Friday, August 14, 2009

Whole Lot of Stupid Going On

That meme I never did from Jaliya has had me thinking along the lines of a Menopausal Stoners' soundtrack.

Here's one from the formative years:

It would be nice if some of those folks at Town Meetings would spark up a fine, fat doobie and listen to this song again, paying special attention to the idea that Old Pirates in the health care industry, and those profiting mightily from the health care industry, are precisely the same fellows who commissioned and captained the vessels bearing slaves to this land. Slaves were emancipated by proclamation in 1863 - except in Texas, where nobody told the slaves they were free for another two and a half years on the first Juneteenth, June 19, 1865. The Emancipation Proclamation had little immediate impact on Texas.

Dick Cheney must be directly descended from a family who distributed the information that the war was over on a Need To Know basis designed to retain and generate wealth. We all know what a proud Texan George W. Bush is. I wouldn't be surprised to learn Rush Limbaugh's family profited from an agrarian economy built on slave labor. That's roughly 150 years ago, a mere blink of an eye in the history of Western Thought.

The British shipping companies who lost the slave trade business shifted their focus to India around the same time. I'm not exactly sure which white men pulled the gems out of marble carved palaces in Rajasthan. I'm sorry to say I'm not well versed in the history of the Indian Sub Continent. But even Sarah Palin must know about the East India Trading Company, the opium wars, and how the sun never set on the British Empire. It was on an SRA Card.

I'm not calling anyone a racist.

I'm saying that it hasn't been that long on the World History Time Line since some merchants - and the aristocrats whose wealth was enhanced by mercantile and political activities (when were money, politics and legislators ever separate?) made a shit load of money by invading other regions and ripping off the people. They felt no remorse because they truly believed God gave them dominion over lesser creatures. We see Europeans causing problems around the globe all in the name of building an Empire throughout history - like the Conquistadors. Our European ancestors were secure in their belief that they were superior to peasants of all varieties an indigenous heathens of every color. God planned it that way and gave them a social order based on the divine rights of rulers. You work; We keep the money. That's the way God planned it - and we can fuck your daughter or your wife while we're at it. That's the feudal system in a nutshell. There was an SRA card about that too.

The founding fathers were sick of their Bull Shit, but there were many loyalists at the time of the American Revolution. Those loyalists were rich guys, and among them were plenty of white families who benefited economically from slave labor and were fighting to preserve state's rights during the civil war - but plenty of Northerners made money from the slave business. The North industrialized sooner with immigrant laborers, who were treated very shabbily, as well as freed slaves.

Listening to the bull shit pouring from conservative media personalities then regurgitated with local flavor by Bull Shit Processing Units at town meetings - it sounds like some white folks have been influenced by business interests who don't give a flying fuck what happens to other human beings as long as their families make money. Race is actually irrelevant except that it automatically guarantees certain rights and privileges that other people can only imagine. To deny recent institutionalized racism would be illogical. I saw the Colored Water fountains myself.

Since middle class white folks are now among the economically oppressed in large numbers, you'd think they'd hush up about the socialist thing. They are very slow to grasp the idea that the same rich guys who fucked over everybody else are fucking over middle class white people now. When you think it's a good idea to drive a gas guzzler, then you have been manipulated by marketing and the profit motive that drives our country. Certain cars may be expensive and use up too much gas - but it's not nearly as personally uncomfortable as losing your job and not having adequate health care although you're covered. Or you were until you had to start paying for COBRA. Either way, though, you've been screwed by the profit motive.

Watching these meetings on TV, you have to wonder where these people came from and how they can be so stupid. I have no answer to that question, but I am reminded of Rhonda Gayle's neighbor. Cousin Rhonda Gayle, the Hillbilly Hustler, lived next door to a man who got struck by lightning in the driveway while he was carrying a TV antennae. Honest to G*d, he was fixing to go on the roof to install a TV antennae during a thunderstorm when he got killed grave yard dead. There were lots of kids in that family - and they're all watching Fox News now.

Then there is my mother's neighbor, Claudine, who sent a copperhead to school with her second grader for Show & Tell. It all started when Claudine's husband chopped the head off a big copperhead with a shovel and left that dang snake lying there in the driveway. Maybe they didn't know that would attract the friends and relatives of the snake. I wouldn't know that either, but I would be worried the dogs would grab the rest of the snake and run around the yard with it. You'd think he'd at least push it down the storm sewer which would clog up the drains faster during the next hard rain and flood the street - but they wouldn't have thought of that either.

When the next snake came into the yard, they caught it. Claudine looked in a book to identify the species, but she only read the first part of the sentence. When she learned that the snake might be an XYZ snake, she didn't bother to finish the sentence. She thought she found the right answer in the book. If she'd have finished the sentence, she'd have read the part that said, " . . . or it could be a copperhead." Secure in her belief that she knew everything she could possibly know about this snake because she'd looked at a picture and read half a sentence, Claudine boxed it up and sent it to school where it bit a kid on the playground. Just on the finger, but still. The kid had to be airlifted to downtown Houston since the suburban hospital didn't have the necessary anti-venom.

These folks are originally from Ohio. They just live in Texas now. Neither Texas nor Florida have cornered the market on dumb ass red necks. They are everywhere. The situation got worse, though, the principal made it seem like it was all the kid's fault not for having a copperhead at school but for taking it out on the playground without permission. Apparently, if you leave a copperhead under your desk in the box where it belonged, that was okay.

At least that's the way Claudine tells the story - and it must be true because the same dang principal hired her to substitute teach at the elementary school the following year.

It takes a special kind of stupid to hire a teacher who sent a copperhead to school for Show & Tell. At least she can hand them the work books and/or SRA cards. But somebody needs to tell her the answer to the question might be in second sentence of the paragraph. Sometimes you might have to read the whole paragraph because the right answer isn't until the very last line. Somebody still needs to tell Sarah Palin - and I bet you these women had similar work books in one of our country's public schools. These work books are designed to raise scores on standardized tests.

Anyone who cares about analytical and critical thinking skills should be worried about high stakes standardized testing. The weight given one assesment tool that focuses on a narrow band of academic accomplishment leads to compartmentalizing curriculum. When curriculum topics, such as history and science, are not integrated, the ability to make connections between divergent subject matter is neglected. People who can't make connections don't know bull shit when they hear it. A lot of rich guys benefit when the public doesn't know bull shit when they hear it. Those people can become Bull Shit Processing Units like the ones at the town meetings.

Minimizing the practice of high stakes standardized testing has been the goal of progressive educators for decades. Like the economic clusterfuc, we can trace some of the major problems to the Regan administration and the Back to Basics movement. But that's another soap box.


Gail said...

Hi Trish
Wow, YOU really tell it straight. And again, how you tie it all in to the oddest cast of characters from your life is fascinating. Claudine is in first place. :-)
And the Bob Marley song? Excellent.

Happy Saturday.
Love you

Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

Yo, Tricia:

Murkins are (in)famously unable to see themselves as manipulated by "propaganda," even as they are dialy twisted and tweaked and shaped by the discourses around them. I usta put it simply to my students who refused to see: "There is a difference between an oak tree and a dumb-truck. There is NO (objective) DIFFERENCE between Coke and Pepsi, Ford and Chevy, Miller and Bud. To the extent that you think there is, that is an index of the effect of propaganda on your life."

Because, though they hate to hear it in Journalism Schools (and it's one reason I don't work "in the field" anymore), advertizing IS perhaps the MOST refined KIND of propaganda ever devised...

Didja ever hear of Jacques Ellul? He wrote the definitive thesis on the nature and fucntion of propagandas in the early '60s. His most staqrtling insight (at the time) was that, contrary to 'logic,' educated bourgeoise were MORE easily propagandized--led by tropes to believe incomplete data--because they had more invested in the apparent 'truths' they were being fed than the lower classes, who were structurally marginalized anyway, or the upper classes, which know the truth about propaganda from the cradle...

PENolan said...

Gail, as always, thanks for the encouragement.

Woody, every time I hear or see the word "murkins" I think of MERKINS - pubic hair wigs introduced in Elizabethan times to disguise the ravages of the pox in the nether regions. Coincidence? I think not.
As for Jacques' work, I'm hoping you will tell me all about it yourself one day. For now, I'm going back to bed.

Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

As for Jacques' work, I'm hoping you will tell me all about it yourself one day. For now, I'm going back to bed.

I await only the opportunity, schatz!

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