there, though.
Are slavery and the Vietnam protests the only parts of our history that we remember anymore?
History is dead.
(Sadly, since Mattel bought the company, they’ve become delusional about the amount of pink and purple girls historically wore.)
What would the US look like if all the Johnny-Come-Lateys from the migration waves of the 1800s had never arrived?
I have no idea. (This is an invitation for you to discuss the question.)
In the casually pagan style of our Christian forebears, the US Capital Building rotunda features a painting titled The Apotheosis of Washington, painted by Greek-Italian artist Constantino Brumidi in 1865:
This is not the only painting by this title:
Apotheosis of George Washington, by H. Weishaupt
How about a few more on the general theme?
Statue of Washington in the style of Zeus
Apotheosis of Washington and Lincoln, 1860s.
Things change. Life moves on. Nothing new.
Is a nation’s history worth preserving? How do our identities and personal histories influence our values, cultures, and connections? What does any of this mean to you?
ETA for the clueless: This is an invitation for you to present your own opinions/answers to the questions.
Well, I don’t hate women, but I don’t really understand them, either.
Take handbags. What is the deal with them?
I finally asked a woman why women carry handbags. She replied that she does it because she’s anxious and hauling a ton of stuff everywhere she goes makes he feel more confident.
When I want to haul a ton of stuff with me, I use a backpack. It is much more efficient and economical, and I haven’t had to buy a new one since highschool. Most of the time, though, I don’t really feel compelled to bring 20 pounds of stuff with me wherever I go, much less buy new containers for it all the time.
(It’s not that I dislike shopping so much as I dislike spending money.)
Since the internet thinks I am female, I get handbag ads:
I… I think that’s an add for porn. The handbag company must have gotten confused.
But what other things do women shop for? How about this helpful ad:
Words I normally associate with my pantry: rice, beans, spices, organization.
Words I definitely do not associate with my pantry: crazy, sexy.
Who the hell wants crazy things in their pantry? Maybe some of the “personal care” items are sexy (Boob-shaped soap? Toilet paper with penises printed on it? Vibrating tooth brush?) but what is a crazy one? And how is a “crazy” item ever a “must-have”?
Yes, I know, advertisements are lies. But they wouldn’t be making these particular lies if the lies didn’t at least occasionally work. Which means that someone out there saw “crazy sexy must have” and thought “YES I MUST HAVE THE CRAZY SEXY!”
I also get adds for clothing rental services. Like, you can rent a dress for a week and then send it back and get a new dress. If you don’t have enough dresses. Or pants. Or other clothes.
Do you know what every single woman in this entire country has enough of?
The mall overflows with clothes.
Women write articles about how they were so super depressed when [bad thing happened] that they didn’t buy any clothes for months. Months!
In the past three years, I think I’ve bought socks. And that was because I was headed to a wedding and at the last minute couldn’t find one of my regular socks.
Now, weddings. That’s another biggie. I hear they are a big deal with women. Like, first you have to hang out around this guy for a long time, with no knowledge of whether he wants to keep hanging out with your or is going to dump you tomorrow, and then suddenly bam, he gets down on one knee like a knight of old and gives you a rock. A sparkly rock! And like a magpie, you jump up and down and squeal with joy because you are so goddamn surprised that anyone would actually give you a rock, even though it’s actually just a boring old clear one and your favorite color is purple. Sure, it sparkles nicely, but tourmaline is way awesomer:
So, even though I can get a lovely chunk of tourmaline for 50 or 60 dollars, I’m supposed to demand that my boyfriend spend three month’s salary on one of the clear rocks or else he doesn’t love me. Three month’s salary that could have been spent on books, mind you.
Then come all of the parties. Bridal showers with chicken cloacas where people give me underwear as though I didn’t already own underwear and laugh and giggle about the prospect of my fiance seeing me in my underwear as though he hadn’t a hundred times already. A bachelorette party where… actually I don’t know what happens there. I’ve never been to one. A bachelor party where my fiance celebrates what a downer it is to be yoked sexually to me for the rest of his life by getting drunk and watching strippers, or whatever it is that people actually do at those things.
Then we spend about the cost of a new car or a tiny house or two on a big party for all of our friends. (Parties are nice, I suppose.) Of course I will spend a thousand dollars on a white gown, as though anyone in the audience could possibly be fooled into thinking I’m actually a virgin despite having lived with the guy for the past two years, and then I will never wear the damn thing again for the rest of my life. (For that much money, the dress ought to be a computer.)
And then, thank god, it’s over. I’m exhausted, you’re exhausted, and after a vacation if we can get off work, we’ll go back to living exactly like we did before.
Yes, I understand the point of marriage. I even understand the point of the wedding ceremony. What I don’t understand is why women want to spend so much money on so much useless stuff.
And don’t get me started on the diet ads… I hate diet ads.