qualia
 
Reply Wed 19 May, 2010 05:55 pm
This Texas schools board rewrites US history with lessons promoting God and guns | World news | The Guardian is an interesting article from the UK's national newspaper, The Guardian.

The article raises the concern of some in America who believe that there is "a clutch of Christian evangelists and social conservatives who have grasped control of the [Texan] state's education board" with the intention of "indoctrinating children by promoting rightwing views on religion, economics and guns while diminishing the science of evolution, the civil rights movement and the horrors of slavery."

Clearly, to assume that there is only the possibility of a given narrative is as erroneous as to assume that a given map is the only one possible. Histories are not innocent stories but always ideologial constructs.

So, in that light, I was wondering if anyone had their own ideas or opinions about what is happening in the States?


Is this a growing sign of sections of American culture recovering from or reacting against the effect of the Enlightenment's project? Or, again, do you understand this "rewriting of history" as something of a positive change or, as some writers are suggesting, a degeneration of U.S education which is becoming the laughing stock of the more 'enlightened' world etc, etc?

What do you think is going on here? :detective:
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Leviathen249
 
  1  
Reply Wed 19 May, 2010 06:17 pm
@qualia,
I don't know what the Texans are doing. Maybe they're trying to get themselves a better name. Who knows.

But, I have always wondered how much of our recorded history is true. How can we trust what those letters on the page are telling us. Then again, how can we trust anything to be true. We just have to take it for what it is. But as to an actual percentage, I don't know. We all know that the victors wrote the history books and that they're generally more accepted. But why would you write something that would give you a bad name? Quite a predicament.
0 Replies
 
prothero
 
  1  
Reply Wed 19 May, 2010 07:53 pm
@qualia,
qualia;166228 wrote:
"indoctrinating children by promoting rightwing views on religion, economics and guns while diminishing the science of evolution, the civil rights movement and the horrors of slavery."

Clearly, to assume that there is only the possibility of a given narrative is as erroneous as to assume that a given map is the only one possible. Histories are not innocent stories but always ideologial constructs.


What do you think is going on here? :detective:

It is hard to mount any defense for slavery or the destruction of the native North American peoples. There is a sense in which however that is only a small part of the American story and there is much that is positive to be expressed. It really is a question of emphasis and balance.

The clash between the Native American peoples and Europeans coming to the New World was in a sense a clash of civilizations, not unique in history, not unique in nature and part of the evolution of human culture. Civilizations and societies encounter and clash and often one is destroyed and the other flourishes.

Slavery in history was almost universally accepted and practiced. There is a sense in which the application of modern morals and notions of human rights and human dignity to the actions and characters of the past is inappropriate. Viewing the past through the lens of the present invariably leads to distortions. The founding fathers are accused of being slave holding hypocrites, the settlers moving west for a better life of being murderers and robbers. I do not think that is a fair or a balanced view.

Some say these "injustices" are not given appropriate coverage others that they are overemphasized. It is hard to get agreement on what is a fair and balanced view or presentation. In general I do think America was and is at the forefront of the promotion of representative government, human rights and human dignity and at the forefront of the worth of the individual, innovation and discovery.

We used to of course paint our heroes lily white and our villains the darkest black (both countries and historical figures). The trend now days is a more nuanced presentation (in art, movies, literature and history). Once one begins to present all sides of an issue, you are always subject to the charge of being biased or unbalanced in one direction or the other.

"Fondly do we hope, feverently do we pray, that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the face of the earth" Lincoln.

If we have to use force, it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see further into the future.
Madeleine Albright

I make no apologies for being American. I am proud to be an American. I feel privileged to be an American. I think many people in the world wish they did live in America or a country like America. I think the history books my children read and are taught from should reflect our proud history and heritage not unduly dwell on our shortcomings and historical mistakes.

There are perhaps two books from opposite sides of the spectrum: "A Peoples History of the United States" and "A Patriots History of the United States" which illustrate quite well the potential divide in historical emphasis, view, and presentation. Perhaps we should read both.
Deckard
 
  1  
Reply Wed 19 May, 2010 08:35 pm
@prothero,
prothero;166262 wrote:
It is hard to mount any defense for slavery or the destruction of the native North American peoples.

It is not just "hard" it is impossible. But I appreciate that this is a difficult or "hard" issue to tackle for some.
prothero;166262 wrote:

I do not think that is a fair or a balanced view.

"Fair and balanced?"... really? How would Fox News tell us to think about this? WWFNS? (What would Fox News say?)
prothero;166262 wrote:

Some say these "injustices" are not given appropriate coverage others that they are overemphasized.

Injustices is quotes? Really? Are you not sure about it. Maybe we should bring back "slavery".
prothero;166262 wrote:

We used to of course paint our heroes lily white and our villains the darkest black (both countries and historical figures). The trend now days is a more nuanced presentation (in art, movies, literature and history). Once one begins to present all sides of an issue, you are always subject to the charge of being biased or unbalanced in one direction or the other.

Personally I don't think it is biased to condemn slavery and mass slaughter. I suppose it is a bias towards justice but that's a bias I'm going to keep.
prothero;166262 wrote:

I make no apologies for being American. I am proud to be an American. I feel privileged to be an American. I think many people in the world wish they did live in America or a country like America. I think the history books my children read and are taught from should reflect our proud history and heritage not unduly dwell on our shortcomings and historical mistakes.

I agree, Condemn our shortcomings and historical mistakes. Then we won't have to dwell on them any longer. Only then will we be able to truly glorify what is great about America without apologies.
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Wed 19 May, 2010 11:41 pm
@qualia,
I posted a thread on this topic also in General Discussion. It is very worriesome. My son has been studying in the US this last year, generally getting along great, and recieiving a great education also. But he and I are both alarmed by the 'Christian conservative' or 'evangelical right' movement. I think they are beyond reason (although to be fair, this probably applies to the lunatic left as well, but they tend not to be as socially prominent in the States.) George Bush used to talk about being a compassionate conservative. I think his record showed that he was conservative, but I don't see any sign of compassion. In fact I think this is what all sides of the debate are lacking. It is mutual animosity and hatred of The Other. The people who claim to be standing up for biblical values seem to be those always ready to cast the first stone.

Tell you the truth, I think the thing that is really missing in American culture is a sense that we're all in it together. The pursuit of happiness and individual liberty, the way it is construed in American culture, is inherently self-seeking. Without a willingness to really listen to the other, even if I don't agree with him or her, and to try and find some common ground, how can there be any progress? Actually, coming to think of it, Obama said that, and he is being demonised by the right like no other President before him.

Sorry, rambling on here. But today, I don't feel hopeful about the future.
xris
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 May, 2010 04:17 am
@jeeprs,
The extremes of view I hear expressed by reasonable Americans can be quite alarming for a European. The intransigence of the right and their certainties, to me hold great dangers if not confronted. There appears very little empathy for each other or concern for the underprivileged. Is it a false picture? am I wrong?

Appreciating our historic failings is a sign of maturity of a country. Still worshipping certain historic figures who represent those failings is even harder. Lincoln the most revered, made the move west a purely white mans adventure , ignoring black, yellow and redman's acclaimed constitutional rights. Is this emphasized in any education history lessons?
qualia
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 May, 2010 06:45 am
@xris,
I sincerely hope my OP didn't bring with it some kind of dubious dichotomy between an Us and Them. Anyone who reads the daily rags are aware of a growing intolerance occurring in Europe, in Italy, France, Germany & the UK, for example.

Although we can offer no singular defintion of this tendency towards intolerance, I think we can tweak out a very similar type of discourse, be it in Italy, the London suburbs or Texas.

It is one not grounded on the discourse of destroying freedoms, restricting or suppressing certain types of speech, creating boot camps and hatred but in elevating a certain type of affection which helps create an inner feeling of pride, security, loyalty, trust and commitment to one's own.

What distinguishes the fraternity from totalitarian systems of control is that the latter encourages a far greater significance of love, care, concern and looking out for each other, so long as one is not part of the Other.

Thus, the 'Other' plays a crucial role in politics, for by defintion it is different and inferior.

The growing tendency towards totalitarianism in Europe and the U.S.A are similar in the manner in which they are exploiting this affection towards the goal of something bigger than self whilst casting various groups in the category of Otherness from which scapegoating, blame, ridicule can be exploited.

All totalitarian systems are similar in this, that they appeal to a form of care, concern and love which takes pleasure in imposing its opinions against the Other. Thus, any backlash against totalitarianism has to be extremely subtle, for it is a battle against a certain type of love. A love of the Nation, the State, an Institutional Unity (usually through some voice of god), a bonding, pride, trust and commitment.

Perhaps we're all bringers of systems of totalitariansim. I don't know. But I think another universal message of love and care and concern must raise the issue that one's self would not be possible without that Other's existence and thus to destroy, censor, ridicule, cause suffering, pain or misery to that Other is to cause like affects to one's own.
prothero
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 May, 2010 04:17 pm
@qualia,
[QUOTE=jeeprs;166317] In fact I think this is what all sides of the debate are lacking. It is mutual animosity and hatred of The Other. The people who claim to be standing up for biblical values seem to be those always ready to cast the first stone. [/QUOTE] There actually is a real divide in opinion about the future of the country. The divide is not so much along religious lines as along the size, scope and role of government in the society. There are legitimate differences of opinion and visions of the future. In fact the democratic socialism model is in a lot of trouble not just in America but in many countries as population's age, benefits and entitlements grow, the younger population shrinks and the economy goes global. The current trend of more benefits, less taxes, yearly deficits and huge cumulative federal debts is not sustainable. There is a fight about how to solve these problems.

[QUOTE=jeeprs;166317] Tell you the truth, I think the thing that is really missing in American culture is a sense that we're all in it together. The pursuit of happiness and individual liberty, the way it is construed in American culture, is inherently self-seeking. Without a willingness to really listen to the other, even if I don't agree with him or her, and to try and find some common ground, how can there be any progress? Actually, coming to think of it, Obama said that, and he is being demonised by the right like no other President before him.. [/QUOTE] Well, there is definitely the cultural tradition and value of the individual and self reliance (the self made millionaire, the frontiersman, etc). America is different from Europe as they say. Libertarianism (the presumption of liberty) is a strong notion in the American mind. There is a fight as many see it for the future of America. Is America going to become more of a social democracy like Scandinavian Europe with extensive social safety networks and high taxation or is America going to return to the principle of limited government, local decision making and individual responsibility. Feelings run high on both sides of the divide. In general Americans have a sort of schizophrenic relationship with government (they like the services) but they hate the taxes, the notion of big government and the idea that government will interfere in and run their lives. Self reliance, libertarianism and rugged independence are particularly strong notions in the rural and the Western states, hence the red/blue, urban/rural divide one sees reflected in political elections and polls.

[QUOTE=xris;166358] The extremes of view I hear expressed by reasonable Americans can be quite alarming for a European. The intransigence of the right and their certainties, to me hold great dangers if not confronted. There appears very little empathy for each other or concern for the underprivileged. Is it a false picture? am I wrong? [/QUOTE] I think a lot of Americans still view America as the land of opportunity where anyone who wants to make the effort, be flexible and work hard can succeed. The corollary of this attitude is the notion that those who are "underprivileged" are partly responsible for their own "situation". In general Americans are very supportive of children (access to food, to education, to health care) but less supportive of "underprivileged "adults. Americans are more willing to give a "hand up" than a "hand out" and long term or generational welfare just does not go down well in mainstream American culture. Perhaps the civil rights movements of the 60's and the breaking down of religious and racial barriers to success in American society has made people even less tolerate of "failure". There is the very real notion that lots of the "unfortunates" just do not really want to take responsibility for their own lives and make the effort to improve their situation. There is as always some truth in both views.

[QUOTE=xris;166358] Appreciating our historic failings is a sign of maturity of a country. Still worshipping certain historic figures who represent those failings is even harder. Lincoln the most revered, made the move west a purely white mans adventure , ignoring black, yellow and redman's acclaimed constitutional rights. Is this emphasized in any education history lessons?[/QUOTE]
All of histories famous people had personal shortcomings, failings, and moments of weakness or bad judgment. Are those the things we want to emphasize in the history books?

Should we write about Thomas Jefferson's holding slaves and his relationship with Sally Hemmings or the Declaration of Independence, the Louisiana purchase and the conflict between the Federalists and the Republicans for the future of the country. Does Thomas Jeffersons shortcomings really deserve "equal" emphasis with his accomplishments?

Should we talk about Lincolns negative musings about African Americans, or about saving the union and the abolition of slavery?. Do you really think Lincoln or anyone could have stopped the Westward expansion?. England had prohibited settlement West of the Appalachians. My personal opinion is the forces of history are bigger than individuals. The abolition of slavery, and the coming of civil rights was inevitable but so was the destruction of the plains Indians way of life.


Frankly I want the history instruction my child receives to make them proud (not ashamed) to be an American and to emphasize what is unique and valuable about America, to point the way forward, not to condemn the past. History is always presented and written from a certain point of view. America has in many ways represented some of what is best about freedom and democracy. It is not an unblemished record, there are many tragic chapters but overall America has been a force for good in the world and that is the overall impression history instruction in the US should impart.
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 May, 2010 04:42 pm
@prothero,
prothero;166607 wrote:
I think a lot of Americans still view America as the land of opportunity where anyone who wants to make the effort, be flexible and work hard can succeed.


There are tens of millions who work hard at all hours for a less than minimum wage, live in poverty and die in debt. Every year a greater proportion of the national wealth is concentrated in the hands of fewer people.

Quote:
Though income inequality has been growing for some time, the paper paints a stark, disturbing portrait of wealth distribution in America. Saez calculates that in 2007 the top .01 percent of American earners took home 6 percent of total U.S. wages, a figure that has nearly doubled since 2000.

As of 2007, the top decile of American earners, Saez writes, pulled in 49.7 percent of total wages, a level that's "higher than any other year since 1917 and even surpasses 1928, the peak of stock market bubble in the 'roaring" 1920s.'"



Source: Income Inequality Is At An All-Time High: STUDY


So for most people, the American Dream is something you only see in the movies.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 May, 2010 06:33 pm
@prothero,
prothero;166262 wrote:
It is hard to mount any defense for slavery or the destruction of the native North American peoples. There is a sense in which however that is only a small part of the American story and there is much that is positive to be expressed. It really is a question of emphasis and balance.

The clash between the Native American peoples and Europeans coming to the New World was in a sense a clash of civilizations, not unique in history, not unique in nature and part of the evolution of human culture. Civilizations and societies encounter and clash and often one is destroyed and the other flourishes.

Slavery in history was almost universally accepted and practiced. There is a sense in which the application of modern morals and notions of human rights and human dignity to the actions and characters of the past is inappropriate. Viewing the past through the lens of the present invariably leads to distortions. The founding fathers are accused of being slave holding hypocrites, the settlers moving west for a better life of being murderers and robbers. I do not think that is a fair or a balanced view.

Some say these "injustices" are not given appropriate coverage others that they are overemphasized. It is hard to get agreement on what is a fair and balanced view or presentation. In general I do think America was and is at the forefront of the promotion of representative government, human rights and human dignity and at the forefront of the worth of the individual, innovation and discovery.

We used to of course paint our heroes lily white and our villains the darkest black (both countries and historical figures). The trend now days is a more nuanced presentation (in art, movies, literature and history). Once one begins to present all sides of an issue, you are always subject to the charge of being biased or unbalanced in one direction or the other.

"Fondly do we hope, feverently do we pray, that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the face of the earth" Lincoln.

If we have to use force, it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see further into the future.
Madeleine Albright

I make no apologies for being American. I am proud to be an American. I feel privileged to be an American. I think many people in the world wish they did live in America or a country like America. I think the history books my children read and are taught from should reflect our proud history and heritage not unduly dwell on our shortcomings and historical mistakes.

There are perhaps two books from opposite sides of the spectrum: "A Peoples History of the United States" and "A Patriots History of the United States" which illustrate quite well the potential divide in historical emphasis, view, and presentation. Perhaps we should read both.


Yes indeed. I watched a Fox news report on this very thing this evening (of course, for some, the very fact that it was on Fox would condemn it). Apparently, the controversy is about whether the view of American exceptionalism should be discussed in the schoolbooks. Liberals of course are up in arms against such a discussion, and so are some foreigners. (Also today the Mexican president was complaining to a Congressional full session he was invited to address about Arizona's new law about illegal immigrants. Just as if he had anything to say about it). My view, like yours, is that indeed, American is an exceptional country in origin, in conception, in its history, and in its present role in the world. But I see no reason it cannot be presented as an hypothesis to be discussed and considered by those who read our textbooks. It would stimulate learning, and thinking. How would that be bad? Of course, there will be those who will resent even the proposal of such an hypothesis because of its mere suggestion that American exceptionalism might be true. Well, let them resent away! As Aristotle said, it is the mark of an educated man that he can entertain a proposal without endorsing it.
qualia
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 May, 2010 06:49 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:
the view of American exceptionalism should be discussed in the schoolbooks.

Is this notion similar or comparable to that of das Herrenvolk?
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 May, 2010 06:51 pm
@qualia,
qualia;166675 wrote:
Is this notion similar or comparable to that of Herrenvolk?


Nothing to do with race so far as I know. America is the most racially diverse county in the world. (Another facet of American exceptionalism).
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 May, 2010 07:03 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;166662 wrote:
Apparently, the controversy is about whether the view of American exceptionalism should be discussed in the schoolbooks..


Perhaps you might care to elaborate on the basis for American exceptionalism. I also believe, in the context of evangelical conservatism, that there is a link between the notion of American exceptionalism and Christian triumphalism, expressed in the idea that America is based on 'true biblical values' which include commitment to free enterprise and so on. In other words, this outlook is based on the notion that America is 'fulfilling God's purpose for mankind'.

Quote:
Triumphalism is the attitude or belief that a particular doctrine, religion, culture, or social system is superior to and should triumph over all others. Triumphalism is not an articulated doctrine but rather a term that is used to characterize certain attitudes or belief systems by parties such as political commentators and historians.
(from wikipedia)
qualia
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 May, 2010 07:55 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:
Nothing to do with race so far as I know. America is the most racially diverse county in the world. (Another facet of American exceptionalism).

Cool. Could we then undersdtand the term American Exceptionalism as not referring to the American people as exceptional, outstanding, fine and superior?

If so, what exactly does the term refer to (wiki links won't be much help on this one)?
prothero
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 May, 2010 09:30 pm
@jeeprs,
[QUOTE=jeeprs;166617] There are tens of millions who work hard at all hours for a less than minimum wage, live in poverty and die in debt. Every year a greater proportion of the national wealth is concentrated in the hands of fewer people. [/QUOTE] But we have social security, we have Medicare, we have Medicaid, we have school breakfast and lunch programs, we have free education through high school. We have unemployment insurance and disability coverage. The cumulative progressive tax rate is already over 50% and government as a percentage of the economy (federal, state and local) is already about 40%. How much is too much or enough? America is 25% of the worlds GNP and one of the world's wealthiest countries. American education, technology, innovation are among the very best in the world.

Now I would agree in a country as wealthy as America, no one should starve, no one should go without access to warmth and dry shelter, no one should die for lack of access to basic medical care and for the most part no one does.

Can the government really do anything other than provide equal opportunity under the law? Can the government really make up for bad parents, lack of ambition, or negative cultural conditioning? Is equal opportunity really going to result in equal results? Are we ever equal in health, in physical abilities, in mental abilities, isn't the quest for equality and fairness actually a quest against reality and nature?

I would also agree that the growing inequality in wages and wealth in the country is a problem. The disparity is largely between the highly skilled and well educated and the poorly skilled and less educated. It is low skilled jobs that are mostly affected by the global economy. Those 40$ an hour jobs putting lug nuts on cars with lifetime retirement and medical benefits are going, going, gone. Those poor people in India and elsewhere are glad to do that job for 10$ an hour without benefits.

One can try to redistribute income and wealth through progressive taxation and government safety net, benefit programs but isn't there a legitimate difference of opinion about the wisdom, effectiveness, or extent of that?

Do you think you cannot tax innovation and incentive out of an economy? There is a reason so many of the world's inventions and new technologies come out of America and part of it has to do with concentration of wealth and rewards for innovation and industry.

There is a certain truth in the notion that the quest for "equality and fairness" is really government taking of property (wages and accumulated wealth) from some and giving it to others. The quest for "equality and fairness" is based on a myth about human nature and about reality in general.

Now having said all that, I actually think it would be a good idea if America did restructure its taxation and wage system so that there was a more equal distribution of wealth in the society. The pursuit of perfect "equality and fairness" however is the cloak of a very extensive, very intrusive and bordering on tyrannical government. It basically requires that every time someone does get ahead on the basis on innovation, energy and effort, that you take from that person and give to someone else who was perhaps less talented and less motivated.

I agree that the current disparities are excessive. Isn't there a discussion about what degree of disparity is appropriate and necessary to reward motivation, effort, industry and ability? What level of taxation stifles motivation and innovation? Does America have to become Scandinavia or Western Europe?


[QUOTE=jeeprs;166617] So for most people, the American Dream is something you only see in the movies. [/QUOTE]Gee Jeeprs, you would think if you visited America all you would see are the broken down poor, the homeless, and the starving. It is not that way at all. Yes, there are the poor but what country does not have poor people?

Millions trek across the deserts risking life and limb just to get into America. Anybody who wants to can leave. American remains a vision of hope for poor people from all over Mexico and Latin and South America and the rest of the world.

To my knowledge (and I live here) millions are not starving, tens of millions are not homeless and very few are trying to emigrate. Most people in America are actually doing pretty well by worldwide standards.
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 May, 2010 09:56 pm
@qualia,
Well you're right, of course, I spent a (regrettably brief) few weeks in the States last October, my son is sudying there and I daresay may end up residing there, and some of my best friends live there. Most of my favourite music (and of course films) are American. I would love to live in San Francisco, but I don't think the chance will arise. So I am in no way anti-American and feel a great affinity for America (particularly some aspects of its intellectual culture).

Nevertheless I still believe that there is something the matter with 'the American way'. Of course in a great and diverse country, there are a great and diverse range of people, so one generalises at one's peril. But in Australia, we don't have the same deep divisions between the conservatives and the liberals, and the same inequality between a large underclass of working poor and a rich elite who pull the strings. We have a minimum wage and universal healthcare. Maybe because of Australia's convict heritage, we seem a much less stratified society than the States, too. It's the tradition of the 'fair go'.

I have said before, I don't regard myself as leftist, or socialist, but I think many on the republican side of US politics would regard me as a socialist. This is because I think the whole American electorate - or very influential parts of it - have shifted right over the last two generations. There was a book published in 2005 called What's the Matter with Kansas (Thomas Frank) which says
Quote:
The largely blue collar citizens of Kansas can be counted upon to be a "red" state in any election, voting solidly Republican and possessing a deep animosity toward the left. This, according to author Thomas Frank, is a pretty self-defeating phenomenon, given that the policies of the Republican Party benefit the wealthy and powerful at the great expense of the average worker. According to Frank, the conservative establishment has tricked Kansans, playing up the emotional touchstones of conservatism and perpetuating a sense of a vast liberal empire out to crush traditional values while barely ever discussing the Republicans' actual economic policies and what they mean to the working class. Thus the pro-life Kansas factory worker who listens to Rush Limbaugh will repeatedly vote for the party that is less likely to protect his safety, less likely to protect his job, and less likely to benefit him economically. To much of America, Kansas is an abstract, "where Dorothy wants to return. Where Superman grew up." But Frank, a native Kansan, separates reality from myth in What's the Matter with Kansas and tells the state's socio-political history from its early days as a hotbed of leftist activism to a state so entrenched in conservatism that the only political division remaining is between the moderate and more-extreme right wings of the same party.
I wonder if the shift towards the kind of old-fashioned biblical fundamentalism, allied with belief in the 'American Way' is actually driven more than anything else by the fear of what the future holds. It is a fear I feel very deeply - I too am very apprehensive about what the future holds. But I think this attempt to retreat to an imaginary golden age is basically wishful thinking and the attempt to re-instate something that never actually existed. There must be some intelligent way to reconcile religion and science and social equity with the entreprenuerial spirit. But I don't think the Texas School Board is going to find it.
0 Replies
 
Jebediah
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 May, 2010 10:10 pm
@qualia,
Quote:
Thus the pro-life Kansas factory worker who listens to Rush Limbaugh will repeatedly vote for the party that is less likely to protect his safety, less likely to protect his job, and less likely to benefit him economically.
Not that I agree with the factory worker, but why is he criticized for voting based on an important moral issue rather than with his wallet?

*****

I wouldn't be surprised if there were some objectionable additions being made (to textbooks which aren't that great in the first place if I remember correctly). But I don't feel like taking the time to sift through that article trying to figure out exactly what they are:

Quote:
On the face of it some of the changes are innocuous but critics say that closer scrutiny reveals a not-so-hidden agenda. History students are now to be required to study documents, such as the Mayflower Compact, which instil the idea of America being founded as a Christian fundamentalist nation.
Students being forced to study the Mayflower compact? :eek:

Quote:
Tell you the truth, I think the thing that is really missing in American culture is a sense that we're all in it together. The pursuit of happiness and individual liberty, the way it is construed in American culture, is inherently self-seeking. Without a willingness to really listen to the other, even if I don't agree with him or her, and to try and find some common ground, how can there be any progress? Actually, coming to think of it, Obama said that, and he is being demonised by the right like no other President before him.

Sorry, rambling on here. But today, I don't feel hopeful about the future.


That has a long history though:

Quote:
Thomas Jefferson was attacked by ministers who accused him of being an "infidel" and an "unbeliever." A Federalist cartoon depicted him as a drunken anarchist, and the president of Yale warned that if Jefferson came to power, "we may see our wives and daughters the victims of legal prostitution." A Connecticut newspaper warned that his election would mean "murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest will openly be taught and practiced"



But I think we've made progress over the years despite the mud slinging during campaigns.
0 Replies
 
prothero
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 May, 2010 10:16 pm
@jeeprs,
[QUOTE=jeeprs;166683]Perhaps you might care to elaborate on the basis for American exceptionalism. I also believe, in the context of evangelical conservatism, that there is a link between the notion of American exceptionalism and Christian triumphalism, expressed in the idea that America is based on 'true biblical values' which include commitment to free enterprise and so on. In other words, this outlook is based on the notion that America is 'fulfilling God's purpose for mankind'.(from wikipedia)[/QUOTE]
Well of course America was the "New World" in not just a metaphorical sense. Millions immigrated to America from Europe seeking opportunity, land and of course religious freedom as well. It was an immensely attractive alternative for many of the dispossessed and the downtrodden. There was the religious notion of "A New Jerusalem", the shining city on the hill, the kingdom on earth, a beacon to world, yes all these notions have a history in the American psyche.

I think the larger and more extensive basis though was one about liberty, freedom individualism, self reliance and representative government. American was one of the first representative governments in the modern age. American enshrined "unalienable rights" the beginnings of the notions of equality under the law, of human rights and human dignity into its bill of rights and its constitution. The first country to actually take Locke's theory of government (consent of the governed and put it into practice. These are ideas which have spread around the world over the last two centuries.



America is for better or for worse the world's only current superpower. We control the oceans, we control the air, we control space, we can project power in a manner unmatched. American is still young and has not yet learned the limits of its superpower status but that power and the ensuing responsibility is likely to remain Americas for some time to come.
Without American intervention in both WWI and WWII who knows what the face of the world would look like. Without American opposition to totalitarian socialism who knows?

I think there is a lot of basis for notions of American exceptionalism. America is a deeply religious country, but a religiously diverse and a culturally diverse country as well. More people of different religions and different races live relatively peacefully and prosperously in America than in most other countries.

I understand that smaller less powerful countries are both jealous and afraid of America. I understand that America is seen as arrogant, lumbering, immature and dangerous ally. The history and example of America though is one of which I think Americans are justifiably proud and the use of American power and example in the world has been on the whole positive.
xris
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 May, 2010 09:52 am
@prothero,
From the idea that certain inhabitants were classified as sub standard and not to be included in the new Jerusalem, has had a long lasting and devastating effect on the structure of America and its politics. It was born and grew with prejudice at its heart and this so called land of opportunity was an exclusive club only for those who met a certain criteria , it is no wonder that those excluded are those who are now so historically linked to poverty and low achievement. You cant tar a shed and then wonder why it don't smell of honey. The decision Lincoln made to exclude yellow red and blacks from the westward advance, is your answer to why you appear to have this great divide in your communities. Opportunity was denied for too long, for you not to see its results in modern America. Are these embarrassing facts taught when honour is placed at your founders memory?
0 Replies
 
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 May, 2010 10:08 am
@qualia,
qualia;166708 wrote:
Cool. Could we then undersdtand the term American Exceptionalism as not referring to the American people as exceptional, outstanding, fine and superior?



No, Why would that follow from my denial that we are talking about a master race? We are certainly an exceptional people, but the cause of that is not racial.
0 Replies
 
 

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