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Science explains why America is going off the rails (1 Viewer)

bueno

In a class by himself
I was going to put this in Tim's thread, but a discussion of why we got to the point where we are today seems to deserve it's own thread. I won't be home most of today (and Sunday doesn't look too great either) but I'll try to check in. I do see some issues with the attached article, but maybe the rest of the FFA will tear it apart before I get my chance.

This blog, Science On Religion, is supposed to be about scientific approaches to understanding religion. But it’s been hard to focus on science recently, when my country – the United States – might be entering the first stages of longterm political disintegration. So I thought I’d write about American society and our current sociopolitical situation – which, of course, centrally includes religion. (In fact, I’d say it’s pretty much impossible to understand society without understanding religion.) Foreign readers, don’t feel left out: unfortunately, what happens in the United States in the coming years will definitely affect you. 

So: why are politics in the U.S. so messed up? Why are we in genuine danger of electing Donald Trump, a demagogue Catholic leaders have (correctly) called “manifestly unfit to be president,” to the highest office in the land? As usual, the scientific study of culture and religion helps shed light on the turmoil.

A lot of the current scientific study of religion is focused on the question of whether religion helps society to bond and function. As I discussed in my recent post on the “big gods” hypothesis, a growing number of scientists think that religious rituals and beliefs are a kind of social glue that encourages people to cooperate and commit to social norms and expectations. One recent study by experimental anthropologist Martin Lange found that listening to sacred music induced religious believers to cheat less on a mathematics test. Other experiments have found that religious settings and rituals increase prosocial behavior, cooperation, and generosity – particularly for believers.

The data on religion and cooperation will continue rolling in for decades, but at this point the empirical case is pretty clear: religion actually does play a critical role in promoting cooperation within societies. Above all, religion seems to generate parochial altruism – that is, believers generally help in-group members only. (As the international section of any newspaper reminds us daily, religion’s track record at establishing ties between groups isn’t so hot.)

In other words, religion is socially adaptive but objectively amoral. It helps humans survive by helping groups function – and by defining group boundaries so that people know who to cooperate with. Without shared symbols, rituals, and emotional commitments, human groups don’t scale. Polities based purely on self-interest fall apart. Polities based on irrational commitments to shared symbols are the ones that last.

Now, let’s apply this observation to the realm of politics.

The History of American Solidarity

As nations go, the United States is unusual because it didn’t coalesce around a common ethnic identity or religion. From the beginning, the thirteen colonies attracted immigrants from England, Wales, Germany, the Netherlands, and elsewhere. It was especially appealing for religious nonconformists like Puritans and Quakers. African slaves added to the diversity. And as the new country grew, it annexed great swathes of land ruled by French- and Spanish-speakers (stolen from American Indians). The term “melting pot” has never been quite right, but it’s always been a diverse place. How on Earth was such a ragtag assortment of ethnicities, different languages, and religious splinter groups ever going to cooperate effectively enough to become a country?

Well, we did it by forging a new shared identity, complete with new symbols. The new flag, the new songs and stories, and (let’s not forget) the new pantheon of Founding Fathers helped us see each other as members of the same enormous tribe. This is how humans work: by emotionally responding to the same shared symbols, we learn to recognize one another as confederates, and we become more willing to cooperate. To invest in the collective.

And invest we did. Flush with optimism and commitment to our shared society, Americans built a nationwide infrastructure that became the envy of the world, from railroads to bridges to sewers. We founded a network of top-flight public universities, many of which are among the world’s most prestigious research institutions today. We seemed to be able to accomplish just about anything we set our minds to.

In short, we had what historian and systems theorist Peter Turchin calls asabiya – an Arabic word meaning “group solidarity.” In a community with asabiya, everyone is willing to contribute  without being coerced. In the U.S., people were willing to invest so heavily in the nation because, for the most part, each of us felt committed to the country, and – more importantly – we were confident that everyone else felt committed, too. 

That last part is crucial. Investment in collectives doesn’t just depend on individual commitment. It depends on individuals being confident that everyone else is committed. It’s a bit like a group class project in high school. If your fellow group members are slackers, you get resentful, so you cut back on your own investment in return. The project founders. But on the rare occasions when every member of the group throws their effort into the project – when there are no free riders – then guess what? The project succeeds.

Countries and nations are basically very large group projects. And, just as in school, everyone who belongs to a country wants to make sure that others are contributing their fair share. Religious or ethnic homogeneity helps streamline this process, but in the United States we substituted a broad civic culture for ethnicity. We built up a culture of patriotism and generic but optimistic “American” identity. We developed a civil religion of national holidays, revered figures, and poetic mystique surrounding mountains and prairies. Each of these things increased people’s intrinsic motivation to invest. They increased our asabiya.

But these days, our asabiya is declining. We can’t seem to cooperate effectively enough to keep up our existing (and increasingly decrepit) infrastructure, much less commit to big, new, bold projects. Our political system is frozen by partisan fighting. Coastal liberals can’t stand to be associated with unfashionable rural people, and rural Southerners have little affection for big-city smart-alecks. As detailed in Bill Bishop’s book The Big Sort, we’re increasingly self-segregating into ideological enclaves across the nation, with political affiliations replacing older sources of communal identity like churches and clubs. Instead of feeling like we’re all on the same team, we’re seeing each other as enemies, or as incomprehensible aliens. Is it any surprise that our infrastructure – both physical and social – is falling apart?

Asabiya and Inequality

This collapse of commitment to the common good is driven, in part, by inequality. Turchin argues that national asabiya rises and falls in cycles. A society starts out with relatively low levels of inequality and high levels of emotional commitment. Everyone feels like they’re all in it together. But high levels of social solidarity make cooperation possible, which leads to economic growth. Over generations, economic growth invariably ends up concentrated in the hands of just a few people. The society becomes less equal and more polarized.

When this happens, people at the bottom of the social ladder start feeling what Nietzsche called “ressentiment,” or envy and hatred of the ruling class. It no longer feels like everyone’s on the same team, working together. If you’re a peasant or impoverished worker, investing in society starts to seem like a sucker’s bargain.

So people withdraw from the social consensus. Their feelings of loyalty and emotional commitment evaporate and wither, and they become less willing to sacrifice for the collective. The collective pool starts to shrink.

It seems pretty clear that the United States is experiencing the butt end of one of Turchin’s cycles right now. We’re ludicrously unequal, both economically and socially. We’re culturally polarized. Our levels of patriotic commitment and shared investment have dipped – especially in the youngest generation, the people the media insists on calling “Millennials.” We increasingly distrust institutions, from marriage to organized religion. Whereas in previous generations people expected to sacrifice – at least a little, maybe a lot – for the country and for their community, few people seem willing to do so now.

It’s Everyone’s Fault – Including Mine. And Yours.

The secret to understanding Donald Trump’s rise is that the inequality that’s driving the collapse of American asabiya isn’t just economic. Cultural and educational gaps are growing wider. For example, students at the most highly ranked, prestigious colleges and universities are trained to see the world in a way that’s almost completely alien to how most people see it. Their educations teach them to be fiercely individualistic, extremely analytical, and preternaturally resistant to social obligations. They see social conventions and traditions as illegitimate, usually oppressive, constraints on personal freedom. Their business professors teach them to “disrupt” and “innovate” – but never to “preserve” or “maintain.”

In this way, the most well-educated Americans set themselves off culturally and morally from the working classes who produce food, build things, and maintain the country’s physical infrastructure. Across societies, working-class folks tend to be more culturally conservative than literati. People who hang drywall for a living can’t afford to be hyper-individualistic, because manual work is fundamentally about meeting responsibilities imposed from the outside. If you “innovate” or “disrupt” too much, you’ll get canned. Period.

To put it bluntly: “disruption” is a prerogative of people who don’t owe anything to others.

See, society fundamentally depends on a bedrock of people who are willing to owe something to other people – to do things out of obligation. But economic and cultural polarization has twisted the relationship between those bedrock people and the privileged folks who depend on them, zapping social solidarity. For instance, the privileged are increasingly “fiscally conservative but socially liberal” – a fashionable combination that slams working people from both sides. Fiscal conservatism moves factories to Mexico at the drop of a dime, shredding working-class communities. Excessive social liberalism moves society’s moral goalposts to just such a position that working-class people are essentially guaranteed to be seen as Bad People or bigots – which ensures that the literati in Boston or San Francisco don’t have to feel guilty about the evisceration of working-class America.

This is the portrait of a society where asabiya is in decline. Our shared emotional commitment to the collective has been replaced by more narrow interests, and different factions of society are pitted against one another. It’s the perfect petri culture for a populist, nativist demagogue to arise and wrest power from the decent and the educated. And, voilà, it’s looking increasingly likely that we’ll get exactly that.

Recent years haven’t been all bad – our first black president is about to complete his second term. Gays and lesbians are treated like people. We’ve made progress on some fronts. Yet, as the work of moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt has shown, progress isn’t just about leveling inequality and fixing injustice. It’s also about keeping the community together, about motivating investment and participation in the collective. But because the Americans with the most influence and education have mostly turned up their noses at those community-binding functions, we’re standing on very rocky ground. And, unfortunately, it’s probably about to get a lot rockier.

 

The General

Footballguy
I bet there are "America is going off the rails" articles written everyday probably starting around 1777. 

Things have never been better where I'm at. 

 

cstu

Footballguy
As I discussed in my recent post on the “big gods” hypothesis, a growing number of scientists think that religious rituals and beliefs are a kind of social glue that encourages people to cooperate and commit to social norms and expectations.


So: why are politics in the U.S. so messed up? Why are we in genuine danger of electing Donald Trump, a demagogue Catholic leaders have (correctly) called “manifestly unfit to be president,” to the highest office in the land? As usual, the scientific study of culture and religion helps shed light on the turmoil.

The candidate preferences of Republican and Republican-leaning voters differ modestly by religious affiliation. White evangelical Protestant voters are evenly divided between Trump (37%) and Cruz (37%), while fewer than one in five (19%) say they want Kasich to be the nominee.  Among white evangelical Protestant voters who report attending religious services at least once a week 39% are supporting Cruz while 33% support Trump.
Even worse is that those more religious people who didn't vote for Trump in the primary are going to vote for him in the general.

If Trump wins it's because of religious people.

 

SaintsInDome2006

Footballguy
I've been thinking about this quite a bit lately, and I've got stuff going on too so maybe I can tackle the article more later.

I did do a quick read over though and I can say up front I don't think it's really sociology or psychology which are the sciences at play here, I think it's history and political science.

It vexes me that we basically had this thing - the future, a real shot at world peace, humanism leading to real freedom or Liberty on a global scale - at the end of the Cold War. I mean we *had it, and we've frittered it away. But then I also believe that the Cold War suppressed old nationalist internal and external rivalries, very old forces dating to the Congress of Vienna even, and now since the lid has been removed all these old congenital defects have started arising again, and it began almost immediately with Yugoslavia in 1992 and now through a serious if bad accidents and horrible decisions it's happening to us, old pre WW2 issues and qualities and defects are arising.

Anyway I find the whole thing very disturbing and I hope we can return to an order of peace and focused humanism and democracy.

 
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cstu

Footballguy
I've been thinking about this quite a bit lately, and I've got stuff going on too so maybe I can tackle the article more later.

I did do a quick read over though and I can say up front I don't think it's really sociology or psychology which are the sciences at play here, I think it's history and political science.

It vexes me that we basically had this thing - the future, a real shot at world peace, humanism leading to real freedom or Liberty on a global scale - at the end of the Cold War. I mean we *had it, and we've frittered it away. But then I also believe that the Cold War suppressed old nationalist internal and external rivalries, very old forces dating to the Congress of Vienna even, and now since the lid has been removed all these old congenital defects have started arising again, and it began almost immediately with Yugoslavia in 1992 and now through a serious if bad accidents and horrible decisions it's happening to us, old pre WW2 issues and qualities and defects are arising.

Anyway I find the whole thing very disturbing and I hope we can return to an order of peace and focused humanism and democracy.
1991 may have been a high point of human history at the time, but we have come a long way in many areas since then. 

 

bueno

In a class by himself
It's so satisfying to see a right winger finally find science, even if it's of the pseudo bs liberal arts variety.
#### off. I have a major in geology, minors in chemistry, physics and math. Not all right-wingers are superstitious fundamentalists.

 

cstu

Footballguy
IMO the biggest issue is that the white working class is having cognitive dissonance over the individualistic "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" mentality that they have been taught all of their life and the reality of the world today.  It's difficult for them to accept that maybe the government does have a role to play in educating people past high school and that the factories won't provide them a middle (or even lower-middle) class career for the rest of their lives.  I grew up in the Midwest and understand these people, which why it's so difficult for me to watch them latch on to a charlatan like Trump instead of seeing the potential of a better future for themselves and their children in the ideas of Bernie Sanders. 

 
#### off. I have a major in geology, minors in chemistry, physics and math. Not all right-wingers are superstitious fundamentalists.
OK, my mistake.   

Anyways, the article is still fundamentally flawed.    Working class people are not seen as bigots.  Working class people are not all religious and conservative.  

 

bueno

In a class by himself
OK, my mistake.   

Anyways, the article is still fundamentally flawed.    Working class people are not seen as bigots.  Working class people are not all religious and conservative.  
The fundamental flaw with this article IMO is that the author considers religion rather than the broader concept of culture. If we look at some of the larger minority groups in our country, we can see the following:

Latinos: Most Latinos are Catholic and Catholicism is a major religion in the U.S. So the reason Latinos are not integrating has nothing to do with religion. Instead, most Latino immigrants seem intent on holding onto their culture rather than assimilating. This creates an 'us-them' mentality that leads to xenophobia.

Russians: Most are orthodox or atheist. Religion does not seem to be an impairment to their assimilation. I think Russians are assimilating better than most ethnic groups.

Asians: Definitely different religions and cultures, but for some reason they seem to be assimilating far better than Latinos or Muslims.Might have something to do with their eager acceptance of capitalism, I don't know.

Muslims: Different culture, different religion.Hardest time assimilating, in  part because they are holding on to both a culture and religion that is based on a totally different world view than ours. This leads to "us-them" xenophobia.

What I got most out of the article is that celebrating diversity has led us to where we are now. Getting back to being a melting pot might be the way out.

 

Captain Cranks

Footballguy
I don't see how it's any more complicated than political and economic systems rigged to benefit those with money and power which have lead to policies that consistently strip away wealth from the middle and lower classes.  People are tired of the broken system and empty promises of its politicians and are demanding change.  Trump offers that change. Because the average voter puts a premium on charisma and personality, Trump is able to manipulate his audience with buzzwords and scapegoats and it's irrelevant how empty or impractical his policies of change are.  So while Trump supporters think they're voting for change, they're simply falling for the same political tactics that have led to the rigged system they so vehemently despise.   

 

Long Ball Larry

Footballguy
While I find many of the author's points valid, I'm not sure what the direct line he has drawn between them and the following items: 1) Politics being messed up; 2) America going off the rails; or 3) The rise of Donald Trump.

I would agree that people are probably becoming more self-segregated now, helped in large part by the internet, and that in-group/out-group dynamics are on the rise.  However, I'm not sure that that necessarily leads to politics being "messed up" and I'm not sure how he is tying those together per se.

I really don't know where he is showing that America is "going off the rails".  I think he does make an interesting point about the socio-historical context of the United States and that in a lot of ways it is probably ripe for splintering into smaller factions (like Garreau's Nine Nations of North America described the separate cultural groupings of America).  And the rise of the internet and resulting ability to self-segregate, as well as reduce accountability, also may chip away at solidarity.  But I'm still not sure how this means that America is going off the rails.  

Lastly, I think that he is right that we increasingly distrust institutions and I don't know why we shouldn't.  From 1970 forward, we have seen more and more layers peeled back revealing scandal after scandal among those with power.  I don't know what the author expects and I don't see some head-in-the-sand return to trust being the answer.  I also don't understand the purpose of this passage, either:

The secret to understanding Donald Trump’s rise is that the inequality that’s driving the collapse of American asabiya isn’t just economic. Cultural and educational gaps are growing wider. For example, students at the most highly ranked, prestigious colleges and universities are trained to see the world in a way that’s almost completely alien to how most people see it. Their educations teach them to be fiercely individualistic, extremely analytical, and preternaturallyresistant to social obligations. They see social conventions and traditions as illegitimate, usually oppressive, constraints on personal freedom. Their business professors teach them to “disrupt” and “innovate” – but never to “preserve” or “maintain.”
That describes Donald Trump exactly.  Is he trying to say that the people who are individualistic, analytical, and from elite institutions are supporting Trump?  Because I don't think that's the case.  It's more people who are displeased with their current place in life and respond to his from-the-gut populism.  Which is really the question (that cstu seemed to isolate with the cognitive dissonance) as to how these people look past Trump's background and simply focus in the message in the moment.  I guess that he is the personification of Steinbeck's "temporarily embarrassed millionaire", who has risen back to prominence.

 

timschochet

Footballguy
Interesting article, but I really disagree with most of it's fundamental points. So far as unity goes: between the years of 1932 and 1941, this nation was far more dis-unified (is that a word?) than it is now. December 7, 1941 unified us as a nation. So, in fact, did September 11, 2001 (though in the latter case, George W. Bush managed to fail to take advantage of us.)

It's part of our nature that we have never been unified except in times of great stress. Diversity and the clash of cultures have been a great strength for us, and hopefully will continue to be in the future. 

Obviously, since I am a big supporter of hers, I agree with Hillary Clinton that the USA has never been as great as we are now. The future is bright. 

 

Long Ball Larry

Footballguy
We can’t seem to cooperate effectively enough to keep up our existing (and increasingly decrepit) infrastructure, much less commit to big, new, bold projects. Our political system is frozen by partisan fighting. Coastal liberals can’t stand to be associated with unfashionable rural people, and rural Southerners have little affection for big-city smart-alecks. 
There might be some merit to this general point, but I don't know that the partisan fighting has to do with cultural issues.  I think that it has more to do with "lesser" people going in to politics and politicians focused solely on what they think the best way to stay in power is, which is appealing to a generally polarized base.  But I think they fail to see the bigger picture by getting too caught up in momentary changes.

 

The Commish

Footballguy
The fundamental flaw with this article IMO is that the author considers religion rather than the broader concept of culture. If we look at some of the larger minority groups in our country, we can see the following:

Latinos: Most Latinos are Catholic and Catholicism is a major religion in the U.S. So the reason Latinos are not integrating has nothing to do with religion. Instead, most Latino immigrants seem intent on holding onto their culture rather than assimilating. This creates an 'us-them' mentality that leads to xenophobia.

Russians: Most are orthodox or atheist. Religion does not seem to be an impairment to their assimilation. I think Russians are assimilating better than most ethnic groups.

Asians: Definitely different religions and cultures, but for some reason they seem to be assimilating far better than Latinos or Muslims.Might have something to do with their eager acceptance of capitalism, I don't know.

Muslims: Different culture, different religion.Hardest time assimilating, in  part because they are holding on to both a culture and religion that is based on a totally different world view than ours. This leads to "us-them" xenophobia.

What I got most out of the article is that celebrating diversity has led us to where we are now. Getting back to being a melting pot might be the way out.
This is 100% right.  It's almost as interesting to watch one pawn off on religion, a tool, the behaviors learned in our culture.  Religion wasn't here before people.  People came first.  Religion is a tool that people use (rightly or wrongly) to justify actions.  In these sorts of contexts, religion is almost ALWAYS a rock bad people are hiding behind to justify actions.  We need to look at culture to understand why those actions are acceptable enough for people to try and justify in the first place.

 

Long Ball Larry

Footballguy
It seems to me that he considers religion and culture somewhat interchangeable based on the passage below, but I agree that it is unclear and another challenge with the article that seems to be trying to tie together several large concepts (which I like) but in a fairly loose way.

In other words, religion is socially adaptive but objectively amoral. It helps humans survive by helping groups function – and by defining group boundaries so that people know who to cooperate with. Without shared symbols, rituals, and emotional commitments, human groups don’t scale. Polities based purely on self-interest fall apart. Polities based on irrational commitments to shared symbols are the ones that last.

 

timschochet

Footballguy
Muslims: Different culture, different religion.Hardest time assimilating, in  part because they are holding on to both a culture and religion that is based on a totally different world view than ours. This leads to "us-them" xenophobia.
I'm only one guy, but I've been working with Muslims in Southern California in for 30 years now, getting to know them and their families and this has NOT been my experience at all. I think the xenophobia has nothing to do with the vast majority of American Muslims themselves, but instead a small, non-representative extremist minority, combined with the fears and ignorance of the masses. 

 

roadkill1292

Footballguy
I might make a hash of it but I want to explain why the article sets off alarm bells for this child of the sixties. "A return to shared values and cultures" speaks perilously close to "conformity," of the type we found in post-war America and that's not a time we should aspire to emulating. It was a time when only white christian men were judged qualified to lead; racial, sexual and even gender minorities were treated as second rate citizens in the name of social cohesion. That was an unsustainable culture and we have rightly gained full citizenship for those who were mistreated in it.

I believe in the strengths of shared values and I believe that we still hold many in common; the differences between us are slighter than we are often led to believe. If there are negatives that come with diversity of culture and beliefs, I believe that they are dwarfed by those that come with an insistence on a kind of conformity that we've tossed aside once before.
 

 

The Commish

Footballguy
Muslims: Different culture, different religion.Hardest time assimilating, in  part because they are holding on to both a culture and religion that is based on a totally different world view than ours. This leads to "us-them" xenophobia.
I'm only one guy, but I've been working with Muslims in Southern California in for 30 years now, getting to know them and their families and this has NOT been my experience at all. I think the xenophobia has nothing to do with the vast majority of American Muslims themselves, but instead a small, non-representative extremist minority, combined with the fears and ignorance of the masses. 
He said Muslims....not American Muslims.  Your interaction is with an incredibly small and specific group in comparison to the whole.  I see no benefit extrapolating out to the larger group your experiences with an incredibly specific and small subset of the larger.  My :2cents:  

 

bueno

In a class by himself
It seems to me that he considers religion and culture somewhat interchangeable based on the passage below, but I agree that it is unclear and another challenge with the article that seems to be trying to tie together several large concepts (which I like) but in a fairly loose way.
Limited length of the article probably means several points are not completely explored, I tend to think culture and the failure for cultures to assimilate is more important than religion, with the possible exception of Muslims, whereculture and religion are so intertwined.

 

bueno

In a class by himself
I'm only one guy, but I've been working with Muslims in Southern California in for 30 years now, getting to know them and their families and this has NOT been my experience at all. I think the xenophobia has nothing to do with the vast majority of American Muslims themselves, but instead a small, non-representative extremist minority, combined with the fears and ignorance of the masses. 
You work with Imam Sayed Moustafa al-Qazwini ever? Nice guy, but definitely a different world-view from ours. I can say the same about most of my Muslim in-laws in the area as well (and they can fill the Orange County Center.) So pardon me if I disagree.

 

bueno

In a class by himself
I might make a hash of it but I want to explain why the article sets off alarm bells for this child of the sixties. "A return to shared values and cultures" speaks perilously close to "conformity," of the type we found in post-war America and that's not a time we should aspire to emulating. It was a time when only white christian men were judged qualified to lead; racial, sexual and even gender minorities were treated as second rate citizens in the name of social cohesion. That was an unsustainable culture and we have rightly gained full citizenship for those who were mistreated in it.

I believe in the strengths of shared values and I believe that we still hold many in common; the differences between us are slighter than we are often led to believe. If there are negatives that come with diversity of culture and beliefs, I believe that they are dwarfed by those that come with an insistence on a kind of conformity that we've tossed aside once before.
 
From one child of the sixties to another, I understand your concerns. But there is a difference between integrating and the insistence of the type of conformity we saw in the 50s.Those days are gone forever. 

What has replaced it has resulted in the cultural disintegration we see today. I think it was Julian Bond, after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, that advocated that Blacks should go their own way rather than integrate into White Society. That hasn't worked well for either race. Fifty years later, there should be no need for a group like Black Lives Matter, yet there is, because of the "us versus them" mentality the clash of cultures has created.

 

timschochet

Footballguy
He said Muslims....not American Muslims.  Your interaction is with an incredibly small and specific group in comparison to the whole.  I see no benefit extrapolating out to the larger group your experiences with an incredibly specific and small subset of the larger.  My :2cents:  
His whole discussion is about America- and he wrote "assimilation with US". I think it's logical to assume he's discussing American Muslims. 

 

bueno

In a class by himself
His whole discussion is about America- and he wrote "assimilation with US". I think it's logical to assume he's discussing American Muslims. 
Muslims living in America - a broader group than just "American Muslims."

 

timschochet

Footballguy
You work with Imam Sayed Moustafa al-Qazwini ever? Nice guy, but definitely a different world-view from ours. I can say the same about most of my Muslim in-laws in the area as well (and they can fill the Orange County Center.) So pardon me if I disagree.
I have no idea who you're referring to. 

But I think you should make a distinction between Iranians and Arabs and Pakiatanis and Indonesians, and Sunnis and Shias and Wahhabis and Egyptians and Palestinians and Yemenites, etc etc. Labeling them  all as "Muslims" and ascribing similar characteristics to all is simplistic and wrong. 

 

mr roboto

Footballguy
That article reads like a college sophomore who stumbled upon a social science thesaurus. Just meandering and so filled with baseless assertions - oof. 

Then the inclusion of 'science' in its title can only be viewed as either A. Tone deaf hubris of the highest order B. Not-so-subtle mockery be the editor of C. Tailored for click bait. 

 

bueno

In a class by himself
I have no idea who you're referring to. 

But I think you should make a distinction between Iranians and Arabs and Pakiatanis and Indonesians, and Sunnis and Shias and Wahhabis and Egyptians and Palestinians and Yemenites, etc etc. Labeling them  all as "Muslims" and ascribing similar characteristics to all is simplistic and wrong. 
You do the same thing, my friend.

 

bueno

In a class by himself
I have no idea who you're referring to. 

But I think you should make a distinction between Iranians and Arabs and Pakiatanis and Indonesians, and Sunnis and Shias and Wahhabis and Egyptians and Palestinians and Yemenites, etc etc. Labeling them  all as "Muslims" and ascribing similar characteristics to all is simplistic and wrong. 
Or - so you claim extensive experience working with Muslims in ySoCal, yet don't know the Imam at the largest Islamic Center in Orange County? I see.

 

The Commish

Footballguy
He said Muslims....not American Muslims.  Your interaction is with an incredibly small and specific group in comparison to the whole.  I see no benefit extrapolating out to the larger group your experiences with an incredibly specific and small subset of the larger.  My :2cents:  
His whole discussion is about America- and he wrote "assimilation with US". I think it's logical to assume he's discussing American Muslims. 
Even if it were just American Muslims he was talking about (which he's already told you is not the case since this post) my comment still applies. :shrug:   

 

Ministry of Pain

Footballguy
I bet there are "America is going off the rails" articles written everyday probably starting around 1777. 

Things have never been better where I'm at. 
Really? Ever been to a big inner city where millions are languishing? How good are things in your neck of the woods?

Please take no offense, I'm a pretty big General fan in general :)

It pains me when folks think or believe that things are really good right now for the avg American, they certainly are not. 

I live a blessed life on a beach in Florida, I could say things are perfect for the most part but the reality is things are terrible for a lot of folks and if we don't deal with the reality of their situation...eventually their situation is going to become all of our situation whether we like it or not. 

 

Ministry of Pain

Footballguy
Interesting article, but I really disagree with most of it's fundamental points. So far as unity goes: between the years of 1932 and 1941, this nation was far more dis-unified (is that a word?) than it is now. December 7, 1941 unified us as a nation. So, in fact, did September 11, 2001 (though in the latter case, George W. Bush managed to fail to take advantage of us.)

It's part of our nature that we have never been unified except in times of great stress. Diversity and the clash of cultures have been a great strength for us, and hopefully will continue to be in the future. 

Obviously, since I am a big supporter of hers, I agree with Hillary Clinton that the USA has never been as great as we are now. The future is bright. 
You're socially engineered to believe that but the cold reality is a lot of folks, maybe half the population lives a very different life then the one say the top 5%-10% of earners in this country wake up to everyday. 

I go and help my wife raise lots of money in high ranking social circles, I'm happy to take their money, painful to hear their little problems in life. Then I turn around and teach at a school with 95-97% of the kids on free lunch who live in a very different world. I am blessed to see both sides of society and I don't think you or most who have this upbeat attitude are being honest about what most folks deal with in the real world. 

If you make a 6 figure income and are always around other affluent folks you are not likely to be connected to what is truly happening to regular folks. I heard one of the creators of Fresh off the Boat on Bill Maher on Fri Night, his words not mine but said we must try and listen to what all these Trump supporters are terribly angry at because it's not a bunch of wealthy fat cats that are just voting for him, he'd be dead in the water but somehow he is hitting notes with a lot of working class folks. And that's the bigger deal in all of this, so many elitists won't even stop and listen to what the outrage is, they have just blanketed it under bigotry and hate to help them sleep better at night. 

It's not Right/Left though, that's the point. So many people have been socially engineered to accept that higher wages mean less people working and that has been drilled into folks' heads in this country to control the population. The future is not bright Tim, how can the future be bright when a handful of people control all the money? When money is being made on money instead of what it was intended for, trade and purchase of goods and basic needs. Banks and Wallstreet like businesses have corrupted the system and made it impossible for the average American to get ahead. 

But you keep spouting that socially engineered talking point memo you keep quoting from.  

 

The General

Footballguy
Really? Ever been to a big inner city where millions are languishing? How good are things in your neck of the woods?

Please take no offense, I'm a pretty big General fan in general :)

It pains me when folks think or believe that things are really good right now for the avg American, they certainly are not. 

I live a blessed life on a beach in Florida, I could say things are perfect for the most part but the reality is things are terrible for a lot of folks and if we don't deal with the reality of their situation...eventually their situation is going to become all of our situation whether we like it or not. 
Good to hear life is good for you, MOP.

I know things are bad in some cities and rural areas but haven't that always been the case? 

I'm sure there are countless studies that have some way of measuring this. I'm too lazy to look it up to make an argument. My super unscientific eyeball test - I have gotten to travel for work a ton the last 5 years or so and have seen places doing well all over the country. 

My main point is I'm fairly confident the America is going to #### story is written every year since the beginning and will continue to be written until we turn out the lights. People love seeing stories with giant graphs trending downward for some reason. 

 

Ministry of Pain

Footballguy
Good to hear life is good for you, MOP.

I know things are bad in some cities and rural areas but haven't that always been the case? 

I'm sure there are countless studies that have some way of measuring this. I'm too lazy to look it up to make an argument. My super unscientific eyeball test - I have gotten to travel for work a ton the last 5 years or so and have seen places doing well all over the country. 

My main point is I'm fairly confident the America is going to #### story is written every year since the beginning and will continue to be written until we turn out the lights. People love seeing stories with giant graphs trending downward for some reason. 
Good points, let's continue discussing just the basic idea because we seem on different POV here, perfectly fine but I'm trying to understand. 

It's not just graphs trending down, the American worker has seen his salary grow stagnant if not in reverse and you seem to have a warm fuzzy feeling about everything. My guess is you make a nice salary, like your job, etc...but you fail to realize how hard it is for others to achieve what you have or have been given(doubt you like that term). I bet you're white and live in a predominantly white suburb or neighborhood, if we're being honest. How much time did you spend in these big cities last 5 years? How much time daily do you interact with people who make perhaps 1/4-1/3 of what you make in earnings yearly? We are socially engineered to not associate with folks who make a lot less than us outside of perhaps church. 

People are hurting Mr General, it's not made up MOP hyperbole and it is not a politically injected statement, it doesn't matter which party people support, the majority of folks are experiencing stagnant wages and have been for decades now. There was a Time magazine cover in the 80s IIRC that really nailed what happened and was happening to folks like my father who were sold that if they worked their entire lives for one company, they would be taken care of...what a load of horsespit that turned out to be. When my father was diagnosed with cancer they turned their backs on him and even forced him to have to take employment elsewhere towards the end of his life. 

I'm just asking you to be open to some other idea of what is happening. I'm happy that things in general are going well for the General.   

 
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The General

Footballguy
Certainly people are hurting - this will always be the case in our system, right? All in all are we in some death spiral, no way. Sorry to hear about your Pops, those stories probably are unfortunately way too common. 

For sure didn't mean my little anecdotal evidence to be held as anything other than observations. I have been to all kinds of places, big cities - generally the "nice" parts but also some of the rougher areas, and a lot of rural areas, so it's not like I'm just staying in the Ritz Carlton in every city. I've stayed in some dumpy motels in BFE. Again was working not doing a social studies report. 

Bigger middle class would be what I would want to see and not so much disparity. 

End of my hijack. 

 

Hooper31

Footballguy
Getting back to being a melting pot might be the way out.
You listed a few cultures that are having a tough time melting on in. Does this mean you're also going to change (melt) some aspect of their culture into your life? I don't mean to just sound confrontational. If so, I apologize. I ask this because your sentence here rings of "There's an American inside each one of them just waiting to burst forth." Maybe I misunderstand your perception of a melting pot?

 

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