Today's Words from Robert Reich

Reply Sun 30 Jun, 2013 09:23 am
Why is it that most progressives live in cities and on the coasts where there are major ports, while most regressives live in rural areas far removed from the nation's major ports and cities? The same pattern holds in other nations and regions of the world. Historically, fascist movements have begun inland; liberal movements, around major seaports and cities. It's probably because major ports and cities are far more exposed to the rest of the world, and to a diverse range of people and a broad range of ideas, while rural inland areas are more homogeneous and insular. America's regressives -- trying to stop abortions, prevent gay marriages, keep their guns, hold back immigration, militarize the border, limit voting rights, prevent the teaching of evolution, deny climate change, tear down the wall between church and state, and cut safety nets -- reflect the values and views of those who are cut off from the realities of the 21st century. Our problem is they have disproportionate political power, and are determined to hold onto it as long as they can.
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Reply Sun 30 Jun, 2013 09:24 am
Reading Robert Reich's summary of the values espoused by the Red States brings to mind the 19th C. However, there is much that has changed about these areas. They are no longer connected to the rest of the country by stagecoach and rail. They have had telephones and electricity for more than half a century. Many people have home computers. The family farm has been, regrettably, replaced by the corporate farm. Even governors as regressive as rick perry have college degrees.

So it is not physical isolation or a general lack of access to higher education that makes these states what they are.

I just looked at a redstate-bluestate map and I find the preponderance of red horrifying.

However, with the advent of the internet age came what I see as an effort to change definitions (defining fascism as a left rather than right wing philosophy) and to shift the blame for previous legislation issued by the right to the left (or to accuse the left of racial discrimination) and to limit real freedom by promoting faux freedoms (to my mind, limiting the ability to be safe in one's own home or on the streets in favor of open carry laws).

Recently, someone posted what is allegedly rich perry's college transcript. Frankly, while it was more respectable than I thought it might be and while we do not know if that was really his transcript, in no way does perry write his own speeches. Nor does sarah palin or any one of the republican all stars. Furthermore, most of the members of the tea party would not, I suspect, read well enough to know what the Constitution actually says.

I would like people to consider something. Bruce Catton, the respected historian, wrote a lovely essay comparing and contrasting the Civil War Generals Lee and Grant. Catton describes Lee as a man of the past, representing the old Medieval era of chivalry and silk banners, and Grant as a man of the future, a man from the working/artisan class who pulled himself up by his own bootstraps.

I use that essay to teach the idea of compare and contrast which is difficult for my students to understand. I wonder if I should. The reason is that I believe in part that the red states still embrace the notion of the past when men were sweaty, women fainted and racial intolerance was de facto. While Catton's clear prose makes obvious what comparison is, do the very eloquent words he uses to describe Lee make the South seem romantic, even necessary?

By the same token, do his words make Grant seem a tad repellant?

As to the changing of definitions, the shifting of blame and the limiting of real freedoms, who do we blame? The usual suspects, aka the Koch Brothers? The fact that most legislators have the opinion their constituents are less conservative than the legislators assume they are? The right-wing press? The general degradation of education fostered by NCLB and the mania for costly, pointless and redundant testing? All of the above?
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