April 27, 2012

How Not To Write About Africa

Is Africa's Negative Image Justified? by Femi Adewunmi, Pan African Visions, June 2, 2012
How Not To Write About Africa by Laura Seay, Foreign Policy, Argument, April 25, 2012

Occasionally African and non-African scholars, and in this case a journalist, write complaining about the poor quality of media coverage of events in Africa. I also complain about this, verbally and in writing. Whereas my focus is on those patronizing aspects of Western attitudes and beliefs (culture) that continue to prefer Africa and its peoples as "wild" and ever seething with "tribal clashes" (a term the BBC is still very fond of), the writer of the link above focuses on another important problem - media management not hiring enough African reporters on the ground. The article also contains a lot of good general information about the continent. Please write your editor and ask him/her to do better.

April 11, 2012

Which Way America?

I recently received the photos below, with captions, from a conservative friend from my high school days.

Many of my fellow Americans long and/or pray for the return of an idealized America as it is portrayed in these pictures.  There's nothing wrong with that unless you want a fuller, more accurate picture of our society in the mid-1950s you'd have to add a few not too pleasant pictures of our urban and rural poor, white and black, during this period.

The mostly white, wealthy, Christian conservative Republican leadership, from the 1970s to today, should be credited and blamed for convincing most of the white middle class people in the US that their party, the GOP, will help preserve what is left of the 1950s America they cherish.  Or, with the help of the evangelicals, they promise to take the country back to that time completely.  Here are a couple of the many strategies many Republicans have lined up with to do so:  "The New Apostolic Reformation Movement" and the "Seven Mountains of Culture" -  http://jameselassiter.blogspot.com/2011/08/seven-mountains-of-culture-in-need-of.html

The Republicans began this strategy in the 1970s using the Free Speech Movement, the Anti-War Movement, and the Civil Rights Movement, and their mostly liberal, diverse advocates and participants, as whipping posts.  The GOP did so to generate support for themselves among middle class whites who aspired to join them in being the wealthy "haves" of our country.

This strategy worked and continues to work today.  In fact, many white American have prospered.  The reason they have, however, has not been due to the efforts of rich, powerful Republicans.  Rather it has been due to the generally rising tide of economic growth and technological advancements we have enjoyed since WWII.  Republican leadership succeeded in taking credit for this rise citing their free market capitalism (a form of social Darwinism) approach to the economy and society.  To bolster their approach they added bogeymen, educated liberal elites and the poor, whom they vowed to the middle whites would ruin the country if not kept in check.  Remember Nixon's Vice President Spiro T. Agnew (1969-1973) who wailed about and vilified the "effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals" who dared to protest against US government policy and action?

Thus the humane ideals of contemporary, ethnically diverse liberals for expanding individual freedom, protecting and assisting the exploited, ensuring equal economic and educational opportunity have become hated "doctrines of socialism."

My experience is that most of those persons in the middle class who subscribe to the Republican view of our nation's social and economic problems and a libertarian solution to them are so convinced of what they have been told to believe they will seldom if ever look at the issues objectively, much less do their own thinking or change their views.  It is very much like trying to convince evangelical Christians that there is a preponderance of evidence that Humankind is a product of the same natural processes that gave rise to all other life on earth - you are wasting your time.

So, here we are.  What to do?  Someone has to be right here.  Which of these approaches to society and ultimately the planet is the most reasonable and sustainable?  If you choose "Republicanism" you are selfishly dooming your life, that of our nation, and the health and well-being of planet to the short term.  If you choose fiscally conservative yet liberal, diverse global thinking, we have a chance at a long term and more humane future.  The former is the pursuit of ourselves and our nostalgic past, winner take all.  The latter is a realistic path to survival and happiness for the greatest number of people, as individuals and caretakers of the planet.

For more on this topic, please see my earlier blog post:  http://jameselassiter.blogspot.com/2010/10/obama-is-intelligent-well-educated.html 

Have you seen the new cars coming out next year? It won't be long before $2,000.00 will only buy a used one.
Did you hear the post office is thinking about charging 7 cents just to mail a letter.
If they raise the minimum wage to $1.00, nobody will be able to hire outside help at the store.
When I first started driving, who would have thought gas would someday cost 25 cents a gallon. Guess we'd be better off leaving the car in the garage.
I'm afraid to send my kids to the movies any more. Ever since they let Clark Gable get by with saying DAMN in GONE WITH THE WIND, it seems every new movie has either HELL or DAMN in it.

I read the other day where some scientist thinks it's possible to put a man on the moon by the end of the century. They even have some fellows they call astronauts preparing for it down in Texas.

Did you see where some baseball player just signed a contract for $50,000 a year just to play ball? It wouldn't surprise me if someday they'll be making more than the President.
I never thought I'd see the day all our kitchen appliances would be electric. They're even making electric typewriters now.
It's too bad things are so tough nowadays. I see where a few married women are having to work to make ends meet.
It won't be long before young couples are going to have to hire someone to watch their kids so they can both work.
I'm afraid the Volkswagen car is going to open the door to a whole lot of foreign business.
Thank goodness I won't live to see the day when the Government takes half our income in taxes. I sometimes wonder if we are electing the best people to government.
The fast food restaurant is convenient for a quick meal, but I seriously doubt they will ever catch on.
There is no sense going on short trips anymore for a weekend. It costs nearly $2.00 a night to stay in a hotel.
No one can afford to be sick anymore. At $15.00 a day in the hospital, it's too rich for my blood.
If they think I'll pay 30 cents for a haircut, forget it.