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Recent History Well Maybe 50 Years
JohnH
Do not ask why I was reminded of this but I was. An asian co-worker who grew up in San Francisco told me once that when he was attending Francisco Middle School in North Beach it was ok for him to cross Broadway (then the boundary between Chinatown and North Beach) to go to and from school but he ran risks if he crossed it for any other purpose, particularly at night. This was in the neighborhood of 50 years ago.

I graduated from HS in 1964. It happened in 1995 that my HS was playing my children's HS for the northern California Div. 4 basketball championship. My family chose to attend. Playing for my former HS were two african americans. There were 0 african americans at my HS when I attended it. Hell, I can only remember maybe 1 asian american when I attended. There were some hispanics but not many of them either.

I grew up on the San Francisco Peninsula. I live there now. In my youth the only communities on the Peninsula that had any significant non european american population were Daly City, South City (South San Francisco) and San Mateo. Now all do, particularly asians. Because of the cost of housing african americans remain a distinct minority but they do live across the county.

The last neighborhood where I lived in Oakland had a significant number of african americans, when cousins of mine lived there over 50 years ago it was all white. The odd fact being that many of the african americans were new immigrants. I cannot remember exactly but the apartment building about two doors away contained people speaking at least 3 different languages, not english.

Some of this is legalistic, fair housing laws and other things. Some of this is we have become a more accepting culture. Significant changes in 50 years visible to anyone who has been place specific and lived long enough.

This is not necessarily a national phenomenon. A recent trip to Chicago reminded me that it remains one of the most segregated cities in the nation. I also lived in Marin Co. for 20 years, this area is for the most part fairly wealthy and as consequence mostly if not all white. There is a significant hispanic population which is quite frankly ghettoized in an area of San Rafael.

For the most part though in my little part of this country the culture has become more accepting of all.
 
seeker
John - I tend to think that a lot of the histrionics going on in our political system are due to the growing diversity of this country's population. Just look at the difficulty certain people are having with accepting the notion of an African-American President.

On a personal level I do think that people are more accepting of cultural diversity but when you look at who people want in charge they are still very afraid.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
JohnH
Seeker, as I commented in the thread about the lack of diversity in atheism that white males still dominate in legislative bodies throughout the country. There is a culturally comfortable aspect to maintaining the status quo and I think this fact reflects it.

I remember remarking to an asian co-worker some 30 years ago, when the governing body of the university we had both attended was joined by its first asian, that it was about time. After all this university had been attended by a large number of asians for many years. His response was generally that it did not matter much to him, I found that a bit odd. I can only think that he was simply reflecting the fact that the system he grew up in was comfortable to him.

These things do change. I worked as an engineer for 35 years. When I started the only women in the office were secretarial help. Some, as was typical then, way over qualified for what they were doing. When I retired at least 20% of the engineers were women.
 
Kowboy
JohnH wrote:
Seeker, as I commented in the thread about the lack of diversity in atheism that white males still dominate in legislative bodies throughout the country. There is a culturally comfortable aspect to maintaining the status quo and I think this fact reflects it.


JohnH:

There is the difference between us. Liberals want equal results, conservatives want equal opportunity.

Women have had the vote for over eighty years now. Wouldn't you think that in that amount of time they could have elected more women if gender were their primary motivation? Perhaps they voted for the best candidate and that candidate happened to be white and male.
Edited by Kowboy on 03/02/2011 22:44
 
Kowboy
seeker wrote:
John - I tend to think that a lot of the histrionics going on in our political system are due to the growing diversity of this country's population. Just look at the difficulty certain people are having with accepting the notion of an African-American President.

On a personal level I do think that people are more accepting of cultural diversity but when you look at who people want in charge they are still very afraid.


seeker:

There are some who have difficulty accepting a black president, I'm not one of them. What I have great difficulty accepting is the label of "racist" just because I disagree with a black man's policies, president or not.
 
JohnH
Kowboy,

My childrens grandfathers were a comfortably employed foreman mechanic for an airline company and a senior partner for a major accounting firm. My uncle was a vice president for a major oil company. I have dined at the Pacific Union Club, one of the most prestigious in San Francisco. I know privilege. I also know what it is like to be lower middle class although always without want.

It was the realization that I would never want, made many years before you were born, that changed my politics.

I do not want nor would I ask for equal outcomes, I will continue to ask for equal opportunity. With consideration of where people come from. You chose to ignore where people come from. That is your failing.

Perhaps a little too harsh. My apologies.
Edited by JohnH on 03/03/2011 04:40
 
seeker
Kowboy wrote:
seeker:

There are some who have difficulty accepting a black president, I'm not one of them. What I have great difficulty accepting is the label of "racist" just because I disagree with a black man's policies, president or not.


FWIW I doubt you personally are racist, kowboy. The problem is that a lot of the right wing do happen to be racist. When you associate yourself with a movement like the current radical right you tacitly end up supporting a lot of things you may never have intended to support.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
seeker
JohnH wrote:
Seeker, as I commented in the thread about the lack of diversity in atheism that white males still dominate in legislative bodies throughout the country. There is a culturally comfortable aspect to maintaining the status quo and I think this fact reflects it.

I remember remarking to an asian co-worker some 30 years ago, when the governing body of the university we had both attended was joined by its first asian, that it was about time. After all this university had been attended by a large number of asians for many years. His response was generally that it did not matter much to him, I found that a bit odd. I can only think that he was simply reflecting the fact that the system he grew up in was comfortable to him.

These things do change. I worked as an engineer for 35 years. When I started the only women in the office were secretarial help. Some, as was typical then, way over qualified for what they were doing. When I retired at least 20% of the engineers were women.


I think that's about right, John. We are really talking more about a bias than a paradigm. The problem really is more one of how long it takes to embrace changes rather than whether they actually happen.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
Cynic
Kowboy wrote:
There is the difference between us. Liberals want equal results, conservatives want equal opportunity.

Women have had the vote for over eighty years now. Wouldn't you think that in that amount of time they could have elected more women if gender were their primary motivation? Perhaps they voted for the best candidate and that candidate happened to be white and male.


Culture has a lot of inertia, and inertia cannot just be shrugged off because one recognizes the problem and decides to change course. It takes energy and time to counter long-held ideas and prejudices. For instance, how long might it take to convince people that statements like "liberal want equal results, conservatives want equal opportunity" are horribly inaccurate and simplistic and to start getting honest about what the real goals are?

What so often gets cast as "equal results" is in fact most often the desire to see maximum consequences for failure established, which is quite a bit different. And what some conservatives see as simply wanting equal opportunity in theory, they might try to implement in the form of assuring the continued dominance of the halves versus the have nots because they historically fail to recognize that "fairness" is not part of the equation and no matter how entitled to their advantages they are, you cannot have an advantage and claim to have had "equal opportunity."
 
JohnH
Kowboy, You made the comment that women have had the vote for 80 years but during that time mostly males have been elected as if it proved they were voting for the most qualified.

Oddly this is similar to many of the links you provide and often your own arguments. Superficially correct but lacking the meaning you chose for it.

Women may have had the vote for 80 years but until very recently both political parties have been dominated by males, predominantly white and christian. Simply having the vote did not give women the opportunity to select candidates or being proposed as candidates. In local elections women did not have access to the social organizations which might give them the chance to develop the status to allow an opportunity to run for local office.

You and I have the right to vote. I would suggest that neither of us has any real political power, I know I do not.

You make false equivalencies in your arguments many times, you should consider that when you make your arguments.

Think of your own analogy about ice cream consumption and drownings in Michigan.
 
JohnH
Cynic, I do not understand your comment about equal results and maximum consequence for failure. Could you explain further.

You also speak of cultural inertia. I agree, and would like to piss people off by pointed out an obvious fact of cultural inertia. I was very conscious when raising my children of making them aware of white privilege. The fact that they were white, male and their family was comfortable financially made it difficult for them to fail. Not impossible, but difficult. This was done not to make them ashamed of what they had but to make them understand that most others did not have their advantages and they therefore had to take that into consideration when viewing the world.

Bring up the subject of white privilege in most circumstances and you will offend many. It will be denied and will cause people to become angry with you. Particularly when you bring it up with white people who have gone through some struggles in their life. It is generally a forbidden topic, but it is real.

Or explain to people that the treatment of native americans was the beginning of the american imperium. Few know the horrible facts of how many native americans were removed from the land in the first place. Estimates of the reduction of native populations run as high as 90%, with admittedly a significant number attributed to the introduction of european diseases.

Americans are far to ready to ignore the facts that contribute to their culture. They tend to be uncomfortable with them and choose to believe the stories they are told. Rather understandable when most believe in a magic thing in the sky that has nothing to do with spaghetti.
 
Cynic
JohnH wrote:
Cynic, I do not understand your comment about equal results and maximum consequence for failure. Could you explain further.



Sure; Sorry I wasn't more clear. What I mean is, a typical charge against liberals is that they want there to be "equal results," meaning that they expect people to end up with the same amount of success, however that is measured, regardless of how well they actually perform. I don't think this is accurate. I don't think that's even an accurate statement of hard-core socialists, even.

Rather, I think what "most" liberals think -- and I may be projecting -- is that in an advanced, enlightened society there should be a limit to how much people should be allowed to suffer (a "maximum consequence") as a result of failure. I wanted to highlight what I feel ought to be a very clear difference between wanting to stamp out unnecessary cruelty and eliminating pressures for ambition and excellence altogether, which are commonly conflated.



JohnH wrote:
You also speak of cultural inertia. I agree, and would like to piss people off by pointed out an obvious fact of cultural inertia. I was very conscious when raising my children of making them aware of white privilege. The fact that they were white, male and their family was comfortable financially made it difficult for them to fail. Not impossible, but difficult. This was done not to make them ashamed of what they had but to make them understand that most others did not have their advantages and they therefore had to take that into consideration when viewing the world.

Bring up the subject of white privilege in most circumstances and you will offend many. It will be denied and will cause people to become angry with you. Particularly when you bring it up with white people who have gone through some struggles in their life. It is generally a forbidden topic, but it is real.



Doesn't piss me off. In fact, though white and male, I come from a very modest family and most certainly wasn't raised in a way that made it difficult to fail. Perhaps then I find it more shocking and more real to be able to easily see that despite that, I still had it pretty good compared to many.


JohnH wrote:
Or explain to people that the treatment of native americans was the beginning of the american imperium. Few know the horrible facts of how many native americans were removed from the land in the first place. Estimates of the reduction of native populations run as high as 90%, with admittedly a significant number attributed to the introduction of european diseases.

Americans are far to ready to ignore the facts that contribute to their culture. They tend to be uncomfortable with them and choose to believe the stories they are told. Rather understandable when most believe in a magic thing in the sky that has nothing to do with spaghetti.


I have a close friend who, upon watching the movie Avatar, was angry that he should be made to feel bad about American dominance over the native populations, not because he thought he was made to feel personally responsible -- none of us alive are -- but because he thinks it's slanderous to the integrity of the USA ("my country right or wrong") or her founders and that this is "just how these things are done." So it's not just ignorance of facts at work, but some awfully twisted philosophical leanings. Might does make right -- unless that might is against the speaker, of course.

Since Avatar had something to say about environmentalism, a typically "liberal" idea, the right told him not to like it, so he didn't, even to the point of rationalizing away genocide. That's what we're up against. Sanitized history is bad. Programming people to fail respond properly even when they're aware of the facts -- that's just messed up.
Edited by Cynic on 03/03/2011 18:34
 
JohnH
Cynic, thank you for your explanation. I agree and I am afraid that not many will. Probably most on this board will agree but in the general population only a minority will. I participated in a large demonstration in San Francisco against the so called welfare reforms passed when Clinton was president. I will not defend welfare as it was then. I found it a flawed system but gutting it was not the answer. Or, consider the recent debate about health care. Health care should be free to all, it is a simple and obvious fact, but the US population is trained to see this as a foreign idea. Yes I know it will never be free, someone will have to pay for it but shouldn't we collectively be concerned about the health of all our citizens.

Thank you for your other comments. I think you understand the spirit in which I made them.

A short explanation of where I am coming from.

Walking from the bus to work one day I saw a family (white if it matters), two young children one in a stroller and the other being carried. The man and women were arguing loudly and appeared to be either drunk or stoned at 8 am. The only thing I could think of was what hope do those children have. I am not a great advocate of government intervention in anything. But, if that family had a stable home and access to some money and services perhaps those children would have some hope.

I walked through UN Plaza in San Francisco to work during that same time. There was an older woman (white again if it matters) who I saw with some regularity in the morning who was obviously sleeping on a bench there. A person who only needed a clean room with a bath down the hall and some food every day. When we as a society refuse to protect our elders it tells a lot about that society.
 
seeker
Cynic wrote:
Culture has a lot of inertia, and inertia cannot just be shrugged off because one recognizes the problem and decides to change course. It takes energy and time to counter long-held ideas and prejudices. For instance, how long might it take to convince people that statements like "liberal want equal results, conservatives want equal opportunity" are horribly inaccurate and simplistic and to start getting honest about what the real goals are?

What so often gets cast as "equal results" is in fact most often the desire to see maximum consequences for failure established, which is quite a bit different. And what some conservatives see as simply wanting equal opportunity in theory, they might try to implement in the form of assuring the continued dominance of the halves versus the have nots because they historically fail to recognize that "fairness" is not part of the equation and no matter how entitled to their advantages they are, you cannot have an advantage and claim to have had "equal opportunity."


A better answer than I'd have given. The overly simplistic notion that if you just let everyone compete equally ignores the fact that there is no even starting point.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
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