Tag Archives: politics

Choosing a tribe

Choosing a tribe

I am exhausted from being torn between the polarities of the social strife in America. Everyday there are the racial battles. There are Blacks who resent Whites and want “reparations” and there are Whites who resent being resented and want Blacks to take responsibility for their poor choices. But I don’t want to take sides. Tribalism is almost as old as humanity, and racism is just another form of tribalism. Isn’t there another tribe I can join?

There are capitalists who see no problem with poverty in conflict with the socialists who want to bring them down. What a mess, is there no moderate voice here?

There are anti-immigration patriotic loyalists who feel that immigrants are not really pro-American in conflict with immigrants who are not so different from the parents of the anti-immigrant group. But the battle rages and I am caught as a moderate, trying to consider both sides.

The political insanity of this year’s presidential race could make a grown man cry. Sometimes it is embarrassing to be an American. I want to form a new political party; the Political Peace Party, or the Party of Moderates, or Party of Poets Crying in the Night!

There are religious tribes. Our constitution that separates church and state should be a safe guard against government intruding into religion, and religion placing itself over government. Yes, religions do have a right to influence government, but not to rule over government. Many religions specialize in social issues and engage in a power struggle for control of society. It is always about power. And it is very dark. Is there a way out?

I do have deep concerns for our society and all of the issues above, but striving in these conflicts seems to be insane, and I will not align with any of the tribes. If the Kingdom of Jesus is truly as he claims, a spiritual kingdom not of this world, then maybe that has been in front of me all along, and I need to fall back into it. Pilate asked Jesus if he was a king, Jesus replied, “If my kingdom were of this world, then my servants would fight. My kingdom is not of this world” This seems to be the only place I will find peace.

 

 

 

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Immigration: Race and Religion

A major social problem facing America today is immigration. Our society is being torn apart through suspicion, political ranting, violent terrorism, vandalism, and deep fears. I am deeply concerned for the future of the USA in this area. Immigration is not the real problem; it is the social conflicts that arise from multiple ethnic groups inhabiting the same geographical space. If Americans do not find resources to blend in peace, then our current social problems will escalate to social wars and violence.

MigrantAB

            There is a civil war in Syria that has caused the mass exodus of thousands of refugees. Many of these refugees are Muslim and many Americans are fearful of their ability to adapt to American culture, values, and norms. American citizens can see the turmoil in many Muslim countries and do not want that violent unrest imported. The thought of people bombing schools because they are against education is fearful. There is an irony here because it is for humanitarian principles that American immigration policy is welcoming refugees from war torn Islamic countries, and it is possible that in future generations, violence will be our reward.

Islam as a religious institution has aggression and conflict imbedded in its values. I am speaking of an institution not of individual people who must be given the right to be judged on the merits of their own character. Islam has aggression written within its creed, “And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere” (Surah 8:39) and “If you gain mastery over them in war…” (Surah 8:57) and “Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of Allah” (Surah 8:60, Quran).  Islam has 14 centuries of aggression towards outsiders. Its founder led the first violent incursion against Mecca; as the leader is, so follow the people.

American immigration policy has historically served the security of the homeland. Immigration regulation is not expected to allow entrance by individuals with an explicit agenda to harm citizens or promote violence uprising against the government. Currently the USCIS has a rigorous screening policy for Syrian refugees. This is not a racist policy, it is proper concern.

In the beginning of Islam, when Muhamad was delivering his message, the country was a social mess with idolatry, drunkenness, and many other social problems. Islam was able to that stabilize society and so it has always been a religion of social reform. It does not pretend to separate government and religion the way we attempt to do here. Even in America we are in constant tension over this issue. We should be aware that as Muslims gain local majority they will have to choose how to adapt to their new land. Many Muslims choose to see their ancient text with a moderate view and many realize that extremism invalidates their religious credibility.

We are a pluralist society and a nation of immigrants. In the past assimilation was expected but now we value cultural diversity. Our society must choose the minimal level of integration or adaption necessary to live within the borders, and those choosing to live here should acknowledge these norms. Many Muslims do have a history of integration into American society while retaining their ethnic heritage. There are also examples of Muslims pushing Sharia as soon as they gain majority strength.  Considering what Whites immigrants did to Native Americans we should not be naïve about future possibilities. Muslim immigrants are coming to America by their own choice. I hope they are choosing to accept the values of a pluralistic society.

US Aggression

We should also be aware that US foreign policies contribute to terrorism. Our ethnocentric view of the world has led to policies of democratic expansion/imperialism, which will always lead to resistance from the oppressed. President George Washington warned America to not get involved in the conflicts of other countries. Since then we have moved towards policies of intrusion into other governments, especially since World War 2. There is no justifiable excuse to invade countries to replace their rulers; even when their rulers are tyrants. Iraq, Libya, and Syria are examples of our tragic errors. Muslim governments understand dictators because Islam is based upon authoritarian rule. That is their problem and not for Americans to solve! Other cultures may not separate church and state the way we do. Muslims may view our policies as a religious assault. What we see as defending democratic values they may view as a religious war. American leaders have been sadly ignorant of cultural issues. I propose a constitutional amendment to define foreign policy, restraining the American urge to intrude into other governments. As a democracy we need to urge our leaders in this choice.

Race and Majority Power

I have deliberately chosen to use the word “majority” rather than “Whites.” Whites happen to be the current majority in America, but the principles I am discussing apply to other countries and eras where Whites are not the majority. To use the term “Whites” is racist. It makes a certain race guilty of crimes that are committed by most any group in the majority position. Dealing with the issue of majority power and control is my goal, not debasing any ethnic group. Power is the critical issue; power to control a society and its norms, structures, and laws, is the essence of this social problem.

Immigrants claim that objections to immigration are racially based, but the objectors to immigration claim to simply want to protect their lifestyles and values. Many Americans expect assimilation by immigrants into the American “melting pot” as was the norm in past generations. But the modern paradigm in our pluralistic society is the American “salad bowl” where immigrants retain their former cultural identity and may not even learn the majority language. American culture has been largely shaped by values of the majority white Anglo ethnic group so it is understandable that the majority could fear the loss of their way of life as they are displaced by new ethnicities.

Cultural norms are not evil, they can become oppressive, but in general they are valuable to help us live together. In my sociology text I read, “In any culture, there exists a set of ideas about what is right, just, and good, as well as what is wrong and unjust. Norms are the common rules of a culture that govern the behavior of people belonging to it” (Chambliss & Eglitis 2014 p. 55). The sociologist Emile Durkheim foresaw the turmoil of a society where norms were disrupted through many groups moving into the industrial cities; industrialization and urbanization, and called this a state of “anomie” or normlessness (Chambliss & Eglitis 2014). America is the classic example of this state and the resulting social tension. Many of America’s ethnic majority are simply dreading the loss of social cohesion that comes from shared norms and values. If we are honest, we know that any society on earth would feel the same.

Racial Peace

Racism is elevating our own ethnic race above others and using race as justification for oppression. Anytime we choose elevate our group above others or use privilege to oppress others we engage the conflict attitude, which will destroy America. For multiple ethnicities to dwell together on the same piece of land we must make hard choices. We want everyone to have the right to be proud of their heritage! We want to rejoice in the colorful diversity all around us; this is the future of America! It is our choice.

Copyright; Mark Anderson 2016

 

 

 

References:

Ali, A. Y., & K̲h̲ān̲, V. (2011). The Quran. New Delhi: Goodword Books.

Chambliss, W. J., & Eglitis, D. S. (2014). Discover sociology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Leon-Guerrero, A. (2014). Social problems: Community, policy, and social action (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Marx, K. (1888). The communist manifesto (F. Engels, Ed.; A. Lutins, Trans.) [Release date 1993 Etext #61]. Retrieved April 27, 2014, from http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/23905

New international version. (2005). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

U.S.A., Department of Homeland Security, USCIS History office and library. (2012). Overview of INS History. Retrieved February 24, 2016, from https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/History%20and%20Genealogy/Our%20History/INS%20History/INSHistory.pdf

 

 


Terms that Burn; white privilege

Since returning to College it has been good for me to be challenged to think deeper about social issues. It was in my first class that I encountered the term “white privilege.” There were several terms tossed around that students could not really define, we could only discuss the symptoms. My philosophical nature compels me to analyze issues to find the core problems and establish a working premise that will be a consistent guide. For the issue of racism and privilege I first start with the premise that each race or ethnic heritage has a right to its own place of respect; that each person should be allowed to rejoice in and affirm their own race or ethnic group. So if each group is allowed a healthy sense of identity, then what is racism? Racism is when we distort that healthy sense of identity and exalt our group above another group, in a way that leads to oppression of any kind. And privilege is defined as any group holding a place of “advantage or special benefit” (Oxford).

I would like to propose alternatives to the term “white privilege.” The problem with this term is that it is inherently a racist term, criminalizing a race of people rather than addressing behaviors and policies, which are the root issues of our social problems. I propose use of the terms “majority privilege,” “elitist privilege,” “power privilege,” “financial privilege,” and “race privilege” which are more accurate in dealing with the true problems and remove any one race from being the primary perpetrator of injustice.

I am not raising this issue as a means to deny, ignore, or obscure the privilege that white people in America have held and continue desperately grasping. It would be devastating to our social progress, and deceitful to deny the association of race and privilege. But when the source of privilege is addressed rather than blaming a group then we will truly be working towards a society based upon justice for all.

Majority privilege is an asset enjoyed by a group that gives them a larger voice and establishes their cultural values over other groups. In many of our social science classes we have discussed Peggy McIntosh’s essay “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” Most of the privileges listed in it can really be attributed to majority privilege. For example privilege #1 “I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time” (McIntosh). Globally this is true of anyone living a community where they are part of the majority. In China who holds majority privilege? In Japan who holds majority privilege? It is not whites. This is not denying that white people have partaken of and relished in their majority privilege. However, acknowledgment that there is a degree of privilege that all majorities receive is a key to analyzing our social injustices.

Related to majority privilege, is our democratic value; majority rule. The writers of our US Constitution were apprehensive about majority rule referring to it as “mob rule” and cautioned against the potential of the majority trampling the rights of the minority. If majority rule really is a cause of injustice for minorities then we need to amend our laws. If democracy is really an illusion, then get rid of it.

Elitist Privilege is often gained through education. Colleges advertise that privilege can be gained through education and is a valid motivation for enrollment. At times white people in America have dominated this area and so have held privilege. But it is not really an issue of race; it is a systemic problem. For example, two highly educated professors may both experience privilege; one is white the other a person of color. If we say that one holds white privilege and the other has earned status through the hard work of education, is this justice? If there is something wrong in our society with granting privilege to the educated, then let’s fix the real problem.

Power Privilege may be seized through violence or military force. Whites have obviously committed this aggression. They violently seized lands from the original inhabitants of this continent and they violently bought and sold people. The principle of privilege by power is as old as mankind. That does not justify it. But it also should be noted that people of every color have committed this aggression. What color was Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, or Chairman Mao? By using a term such as “power privilege” rather than “white privilege” we objectively look at the issue of power and violence. By re-framing the conversation around actions rather than a particular race we will focus on the problem of power, violence and privilege.

Financial Privilege has allowed whites to hold inordinate amounts of privilege. Financial privilege is claimed in various parts of the world by people of various colors. Maybe Marx was right, our capitalist system is at fault. We cannot assault whites with racist terms for doing only what other groups are trying to do. This is only envy, not justice.

Every person in America, regardless of color, holds great financial privilege over the workers in other countries who manufacture our goods. But why is this called “white privilege?” We all want to retain this privilege! Can’t we all share the guilt? In reality this has become American privilege. The challenge for us is to see beyond our borders and realize that as a country our privilege may be an issue of injustice on a global level.

Race Privilege: When any race of people is able to use a combination of these sources to gain control over others then this should be acknowledged as race privilege. At the core of race privilege is racism, or tribalism; one group against another. By using the term “race privilege” we are able to identify behavior, which ever race is committing the injustice.

When one tribe of people is able to align several of the sources of power in their favor they become similar to a dirty card dealer, one that you can never win against. Imagine a poker game in which you and the dealer are both dealt hands that at first seem fair. You naively believe that you could play by the rules and win. You begin to be suspicious when his opening hand has three aces. You try harder and double your bet. But after the draw the dealer gets four aces and a wild card-the race card. This is why race privilege is resented so deeply, and is an obvious source of injustice.

Why be upset about a term? Clearly terminology is important in our society. Derogatory racial words that were acceptable in previous generations have now been banned, which has effectively sent a message to the public that racism is not acceptable. Proper terminology should:

Not stereotype groups but address behavior

Not deprive people of their constitutional right to innocence

Seek justice for all

Continued use of the racist term “white privilege” is an insult to our entire society because it reveals that our quest for justice is not impartial and not justice for all. A failure to recognize the demeaning nature of this term reveals our double standards and shows that racism against whites is acceptable in America. To truly seek justice for all, we cannot use racism to fight racism. We cannot forbid racist terminology for most groups and then use and even promote racist terminology for others. And most of all, it alienates whites from the conversation, to which they so desperately need to be involved in. In the cases that this term may be used in our textbooks or in public discourse, I ask that this racist term be removed and replaced with terminology that will truly help to address our social problems.

 

Works Cited

 McIntosh, Peggy. White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. Wellesley, MA: Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, 1988. Paper 189. Web. 11 Apr. 2014.

Urdang, Laurence. The Oxford Desk Dictionary. New York: Oxford UP, 1995. Print.

 

Copyright; Mark Anderson 2014


Any Revolution Will Do

America seems eager to support almost any revolution under the naive assumption that democracy that will flourish anywhere, regardless of the cultural foundations, and assuming the the goal of democratic imperialism is is good for the whole world.

rev40001

 


un armed peasants

A brief historical reference to issues of gun control

Source: “Worlds Together, Worlds Apart” 3rd Ed. Vol 1, 2012 WW Norton n Co. Inc

Page 389, 1000-1300ce     “The collapse of Charlemagne’s empire had exposed much of northern Europe to invasion, principally from the Vikings, and left the peasantry with no central authority to protect them from local warlords. Armed with deadly weapons these strongmen collected taxes, imposed forced labor, and became the unchallenged rulers of society…The most important change was the peasant’s subjugation to the knightly class. Previously, well to do peasants had carried arms as freemen. The moment the farmers lost the right to carry arms, they were no longer free. They slipped back to being mere agricultural laborers. Each peasant toiled under the authority of a lord, who controlled every detail of his or her life. This was the basis of a system known as feudalism”.

Page 430; Peasant revolts in 14th century Europe

“Since the Roman era, peasant uprisings had occasionally erupted. But now they escalated into large scale insurrections. In France and England, massive revolts signaled the peasants’ resentment against lords who failed to protect them from marauding military bands, as well as their exasperation with feudal restrictions that now seemed too much to bear (recent survivors of the plague and famine). In 1358 the French revolt, or Jacquerie, broke out. Armed with only knives and staves, the peasantry went on a rampage, killing hated nobles and clergy, and burning and looting”. This revolt was brutally suppressed by the armed nobles’ military. In England in 1381 the English Peasants Revolt began as a protest. When peasants gathered at the gates of London demanding abolition of the feudal order they were brutally suppressed by the king.

The framers of the US Constitution had just finished a revolution against a well-armed British military and were not naïve about human nature and oppression. In our modern liberal thinking we seem to be very optimistic about the power of psychology to miraculously heal the ills of society. I think that kind of naivety will leave us very vulnerable to oppression. I would be the last to propose violence as a first resort. However, in my old age I have come to acknowledge that self defense is necessary when dealing with the evils of aggression and oppression. For a recent example, try to imagine any of the Arab Spring uprisings, if the government had been able to first disarm the citizens.


the icecream debates

With all the raging issues of the world and within America; at a moment of crises, Americans should be thinking about real sacrifice rather than who is going to make life nice and easy with the most benefits. But, as usual to get elected one must make promises;


Sex ed; the extremes

I am totally for education within our schools on sexual biology, disease prevention, birth control, all the issues related to sexual biology. However, I think our society should have a huge concern over entertainment media that promotes sexual irresponsibility, reckless sexual activity, or sexual activity of any kind during the teen years. This is the kind of sex education that is harming our society. The vetoed, Utah House Bill 363 that proposed that sex education in the public school system be abstinence only, prohibiting education about contraceptives and disease control, pits conservatives against liberals in a way that is all or nothing and making the moderates of society without any voice of reason. I do not believe that if I support education then I also support sexual insanity or the sexual permissiveness that permeates our society in epidemic proportions.

Our society should recognize sexuality as a very powerful force that can bless people or destroy people. To allow or encourage children to play with sex is similar to allowing them to play with matches. It is not the place of our schools to teach the morals of abstinence. But neither is it the place of our schools to endorse the immorality of those who think that people should not take responsibility for actions or think of sex as a recreational sport.

In our culture this discussion gets tainted by religion but please consider that there are many ancient cultures around the world that do not have our religious baggage, but are very conservative. I went to a movie with friends from China and Korea that contained vulgar humor with frontal nudity and they were shocked. They said that it would have been censored in their countries. This is way more than a religious issue; this is an issue of guiding our society to provide a healthy environment for people to thrive.

The polarized debate between the conservative and liberal camps paints with broad strokes those who favor sex education as those who favor permissive irresponsible lifestyle. This is a gross injustice to those who are liberals in many ways yet do have deep concerns over cultural trends that encourage irresponsible sexual behavior. I am considered liberal in many ways. But the sexual problems that are plaguing our youth bring out a very protective conservative side in me. The extreme polarized gap between these two sides reveals a deep problem within our culture.

Some will get defensive and respond by saying that I should teach my own children my own values but don’t push that on society. The irony is that is what both sides are saying; they want their values validated in the public schools. And both sides see their values as being what is best for society.

Some will say that if the offensive immorality presented through entertainment is a concern, then do not let my children partake. It is not my children I am worried about. It is your teenage boy who my daughter will meet at school that I am worried about. We are a society and this is a social problem. If entertainers had to take responsibility for the results of their product, like the rest of the business world, then we could have the Hollywood rich people pay for some of the teen pregnancies. Hey, they’re getting rich off of seducing all of us! The answer is not government censorship, but self-censorship; simply taking responsibility.

The cultural battles currently raging within our society are very extreme, ranging from religious laws like abstinence only or even Muslim Sharia law to the issues of sexual orientation, abortion, distribution of condoms and contraceptives to children. The battleground for this conflict should not be children, like divorced parents disregarding the welfare of the children to settle a grudge! The sex education provided to our children should be without the strings of moral agendas, conservative or liberal.