Friday, October 11, 2013

Technology Shabbat. By Tiffany Shlain.

Technology Shabbat. Video. By Tiffany Shlain. The Future Starts Here., October 11, 2013.

Tiffany Shlain website.

Tiffany Shlain videos.

The Tribe. Video. By Tiffany Shlain. Vimeo.

Kemal Ataturk Is Alive and Well and Living In Madison, WI. By Peter Berger.

Kemal Ataturk Is Alive and Well and Living In Madison, WI. By Peter Berger. The American Interest, October 9, 2013.


Kemal Ataturk founded the Republic of Turkey as a militantly secular state. The Kemalist elite, while it could not (and, let us charitably assume, did not intend) to eradicate religion, it certainly made it clear that believers were second-class citizens. Their animosity was of course mainly directed against Islam. It did not succeed in making much headway against the majority population of Muslims, especially in the vast Anatolian hinterland. As Turkey became more democratic, these allegedly backward people voted—and not surprisingly they voted their “values”. The result has been the (thus far moderate) Islamist government.
The Kemalist policy toward religion has been a kind of disease control: Religion is basically a danger in a civilized society. It must be tightly controlled, contained within its tolerated spaces, kept out of the officially legitimated public sphere. In recent time Kemalism has not fared well in Turkey. It is unlikely to do better in the United States, the most religious country in the Western world, unless a currently assertive secularism achieves results in the federal courts which it could never achieve through the democratic process. The Freedom from Religion Foundation and, more importantly, the American Civil Liberties Union are spearhead organizations in the secularist campaign. This is not the place to speculate about the reasons for their recent activism. But I think it is useful to understand that their attitude toward public expressions of religious faith is essentially Kemalist.

Comment by Gary Novak:

Richard Rodriguez once gave a talk in which he described his visit to a Los Angeles high school where the lunch tables were voluntarily segregated by ethnicity. Even the Chicanos and Mexican-Americans sat at separate tables. Like Berger, Rodriguez thinks an important part of education is broadening one's comfort zone. So he described the situation as one in which the United States had been infected with the Canadian virus of multiculturalism.
I obtained a video of the talk and showed it to my introductory sociology class. One of my students went to the department head and complained that she was uncomfortable hearing multiculturalism criticized. It was too late for her to drop my class and take his, so he proposed that we accommodate her by having her attend his classes and take his tests, and he would tell me what grade to assign her at the end of the semester. I refused on the grounds that it might do her some good to hear multiculturalism criticized by a gay Hispanic. If I had wronged the student, I should go, not her. And, of course, if the situation were reversed and an ethnocentric student wanted out because talk of multiculturalism made him sick, the policy of accommodating the needs of all our student consumers would come to a screeching halt. “But that’s why you go to college—to learn you’re a racist!”
I suspect the department head felt quite virtuous for accommodating ME. “You see—even though you’re teaching the wrong stuff, my respect for academic freedom knows no limits. Your student clearly needs to be rescued, but I’ll take no action against you!” (The text I used—like all sociology texts—was, of course, making the case for multiculturalism.) Double standards and political correctness account for much of the increasing awareness that colleges today offer, as Berger puts it, “an increasingly costly and dubiously useful product.”

Why Republicans Shut Down the Government. By Francis Wilkinson.

Why Republicans Shut Down the Government. By Francis Wilkinson. Bloomberg, October 4, 2013.

Anger Can Be Power. By Thomas B. Edsall. New York Times, October 8, 2013.

Wrong Side of History. By Timothy Egan. New York Times, October 3, 2013.

The Myth That Makes the GOP Suicidal. By Ira Chernus. History News Network, October 9, 2013.

Putting the Spotlight on the Republican Party. By Stan Greenberg. Greenberg Quinlan Rossner Research. Democracy Corps, July 23, 2013. Results of the first national survey of the Republican Party Project. Also here.

Inside the GOP: Report on Focus Groups with Evangelical, Tea Party, and Moderate Republicans. By Stan Greenberg, James Carville, and Erica Seifert. Republican Party Project. Greenberg Quinlan Rossner Research. Democracy Corps, October 3, 2013. PDF. Also here.


For them [focus group participants], Greenberg notes, Washington looks nothing like the capital many others see. Gridlock? There is no gridlock. Only a socialist steamroller before which the Republican Party is feeble and afraid. “Evangelicals who feel most threatened by trends embrace the Tea Party because they are the ones who are fighting back,” the report states. Republican base voters “think they face a victorious Democratic Party that is intent on expanding government to increase dependency and therefore electoral support.”
This is the context of the fight against Obamacare. The basic idea – similarly articulated by some Republican officeholders, including Texas Senator Ted Cruz – is that Obama has extended a new entitlement to create a class of lazy, poor voters whose well-being is dependent upon the Democratic Party. Shorthand: more 47 percenters.
“Their party is losing to a Democratic Party of big government whose goal is to expand programs that mainly benefit minorities,” the report states.
The Republican moderates were staunch fiscal conservatives, but most readily embraced new gender relations and minority empowerment, including gay rights. The Tea Partiers and evangelicals spoke as if they were in the midst of War of the Worlds. As the report characterizes the Tea-Party worldview: “Obama’s America is an unmitigated evil based on big government, regulations and dependency.”
It’s a tough situation to rectify. A lot of Americans were not ready for a mixed-race president. They weren’t ready for gay marriage. They weren’t ready for the wave of legal and illegal immigration that redefined American demographics over the past two or three decades, bringing in lots of nonwhites. They weren’t ready – who was? – for the brutal effects of globalization on working- and middle-class Americans or the devastating fallout from the financial crisis.
Their representatives didn’t stop Obamacare. And their side didn't “take back America” in 2012 as Fox News and conservative radio personalities led them to believe they would. They feel the culture is running away from them (and they’re mostly right). They lack the power to control their own government. But they still have just enough to shut it down.

A Republican Party No One Could Control. By Fareed Zakaria.

A Republican Party no one could control. By Fareed Zakaria. Washington Post, October 10, 2013. Also here.

Tea Party Tactics Lead Straight Back to Secession. By Stephen Mihm. Bloomberg, October 8, 2013.