Wednesday, February 01, 2017
'The best country in the world' and Australian patriotism: Contrasted with some other countries
A typically Leftist scorn for patriotism below. He gives no real reason for scorn. He just says at length that he dislikes it.
But he is right that there has been an upsurge of it in Australia in recent times. Why? It's of a piece with the rise of Trump in the USA, Pauline Hanson in Australia and dislike of the EU in Britain. It's a reaction to the political correctness that's been forced down out throats since the '90s -- with its fundamental assumption that all men are equal.
Australians, Americans and Britons DON'T feel equal to everyone else. We feel that we live in countries that are a blessing compared with most of the rest of the world's countries and we are pleased about that. And why not? It is we who have made our countries what they are.
The author below hints that patriotism could morph into nationalism and racism but the evidence is against that. Various surveys have found patriotism and racism to be uncorrelated. And let us look at the inevitable comparison with prewar Germany. Nazism arose not from a patriotic culture but from the decadent rejection of all values in the Weimar republic
And national pride is low in Sweden. Why? With the huge crime problem that they have as a result of their admission to their country of large numbers of aggressive Muslim immigrants, I wouldn't be very happy with my country under those circumstances either
Patriotism is on the rise in Australia. Australia wasn't always like this. You would only have to go back 10 years or so to find a time when patriotism was something you kept pretty much to yourself, when flags were only waved at the cricket, and chest-thumping zeal was laughed at.
But it seems like the country is different now. We used to shake our heads at the Americans with all their flags and their sincerity, but now the same thing is happening here. As we approach another Australia Day, as people ready their fake Aussie flag tattoos, and their Aussie flag beach towels, and their Aussie flag bikinis and boardshorts, and even the odd Aussie flag cape, you can't help but wonder why patriotism has become so overt, and so necessary.
There's no shortage of people who do, either. A survey by the market research company YouGov last year found that 34 per cent of Australians thought their country was the best in the world. Compare that to five per cent in France, or six per cent in Vietnam.
Patriotism is on the rise, and it's not confined to Australia country. There are plenty of places you can travel to and find people devoted to their nation: the USA, the bastion of patriotism; New Zealand, where All Blacks jerseys are fashion items; Chile, with its fierce devotion; and even England, where St George crosses seem to be increasingly popular.
Is this a problem? Definitely, if you agree with the old quote from Briton Samuel Johnson: "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel." You only have to look at Donald Trump's America, or Rodrigo Duterte's Philippines, to be troubled by the rise of hardline nationalism.
It doesn't have to be this way though. While many Australians, and many more around the world, seem keen to find some sort of pride in their nationality, there are a few refreshing examples around the world of nations who aren't obsessed with their own greatness.
Only seven per cent of Swedes claim their country is the best in the world. Travelling to these places is a joy. There's no need to pretend to locals that this country you're in is perfect - you can engage in critical discussion without worrying about offending anyone. And sometimes these places are great purely because they aren't so obsessed with themselves.
Take Germany, for example. Despite the recent rise of far-right protest groups such as Pegida, Germans as a whole remain fearful of patriotism. This is due, unfortunately, to a horrific modern history of events that were powered by a "Germany first" mentality. However, that lack of nationalism these days makes a refreshing change.
German flags are confined to sporting arenas. The nation's culture is celebrated, but not in a way that says to the world that it's better than everyone else's. You're free to enjoy things like beer festivals and Christmas markets and musical performances without being made to feel that your own culture is inferior.
An unpatriotic country can be a beautiful thing. Sweden - prosperous, perfect Sweden - is far from nationalistic. That YouGov survey found only seven per cent of Swedes would claim that their country was the best in the world. That's the same as Singapore.
As a traveller, that lack of patriotism means no sitting through endless conversations about how amazing Sweden is and how the rest of the world is worse. You can just enjoy it for what it is - and there's plenty there to enjoy.
Rather than demonstrate a shortage of pride, the absence of all that flag-waving in Sweden is indicative of the country's easy confidence, of its citizens' quiet belief that everything there is all right. That's far nicer than having everyone scream at you that they're the greatest.
Other countries might not have the same levels of confidence, but still, the lack of patriotism is equally welcome. Vietnam is still ideologically split, in many ways, between north and south, and hence is not a place where national pride is taken too seriously.
Slovakians, despite only having been able to call themselves such for a relatively small amount of time, are also notoriously reticent to wave the flag. Latvians are the same.
It's nice to spend time in these countries, to see an alternative approach to the business of existing in this world. It's less about tribalism, and maybe more about just getting on with your life and not defining yourself by where you happened to be born.
Australia used to be more like that. Let's hope we return.
What's Holding the Arab World Back?
What's holding the Arab world back? Why, by nearly every measure, are Muslim nations so far behind the West economically, culturally and scientifically?
The Pointless Paranoia of the Women's Marches
I am no stranger to protesting, having marched so often in the sixties and seventies that I sometimes felt as if I were chanting "Hey, hey, LBJ" in my sleep. But I have come to think over the years that too much demonstrating can get to be a bad habit, like smoking.
Now I'm not talking here about the Gloria Steinems and Michael Moores, for whom protest is so much a way of life they couldn't exist without it. Or the Madonnas who, like other entertainment stalwarts, have business reasons for constantly reminding us they are still have their "edge" even as they age, liberally dropping the f-bomb and speculating about bombing the White House in the process.
I'm talking about the rest of us, especially, this weekend, a fair percentage of the women of America who descended on our nation's capital and elsewhere in impressive numbers.
Excuse me if I don't get it. What exactly was motivating them?
Oh, right, Donald Trump, that vulgar misogynist who bragged about pu**y grabbing (asterisks to dissociate myself from Madonna, even though I'm aging too). I'm going to skip over the obvious - these same women almost all ignored Bill Clinton actually doing (not just mouthing off about) similar activities in the Oval Office, not to mention on numerous other occasions, some of which we know about and some of which we may not. Further, these women didn't have much to say -- no demonstrations, no marches, maybe a few hashtags -- when radical Islamists of various stripes regularly kidnapped large numbers of women (Nigerians, Yazidis, Kurds, etc., etc.) from their homes and took them as sex slaves, often beheading them after they finished raping them. Nor did they even pipe up when honor killings were going on in their own backyard.
I could go on. But those are just, shall we say, a few of the minor inconsistencies mixed with, perhaps, a soupçon of cognitive dissonance. Something more must be motivating these hundreds of thousands of women.
Oh, yes, reproductive rights. Break out your clothes hangers. The Donald is going to bring back the era of backroom abortions
The idea that Trump, given his life and background, is a social conservative is almost silly. His primary issues were -- need I reiterate what must be drilled in all our brains -- bringing back jobs, lowering personal and corporate taxes, cutting excessive business and environmental regulations, ending illegal immigration, repealing and replacing Obamacare, rebuilding the military, extreme vetting of immigrants from countries where terrorism is prevalent, an America-first foreign policy (no nation building) and revived infrastructure.
On the campaign trail, the social issues were almost completely ignored. I listened to at least twenty of his speeches (probably a lot more) and can't recall his mentioning same-sex marriage even once. (He was known to be favorable to it years before Obama and Hillary "evolved" on the issue.)
As for abortion, Donald has evolved toward being pro-life to some extent, but so have, apparently, a majority of Americans. They have shown this by their actions. According to a recent report from the Guttmacher Institute, the abortion rate in America has decreased precipitously from 29.3 per 1000 women in 1980 to 14.6 in 2014. Whether this steep decline was caused by the advent of advanced sonograms making the emergent human being more visible and palpable in the womb or because of more accessible birth control (probably both), these facts-on-the-ground are far more important than any legislation or judicial ruling.
Abortion is gradually disappearing as fewer and fewer want it. It's hard to imagine Trump expending any political capital to speed up this process, assuming he wanted to and if it were even possible, both of which are highly unlikely.
So back to square one. What was the purpose of Saturday's demonstrations? None, I think, meaning nothing substantive in the provable sense. They were propaganda. Basically the protests were media and social media ginned-up events intended to continue opposition to the myth, not the reality, of a Trump administration for political purposes. (Some were even claiming he was about to put people in concentration camps.)
The success of the demonstrations in terms of size attests to the power of mutually reinforced paranoia. This paranoia is of course magnified by the extraordinarily fractured nature of our society with almost everyone living inside their own echo chamber with fears building upon themselves, much in the manner of the Salem Witch Trials.
This makes demonstrations to a great degree pointless because the demonstrators make little attempt to reach out beyond the converted and convince their opponents of the rightness of their cause. If fact, they rarely even try. Instead, they parade their "rightness," their superiority, to impress themselves, as did the myriad women in the pink pudenda beanies Saturday. They are mostly showing off.
Ironically, these women's marches are strangely behind the times in today's America and therefore largely irrelevant, though the participants may not realize or acknowledge it. More women have been going to college than men for several years and are just now surpassing them in law school as well. Hillary Clinton may have lost the election but women are well on track to win the war.
Within a very few years, historically we may be living in a matriarchy of sorts. Instead of freaking out over an election, these women should relax and enjoy their coming power. It's manifested all over the Trump administration already in the persons of Kellyanne Conway (she could run for president herself -- and win) and Ivanka Trump (so could she).
Imagine Ivanka allowing her father to backpedal on abortion rights. Not happening.
Which leads me to a final point -- people who demonstrate all the time should consider they risk morphing into a collective version of the boy who cried wolf. When there's something really worth protesting, no one believes them anymore.
Some Church leaders speak out against Donald Trump's decision to prioritize evangelical refugees
Idealists want the full loaf or no loaf at all.
The Church World Service seems to be the main voice below. Where they stand politically is pretty clear. They strongly support policies that allow illegal immigrants to remain in the United States and argue that Congress "should enact immigration reform that will provide a permanent solution and a path to citizenship for all our undocumented community members." Isn't that lovely of them?
Christian leaders have spoken out against Donald Trump's plan to prioritize Christian refugees, as the president confirmed his decision in an interview on the Christian Broadcasting Network.
The segment, which aired Sunday evening, was taped at the White House Friday, the same day Trump signed an executive order banning Syrian refugees indefinitely and closing US doors to visitors from seven predominantly Muslims countries.
During the interview, the president pledged to give priority to Christians applying for refugee status, saying it had been easier for Muslim people to get into the United States than for Christians. Available evidence, however, shows that the US admitted 37,521 Christian refugees and 38,901 Muslim refugees in 2016.
Trump's CBN interview came after the mogul denied that his executive actions represented a Muslim ban, and while protests took place across the nation against the immigration order.
CBN host David Brody asked Trump during the interview: 'As it relates to persecuted Christians, do you see them as kind of a priority here?'
Trump replied: 'Yes.'
When Brody asked again, 'You do?' the president continued: 'They've been horribly treated. Do you know if you were a Christian in Syria it was impossible, at least very tough to get into the United States?
Christian leaders have said they oppose Trump's decision to prioritize Christian refugees.
'We believe in assisting all, regardless of their religious beliefs,' Bishop Joe S Vásquez, who chairs the migration committee of the US Conference Of Catholic Bishops, told the newspaper.
One of the religious leaders speaking out against the executive order was Jen Smyers, the associate director for immigration and refugee policy of Church World Service, a ministry with more than 30 denominations in its members.
Smyers said that Friday, the day Trump signed the executive order setting up the immigration bans, was a 'shameful day' for the US.
'Christ calls us to care for everyone, regardless of who they are and where they come from,' World Relief's senior vice president of advocacy and policy Jenny Yang told The Atlantic. 'That has to be a core part of our witness—not just caring for our own, but caring for others as well.'
Meanwhile, Trump defended his order on immigration Sunday afternoon, saying in a statement that 'America is a proud nation of immigrants' that 'will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression,' but 'while protecting our own citizens and border'.
'We will again be issuing visas to all countries once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days.'
The mogul told Brody during the rest of the interview that he had been relying on his own faith more since becoming president.
'The office is so powerful that you need God even more because your decisions are no longer, "Gee I'm gonna build a building in New York." These are questions of massive life and death,' he said.
The mogul also said he thought he knew who he would pick as a Supreme Court justice but wasn't '100 per cent'.
'I think the person that I pick will be a big, big - I think people are gonna love it. I think evangelicals, Christians will love my pick and will be represented very fairly,' he added.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.