The Miseducation Of Maureen Dowd
Most white women in America work their asses off. I live smack dab in the middle of stay at home mommy land, complete with the high priced tennis outfits and Mercedes station wagons, but I know this is not reality for the vast majority of white women in America. Most of them work just as hard as their African American counterparts, and in many respects, deal with the exact same issues, concerns and problems.
What amazes me, whenever I read anything by Maureen Dowd, is how the stuff she ultimately gets printed at the New York Times, like last week’s Feliz Cumpleaños, and Adiós even passes editorial muster. It is as if she and her ilk are the new millennium’s equivalent of the 1940’s B-girls, paid to lure readers in off the streets or the web with shiny, showy prose that illuminates nothing so much as the lack of substance in their columns. Dowd has become nothing more than a classic guttersnipe, an op-ed columnist who writes pieces more suited to a Rupert Murdoch tabloid style paper than the New York Times. But the paper keeps paying her to churn out this kind of mindless drivel, as if she is their resident Elizabeth Hasselbeck, minus the perkiness and blonde hair.
It is writers like her who give legitimacy to the lunacy that continues to insist that anybody black who decides to do something nice for themselves and their family is doing so at the rest of America’s expense, as if it is only through handouts and welfare that we are able to enjoy the kind of lifestyle any other upper class and upper middle class Americans do every day.
I don’t know when Dowd’s miseducation began, but these days she serves as nothing more than a double agent who fancies herself as a provocateur because she looks down on the antics of Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter and Sarah Palin. In reality, her backhanded way of referencing Andrea Tantaros and her petty article about Michelle Obama’s trip to Spain in her column last Sunday is just another way to get to roll around in the mud of “all things Obama” hate, a level of vitriol so intense its practitioners appear to despise the president and his wife for even daring to draw a breath. It is another way to insinuate and perpetuate the false meme that the only way black people in America ever profit or succeed is at the expense of white America, or with the help of the government.
Luckily, there are women like Doris Kearns Goodwin, who don’t need to do any mud rolling to keep their jobs. In an appearance on CNN, she laid out a history of travel by previous first ladies to give some much needed context to the hullabaloo over the excursion First Lady Michelle Obama and her friends took their daughters on last week—the kind of overseas trip, in case the Maureen Dowd’s and Andrea of the world don’t know this, that upper middle class black people take all the time without thinking twice about it. On their own dime.
I mean, Jackie Kennedy went on a two-week cruise with Onassis in October of 1963. The criticism at home was enormous. But Jack protected her from it, not letting her know until she got home. And then, when she got home, and he did finally tell it to her, she felt so guilty that she promised she would go with him to Texas. And, of course, that meant she was with him in Dallas.
When President Bush 41 was in Kennebunkport on a cigarette boat in the middle of the recession, great criticism was levied at him. But he said, it would kill me not to come here. This is a part of who I am.
When Reagan went to his ranch for 335 days, the longest at that point that anyone had gone away, and Deaver was saying to him, you shouldn't be doing this, he said, look, Deaver, you can tell me a lot of things I have to do, but not that I can't go to my ranch. I need this place.
So, people have a very ambivalent idea about what vacations should be.
The irony is, Dowd started in the same place and Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson did, in a working class family with no advantages. But so long as the website hits keep coming, and her editors keep encouraging her to write more of the same soap opera style pieces, the auburn haired Ms. Dowd will get to keep playing the role of the dumb blonde with a keyboard for the Times. She will get to keep insisting that Michelle Obama is not worthy of being a First Lady because she is not glued to her husband’s side every second of every day, ready to make him some toast when he needs it.
This is a shame, because the accomplished, educated, hard working white women of America deserve a better standard bearer than this at the New York Times. Luckily for them, most black people don’t hold Maureen Dowd against them, because most black people don’t give a damn what Maureen Dowd thinks.
Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.
- Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
- Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
- Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
Swiss researchers identify new dangers of modern cocaine.
- Cocaine cut with anti-worming adulterant levamisole may cause brain damage.
- Levamisole can thin out the prefrontal cortex and affect cognitive skills.
- Government health programs should encourage testing of cocaine for purity.
A little goes a long way.
- A recent study from the Department of Health and Human Services found that 80 percent of Americans don't exercise enough.
- Small breaks from work add up, causing experts to recommend short doses of movement rather than waiting to do longer workouts.
- Rethinking what exercise is can help you frame how you move throughout your day.
Political division is nothing new. Throughout American history there have been numerous flare ups in which the political arena was more than just tense but incideniary. In a letter addressed to William Hamilton in 1800, Thomas Jefferson once lamented about how an emotional fervor had swept over the populace in regards to a certain political issue at the time. It disturbed him greatly to see how these political issues seemed to seep into every area of life and even affect people's interpersonal relationships. At one point in the letter he states:
"I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend."
Today, we Americans find ourselves in a similar situation, with our political environment even more splintered due to a number of factors. The advent of mass digital media, siloed identity-driven political groups, and a societal lack of understanding of basic discursive fundamentals all contribute to the problem.
Civil discourse has fallen to an all time low.
The question that the American populace needs to ask itself now is: how do we fix it?
Discursive fundamentals need to be taught to preserve free expression
In a 2017 Free Speech and Tolerance Survey by Cato, it was found that 71% of Americans believe that political correctness had silenced important discussions necessary to our society. Many have pointed to draconian university policies regarding political correctness as a contributing factor to this phenomenon.
It's a great irony that, colleges, once true bastions of free-speech, counterculture and progressiveness, have now devolved into reactionary tribal politics.
Many years ago, one could count on the fact that universities would be the first places where you could espouse and debate any controversial idea without consequence. The decline of staple subjects that deal with the wisdom of the ancients, historical reference points, and civic discourse could be to blame for this exaggerated partisanship boiling on campuses.
Young people seeking an education are given a disservice when fed biased ideology, even if such ideology is presented with the best of intentions. Politics are but one small sliver for society and the human condition at large. Universities would do well to instead teach the principles of healthy discourse and engagement across the ideological spectrum.
The fundamentals of logic, debate and the rich artistic heritage of western civilization need to be the central focus of an education. They help to create a well-rounded citizen that can deal with controversial political issues.
It has been found that in the abstract, college students generally support and endorse the first amendment, but there's a catch when it comes to actually practicing it. This was explored in a Gallup survey titled: Free Expression on Campus: What college students think about First amendment issues.
In their findings the authors state:
"The vast majority say free speech is important to democracy and favor an open learning environment that promotes the airing of a wide variety of ideas. However, the actions of some students in recent years — from milder actions such as claiming to be threatened by messages written in chalk promoting Trump's candidacy to the most extreme acts of engaging in violence to stop attempted speeches — raise issues of just how committed college students are to
upholding First Amendment ideals.
Most college students do not condone more aggressive actions to squelch speech, like violence and shouting down speakers, although there are some who do. However, students do support many policies or actions that place limits on speech, including free speech zones, speech codes and campus prohibitions on hate speech, suggesting that their commitment to free speech has limits. As one example, barely a majority think handing out literature on controversial issues is "always acceptable."
With this in mind, the problems seen on college campuses are also being seen on a whole through other pockets of society and regular everyday civic discourse. Look no further than the dreaded and cliche prospect of political discussion at Thanksgiving dinner.
Talking politics at Thanksgiving dinner
As a result of this increased tribalization of views, it's becoming increasingly more difficult to engage in polite conversation with people possessing opposing viewpoints. The authors of a recent Hidden Tribes study broke down the political "tribes" in which many find themselves in:
- Progressive Activists: younger, highly engaged, secular, cosmopolitan, angry.
- Traditional Liberals: older, retired, open to compromise, rational, cautious.
- Passive Liberals: unhappy, insecure, distrustful, disillusioned.
- Politically Disengaged: young, low income, distrustful, detached, patriotic, conspiratorial
- Moderates: engaged, civic-minded, middle-of-the-road, pessimistic, Protestant.
- Traditional Conservatives: religious, middle class, patriotic, moralistic.
- Devoted Conservatives: white, retired, highly engaged, uncompromising,
Understanding these different viewpoints and the hidden tribes we may belong to will be essential in having conversations with those we disagree with. This might just come to a head when it's Thanksgiving and you have a mix of many different personalities, ages, and viewpoints.
It's interesting to note the authors found that:
"Tribe membership shows strong reliability in predicting views across different political topics."
You'll find that depending on what group you identify with, that nearly 100 percent of the time you'll believe in the same way the rest of your group constituents do.
Here are some statistics on differing viewpoints according to political party:
- 51% of staunch liberals say it's "morally acceptable" to punch Nazis.
- 53% of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.
- 51% of Democrats support a law that requires Americans use transgender people's preferred gender pronouns.
- 65% of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
- 58% of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts.
- 47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.
Understanding the fact that tribal membership indicates what you believe, can help you return to the fundamentals for proper political engagement
Here are some guidelines for civic discourse that might come in handy:
- Avoid logical fallacies. Essentially at the core, a logical fallacy is anything that detracts from the debate and seeks to attack the person rather than the idea and stray from the topic at hand.
- Practice inclusion and listen to who you're speaking to.
- Have the idea that there is nothing out of bounds for inquiry or conversation once you get down to an even stronger or new perspective of whatever you were discussing.
- Keep in mind the maxim of : Do not listen with the intent to reply. But with the intent to understand.
- We're not trying to proselytize nor shout others down with our rhetoric, but come to understand one another again.
- If we're tied too closely to some in-group we no longer become an individual but a clone of someone else's ideology.
Civic discourse in the divisive age
Debate and civic discourse is inherently messy. Add into the mix an ignorance of history, rabid politicization and debased political discourse, you can see that it will be very difficult in mending this discursive staple of a functional civilization.
There is still hope that this great divide can be mended, because it has to be. The Hidden Tribes authors at one point state:
"In the era of social media and partisan news outlets, America's differences have become
dangerously tribal, fueled by a culture of outrage and taking offense. For the combatants,
the other side can no longer be tolerated, and no price is too high to defeat them.
These tensions are poisoning personal relationships, consuming our politics and
putting our democracy in peril.
Once a country has become tribalized, debates about contested issues from
immigration and trade to economic management, climate change and national security,
become shaped by larger tribal identities. Policy debate gives way to tribal conflicts.
Polarization and tribalism are self-reinforcing and will likely continue to accelerate.
The work of rebuilding our fragmented society needs to start now. It extends from
re-connecting people across the lines of division in local communities all the way to
building a renewed sense of national identity: a bigger story of us."
We need to start teaching people how to approach subjects from less of an emotional or baseless educational bias or identity, especially in the event that the subject matter could be construed to be controversial or uncomfortable.
This will be the beginning of a new era of understanding, inclusion and the defeat of regressive philosophies that threaten the core of our nation and civilization.
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