Comments on: Sarah Palin round-up: git along, little mommies History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Mon, 22 Sep 2014 20:51:13 +0000 hourly 1 By: Shinhao Li Thu, 23 Oct 2008 02:44:32 +0000 Z (although I doubt anyone is reading this):

Strawman arguments galore. Where did I say only people like Palin are Americans? Where do I say that you have to be Republican to be Californian? Where did I say that to qualify as Americans you have to be jingoist? (“jingoist” – classic scare word!)

The definition of American is found in the oath of citizenship, and it includes the defense of the nation by violence – “…I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law…”

All nations have oaths to this effect. The urban sophisticates will laugh at such “jingoism”, and speak platitudes about multiculturalism and such, but I believe they are mistaken. They underestimate the importance and strength of national and cultural ideas, and they do so because they believe themselves to be “multi-cultural”, when they are not. They are American-urban-cultural, and, like any cultural group, they defend themselves vehemently from perceived threats. Just look at their reactions to Sarah Palin.

By: Z Sun, 21 Sep 2008 00:48:46 +0000 P.S. of course: I’ve been thinking about this. Perhaps my idea of what is American is wrong. I read today a reference to the U.S. as a settler society and thought HMMM, maybe all the things I believe to be its ideals are just window dressing … ? So maybe I really am not fully American?

By: Z Sat, 20 Sep 2008 06:50:43 +0000 But Shinhao Li, do I have to be a Republican to qualify as ethnically Californian? I mean California is where I identify and I would fight for the Bear Flag. I’d fight for Louisiana too because I’ve been here so long. I wouldn’t fight for the U.S. in most circumstances though, because I can’t support our motives for invading countries.

Do you really see Obama’s international orientation as making him less American – or mine? To qualify as Americans do we have to be jingoists?

I hereby claim my to be American, and believe in natural selection, and be able to look at this place with some sort of objectivity some of the time! I’m American too, descended from all kinds of immigrants and Montana pioneers and slaveholders and slaves and all kinds of people! I’m from California and that means I am not fully at home unless I am hearing people speak English, Spanish, and Cantonese all in the same room! And that is not some passing multicultural fashion, it’s who live there and they are American – like Barack Obama!

I mean, how do people like Bush who trash the Constitution and Palin who follows manage to claim with straight faces *any* sort of loyalty to this place or *any* kind of patriotism? It is utterly laughable!!!

I speak different languages and have always spent a lot of time abroad, and I am American, and I am descended from Wobblies and they were Americans, and I bleed for the Bear State and the separation of church and state and that is *quintessentially* American, and as an American I am responsible for the destruction of the first peoples and that means it’s my job to stop that kind of behavior, and the only passport I have ever had is American, and some of my ancestors came on the Mayflower and I am American, and my most recent immigrant ancestors were five generations ago and they were naturalized American, and I will be G**
d***** if only the likes of Sarah Palin can be defined as American.

Sorry for going off but I am really tired of the renaming of jingoism and agression as American values while the better parts of the Constitution blow away in the wind.

By: Z Sat, 20 Sep 2008 01:27:41 +0000 The thing that galls me about the Republican strategies is their appeal to a weak form of identity politics as a way to deflect attention from policy.

My husband is of native descent so I can enact anti native policies with impunity.

I am a successful woman with kids and so it isn’t anti woman of me to cut funding for a transition house for unwed mothers.

What public policy initiatives and so on do candidates support is my question – not who “are” they … am I nuts?

By: Shinhao Li Tue, 16 Sep 2008 16:05:56 +0000 Rad Readr:

Well, we’re really driving off-topic here, but I do think it’s important to understand why the Palin phenomena might be real, and not just a brilliant Rovian plot.

I am definitely a cosmopolitan – but because I am, and so consummately so, I feel that I understand the limits of cosmopolitanism fairly well. Obama is a cosmopolitan as well, and his weaknesses are mine. I think there are, at most, about one million people who are like me, fully conversant in multiple cultures, while not fully identifying with any of them. We (cosmopolitans) are all amateur anthropologists. Obama speaks in the same way, with a detached, analytical assessment of America. Humans are very perceptive animals, and American voters instinctively detect this detachment. Obama cannot compare his devotion to country with McCain, or his “American authenticity” with Palin. This is a problem all cosmopolitans have.

With regards to Cuban-Chinese food and Israeli salsa bands, again, I think that is missing the point. These are the outward appearances of culture, not culture. The French (the original culture-exporters) understand this, which is why they rigorously enforce what may be called French. Living in a flat on the UES, eating sushi, drinking chardonnay, and taking Brazilian jujitsu and yoga is not multicultural. It is American-urban-culture. It is a distinct sub-culture found in some American cities, some ex-pat communities elsewhere, and nowhere else. The Japanese band Orquesta de la Luz (Japanese musicians love foreign names – l’ arc en ciel is one of my favorites) does not belong to American-urban-culture. At the end of the day, they go home to Tokyo-entertainment-culture (very different from Kansai-entertainment-culture, which is insane).

US soldiers might be fighting for Halliburtion (I don’t think so, but I won’t debate it), but they believe they are fighting for country. As a cosmopolitan with no such dedication, I find this extremely admirable. Cosmopolitanism, or even American-urban-culturalism, might be fun, sophisticated, and glamorous, but ethnic cultures command a deep resonance and allegiance.

Again, no one will fight for multiculturalism. The sophisticates in New York did not rise in arms when Mao executed Western-trained intellectuals in Beijing and Shanghai. They did not aid Islamic moderates in 1979 Iran. Nor did they fight to defend Beirut, perhaps the most cosmopolitan city in the world at the time. These are the limits of cosmopolitanism.

By: Rad Readr Tue, 16 Sep 2008 03:58:43 +0000 OK, now I have a little more time, so I will try to avoid typos and jokes about violence and return to the letter of Shinhao’s post.

Shinhao writes, “I know this well as a citizen of the world. I speak five languages, three fluently. English is not my native tongue. I have lived just about half my life outside the US, and my immediate family is on three continents. True, the cities of the world are cosmopolitan, polis of the cosmos, but their influence is extremely limited.”

Well, I bet cities had some influence on your embrace of cosmopolitanism — or did you learn all of those languages in an isolated ethnic enclave? But more generally, I don’t see how you can say that the influence of cities is extremely limited — you wouldn’t have “Project Runway” without New York.

“Walk east 20 blocks from Alexanderplatz, and you will find ethnic Germany.” Walk across the river in Cincinnati and you will also find ethnic Germany — in Kentucky!!

“Take the Hudson line north from Grand Central, and you will find WASP America.” And a pretty good Chinese-Cuban place on the way.

“Take the Tokyu line from Shinjuku station to Isogo, and you will see the real Japan.” OK, now here I must wonder if it’s your cosmopolitanism that privileges the less urban as more real. Believe me, the cornfields of the Midwest are no more or less real than Chicago — just less fun.

“Cultures do die, ethnicities do disappear. But they have never been replaced by salsa dancers in Beijing.” I just love that image of salsa dancers in Beijing. Maybe the music will be played by Orquesta de la Luz, a salsa band made up of Japanese musicians. But not to go pan-Asian, maybe Fernando Knopf and the Israel Salsa Band can play. They are, after all, the best salsa band in Israel.

“For a culture to survive, people must be willing to die to preserve it.” Or cook some good food.

“People are willing to kill and be killed for king and country. It remains to be seen if people will die for sushi and lattes.” Aha, people think they are killing for country (Country First!) but really they are killing for bananas and silver deposits. Or maybe they are killing for oil so we can drive to the Starbucks and sushi place. But more recently, I would say people are willing to kill and be killed so Halliburton can get some contracts.

By: Historiann Tue, 16 Sep 2008 02:41:10 +0000 Here’s what Maher had to say about Clinton during the primary.

Yeah, everyone’s nostalgic for Clinton now that she’s totally out of contention. Funny how that works!

By: Rad Readr Tue, 16 Sep 2008 00:48:14 +0000 Shinhao-
I don’t underestimate ethnicity. If anything, my ponit is that ethnicity — or some type of strange racial relationship to unnamed white ethnicities in the US — is driving the at least part of the positive response to Palin. I’m saying the future is with people like you and Obama, not in the ethnic enclave. And I may not kill, but I will kick your ass for a latte. :)

By: SF Tue, 16 Sep 2008 00:18:24 +0000 Bill Maher has consistently defended Hillary Clinton, even though he has consistently supported Obama. On many occasions, he insisted that there was nothing to hate about Hillary and that he was mystified by this popular sentiment. He also emphatically stated on Larry King a few weeks ago that Barack Obama seriously needed Hillary to inject more energy into his campaign (Bill Clinton, too). This past Friday, he had Jeanine Garofalo and Salman Rushdie on his show, both of whom were brilliant. I’m not sure where sexism comes in at this point in his career. It’s so easy to stand from the sidelines and criticize mainstream media attempts to responsibly play a role in our national inquiry. I’m not sure where this approach is going……

By: Feminist Law Professors » Blog Archive » Essays By Feminists About Sarah Palin Mon, 15 Sep 2008 16:02:32 +0000 [...] Historiann’s is entitled: Sarah Palin round-up: git along, little mommies [...]