Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Links-a-go-go: Palin and Democracy, Old White People v. Everybody Else

I need to bear down on book editing this week so my bloggy thoughts will consist mainly of a few grunts toward interesting things I've read. There's a coherence to be found somewhere in these meanderings.

Palin as Democracy's Antimatter 
Maybe Salon should go back to selling subscriptions. Blogger Ned Resnikoff writes that progressives (or, anyone with half a brain) should worry about a Sarah Palin 2012 nomination, not cheer for it. Because Saint Sarah will only excite (and certainly not refutiate) right-wing violence, a Palin presidential campaign is too dangerous for democracy to handle. Because:
democracy, after all, must be founded on broad consensus regarding certain social norms. That does not mean that there is no room for disagreement over policy and philosophy within that broad framework -- indeed, that is an obvious feature, not a bug, of representative democracy -- but that these disagreements, no matter how fervent and profound they may become, must take place between parties that share a mutual commitment to the liberal democratic system
 Ever heard of Barry Goldwater? The Southern wing of the Democratic Party? George Wallace?

If we're talking consensus on social norms as in not shooting people during elections, we've more or less had that under wraps since Reconstruction. 

Ta-Nehisi Coates is Awesome
Speaking of the search for consensus, or even reasonable conversation, here's some great writing on the subject re: race. Getting people just to listen is so damn hard.

Old White America v. Young Diverse America
Coates, in his awesomeness, links to a similarly awesome piece in the National Journal that describes the looming "cultural generation gap" rising between White, conservative Baby Boomers and the generation of Americans under 18 who are the most diverse in the nation's history. Citing terrific work being done at Brookings, Ron Brownstein writes about how the interests of young minority populations, now the majority of people under 18 in many states, are clashing with the political ideologies of Boomers raised in all-white suburbs.

As Brownstein points out, this clash is much bigger than race. It also involves the ways that the experience of growing up in the 1950s and 60s formed Boomers' political consciousness.

Speaking of Generational Insularity...
Look no further for the cultural generation gap than conservatives' recent reactions to mosques. Although it was approved by a planning board with only one dissenting vote, conservatives have taken aim at a mosque and cultural center that will be built two blocks from the World Trade Center cite. Palin's "refudiate" tweet, along with Newt Gingrich's similar criticism, were latecomers to the Islam-bashing bandwagon and a community center whose stated goal is to model the radical epicenter of hate, the 92nd Street Y. 

Over in Staten Island, the proposed sale of a former convent for construction of a mosque I blogged about previously was turned down by a Catholic board of trustees.

In Tennessee, Lt. Governor and gubernatorial candidate Ron Ramsey didn't stop at criticizing a proposed Muslim community center in Murfreesboro (which already has a mosque).  He called the world's second-largest religion a cult (go to the 3:10 mark).

In the buckle of the Bible Belt, it's a safe assumption that folks like Ramsey have never met a Muslim, let alone know anything about the tenets of the religion. [Having been to Murfreesboro, the nicest thing I can say about it is it has a Hardees.] That the same sentiment about Islam publicly thrives in cosmopolitan New York City, however, demonstrates that age and personal history can be just as isolating as geography.

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