There is no Golden Age

riversandstone

“What the Founding Fathers actually meant was…”

“Well, if you really read into the Bible, you’ll see that Jesus meant…”

“We’re not meant to eat wheat.  If you knew what our paleo ancestors used to eat…”

We hear remarks like these all the time, in casual conversation on politics, religion, history, to the point of cliché.   They all share a common theme: to put it simply, things aren’t going as well today as they were yesterday, so if we simply figure out what people were doing yesterday, we can get better!

When I used to teach, I would occasionally drive home three “rules” of history.

1.  There is no Virgin Land

2.  There are no Indigenous Peoples

3.  There is no Golden Age

I’m going to focus here on the final of the three rules (the other two I may get to later).  The quotes I opened with were fixations…

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Abraham Lincoln: Full Spectrum

History has been very kind to Abraham Lincoln, often referencing him as “Honest Abe” and “The Great Emancipator”.  This may due in part to stories of his early life, the struggles he endured and the heights to which he climbed politically.

One must wonder just how accurate these gushing descriptions are of the actual Lincoln, though.

The truth, as is so frequently the case, is far more complicated, and indeed darker than the saintly narrative inherited by America.

If he were alive today, could Lincoln own an NBA team?

The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln

The Crucifixion of White People…

serhasacomplaint

Crucifixion, which was how the carpenter reportedly martyred himself, “is a form of slow and painful execution in which the victim is tied or nailed to a large wooden cross and left to hang until dead.”

It is also apparently what happens when someone receives any consequences for their racist actions.

First Paula Deen. Then Phil Robertson. And now poor, philandering racist Donald Sterling.

The usual argument is that racism is obviously bad, but perhaps more like wearing white after Labor Day bad and not something worse punishing anyone for so severely or, well, at all. And the first amendment grants all Americans the right to say odious things and suffer no economic repercussions, right? Even if that’s not at all how a capitalist economic system works. I thought Americans loved their capitalism? And unfettered capitalism is colder than the Oregon Coast in February.

Mike Pesca at…

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Response to David Graeber: If basic income is so good, why not start with the Koch Brothers?

The Real Movement

Par7731873 This Graeber article, “Why America’s favorite anarchist thinks most American workers are slaves” , is just chock full of the most egregious bullshit on the basic income issue possible.

There are two possible directions for the Left to take at this point and both are said to achieve the same goals. The first is basic income and the second is reduction of hours of labor. For some reason, David Graeber has suggested the working class should be fighting for the first, not the second.

The oddest thing, however, is that I have very little to dispute with many of Graeber’s points in the article. His argument for basic income is a convincing one that any supporter of reducing hours of labor would embrace — and this might just be the problem.

First, Graeber lashes out at the welfare and social benefits bureaucracy:

“The problem is that we have this gigantic…

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What’s behind the academic achievement gap?

 

It’s no secret that the academic “achievement” gap has been a go-to meme for educators, policymakers and the public-at-large for years. It’s been used as a scapegoat for the lack of diversity not only in higher education, but in a wide swathe of industries as well.  For black Americans particularly, the gap has been seen as a sort of tacit cultural indictment. But are black people, or more specifically black parents at fault for not properly preparing their children to be educated in the American school system? Researchers Keith Robinson and Angel L. Harris say the evidence suggests other factors are at play.

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Who to blame for the achievement gap?

Coming back around again: The resegregation of schools in the American South

Whether the conversation focuses on positive gains or negative impacts, race is a constant hot-button issue in America. Some believe that we’ve entered a period of “post-racial” awareness. Put simply, a lot of folks want to believe that structural/systemic racism is no longer an inhibitor to success in the States. Those uber-optimists may be right, to some extent, but as a recent article in the Atlantic finds, we’ve still got quite a journey, particularly in terms of equal education.

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Resegregation in the American South

Map: Detroit’s Sympathetic and Unsympathetic Ethnic Groups 1960

DETROITography

sympathetic-ethnic-groups

The city was fairly diverse in the 1960s, yet there were underlying tensions between different ethnic groups and their particular sympathies towards Detroit’s black population. In this map the Detroit Geographic and Expedition Institute (DGEI) mapped out those various relationships based on Census data.

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