Guest post by Silverfiddle”Only the mob and the elite can be attracted by the momentum of totalitarianism itself. The masses have to be won by propaganda.” — Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, 1951We are witnessing North American Maoism on…
To this inanity we have come! See How Serena Williams’s baby shower helped those who want to make America great again: The shower’s nostalgia for the 1950s encourages the restoration of the politics and hierarchies of the era, written by Karen Dundak and appearing in the August 15, 2017 edition of the Washington Post. Comments posted thereto have thus far ridiculed this “analysis.”
|Serena Williams’s baby shower embraced a cultural nostalgia for the 1950s that sanitizes the real history of the time and feeds the effort to revive the era’s politics. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)|
Serena Williams has excelled at playing the celebrity pregnancy game. When she released pictures of her baby bump, a) she looked good; b) those who grasped her pregnancy timeline immediately realized that she’d won the Australian Open while pregnant; and c) it just happened to be her disgraced rival Maria Sharapova’s birthday.
Game, set, match: Serena.
So it’s not surprising that pictures from Serena’s 1950s-themed baby shower took the world of social media by storm. They are chock-full of other celebs: La La Anthony, Eva Longoria, Kelly Rowland, and of course, sister Venus. Clad in the Fifties-era vintage style and posing with props on hand at Nick’s 50’s Diner in West Palm Beach, Fla., the women looked incredible and clearly had a great time.
There is something to be said for them appropriating an era, laying claim to the enjoyment of the lighter side of a time when many women, and especially women of color, experienced incredible discrimination and unbearable hardship. And in embracing the aesthetic of the 1950s while clearly living as modern, empowered women, they are making an unspoken but marked point about how things have changed.
Yet by glorifying 1950s culture in the political climate in which we live, these women, who assuredly would not want to return to Jim Crow-era Florida, unwittingly reinforced a dangerous nostalgia that obscures the era’s harsh historical realities. Although the 1950s were great for white, heterosexual Americans, for people of color and sexual minorities it was a time of racial violence and pervasive sexism and bigotry.
But Williams’s baby shower does not just promote a romanticized history of the 1950s. This very nostalgia itself has served as a cultural justification for restoring the politics and hierarchies of the era. One cannot venerate the culture of poodle skirts and sock hops without furthering the cause of those who want to Make America Great Again.
President Trump attracted fans with this slogan because a segment of the population has long imagined a triumphant return to 1950s America, an America not yet irrevocably changed by the New Left, counterculture and the civil rights, women’s liberation and gay liberation movements of the 1960s and 1970s.
An America where “men were men” and “women were women.” An America where those men faced economic competition only among their own kind (that is, other white men), and thus enjoyed a certain kind of affirmative action. An America where those men’s breadwinner status cemented them as unquestioned heads of their households. A prosperous America, manufacturing the consumer goods citizens had done without as they had endured economic depression and wartime scarcity. A disciplined America, without the “bloated government” so despised by followers of Trump.
Nostalgia for the era emerged in the early 1970s and manifested itself through a yearning for 1950s culture: college campus visits by Buffalo Bob and Howdy Doody (evidence that baby boomers would generate a massive nostalgia market in decades to come); a renewed hula hoop craze; and pop culture paeans to the era such as American Graffiti, Happy Days and Grease. In 1971, the New York Times published a story with the headline “Students Revive Good Old 1950’s” and noted that “today’s college student missed out on the college life of panty raids, clubs, and big weekends. They had politics instead … some students may feel they missed something.”
The rise in this cultural craving to return to the 1950s came from people dismayed by the political changes roiling society and the movements laboring to reimagine its cultural mores and hierarchies. Then, as now, the nostalgia came from those who had long been at the top of the pyramid — socially, economically, politically — and found themselves no longer certain about the world or their place in it. The disorienting effects of the Vietnam War, deindustrialization, Watergate, the sexual revolution, the energy crisis, women demanding equality and persistent racial unrest only served to make an idealized image of the fifties that much more desirable.
This cultural nostalgia, supported by the era’s popular culture and media narratives, fed an emergent political nostalgia. Conservatives such as Ronald Reagan employed sanitized celebrations of the 1950s to stoke this wistfulness and build support for their plans to return America to a better, more triumphant time before white Americans sensed theirs was a nation in decline.
In 1974, Reagan, then governor of California, spoke of the United States as a “city on a hill,” and recalled that in his youth “none of us knew that we even had a racial problem.” Thanks to “editorializing and campaigning” by people like him, he claimed, things began to change. He gave no hint of the dogged determination of civil rights activists or the violent resistance they faced. He belittled the Great Society, rattling off numbers of government programs to demonstrate government bloat, but giving no indication of the good they had done.
In 1980, with an eye to the “good old days,” Reagan, like Trump, campaigned on a promise to Make America Great Again. He aimed to make good on this pledge through deregulation, cuts to the social welfare state, a military buildup and efforts to undermine gains made by the social movements of the previous two decades. Many of those prospering thanks to these policies were Americans who had benefited from 1950s-style social, political and economic hierarchies. And even for those not benefiting, the appeal of triumphant rhetoric, of a great nation in which they could believe and be proud, has held strong.
All of this highlights the question: For whom were these good old days so good? The cultural nostalgia of the 1970s, one echoed in Serena Williams’s baby shower, was for a version of 1950s life enjoyed only by a certain privileged segment of the population — specifically, white Americans who embraced traditional gender roles and definitions of the family. The ways in which that privilege has been jealously guarded should give us pause whenever we catch a whiff of 1950s revivalism.
It can be great fun to indulge in the culture of the past, and some likely would suggest that such fun is harmless. But idealizing the culture of this earlier era, especially when done by popular celebrities, has troubling underpinnings. It legitimizes the politics and the hierarchy of the period and fuels a contemporary quest to restore them, a dangerous proposition for the many groups who found themselves shut out from those avenues of power. For that population, a return to the past would be anything but great.
Karen Dunak is associate professor of history at Muskingum University in New Concord, Ohio. She is the author of “As Long As We Both Shall Love: The White Wedding in Postwar America.” [Twitter page for Karen Dunak]
Google-search results for Karen Dunak HERE.
It may be easy shrug off the stupidity and Trump Derangement Syndrome displayed in the above essay. But who wants to take bets that the kind of inanity displayed by the above essay will not appear this fall in classrooms all over the United States — inanity led by teachers and professors?
Believe me, most young people do not have the critical thinking skills to combat such inanity. What’s more, teachers and professors hold the power of the grade book. Do you know how well nigh impossible it is to thwart such power?
……President Trump stated on Tuesday, August 15, 2017, that some of the torch bearers in Charlottesville were good people. The MSNBC report included the word torches in quotation marks.
I went to YouTube and listened to the entire speech:
Did President Trump state what MSNBC reported as mentioned in the first paragraph of this blog post?
He did say (emphases mine):
TRUMP:…If you take a look at some of the groups, and you see – and you’d know it if you were honest reporters, which in many cases you’re not – but many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. So this week it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?
But they were there to protest — excuse me, if you take a look, the night before they were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee….
Reporter: Who are the good people? Sir, I just didn’t understand what you were saying. You were saying the press has treated white nationalists unfairly? I just don’t understand what you were saying.
TRUMP: No, no. There were people in that rally — and I looked the night before — if you look, there were people protesting very quietly the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. I’m sure in that group there were some bad ones. The following day it looked like they had some rough, bad people — neo-Nazis, white nationalists, whatever you want to call them. But you had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest, and very legally protest — because I don’t know if you know, they had a permit. The other group didn’t have a permit. So I only tell you this: There are two sides to a story. I thought what took place was a horrible moment for our country — a horrible moment. But there are two sides to the country….
Read the entire transcript HERE at the Washington Post.
The words torch and torches were not included in any words uttered by President Trump.
Questions now arise in my mind….
1. On Friday night, August 11, were there people quietly protesting the removal of the statue and not carrying torches, or was the only group there that evening the torch bearers a la the KKK?
2. Does anyone here know the exact route of those carrying torches on Friday night?
3. Does anyone here know if there were people surrounding the statue on Friday night so as to protect it from possible vandals? I ask this because in 2006, I participated in a protective ring around the Vietnam Veterans Memorial when Code Pink came to Washington, D.C., in a stated attempt to vandalize the Wall.
[If you can answer the above questions, links greatly appreciated]
[The second blog post today! Please scroll down, and, if you can, address the question posted there]
From the Southern Poverty Law Center (emphasis mine):
…Rumors abound on white nationalist forums that Kessler’s ideological pedigree before 2016 was less than pure and seem to point to involvement in the Occupy movement and past support for President Obama.
At one recent speech in favor of Charlottesville’s status as a sanctuary city, Kessler live-streamed himself as an attendee questioned him and apologized for an undisclosed spat during Kessler’s apparent involvement with Occupy. Kessler appeared visibly perturbed by the woman’s presence and reminders of their past association.
Kessler himself has placed his “red-pilling” around December of 2013 when a PR executive was publicly excoriated [NYT] for a tasteless Twitter joke about AIDS in Africa.
Regarding the incident, Kessler stated ‘… so it was just a little race joke, nothing that big of a deal, she didn’t have that many followers, she probably didn’t think anybody was gonna see it,’
Regardless of Kessler’s past politics, the rightward shift in his views was first put on display in November, 2016 when his tirade against Wes Bellamy began….
The SPLC page also states:
…Arrest records indicate that Kessler was convicted in 2005 for shoplifting, obstructing justice and for a string of failures to appear and register, in addition to numerous traffic violations and citations….
On a different web page (August 14, 2017), Zero Hedge offers the following screenshot (Click directly on the image to enlarge it):
At the same post, Zero Hedge also offers the following:
Nothing smells right about any of this. In fact, Lee Stranahan has connected the “Unite the Right” rally to an identical Neo-Nazi movement in Ukraine supported by John McCain and Hillary Clinton.
2003 photoWhy aren’t we hearing the mainstream media thumping U.S. District Court Judge Glen E. Conrad, the judge who cleared the way for Unite the Right so that the group had the right to protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, August 12, 2…
My reaction to the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia…
Independent of President Trump’s statements about these events, I am concerned that too many in our nation have descended into the Cult of Victimology.
Self-pity, whatever the topic or cause — be it a legitimate or an illegitimate cause — is unhealthy for the body of our republic.
Furthermore, in my view, such victimology-identities predate the arrival of Donald Trump upon the political landscape.
We are watching the devolution of America.
Asturias, composed by Isaac Manuel Francisco Albéniz y Pascual (1860-1909):
The above piece was originally written for piano, but the transcription for guitar is particularly beautiful and captures the spirit of Asturias, Spain, and has become one of the most important works of the classical guitar repertoire.
For whatever reason, I find this piece particularly-evocative listening on a summer’s evening.
(with a hat tip to Infidel Bloggers Alliance)
Tim Russert interviewing @realDonaldTrump in 1999 about launching a pre-emptive strike against North Korea. pic.twitter.com/V9L5wh6Wsb
— Josh Caplan (@joshdcaplan) August 8, 2017
TIM RUSSERT[:..] “One is North Korea. And you say that you, as president, would be willing to launch a pre-emptive strike against North Korea’s nuclear capability.”
DONALD TRUMP: “First, I’d negotiate. I would negotiate like crazy. And I’d make sure that we tried to get the best deal possible. Look, Tim, if a man walks up to you on a street in Washington because this doesn’t happen, of course, in New York. But if a man walks up and puts a gun to your head and says, “Give me your money,” wouldn’t you rather know where he’s coming from before he had the gun in his hand? And these people in three or four years are going to be having nuclear weapons.”
“They’re going to have those weapons pointed all over the world and specifically at the United States. And wouldn’t you be better off solving this really potentially, unbelievable and the biggest problem. I mean, we can talk about the economy, we can talk about Social Security. The biggest problem this world has is nuclear proliferation.”
“And we have a country out there, North Korea, which is sort of wacko, which is not a bunch of dummies. And they are going out and they are developing nuclear weapons. And they’re not doing it because they’re having fun doing it. They’re doing it for a reason. And wouldn’t it be good to sit down and really negotiate something and ideally negotiate. Now, if that negotiation doesn’t work, you’d better solve the problem now than solve it later, Tim. And you know it and every politician knows it, and nobody wants to talk about it. Jimmy Carter, who I really like, he went over there. It was so soft. These people are laughing at us.”
TIM RUSSERT: “The former general of the Air Force, Meryl McPeek, the former secretary of defense, Les Aspin, said you could not launch a pre-emptive strike against North Korea because the nuclear fallout could be devastating to the Asian peninsula.”
DONALD TRUMP: “I’m not talking about us using nuclear weapons. I’m saying that they have areas where they’re developing missiles.”
TIM RUSSERT: “No, but taking out their nuclear potential…”
DONALD TRUMP: “Do you know that this country, Tim…”
TIM RUSSERT: “…would create a fallout.”
DONALD TRUMP: “Tim, do you know that this country went out and gave them nuclear reactors, free fuel for 10 years? We we virtually tried to bribe them into stopping, and they’re continuing to do what they’re doing and they’re laughing at us. They think we’re a bunch of dummies. I’m saying that we have to do something to stop. Ideally…”
TIM RUSSERT: “But if the military told you, ‘Mr. Trump, we can’t do this’…”
DONALD TRUMP: “You give me two names you’re giving me two names. I don’t know. Do you want to do it in five years when they have warheads all over the place, every one of them pointing to New York City, to Washington and everyone of our is that when you want to do it, or do you want to do something now?”
Thus opined my good friend Silverfiddle of the now-archived blog Western Hero, in response to this blog post at FreeThinke:[W]e’re pestered on all sides by mass consumers who wouldn’t have a thought in their heads were it not for the Infotainment Media…
Felix Mendelssohn may be best known for his connection to the music of the Christmas carol Hark! The Herald Angels Sing:
In 1840—a hundred years after the publication of [Charles Wesley’s] Hymns and Sacred Poems—Mendelssohn composed a cantata to commemorate Johann Gutenberg‘s invention of the printing press, and it is music from this cantata, adapted by the English musician William H. Cummings to fit the lyrics of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, that propels the carol known today.