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The Walrus and the Carpenter


Exhibit One:

Robert P. Jones at the NY Times:

The profoundness of the American experiment, G. K. Chesterton argued, was that it aspired to create “a home out of vagabonds and a nation out of exiles” united by voluntary assent to commonly held political beliefs.

But recent survey data provides troubling evidence that a shared sense of national identity is unraveling, with two mutually exclusive narratives emerging along party lines. At the heart of this divide are opposing reactions to changing demographics and culture. The shock waves from these transformations are reorienting the political parties from the more familiar liberal-versus-conservative alignment to new poles of cultural pluralism and monism.

An Associated Press-NORC poll found nearly mirror-opposite partisan reactions to the question of what kind of culture is important for American identity. These divergent orientations can also be seen in a recent poll by P.R.R.I. that explored partisan perceptions of which groups are facing discrimination in the country. Republicans are much less likely than Democrats to believe any minority group faces a lot of discrimination, and they believe Christians and Whites face roughly as much discrimination as Immigrants, Muslims and Gay and Transgender people. Moreover, only 27 percent of Republicans say Blacks experience a lot of discrimination, while 43 percent say Whites do and 48 percent say the same of Christians.

Exhibit Two:

Peter Orszag at Bloomberg:

People Lie, But Search Data Tells the Truth

Looking to Google for a revolution in social science.

Examples abound. According to survey data, Americans overall are not particularly racist, and any racism that does exist is more dominant in the South – a view that is often endorsed by the media. Yet online searches reveal a remarkable number of racist inquiries by Americans, and these searches are in no way limited to the South. Indeed, the highest rates for racist searches are found in places such as upstate New York, eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania. The true racism divide is not North-South, it turns out, but East-West, with limited racist search behavior west of the Mississippi River. This pattern correlates strongly with presidential election results; in the local areas with the highest share of racist online searches, Barack Obama substantially under-performed, and Donald Trump substantially over-performed.

Exhibit Three: 

Emily Atkin at The New Republic writes—Should We Call Climate-Change Deniers “Dismissives” instead? A renowned scientist proposes an alternative to a contested word:

NPR’s Rachel Martin had a fascinating interview with Katharine Hayhoe, a renowned climate scientist and evangelical Christian, in which they discussed the toxic nature of the world “climate denier”—a word that environmental reporters, including me, use all the time to describe people who don’t accept the scientific consensus that climate change is real, man-made, and dangerous. Hayhoe argued that calling people deniers is “a good way to end the conversation,” and that it’s actually more accurate to use the word “climate dismissive.”

“I think that’s the perfect term,” Hayhoe said, “because a dismissive person will dismiss any evidence, any arguments with which they’re presented, because dismissing the reality of climate change and the necessity for action is such a core part of their identity that it’s like asking them to almost cut off an arm. That’s how profound the change would be for them to change their minds about climate change.”

“I don’t care about long term disasters.” was the statement of the Museums own “climate dismissive” when finally cornered about the science of our changing climate. The Museum has no problem with that statement for this is one of those core value statements. Why should anyone care anything about what happens when they are dead, or for that matter before they were born? Except for two of the Religions of Abraham (Islam stands apart on this), the sins of the father are not the responsibility of his off-spring, although they sure can impact them, nor is the future of any concern as one will not be there, again with the caveat that today’s decision while good for one’s lifetime can have impacts on your progeny.  This seems to argue against Richard Dawkin’s Selfish Gene, or does it argue for it?

At the Exit:

A few thoughts about Manchester.

From a lecture at Gresham College by Alec Ryrie: “The Gospel of Apartheid”

While a member of white South African death squads in the 1980 this man had carried out sickening atrocities.  “I did all these things because of my Christian Faith.” He believed he was fighting a just war against communism. “You have to understand I really believed that I was being a good Christian.” Finally he changed his mind, some of the murders he saw committed went beyond what his code could accept. Asked why he changed his mind he looked the interviewer straight in the eyes; “You see I am a devout Christian. I was changed by my Christian faith.”

Museum note: a suicide bomber does not get a chance to repent.

The Museum also notes the London bombings by the IRA in the 1970s and 1980s, The Atlanta Olympic Park bombing in 1996, and the King David Hotel bombing in 1946 by the Zionist group Irgun, a leader of which later became Prime Minister of Israel. Terror in the name of a Religion is nothing new, nor mono-denominational. So the question becomes: is a religion responsible for the theologically deluded monsters that commit atrocities using it as a justification?



Uncle Willie loves to have feedback from both readers who appreciate his point of view as well as from misguided souls who disagree.