FORSETTI’S JUSTICE- THE DARK RIGIDITY OF FUNDAMENTALIST RURAL AMERICA –

An Insider’s View: The Dark Rigidity of Fundamentalist Rural America. In deep-red white America, the white Christian God is king.

This post was written last November, shortly after the election. It’s a long piece, but worth reading. It is what many of us have been thinking: that we are not building our own party the right way. As intelligent, educated people, we need to be that. We can’t meet these people because it’s a bad place and it needs change.

Are we wrong to not try to ‘get down’ with the people who don’t believe in anything in which we believe? These are not people who will ever, under any circumstances, understand us. They believe what they believe because they believe it.

We can’t believe what they believe. And we don’t want to. We don’t think it’s a mere “difference of opinion.” We think they are terribly wrong in every way that matters to us. We need to go a different way, to do the right thing. Even if everything doesn’t work go the way we’d like, we need to keep trying. That’s who we are.

If we can’t be ourselves, what are we?


Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com / Shane Trotter

As the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump is being sorted out, a common theme keeps cropping up from all sides: “Democrats failed to understand white, working-class, fly-over America.”

Trump supporters are saying this. Progressive pundits are saying this. Talking heads across all forms of the media are saying this. Even some Democratic leaders are saying this. It doesn’t matter how many people say it, it is complete BS. It is an intellectual/linguistic sleight of hand meant to draw attention away from the real problem.

The real problem isn’t East Coast elites who don’t understand or care about rural America. The real problem is that rural Americans don’t understand the causes of their own situations and fears and have shown no interest in finding out. They don’t want to know why they feel the way they do or why they are struggling because they don’t want to admit it is, in large part, because of the choices they’ve made and the horrible things they’ve allowed themselves to believe.

I grew up in rural Christian white America. You’d be hard-pressed to find an area of the country with a higher percentage of Christians or whites. I spent most of the first 24 years of my life deeply embedded in this culture. I religiously (pun intended) attended their Christian services. I worked off and on their rural farms. I dated their calico-skirted daughters. I camped, hunted and fished with their sons. I listened to their political rants at the local diner and truck stop. I winced at their racist/bigoted jokes and epithets that were said more out of ignorance than animosity. I have watched the town I grew up in go from a robust economy with well-kept homes and infrastructure to a struggling economy with shuttered businesses, dilapidated homes and a broken-down infrastructure over the past 30 years. The problem isn’t that I don’t understand these people. The problem is they don’t understand themselves or the reasons for their anger and frustration.

In deep-red America, the white Christian god is king, figuratively and literally. Religious fundamentalism has shaped most of their belief systems. Systems built on a fundamentalist framework are not conducive to introspection, questioning, learning, or change. When you have a belief system built on fundamentalism, it isn’t open to outside criticism, especially by anyone not a member of your tribe and in a position of power. The problem isn’t that coastal elites don’t understand rural Americans. The problem is that rural America doesn’t understand itself and will never listen to anyone outside its bubble. It doesn’t matter how “understanding” you are, how well you listen, what language you use…if you are viewed as an outsider, your views will be automatically discounted. I’ve had hundreds of discussions with rural white Americans and whenever I present them any information that contradicts their entrenched beliefs, no matter how sound, how unquestionable, how obvious, they will not even entertain the possibility that it might be true. Their refusal is a result of the nature of their fundamentalist belief system and the fact that I’m the enemy because I’m an educated liberal.

At some point during the discussion, they will say, “That’s your education talking,” derogatorily, as a general dismissal of everything I said. They truly believe this is a legitimate response, because to them education is not to be trusted. Education is the enemy of fundamentalism because fundamentalism, by its very nature, is not built on facts. The fundamentalists I grew up around aren’t anti-education. They want their kids to know how to read and write. They are against quality, in-depth, broad, specialized education. Learning is only valued up to a certain point. Once it reaches the level where what you learn contradicts doctrine and fundamentalist arguments, it becomes dangerous. I watched a lot of my fellow students who were smart, stop their education the day they graduated high school. For most of the young ladies, getting married and having kids was more important than continuing their learning. For many of the young men, getting a college education was seen as unnecessary and a waste of time. For the few who did go to college, what they learned was still filtered through their fundamentalist belief systems. If something they were taught didn’t support a preconception, it would be ignored and forgotten the second it was no longer needed to pass an exam.

Knowing this about their belief system and their view of outside information that doesn’t support it, telling me that the problem is coastal elites not understanding them completely misses the point.

Another problem with rural Christian white Americans is they are racists. I’m not talking about white hood-wearing, cross-burning, lynching racists (though some are). I’m talking about people who deep down in their heart of hearts truly believe they are superior because they are white. Their white god made them in his image and everyone else is a less-than-perfect version, flawed and cursed.  (MORE)


PLEASE SEE THE REST OF THIS STORY AT: AN INSIDER’S VIEW on ALTERNET

THE DARK RIGIDITY OF FUNDAMENTALIST RURAL AMERICA – FORSETTI’S JUSTICE

An Insider’s View: The Dark Rigidity of Fundamentalist Rural America. In deep-red white America, the white Christian God is king.

This post was written last November, shortly after the election. It’s a long piece, but I think worth reading. It is what I have been thinking too, that we are not going about building our party the right way. As intelligent, educated people, we need to be exactly that. We can’t meet these people on their turf because it’s not where we will ever be and it’s not where we believe anyone in this country should be. It’s a bad place and it needs to change.

Are we wrong to not try to ‘get down’ with the people who don’t believe anything we say, no matter how we explain it? Surely we are accomplishing nothing. These are not people who will ever, under any circumstances, understand us. They believe what they believe because they believe it.

We can’t believe what they believe. It’s impossible. We need to go another way. To become what we should be: enlightened, intelligent people who will do what we do because we believe what we are doing is the right thing. Even if it doesn’t work out the way we’d like, we will continue to do our best because we believe in ourselves.

We aren’t going to fix the world by trying to be people we can not be. We can sympathize with them. We can appreciate their world-view. We just can’t be them.

And finally — if we can’t be ourselves, we are nothing. If we can’t be liberals, intelligent, thoughtful, mindful and willing to go out of our way to help people who are not us, then we will be powder and blown into the wind.


Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com / Shane Trotter

As the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump is being sorted out, a common theme keeps cropping up from all sides: “Democrats failed to understand white, working-class, fly-over America.”

Trump supporters are saying this. Progressive pundits are saying this. Talking heads across all forms of the media are saying this. Even some Democratic leaders are saying this. It doesn’t matter how many people say it, it is complete BS. It is an intellectual/linguistic sleight of hand meant to draw attention away from the real problem.

The real problem isn’t East Coast elites who don’t understand or care about rural America. The real problem is that rural Americans don’t understand the causes of their own situations and fears and have shown no interest in finding out. They don’t want to know why they feel the way they do or why they are struggling because they don’t want to admit it is, in large part, because of the choices they’ve made and the horrible things they’ve allowed themselves to believe.

I grew up in rural Christian white America. You’d be hard-pressed to find an area of the country with a higher percentage of Christians or whites. I spent most of the first 24 years of my life deeply embedded in this culture. I religiously (pun intended) attended their Christian services. I worked off and on their rural farms. I dated their calico-skirted daughters. I camped, hunted and fished with their sons. I listened to their political rants at the local diner and truck stop. I winced at their racist/bigoted jokes and epithets that were said more out of ignorance than animosity. I have watched the town I grew up in go from a robust economy with well-kept homes and infrastructure to a struggling economy with shuttered businesses, dilapidated homes and a broken-down infrastructure over the past 30 years. The problem isn’t that I don’t understand these people. The problem is they don’t understand themselves or the reasons for their anger and frustration.

In deep-red America, the white Christian god is king, figuratively and literally. Religious fundamentalism has shaped most of their belief systems. Systems built on a fundamentalist framework are not conducive to introspection, questioning, learning, or change. When you have a belief system built on fundamentalism, it isn’t open to outside criticism, especially by anyone not a member of your tribe and in a position of power. The problem isn’t that coastal elites don’t understand rural Americans. The problem is that rural America doesn’t understand itself and will never listen to anyone outside its bubble. It doesn’t matter how “understanding” you are, how well you listen, what language you use…if you are viewed as an outsider, your views will be automatically discounted. I’ve had hundreds of discussions with rural white Americans and whenever I present them any information that contradicts their entrenched beliefs, no matter how sound, how unquestionable, how obvious, they will not even entertain the possibility that it might be true. Their refusal is a result of the nature of their fundamentalist belief system and the fact that I’m the enemy because I’m an educated liberal.

At some point during the discussion, they will say, “That’s your education talking,” derogatorily, as a general dismissal of everything I said. They truly believe this is a legitimate response, because to them education is not to be trusted. Education is the enemy of fundamentalism because fundamentalism, by its very nature, is not built on facts. The fundamentalists I grew up around aren’t anti-education. They want their kids to know how to read and write. They are against quality, in-depth, broad, specialized education. Learning is only valued up to a certain point. Once it reaches the level where what you learn contradicts doctrine and fundamentalist arguments, it becomes dangerous. I watched a lot of my fellow students who were smart, stop their education the day they graduated high school. For most of the young ladies, getting married and having kids was more important than continuing their learning. For many of the young men, getting a college education was seen as unnecessary and a waste of time. For the few who did go to college, what they learned was still filtered through their fundamentalist belief systems. If something they were taught didn’t support a preconception, it would be ignored and forgotten the second it was no longer needed to pass an exam.

Knowing this about their belief system and their view of outside information that doesn’t support it, telling me that the problem is coastal elites not understanding them completely misses the point.

Another problem with rural Christian white Americans is they are racists. I’m not talking about white hood-wearing, cross-burning, lynching racists (though some are). I’m talking about people who deep down in their heart of hearts truly believe they are superior because they are white. Their white god made them in his image and everyone else is a less-than-perfect version, flawed and cursed.  (MORE)


PLEASE SEE THE REST OF THIS STORY AT: AN INSIDER’S VIEW on ALTERNET

WHY THIS WORLD SHOULD END

The Path to a New Beginning, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog


Ask anyone what is wrong with the world, and you will certainly get an opinion, or many of them.  We can all point to things that are wrong with politics, education, religion or whatever it is that crosses our minds, but we don’t all agree on what those things are.  We are severely polarized, and we can not reach a consensus.  Worse yet, there are influential people who will try to make sure the majority do not rule, as our recent national election shows.

With an eye toward the concept this divisive world should end, the one that is full of prejudices and deceit, is a video that presents our problems in detail.  That YouTube presentation has gone viral.  A rap artist and rights activist who calls himself Prince EA has put out a video that now has over seven million views and has been reposted and shared everywhere.  It needs reposting again.

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Richard Williams, a 26-year-old advocate for change, has taken a stage name, Prince EA.  It is not unusual for a rap artist to take a stage name, but this one has significant meaning.  For Williams it means Prince of the Earth, for it is with the earth that he is most concerned.  The world, and all of its problems, needs a mighty voice and that is what Williams aims to provide in a well produced video.  He wastes no time in coming to the point.  The video opens strongly:

The world is coming to an end
The air is polluted, the oceans contaminated
The animals are going extinct, the economy’s collapsed
Education is shot, police are corrupt
Intelligence is shunned and ignorance rewarded

The people are depressed and angry
We can’t live with each other and…

He will tell you we can’t live with ourselves. We can’t really communicate with others.  Do we not live in a world of “robotic communication?”  I see it all the time.  There are people too busy with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat or whatever to have real communication.  So perhaps it is somewhat ironic that Williams’ message has gone viral on YouTube.

Presidents lie, politicians trick us
Race is still an issue and so is religion
Your God doesn’t exist, my God does and he is All-Loving
If you disagree with me, I’ll kill you
Or even worse argue, you to death

When we argue people to death, how often do we do it anonymously via Facebook or Twitter.  How willing are we to really face these problems and seek solutions?  The world we see is one Williams thinks should end.  Do you agree?

Our role models today
60 years ago would have been examples of what not to be
There are states where people can legally be discriminated against
Because they were born a certain way

There are indeed role models today who in past generations would not have been allowed to be seen by youth as a standard to achieve, if they were allowed to be seen at all.  And while we permit this type of role model, we see certain parts of society who some would like to suppress, because of skin color, sexual orientation or religion.  How can we popularize sex and violence while discriminating against love and religion?

So what can we do in the face of all of this madness and chaos?
What is the solution?

Prince EA asks the question and he is not afraid to follow with the answer.  It is a simple answer, of course.  It is the answer we have known all throughout time, but rarely seem to apply.

“We can love
Not the love you hear in your favorite song on the radio
I mean real love, true love, boundless love
You can love, love each other”

This is why the world should end.  It needs a fresh start with love.  It is the love we must all provide.  Where do we start to write a new history? Where is that new beginning?  Where is that message that we need to go viral?

“Why I think the World Should End,” by Prince EA, Cinematography and Editing by Brandon Sloan

The Inauguration: An Observer View

Clearly the most important part of this piece is the link to the article in the Guardian. It is a well-written, thorough, and thoughtful piece. Wherever you stand on the political spectrum, you should consider reading it. Also, keep in mind that this is a British newspaper, so this is from a U.K. perspective.

Views from the Edge

Today’s email from a respected friend calls attention to a British opinion piece on the American Inauguration.

Today I wish I could find a single line in this post-inaugural Guardian piece (God, even a phrase) that strikes me as false.

I can’t.

I can’t either.

Click to read The Observer view on bullying, aggressive, nationalist Donald Trump

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, January 22, 2017

View original post

BE NICE. STOP FIGHTING. FIX THE WORLD.

What’s wrong with this picture? Other than you know … that face. When I found this on Facebook, it gave me pause for thought.

trump-division-facebook

I am not a fan of Trump. However much I dislike his politics and pretty much everything he stands for, he is not why we this country is divided. We were divided long before Trump. Basically, this country has been divided to one degree or another — usually more rather than less — for our entire history. What Donald Trump did was successfully parlay our existing divisions into his victory. He used our prejudices, bigotry, hatred, distrust and willingness to believe the worst of others — and turned it into political capital.

We let him win. Collectively. We allowed this to happen. 

Trump did not create the divisions. We did that ourselves by allowing partisanship to infiltrate every aspect of American life. Trump is the payback and our punishment. Karma is a bitch.

We should think about this. If we want a less divisive political system, what do we need to do to achieve that? If we want to live in a less angry society, how can we make that happen?

dwight-david-eisenhower-quote-i-do-not-believe-that-any-politicalWe might start by being nicer to each other. We can be civil, kind, polite, and friendly. Personally and online. It might catch on and become a trend. Obviously, it’s not a panacea. It can’t fix what’s wrong with the world, but it’s a start. Baby steps.

Next, it’s time to start letting go of old grudges, philosophical differences, and meaningless principles. We don’t only fight with “the enemy.” We constantly fight with each other over all kinds of nonsense.

It’s reminiscent of the battles within anti-establishment groups of the 1960s. Wrangling about every stupid little thing splintered us. Groups which should have been pooling resources could not let go of petty differences. Today, either no one can remember what the fighting was about … or it seems so trivial, it’s hard to believe anyone cared.

It’s Big Picture time. We need to define common ground — not our differences. Because there will always be differences. If we let our division define us rather than the stuff we have in common, we will never win.

Living in Israel, where government is via a parliamentary system, I always wondered how the religious right got what they wanted while the rest of us — center to left liberal majority and not a small majority but a huge one — seemed to not count, even though we vastly outnumbered the right. The answer was simple. Obvious. They stuck together presenting a solid wall. Whereas what the rest of us had in common was not being them. To effectively work as a power bloc, you have to find the core issues, the stuff that really matters to everyone — and let the rest go. Otherwise, we will lose. Again.

STAND UP FOR TRUTH

This the season to spread stupid rumors. It keeps coming up. I get madder each time I see it.

This is the season to spread the rumor that there’s a war against Christmas. That the same cabal consisting of “them – the unnamed conspirators that are doing bad things” want to ban the holiday. That there are movements afoot to make Christmas trees into “holiday” trees and thus ban Christ in Christmas. Worse, that people will get angry and maybe sue you if you wish them a merry Christmas.

Has that ever actually happened? To anyone? Anywhere?

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It has never happened to me. I am not a Christian, but I like Christmas. It’s a nice holiday with pretty decorations, terrific music, and great lighting. Good food and drink and friends getting together to celebrate. What’s not to like?

I am an equal opportunity greeter. I will greet friends and strangers by saying whatever comes to tongue first. I have been doing this my entire life. Not once in all these decades has anyone objected to being wished Merry Christmas or Happy Holiday. Because people are not anti-Christmas. There is no war on Christmas.

There is a Constitutional, entirely legal (obligatory) separation of church and state. It suggests putting a crèche in the middle of town might be in poor taste or outright illegal, but is not a war on anything. It’s protecting my right to not be Christian while simultaneously protecting your right to go to the church, synagogue, mosque — or none of the above — of your choice. Separation of church and state protects all religions and non-believers equally.

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If you want to a crèche in the middle of town, ask the nearest church to put one on their property — if they don’t already have one (and I bet they do). Enjoy it at the church because that’s where it belongs. It’s religious iconography and is entirely acceptable in a religious context.

The United States is not a Christian country. It is religiously unaffiliated. Even though the majority of the population may profess to be some kind of Christian, this includes millions of people who never go to church. One of the many thing that are protected is your right to say your are a Christian or anything else without actually having to do anything to prove it. Freedom of religion is a wonderful thing. It means the government has no stake in your personal belief system as long as it stays personal and doesn’t involve bombing other sects or non-believers.

Which means you can say you are a Christian, never go to church at all, complain how Christianity is being threatened by the “freedom and politically correct cabal” (who don’t exist) and no one will ever ask you to show your bona fides. It’s a great constitution we have. If we ditched everything else but kept that first amendment, we might just be okay anyhow.

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If there’s a war on anything, it is on my right to not be Christian. Enforcing the first amendment is not a war. It’s what keeps us free.

Speaking of the first amendment, there is no law anywhere against greeting anyone in any manner you choose. The first amendment also protects your right to free speech including saying Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Or nothing at all. Whatever. It’s all good. I suggest the following response to any seasonal greeting: “Thank you!” Accompanied by a smile. Because someone is being nice and you should be nice, too. Now … that wasn’t so hard, was it?

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Despite Facebook, there is no war on Christmas. No war on free speech. If you spread the rumor that this is true, who knows how much damage you can do? Unless that’s your intention, don’t do it.

No matter what you believe, it’s time to stop sharing, tweeting, and re-posting stuff that’s supposed to be true without first checking to make sure that it is true. How about we stop letting other people’s opinions substitute for facts? How about not passing rumors? How about we all make a commitment to fact-checking as a matter of course? Because the damage we do by spreading lies, rumors, and half-truths — intentional or not — is incalculable. This is something you can do to make the world better without getting out of your recliner.

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If you don’t have time to check the facts, do not repeat it, share it, re-post it, publish it, or in any way pass it along. Unless you personally have checked the facts, assume it is not true. The world will be a better place no matter what politics you favor.

This is not an “us versus them” issue. It is a true versus untrue issue, a fact versus fiction issue. It affects everyone — including your children and grandchildren. Stand up for truth!

EARTH TO MILLENNIALS: STEP UP TO THE PLATE, YOUR TIME HAS COME

In recent months, Garry and I have logged a lot of hours watching the political year unfold. I can’t count the number of hours spent analyzing “the millennials,” young folks in and around my granddaughter’s age. How disaffected they are. How they aren’t going to vote because “this has nothing to do with me,” which is a direct quote from my granddaughter.

I love my granddaughter with all my heart, but that just pissed me off to a fare-thee-well.

The world into which my generation — the now oft-dismissed “baby boomers” — was born was not composed of silver spoons and red carpets. Classified advertisements for jobs were divided into “Help Wanted: Male” and “Help Wanted: Female.” It was legal and enforced. As for people of color and immigrants, their help wasn’t wanted.

help-wanted-advert-1892

70 years later, the Help Wanted advertisements looked pretty much the same as they had in 1892. Photograph: Library of Congress Archives

Jim Crow laws were legal. Inter-marriage between races was illegal in all southern states and many northern ones. There was no Medicare, no Medicaid. If you lost your job or your job didn’t offer medical benefits — and employers were not obligated to provide benefits — you were out of luck.

People reminisce about the 1950s and early 1960s as if they were perfect days for everyone. A world in which jobs lasted forever and no one was hungry. But only if you were triple white. White collar. White skin. White picket fence. If you were anything else, you lived a different reality.

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Did I mention that abortion was illegal? Illegal abortions were frequently fatal and effective birth control hadn’t been invented. It’s not that we didn’t have sex outside of marriage. Of course we did. Hormones, boys, girls, love, and passion were never much different than now, but acting on these urges was far more dangerous. Because the ramifications of “getting caught” were so perilous (and frequently against the law), we were sneaky. We had sex in cars, not beds.

We hid our lives from “the grownups” who were also frequently “the enemy.” Child abuse was not only not illegal, it was ignored or approved of. Beating your kids was merely “discipline.” Which is why I get enraged every time I read one of those Facebook “nostalgia” posts about how great it was to be able to hit your kids. Hitting kids doesn’t make them better people. It just tells them it’s okay for bigger, stronger people to hit smaller, weaker ones.

January 22, 1973 woman could finally breathe a sigh of relief. We thought the days of back room abortion were finally over. Maybe yes. But maybe it was just a temporary reprieve.

January 22, 1973 woman could finally breathe a sigh of relief. We thought the days of back room abortion were finally over. Maybe yes. But maybe it was just a temporary reprieve. Photograph: New York Times archive

My generation — we old people — were out there manning the barricades. Marching for justice. We changed the world — not as much as we hoped we would, but a lot. We fought racial and gender discrimination. While waiting for the law to change, we hid our homosexuality or trans-gender identities. Not doing so might do us in. We never gave up the fight, but we got old.

It’s your turn now.

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Things are a lot better for you in many ways. Not perfect. Not without problems. There’s plenty more work to be done. I know you feel the world has failed to live up to its promises to you. Life is too hard. Good jobs are scarce. I know because I’ve heard about it … a lot.

Life — real life — has always been hard and good jobs have never been easy to find. No one told me life would be easy. Did someone tell you that? If they did, they lied.

Despite the complaining, your generation is reaping the benefits of what we fought for. It’s time for your generation to step up to the plate. Put down the phone. Go into the world. Fix stuff. Fight for a better life and a better world. Vote! That’s how change happens. If you don’t care enough to stand up for yourselves and your future, no one else will care. And all the work we did will go down the tubes.

Then, as my mom used to say, you’ll really have something to cry about.