1. Have we ever been modern? Anthony Pagden, Cato Unbound
  2. Missing the elephant in the room Chris Dillow, Stumbling & Mumbling
  3. Why celibacy matters Ross Douthat, New York Times
  4. A reflection on Tito and Franco Branko Milanovic, globalinequality

Afternoon Tea: Death and Life (1916)

From my favorite artist, the Austrian Gustav Klimt:

nol art klimt death and life 1916
Click here to zoom

My son was born a few hours ago. If all went according to plan (I scheduled this post last weekend), I am in a state of pure love and joy as a another Christensen is added to the troop.

Separation of Children: an American Tradition

Many Americans deplore the forced separation of children from their parents when they attempt an unauthorized entry into the USA. The recorded crying of children traumatized from having their parents taken away is terrible to hear for anyone with empathy. Administrations excuse this by claiming that they are only enforcing a legally mandated zero tolerance, that this separation acts as a useful deterrent to immigration, and that the law is ordained by God.

The claim by those opposing this policy is that this cruel separation is un-American. But in fact, the forced separation of children is an American tradition. Under slavery prior to the end of the Civil War, children were sold separately from their parents. This action too was presumably a law ordained by God.

The separation of children from their parents was also imposed on native American Indians. Children were forcibly removed from their homes and put into boarding schools, the aim being the assimilation of Indians into Euro-American culture. Indian children were not allowed to speak in their native languages. Rather than being un-American, this physical and cultural separation was seen as an Americanization. Canada had a similar program for its Indians.

This separation continued the genocide of Indians by having a high rate of death. The misery that children felt in their familial and cultural separation was compounded by abusive treatment and a high mortality rate.

Since the current child separation is a continuation of past policies, we can expect similar outcomes: abuse, death, and suicides. Feeling no hope of ever seeing their parents again, confined to small cages, suffering from boredom, and constantly hearing other children crying, there could be substantial illness and even suicide in these detention camps. It would at first be covered up, and then exposed, and denied as “fake news.”

This anti-family policy is supported by many Republicans and conservatives. The conservative claim of supporting “family values” has now been shown to be fake. The real conservative stance is the imposition of traditional European culture and supremacy. Most of the migrants from Central America and Mexico are of native Indian ancestry. When they are rejected and sent back to their home countries to get killed by the violence from which they fled, this is in accord with the American tradition of European racial supremacy over native American Indians. If those seeking to immigrate were Norwegians, those families would not be split up.

Indeed, those subjected to forced family separation were races that were conquered and regarded as inferior. A large immigration from Mexico and Central America would repopulate the USA with native Indian “blood,” unacceptable to Euro-American supremacists.

Therefore the forced separation of native Indians from their parents and the rejection of further immigration is as American as one could get.

Racial Profiling at its Best

Here is a story and a sociological essay all rolled into one.

My son the recent college graduate only thinks about cooking. I encourage his inclination, of course. Compulsion does not work. Most people do well only what they like to do. Besides, I am an immigrant from France. Scabs of French pessimism stick to my brain. I don’t know how long the current economic crisis will last. In Japan, there were ten dead years, a full decade lost. I tell myself that cooks never go hungry and neither do those who are close to them. I adore my son’s girlfriend. I want her to have enough to eat, happen what may. I used to work in kitchens myself, around the 18th century. I believe that even the leavings from the average restaurant kitchen will keep you pleasantly fat forever. Go for it, I tell him.

My son has been cooking part-time since he was a teenager and throughout the embarrassingly long years it took him to complete his political science major. He has experience in a variety of fairly humble kitchen positions. I also think he has some talent. I don’t say this because he is my son. I am a mean father by California standards, a stern figure more or less from the Old Testament, you might say. Not long ago, I thought my son was worse than worthless. I am not afraid to be “judgmental,” bet on it! But he has changed. His brain has caught up with his glands at last. Having finished college, he is naturally looking for a full-time position, or better. He is meeting with an obstacle we did not expect but that was expectable if we had thought about it: He is not Mexican.

In California, where I live, everywhere in California, I think, during the fat cow years, immigrants from Mexico took over nearly all the kitchen jobs, Those are mostly hard jobs, stressful jobs offering low pay. The native-born young shunned them in favor of retail “sales associates” positions that are easy and allow for a fair margin of laziness although they don’t pay any better. The Mexican take-over began with Taco Bells and private tamales stands, and, naturally, taco shops. But immigrants are predictable. Many went considerably further. Continue reading

Les pumas de Bécon-les-Bruyères

Mon neveu français, qui aime la Californie, hésite à y venir camper avec sa famille parce que j’ai eu le malheur de mentionner nos pumas devant lui. Comme j’y habite depuis plus de trente ans, j’ai à coeur de le rassurer en lui présentant les fait tels qu’ils sont, tous nus. D’abord, il faut savoir de quoi on parle, bien sûr: Le puma est un grand carnivore qu’on appelle communément en Anglais: “mountain lion”, et aussi, “cougar”. (Il y a d’autres noms régionaux.) Il ne faut pas dramatiser: Il y a plus de pumas en Californie qu’en Ile-de- France mais ce ne sont pas vraiment des “lions”. Voici la réalité.

Les pumas sont présents dans tout l’ouest des Etats-Unis, c’est-à-dire, partout à l’ouest du Mississipi. Il en est aussi en Floride, sous un autre nom. Il y a même de bonnes raisons de penser que le territoire de ce beau carnivore est en train de s’étendre vers l’est. Des habitants du Vermont, à l’extrême nord-est du pays en ont signalés mais l’équivalent américain des Eaux-et-Forêts n’a pas confirmé, au moins jusqu’ici.

Mais revenons à nos moutons (si je puis dire, expression malencontreuse, peut-être!) Les pumas adorent la Californie, comme presque tout le monde d’ailleurs, et ils y sont de plus en plus nombreux. Les causes de cette préference sont d’ordreà la fois écologique et politique. D’abord, et bien que la chasse au chevreuil soit légale en Californie en genéral, les municipalités et les cantons (“counties”), animés par un souci de respect de l’environnement, y mettent de plus en plus d’entraves, Ceci sous forme de réglementations diverses dont certaines concernent simplement la décharge des armes à feu.

Les résultats de cette politique sont évidents: Dans les zones montagneuses sans grosse population, tout chasseur est bien forcé de mériter son chevreuil. Continue reading