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Modern Fallacies of "Race" and "Heritage"

This is addressed to a small, but growing subset of our population.

In the following paragraphs, I will state several facts.  They won’t be arguable. Every literate person who reads these facts will know they are true.  But these facts will tug at the silly emotionalism too many have chosen to cloak their lives in.  These facts will stand athwart the nonsense cultural con men have been hawking for decades.

With a little luck, I will convince a few people to revive their sense of dignity and REAL self-respect and turn away from the childish thinking that keeps them from reaching their full potential and divides our people.

Fact 1: I am NOT Irish.

Throughout my childhood there was a myth about “pride” and “heritage” that was foisted on every kid I knew. It was the myth that we were “Irish” or “Italian” or whatever other label people decided to hold over from the old country.

Yes it is true, that by accident of birth, and by no other machination, I have DNA similar to that of people who immigrated to the U.S. four generations before.  In my case, the big celebration of this accident was Saint Patrick’s Day.  We would be regaled with the myth surrounding this character and we were supposed to be filled with “pride” in our “heritage”.

Pride?  Heritage?  Really?

Dismissing the banishment of snakes for the nonsense that it is, what was it about Patrick and my Irish-ness I was supposed to be proud of?  What actions were taken five generations before and earlier that I was supposed to feel somehow “proud” of.  I wasn’t there.

However my ancestors chose to survive the famine, I didn’t participate.  In parts of our extended family were people who were part of the IRA.  We were supposed to be somehow proud of that.  Leave aside the twisted animals the IRA would eventually become, how was I supposed to be “proud” of a struggle with which I had taken no part?

And from whence comes my heritage?  It damn sure isn’t from Ireland!  The ONLY tangible heritage that contributed what I would become is what my parents and grandparents provided.  And except for the silly green hats and “Kiss me!  I’m Irish!” badges I’d see once a year, that heritage was pure American.

But oh, I was told, think of the brave souls that fled the famine and came here to start a new life!

 Brave?  Well, I’ll grant you, the first man to pull a black spud from the ground to say, “Uh-oh. There’s something wrong here,” who packed his kit and got out of dodge, could be called brave or visionary.

But when the staple crop of Ireland failed catastrophically, millions of Irishmen did what every other culture had done before them.  They left.  They moved en masse searching for a place to survive.  It would have been far braver, some thought fool-hearty, to have stayed on and figured out a fix than to have left a lifetime of work and run.

I’m not saying those who did leave did the wrong thing.  But when you follow the herd, for whatever reason, you are not standing out as brave.  In this case, people were doing what simply had to be done as they saw it.  That they didn’t do it in small numbers kind of tarnishes the “brave” label.

Having settled in Philadelphia, the first generation of my family born here went of to war.   Two that I know of, Matthew Jordan and George Platt both fought for the Union at Fredericksburg, among other places.  They didn’t do that because they were Irish.  They did it because they were American.  No matter your feelings about the Civil War (or any war), you can’t get around the fact that those who fought and died, mostly thought they were doing the right thing.  But these two men were not fighting for Ireland.

Like all those who descended from other cultures, these men went on to build a life here. At the time, and in many ways today, that life is unique when set against the sweep of history. The life they built here was not an Irish life.  It was an American life.  The children they raised were American.

Some understood this and went on to do great things.  They made prosperous lives for themselves.  Others bought into the sorry groupthink that pervaded places like Boston and thought (stupidly) that their lives were somehow made better by the political vultures that fed on cultural parochialism.  All those people did was slow their own progress in this culture while enriching politicians who didn’t really give a damn about being Irish and didn’t care a lick for those that enriched them.

Still others fell in with the worst of elements.  People with Irish surnames cannot claim the moral high ground here.  The Irish mob is as much a blight on society as the Mafia, MS-13 and the Russian mob.

We may entertain ourselves and pat ourselves on the back for things with which we have no connection.  But my family, like all American families, succeeded or failed by how they approached life in the United States – not Ireland or Russia or Africa or China – but here, in this reality.

I have been troubled by these thoughts because of a resurgence of racism in this country. Class envy is resurgent too.  But I’ll deal with that in another post.

I went from pre-adolescence to adulthood in a world where everyone with the least sense of dignity looked at racial identity as a punch line at best and a cancer at worst.  Comedians rightfully portrayed the mouth-breathing White racist AND the stereotype, outdated Black Panther wannabes with equal amusement.

But in the last two decades, as the Sixties crowd moved into power, I’ve seen this trend reversed.  We are now seeing those who feed off of class and ethnic identity gain an undeserved voice.  We’ve replaced real progress with emotionalist stupidity.

In St. Louis last night (9/15/17) we saw people who are told (or decided) they must stand shoulder to shoulder with a heroine dealer who tried to run over two cops because they have a similar skin color.  Sadly, many people either believe it or pretend to believe it.

Whatever the specifics of the final encounter this criminal had with police were, we only have the legal record to figure out.  But the man himself isn’t worthy of the least consideration.  He certainly isn’t worthy of being raised on a pedestal.  He isn’t worth societal division.

But there are those who will tell you that he is.  They thrive on it.  They’ve grown rich, like those Irish politicians, convincing you that your first consideration must be the color of your skin, or a brogue, not what you need to do to thrive in society.

To my Black brothers and sisters who were born in this country, I submit facts number 2 and 3:

You are not African and you are not slaves.

I am not going to lecture you about what the word African means.  Just take my story as an overlay and compare it to your family tree.  Fact number 3 is self-evident.  Neither you, your parents nor your grandparents were slaves.  If you are not of a certain age, even your great grand parents were not slaves.  You share no connection to that world unless you chose to study the history of it.

You can no more claim legitimate pain from slavery than I can from the Potato Famine and the Irish caste system.

To let people keep you from reaching your full potential because slavery existed 160 years ago, to base your world view on that, is an insult to every person who survived slavery and went on to make a life for themselves.

Too many Black Americans have gone on to greatness and dispelled these myths.  That includes those who walk around in mansions, selling their music and talking about being oppressed.  You can enjoy their music, but don’t buy the insult to your own intelligence that says they can make it but you can’t.

I liked Tom Cruise in Valkyrie, but I wouldn’t give a warm fart for his pathetic Scientology lunacy.  And yes, that is the very same thing as believing Kanye has a point about being oppressed.  He is living proof that in the US, oppression in a function of one’s own design.  It is not an American reality.

The fact that people like those in the following paragraphs exist cannot oppress you unless you say it does.

To my white brother and sisters, I submit facts number four and five: We are not the super race.  And there is no god of white people.

Waaaaay too many of you are drifting back to that moronic, 1950’s, jerkwater way of thinking.

Many of you are also being manipulated in the same way as all cultures have been from time to time.  Many of you are unemployed or underemployed.  You’ve allowed yourselves to be sucked into a pathetic narrative that says it is someone else’s fault.  It’s not.  If you are not happy with your lot in life, it’s your fault.

As for race?  Hell, in the wider scheme of things, there is no individual race.  Dr. David Duke (the title gets funnier every time I hear it) would tell you that a white guy is a white guy and everyone else is entirely different.

[Insert loud game show buzzer here.] Sorry.  That just ain’t so.  We now know what we call our “heritage” (there’s that word again) is thoroughly intermingled going back tens of thousands of years.  Every single human being you look at every single day is a cousin, at some random distance removed. Give them a hug.

And as I said above, referring to culture vultures, many of you have enriched people like David Duke while virtually hiding from a full and happy life.

Do yourselves a favor.  Relax.  Let go of your self-imposed stupidity and join the rest of society.  If you spent as much time and money becoming better human beings and gaining real knowledge as you did on your tattoos, and listening to people like Duke, you’d all be far better off than you are.

I would submit this one assumption: The only well-off, successful, mouth-breathing racist in this country is the one who has capitalized on your gullibility.  He likely doesn’t really care about skin color.  But it’s a good gig if you want money, easy fame and a credulous following.

Finally there is this irony.

Across the color spectrum, race baiters work in tandem.  Each LOVES the fact that the other exists.  Duke needs Sharpton and vice versa.  La Raza needs the people who think everyone with a Spanish accent is an illegal. Each secretly prays that the other is kept safe and successful.

It’s the same as the zoo we have inside the Beltway.  Phony conservatives need phony liberals need each other to be loud and strong.  Neither has any intention of actually accomplishing anything.  If they did, their power would wane.  But this is an issue for a wider audience, isn’t it?

To the 80% of society (hopefully more) that doesn’t fall into the narrative of this essay, I say thank you for being you.  Don’t be afraid to invite the others to participate in a normal life.

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"Founded By Slaveholders", A Non-thinker's Argument

Founded by Slaveholders!

There is a popular admonition floating around about our nation’s founding. It is intended to cause deep soul searching or inflict discomfort and shame in the American listener.

A reasonable listener could be excused, with reasonable provenance, for reaching a different conclusion about the admonition and the purveyors of it.

I would take this shallow scold less seriously if it were restricted to Facebook trolls wanting to make noise and FEEL intelligent. Sadly, it has been popular on college campuses and in otherwise respected books and publications.

The Admonition

In order to “shout down” a person who may seem to some as too nationalistic or patriotic, it is popular among liberals and those who think we should be more like Europe, for example, to remind us that “all but one” of the founding fathers were slave owners. A quick poison pill qualification often follows in the form of, “…and I don’t want to hear about the morals of the time. That has nothing to do with it!”

Firstly, the pronouncement is inaccurate and shows how we have come to venerate the centralization of power that the Revolution fought against. The qualification ignores the progress already being made at that time against slavery. The qualification also rings of “…don’t try to confuse me with facts. I’ve already made up my mind!”

Well, with all due respect to those who reject any thinking on the part of the listener, I will point out the following:

The Founding Fathers, we are more and more often told, consisted of seven people. Washington, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, Jay (I am surprised he survives this modern myth), Hamilton and Madison.

As a young adult, and an avid reader of history, I discovered this elementary school list was far from complete. We remember their names because, unlike many of the others who risked death and ruin, they stayed around after the founding to take the reins of the very power they had created by expelling the Crown. We remember their names because it is a short list and it is easy to teach children about them.

One of the sillier results of this simple-minded notion of our founding is the beatification of the U.S. Government. Most people at that time knew this was not what people fought and died for from 1775-1781. Local governance remained as the proper locus of power. But the Civil War and popular myths surrounding these seven “fathers” fostered the concept of “The United States” vs “These United States.” It cemented, sadly, the idea that real government exists only in DC. State and local governments are just the junior league. There really is an amazing number of people who think our system of government was set up so that the federal government could do as much as possible, and the state governments should bat cleanup and fight for federal dollars.

Who will deny that the average American sees an election as a populist federal exercise? I would contend that less than 10% of all Americans know who is on a state or local ballot until they enter the voting booth.

Enough on the peripheral effect. Let’s deal with who “founded our nation” and the revisionist moralizing aimed at these founders.

There were more than seven!

I was reading a friend’s FB post the other day. It made the same point that I am arguing against here. He said of the founding fathers, all but one owned slaves. When I called him on it he, for some reason, changed the term to the “founding framers”.  An odd change, and further from the truth than the original claim.

Here’s that fact that muddies the waters. There were 56 founding fathers. 56 people pledged their property, lives and honor to US independence. 56 men traveled from all over the east to Philadelphia. 56 debated seriously, often passionately, about our allegiance to the Crown. Not all believed we should break with Britain. But they would, by 2 July 1776, agree to do so. They all took the same risks. 56 families and yes, even the slaves of those who held them, were put at risk as well.

We only know the big seven as near godlike because they would hold positions of power that long exceeded the Revolution and the creation of the US Constitution. It can be argued, and history supports this, that these seven spent those decades vying for that very power.

Of the 56 who actually did the work of creating this nation, 41 (73%) were slaveholders. Not all but one.

As for the “framers” (There is no accepted term “founding framer”. That’s a new one.), 27 (49%) of the representatives from the various states were slaveholders. So from 1776 until 1787 the trend among those who shaped the nation was drifting toward abolition already.

“…I Don’t Want To Hear About The Morals Of The Time!”

Well suck it up, buttercup. You can apply modern thinking to people of other times, but it doesn’t change what has already occurred. You can wish your own motivations into the hearts of those long dead. But criticizing the constitution because some of the framers were slaveholders is like saying Mickey Mantle knew nothing about baseball because he drank too much whiskey.  To remove the morals of the time from consideration is to discount your own credibility. And it is a form of pouting.

But take heart. As it turns out, modern ideas about slavery were already taking root in some quarters during these early years. The delegates to the Continental Congress AND the Constitutional Convention who argued against slavery were not expelled from the events. In fact, the anti-slave faction was able to at least get the Three-Fifths Compromise through to blunt the voting power the slave states were claiming. Slave states were insisting slaves counted against their census. It was a small victory, but a victory.

The economics of it all

Another canard criticized along with the “morals” dodge is the economics. I have heard it said that the economics argument for not charging ahead with abolition PROVES the founders were immoral. And again, the claim is at a minimum, naïve. At any rate, it is false.

This was at the heart of the matter for people like Gouvernuer Morris and George Mason. They both expressed, quite eloquently, a fear of eternal damnation (if you go in for that sort of thing) at their holding of slaves. But they like everyone in both bodies, Continental Congress and Constitutional Convention, knew that you don’t simply declare the undoing of a massive institution, even one as onerous as slavery, at one go.

Let me give you a modern example.

There are many, I am among them, who see the Social Security system as a corrupt Ponzi scheme. It is also horribly administered and of precious little value overall. It, like Obamacare was a system destined to fail from the very start. Many of you, at or near retirement count on this program to be your lifeline in your old age. It isn’t. You will find yourself in poverty. You have no one but yourselves to blame.

It isn’t all of your own doing. The federal government has repeatedly told you it is intact and that to keep it going in the future will require only minimum adjustments. They have not stated emphatically enough that it will not provide you with the retirement income you will need to live well. They have not admitted that with each month they wait to actually fix it, there is a greater chance that those already dependent on the system will suffer. Your fault lies in having believed any of it.

All the said, you can’t take something as vast as Social Security and simply declare today that it won’t exist tomorrow. You can’t even repair it in that fashion. It takes time. The economic and social impact must be attenuated to absorb the impact. After a long hard slog of un-brainwashing people as to its value, the system must be gradually replaced by a more effective and sustainable free-market program.

Slavery was seen in the same light. Slaveholders like Jefferson and Mason knew two things. Slavery was immoral, and contract or employee work was far less expensive. They also knew that in order for the American economy to survive the end of slavery other slaveholders, at least a strong plurality, would have to see the logic of this. For an individual to simply give up his slaves in a market dominated by slaveholders would leave him at an insurmountable disadvantage. By the time everyone else might have caught on, that business may lay in ruin.

The result would be to reaffirm the need for slaves in the minds of those who were holding out.

If the government simply mandated an abrupt end to slavery across the board the economic and legal chaos would have ended the American experiment before it got started. Yes, in order for there to be an America in which we would one day end slavery, there had to be an early time in which slave state and free state would exist side-by-side.

Now, even though I am writing this paragraph, there will be people shrieking at my comparing slavery to Social Security. There is no comparison, they’ll cry. Morally, the comparison is one of degree. Certainly holding generations of Americans in forced labor, and beating them in some cases, is a far greater offense than taking their money under false pretense. But both concepts are wrong.

And I stand by the economic comparison without apology.

But Why The Silly Admonition To Begin With?

The complaint about the “Founding Fathers” holding slaves is a red herring tossed into many conversations when respect for the Constitution comes up. The fact is, if your original argument for an issue is strong enough, you can change the Constitution to reflect that.

But as I heard on Glenn Beck’s radio show a few weeks back, no one WANTS to wait that long for anything. On that particular day, Beck’s issue was tax reform. And the truth is, to have permanent and effective tax REFORM, you must REFORM tax law. Reducing taxes does very little. The government can jack taxes right back up on a whim.

The reform must take place in the way we collect taxes and how much the government is limited to collect. Beck mentioned changing the Constitution and he and the entire cast all agreed that we shouldn’t have to wait that long to get something done.

Beck is not alone. We have several generations in this country that think every notion and difficulty they have should be acted on and solved by the government NOW! And if you tell them to form an argument and see if it will pass muster and then change the constitution…

…Oh boy…

…That’s when it comes out. Having no argument or lacking the skill to make one, they simply say they shouldn’t have to follow the Constitution because it was written a long time ago by white men, or rich men, or old men, or slaveholders, or NOT WOMEN,…

The invalid arguments are endless. And they have been in play in our government since FDR. That is why we have lost so many rights and so much of our personal wealth over the last 70 years.

Through our ignorance about our Constitution the government has not only been able to whittle away what you need to succeed and protect yourself, but YOU have fallen prey to moronic arguments about the foibles and sins of the “founding fathers”, as if they invalidate our governing documents.

This, and the “poison pill” I referred to earlier, are called a fallacious argument. Look it up and learn something.

When I started to post regularly in 2012 I lamented the lack of political and social maturity in the United States. I now despair that thanks to the echo chambers of social media, things have gotten much worse.

I’d love to be proven wrong about that.

Matt Jordan is the author of Street Politics: It Ain’t Your Daddy’s GOP Anymore! Grab your copy here.

Kindle version here!

Or just start reading for free on Kindle Unlimited!

 

 

 

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Quick Hits, 1 August 17

My mood:

 

Just a few thoughts on recent developments:

1) Kelly in as Chief of Staff: If anyone can bring order to the playpen that is the present White House, it’s General John Kelly. He is among some of the notables I’ve met in my past life.

But I am proposing a big “if” here. It is being reported that Trump has pledged his full support to his new Chief. But Trump and promises are a fungible relationship at best! Witness number 2 next.

2) During the G20 pretend summit, media reports of Donald Trump Jr.’s contact with Russians hit the streets. Big Donald immediately huddled with his people and it was decided that the administration would lay it all on the line and face this thing head on. The plan was to get ahead of the story by being blatantly honest and transparent.

Three hours later, Trump cut his own people off at the knees, as usual. He dictated a different position. Specifically, he said that the meeting between Junior and the Russian agent was about Russian adoption. Of course the story had to be walked back before the day was out.

But the difficulty of working for a man who can be swayed by the slightest flattery or distraction, or even his own fleeting whims cannot be overstated here. And that is what Kelly has to deal with.

 

 

3) I had predicted that Kelly’ first order of business would be to fire Anthony Scaramucci. The Mooch is a conniving and vindictive creature suffering from a severe Napoleon Complex. I wish I had put this prediction online. Stupid me! I do so enjoy watching as my predictions come true. Almost all of them do.

So I’ll make up for the oversight here. Prediction: Rex Tillerson will give Kelly 60-90 days to bring order to the White House. If Kelly succeeds, Tillerson will stay on at State until the end of the term or until someone denounces him while blowing sunshine up Trump’s ass. At that point he’ll be asked to resign because someone who flattered Trump said he should. Of course that would negate the first qualifier in this prediction.

Just the same, we will witness a new maturity inside the administration or watch Tillerson leave within three months. He finds the present environment undignified, and he is correct. It is.

 

4) Again in reference to para 2, I hear constantly that Donald Trump is great because he is not like all the others. As has been demonstrated countless times since the first moments of his campaign, this is a fallacy. Start with his pronouncements about abortion over three days in 2016 and end with his impetuous burning of his staff with the Donald Jr. lie, and we see time and time again that Trump is EXACTLY like the rest of DC. Worse, he sucks at it. At least the other slime balls are skillful and articulate in the way they lie. It takes a long time and a lot of explaining to call them out on their BS. But Trump embarrasses himself within days, sometimes hours of blurting out a promise or an insult.

The apologists like Charles Hurt, Laura Ingram and even Rush now, are finding it difficult to explain away a Trump gaffe. At one time they would completely make up a whole new quote or narrative having nothing to do with what Trump did or said. Even that isn’t working anymore.

 

5) The situation in North Korea has only gotten worse since I published this article.

I heard a comment the other day that planners believe we are within 3 months of conflict. If this is so, and we have not initiated a military draft, many people will die with nothing gained on the Korean Peninsula.

If we enter into hostilities in Korea with the same perverse, “John McNamara” attitude that has become commonplace in the Pentagon and the White House, we will not prevail. This time around we must go with the resolve to utterly annihilate the North’s war fighting capability. If not we face financial ruin and will lose tens of thousands of troops killed or maimed FOR NOTHING!

So, what is there to celebrate?

Politically? Not much.

The items listed above can all come out right, depending on whether the President and Congress can get their act together in a big, fat hurry. The economy is crawling back. Employment is improving.

There is a chance that Trump will pull the exemptions from Obamacare and eliminate the insurance industry bailouts. While I applaud this, he’s doing it for the wrong reasons. He has been suckered by flattery into supporting the GOP’s efforts to make Obamacare permanent, never having made the argument for complete repeal (not that has the ability to do so). He is only threatening exemptions and bailouts to try to force holdouts in Congress to give in to the stupidity.

Geez! This is quite the sad sack of issues here. I will write something more chipper tomorrow.

Matt Jordan is the author of Street Politics: It Ain’t Your Daddy’s GOP Anymore! Grab your copy here.

Kindle version here!

Or just start reading for free on Kindle Unlimited!

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