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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 22,368

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All history should be subjected to a high level of scrutiny

President worship in general is in the spirit of monarchy, not democracy. How particular individuals may live up to "the test of leadership" is, in general, a mystifying concern. It doesn't usually interest me. What actually happened is much more interesting.

Events should be commemorated in all their complexity. I'm arguing for a different historical culture. Princeton should host a Woodrow Wilson museum that tells all these stories. But building names suggest honor without caveats. (Building names also don't actually recall history, often people have no idea who a given personage is.)

Anyway, I suggested Debs (spell his name right, for chrissakes) just to anticipate a possible "what's your alternative?" move. My real alternative would be history education, museums, sponsored research, cultivating a nuanced view with room for debate and evolution. No need to put this guy's name on a building.

I agree that some objections are anachronistic, so your LGBT example with regard to Debs (or Wilson, or anyone else from the time) would a red herring. However, the accusation that Wilson was a committed and published scientific racist and actually made things worse for black people is not anachronistic. Alternative ideas were in circulation at the time, and he was regressive for his time. He doesn't get that excuse.

No one's questioning Wilson's historical importance.

It's a question of the way in which it should be commemorated in public. A straight endorsement of any individual "great man" is almost always going to be a whitewash. This case is no different. I vote for more historical research and popularization of historical complexity, and less in the way of bullshit heroic monumentalization. There should be forms of memorialization that present such figures in their full contexts.

Wilson was a committed "scientific racist" who gave his presidential endorsement to the pro-Ku Klux Klan blockbuster, Birth of A Nation. Deal with it. Why do you want to forget such things? What is your identification with this particular imperialist, as opposed to any other? The League of Nations by the way was an attempt at a concordance of European empires, to maintain these and manage their affairs in a way that avoided future European wars, but did not question European dominance of their colonies. For example, it legitimated the French-British carve-up of the Middle East. Then again, this white man's club was better than the alternative that followed its breakup. Here as well, we would all be served by not heroizing and turning everything into these simplistic narratives of good or bad. Sorry that history's not simple enough.

But if you want it simple, I'd like to see a monument for Eugene Debs, of course. Or the International Workers of the World. Or the dead of Ludlow - appropriate at Princeton with all its buildings named after Rockefellers! You want a hero, look up Louis Tikas. He too was a man of his time - and yet nothing like Professor Wilson. Fancy that.

"Arab Muslims"

You've got your general category, and it's wrong.

These are citizens of Syria, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan -- all countries in which your government conducted wars -- fleeing from current war zones, in which (1) conditions are deadly (due to the war, the bombs, including those made and delivered by your government, and the resulting health and ecological conditions) and (2) where there are forces who want to murder them, often on the basis of their ethnicity, race or religious grouping. Some of them aren't Arab, and some of them aren't Muslims. You want to debate the particular definition of "genocide" devised to suit the Great Powers of 1948, but this denies that whatever the definition, many of those you want to turn away will die from intentionally directed violence as a result.

Also, it's pogroms, not pograms.

Also, the 12 million undocumented people are a separate issue. (They should be legalized, of course.) You are employing the fallacy of "whatabouttery."

And the environmental legacy, "sterling." I missed something, did the US ban the blowing up of mountains and the poisoning of waters in order to extract hydrocarbons to burn and further fuck up the climate? Did the emissions level go down to conceivably sustainable levels? How about the coddling of BP and the failure to ban drilling on the ocean floor?

Anyway, fuck presidential "legacies." There are bigger issues.

Duane Clarridge (CIA) is a Bush mob consigliere.

So he took his Carson paycheck as a consultant, and has now demonstrated his enduring loyalty to the Family.

Notwithstanding that it's true!

And an implosion of Carson may benefit Trump but it ain't going to Jeb!'s benefit.

Schadenfreude all around.

This is what I was thinking.

These are pungent, loud and insulting (because so incredibly stupid).

I wish Schneiderman had made a precedent by prosecuting these companies not for gambling, but for fraudulent advertising. At no point do they mention odds, or how much gets paid in to produce the supposed weekly payout. Everyone's just making a million on a $10 bet, or whatever bullshit they're saying.

These ads are not just stupid but very clearly pitched to working the stupid (who are indispensable to the business model).

Of course, if they went after the private sector for doing this, they'd have to admit what a scam the state-run lottery is. They're running equally penetrating and stupid ads all the damn time. It's an interesting contrast, all the state/city moralistic lifestyle ads (be polite, don't eat fatty foods, be watchful for terrorism, protect yourself, avoid frottage on the subway, blah blah) combined with the Lotto ads from the same government: "Oh yeah, when you get that quarter billion you can say FUCK YOU to everyone and act like the dumbest most corrupt asshole and get away with it because money -- fuck yeah!"

No, he is not.

Jeb! is a new frontman for a very old criminal family that has done more damage to this country and to the world than any other single faction in American politics. He represents the return of recent history's worst war criminals.

Trump is a lone clown whose appeal exposes the party better than any troll campaign could manage. He is the beginning of their end. His undisguised lack of sanity is 1000 times more honest and more reflective of the actual mindset on the right than Bush's simulation of a normal politician.

Sounds about right.

I mean your estimate of 2000 CIA filth in Venezuela, not your distractionary nonsense about world control. That figure may be close for officers and directly managed agents and assets in a targeted state of that size and operations of comparable duration. But who can say? The agencies of covert warfare like to minimize potential exposure if possible and make use of independent parapolitical operators and "allies." It's all secret for a reason. We are in Bayesian territory, criminal organizations do not publish member lists, though fortunately Wikileaks sometimes does.

In any case such persons would not be "ours." Even if you choose to identify with them in the first person, I do not. They are not serving any interest that should be identified with the vast majority of US-American people. Nor are they pursuing any kind of higher good, just fucking with another foreign country where they have no business on behalf of obscure rich interests.

So what's your point?

That after 42 years with an enormous net growth in the economy and unprecedented concentration of wealth a statistical Worker No. 501 of 1000 makes a nominal six dollars more in then-dollars, even as real estate in many places has been artificially inflated? Why is it so important to you to impeach the case that the ruling class are richer and more powerful than ever, the poor at least as fucked as ever, and the "middle class" in an utter state of precarity where they happen to have about the same amount of cash (big deal)? What's your stake in the fairy tale of "economic progress" under the capitalist system that has burned the planet? I know which class I belong to and have no trouble saying it. I definitely make under the median income and most of the people I know are huddled around the same level and know that the economy is utter shit and the good news about it is mostly propaganda. What about you? Where's your position in this death system?

You have already passed judgement.

First of all, your argument that the day was important is a red herring. We all agree it was very important. It should be taught, studied and commemorated. Some of us think it should not be commemorated in the name of the failed conquistador Colon, however.

Merely in the fact that you primarily wish to identify the would-be conquistador as a mariner means you have already delivered a judgment, one in his favor. I suppose we can also call Alexander and Genghis horsemen. You seem to be attached, not to a credible history, but to the modern-day, nationalist narrative (of Spain and a number of N. and S. American countries) that exonerates a mass murderer.

It is certain that people of his time did condemn him - the only problem is you're not willing to hear their voices, since they are the ones who didn't matter to him, the indigenous peoples he "discovered." He understood what he was doing at the time very bloody well, demanding that his missions deliver more forced labor, slaves, and gold. It was the moral standard of the Spanish empire to which this Italian voluntarily chose to attach himself. Not everyone at the time would have acted as he did. (It's interesting seeing on behalf of which arguments people choose to invoke the objection of anachronism.)

It was Eratosthenes, a mathematician in Ptolemaic Egypt, who first estimated the earth's circumference. No one is judging Colon by the standards of today to point out that more than 1600 years later, he was wrong about the circumference. This is why people at the time thought he was crazy, because he was trying to sell the Spanish crown on the idea that the earth was much smaller than thought by the consensus of those who had an opinion. Quite possibly because he was a con man, since the crown would not have spent on the mission if he had not persuaded them of his smaller earth theory. He got lucky.

So yes, commemorate. October 12 should be an Indigenous Peoples Day, and for their part I can only wish Italian-Americans would choose to celebrate a holiday commemorating Galileo - someone who was far more important in constituting the modern-day civilization than Colon. Someone furthermore who displayed moral courage, not just a desire to make himself famous, rich and powerful.

That bit worked well as propaganda, didn't it?

A heavy U.S. involvement (directly and even more so indirectly through the Saudi/Turkish axis) on behalf of the worst of the "rebels" (some of whom, the ones labeled ISIS, are also being bombed by the U.S., now out of Turkey) was transformed into "five guys" by the general's incomplete testimony. So they traded reality of involvement for an incompetence narrative. No problem, "incompetence" is a great excuse, it even gets used for the Bush war of aggression on Iraq.

Problem is, what's more important about all armed sides here (except the poor Kurds), Syrian and foreign, is not that they're incompetent (they usually are) but that they're violent and crazy. Most of them don't even know what the purpose of the killing is, so what's the big difference if they're incompetent? I find it more interesting that the same Turkish military bases are being used to launch Turkish attacks on Assad's side and American attacks on ISIS. Or that the global antagonists, Russia and U.S., are both claiming to be bombing the same side.
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