This New American Life
I write this in a booth waiting for my current delivery order to be prepared in an empty restaurant that ten years ago would have been crowded. The music is a soft bossa nova and the kitchen while busy is careful to avoid clangs. The decor is standard a medium brown stain colors the wood and the carpet is green and clean. A mother and her retired son are the only other customers. She is dancing while waiting for the spring rolls to arrive. The owner hands me a thai tea on the house while I wait. I can’t help but worry for the fate of America. I can’t help but wonder where do we go from here.
The internet has redefined what and why we eat. It’s less about what we like and having haunts we return to but posting from the current trends to be considered a cool kid. Even those who do not post on social media still Google and Yelp their choices based on the impression that the best rated by those apps have more value experience wise for their dollars. The hive mind that is social media causes attention inequality and narrows culture especially food culture.
Speaking of the Hive Mind. What do we talk about when we say we shouldn’t give someone a platform. As in the current uproar over Megyn Kelly interviewing Alex Jones, a man who has been paid to spew filth since my childhood. He long ago built his alternative media platform and give a place for wayward views. He helped Trump win without a doubt and his org Infowars will have white house press credentials. He doesn’t need an interview on NBC but NBC and those who oppose his views do need these kinds of interviews. Darkness cannot be allowed to fester. Pre-internet denying mainstream outlets was a good way to slow repulsive thought but now mainstream media is one if the last shared spaces in American life and is more effective as a means of exposing.
The tendency of the internet to drive conformity from food and fashion trends to preventing public discourse is disconcerting to say the least. Humanity’s story is one driven by innovation through diversity not just the kind on a college application check box. How much have we lost? What will it take next?
The False Dimitris, Time of Troubles, Making the Apolitical Political
I know many on the left will give this post title an eyeroll but I must speak about the two wars on Christmas: one waged by the secular leftists and the other from Radical Islam. The left has long sought to undermine the separation of church and state by submitting religion to federal control. People must petition Congress for religious exemptions. That is not what this country was founded on. The government does not grant us rights. Our religious institutions Christian or other are not granted passage by Big Government. This is why battles over the building of Mosques disturbs me. It isn’t for the President or the selectmen to decide. We do not have the right to stop peaceful worship if they own the property or at least have legal access. I believe both the the left and the right have assaulted our religious rights.
The war on the Western world from Radical Islam is a clash of civilizations. Christianity and Islam can and do coexist in Western Civilization. Not that there aren’t conflicts between religious groups under liberal order but our values as a society push us towards unity and respect. Radical Islam under its strict literal theology cannot exist within the West. It’s practice goes against all of our values. If the West is defined as uncertain and fluid then Radical Islam is defined by the opposite. The temptation is it promises a known purpose in life. In the West, religion and work (our institutions of purpose) have been under attack by the political elite. The resulting society promotes unlimited freedom by removing dedication and devotion as values. Purpose limits choice. True freedom is being adrift in space without a footing to stand on. People want to have a purpose, at some level we need it. As the work that gave employee’s pride is automated, a pillar of society teeters. We don’t need more stuff to throw away, we need more purpose in our days. I have been told of a notion where freedom from work allows us to achieve higher purposes. I don’t agree with it. An attempt by the left to marginalize people’s lives. Autowork gives more back to the community than art and is no less noble. That’s the problem with the Progressive goal to achieve the end of history. People want to be a part of their lineage, not escape it.
The converts to the radical civilizations (Radical Islam and Neo-Nazis are just the most aggressive) flee the increasingly inhuman West shedding its values without replacing them. Multiculturalism isn’t a value as much as the absence of one. The American Melting Pot wasn’t a place where you kept your way of life as much as subvert your rituals to the American way. You came to America to be American. Immigrants make America great by becoming American. Entangling the threads of their traditions into our quilt. The american ethnicity is multiracial and our DNA is global but at our heart we are all brothers and sisters under and for the Republic and all for which it stands. In reading the Atlantic review of “Silence”, one would assume Art was created outside of religion when until recent history it was a tool of faith. The reviewer believes taking religion seriously is radical. I find that to be belittling to say that the ancient mysteries of religion especially the inevitability of suffering were not a legitimate source of Art. The left has turned tradition radical. Until the liberal order reclaims its history it will be on the losing end of a war they refuse to admit exists.
Facebook’s announcement of an experimental partnership between third party fact checkers: Snopes, PolitiFact, the AP, ABC news, and factcheck.org. Where people request certain links to be factchecked and if they are and found to be false or misleading a warning without reasons behind the warning will pop up before the article opens. Many people on the left and right are wary of this development. For many conservatives, a third of the fact checkers (AP and ABC news excluded) have a liberal bias. For many on the left, this is an expansion of corporate control of media trying to take away their “truth”.
Facebook has the legal right to control its platform that it lets us use. I do think that it can be worrisome to think that there will be blind faith in the warning. I think that this is an opportunity for us all to challenge our dogmas. We all could use a hand in expanding our worldviews and many times that hand needs to come from the opposition. Not saying we are all wrong all the time, but we need to be fluid in our responses. Adapt to the situation at hand not the one in the mind. I think that this experiment is a good step forward and should be expanded to include more viewpoints. We need some radical changes but those changes aren’t possible without agreement and I am speaking about Climate Change. It truly is a bipartisan problem that will alter every human’s life. In the age of Elon Musk, no one can question the possibilities in renewable energy that could occur. I believe we need to support if not with funds than beneficial regulations that aid his innovations while improving the quality of life for his labor. We need to use Capitalism to challenge ourselves for real innovation rather than use our money for novelty add ons. We need the hoarded wealth to be reinvested into the American Dream. None of which is possible without dialogue. If fact checking and discussions not in comments but in researched detail can engage us with each other than it is worth trying. Facebook as a form of communication and a company must respect their power. I think this is a step towards a better social media environment in the age of bullshit heralded by Trump and Putin.
-E. C. Fiori
Trump and the war on fact is continuing strong without a winner. The situation has had me reflect on order and authoritarianism. While people who seek order often fall into an authoritarian mindset, I feel that the stability and empowerment that comes from structure cannot always be bad. Also Trump may be the most egregious liar on the national stage but the democrats and establishment GOP have been lying by omission for years.
Globalization creates winners and losers on both sides of the trade divide. The losers make a large percentage of Trump support. I’m not just speaking to the blue collar but the college educated Trump voter as well. While underemployment is down from the recession it is still there and not disappearing. Education doesn’t make one immune to losing, the opposite of what economists often parade. 30 years of ignoring the downslides bubbled into Trump, who his supporters forgive for his bullshit because they feel they have been fed bullshit by everyone else as well.
We can’t normalize Trump’s Orwellian reality making but cannot continue our own omissions. We can’t avoid the hard truths anymore or worst underperform on our promises to each other. The recovery passed most of us by including many Clinton voters. I still believe she was the best candidate on any of the stages. I believe she would have brought new industry into the empty factories across America. She at the very least didn’t have a business to promote at the expense of any of ours. I know many of my fellow Americans disagree with that and that is okay. However allowing Trump to revise recorded industry cannot continue. He has said what he has said even if you believe it was just exaggerating the situation. He can try to walk back a statement but never can it be erased.