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PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2020 2:07 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
Consider this: In our society, sense of community isn't a priority, and we learn this from the cradle.
I would like to consider but can you clarify 'our society'? The quote you opened with was from someone in England. 21st century society ? Urban society? USA society?


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2020 3:09 pm 
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david_h wrote:
Nanohedron wrote:
...how do we dare to legislate based on what we cannot define? One sure marker that we can't define it is the very fact that there will be no universal consensus on how to define "nature", and another is that we can't even say we're right, because we don't know.
In the original context of PB+J's post, inalienable rights and equality rather than the cow, I think it is "how did they dare".

All I can say in my defense is that 'twas PB+J who brought up the cow. :wink:

But I admit I went off on a tangent. Still, I can extend my notions to human "nature" as well: For every example we can point to and say, "That's human nature," we'll find an example to negate it. A human newborn is needy and demanding, and this is natural if it is to survive, but this is also true of other altricial animals (that is, those that are born helpless and in need of care). If this neediness is carried through into adulthood, it's considered abnormal. But is growing out of neediness and into independence real human nature? The continually needy human exists just as surely as you or I. What I propose is that it is merely a convenience, but never a truth, to say that such a person is at variance with "human nature". Likewise, how do we compare the altruist with the sociopath, or curiosity with willful ignorance, in terms of human nature? We can't, because we can see how "human nature" eludes being pinned down. As with the cow, we can only say for sure that we are bound by the condition of our being human. And that covers a world of ground.

I guess what I'm saying is that invoking "human nature" in manifestos is well and good, but it's a rickety house, because it doesn't stand up to close scrutiny.

david_h wrote:
Didn't they dare by saying "We hold these truths to be self-evident" which allows that other people might not so it needed to be said?

I would agree with that entirely.

david_h wrote:
Contrast this to "endowed by their Creator" where - for them in their time and King George - there being a creator was unquestionable (so a consensus on how to define "nature" was not an issue).

Actually, at the time a form of agnosticism was very common among the framers of US revolutionary thought, but they were also very aware that this stance could jeopardize public sympathy if they went too far with it. They instead called themselves "Theists", which was apparently acceptable enough. From there, it's not a step too far to acknowledge that a higher Creative Agency might be involved. Rather than God, "Providence" was most often the usual buzzword, but I think "their Creator" here was a consciously judicious choice, because it covers all the bases. These people were thinkers, and I suspect that they didn't personally adhere to the notion of a consensual definition of "nature"; nevertheless most people did think that way, and the framers understood this. Might as well go there if the argument has leverage in the public mind. And I don't find that cynical; rather, it's inclusive.

david_h wrote:
Nanohedron wrote:
Consider this: In our society, sense of community isn't a priority, and we learn this from the cradle.
I would like to consider but can you clarify 'our society'? The quote you opened with was from someone in England. 21st century society ? Urban society? USA society?

Good point, and I'm glad you brought it up, because I realized it's problematic. I think that apart from tribal societies and certain non-tribal exceptions where survival depends on mutual assistance and regard, for the most part any complex society you could name won't stress community as an overarching principle, or if it does, it's restricted to the inner-inner circle. Hence my clumsy use of the word "our".

As an American, I have a very strong sense of being part of a very large American family, and that means obligations, forbearance and consideration, not just rights alone. This feeling extends beyond any divisive factions. But not all Americans have this sense, and I suspect it's more widespread than mine, which is unfortunate, because I have no doubt it could solve a lot rancor and misery. Yes, after all these years, I'm still an idealist.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2020 4:14 pm 
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Another one of the classic problems facing the US is that "white people" don't exist without an opposite. It's often argued that the presence of black people is what allows allows ethnic europeans to be simply white: people who were killing each other in the old country got subsumed under the category "white" because they weren't black. In other words, the ability to construct an American "family" depends on black people not being part of it. Think of those WWII movies where there's an italian, and irish guy, a Pole, a midwesterner or a guy nicknamed "swede;" there's a farmboy and a guy from kentucky or a cowboy: there's never a black guy.

Most people don't know this but until the 1940s naturalized citizenship was only available to "free white persons." There's a whole series of law cases, the "racial classification cases," that aimed to sort out what white means (https://racism.org/articles/race/66-defining-racial-groups/white-european-american/372-white05a2)

The biggest problem was middle easterners (Jesus was assumed to have been white, so are Arabs white?) and Asian Indians who were "scientifically" Caucasian but brown in color. The Supreme court hears two cases a few weeks apart, Ozawa vs US and Thind V US, 1923/24, in which they rule the Japanese guy is white in color but not Caucasian, and cannot become a citizen, and the Indian guy is a Caucasian but not white in color, so he can't become a citizen either.

That's not the whole story of course but it's hard to ignore, and it's easy to conclude the US only works because the white black divide creates a unified white identity.

It's much more complicated now, many more people from other than Europe


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2020 6:45 pm 
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PB+J wrote:
In other words, the ability to construct an American "family" depends on black people not being part of it.

Not in my world. An American's an American, without qualification. Period. We might be tackling the issue of race, but acknowledging the American comes first. That's my family regardless, and it puts things in perspective right quick.

As to what people reflexively think constitutes an American, I had an extremely uncomfortable and revealing experience in Japan: We were on some topic where races in America came up; my Japanese friends called black folks Black, but white folks "American". I was shocked by this mindset, and not least because it was completely innocent and well-intended; they didn't see it for what it was. I'm afraid I don't remember what I said about it - it's the sort of thing I can't let slide, so I'm sure I didn't - but as we were friends, no doubt I had to be gentle. Still, though.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2020 4:45 am 
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PB+J wrote:
Another one of the classic problems facing the US is that "white people" don't exist without an opposite. It's often argued that the presence of black people is what allows allows ethnic europeans to be simply white: people who were killing each other in the old country got subsumed under the category "white" because they weren't black. In other words, the ability to construct an American "family" depends on black people not being part of it. Think of those WWII movies where there's an italian, and irish guy, a Pole, a midwesterner or a guy nicknamed "swede;" there's a farmboy and a guy from kentucky or a cowboy: there's never a black guy.


1. Why are you calling black people and white people opposites? In what sense do they oppose? Your differentia here is colour, do colours have opposites?

2. White people don't exist when all there is are white people because there is no gain from using white as a qualification - the inverse realtionship between extension and intension.

On a lighter note, why do you only capitilise Pole and not other proper nouns?


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2020 7:13 am 
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Nanohedron wrote:
I think that apart from tribal societies and certain non-tribal exceptions where survival depends on mutual assistance and regard, for the most part any complex society you could name won't stress community as an overarching principle, or if it does, it's restricted to the inner-inner circle.
Thanks for the expansion, but I'm still a bit puzzled.

In most senses of the word I think community just happens as a result of repeated constructive interactions with people. If by inner-inner circle you mean family and close friends I would regard community as the next ring out - neighbours who I enjoy a chat with (or chat with because "that's what you do"), the people I play tunes with, the people who I am on a committee with, the ones I go walking with every couple of weeks, etc. Where I live there is a geographic element but friends who live in cities seem to have a non-geographically-based social lives.

So I think you must mean a sense of community towards those we don't know but encounter in a shared space. I think 'overarching' is asking too much - for most family would come before community. But you brought that qualification in later. Here in the UK there is a healthy charity sector. During the recent lockdown local voluntary groups got together to deliver food orders that the supermarket made up. So not really the world you suggest.

Maybe, with mention of 'the American family', you are meaning a much bigger community showing (or not showing) mutual assistance and regard. Having considered it, that's just too big a 'community' for me; we are on to constitutional arrangements. In any case, for both historical and topical reasons, the idea of an 'English family' opens up several cans of worms. FWIW if pressed I would say I consider myself a northern Englishman, being more comfortable in the other countries in 'these islands' where people talk to one another on public transport than the metropolitan south east where, IME, they don't.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2020 10:03 am 
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bwat wrote:
PB+J wrote:
Another one of the classic problems facing the US is that "white people" don't exist without an opposite. It's often argued that the presence of black people is what allows allows ethnic europeans to be simply white: people who were killing each other in the old country got subsumed under the category "white" because they weren't black. In other words, the ability to construct an American "family" depends on black people not being part of it. Think of those WWII movies where there's an italian, and irish guy, a Pole, a midwesterner or a guy nicknamed "swede;" there's a farmboy and a guy from kentucky or a cowboy: there's never a black guy.


1. Why are you calling black people and white people opposites? In what sense do they oppose? Your differentia here is colour, do colours have opposites?

2. White people don't exist when all there is are white people because there is no gain from using white as a qualification - the inverse realtionship between extension and intension.

On a lighter note, why do you only capitilise Pole and not other proper nouns?



point Three: laziness

Point Two: yep, that's the point, exactly: why the US is able to relatively easily incorporate ethnic europeans into a generic "white" identity.

Point One: black/white function as a binary construct, like good/evil, or dirty/clean, in which it's hard to make sense of one with out the other. This is--as I pointed out--baked into US law, which has insisted on a strict black white division even in cases where the people involved were clearly mixed or neither simple black or white--it's in the cases I referenced and linked to. Black and white in art are I think are technically not colors, but I'm not really talking about art, I'm talking about the work that the notion of black and white did in US history.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2020 2:42 pm 
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david_h wrote:
So I think you must mean a sense of community towards those we don't know but encounter in a shared space. I think 'overarching' is asking too much - for most family would come before community. But you brought that qualification in later. Here in the UK there is a healthy charity sector. During the recent lockdown local voluntary groups got together to deliver food orders that the supermarket made up. So not really the world you suggest.

Maybe, with mention of 'the American family', you are meaning a much bigger community showing (or not showing) mutual assistance and regard.

Yes. I'm talking about a mindset first and foremost, all else being details according to individuals and circumstances. We have a healthy charity sector as well (well, it was healthy; it's strained now, as you can imagine) but having a charity sector isn't the point. I submit that your average person will live in an existential bubble where charities are approved of in principle, but they don't have anything to do with them. And so on with any other societal matter. And I fully recognize that sooner or later individual needs come first. But what I'm talking about is a sense of identity where one's nationality isn't merely an accident of birth, but a share in that nation's social compact. And lest you think I'm blundering into "America First" territory or any other form of chauvinism, I'm not. I'm insisting that one should approach a fellow national as a fellow national first. This is the key point. Then let us hash out why we agree or disagree on something.

You might rightly ask, "But isn't humanity an even more important identity than mere nationality?", and I would agree. But I think it's all too evident that humanity is too big an idea for most to hang onto; it's so big that it easily dissipates. I think of national identity as rather like training wheels, if you will, because it's more graspable and comparatively concrete. Besides, there you are already. Might as well run with it, right?

Here's an example of what I mean: When one American tries to disenfranchise another because of their ethnicity or whatever, my first thought is, "Hold on, there. This is an American you're talking to. An American, just like you. You would dare say being American is provisional? Better rethink that one, buster. Remember: American. Ignore this, and you repudiate the idea that being American means anything at all, and in case you haven't thought of it, that extends to you. Beware." We all know that invoking their humanity will have little impact, and this is in all probability because the offender's own moral condition (AKA "humanity") is compromised, so of course such arguments will have little impact, if any. But in practical terms the undeniable fact, and therefore status, of being American carries more force, because human rights are already implicit, even if not yet actualized. All this is fundamental to the entire concept. I don't know if invoking shared nationhood would have as much force elsewhere, but in the US it makes a strong argument, because there's ideology behind it.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2020 4:20 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
I think of national identity as rather like training wheels, if you will, because it's more graspable and comparatively concrete. Besides, there you are already. Might as well run with it, right?
I think it's tricky to do that it in the UK. I respect that many in Wales and Scotland see themselves as Welsh or Scottish first and UK citizens second (in some cases begrudgingly). Health policy is devolved to 'the nations' but there is no English government and over COVID-19 our Prime Minister keeps getting asked to clarify "if he is speaking as the prime minister of England or of the UK". So far as enfranchisement goes we also have this odd situation that citizens of the Irish Republic can come and live here and vote in our elections and vice versa. Everyone I know who has an Irish grandparent has applied for an Irish passport so as to stay an EU citizen. On top of that English nationalism is usually only expressed by those on the political right, most often by the far right.

However, I think I understand your point of view. Personally the nation is too many people for me to be a community (of people). If we had a federal system I could, perhaps, cope with a state being a community of the sort you suggest.

I may be wrong, but I don't think that in the UK discrimination on the basis of ethnicity has ever had the sort foundation in law that PB+J is describing in the USA. Plenty of discrimination though.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2020 6:20 pm 
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david_h wrote:
Nanohedron wrote:
I think of national identity as rather like training wheels, if you will, because it's more graspable and comparatively concrete. Besides, there you are already. Might as well run with it, right?
I think it's tricky to do that it in the UK. I respect that many in Wales and Scotland see themselves as Welsh or Scottish first and UK citizens second (in some cases begrudgingly). Health policy is devolved to 'the nations' but there is no English government and over COVID-19 our Prime Minister keeps getting asked to clarify "if he is speaking as the prime minister of England or of the UK". So far as enfranchisement goes we also have this odd situation that citizens of the Irish Republic can come and live here and vote in our elections and vice versa. Everyone I know who has an Irish grandparent has applied for an Irish passport so as to stay an EU citizen. On top of that English nationalism is usually only expressed by those on the political right, most often by the far right.

Yes, I can see that my idea has limited purchase, and how it really wouldn't work at all in your case.

david_h wrote:
However, I think I understand your point of view. Personally the nation is too many people for me to be a community (of people). If we had a federal system I could, perhaps, cope with a state being a community of the sort you suggest.

Again, it's a state of mind; as regards the nation as a physical entity, I would hesitate to use the term "community" except as a metaphor. Not everyone's going to think that way; that would be pie in the sky, and even almost a little bit hive-mind creepy when you think about it. But in the States, the idea of American citizenship does carry with it a certain hint of "Us-ness", if you will, and this implies that at some level, sooner or later, we are indeed beholden to each other if we claim to uphold our Constitution. And our national motto is E Pluribus Unum, after all; in the popular mind it means more than simply a reference to the unification of the original thirteen colonies. That angle can lend itself well to rhetorical arguments, for the very word "American" is full of meaning for us. But it can also be tricky, because by it one doesn't appeal so much to logic as one does to ideals, and sometimes those ideals ring hollow. If someone says that opposition to systemic injustice is un-American - and some do - it is just as meaningful, or meaningless if you like, to say that systemic injustice is itself un-American. Therein lies the fundamental argument these days: Is the American thing to be justice and human rights after all, as originally put on paper? Or are those documents to be cherry-picked in the name of individual rights so that oppression and rapine may continue to be winked at? Perhaps it's more revealing to ask which choice will pave the way for national healing, if it matters to us.

david_h wrote:
I may be wrong, but I don't think that in the UK discrimination on the basis of ethnicity has ever had the sort foundation in law that PB+J is describing in the USA. Plenty of discrimination though.

So much of US federal, state, and local law has indeed been informed by racism. Up to now it's been easy for the White community at large to ignore this, or simply be ignorant of it, but apparently that time has run its course. How this reckoning pans out remains to be seen, because the divide over it is very real; it's come down to whether to do what's right, or what's convenient, and there are very strong feelings about this on both sides.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2020 5:03 am 
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Nanohedron wrote:
.
So much of US federal, state, and local law has indeed been informed by racism. Up to now it's been easy for the White community at large to ignore this, or simply be ignorant of it, but apparently that time has run its course. How this reckoning pans out remains to be seen, because the divide over it is very real; it's come down to whether to do what's right, or what's convenient, and there are very strong feelings about this on both sides.


"Informed by" is too mild a statement: a lot of American law is simply and plainly built around it. The 1790 naturalization act, Congress' first statement on citizenship, says "Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That any Alien being a free white person, who shall have resided within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States for the term of two years, may be admitted to become a citizen thereof on application..." At the time black people could not vote, by law, and the Dred Scott case the Supreme Court insisted African Americans "They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order ... and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit." That is, the Constitution did not apply to black people, was never intended to apply black people, and according to the court could not be applied to black people.

Now there were always people who objected to that ruling and people who took the universalism of the Declaration of Independence seriously; Christianity insisted all people were alike children of god and equal in the eyes of god, so there were always countervailing forces, but for most of the twentieth century especially in the South, the law installed the worst forms of overt racism Virginia Senator Carter Glass, when asked why his state was passing laws disenfranchising African American, declared ""Discrimination! Why that is exactly what we propose. To remove every negro voter who can be gotten rid of, legally, without materially impairing the numerical strength of the white electorate." Glass was the father of the Federal Reserve, Secretary of the Treasury, and a congressman and senator for forty years. Well after WWII African Americans were denied access to federally guaranteed loans under the GI bill, and housing development built in the 40s and 50s could legally refuse to sell to black people (https://www.nytimes.com/1997/12/28/nyregion/at-50-levittown-contends-with-its-legacy-of-bias.html) The concertration of poverty in African American urban results from deliberate policy and formal law. Racism is so deeply embedded in Americna legal practice that its hard to even know where to begin to talk about it.

The unique thing in US culture is the stubborn persistence of antiracism, which is always failing but never quite gives up. We live in hope


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2020 2:40 pm 
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Such are the times: At the convenience store a woman of color - Filipina, I would guess - registered fear and suspicion upon seeing me, and only began to relax a bit after it was clear that I had no interest in anything other than my own business. But she was still on edge. And can I blame her?

On a number of occasions I've had people assume on first glance, and without any interaction on my part, that this white man must be a racist; perhaps it's because I'm naturally a bit grim-looking even when I'm in a good mood (Brightly: "Smile!" Perplexedly: "I am smiling."). But I had my face mask on this time, so that wasn't it. Or, maybe it was: Since masks offer me the opportunity to make fashion statements, this one was in an industrial-chic diamond plate print:

Image

I think it's pretty sharp, but maybe she found it threatening. Anyone know if there's some kind of code involved here that I'm unaware of? I'm unwilling to wear flowers.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2020 10:44 am 
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Nanohedron wrote:
Anyone know if there's some kind of code involved here that I'm unaware of? I'm unwilling to wear flowers.

Here's all I know:
Image


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2020 4:47 pm 
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From the Department of You're Doing It Wrong:

Image

Here are some that I like for looks (not necessarily for effectiveness):

Image

- The ultimate in disposable.

Image

- Social distancing guaranteed.

Image

- This could be a SciFi movie.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2020 1:30 am 
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Nanohedron wrote:
Image

Technical note: This image, or anything from that website, can't be viewed in Europe (including the UK).

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