The Brett Kimberlin Saga:

Follow this link to my BLOCKBUSTER STORY of how Brett Kimberlin, a convicted terrorist and perjurer, attempted to frame me for a crime, and then got me arrested for blogging when I exposed that misconduct to the world. That sounds like an incredible claim, but I provide primary documents and video evidence proving that he did this. And if you are moved by this story to provide a little help to myself and other victims of Mr. Kimberlin’s intimidation, such as Robert Stacy McCain, you can donate at the PayPal buttons on the right. And I thank everyone who has done so, and will do so.

Friday, January 29, 2010

On Cultural Nationalism

I have been vaguely aware of a trend in American culture, which is to try to get in touch with the roots of your so-called ethnic identity.  So you see Americans of Scottish descent, two generations removed from anyone who has even seen the “homeland,” deciding suddenly they like kilts, bagpipe music and haggis.  It can be silly like that, or downright pernicious, telling Latinos that they should keep speaking Spanish, not learn English and not integrate into American society.  Of course the concern that Latinos is doing this are overblown, but I think there is little denying that to a degree far beyond other immigrant groups, Latinos are encouraged not to integrate, thus segregating themselves from our culture.  Its isn’t good when our candidates make one set of ads in English and another in Spanish; it sews distrust that goes along racial lines.

Indeed, how does this work? I am for instance 3/8 German, 1/8 English, 1/4 Scottish and 1/4 Welsh.  So am I supposed to learn all about each distinctive culture, or am I supposed to spend time learning about each culture in proportion to my genetics.  Oh, and if my wife and I have children, those children will be English, German, Scottish, Welsh, Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, Italian and Spanish.  Or as I jokingly say, we’ll shorten that to “American.”

And in the end this kind of cultural fetishism is just silly at best.  The fact is just because something is supposedly part of your culture doesn’t mean you have to do it, too.  Just about every culture in the world does at least one thing that makes absolutely no fucking sense and shouldn’t be adopted.  We are in the New World now, where we take all of the world’s culture, bastardize it, put ketchup on it, and eat it; or in the case of the really bad stuff, leave it behind. Be an American and say, “screw tradition. Haggis is nasty.”

Let me give you a concrete example. Scottish bagpipes. They’re awful. They give normal people a headache. Remember that scene in Dumb and Dumber when Jim Carrey made the world’s most annoying sound?  That’s what they sound like.  I remember as a child being forced to listen to them and complaining in that honest and direct (and rude) way kids have, telling my parents how badly it stank.

Years later, when I was watching the history channel, I found out why.

You see, Scottish bagpipes aren’t designed for music. They are weapons of psychological warfare. The irritation caused by Scottish pipes isn’t a bug.  It’s a feature.  They are designed to be irritating, for the exact same reason that basketball fans wag those noodles when the opposing team is making a free throw: to throw the other side off their game. The Scots would play the pipes to irritate the British so much that they wouldn’t be as effective in war.  Fat lot of good it did them, but that was the theory.

So that is right, what our ancestors we used to do intentionally to annoy our enemies, we now do to ourselves and claim it’s our culture.  I think I would be hard pressed to come up with a better example of foolishly doing something because it is your “culture.”

But you might say, “but in Braveheart, those bagpipes were beautiful.”  They were.  Because they were Irish, not Scottish.

At best it is silly.  At worst you might actually start to think of yourself as superior somehow just by luck of the blood you happen to have flowing in your veins.  And the thing that is really damning is that this attitude is actually encouraged in minorities.  Law school is still fresh enough in my memory that I can say I know how if a minority says something downright racist against whites, no one speaks up.

I mean that is the dirty little secret of Sonya Sotomayor’s comment that she felt a “wise latina” would make better decisions than a wise white man.  She wasn’t saying anything that wasn’t perfectly ordinary in the academy.  But, bluntly, it was racist, and I dare say disqualifying.  How can any person believe that a white man and a latina woman have the same chance before Justice Sotomayor?  And ironically, it might be the Latina woman who is treated unfairly, in an effort to prove her lack of bias.  And imagine if you are a law firm, getting ready to argue before the Supreme Court.  Which lawyer do you choose?  The white guy, or the latina?

And it is worth noting that for most federal judges even the reasonable appearance of bias requires a judge to step aside.  And the only judges not bound to those principles are... members of the Supreme Court.

So I actually felt Sotomayor should have been turned down for the Supreme Court, or she should have withdrawn her nomination, but no one listened to me.  But think on that.  Liberals, pretending to be tolerant, created a situation where by rights, the first Latina appointed to the supreme court shouldn’t have been seated.  All because of their race based choices of what they will and will not accept in another person’s culture.

And bluntly culture just isn’t as important as anyone thinks.  I remember moving as a kid from Pennsylvania to North Carolina.  Man all my friends up north told me that everyone in North Carolina slept with their sisters, were in the KKK, and so on.  And I will admit the first night, I was a little concerned.  I turned on the TV in the hotel room and on comes the Andy Griffith show with that cheerful whistling theme song.  Waaaay too cheerful.  So I changed the channel.  The same show was on, whistling and all.  So I changed it again, and...  the same show was on.  And I had never even heard of this show before this day, so I am looking at this thing, going, “where the hell am I?”

Then I lived there for like a month and realized pretty much everything my yankee friends told me was crap.  I have lived in North Carolina, Texas, Pennsylvania, California, Connecticut, Maryland and Virginia.  I have gone to parts of this nation where all the signs are in English and all of them are in Korean.  I can tell you that in the end, people are just people.  There is at best 1% difference, and of course all of that is purely the result of what little culture they have.

And hell, I am now married to a woman who was actually born in a foreign country.  But I won’t say there is no cultural differences at all.  There are some slightly different expectations a husband has in one culture v. another.  But it only makes a difference maybe 1% of the time.

I mean Chris Matthews the other day was amazed he forgot the President was black.  I wonder how on earth he deals with people of other colors if it is so hard to stop focusing on it. I am not saying I never notice.  I am saying I don’t care and it is pretty much irrelevant.

And yeah, circling back around to that language thing, I have to say that is a sore spot with me.  I will sit there in a room full of my in-laws and everyone knows English, but no one is speaking it.  And I can’t help but feel like they aren’t interested in including me.

“Oh, quit whining,” you might say, “just learn their language.”

Yeah, except the thing is, I am dyslexic.  For a dyslexic, it is impossible* to learn a foreign language.  I simply will never be able to do it.  So its English or nothing.  So on one hand, I sympathize with the foreigner who might have the same disability.  I mean if you can’t learn English, you can’t.  But at the same time, if you know English, I am not terribly interested in your excuses for not speaking it.

So in the end, you should liberate yourself from the shackles of cultural nationalism, as I call it.  Look at each culture, pick and choose what you like from each.  I mean just as each culture has at least one idiotic idea, each culture probably has one good idea.  Like American culture has..  the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and all that good stuff.  Italian culture has pizza.  Not all contributions are equal, I suppose, but I think it is fair to say that each culture can contribute probably contribute something, and you should be open to what they have to offer, even if you don’t happen to belong to that ethnicity.

* why is this asterisk here?  because I am going to expand on that a little in another post.