Author Topic: Caste: the Origins of Our Discontents  (Read 15704 times)

Charles Austin

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Re: Caste: the Origins of Our Discontents
« Reply #30 on: April 29, 2021, 11:41:28 PM »
I see the in between. Can you see that the founders were largely (not only, but largely) “about white supremacy”? And male, land-owning, Protestant dominance? Catholics could not hold office in some colonies. Women could not vote m
« Last Edit: April 29, 2021, 11:44:35 PM by Charles Austin »
Retired ELCA Pastor. Parishes in Iowa, New York and New Jersey. LCA/LWF staff. Former journalist  Writer for many church publications.

peter_speckhard

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Re: Caste: the Origins of Our Discontents
« Reply #31 on: April 30, 2021, 12:55:18 AM »
I see the in between. Can you see that the founders were largely (not only, but largely) “about white supremacy”? And male, land-owning, Protestant dominance? Catholics could not hold office in some colonies. Women could not vote m
The moon landing was pulled off by a NASA that was mostly white, male, and college educated. That doesn’t make the purpose of the moon landing white male supremacy. The NFL draft tonight was dominated by black players. That doesn’t make the purpose of the draft black supremacy. Yes, the founders were white from a specific culture and had an interest in preserving and extended that culture, and committed terrible things in doing so. Slavery and oppression were an important facet of the story. Why is it that any time someone says that you take them to mean slavery was no big deal or that racism didn’t or doesn’t exist? Why isn’t it enough for you to acknowledge racism without making the whole story about nothing but racism?
« Last Edit: April 30, 2021, 08:56:11 AM by peter_speckhard »

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Re: Caste: the Origins of Our Discontents
« Reply #32 on: April 30, 2021, 02:13:22 AM »
You don’t think it was white, male, land-owning, protestant folks who founded this country and made sure that they kept control of everything?
When people found something, they do what it takes to ensure that they retain control of it.


Not always. I had a member in my first parish whose purpose was to build a restaurant from the ground, get it going, and three months later sell it. He liked founding restaurants. He didn't like running restaurants. Our church bodies have had pastors who specialized in founding congregations. Some found maintaining established congregations boring, so after founding one, getting it going, they took another call to found another congregation.
"The church ... had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Charles Austin

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Re: Caste: the Origins of Our Discontents
« Reply #33 on: April 30, 2021, 05:05:50 AM »
Peter writes:
Yes, the founders were white from a specific culture and had an interest in preserving and extended that culture, and committed terrible things in doing so.
I comment:
Thank you. We agree.

Peter:
Slavery and oppression were an important facet of the story.
Me:
As long a you say “important facet,” we agree.

Peter:
Why is it that any time someone says that you take them to mean slavery was no big deal or that racism didn’t or doesn’t exist?
Me:
Because there is a tendency to dismiss or downplay  realities and mythologize our past.

Peter:
Why isn’t it enough for you to acknowledge racism without making the whole story about nothing but racism?
Me:
See above. Our foundation as a country and our heritage was white, male, moneyed, Protestant supremacy and nationalism. We evolved into something better, more open, more intentionally inclusive. I am glad you acknowledge the truths of our history. We are still working at being better than “important” facets of our past.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2021, 05:07:23 AM by Charles Austin »
Retired ELCA Pastor. Parishes in Iowa, New York and New Jersey. LCA/LWF staff. Former journalist  Writer for many church publications.

Dave Benke

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Re: Caste: the Origins of Our Discontents
« Reply #34 on: April 30, 2021, 08:29:30 AM »
This review of "Exterminate All the Brutes" by Raul Peck connects the HBO film series with the book "Caste":  https://time.com/5952888/exterminate-all-brutes-review/.  My advice is to watch the series and then read the book.  The images in the series are difficult, if not impossible, to erase from memory.

Dave Benke
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peter_speckhard

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Re: Caste: the Origins of Our Discontents
« Reply #35 on: April 30, 2021, 08:44:10 AM »
Peter writes:
Yes, the founders were white from a specific culture and had an interest in preserving and extended that culture, and committed terrible things in doing so.
I comment:
Thank you. We agree.

Peter:
Slavery and oppression were an important facet of the story.
Me:
As long a you say “important facet,” we agree.

Peter:
Why is it that any time someone says that you take them to mean slavery was no big deal or that racism didn’t or doesn’t exist?
Me:
Because there is a tendency to dismiss or downplay  realities and mythologize our past.

Peter:
Why isn’t it enough for you to acknowledge racism without making the whole story about nothing but racism?
Me:
See above. Our foundation as a country and our heritage was white, male, moneyed, Protestant supremacy and nationalism. We evolved into something better, more open, more intentionally inclusive. I am glad you acknowledge the truths of our history. We are still working at being better than “important” facets of our past.
So we agree that the 1619 Project, Caste, and the antiracist movement deliberately overstate their case when they say slavery was the country or that white supremacy was why America was founded in order to counter those who would understate the problem. We agree that the antiracist telling is as false as the racist telling, just in the other direction and focusing on the evil rather than the good. Good. That is progress in this discussion.

I think your generation probably did grow up with a romanticized view of America. I don't think mine did. I know my children are not.

If one focused on the Protestant aspect of your intersectional list that make up the caste system rather than race, one could write a book like Caste about how religious minorities were treated. But one would have to admit that it is no longer so. Somehow, the President, Speaker of the House, Senate majority leader, and generally hovering near a majority of the SCOTUS is Catholic, and non-Christians like Jews and Mormons freely rise as far as they want and nobody cares. The issue has basically gone away. The question becomes how do we do the same thing on the topic of race, which is something immediately visible? I think insisting on not categorizing people by race is the best way forward. The antiracist movement thinks calcifying the classification as opposing groups and then insisting that each group get what is coming to it is the best way forward. I find that route inherently unjust because it can only function by treating people according the racial group they are identified with.     

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Re: Caste: the Origins of Our Discontents
« Reply #36 on: April 30, 2021, 09:04:22 AM »
The question becomes how do we do the same thing on the topic of race, which is something immediately visible? I think insisting on not categorizing people by race is the best way forward. The antiracist movement thinks calcifying the classification as opposing groups and then insisting that each group get what is coming to it is the best way forward. I find that route inherently unjust because it can only function by treating people according the racial group they are identified with.   

Indeed. E.g., "Uncle Tim."

"They're literally attacking the color of my skin"
Don Kirchner

"Heaven's OK, but it’s not the end of the world." Jeff Gibbs

peter_speckhard

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Re: Caste: the Origins of Our Discontents
« Reply #37 on: April 30, 2021, 10:01:29 AM »
This review of "Exterminate All the Brutes" by Raul Peck connects the HBO film series with the book "Caste":  https://time.com/5952888/exterminate-all-brutes-review/.  My advice is to watch the series and then read the book.  The images in the series are difficult, if not impossible, to erase from memory.

Dave Benke
There are problems with that approach. I remember watching Roots when I was in grade school. Hair-raising. I still have difficulty with any movie that includes whipping, whether it be pirates or cowboys or whatever. Holocaust memorials, too, can sometimes focus on the visual/visceral/gruesome. I remember reading about WWII in 9th grade (possibly Time/Life series, I can't remember) and being nauseated by photos that I couldn't help but keep looking at. There is a place for that, but that place requires safeguarding and context. Just as I generally trust pro-life groups that eschew gruesome photos more than groups that publicly parade blood and gore, I trust people who see race-discussions as requiring thoughtful distinctions more than people who think what is needed is visceral reaction.

Again, there is a generational difference. People who remember the Civil Rights Movement generally did not experience anything like watching Roots in their formative grade school years. They talk down to the next generation as though we are not sufficiently attuned to the horrors of the past because we grew up in a world without lynchings and segregation, etc. But that's because we already knew those things as horrible. Nobody needed convincing. I get the impression from some of the older members of this forum that they simply don't think the truth of the horrors of the past has been sufficiently driven home to people. They came learned about or studied those horrors as more mature students or adults. People my age or younger learned the horrors first, before we even had context for them. We tend not to need more chilling stories and photos to let the reality sink in. We need good, solid ways forward, something the antiracist movement is hopelessly bereft of.

James_Gale

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Re: Caste: the Origins of Our Discontents
« Reply #38 on: April 30, 2021, 10:14:17 AM »
Peter writes:
Yes, the founders were white from a specific culture and had an interest in preserving and extended that culture, and committed terrible things in doing so.
I comment:
Thank you. We agree.

Peter:
Slavery and oppression were an important facet of the story.
Me:
As long a you say “important facet,” we agree.

Peter:
Why is it that any time someone says that you take them to mean slavery was no big deal or that racism didn’t or doesn’t exist?
Me:
Because there is a tendency to dismiss or downplay  realities and mythologize our past.

Peter:
Why isn’t it enough for you to acknowledge racism without making the whole story about nothing but racism?
Me:
See above. Our foundation as a country and our heritage was white, male, moneyed, Protestant supremacy and nationalism. We evolved into something better, more open, more intentionally inclusive. I am glad you acknowledge the truths of our history. We are still working at being better than “important” facets of our past.
So we agree that the 1619 Project, Caste, and the antiracist movement deliberately overstate their case when they say slavery was the country or that white supremacy was why America was founded in order to counter those who would understate the problem. We agree that the antiracist telling is as false as the racist telling, just in the other direction and focusing on the evil rather than the good. Good. That is progress in this discussion.

I think your generation probably did grow up with a romanticized view of America. I don't think mine did. I know my children are not.

If one focused on the Protestant aspect of your intersectional list that make up the caste system rather than race, one could write a book like Caste about how religious minorities were treated. But one would have to admit that it is no longer so. Somehow, the President, Speaker of the House, Senate majority leader, and generally hovering near a majority of the SCOTUS is Catholic, and non-Christians like Jews and Mormons freely rise as far as they want and nobody cares. The issue has basically gone away. The question becomes how do we do the same thing on the topic of race, which is something immediately visible? I think insisting on not categorizing people by race is the best way forward. The antiracist movement thinks calcifying the classification as opposing groups and then insisting that each group get what is coming to it is the best way forward. I find that route inherently unjust because it can only function by treating people according the racial group they are identified with.   


Nikole Hannah-Jones, the leader of the 1619 Project, tweeted this last summer:



“I’ve always said that the 1619 Project is not a history. It is a work of journalism that explicitly seeks to challenge the national narrative and, therefore, the national memory. The project has always been as much about the present as it is the past.”

This is as Orwellian as it comes. As the Orwell wrote, “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”  It’s not about truth. It’s about power.



James S. Rustad

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Re: Caste: the Origins of Our Discontents
« Reply #39 on: April 30, 2021, 10:32:25 AM »
You don’t think it was white, male, land-owning, protestant folks who founded this country and made sure that they kept control of everything?
When people found something, they do what it takes to ensure that they retain control of it.

Not always. I had a member in my first parish whose purpose was to build a restaurant from the ground, get it going, and three months later sell it. He liked founding restaurants. He didn't like running restaurants. Our church bodies have had pastors who specialized in founding congregations. Some found maintaining established congregations boring, so after founding one, getting it going, they took another call to found another congregation.

When he sold the restaurant he received money, which he retained control of and used for his own purposes.  He was still in control.

DeHall1

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Re: Caste: the Origins of Our Discontents
« Reply #40 on: April 30, 2021, 11:03:41 AM »

Nikole Hannah-Jones, the leader of the 1619 Project, tweeted this last summer:



“I’ve always said that the 1619 Project is not a history. It is a work of journalism that explicitly seeks to challenge the national narrative and, therefore, the national memory. The project has always been as much about the present as it is the past.”

This is as Orwellian as it comes. As the Orwell wrote, “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”  It’s not about truth. It’s about power.


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It's right outside our door.
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pearson

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Re: Caste: the Origins of Our Discontents
« Reply #41 on: April 30, 2021, 11:16:33 AM »

Me:
Because there is a tendency to dismiss or downplay  realities and mythologize our past.


Even more prominent is the present tendency to view all historical social and political phenomena as the expression of some current ideology.  That is by far our most popular exercise of crafting mythologies today.

Tom Pearson

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Re: Caste: the Origins of Our Discontents
« Reply #42 on: April 30, 2021, 12:01:42 PM »

Me:
Because there is a tendency to dismiss or downplay  realities and mythologize our past.


Even more prominent is the present tendency to view all historical social and political phenomena as the expression of some current ideology.  That is by far our most popular exercise of crafting mythologies today.

Tom Pearson

I think that it does disservice to the work of a professional historian to retell the story of our past, interpreted through the lens of current ideological thought or political sentiment.  A good historian, it would seem, is able to have some sensitivity to the context of the past events, endeavoring to understand how that person acted given the unique historical circumstances of that moment or period.  That is not to openly excuse or defend what is universally accepted as morally wrong, but it also allows the past to be critiqued, to some degree, by the standards under which it was lived and experienced. 
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

Charles Austin

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Re: Caste: the Origins of Our Discontents
« Reply #43 on: April 30, 2021, 12:22:39 PM »
Mr. Gale write (about the 1619 project, I think):
This is as Orwellian as it comes. As the Orwell wrote, “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”  It’s not about truth. It’s about power.

I muse:
There is in these circles, I believe, a certain paranoia about "Orwellian" things. I just ask: if the information presented in the 1619 project is true, how does presenting it "control" the past? Do people contend that the history of slavery as presented there is not true?
   And as for "power," whose power, and for what purpose?
   Right now there are massive efforts underway to diminish the power of the vote, especially in minority areas, by making it more difficult to vote. This is a clear attempt by one party to take power away from the people.
   No one can "control the past" if the history is complete, accurate and honestly presented.
   Grabbing the allegedly fearsome "Orwellian" phrases doesn't help.
   You want to debunk the information in the 1619 Project? Have at it. Otherwise, you're just slinging mud.
   And Pastor Engebretson, no, no and no. We do not "critique the past by the standards under which it was lived and experienced." To do so would find slavery acceptable, deny women the vote and use the "standards" of other things we now find deplorable.
   We critique the past by the standards that should have been applied then, had they not caved in to the slave holders, compromised the equality they supposedly sought, and continued policies we now find atrocious, and indeed, fought a civil war to overcome.
   In discussing the recent biography of Thomas Jefferson, I was giving the lord of Monticello considerable leeway and saying that he was incapable of imagining a world without the kind of slavery and master-slave relationships that existed through his lifetime. Others convinced me that I was wrong; he could have imagined a more equitable world and should have sought it for society and practiced it in his own life.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Parishes in Iowa, New York and New Jersey. LCA/LWF staff. Former journalist  Writer for many church publications.

pearson

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Re: Caste: the Origins of Our Discontents
« Reply #44 on: April 30, 2021, 12:26:07 PM »

I think that it does disservice to the work of a professional historian to retell the story of our past, interpreted through the lens of current ideological thought or political sentiment.  A good historian, it would seem, is able to have some sensitivity to the context of the past events, endeavoring to understand how that person acted given the unique historical circumstances of that moment or period.  That is not to openly excuse or defend what is universally accepted as morally wrong, but it also allows the past to be critiqued, to some degree, by the standards under which it was lived and experienced.


Thank you for this, Pr. Engebretson.  My point is the claim that "Our foundation as a country and our heritage was white, male, moneyed, Protestant supremacy and nationalism" is just as much a piece of mythology -- a cultural fable -- as is the claim that our foundation as a country and our heritage is embodied in visionary and pious Christians motivated by nothing more than the noblest ideals.

Tom Pearson