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Eric Martin
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Right. I think what "might be worth considering" - and even understanding and feeling compassion for - is why she has such animosity in the first place. But I don't know that it lends any credence to her broad-brush condemnations of an entire religion. Note: Female circumcision is a cultural phenomenon, not practiced in most Muslim countries, or by the vast number of Muslims worldwide.
Toggle Commented Nov 3, 2011 on Niallism at Obsidian Wings
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Well, just to clarify, I viscerally react to the use of your use of the term "white supremacist" the same way I react to people who who mention "anti-Semitism" (whether it be "undertones" or whatever) whenever someone complains about Israel's treatment of Palestinians, etc. It's not fair, and it's not relevant when people are arguing about policy. I agree with you on that, and have the same visceral reaction when people apply that term without reference to the actual text when someone writes about Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. It is indeed uinfair, and not relevant either, in many circumstances. Not all, of course, but much of the time.
Toggle Commented Nov 3, 2011 on Niallism at Obsidian Wings
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As to the use of the term "white supremacy" I think you were right to backtrack on that, Eric I just want to point out, for about the tenth time, that I never called him a white supremacist. I said his writing has undertones, and if you're familiar with the genre, works that fall within its type almost always do. His are no exception. It's a shame that saying his works had such undertones became the focus, and in that sense I regret it, but as a commentary on the undertones of his work, I don't backtrack at all.
Toggle Commented Nov 3, 2011 on Niallism at Obsidian Wings
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On immigration: As noted by Mishra, Ferguson is also notoriously fickle, and known to contradict himself in a short span of time. He has, at other times, sounded much harsher on immigration issues, particularly in Europe. But thanks for that link either way. A much more sensible take from him than I have seen elsewhere.
Toggle Commented Nov 3, 2011 on Niallism at Obsidian Wings
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'Ferguson's popularity itself is evidence that we're not exactly living up to some of the more exalted principles of Western civilization.' What does this mean? And what authority is judging the 'evidence'? 1. Shoddy, hack-ish scholarship should not be celebrated, but critiqued and then ignored. The scientific method, and rational thought, demand as much. Failing to apply those standards to Ferguson's work, and instead catapulting him to intellectual celebrity, is a failure on our part to live up to Western Civ standards. 2. Ferguson's chauvanism and racialist ideas should not be celebrated. 3. Everyone is welcome to judge this. Based on the evidence of his writings, and critiques/defenses thereof. As measured against documented history. The diminishment resulting from the growing influence of those from other cultural traditions is an example of this not being a bad thing. Ferguson would disagree. His views on immigration speak to this.
Toggle Commented Nov 2, 2011 on Niallism at Obsidian Wings
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I suppose those terms all have a certain variation in degree. As I've said repeatedly, Ferguson's form of chauvanism (white supremacism) does not take the form of advocating for slavery or segregation. Though Buchanan seems to recall favorably the period encompassing the latter.
Toggle Commented Nov 2, 2011 on Niallism at Obsidian Wings
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But, oddly, McTex, Ferguson sees that as a problem. Slarti, For the sake of our discussion, would you consider Pat Buchanan a white supremacist? I would - at least, I would consider his ideas as in close proximity to some of Ferguson's writings on the same spectrum. Pat's most recent work, The End of White America, is microcosmic. A sampling from Pat's book: http://bit.ly/twgcWF
Toggle Commented Nov 2, 2011 on Niallism at Obsidian Wings
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Is this guy just a more hoity-toity version of Pat Buchanan? Exactly the way a good friend put it.
Toggle Commented Nov 2, 2011 on Niallism at Obsidian Wings
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Regardless of who invented gunpowder, it is superior as means of projecting something than a drawn bow or an atlatl. The Canon is the same: it is a concept that works better than competing concepts. Ironically, or not, Ferguson's call-to-arms often center around the notion that "non-Western" peoples have adopted the Western Apps and are using them better than us. Why this is a problem...well, why? Enter the less savory underbelly of what he's discussing...
Toggle Commented Nov 2, 2011 on Niallism at Obsidian Wings
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Safe to say that my grammar and diction will continue to be atrocious for the near future. Apologies in advance and for past occurrences alike.
Toggle Commented Nov 2, 2011 on Niallism at Obsidian Wings
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PPS: My grammar and diction sucks. F-ing sleep deprivation is a mind killer.
Toggle Commented Nov 1, 2011 on Niallism at Obsidian Wings
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PS: The whole notion that the "work ethic" was monopolized by the West, and was not applicable to Asian nations like China, Japan and Korea until the West brought them there is...ridiculous. Again, an example of European/white chauvanism with very little to support it. Which is...I don't know, pick a more neutral term.
Toggle Commented Nov 1, 2011 on Niallism at Obsidian Wings
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Again, I didn't actually call him a white supremacist. I said what I said about the undertones, and its appeal to same. In retrospect, I would rather that I not used the term at all seeing as how distracting it's become.
Toggle Commented Nov 1, 2011 on Niallism at Obsidian Wings
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Slarti, There is a long tradition of the type of ethnic-based, anxiety stoking that Ferguson has engaged in over the course of the past decade, through several books. See Mishra's review for a discussion of same. Further, there is a long tradition of apologia for empire (with a distinctive ethnic component) of the type that Ferguson has engaged in over the course of the past decade, through several books. He is a pronounced European chauvanist which in itself is not a crime, but his chauvanism is supported by terrible, terrible scholarship (which seems to indicate a predisposition, or a preconceived idea, in search of evidence to support it, rather than the other way around). Now, where and what are the motives? Hard to say. But there are, without a doubt, white supremacist undertones to several of his recurring themes: European culture is superior, produced seemingly in a vacuum, and its disemmanation through oft-brutal imperialism has been a massive boon to the benighted masses it has been inflicted upon (who would not have found their way to similar conclusions if left on their own, unplundered by the kind imperialists). Now, this isn't necessarily the crude, overt form of white supremacism that dresses up in white sheets and lynches the coloreds. But rather a more intellectual, softer, chauvanism with supremacist undertones that advocates a very dangerous brand of empire to be enforced at the barrel of a gun. This worldview strokes the ego of those that feel ethnically and culturally superior in their whiteness/European heritage, while, again, it doesn't advocate segregation, slavery or anti-miscegenation. Apologies if you find that description muddy. But I blame the raw materials.
Toggle Commented Nov 1, 2011 on Niallism at Obsidian Wings
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I don't think that his views necessarily indicate white supremacy (at least not the portion that's excerpted either here or in the linked reviews). For the record, I did not claim that he was a white supremacist, but that there are undertones - a point both pieces make. And that his work indulges in white supremacist ego stroking - a point the Mishra piece highlights. In his books, Ferguson absolves the sins of Western imperialism, extols the benefits bestowed on the target populations, and shows an ahistorical appraisal for just how much Western civilization developed on its own. He is also repeatedly stoking fear/anxiety about the loss of "Western" supremacy - which is, as evidenced, infused with a version of "Western" that excludes a good many people. Those are not, per se, white supremacist views. But there are undertones, and they do stroke the white supremacist ego. I think he's wrong about a lot of things that I've just described, but I don't think he's being a white supremacist, or is saying that Asian-Americans are less American than other Americans. Again, I didn't actually say he was being a white supremacist. But, for the reasons stated above, I do believe he was saying that Asian Americans are part of the "other." the only ones who now seem to have it are Asian-Americans (since they were influenced by Asian culture), who constitute only a small part of our population. Further, this is also not supported by actual data. Asian Americans might punch above their weight proportionally, but the American university system is still dominated by Caucasians. Again, a variation to highlight the absurdity of his position: 1. The US, as exemplar of the West, is in decline. 2. To support this, I cite a loss of work ethic amongst the American people. 3. As evidence of #1 and #2, I point to the fact that White, protestant males are overrepresented at universities in America. If one were to make that argument intstead of the one Ferguson made, the reader would scratch her/his head. That doesn't make any sense. How could the overrepresentation of one American demographic be indicative of American decline? How preposterous. It only works as an argument, and as a "comparative" tool, if the American demographic is seen as part of the "Rest" to use his terminology.
Toggle Commented Nov 1, 2011 on Niallism at Obsidian Wings
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Let me try to put it differently, and see if this would make any sense to you: 1. The US, as exemplar of the West, is in decline. 2. To support this, I cite a loss of work ethic amongst the American people. 3. As evidence of #1 and #2, I point to the fact that White, protestant males are overrepresented at universities in America. If one were to make that argument intstead of the one Ferguson made, the reader would scratch her/his head. That doesn't make any sense. How could the overrepresentation of one American demographic be indicative of American decline? How preposterous. It only works as an argument, and as a "comparative" tool, if the American demographic is seen as part of the "Rest" to use his terminology.
Toggle Commented Nov 1, 2011 on Niallism at Obsidian Wings
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And in this comparison is not treating them as less than other Americans or as outside the American experience, he is simply making a comparison. I see nothing wrong with making such a comparison, assuming the factual underpinnings are accurate, which I believe them to be, on the whole. That depends. If your thesis is that the, and I quote, "European" Western traditions are in decline, and you use America as your exemplar, and then use Asian American academic performance as evidence, your comparison is not so benign. If Asian Americans were truly and entirely American, it would be utterly pointless to say that Americans have lost their work ethic. As proof, this group of Americans is performing well. Proof would be comparing Americans (including Asian Americans!) to other nations.
Toggle Commented Nov 1, 2011 on Niallism at Obsidian Wings
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Now, to try to take your example of athletics, if someone were to say that it's not a good thing that only [pick your demographic] shows any real interest in athletics and physical fitness and this is a crying pitiful shame for rest of the country, that would not be a complaint that the demographic group in question was pushing others aside, it would be a complaint about all of the other the lard asses (again, biblical ass, not anatomical) who are couching it. Yes, that's exactly my point. Precisely. Ferguson isn't saying it's a shame for the "rest" of the country. He's saying it's a shame for "the" country. And "the West" writ large. That's where he crosses the line. He's saying America is in decline, and the West is in decline, and his evidence is that Asian Americans and Asians are overrepresented, and have a stronger work ethic. Clearly, he wants "Americans" to step it up and compete. But by that token, Asian Americans are the ones that need to be competed with by Americans.
Toggle Commented Nov 1, 2011 on Niallism at Obsidian Wings
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Then I'll restate: no one is saying that the "great Western tradition of excellence in Athletics is in decline." Further, no one is saying that it is in decline because African Americans are over represented. And if they did, the complaint would fall flat because athletic success is achieved solely through effort and ability. Sweetness and light McTex, it was a hypo. To respond that you're not going to engage the hypo because it's all...hypothetical is...not constructive. Further, no one is saying that it is in decline because African Americans are over represented. And if they did, the complaint would fall flat because athletic success is achieved solely through effort and ability. But educational success is achieved through effort and ability too. And it is claimed to be in decline in America, and the evidence is the over-representation of Asian Americans. What is being said, as I take the guy, is that Asian Americans are outworking their contemporaries and this is not a good thing, not because of the Asian element, but because of what it says about everyone else. But that's clearly not what he's saying even if it is what you are saying. 1. What he is saying is that the US is losing its traditional work ethic. 2. As evidence of this, Ferguson points to the over-representation of Asian Americans in universities. But you can only use #2 to support #1 if you argue that Asian Americans aren't really Americans, but some different group that are putting Americans to shame.
Toggle Commented Nov 1, 2011 on Niallism at Obsidian Wings
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It is equally, if not more likely, that his intent is comparative, not exclusionary. But what's the comparison? Comparing: Asian Americans to...regular Americans? Asian Americans to...Americans? In which of those comaparisons are Asian Americans not treated as somehow less American or at least outside the American experience?
Toggle Commented Nov 1, 2011 on Niallism at Obsidian Wings
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Let me break his argument down in pieces: 1. The US is in decline. 2. An indication of that decline is that Americans are losing their traditional work ethic. 3. As evidence of #1 and #2, I point to the fact that Asian Americans are excelling/overrepresented at American Universities. Question: Why wouldn't #3 be evidence that Americans...are excellingat American Universities? You honestly don't see
Toggle Commented Nov 1, 2011 on Niallism at Obsidian Wings
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Eric, that is simply an inference you draw. It is equally, if not more likely, that his intent is comparative, not exclusionary. No, I believe that is a conclusion based on what he has written. Read the whole piece. Not particularly since (1) the premise (the decline of American athletic supremacy) is a construct and (2) athletics, by its very nature, is a meritocracy--one might say one in which athletic prowess is all too often allowed to excuse other, less salutary behavior, e.g. the Steelers' and Eagle's starting QB's. Not sure how either of those responds to my hypothetical in any substantive way.
Toggle Commented Nov 1, 2011 on Niallism at Obsidian Wings
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Now, on the one hand, one could argue, hey that was a compliment to African Americans and their fine athletic prowess! On the other, one could argue that defining Africans (or Asians) out of the American experience, one is pushing a white-centric version of America. The latter would have a point, mind you. Now, I did not intend that to be ipso facto proof of Ferguson's more noxious tendencies. For that, you'll have to read more of his work. (if you read his apologias on empire and the white man's burden, you'll see these views reappear in many contexts)
Toggle Commented Nov 1, 2011 on Niallism at Obsidian Wings
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McTex, it would be like this: The great Western tradition of excellence in Athletics is in decline. America, the standard bearer, is in decline in this way and needs to return to its roots and earlier dominance. As evidence of the above, and in support of my call to action for Americans, African Americans are over-represented in professional athletic leagues. Do you see anything there that might suggest an ethnic component to being "American"?
Toggle Commented Nov 1, 2011 on Niallism at Obsidian Wings
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