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Thucydides, book 1

July 29, 2010 Leave a comment

“The absence of romance in my history will, I fear, detract somewhat from its interest; but if it be judged useful by those inquirers who desire an exact knowledge of the past as an aid to the interpretation of the future, which in the course of human things must resemble if it does not reflect it, I shall be content. In fine, I have written my work, not as an essay which is to be applauded of the moment, but as a possession for all time.” –Thucydides, 1.22, The History of the Pelopennesian War

I’m currently reading Thucydide’s mammoth book on the Peloponnesian War. What strikes me about the book so far is that it appears to be timeless in it’s story as the conflict between the Athenians and the Spartans is at the same time abstract and particular. I mean it’s particular to the two cities and their allies (or subjects) but the reasons for war, and the speeches given in both support and against are almost the exact same that have come out of the mouths of leaders and politicians from the contemporary era.

Because, I’m cheap I bought the Barnes and Noble version which compiles a great deal of commentary and some small quips regarding the work, this is obviously done so that they can justify charging for a copy of the book that is so readily available for free on the internet. One of the commenters (I forget his name) mentioned that he was assigned the book in grad school during the late 70s and was instructed to read the book as a metaphor for the Cold War. Athens, of course, was the United States while the USSR was to be the Spartans.

While I did grow up during the end of the Cold War, it’s not as fresh in my memory as more recent debates. Nor was I as conscious of the danger posed by the possibility of the Cold War going active. When it’s 1985 and you are six years old, the idea of nuclear war doesn’t really register. Especially when your parents have not given you reasons to be afraid of the Russians (which sounds like a stab at them, but it’s really not, the Russians more than likely didn’t want nuclear war anymore than we did…well maybe under Stalin and Kruschev they did, but since then?). I can’t read the book with the framework of the Cold War in mind, at least not without having to read a whole slew of books about the Cold War in order to attain the mindset necessary.

It’s also hard to maintain Thucydides in light of the current wars in the middle East. Whilet can be argued whether or not we are Athens or Sparta neither of the two cities really fit in with the enemy over there. While there were some minor engagements with rogue operations at the beginning of the Greek wars, they were the exceptions rather than the rule. Everyone knew who the enemy was and why they were fighting, whereas nowadays I’m really hard pressed to understand what it is that Al-Qaeda wants.

What did strike me, if I really needed to read the book as a metaphor was to do so in regards to an ideological difference between liberals and conservatives if you frame Athens as the left and Sparta as the right. Of course, I will probably end up offending some of my right winger friends with that statement so I am going to offer up some proof from book 1 (the whole thesis may change as I keep reading but as far as book 1 is considered I believe that holds up). 

The Spartans are described as being traditional, customary, and exclusive with regard to foreigners. Also, “we are both warlike and wise, and it is our sense of order that makes us so. We are warlike, because self-control contains honor as a chief constituent, and honor bravery. And we are wise, because we are educated with too little learning to despise the laws, and with too severe a self-control to disobey them, and are brought up not to be too knowing in useless manners,”–King Archidamus of Sparta, 1.84

The Spartans are only educated enough for what they need to get by in life. Basically this means war, and what the laws are. They also seek to exclude foreigners from participating in city politics to the point where the Spartan allies are not even allowed to witness the voting procedure on a measure that the same allies brought forward.

The Athenians on the other hand are constantly shifting their customs, find the innovation is a virtue, and pride themselves on their knowledge of the “useless manners” that the Spartan king despises so. “There, far from exercising a jealous surveillance over each other, we do not feel called upon to be angry with our neighbor for doing what he likes, or even to indulge in those injurious looks which cannot fail to be offensive although they inflict no positive injury.” Pericles of Athens, 2.37.

Athens is represented as the more liberal state, while Sparta is definitely locked into its customs. The Athenian drive for innovation and change is recognized as one of its strengths as they have embraced the newer technology of Naval Warfare which won the Median War (aka the Persian War). Metaphorically the story of this conflict seems to be about the progress vs. custom, new v old, the democrat v the monarchy, the empire v the conservative. The war begins with the Spartans and their allies broke, and unable to compete with the navy of Athens. Then in book 2 the war begins….

Timing is Everything

July 28, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s difficult sometimes to not believe in fate, but Yogi Berra once observed that if there gets to be too many coincidences you can no longer call it a coincidence. Then again maybe luck, our oldest deity, really does govern all things. So here’s what happened in order of occurrence.

Having no luck with email, or telephone I decided that the best bet for myself would be to proceed to UB in person to see what, if anything, I can do to get myself ready for the coming semester. Since I’ve been through this several times already with various schools I know that by getting some things out of the way in the summer means less lines therefore less waiting on Orientation day where the beleaguered workers are dealing with thousands of people. I would rather have a problem with no people in line than have even a small one with that many. Anyone who speaks differently has never dealt with an office of the New York DMV.

So I proceed to the school, getting the first glimpse of the university in about ten years. There was then the obvious difficulty of parking, because I don’t know what is technically legal parking and what isn’t during the off season. I found a paid lot, which I figured was the best option since I did not expect to be there that long.

I easily found the office, which was unusual. Of course no one was around, it is summer so that was to be expected but I did find someone to show me where the two department secretaries were hiding. I shouldn’t say “hiding” as that admits a conscious effort, but their offices are scattered. The department itself has three, one Graduate secretary, who has since retired. Her office was the one that was empty. The other two, were very helpful when it came to showing me around and introducing myself to people. Then we got into business.

First off I wondered if there were any departmental paperwork issues that I could resolve now. They decided to check and we discovered something: I was not in the system, I had no paperwork save my application form, along with that–none of the other incoming graduate students were in the system either! This was bad, and while I had been emailing the previous secretary she had assured me that I was to receive something from the department regarding orientation which I never did. The complete lack of any hard materials was disconcerting, another motive in my stopping by the school itself.

Because of this problem I was asked to sit down and wait a bit while the attempt to resolve the issue was made. If that had not been the case I would not have had the opportunity to accidentally run into my adviser. Which was fortuitous as I need some classes. While the secretaries were obviously overwhelmed by the lack of preparation the department had for the new students, they were thankful that they were at least made aware of the situation with a month to go. Something that had I not stopped in they would still be ignorant of.

Which of course never would have happened had my advisor not been out of town for the last month, prompting me to make the stop to begin with. Which then allowed me to make an appointment with him for Thursday because the secretaries needed me to hang around if only to see whether they could get my information in the system. Of course all of that would never have happened if I had been a half hour late (catching the secretaries on their lunch break) or a half hour early (they were in a meeting). The timing was just too perfect. 

The Leak

July 27, 2010 Leave a comment

This is a pretty big deal, but not for the reasons that most people think. By now, you probably now about the massive leak of papers (about 90k pages) regarding the war in Afghanistan that occurred yesterday, but that everyone knew was coming for a couple of weeks. I guess they knew, someone knew…it doesn’t matter they are out there now. I spent two hours yesterday flicking through them trying to find out the big deal about the papers.

I should state firmly right now, that this isn’t the Pentagon Papers that the New York Times released during the Vietnam War. These papers aren’t nearly on the scale of what those revealed, nor is it evidence of a broad range indictment that the President (or the former, I forget who exactly is against this war now) screwed up this conflict.

The release of the papers feels more like someone broke into my apartment and rearranged my furniture. It was done, it’s odd, it’s unsettling, but there isn’t any harm. You have to understand that all of these documents are past tense. They represent secret field reports after incident. Nothing can be gleaned from them by the average person that will say what will happen. Let me say this unequivocally, if the Taliban were anything but below average they wouldn’t be in the fucking Taliban. It’s time we start ridiculing these people.

I’ve read reports on the following: suspected IED device verification, retraction of a request for air support, drone launching, report of an assassination by Taliban forces of some Afghani politician, a successful convoy run, a localized firefight that was “green on blue.” (which I figured out means friendly fire between one of our NATO allies and us, this is all based on the idea that Blue=US, Green=Foreign Allies, and White=civilians or Afghanis the papers don’t provide a vocabulary list). The Pentagon and numerous others have stated that this is nothing new. They are the official reports of what has been already reported.

All of that having been stated there is a danger that Sen. Fred Thompson and former director of the CIA (Hays, or something he was being interviewed on Thomspon’s radio show) were discussing. The fact that this leak represents a lack of the government’s ability to keep something labeled “secret” secret. That’s quite disturbing in itself. Intelligence leaks are unfortunately nothing new, but the size and scope of this makes it much more. Of course if this was 20 years ago we would have to wonder how it was done, but now all of that fits nice and easy into the amount of space allocated to the RAM on my cellphone. Don’t you just love the technology age?

Categories: current events, politics

Intermission (The Twilight Walkthrough Pg. 1-266)

July 26, 2010 Leave a comment

With a good chunk of the book behind us, and that I’m actually starting to get followers at the blogspot site I thought it would be a good time to do an overview of what we’ve covered so far. Any new readers that have just stumbled here or have only been paying attention for a couple of weeks this would be a good post to read.

So far this journey through a book that is adored by many, scorned also by many, but due to its prevalence in pop-culture cannot be ignored has been interesting only in that it has forced me to tear it apart. Even though that was not the original goal of the blog. The point of the whole matter was to give it a chance.

The whole thing started as I was watching and reading some of the coverage from the San Diego comic con about a year ago. What I saw were a couple of people carrying signs like this:

I thought these signs were odd. Did Twilight ruin comic con? No, for that to be the case Comic Con would have to have been not ruined prior to 2009 which it clearly was when studios decided that every summer movie remotely related to the interests that comic book fans have needed a giant press junket and panel discussions. Isn’t a comic book convention supposed to be about comic books? What exactly does James Cameron or Tim Burton (when the latter isn’t talking about his Batman movies) have to do with comics? The fact that large studios have encroached into the Comic Con was inevitable and Twilight is only a particular example of it. One might want to believe that director’s like Uwe Boll have had more to do with ruining the comic scene than Twilight. Of course I feel that it’s not even bad comic movies that have done it, it’s the rise of niche marketing appealing to fanboys that will sell out an opening weekend no matter how shitty a movie will actually be. It’s all marketing, how much comic news is actually coming out of San Diego this year?

Then I had some friends of mine, some former students, and former co-workers all talking about the book series. Most of them were talking about it in the negative. That piqued my curiosity. The real nail in the coffin was when I found out that all of this is the responsibility of a first time novelist, an amateur that cranked out the book after having a dream about it (at least according to her, and we have no good reason to doubt her).

After dealing with a insipid and completely incorrect book that tried to catalog the worst books ever written, which actually turned out to be the incoherent rantings of a religious fundamentalist neo-conservative, I thought the walkthrough treatment would be suited for something that was honestly calling itself fiction. So I began.

The method for me has not changed, despite the repeated admonitions of people who swear that once I started the book I wouldn’t be able to put it down. Nothing could be further from the truth, that’s not to say that there have been no times when I really wanted to read ahead but it didn’t grab me like people told me it would. Here’s how I make the posts which appear every Monday.

I take the book, a pen, and a small pocket notebook (which actually is the size of a Motorola Android) to begin reading. I read one entire chapter and put the book down mulling over the various events. Then I let a day or two pass. On that day I start over taking notes, this time with a theme in mind for the post or lacking that I just jot down whatever I find interesting. Things of interest usually include either really bad/good writing (it does happen), ridiculous statements, proof of ridiculous characters, or more evidence to some of the long running questions that exist in the book. My average is between five to fifteen pages in the book which amounts to two pages in my notebook (remember it’s a small notebook). On Monday I re-read last week’s post and then I sit down to write the entry this process usually takes between 1-3 hours. Almost everything that you might read in this series is an edited first draft…so I guess that makes it a second draft really. I re-read that, then hit the publish button (I use scribefire for firefox) and the whole thing begins again. I was asked by a friend of mine if I was going to do the movies as well, I figure that once I’m done with the book I’ll do the movie and then move on to the next book.

That’s the process. So far, we’ve learned a couple of things:

1) That author Stephanie Meyer, isn’t as bad a writer as people think. Those people have never graded college essays, I’m just sayin’. Her talent lies in description and setting a tone. In this she’s quite capable, the problem is that sometimes it’s really obvious that this is her first novel but that’s really her editor’s fault.

2) Her biggest flaw is in creating likable characters. The main protagonists of the story are abhorrent. Bella, who is supposed to come off as a shy, intelligent, introvert instead comes off as a pretentious elitist. While Edward who is supposed to be a dapper Vampire gentleman sounds more like a sociopathic abusive boyfriend. Neither of these two characters seem to be able or willing to engage in actual relationships with the world. Bella, especially, as she treats almost everyone of the people that she meets as tool to further her own goals.

3) The book raises some questions that are persistent which normally is a good thing, but not here. The question of why the vampires interact in society is a good one. They claim to try and blend in, but with their stunning good looks, designer clothes, and sports cars one might question if they know the definition of the word “subtle.” Secondly, Bella’s clumsiness is a mystery because it seems to come and go. She constantly reminds us, and other characters of how bad it is, but we’ve never seen it. Even when she was running from her assailants she didn’t fall, it’s chekov’s gun and someone better pull the trigger on it.

4) Finally, aside from the general relationship plot we don’t have a story. It’s just two people we don’t like hooking up. There’s nothing going on aside from that, but we do know that something is coming since the prologue established that. Now it seems as if we are grinding out some details until we get to the real story. In Tolkien terms, we’re still living in the Shire.

Next week we are back with the conclusion of the date, and utter lameness that is “soul mates.”

Wonder Woman

July 21, 2010 Leave a comment

This story has been making the nerd news recently so in lieu of anything else happening that I feel can sustain an entire post (this is the third time today) I thought I would give it my interpretation. Although, as I have said on numerous occasions before I am not a fan of DC comics, never have been. I may own three of their issues, and they are the three that anyone collecting comics in the mid 90s should have, the Death of Superman, the Rebirth of Superman, and the incapacitation of Batman. I say “may” because there are probably several others but they were either gifts or I acquired them at comic shows as promotional items. Note: I don’t count Vertigo as being part of the DC universe.

Wonder Woman as a character is largely foreign to me. I’ve seen her on the old Justice League television show, caught some of the reruns from the Linda Carter live action, and the last time was when Carter donned the costume and ran out of the David Letterman show (many years ago). It’s difficult for me to really care about the character or the costume that many people are feeling amounts to the biggest treachery since a flop eared space monkey appeared in Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. This is nothing of the kind.

The new costume is pretty different. That’s not unsettling though, what is is the reaction of it by people like Gloria Steinmen, “I don’t have a big issue with jeans versus skirt–though jeans gives us the idea that only pants can be powerful–tell that to Greek Warriors and Sumo Wrestlers.”

Obviously she does have an issue if she brought it up. The idea that replacing the flashy poodle skirt with jeans means that you have to wear pants in order to be considered strong is ridiculous. The proof of that is in her own comment, Greek Warriors didn’t wear pants and more often that not the villains that both Wonder Woman and the numerous other superheroes in all comic universes are also wearing pants as well. Redesigning the costume of Wonder Woman is much over due since unlike other DC characters she has remained largely unchanged since 1941 where her costume is essentially the American flag wrapped around her Greek body. Given the fact that any comic character in existence in the 1940s were fighting both Nazis and/or the Japanese she was another symbol of patriotism…back in 1941.

However Steinem has another issue with the pants she’s wearing, “and though in fact, they’re so tight that they’ve just painted her legs blue; hardly a cover-up.

I don’t know, but aren’t pants more concealing than a loose skirt? Millions of anime fans can’t be wrong (about this, not a great deal many other things) when they clamor for their sex kitten characters in pleated school skirts and really if she’s going to complain about the tightness of the pants she must exist in some negative zone where no other characters exist in comics. All characters are wearing clothing so tight that they have to sewn on. It makes the characters easier to draw since what you are essentially seeing is the naked figure painted.

However, some of the other complaints (also shared by Steinem) are in the changing of the origin story. No longer is there a hidden tribe of Amazons. Wonder Woman is the last, saved as an infant from the destruction of Paradise Island. Which, Steinem, complains gives her no place to form strong storylines and inspire readers. Of course, being able to flee back home when things get difficult to retrain is much much less inspiring than a lost orphan who must learn everything on her own.

I do share in the complaint that this story almost exactly the same as Superman’s, but we know the difference right? It’s not as if the character was just a female Superman to begin with, right?

The Date Pt. I (The Twilight Walkthrough Pg. 260-266)

July 19, 2010 Leave a comment

I was hoping to knock this chapter off in one entry. I figured that the two lovebirds are on their first date, they would banter a bit and it would be cheesy, and there would be the reveal about the sunlight thing. I was pretty sure that I would spend most of the post talking about their banter and whether or not it fit with typical high school first dates, bringing to the reader’s attention that Edward should not be having that banter. This was not to be, because of what happened when Edward stepped into the light. In the prelude and on the side bar at the “official” site of the series I have mentioned that I am going through the book page by page, I haven’t read ahead. I only read a chunk of pages until I know that I have enough material, I’m mentioning it because nothing could have prepared me for the effect of sunlight on Edward: “His skin, white despite the faint flush from yesterday’s hunting trip, literally sparkled like thousands of tiny diamonds were embedded in his skin.”

Not only is he dreamy mcdreamy, but his skin looks like it has been encrusted in diamonds? I re-read the line over and over again, hoping that Meyer was using the word “literally” wrong. The best case scenario was that she messed up and really meant to type the word “figuratively” like when people say, “I was literally beside myself with anger.” Nothing in the context of this section can be interpreted to mean that she had made that mistake. It just seems to be too much. His skin sparkles like the vault of heaven beneath the light of the moon?

This isn’t bad for vampires, we have to give Meyer some leeway as far as making up her own world, but I must repeat the question I asked last week, “what is the downside to being a Meyer vampire?” Now that we know that sunlight just enhances its appearance in the eyes of a star struck (that’s a really literal statement now) teen-age girl only the diet seems to be a difficulty but there are two solutions to that: the first being to substitute animal blood while the second would be to live by a different morality and just eat people.

The only downside to being Edward is the contradictory and sociopathic nature by which one must carry themselves at all times. We read description after description of how dreamy and angelic he is, especially in the midday sun. Bella and Edward share an intimate moment laying with each other, with her gently stroking the blue veins on his…hand. Then, like all men on first dates, Edward ruins it by opening his mouth. I don’t know why we think that talking is going to make it better, but we can’t help ourselves. The only trouble is that he’s only loud enough that she can tell he’s saying something, but not what. What is he doing? “But, when I asked, he told me he was singing to himself.”

This is quite ridiculous. Do Meyer’s vampires whither and die unless they are constantly getting attention or is he just really working out that tortured artist side that he should have out grown about 75 years ago? Neither really makes that much sense, the former doesn’t work because they are practically laying on each other in the meadow. The latter is just plain stupid but it would fit in with his character, minus ever actually working on his art. One thing we can be sure of is that his voice is the most beautiful thing that Bella has ever heard, let’s put that aside for a second because we are going to need it.

We then proceed on to the cringe worthy, “what are you thinking?” question. The thing about it is, that while it’s accurate, it’s not something anyone wants to read. People don’t like being asked the question because it causes the hearer to instantly draw a blank on what they were thinking about. It’s like describing someone brushing their teeth, everyone does it but unless you are going to bring something new to the description it becomes trite. This is, of course, a problem for a first time writer which should be exorcised by the second book. The argument could be made that with telepathy this is something new, but since Edward cannot read Bella’s mind so we are back to the couple laying in the meadow.

Bella answer’s Edward’s question about her thoughts with this, [Note to reader: take the voice thing off the back-burner we need it now] “I was wishing that I could believe that you were real. And I was wishing that I wasn’t afraid.” Edward is so good-looking, so perfect, that she can’t believe he is real. Not the fact that he is a vampire, that all vampire literature has essentially lied to her, and that he’s literally shining in the sun; all of that is taken at face value. It’s only that he’s uber handsome which causes her to go all Cartesian on the subject. Bella behaves a lot like my daughter here: everything that can be seen or touched is verified as true ala Irish Bishop George Berkeley, yet her reaction to the physical world–the emotional content in it has to be doubted before it is believed. My daughter does this as well but she’s yet to turn two so I don’t give her a hard time about it. Bella doesn’t have this excuse she becomes some sort of anti-experience empiricist where she doubts the things that should be accepted and accepts the things that she should question.

He’s too perfect for her. Which seems odd given her rejection of other people that don’t quite measure up to the bar he sets at their high school. It’s false humility. No action she has taken has led us to believe for an instant that she thinks herself unworthy of his attention. She’s said as much, but the words don’t mesh as she scorns every other person she knows for not being him or a Cullen. Since day one at Forks HS, she knew that she deserved a place at their table. We are constantly being reminded of how perfect he is, but in being so perfect he actually becomes imperfect. Even Jesus got angry and kicked some ass one day in violation of his principles. It makes him more human, not less which is why I’m sure that little story is included in the Bible.

If you ever seen a person so beautiful they look fake you know what I am talking about. It’s those imperfections that set us apart from one another, that can make a perfect person even more gorgeous. If it wasn’t for that mole above her lip, none of us would have ever heard of the name Cindy Crawford (who was on the cover of Maxim at the age of 40). Yet Edward’s looks are too angelic, perfect in all resepects, and because he’s a vampire it meant that as a human he looked the same. Becoming a vampire means taking a snap shot at the time of the turning and that is how they will always be. Which means that he must have been the most perfect looking person in the whole 19th century, which could be possible but I doubt it. Making the vampire attractive, in all instances of it in literature is just a cheap way out for the author. It makes it easier for vampires to get prey and fit in. Whereas an overweight or too skinny ashen blood sucker would have some difficulty. It also makes us want to be one. Yet there is no reason for us to assume that being vampire is going to make a fat girl thin, or a skinny guy into the muscular adonis of Edward. The more perfect the description the less perfect the impression, especially since the intended audience isn’t going to be sharing this appearance.

She mentions also that she wishes that she wasn’t afraid, but we don’t know what she is afraid of. Bella remains characteristically and frustratingly quiet on the subject. She always reminds us of the fear she has regarding her relationship with Edward but never what that fear is rooted in. It’s not of Edward, not even that he’s scary-sexy kind of way. Edward tells her, “I don’t want you to be afraid.”

This just pisses me off, because we know that first off, he does want her to be afraid. He’s repeatedly reminded her throughout the story that she should be afraid of him. Secondly, this tells us that he knows what she means but neither of them are explaining it to us. It has to be that because Edward’s following actions make no sense if he doesn’t want her to be afraid of him.

Their faces get close, too close, you know the scene in every romance movie right before the two main characters kiss. Or the scene in every romantic comedy movie where the noses begin to touch and then someone interrupts them, that’s where we are at. This of course is the vampire movie so getting that close to the human is going to bring out his true nature. The movie Vampire Hunter D: Blood Lust, has a good version of it. The vampire Meier Link is being embraced by Charlotte and he looks down. His vision shows the red veins in her neck causing him to shake as he violently represses his being. It works there. Here, the vampire just runs without warning or set up and it comes across as cheap.

Then he goes about displaying his power. He runs around the meadow in seconds, he breaks and shatters a two foot thick branch, all the while bragging about how easily he could snuff out the candle of Bella’s life. He ends such a tired display by saying, “Don’t be afraid.”

It’s just so sad that all we have for their attraction is physical. He’s like the villain jock in an 80s teen comedy, all looks, no brains, and no personality. How about a guy who looks half as good, shows intelligence, and is also keeping the secret of being a vampire an actual secret? It would make for a much better character. You could even keep the Bella character complete throwing in theme of which person is the real predator the vampire or her. That would be a better story and a better lesson as well. But we must set aside hypotheticals because Edward has a point to make.

He could break her in half, she has no hope of out running him, and she should, “Never forget that I am more dangerous to you than I am to anyone else.”

Why is he so specific about his danger to her? It certainly isn’t the fact that they are alone in the woods with no witnesses. It’s not that she not only couldn’t run but also doesn’t want to. It’s not that she apologizes when he almost kills her. No, it’s going to get quite lame even by cliche standards.

Racism?

July 16, 2010 Leave a comment

In following with yesterday’s tirade I have to wonder what exactly is going on with the NAACP and ask the question that will regain some of the trust that I probably lost with my right wing friends, “would their resolution regarding the tea party people (I still don’t know what they want to be called) have been approved (or even suggested) if the president wasn’t black?”

In keeping with my usual cynicism I would like to tell the Tea Party to suck it up, a resolution from a group that can’t actually make you do anything is like a internet petition–better left ignored until something more interesting replaces it lest you grant it more publicity. Having said that though, I’m actually in support of their condemnation of the NAACP’s resolution. It’s tricky to actually make that statement because the resolution in itself is so general I’m having a hard time understanding what it actually means for the tea party.

Checking their website, which I had to navigate around so that I didn’t have to give them any of my information, I came across what I am supposed to believe is the resolution. It’s a generic piece of clap trap that wants you to agree that racism is bad, democracy is good, diversity is fine, and civility is awesome. The word “banal” comes to mind since nothing in the resolution seems to be oriented specifically at the Tea Party Movement, or its members. I only know that this has to do with the tea party because I have been told that it does. Reading it, I would have just thought that it was the pledge that members of the NAACP had to make in order to join the association.

Back to the race thing though, I’m sure that some members of the tea party are racist. Just as I am sure that some supporters of the president are racist as well. Accusing the whole movement of being racist just because of the fringe element seems to be stereotyping. Although I will say that we are ending up as a society where the loudest voice is automatically deemed to be the spokesman for any group. Those shouting racial epithets in front of congress after the passage of the healthcare act were not the norm, and from the general reports of tea party “confrontations” in town hall meetings the screaming psychopaths weren’t the norm either. They just received the most press.

Even the billboard with the picture of Hitler, Lenin, and Obama on it doesn’t smack to me of racism so much as ignorant fear mongering. It’s also pretty self-contradictory either Obama is like Lenin or he’s like Hitler being both doesn’t really work. I wonder why the author took to the picture of Lenin instead of the more recognizable Stalin, but that’s not the point. It isn’t inherently racist, just as all of the idiot fear mongering which produced the images of Bush dressed like a Nazi had nothing to do with race either.

Like the accusations of anti-Americanism in the last decade the cry of racism isn’t constructive to the debate. It’s a conversation stopper designed solely to enrage. Stupid doesn’t mean racist, although the inverse is certainly true.

Categories: current events, politics