Sunday, July 8, 2012

Plains Pops: Power, Ignorance, And Ugliness Edition

During the past week, I came across items I wanted to note, but they didn't quite fit as quotation of the day, or I didn't know enough to elaborate about them, or I just ran out of time to complete a full post about them. Here are three of them that discuss or illustrate power, ignorance, and the ugliness produces when those qualities are combined.

I'm never sure what to make of John Merrow's education reporting and blogging. Something about it rubs me the wrong way, but I'm not sure what.  These paragraphs, however, ring true:
The last question thrown at me had to do with NCLB, ‘Race to the Top’ and the Common Core. What, the questioner wanted to know, did they have in common, if anything? I hope you will weigh in with your thoughts on this. As I stood there thinking (while saying “That’s a great question” — which is what you say when you don’t know how to answer!), the notion of ‘power’ popped into my head. Think about it: George W. Bush came to Washington as an avowed ‘states rights’ Governor and immediately proceeded to enact, with Democratic help, the greatest Federal intrusion into public education in our history. Secretary Duncan was a harsh critic of NCLB when he ran the Chicago public schools but has replaced it with a program that is only marginally less intrusive. He’s granting waivers so that states don’t have to follow NCLB’s orders — as long as they follow his. And the Common Core looks as if it’s going to continue the pattern of centralization.
The lesson here may not be that “Power corrupts,” but instead something akin to “Power corrodes.” To me, NCLB has proved conclusively that Washington cannot run public education, but maybe I feel that way only because I am not in Washington and do not have any power.
I don't have any precise numbers about the number of people who vote solely on a candidates religious affiliation, but I suspect the number is rather large.  The folks at Get Religion illustrate the problem those voters pose for both Mitt Romney and President Obama.

Writing about Mitt Romney, Sarah Pulliam Bailey observes:
What’s interesting is that what I observed was that Romney was much more open about his faith before 2008 (and obviously made his notable religion speech back then). It seems weird to almost suggest he could connect with the public by using his faith, almost as a political tool only and not as a legitimate way of explaining how his faith influences his policy. And just because the electorate includes church-goers, that doesn’t mean they’ll love the fact that Romney goes to church, especially if they think he goes to the wrong one.
After pointing out that Obama is "perfectly ordinary liberal Protestant Christian," Terry Mattingly concludes:
Then again, many others simply think that he is not a “real” Christian, according to their definition of the term “Christian.” Many people (and, trust me, they write lots of emails) say that they can tell that Obama is not a real Christian because he has the wrong beliefs. The fact that his beliefs are perfectly consistent with his Christian denomination is irrelevant, it seems. In other words, he is not part of a “real” church.
Combining power's corrosive effects with ignorance produces ugly results: Alyssa Rosenberg discusses "Anita Sarkeesian, the feminist video blogger who’s been subject to an unremitting campaign of harassment since she created a Kickstarter to support a project to explore tropes of female characters in video games."

I don't like asking for money, so the appeal of the Kickstarter concept which consists of posting one's concept and soliciting funding eludes me.

The gamers, however, seem to have taken Sarkeesian's project personally and responded in a nasty fashion. Helen Lewis describes a "game" one Sarkeesian hater has developed to allow players to digitally mimic physically assaulting Sarkessian.

One clicks on a picture of Sarkeesian's face on screen

As one clicks, one produces these results:

Rosenberg accurately concludes:
If you so lack confidence in your ideas, if you’re so uncomfortable defending your appreciation for problematic things (which, by the way, is tricky but not that tricky) that you can’t even put your hands over your ears and sing loudly and ignore them, that you have to actually go out and try to prevent anyone from from saying anything that could make you remotely uneasy, you are a coward.

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