Your chance to see those Fuentes clips!

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2022

A portrait of disorder: Yesterday, we mentioned the fact that Rachel Maddow played video clips of Nick Fuentes on her weekly show Monday night. Today, we can offer you this link to those video clips.

Watching him on videotape, Fuentes strikes us as transparently disordered. Reading about him in the New York Times last weekend, we wondered how a person can be this far gone by the age of 24:

HABERMAN AND FEUER (11/26/22): Former President Donald J. Trump on Tuesday night had dinner with Nick Fuentes, an outspoken antisemite and racist who is one of the country’s most prominent young white supremacists, at Mr. Trump’s private club in Florida, advisers to Mr. Trump conceded on Friday.

In recent years, Mr. Fuentes, 24, has developed a high profile on the far right and forged ties with such Republican lawmakers as Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona, largely through his leadership of an annual white-supremacist event called the America First Political Action Conference.

A Holocaust denier and unabashed racist, Mr. Fuentes openly uses hateful language on his podcast, in recent weeks calling for the military to be sent into Black neighborhoods and demanding that Jews leave the country.

[...]

Mr. Fuentes, who attended the bloody far-right rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, is best known for running a white nationalist youth organization known as America First, whose adherents call themselves groypers or the Groyper Army. In the wake of Mr. Trump’s defeat in 2020, Mr. Fuentes and the groypers were involved in a series of public events supporting the former president.

At a so-called “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington in November 2020, Mr. Fuentes urged his followers to “storm every state capitol until Jan. 20, 2021, until President Trump is inaugurated for four more years.” The following month, at a similar event, Mr. Fuentes led a crowd in chanting “Destroy the G.O.P.,” and urged people not to vote in the January 2021 Georgia Senate runoff elections.

On Jan. 6, 2021, Mr. Fuentes led a large group of groypers to the Capitol where they rallied outside in support of Mr. Trump. The next day, Mr. Fuentes wrote on Twitter that the assault on the Capitol was “awesome and I’m not going to pretend it wasn’t.”

According to the Times, Fuentes is king of the groypers! 

He's also "one of the country’s most prominent young white supremacists." Personally, we'd search for language which sounds less laudatory if we were to offer a capsule account of such a clownish, inane lost soul.

On a journalistic basis, some of those descriptions and accounts of Fuentes' statements were less specific than we would like. For example, we're told that he's a "white supremacist," but we aren't given the actual statements which justify that account.

(He inanely called for the army to be sent into black neighborhoods in order to address street crime.)

Similarly, it seems to us that some of the video clips Maddow played have been over-edited. That said, Fuentes strikes us as plainly disordered as we watch those clips. And good God—he's only 24!

How should such a disordered person best be described? In our view, we tend to confer power on such people when we fail to say, in the simplest terms, how disordered—how inane—their statements and their personal demeanor make them seem.

How do people get this way when they're still in their teens? (Fuentes would have been 17 at the time of the Charlottesville lunacy.) We'd like to see (carefully selected) medical / psychiatric specialists asked to speak on such points. 

Meanwhile, it seems to us that we grant such people increased power when we say how "prominent" they are, while failing to say how idiotic and disordered their behaviors make them seem.

"I pity the poor immigrant," Bob Dylan wrote long ago. (He was speaking metaphorically.) As we've said before, it seems to us that Dylan's description of this pitiable soul is a perfect portrait of Donald J. Trump.

("Who eats but is not satisfied, who hears but does not see. Who falls in love with wealth itself and turns his back on me.")

We regard Fuentes as being clownishly disordered—as someone who needs tons of help, and is therefore to be pitied, even as we search for ways to keep him from influencing others and thereby causing harm.

Go ahead and view those clips. We think we see a disordered, objectively loony lost soul. What do you think you see? 


THE DEMOGRAPHICATION RULES: Something we all can be thankful for!

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2022

Enslavement around the world: According to experts with whom we've consulted, Thanksgiving occurred last week. (Except of course in Canada, where things always happen first.)

Despite our current difficulties, we Americans did have certain things we could be thankful for. For one thing, we could be thankful that we don't live under some of the moral standards which have widely prevailed in the past.

In yesterday's award-winning demographic report, we quoted Professor David Silverman describing the massive enslavement of Native Americans during this country's colonial period. 

Modern prevailing moral standards would balk at such behavior today. That said, over the course of the past many years, the moral standards of our human race have left a lot to be desired all around the world.  

How widely was the enslavement of humans accepted in the past? Like you, we aren't experts on that question, but here's part of what the leading authority on the topic currently says about the historical state of affairs around the world after our somewhat imperfect species first crawled forth on the land:

The history of slavery spans many cultures, nationalities, and religions from ancient times to the present day. Likewise, its victims have come from many different ethnicities and religious groups. The social, economic, and legal positions of enslaved people have differed vastly in different systems of slavery in different times and places.

Slavery has been found in some hunter-gatherer populations, particularly as hereditary slavery, but the conditions of agriculture with increasing social and economic complexity offer greater opportunity for mass chattel slavery. Slavery operated in the first civilizations (such as Sumer in Mesopotamia, which dates back as far as 3500 BC). Slavery features in the Mesopotamian Code of Hammurabi (c. 1750 BC), which refers to it as an established institution. Slavery was widespread in the ancient world in Europe, Asia, Middle East, and Africa. It became less common throughout Europe during the Early Middle Ages, although it continued to be practiced in some areas.

Even the hunter-gatherers! Also, even in Sumer (no relation)!

We can all be thankful that we don't have to live with the moral standards which prevailed in those various places at those various times. Or, for that matter, with the moral standards which once prevailed even over here, in our own part of the world: 

In Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica the most common forms of slavery were those of prisoners of war and debtors...Warfare was important to Maya society, because raids on surrounding areas provided the victims required for human sacrifice, as well as slaves for the construction of temples. Most victims of human sacrifice were prisoners of war or slaves... 

Other slave-owning societies and tribes of the New World were, for example, the Tehuelche of Patagonia, the Comanche of Texas, the Caribs of Dominica, the Tupinamb√° of Brazil, the fishing societies, such as the Yurok, that lived along the west coast of North America from what is now Alaska to California, the Pawnee and Klamath. Many of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast, such as the Haida and Tlingit, were traditionally known as fierce warriors and slave-traders, raiding as far as California. Slavery was hereditary, the slaves being prisoners of war. Among some Pacific Northwest tribes about a quarter of the population was enslaved.

We recall the question our fifth graders asked us way back when, during the broadcast of the highly influential TV program, Roots. Here's what those excellent children asked:

How could people ever have been willing to treat other people that way? 

That's what these good, decent children, with their good, decent minds, asked us during a class discussion or three. They were asking a truly excellent question, one which came to us live and direct from their memorably good, decent hearts.

We believe we told them that moral standards were often very different at earlier times—that people had routinely accepted types of conduct we wouldn't accept today. Also, as we always did, we told them they should talk about such questions with their parents or their grandparents or their guardians, since they were the most important people in their good, decent young lives.

We were very impressed by Professor Silverman's erudition as he spoke with Martin DiCaro in a recent, hour-long interview session. (We were also impressed to see the Washington Times producing this frank discussion.) 

As you might recall, we saw Silverman say the following, midway through the hour. For the C-Span tape, click here:

DICARO (10/27/22): As far as I understand, one reason why the trans-Atlantic slave trade in Africans exploded was because it proved impossible to enslave Native Americans for various reasons. But I might be getting ahead of myself.

SILVERMAN: Well, you know, the last fifteen years of scholarship, or so, has exploded that idea—which, you know, which was standard fare in colonial American history courses for a long time.

What we've now discovered is that over the course of the big colonial era—you know, so 16th century all the way through the mid-19th century—Europeans, and then European colonists, enslaved upwards of five and a half million indigenous people

DICARO: I did not know—

SILVERMAN: Hemispherically, not within the boundaries of the United States. That's about forty percent of the volume of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

In North America, in the North American context—so this would be in English, French, Dutch and Spanish colonies—during the 17th century, so during the 1600s, you would have been as likely in a colonial setting, to encounter Native American slaves as Africans. 

That will change dramatically in the 18th century...

That's what happened closer to home during that earlier period. For all our blue tribe's transparent moral posturing about our vast love for racial / demographic justice, we can all be thankful for one thing:

We can all be thankful that we arrived on the planet during an era, and in a place, where different moral standards prevail.

Those fifth grade Baltimore kids had asked an extremely good question. How could people ever have done such things? 

More specifically, what could explain the brutal behavior they'd seen enacted as they watched the eight nightly broadcasts of Roots? They were troubled by what they were seeing—but they were puzzled by it as well.

We were vastly impressed by Silverman's erudition during his hour with DiCaro. We were also impressed by DiCaro's interest in the questions under review—though in some instances, we would have posed different questions than the questions which came from DiCaro. 

For example, we would have asked Silverman about the way Native groups along the northeast coast of this country viewed the repeated acts of enslavement which occurred during the 16th century—for roughly a hundred years before the Mayflower, Silverman said.

Silverman described such repeated acts. What did the region's indigenous groups think about behavior like that? What were the moral frameworks which they brought to such matters in that particular place and at that point in time?

There's a great deal we all could learn about the history of human brutality. Then again, there's Silverman's approach to the history of the so-called "First Thanksgiving" in 1621.

It happened a very long time ago. Tomorrow, we'll turn to that!

Tomorrow: Demographically speaking, are "Americans" us or them?


A few of the things we saw last night!

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2022

Right there on our TV machine: We lost a chunk of time today, then watched the soccer game. With apologies, we thought we'd offer a list of things we saw on TV last night.

First, we watched the opening segment of Tucker Carlson Tonight. We saw the program's disordered host engage in the last example of his strangely unhinged behavior.

Later, thanks to On Demand, we watched a good chunk of our own channel's Deadline: White House. Make Way for Ducklings popped into our heads as we watched the program's host, Nicolle Wallace, adumbrate a series of themes, knowing that her many guests would waddle directly along in her wake, repeating every word she had said.

Also, we saw Rachel Maddow play actual videotape of the suddenly famous, 24-year-old Nick Fuentes. The videotape had come from People for the American Way. 

For our money, some of the statements on the tape had been over-edited. But we'll have to say that Fuentes came across like a tragically genuine nut.

(Then too, there was the increasingly nutty online Washington Post, pursuing its new, post-newspaper ways in today's early hours.)

Our nation's political elites have long since divided into tribes. One tribe is crazier than the other, but that second tribe is larded with overpaid recitation experts who actually ought to know better.

These tribes are working to establish a world of Us and Them. We don't think a whole lot of good can come of these round-the-clock efforts. 

Fuentes seemed like a genuine nut. Our own stars made us think of the famous book about all those imprinted ducklings.

We wish we could offer you more detail. We've lost a bunch of time in the past few days.

Alos this: The U.S. won the soccer game in a blowout, 1-0.


THE DEMOGRAPHICATION RULES: Enslavement in the colonial era!

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2022

A deeply brutal history: Especially as judged by contemporary standards, the history of the western hemisphere is a vicious and bloody affair. 

Consider the contents of an exchange we viewed over the Thanksgiving weekend.  The exchange was part of a broadcast of an hour-long interview which took place in late October. 

You can watch the entire session thanks to this this C-Span videotape.  C-Span describes the event as shown:

Lessons from the First Thanksgiving

Martin DiCaro, host of the Washington Times' “History As It Happens” podcast, talked to historian David Silverman about challenges educators face when teaching about colonialism and the first Thanksgiving. This program was part of the Washington Times taping of its history podcast.

As we noted yesterday, we learned a lot from watching Professor Silverman's hour-long interview session. That said, how brutal is the history in question? 

Roughly thirty minutes into the session, consider this exchange:

DICARO (10/27/22): I think I'm getting a little ahead of myself, because as far as I understand, one reason why the trans-Atlantic slave trade in Africans exploded was because it proved impossible to enslave Native Americans for various reasons. But I might be getting ahead of myself.

SILVERMAN: Well, you know, the last 15 years of scholarship, or so, has exploded that idea

DICARO: O.K.

SILVERMAN: —which, you know, which was standard fare in colonial American history courses for a long time.

Like DiCaro, we were surprised to hear that. Silverman continued from there:

SILVERMAN (continuing directly): What we've now discovered is that over the course of the big colonial era—you know, so 16th century all the way through the mid-19th century—Europeans, and then European colonists, enslaved upwards of five and a half million indigenous people

DICARO: I did not know—

SILVERMAN: Hemispherically, not within the boundaries of the United States. That's about forty percent of the volume of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Assuming Silverman's data are accurate, forty percent of the trans-Atlantic slave trade (North and South America combined) involved the enslavement of Native Americans! 

As with DiCaro, so too here: We don't think we knew that.

Elsewhere, Silverman noted that the bulk of these enslaved indigenous people were actually taken to Europe, where they were made to work at various tasks. Even so, as he continued, he surprised us again:

SILVERMAN (continuing directly): In North America, in the North American context—so this would be in English, French, Dutch and Spanish colonies—during the 17th century, so during the 1600s, you would have been as likely in a colonial setting, to encounter Native American slaves as Africans. 

That will change dramatically in the 18th century, largely because if you're enslaving the people you live near, it's a recipe for chronic war.

"This is depressing. I don't think I want to celebrate Thanksgiving," DiCaro said at this point. 

DiCaro was fashioning a rueful joke, but the history is brutal. That's especially true when the history is judged by contemporary moral standards, which are far superior to the moral standards which widely prevailed at that time.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, we watched several interviews with Professor Silverman. As we noted yesterday, we were highly impressed by his wide-ranging erudition—though it must be said that we aren't in a position to judge the accuracy of his various factual statements.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but world history tends to be brutal. That's certainly true of the history of the Americas in the age of European colonization—and it was during that age that our struggling nation's so-called "First Thanksgiving" occurred.

As you can see from what's posted above, Silverman's interview with DiCaro was built around a desire to assess the stories which have long been told about that "First Thanksgiving." Back in 2019, Silvermna became the go-to academic on the history of that event when he published a well-received book on the subject:

This Land is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving.

Over the weekend, we learned a lot from watching Silverman is several interview sessions. At the same time, we thought we detected the possible hint of a possibly unhelpful tone in some of his attendant writings about that "troubled history."

Back in November 2019, Silverman wrote an essay for the New York Times about that "First Thanksgiving." As we noted yesterday, the headline in the essay said this:

The Vicious Reality Behind the Thanksgiving Myth

We stand in awe of the depth of historical knowledge Silverman seems to bring to his work. At the same time, we wonder if a certain slightly unhelpful conceptual framework may perhaps be lurking in that essay for the Times.

Our deeply self-impressed blue tribe has recently embarked on a new tribal culture—a culture we would describe as "the demographication of everything." In part, we call it that to avoid the need to describe it as the racialization of everything, though that would be a reasonably accurate name for this culture as well. 

It seems to us that Silverman's essay begins to offer a window onto that emergent cultural framework. Meanwhile, we deeply self-impressed Blues!  

It seems to us that we often flounder on the merits when we advance that (deeply heartfelt) new tribal culture. On the politics, it seems to us that we routinely insist on driving voters away when we express our newly heartfelt array of identity-centric dogmas, novelizations, assertions, claims, memorized statements and views.

As an historian, Silverman strikes us as amazingly erudite. When it comes to the politics of our floundering tribe's heartfelt new culture, it seems to us that his essay may possibly point the way to our demise, perhaps from its first sentence on.

Tomorrow: In just its first six words...


Please don't call family or friends on the phone!

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2022

A Washington Post alert: We'll admit that we retain our fascination with the headlong devolution of the (online) Washington Post.

As our culture moves post-truth, are we also moving in the direction of post-newspaper? Consider what we found when we journeyed to the online Post at 9:45 this morning.

As always, the online paper's endless front page started with what seemed to be a set of major news headlines. 

Those headlines appeared at the top of the page. That's very much as it ought to be, but the first three headlines were these:

Nearly 9 in 10 covid deaths are in people 65 or older

Sea levels are rising dramatically off Virginia, threatening a community—and the entire East Coast

Calling out of the blue: Why would you do this to someone you love? 

The first two headlines seemed to relate to recognizable news topics. But what about the inscrutable headline on that third report? 

In the case of that third report, the full double headline said this:

Calling out of the blue: Why would you do this to someone you love? 
In the age of texting and DMs, a ringing phone can sound like nothing but bad news.

Believe it or not, this third report was a heartfelt, lengthy warning about the danger of calling family or friends on the phone. 

Why would you call someone you love on the phone? Your family or friends may think it's bad news, the Post's Ellen McCarthy was bizarrely warning Post readers. 

Yes, that's what it said! It was the third report at the very top of the online Washington Post's front page, and it started like this:

MCCARTHY (11/28/22): Adria Barich is a haunted woman. Her tormentor tracks her everywhere, threatening to ambush her in a dimly lit parking garage, as she drives down a desolate road or when she’s let her guard down to wash dishes or collapse on the couch.

“I’ve actually changed my ringtone a few times, because I start to associate it with terror,” says Barich, a 24-year-old California woman who works in marketing. “But every time that I do, after, like, a week or so, it just becomes terrifying again.”

There is nothing that makes Barich seize up with fear like an incoming call.

“I feel anxiety. I stiffen up. I also kind of make myself pretend that I didn’t see it,” she says. “And nine times out of 10, I’m not going to answer it. If someone really needs to reach me, they can text me, leave a voice mail or continue to call me again and again and again. I wait for their next move before I decide what I’m going to do.”

For the record, McCarthy isn't suggesting that Adria Barich is in the grip of some puzzling phobia. McCarthy's point of view is completely different. Soon, she's offering this:

MCCARTHY: If these levels of live-caller dread sound ludicrous to you, congratulations. Maybe your friends and family call just to chat, and you welcome these telephonic drop-bys even when they are not invited or forewarned. Maybe those conversations seldom veer into awkwardness or tedium.

For the rest of us, impromptu calls have become roughly equivalent to turning up unannounced at someone’s home and smushing your face up against their window. Our comfort and patience with person-to-person calls have eroded as text messaging became the preferred way of communicating all but the gravest of news. The ringtone grows ominous. For whom does it toll?

The lunacy proceeds from there in this latest offering from the increasingly bizarre (online) Washington Post. 

McCarthy's report goes on and on about the anguish people feel when they hear the ring of their phone. It's clear that McCarthy feels that this anguish is entirely sensible. Meanwhile, let us repeat our original point:

At 9:45 this morning, this was the third (3rd) news report at the very top of the online Washington Post's front page! To appearances, this was the third most important topic the online Post believed it was reporting at that point in time.

Please don't call your friends on the phone, this high-profile offering said. Below it, the next headline led to an absurdly frivolous, poorly reasoned report about the way politicians have gained or lost Twitter followers since Elon Musk took over the company. The headline there said this:

Shift in follower counts for Elizabeth Warren, Ted Cruz show how Twitter is beginning to change

From there, it was on to one last pair of reports. They completed the set of six which were given full banner treatment at the top of the Post's front page:

Pilot, passenger rescued after plane gets tangled in high-voltage lines in Maryland

I drove all 1,700 miles of Australia’s remote Outback Way. Here’s what it’s like. 

According to those last two reports, there had been an unusual local accident in which no one was hurt. Also, some guy had driven across Australia, and he wanted to say what it's like!

For the record, today's print edition of the Post featured five (5) front-page news reports. All five of those reports concerned traditional "hard news" topics.

Three of those reports appeared above the fold on the front page of today's print editions. At 9:45 this morning, none (none) of those three reports were visible in any way on the endless, aggressively tedious front page of the online Washington Post. 

Observers have noted that we seem to be living in a "post-truth" world. Are we moving toward a post-sanity realm at the online Post?


THE DEMOGRAPHICATION RULES: Thanksgiving is the cruelest month!

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2022

A deeply painful framework: Thanksgiving is the cruelest month! In his famous poem, Eliot simply wasn't willing to acknowledge this painful fact!

We came to this painful realization over the recent holidays. In particular, we came to this realization as we read some columns by Professor David Silverman, and as we watched him on several (highly informative) C-Span interview programs.

Who is David Silverman? According to his official bio at George Washington University, he's a professor of Early America and Native America. 

Beyond that, the official bio lists four areas of expertise: Native American [sic], Colonial and Revolutionary America, the Early Modern World, and Imperialism and Colonialism.

That covers a lot of ground! His capsule bio says this:

David J. Silverman (Ph.D., Princeton, 2000) specializes in Native American, Colonial American, and American racial history. His most recent book is This Land is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving, published by Bloomsbury in 2019. 

He is also the author of Thundersticks: Firearms and the Violent Transformation of Native America (Cambridge, MA., 2016); Red Brethren: The Brothertown and Stockbridge Indians and the Problem of Race in Early America (Ithaca, 2010), and Faith and Boundaries: Colonists, Christianity, and Community among the Wampanoag Indians of Martha’s Vineyard, 1600-1871 (New York, 2005), and co-author of Ninigret, the Niantic and Narragansett Sachem: Diplomacy, War, and the Balance of Power in Seventeenth-Century New England and Indian Country (Ithaca, 2014). 

His essays have won major awards from the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the New York Association of History.

In addition to the four areas of expertise we've mentioned, we're also told, in that passage, that Silverman specializes in a fifth area—"American racial history."

Those five areas of specialization cover a very large amount of deeply forested ground! Having said that, and for whatever it's worth, Silverman strikes us as being highly learned concerning various aspects of our nation's cruelest month.

With his 2019 book about "the troubled history of Thanksgiving"—see the capsule bio above— Silverman became the go-to guy for information about our so-called "First Thanksgiving." He also became a go-to guy concerning what happened next.  

We aren't specialists at this site, but it sems to us that Silverman is extremely learned about those topics. We learned a lot of as we watched him on those C-Span interview programs—but we also thought we might have seen a certain unhelpful blue tribe framework rearing its unhelpful head.

Each year now, during our cruelest month, we Americans are subjected to a certain narration concerning that First Thanksgiving. For an overview of Silverman's approach, we'll recommend the guest essay he wrote for the New York Times in November 2019.

The essay was published in conjunction with his 2019 book. The essay discusses what actually happened on that so-called First Thanksgiving—but it also discusses events which took place some 55 years later, events which may not be an obvious part of that so-called first feast.

The essay covered a lot of ground. It appeared beneath this unfriendly headline:

The Vicious Reality Behind the Thanksgiving Myth

Just for the record, that's the headline which still appears online. In print editions, the headline on the essay said this:

 The Vicious Myth of Thanksgiving

We don't know if Silverman wrote those aggressive headlines. Whoever may have composed the headlines, we'd say they convey a certain attitude—an attitude which will strike many voters as perhaps and possibly being a tiny touch "anti-Amerikan," at least in spirit and tone.

Needless to say, most of those voters will turn out to be racists, bigots, misogynists, homophobes. Still and all, those monsters get to vote—and so, here we all are!

Long ago and far away, Kevin Drum presented a list of seven things centrist voters don't like about us blue tribe members. As you may recall, his last two points were these:

Drum: "Things centrist voters don't like about us" 

[...] 

Point 6: They think wokeness is ridiculous. They want us to stop talking like academics from another galaxy. 

Point 7: They do not like being called racist.

We continued to think about those last two points as we struggled through our cruelest month last week.

We learned a lot from watching David Silverman on a pair of C-Span programs! We also thought we may have heard the slightest hint of a certain unhelpful blue tribe framework—a framework which may not always seem to make perfect sense on the merits, and which may be losing us votes.

That sprawling framework emerges from our nation's deeply painful, brutal racial history. What name would we place on that sprawling framework—a sprawling framework to which our blue tribe is now exclusively wed?

For starters, we'd be inclined to call it "The demographication of everything." It tends to be regulated by our floundering tribe's racialization rules.

Tomorrow: A look at Silverman's essay


Tony Fauci is lying again...

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2022

...according to Tucker Carlson: The front page of today's New York Times includes this instructive report:

An Ancient Language, Once on the Brink, Is a British Isle’s Talk of the Town 

At issue is the ancient language Manx, which is apparently making a comeback on the Isle of Man. 

Given the world's endless complexifications, the Isle of Man "is a self-governing British Crown Dependency that is not a part of the United Kingdom, but whose residents are British citizens." 

The Isle of Man's population is roughly 84,000. According to the front-page report, around 2,200 [of those] people are now able to speak, read or write in Manx."

According to the news report, people on the Isle of Man have decided they want to slow or stop the erosion of their island's traditional culture, including the impending loss of its traditional language. 

All other things being equal, there's obviously nothing "wrong" with any such impulse or preference. Again and again, then again and again, we see that this desire to keep such traditions (and identities) alive is a thoroughly human impulse.

There's nothing "wrong" with any such impulse, until such time as there is. In that respect, this report also points to the possible difficulties involved in running a "diverse democracy," especially in a giant nation like ours.

We may return to that topic tomorrow with respect to our own nation's Thanksgiving Day traditions. For today, consider this:

Diversity can be challenging! It can get even harder in a giant nation like ours, where people like The Abandoned Boy of Fox News can command very large platforms.

Why do we mention Tucker Carlson? Also on today's front page is this perhaps slightly puzzling report:

A Lasting Legacy of Covid: Far-Right Platforms Spreading Health Myths
The Biden administration has pushed social media giants like Facebook to curb Covid misinformation. But it is thriving on fringe platforms like Gab, a hub for extremist content.

In that second front-page report, Sheryl Gay Stolberg reports the way Covid myths are being spread on certain "fringe platforms." 

That said, is Fox News "fringe?" We ask because, three nights ago, we saw a certain disordered child start a report like this:

CARLSON (11/22/25): So when the Covid pandemic began in early 2020, everyone wanted to believe Tony Fauci. We did. We had him on the show, actually, and then he began lying in ways so obvious that you could not ignore it. You began asking, "What is this about?" 

The guy in charge of the Covid response is lying about Covid? Why? He lied about herd immunity, then he lied about masks, then he repeatedly lied about vaccines. You can’t lie if you’re a public health official, but he kept doing it. 

Today, Tony Fauci, who is now 81, held his last press conference and, appropriately enough, he decided to tell one final lie about masks. Watch.

That's the way Carlson began his presentation. Below, as Carlson's report continued, viewers were shown videotape of the Q-and-A in which Fauci was said to have told that "one final lie about masks:"

REPORTER (videotape): What do you say about the word "mask" now being a pejorative in some communities?

FAUCI (videotape): No, it shouldn't be. I mean, you're absolutely right. I mean, I know sometimes when you walk in and you have a mask and nobody has a mask you kind of feel guilty. 

You shouldn't feel guilty. You look terrific.

That was the full exchange in which Fauci was said to have told his "one final lie about masks." We now offer a bit of context:

Carlson's mother abandoned him when he was 8 years old.

He never saw his mother again. Instead, he goes on the air and behaves in routinely peculiar ways for a very large salary—a salary which isn't disclosed.

At any rate, that was just the start of Carlson's presentation Tuesday night. As he continued, he said this:

CARLSON (continuing directly): That's a question from the press corps? "What do you say about the word 'mask' becoming a pejorative?" That's media coverage? 

That's embarrassing. It's weird, too. 

People who love masks? Really? They don't work very well. Everyone knows that. The science shows that. But for some reason, Tony Fauci is still pretending it makes sense to wear a mask.

That's the way Carlson explained the problem with Fauci's "final lie about masks." That said, Carlson noted another problem with something Fauci had said:

CARLSON (continuing directly): He also pretended, once again, that you'll die unless you get the corona vaccine. For real. Watch.

FAUCI (videotape): The real danger is in the people who don't get vaccinated. So that's where we expect, if we're going to see a problem this winter, it's going to be among those people. 

CARLSON: Oh, it's a pandemic of the unvaccinated, is it? 

This is insane! This is not science. In fact, all of the science shows just the opposite. It’s more risky for most people to get the vaccine than to get Covid at this point. 

It’s not speculation. The data from a bunch of countries, U.K. and Israel included, prove that. But Fauci somehow doesn’t know that? 

Carlson continued from there. 

We don't know much about Covid science. We're going to leave it to Kevin Drum to bring you up to date on the actual state of the science.

We do know that Carlson behaves extremely strangely on a great many nights—and that his peculiar behavior rarely makes the front page.

Long ago, back in the age of Hannity / Limbaugh, we frequently said that major newspapers like the New York Times should treat such events as front-page news.

Gab is on today's front page. Carlson's behavior isn't.

In such ways, populations can lose their ability to function as nations. That can be especially true in very large nations like ours. 

Fox contributes to this erosion, but so does our own blue tribe. We often thought of sacred Nietzsche as we watched some elements of our tribe observing Thanksgiving this year!


Thanksgiving Day meant Hillsdale High!

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 2022

Vanquishing Dick Vermeil:  Earlier today, we got to thinking about Thanksgiving Day football. 

More precisely, we got to thinking about Thanksgiving Day high school football—and, inevitably, about defeating Coach Vermeil.

We'd been raised on a great Thanksgiving Day football tradition—the ancient Bay State rivalry between Winchester and Woburn High Schools. The annual game, which started at 11 A.M., dated back into the 1890s. 

We saw Joe Bellino play in that game. You can read about the rivalry here.

Our family decamped for California in the summer of 1960. The Golden State was a different place then.

Its population stood at a minuscule 15.7 million—but a new high school was opening in the state roughly every ten minutes. Soon, there stood "our dear Aragon, stately and serene"—and also, prepared to do battle with our instant arch-rival, Hillsdale High, which had been open at that time for something like six years.

(Cali's population today: 39.2 million!)

The rivalry was instant—and delightfully fierce. In this 2013 report from a publication called the Aragon Outlook, a whimsical Aragon kid named Sasha Menshikova reported that the origin of the rivalry had been lost in the mist:

MENSHIKOVA (12/12/13): Rivals: A tale of two schools

Approximately two miles away from Aragon lies the illustrious Hillsdale High School, where Aragon students’ old middle school acquaintances roam the halls. But they lead different lives now. They live by different rules and revere a metal clad figure. One might not find the person they knew several years ago under the red and blue face paint.

Hillsdale, Aragon’s longtime rival, is always shown as the villain in the Homecoming rally skit, even dating back to the ’70s.

English teacher Sandra Skale, an Aragon alumna and former cheerleader, says, “The schools here in San Mateo were built pretty close in time and so because of the close proximity there was a rivalry. They actually stole something from us or we stole something, but I’m not really 100 percent sure [of] the factual beginning of [the rivalry]. We wanted to beat them, and they wanted to beat us. Just like San Mateo and Burlingame.”

Tired old San Mateo and Burlingame High Schools had been playing each other forever. We Dons soon had a comparable rivalry, one which had emerged full-blown out of some junior boys' heads.

Hillsdale's red-and-blue garbed mascot is a knight—hence Menshikova's condescending reference to the reverence its students feel for that "metal clad figure." Reading her piece, we were glad to see that at least one thing remains unchanged—Aragon's traditionally dismissive attitude toward its more dutiful middle-class rival.

That dismissive attitude—a product of that culture clash—was present from the start! That said, we do remember how the instant rivalry started:

In the winter of 1962, during our brand-new school's first (though also last) "Spirit Week," some highly excitable junior boys ventured down the Alameda and painted our new rival school in Aragon hues—red and an unwanted black!

The rivalry was instant and heated. It took only the light from that match.

Aragon played Hillsdale on Turkey Day in our last three years of high school. (1962-63 was the first school year in which Aragon had seniors.) Thumbing back through our dusty yearbooks, we learned that the scores were these:

1962: Hillsdale 20, Aragon 18
1963: Aragon 7, Hillsdale 3
1964: Hillsdale 7, Aragon 0

Don't worry! Aragon's flawless basketball team defeated the Knights in six out of seven meetings during those three school years. That said, Hillsdale sent its center, Steve Kelly, off to Oregon State where he became a 7-foot high jumper, teaming with sacred Fosbury as part of the greatest high jump team in NCAA history.

(In all honesty, those Hillsdale teams were full of good guys. Bobby Marcucci, a prince!)

Back to Turkey Day! Hillsdale's coach in that first meeting was a handsome young guy named Dick Vermeil. After struggling to victory against Aragon's first-ever team, Coach apparently knew that he'd have to go elsewhere to really win the big one.

He finally did, as head coach of the St. Louis Rams in the 2000 Super Bowl! Aragon may have chased him away, but he managed to land on his feet!

Many years later, we like the cut of Menshikova's jib as she explored the cultural chasm which still seemed to exist between those aging Cali high schools. 

When we arrived in 1960, the Golden State was practically empty. Then, they built all those schools!


GLIMMERS AND INTIMATIONS: What are children being told today...

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 2022

...as one tale replaces another? We'll bite! What are schoolkids told today—or perhaps, permitted to learn on their own—about the so-called First Thanksgiving?

Let's take it one step further! What do school kids know today about the state of "the Americas" in 1621? About the state of the Americas in 1491, one year before the event which has long been taken as the first contact between Europe and this "new world?"

What do kids know about the civilizations of the Americas as of 1491? About the state of play in what is now called New England at the time of that first Thanksgiving Day feast?

About the events which came after that? What are today's children told? What do they learn on their own?

You're asking interesting questions there; you can color us curious blue! We'd love to know what today's textbooks say, and what kids learn on their own, but we're unlikely see such reports.

Instead, we'll continue to see the swapping of standard stories.

"For centuries," a standard story was told to children and adults alike about that first Thanksgiving—a very limited story. Today, it's been replaced by what may perhaps be seen as a new and substantially different standard / limited tale:

CHERY (11/19/22): For centuries, Thanksgiving has been billed as an opportunity for friends and family to gather, with peace and gratitude in their hearts. But for Native Americans, celebrating the autumnal holiday isn’t as simple.

The short-and-sweet story told in schools depicting the first Thanksgiving as a harmonious harvest celebration between Native people and Pilgrims “was a very romanticized, Whitewashed education about Indigenous peoples,” said Jordan Daniel, who’s a member of the Lower Brule Sioux tribe.

In reality, 1621 was not the first celebration of Thanksgiving between the English and the Wampanoag people, said David Silverman, a George Washington University professor who specializes in Native American history. The Wampanoags tried to ally with the English for trade and to maintain political independence from another Native group after an epidemic dwindled their numbers.

“Tensions built for years as the English population grew and began dispossessing, subjugating and evangelizing Native people,” Silverman said. Finally, war broke out around 1675, and after the English won, they enslaved about 2,000 American Indian prisoners of war, he added.

In 1970, the United American Indians of New England began commemorating Thanksgiving Day as a National Day of Mourning to honor their ancestors who experienced cultural genocide at the hands of European colonialists.

That newer version of the story is now published each year. Arguably, it might be perceived as a bit of a "bluewashed" story, especially when it continues in ways such as this:

CHERY (continuing directly): Native Americans as a whole say they’re still fighting for what’s rightfully theirs. The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe still doesn’t have control over its entire ancestral land. The Supreme Court has been weighing the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act, which Congress passed in 1978 to remedy the practice of removing Native children from their homes and sending them to non-Native boarding schools and families.

The people of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe still don’t have control over the tribe's entire ancestral land?  In reality, the 2,800 people of that tribe aren't ever going to "have control" over some such undefined expanse of ancestral land. 

As everyone knows, that isn't going to happen! History has moved on in a brutal but definitive way, as history has frequently done. It's hard to know whose interests are served by seeming to pretend different.

What are children told today about that First Thanksgiving? What are children told today about what happened next?

We'd love to know such things! We'd also like to know what adults are told about the problems of needs of Native American peoples today. But that's a topic which is almost never discussed within our blue tribe press.

In fact, no one cares a whole lot about that—about the interests and the needs of the Native American kids who are being born today. Instead, we retell the story, once a year, about this "national day of mourning"—a day of mourning which has now been observed, at least by some people, for over fifty years.

"These are the days of miracle and wonder," Paul Simon once declared. These are also days of great suffering around the world—and of advice columns prominently placed in the Washington Post, such as these recent insulting groaners

Miss Manners: I can’t deal with my colleagues pooping next to me

Miss Manners: The proper etiquette for disposing bathroom trash

Miss Manners: Guest pointed out a burned-out bulb in the middle of dinner

Miss Manners: I used my friend’s baby changing station. Is that weird?

The Washington Post should be embarrassed to publish such manifest drivel. That said, this seems to be a major way to attract our blue tribe's inquiring eyeballs, with the focus on bodily waste seeming to be on the rise:

DEAR PRUDENCE
Help! My Dad’s Visiting Friend Used Our Bathtub as a Toilet.

Pathetically, "Slate Staff" recently republished that monumental, world-class groaner from January 2020. Adding intellectual insult to cultural injury, we take it as obvious that the problem posed in the original letter to Slate was a fairly obvious hoax.

For our money, Margaret Renkl has been a superb addition to the New York Times' roster of opinion columnists. Today, she writes a column which appears beneath this title:

How to Give Thanks in a Screwed-Up World

For the record, the world is substantially worse than than "screwed-up." In our view, Renkl offers superb advice as she remembers her father:

RENKL (11/23/22): I think about my father every day, but I’ve been thinking about him more than usual lately. Not only because Thanksgiving is coming on, that time when the ache of my missing elders is especially acute, but because I am trying to remind myself how to see the world as my father saw it.

“Brew positivity,” the tag on my tea bag tells me, but I am thinking of nothing as simplistic as that. My father was no Panglossian determined to believe that this is the best of all possible worlds. Dad grew up during the Great Depression in what was effectively an orphanage. He knew very well that this was not the best of all possible worlds. Nevertheless, he loved his life and was grateful for every minute of it. Somehow he was able to hold the love and the beauty and the joy alongside the grief and the fear and the pain. 

That was her father! For the record, we human beings can't survive if we see nothing but the pain. Rather plainly, our species is built with the ability to ignore, forget, disregard.

That said, what are we ignoring as one of our biggest newspapers gives prominent placement to those insulting advice columns? Later, Renkl thinks about an important topic—happiness—and the (many) things she'll never be able to change:

RENKL: What voters want is transparently irrelevant to many of the officials charged to represent us, as the attorney general of Kentucky made clear last week. Voters in that state defeated a proposed anti-abortion amendment to its Constitution, but the attorney general insists the vote “has no bearing” on its near-total abortion ban. Down here, Mr. Trump’s movement is Glenn Close in the bathtub with a knife.

But it’s Thanksgiving, and I’m determined not to think about that this week. I will think instead about my father and his insistence on happiness. I will let my whole heart fill up with gratitude for what is still breathtakingly beautiful about this weary, ragged world; for the many people who are fighting for our democracy; and for all the people I love.

I can’t force polluting nations to work together to hold climate change to planet-surviving levels. I can’t force Congress to work together for solutions to the economic inequities and information silos that separate us. But I can pull out my mother’s recipe box and make a Thanksgiving feast. I can remember the loved ones who once shared this table and fill their seats with people whose loved ones are distant or otherwise missing. And I can be grateful for every single fantastic moment we have together.

None of us will ever be able to change the "economic inequities" of this nation—and those which afflict the world. That said, we blue tribals could at least make an effort to stop creating the "information silos" we help construct on a daily basis, including the silos in which brutal conduct from centuries past is never put away in service to the possibilities of the future. 

The good, decent people of that (very small) Massachusetts tribe aren't ever going to get their entire ancestral land back! The Post's young writer framed the issue that way, and some editor let it go.

(Or who knows? Maybe some editor inserted that point into the young writer's report!)

That said, something else is true. Our own blue tribe is full of standard stories designed to tell ourselves that We Are The Very Good People and The Others Are Very Bad. As we tell ourselves these stories, we pretend to care about X, Y and Z, then let those matters go.

Variants of this tribal self-flattery can be seen on a daily basis. They offer glimmers and intimations of the way we manage to lose elections, even as 6-year-old children lose their mothers as they try to cross the Darien Gap on their way to this land.

We repeat the talk of cosseted professors. We're quick to call Others names, preferably by the tens of millions. 

On this Thanksgiving Eve, that doesn't make us bad people. It simply makes us people people, but it also lets us know why we keep running in place.

Around the world, we humans are strongly inclined to cling to the nightmares of the past. That isn't an evil thing to do, but at what point might it possibly leave us poorly served?

Friday: Who took part in that cultural genocide? Also, what are children being told about that slightly earlier year?

Also, what sacred Nietzsche said! So much to look forward to!


GLIMMERS AND INTIMATIONS: Paul Simon in 1986!

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2022

Our blue tribe's scripts today: In recent weeks, we've often thought of the gloomy ending to Paul Simon's widely-acclaimed album, Graceland.

The album appeared in 1986. It interwove two storylines. 

The dominant story concerned the way the people of the world were coming to see their essential similarity through the spread of "world music." Simon's album was, of course, part of that phenomenon. 

The secondary story on the album seems to concern the failure of Simon's first two marriages. 

In Graceland, the album's second song, Simon sings thusly: "My traveling companion in 9 years old, he's the child of my first marriage." 

Simon and the child are trying to reach Elvis Presley's iconic home—and a metaphorical graceland as well. In the album's penultimate song, That Was Your Mother, the singer provides this child with a great gift—he describes the scene when the child's mother and father first set eyes on each other. 

In the song's fictionalized telling, the child's mother and father meet in New Orleans, one of the places where the world's music entered the North American land mass. As they meet, Simon is "standing in the shadow of Clifton Chenier, king of the bayou"—but also, king of one of the musical traditions which arose in that location.

The album presents an ironic interplay of the singer's reflections on these simultaneous, interwoven themes and events. In its final song, The Myth of Fingerprints, the album ends with a downbeat reflection on a particular type of counter-productive human impulse, our drive toward individuation.

The album's final lyric goes like this:

"That's way we must learn to live alone." 

At least on the individual level, we're strongly inclined to tear ourselves apart—or at least, so Simon said. Within the album's wider context, that remains true even as we come to see and appreciate our vast global similarities as one human species. 

(Joseph's life was lived "Under African Skies"—but, within that very song, it's mirrored by Linda Ronstadt's!)

We've often thought of that album's downbeat final lyric in recent weeks and months. That lyric tends to pop into our heads when we see our own blue tribe insist on finding ways to perform the prehistoric task of otherization. 

It's an ancient human impulse, one we humans can't seem to quit. Our blue tribe keeps performing this function as we recite our tribe's sacred scripts.

We thought of that line as we read the gloomy, newly mandated headline in the Washington Post this weekend:

These Native Americans focus on family amid Thanksgiving’s dark history

As a matter of tribal loyalty, we're now expected to focus on that (extremely old) "dark history." For background, see yesterday's report.

We also thought of that downbeat line when we read Professor Chute's new essay in The Atlantic:

WHY MAUS WAS BANNED
What makes the book controversial is exactly what makes it valuable.

Professor Chute is very high end, and she's an expert on comics. As such, she'd be easy to parody, whether her work would actually deserve such treatment or not. 

She herself may be inclined to parody / stereotype Others. Almost a whole year later, she's still insisting on this:

CHUTE (11/21/22): It’s true that Spiegelman “speaks”—and draws—the unspeakable in Maus. In black line art, it presents two narratives: the story of Spiegelman’s father, Vladek Spiegelman, a Polish Jew who survived the Holocaust and immigrated to the United States in 1951 with his wife, Anja, also a survivor, and their toddler, Art—and the story of the cartoonist son, as an adult, soliciting his father’s testimony. It is taught routinely in high school, college, and graduate school. It is, in addition, taught to many middle-school students. This came to wide attention this past January, when Maus was banned from an eighth-grade English-language-arts curriculum by the McMinn County, Tennessee, school board. The ban became a global news story; Maus sold out on Amazon.

But the ban didn’t surprise me. A new wave of politically driven censorship, particularly one motivated by a discomfort with discussions of America’s history of slavery, has grown in the Trump and post-Trump years. And Maus’s frank visual depiction of horrors, the way it acts as a form of witness to dehumanization and genocide, is controversial. Of course, that confrontation with horror is exactly what makes it valuable. 

[...]

When the book emerged as a fresh target in the culture wars this year, the school board’s official, and flimsy, reasons for removing it from the curriculum amplified the outrage. The board cited bad language (such as “bitch” and “goddamn”) and nudity (specifically, one small image of Spiegelman’s mother, drawn in human form, in the bathtub after taking her own life, a profoundly troubling visual on which to pin the charge of obscenity). These aspects, while perhaps not ideal for an eighth-grade audience, feel beside the point in a narrative that bears witness to genocide.

One school board in one location didn't agree with this exalted professor's assessment about the suitability of the unspeakable for their district's middle schoolers. In the face of an outrage like that, the professor is eager to keep telling us what that means about the ways of the other tribe. 

There's no room for disagreement! What "feels beside the point" to this very high-end professor must feel that same way to everyone else.

If even one school board disagrees, The Others must be otherized—and The Others are all alike. The professor will rant about "censorship" and "banned books" when one "controversial" book is replaced in one district's lengthy middle-school curriculum about the Holocaust.

Also yesterday, we thought of the Graceland album's closing line when we read an instant opinion column in the Washington Post. 

Why would someone enter a bar and kill five people? Scripted within an inch of his life, Brian Broome instantly knew:

The Colorado massacre cannot be blamed on mental illness. It’s rooted in hate.

So read the headline on the column. In the actual column, the columnist offered this:

BROOME (11/21/22): You know who will get the blame for Colorado Springs, right? Each time these things happen, the right-wing go-to is to blame “mental illness.” That’s what some thought drove Robert Bowers to the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh to kill 11 human beings. That’s what others believed made Dylann Roof stroll into a Black church in Charleston, S.C., to murder nine human beings. And, sooner or later, conservatives will say it was “mental illness” that drove this newest killer of the marginalized to commit the latest atrocity.

But are we ever going to ask why so many supposedly mentally ill people seem to carry right-wing talking points along with their AR-15s?

The Others keep blaming mental illness at such moments. As a result, people within our own blue tribe must insist that mental illness can't be the cause of such events. 

The real cause has to be hate—but can hate be rooted in mental illness? Please don't ask us questions like that when we're shouting our sacred scripts! 

(Also, please don't publish medical specialists. Publish script-readers like Broome!)

The Post's report about Thanksgiving involves a new mandated script. There's more to discuss within that report, which was written by a good, decent person who's six months out of college.

Tomorrow, we may be able to return to that new mandated script. For today, we'll only say this—the report seemed to provide glimmers and intimations of "why we must live alone."

Along the way, these instant script-readings remind us of two of Kevin Drum's recent points. Why do centrist voters drift away from our tribe's wise advice? 

They don't like the way we ape those professors, and they don't like the way we call everyone else certain types of names!

Tomorrow: A holiday's "dark" script


We think we recall the way we were taught!

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2022

Overwhelmingly boring, but safe: How should kids in Virginia, or anywhere else, be taught American history? 

In truth, it's very hard to devise a grade school curriculum, especially at such polarized times as these. We think we recall the way we were taught when we were in grade school.

This takes us back to the no-longer existent Mystic School in Winchester, Massachusetts, back when Joe Bellino was lugging the ball for the Winchester High School Sachems, on his way to the Naval Academy and a Heisman trophy.

(Yes, that was our school's actual name—see Mystic River. It was part of the Winchester Public Schools. We kids played marbles in the schoolyard, then glumly trooped inside.)

If memory serves, the way we were taught was astoundingly boring, but it was also safe:

Thirty kids would sit in the classroom holding thirty copies of some history textbook open to some designated page. The teacher would call out names, one at a time, and the youngster whose name had been called would read the next paragraph of the day's assigned chapter aloud.

Was that really the way it worked? We actually think it was! If so, it was astoundingly unimaginative, but it was also safe. 

Here's what we mean by that:

As long as some such procedure is followed, at no point will teachers be inclined to start spouting off with their own unique ideas about some topic or other. We kids would just drone along from the textbook. No teacher input required!

Under some such system, it's easy to define the curriculum—you just have to look at the textbook! The textbook may contain outright errors or limited frameworks, but at least the errors and weird ideas aren't coming from hundreds of different sources. This shields everyone from the vagaries of fate. 

In that way, some such system is "safe." For us kids, it was also amazingly dull, and it was an extremely limited way to proceed in the face of thirty inquiring minds, or possibly one or two fewer. 

Most states take a different approach today. In states like Virginia, large groups of education professionals are gathered together for the task of defining the state's curriculum. 

Rather, they define the "standards of learning" for each grade—the various things the kids should learn in each year of their public school journey. The state's three million public school teachers are directed to take things from there. And yes, they actually refer to those "Standards of Learning" as the state's "SOLs!"

Under this system, there won't be some single textbook to which teachers are forced to restrict themselves. On the other hand, the resulting grade-by-grade curriculum guidelines will often drift toward incoherence, as you can possibly see by clicking here.

(As in this Washington Post report, we're linking to "a draft version of the SOLs that had been in the works for months: a more than 400-page document produced in consultation with museums, historians, professors, political scientists, economists, geographers, teachers, parents and students.") 

Apparently, suggestions were thrown in a Waring blender and that lengthy word salad emerged. The Post report tilts toward the idea that these were admirable guidelines—signposts of obvious pre-Youngkin worth.

Reading a single mandated textbook can be unbelievably easy. By way of contrast, deciphering 400 pages of highly pomposified technospeak can be extremely hard.

Teachers may scream and tear at their hair. At some point, chaos may reign.

When we were in fifth grade, our regular teacher had to be replaced for some unstated reason. A long-term substitute—Mrs. E—suddenly appeared in her place.

Mrs. E had surprising ideas of her own. More on that tomorrow!


GLIMMERS AND INTIMATIONS: What we did on our pre-holiday weekend!

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2022

The demographication rules: We're told that Thanksgiving occurs this week, presumably on a Thursday.

Inevitably, that meant it was time for the Washington Post to publish a certain, currently mandated glimmer and intimation.

We refer to the lengthy news report from which we'll quote below. It appeared in the online Post on Saturday morning. As far as we can tell, the lengthy report hasn't yet appeared in the paper's print editions.

The report was written by a young journalist—a young journalist who graduated from college this very year. We don't offer that as a criticism of this journalist. It does strike us as a possible comment on the possible cynicism of her editors at the Post.

As almost everyone knows, the lengthy report this young journalist wrote has become standard fare in the past few years. The mandated headline says this:

These Native Americans focus on family amid Thanksgiving’s dark history

By now, everyone knows what the various versions of this report are going to say. They're going to say that while we Anglos (and Afros?) love the holiday in question, it's a very painful occasion for (many?) Native Americans.

It's going to say that the traditional history is all wrong, which everyone already knows, and that vicious historical brutality followed from there. 

Everyone already knows those things! But, to borrow from the famous old joke, while all these things have already been said, not every member of our tribe has had the chance to say them.

In this case, the report began as shown below. In the passage we've highlighted, we experienced our first point of puzzlement:

CHERY (11/19/22): For centuries, Thanksgiving has been billed as an opportunity for friends and family to gather, with peace and gratitude in their hearts. But for Native Americans, celebrating the autumnal holiday isn’t as simple.

The short-and-sweet story told in schools depicting the first Thanksgiving as a harmonious harvest celebration between Native people and Pilgrims “was a very romanticized, Whitewashed education about Indigenous peoples,” said Jordan Daniel, who’s a member of the Lower Brule Sioux tribe.

In reality, 1621 was not the first celebration of Thanksgiving between the English and the Wampanoag people, said David Silverman, a George Washington University professor who specializes in Native American history. The Wampanoags tried to ally with the English for trade and to maintain political independence from another Native group after an epidemic dwindled their numbers.

“Tensions built for years as the English population grew and began dispossessing, subjugating and evangelizing Native people,” Silverman said. Finally, war broke out around 1675, and after the English won, they enslaved about 2,000 American Indian prisoners of war, he added.

In 1970, the United American Indians of New England began commemorating Thanksgiving Day as a National Day of Mourning to honor their ancestors who experienced cultural genocide at the hands of European colonialists.

Native Americans as a whole say they’re still fighting for what’s rightfully theirs...

Already, we were puzzled. According to the Post report, Professor Silverman had said that "1621 was not the first celebration of Thanksgiving between the English and the Wampanoag people" (our emphasis). 

We were curious blue. Since the English (the "Pilgrims") had only settled in Wampanoag territory in 1620, we didn't know what previous celebration was being alluded to. 

The remarks by Silverman which were actually quoted didn't speak to that question. Nor did we know why that claim would be relevant to the larger, spectacularly familiar story which was (once again) being told. 

Skillfully, we clicked the link which appeared beneath the words, "In reality." We were taken to a version of this mandated new report which appeared in last year's Post.

(Last year's version: "In 1621, some pilgrims and some Wampanoags shared a feast. It wasn't the first meeting between the two groups and it wouldn't be the last, but for many reasons—including the American Civil War—the anniversary of that meal took on both an outsized importance and a whitewashed simplicity.")

Had Professor Silverman really said that the officially whitewashed "First Thanksgiving" actually wasn't "the first celebration of Thanksgiving between the English and the Wampanoag people?" 

We have no idea. In fairness, that isn't a major point in the glimmer and intimation the Post was offering here.

What did we do on our pre-holiday weekend? In large part, we traumatized ourselves by spending hours looking at the proposed guidelines for the state of Virginia's public school social studies curriculum.

We're speaking here about the (barely readable) 402 pages of guidelines which had been formulated before Glenn Youngkin took over as Virginia's governor. For background on this very poorly-reported issue, see Saturday's report.

What did we find when we looked at those 402 pages of guidelines? We saw the nightmare of incoherence and pomposification which seems to emerge from our blue tribe's public school leadership cadres whenever they're given the chance.

We suffered flashbacks from our interactions with similar posthuman pseudo-verbiage dating back to the 1970s. The traumatization remains, but we'll probably try to force ourselves to return to this topic, if only briefly, in the days to come.

We spent some time fighting our way through that punishing verbiage. We also wandered about, as we now do every year, in the current mandated version of the Thanksgiving story.

That version has replaced the "whitewashed" version which may (or may not?) still prevail in the nation's schools. That new version of the Thanksgiving story now appears in our major newspapers every year.

What did we find when we tilled those fields? We found glimmers and intimations of the way our own blue tribe struggles to keep The Other Tribe from voting in the ways we'd prefer. 

We'd also say that we saw glimmers of our tribe's demographication rules, which we expect to describe in the days and weeks ahead.

Alas! We were reminded of the last two points on Kevin Drum's recent seven-point list—two of the things centrist voters (and, presumably, conservatives) allegedly don't like about us:

Drum: "Things centrist voters don't like about us" 
[...] 
Point 6: They think wokeness is ridiculous. They want us to stop talking like academics from another galaxy. 
Point 7: They do not like being called racist.

In some ways, we thought about the first of those points when we reread this interview with Professor Silverman—an interview conducted by the Smithsonian back in 2019.

Just to be completely honest, we also thought about this:

We thought about the Native American kids who will be born tomorrow. We thought about the various ways their interests may or may not best be served.

We thought about the various ways various peoples around the world sometimes have and haven't dealt with the unmistakable facts of the world's unmistakably brutal history. We'll admit that we thought about the way some of those peoples may seem, at times, to cling to those brutal histories in way which may, or perhaps may not, best serve the planet's future.

What should children be taught about our nation's history in Virginia's schools? What might serve the interests of the children who will be born tomorrow all across this giant land?

There's a lot to ponder in the report that freshman journalist penned for the Post! On the whole, she was simply reworking a current standard story—a current story which is replacing an earlier standard story. 

In the process, was she producing a helpful new mandated story for readers to memorize? Does this process serve the interests of the nation as a whole—of the children born tomorrow?

Tomorrow: Continuing in the Post's current report:

"Native Americans as a whole say they’re still fighting for what’s rightfully theirs. The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe still doesn’t have control over their entire ancestral land." 


The soft bigotry of low (cable news) explorations!

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2022

Nicolle Wallace fakes it on schools: It was Thursday afternoon. midway through the 4 o'clock hour. Nicolle Wallace kick-started two segments of "cable news" fakery as shown:

WALLACE (11/17/22): Outrage today, from Virginia educators and Democrats, over what they are calling politically motivated changes to elementary school curriculum proposed this week by Governor Glenn Youngkin's new school board. 

Just one of their proposals, according to reporting in the Washington Post, included removing Martin Luther King Jr. from holidays that students in kindergarten should learn about. 

After lots of criticism, it appears they have added that back in, but here's one they're yet to reverse. From the Washington Post, "the new guidelines delete a suggestion from the previous version that kindergartners be taught 'respect for diversity' by learning how to work collaboratively with 'people of diverse backgrounds, viewpoints and experiences.' "

Thanks to the Internet Archive, you can watch the whole thing here.

For the record, we never taught kindergarten ourselves. (Fifth grade was as young as we got.) In part for that reason, we aren't real sure about this:

Should kindergarten kids be taught about the holiday which honors Dr. King? If so, what should they be taught? 

Also, should kindergarten kids "be taught respect for diversity by learning how to work collaboratively with people of diverse backgrounds, viewpoints and experiences?" Should kindergarten kids be taught that, whatever on the face of the earth that word salad is supposed to mean?

In the encyclopedic Post report from which Wallace was quoting, reporter Hannah Natanson notes that the original K-12 guidelines for the state of Virginia totaled 402 pages in all. The new, Youngkin-affiliated guidelines are, at least at present, just 52 pages in length.

You have to drop a lot of material to get from 400 pages to 50. Natanson included this account:

NATANSON (11/16/22): The new version is shorter partly because it no longer offers “curriculum frameworks,” suggestions for instructional resources, student activities and lines of classroom inquiry that were included in the old version of the guidelines. An Education Department spokesman said the agency will release a separate “curriculum frameworks” document in late summer 2023, and it will undergo a separate board approval process. The framework document may include some of the content present in the old guidelines but deleted from the new version.

[...]

In a fact sheet circulated among legislators by the education department over the weekend, staffers wrote that the old guidelines were clunky, “inaccessible” and “difficult for educators to understand and implement”—while the new version will “restore excellence, curiosity and excitement around teaching and learning history.”

Is it possible that the original, 402-page documents really was difficult to understand and implement?

Answer: Of course that's possible! Anyone who has ever dealt with such materials will understand that  fact.

That, of course, doesn't mean the new, Youngkin-affiliated proposed guidelines are better. It means that blue tribe members should be careful about accepting the kind of propaganda which comes at them from soft-core propagandists like Wallace, who used to offer her propaganda in favor of the war in Iraq and in favor of referendums which sought to ban same-sex marriage.

The impulse to peddle propaganda hasn't appreciably changed. The propaganda is pure blue now, but it's propaganda all the same.

In the course of the two segments which followed, Wallace didn't display the slightest sign of having the first idea what she was talking about. Lucky for us, she was able to throw to Heidi Przybyla, one of our favorite reporters and friends, who was introduced as shown:

WALLACE (continuing directly):  Joining our conversation is Heidi Przybyla, an investigative correspondent with Politico these days. We miss her from when she was here.

She's reported extensively on how state legislatures have been trying to change what can be taught about race and history in schools. Donna and Alicia are still here as well. [Edwards and Menendez] 

Heidi, take me inside what's happening, not just in Virginia, but where conservatives are trying to reach into curriculum.

For starters, let's state the obvious—conservatives have every right "to try to reach into curriculum," just as liberals do. 

In some cases, conservatives' ideas may be quite bad. On other occasions, such people may have a valid point. It could even turn out that they seem to be right about something!

If you think there are no dumb ideas floating around in our own blue tribe concerning what should happen in schools, you've been living on the dark side of Neptune lately. But let's not worry our little heads about such possibilities! Wallace will keep us blue tribe rubes from confronting such unpleasant notions. 

Wallace will keep us on message! During her second segment with Przybyla, she even pleasured us with this, pretty much out of nowhere:

WALLACE: It's hard to fathom that the depths of depravity on the right would extend into all the areas they do, right?

Given Wallace's know-nothing status in this area, that struck us as a truly repulsive remark.

At the time, Wallace's panel was discussing some recent actions by the newly-elected, conservative school board of Berkeley County, South Carolina. 

The panel had made zero attempt to present the possible pros and cons concerning the school board's actions. Instead, their pseudo-discussion was pure propaganda—sloganeering all the way down.

For ourselves, we struggled with a voluminous social studies curriculum back in the 1970s. When we read about the Viginia guidelines, we find ourselves wondering thusly:

Are there textbooks and other materials which will let Virginia's fourth and fifth graders have extensive reading experiences concerning the voluminous material they will allegedly be taught? 

To what extent will students be able to read and reason and debate and write about these various topics on their own? Or will they simply be lectured to by their teachers, droning in front of their classrooms?

Thoughts like those will never intrude on a cable news pseudo-discussion. Meanwhile how much did Przybyla actually know about the great debate in Virginia? The analysts came right out of their chairs when this exchange occurred:

WALLACE: Heidi, just finish this sentence for me. The goal of not teaching students all the continents is what?

PRZYBYLA: Look, I'm just reading this myself

WALLACE (chuckling): I know!

PRZYBYLA: —and I don't, I don't want to make a sweeping statement that they couldn't learn about the other continents. But they would just have a Eurocentric—that was what I took away from reading the article, OK? I'm not the original reporter on it.

She only knew what she'd read in the Post! Wallace knew even less!

It's very, very, very hard to create a K-12 social studies curriculum. Also, people who have strong beliefs will often get out over their skis when they create 400 pages of such material, a great deal of which may be hard to interpret and implement.

Especially in such sensitive areas, people may tend to get carried away on both "the right" and "the left!" If you still don't understand that fact, it's possible that you've ingested too much propaganda during these cable news years.

Wallace is extremely good at what she does, but what she does isn't journalism. Blue tribe members are propagandized when they watch her TV show, just as the red tribe frequently was when it followed her work in the past.

Way back in the age of Roots: We go all the way back to the late Dr. Sam Banks, one of the nicest people we've ever met—and the creator of a stupendously unteachable social studies curriculum back in the 1970s.

Dr. Banks was widely loved in black Baltimore. In our (frequent, brief) interactions with him, we quickly saw why. That said, the curriculum he had lovingly built was completely unteachable, in several major ways. 

Dr. Banks was a spectacularly courteous person. He believed, very deeply, in what was then called multiculturalism. That said, his curriculum, as devised, couldn't be taught in real schools. 

It called for the use of a million different books at each grade level. Few of those books were in the schools; even the richest public school system couldn't afford to buy them. Also, almost all of the assigned books were too hard for public school kids, often by as many as four or five grade levels. 

Dr. Banks wanted kids to learn about the history of all us Americans, but he had gotten way out over his skis. He had devised a gigantic, sprawling, heartfelt curriculum—a curriculum which couldn't be taught.

Wallace and her panel showed few signs of knowing what they were talking about in Thursday's public school segments. They did know what our tribe's bumper stickers say, and they recited each one.

Virginia's kids deserve better than this. But in a time of tribal war, does anyone care about them?


Allen H. Weisselberg's possible fail!

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2022

An offshoot of Trump Trump Jail: We've never exactly understood the criminal trial now underway in Manhattan.

In this criminal trial, the Trump Organization is charged with crimes. But Donald J. Trump isn't charged those crimes, and neither is anyone else!

We've never exactly understood the concept of a criminal trail aimed at an organization but not at any of its principals. Nor have we seen any cable pundits breaking their backs as they try to explain how a criminal trial of that type actually works. 

You can't send an organization to jail; presumably, the most you can do is fine it. That said, our blue tribe has been deeply involved in the various legal pursuits of Donald J. Trump, and very few questions have been asked about this underexplained criminal trial.

All in all, given the way our tribe loves to talk about Trump Trump Jail, this trial has been judged close enough!

That said, ugh! In a news report in today's New York Times, it sounds to us like the criminal case against the Trump Org may not be super-strong. The report begins like this:

BROMWICH ET AL (11/18/22): The criminal trial of Donald J. Trump’s family business took an emotional turn Thursday as one of the former president’s most loyal executives laid bare the machinery of a sprawling tax fraud, scoring points for both prosecution and defense during hours of illuminating testimony.

The executive, Allen H. Weisselberg, several times bolstered Manhattan prosecutors’ contention that the scheme benefited not just himself, but the Trump Organization. He testified that the off-the-books luxuries he and other executives received saved the company money in taxes.

Yet Mr. Weisselberg, 75, who started working for the Trumps decades ago, rose to become chief financial officer and is now the prosecution’s star witness, also distanced Mr. Trump and his family from the wrongdoing. He testified that they did not team up with him, nor authorize him to commit crimes. He agreed more than a dozen times that he had acted only for himself. 

Oof! If we might borrow from Tears of Rage:

But oh, what kind of "prosecution's star witness" is this, who goes from bad to worse?

Weisselberg has already pleaded guilty to 17 felonies for his role in the conduct under review. But all through today's report, Bromwich et al. have Weisselberg saying that Donald J. Trump wasn't part of the scheme for which the Trump Org is now on trial. 

According to Bromwich et al., Weisselberg could face as much as 15 years in prison, instead of as little as 100 days, "if the judge overseeing the case concludes that [he] lied on the stand." That said:

Throughout today's report, it sounds like Weisselberg is saying that he engaged in the conduct at question to benefit himself—and that Trump himself wasn't involved.

We've never quite understood the basic structure of this case. Plainly, Weisselberg was cheating on taxes, but he seems to be saying that others were not involved. 

No one—not even Ivanka! That's how bad this whole thing sounds!


KEVIN'S LIST: Does our tribe tend to make a certain mistake?

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2022

The demographication of everything: Just for the record, there's absolutely nothing wrong with David Von Drehle's smarts.

Von Drehle is one of (roughly) three million columnists for the Washington Post. That said, there is exactly nothing wrong with the scribe's sagacity.

For that reason, we were especially struck by a column Von Drehle wrote last week. It dealt with what the voters were trying to tell us in our recent elections.

Long ago and far away, a famous TV star named Lassie was constantly said to be "trying to tell us something." Today, the voters, or perhaps the American people, are frequently cast in a similar role.

What were the voters trying to tell us last week? Focusing on the voters of Kansas, Von Drehle began by offering this:

VON DREHLE (11/11/22): Instead of focusing on Florida, gauging Georgia or pondering Pennsylvania, I was hung up on results from Kansasof all places. One weird pair of results in particular. I recalled the words of political consultant Dick Tuck, a legendary Pundits Club member. “The people have spoke—the bastards,” he said in 1966. His words echoed as I wondered what Kansans were trying to say.

The voters reelected Gov. Laura Kelly, a moderate Democrat with a soothing demeanor. Kelly is the sort of governor you want if you prefer not to give much thought to your governor: knowledgeable, practical, low-key. You get the feeling she probably has a safety pin and a spare handkerchief in her handbag, and maybe caramels for the grandkids.

Down the ballot, the same voters elected Kris Kobach to be their next attorney general. Kobach is an original gangsta of MAGA Republicanism; he manned the ramparts against immigrant throngs when Stephen Miller was but a lad watching “The Simpsons” and crushing on Mr. Burns. A perpetual candidate, Kobach distilled his platform this time to just three words: “Sue Joe Biden.”

Kelly and Kobach go together like a Christmas cardigan and a bag of broken glass. I can see why people might prefer one or the other, but I’m surprised to see both in the same shopping cart. Surprised and baffled. 

In this column, Von Drehle, who is plenty sharp, was "wonder[ing] what Kansans were trying to say" in last week's elections. The bafflement he experienced stemmed from these basic facts:

Kelly, a moderate Democrat, got re-elected as governor of the state. But in the same statewide election, Kobach, a MAGA Republican, got elected as attorney general!

What were Kansans trying to say, Von Drehle unwisely wondered. By the end of his column, he was offering a familiar conclusion, one pundits often reach:

Kansans were trying to say that they want divided government! More explicitly:

"Americans express a persistent impulse toward divided government...The ballot that elected both Kelly and Kobach...was cast by the electorate’s invisible hand, which seeks balance, always balance." Or at least, so Von Drehle said!

The Kansas electorate was seeking balance (between the two major parties)! David Von Drehle is very smart, but this extremely familiar judgment doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

For starters, there's no such congregation as "Kansans"—at least, not in the way Von Drehle's analysis might seem to suggest or imagine. 

A whole lot of individual Kansans went to the polls and voted last week—but they didn't do so as a group. It isn't clear that they were somehow voicing some sort of group judgment.

Why then did Kansas voters elect both Kelly and Kobach? A simple look at the Kansas tallies tells us this:

Kelly did win re-election—but she won by just over two points. Meanwhile, Kobach won his race for attorney general by substantially less than two points.

It would take very little ticket-splitting to produce those twin results. Almost surely, the vast majority of Kansas voters voted a straight party line, at least in these two races.

To her credit, Lassie was constantly trying to tell Timmy something. By way of contrast, there's no sign that the bulk of Kansas voters were trying to say that they favor divided government or some type of "balance."

That said, a simple fact emerges here—our elections are routinely decided by slender victory margins! Peeling away a small number of voters can turn defeats into wins.

That brings us to an instructive letter in today's New York Times. The letter writer makes several excellent points, while failing to notice another:

To the Editor:

Lest we Democrats take excessive comfort from the 2022 midterm results, note that many pivotal races were won with razor-thin margins. This means that tens of millions of Republicans backed candidates who were egregiously incompetent and/or blatantly dedicated to sabotaging future elections.

We cannot count on such helpful incompetency in the future, nor such timely outrages by the Supreme Court, to fuel our future success. Now is the time for Democrats to dramatically upgrade our messaging to earn a more substantial, reliable victory in 2024.

E— D— / Princeton, N.J.

Correct! The writer notes that many Democratic victories "were won with razor-thin margins." Beyond that, he notes that Democrats got some assists from outside forces this year. 

Dems got help from the Dobbs decision, and from some of Donald J. Trump's strikingly weak nominees. They may not get that kind of help next time, or in the elections which follow.

On that basis, the letter writer sensibly suggests that Democrats, and the blue tribe in general, need to upgrade their game. Along the way, he fails to note another key point:

Republicans actually won the majority of House seats this year! On balance, "the American people" don't seem to have been delivering the upbeat message which is currently being bandied about all over our blue tribe's cable news programs.

Republican candidates actually won the House—won more seats than Democrats! It's hard to square this obvious fact with the triumphalist cries emerging from within our blue tribe.

As that letter writer suggests, our blue tribe badly needs to step up its game. In our view, it has needed to do so for years.

Next week, we'll start to discuss one of the ways our tribe may be letting the GOP peel voters away. More specifically, we'll start discussing the seventh point on Kevin Drum's recent list.

As we do, we'll euphemistically start to discuss "the demographication of everything." In our view, it's one of the least helpful parts of our tribe's prevailing culture.

David Von Drehle is very smart. In our view, he wrote a column which pretty much wasn't.

Anthropologically speaking, it's very easy for us humans to make mistakes. We leave you with an award-winning question:

What kinds of mistakes—on the politics and on the merits—is our vastly self-impressed blue tribe perhaps inclined to make?

Coming: The demographication of everything