(Not A) Melting Pot (Trump)

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Ideas and ideology have a way of rolling on and off from one position point to another. This claim by a Trumper in the Midwest, quoted here in the NYT, is incredibly amazing:  “Asked who was to blame for the country’s strife, [Jane Doe],  who drove more than two hours from St. Louis to attend, cited “the globalists,” whom she then defined as “somebody who won’t allow or doesn’t like for our country to just be themselves. They want to mold everybody into one big melting pot,” she said. “That’s not how we’re designed.”

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Trump Campaign (This Recent Iteration of White Nationalism & Anti-Semitism Began With Him At Twitter)

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At home and coursing across the internet of things (that network of devices and other forms of connective hardware), it is easy to trace back this current iteration of white nationalism and what seems like an almost sudden appearance into and actualization onto the mainstream of American public life. It began during the Trump campaign on Twitter, how Trump and the GOP fed and continue to feed swampy people, contributing to this ideological enviornment, doing their part to magnify obsessions about Jews, globalists, money, the media, and “‘white genocide.” We can track how this new neo-Nazi new anti-Semitism became viral there online, the threats at Twitter, in particular, first directed at Jewish journalists, before bursting out into the so-called real world, itself now turned into and mirrored as something nightmarish and surreal in which the country is led by a president who is himself a proud (white) nationalist. Always already there in the shadows, this public iteration is about 3 years old now.

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Nationalism is like Religion: Discuss

From Gail Hamner reading Benedict Anderson in relation to nationalism, religion, and affect (affective binding), with an eye on right now after Pittsburgh

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After some throat-clearing Benedict Anderson opens his oft-cited Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism with the assertion that “nation-ness, as well as nationalism, are cultural artefacts of a particular kind.” (4) We might expect, then, that his next section on “Concepts and Definitions” will explain this particular kind of artefacts, and he does, eventually, but he first shares three “paradoxes” that “often” befuddle theorists of nationalism. First, nations are objectively modern entities (to historians) but subjectively narrated as ancient (by nationalists). Second, though clearly a modern entity with a clear historical genealogy, nationality is assumed to be a sui generis and universal category (everyone has a nationality). Third, nations are stupendously powerful entities but theories of nationalism are stupefyingly weak. (5)

In other words, Anderson prefaces and offsets his famous definition of the nation with an affective situation that is both inherently unsolvable and (as he states)…

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(Trump) This Is Not A Pipe Bomb (Homage to René Magritte)

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President Trump Is A Pipe Bomb

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“By the way, do you see how nice I’m behaving?” Trump said. “We’re all behaving very well. And hopefully we can keep it that way.” (from the WaPo)

“The FBI has not yet released any information about who is behind the rash of pipe bomb-like devices sent to CNN and prominent Democratic figures, but have warned that more may still be discovered. Trump, meanwhile, has called for national unity, even while placing blame on his political opponents and the media.” (from Politico)

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Migrant Caravan (Christian Faith & Exodus)

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Did the writer of this article which you can read here in the New York Times intentionally write this story about the caravan of migrants working en route to America to read like a religious event, or is it simply “in the nature” of the event itself, or is this simply how a story like this gets structured in a Christian culture through the lens of biblical paradigms? All the elements thread throughout the story: God, faith, miracle, suffering, and exodus, the movement of a people.

Here’s what I picked out:

Thousands of migrants — men, women, entire families — had wandered into town the day before, many on foot, and turned the humble commercial district into a vast makeshift encampment. They had filled every square foot of the plaza, including its bandshell, and jammed the sidewalks and storefronts, sprawling on cardboard, blankets, plastic sheeting and spare clothes. “This is straight-up biblical,” said Julio Raúl García Márquez, 43, a Guatemalan traveling with his wife, their 1-year-old son and a cousin. They spent part of the night on sheets of cardboard in the central square.

[…]

Josué Rosales, 28, from Honduras, said that he was unsure whether the caravan would make it all the way to the border and be able to cross into the United States. Still, he felt he had no choice but to try: In Honduras, he had no steady job and he’d been robbed in the streets. “If God’s willing, the president will give us permits to work in the United States,” he said.

[…]

“The bottom line is, most people in Honduras frankly could not care less about elections in the U.S.,” said Oscar Chacón, the executive director of Alianza Americas, a Chicago-based network of American immigrant groups, who was meeting with advocates in Central America this week. “When you are desperate, you believe in miracles,” he said. “They truly hope that by making this show of collectiveness, by joining this caravan, somebody’s heart will be touched and a miracle will happen.”

[…]

“We are not going because we want to,” read one flier he shared on Facebook. “The violence and poverty expels us.” Many participants joined the caravan on impulse.

[…]

Most, it appears, are heading to the United States for the first time, though a sizable contingent are deportees trying to get back. Many said the decision to leave their homeland, even if arrived at quickly, was aching. “It hurts me,” said Kilber Martinez, 26, a Honduran migrant, riding in the back of a pickup truck, overpacked with more than two dozen young men. “The land where you were born is like the mother.”

[…]

Despite attempts by the governments of Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico to impede its progress, the caravan has continued, moving organically like this, without any apparent master plan or declared organizers, and slowed only by human frailty.

[…]

In the central plaza, migrants strung up plastic sheeting for shelter between trees and lamp posts, just in time for a light rain. Others prepared for the evening by seeking shelter in a covered outdoor basketball court, in a Catholic church and in the shuttered doorways of shops throughout the central commercial district. A group from a Christian radio station brought huge pots of spaghetti, beans and rice. A preacher showed up, and some migrants knelt around him.

[…]

Some migrants bathed in a nearby river, including Kinzinyer Gabriela Hernandez, 17, a Honduran migrant who was traveling with her 2-year-old daughter and 16-year-old sister. “My husband knows that we’re on our way, but not exactly where we are,” said Ms. Hernandez, who said she was named after Henry Kissinger, the former United States secretary of state. “God gives me the faith to keep going.”

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Bacchae in Brooklyn

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The review at the NYT of the production of The Bacchae was predictably cute. The production played as part of the Next Wave Festival in a new translation from Aaron Poochigian. Maybe we’re supposed to like Dionysius, especially this one played up as a bad-ass woman rocker of a certain age, dressed in red leather and mugging like Mick Jagger to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’s I Put a Spell on You. She’s full of sass. We are supposed to like the picture of the women of Thebes dancing barefoot in full riot, breast-feeding wolf cubs, disemboweling cows, wearing belts made of snakes, giving the lie to patriarchal authority.

That’s all well and good, but not so simple. Even in this modern production, the chorus of the god’s maenads are armed and they carry themselves with determinate menace. Their god is a jealous god without an iota of mercy. At the high pitch of the drama, I remembered the part by Aristotle in the Poetics where he talks about how Tragedy excites shared emotions of pity and terror. I took my off eye off the actors onstage and looked across, up and down at the audience from my own vantage point. No one was laughing now. At least that’s what I saw. All you could see from the audience, lined up in rows watching, was horror at the action onstage when Agave, at first celebrating and then screaming in Japanese as she comes to realization, brings out the severed head and bodily remains of the son she has just torn into shreds, her son Pentheus, the tragic hero of the drama, who refused the god and the madness the god represents when denied.

Wisdom is the key to the play. Is that why Nietzsche in the Birth of Tragedy despised Euripides, saw in him the death of tragedy and the beginning of the Socratic spirit in philosophy? What’s wise, we learn, would have been to welcome the god. As put with disgust by the soldier who delivers the dire news about Pentheus, “As for me, I’m leaving this disaster, before Agave gets back home again. The best thing is to keep one’s mind controlled, and worship all that comes down from the gods. That, in my view, is the wisest custom, for those who can conduct their lives that way.” And then finally, after the god is revealed, after the tragedy is revealed in full, these are the concluding words of the play by the leader of the chorus, “The gods appear in many forms, carrying with them unwelcome things. What people thought would happen never did. What they did not expect, the gods made happen. That’s what this story has revealed.”

For a modern audience, the lesson might be this. Madness looks fun and you can dress it up, until you see it in the havoc and unwelcome things wrought by an angry and unforgiving god. It was that horrific.

 

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