Morning Ed: World {2016.12.01.Th}

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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90 Responses

  1. LeeEsq says:

    What Turkey is threatening to do with the refugees is despicable.

    Sweden is one of the greatest sociological experiments in human history. For the past seventy years, its been run by very earnest and sincere people deliberately trying to create a more egalitarian society. The results seem to be mixed. I still think that the weirdest thing about Sweden isn’t necessarily that some gender types are being reinforced by social democracy but that a lot of its fiction is incredibly dark despite being a prosperous place where most of the citizens seem happy.Report

    • J_A in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Re Sweden “darkness”

      The Swedish are culturally one of the most reserved peoples in the world, and burdened by a very complex set of social conventions about what is and is not acceptable behavior (sex is totally fine, violence is extremely frowned upon -in the sixties Donald Duck cartoons were censored because Donald’s behaviour was deemed too cruel). One of the non acceptable behaviors is sharing your feelings. It is extremely difficult for Swedes to create social bonds with other people and they feel both terribly lonely and terribly embarrassed of showing weakness. Consumption of vast quantities of alcohol is the accepted solution to these feelings (*). When alcohol is not enough, suicide tends to follow.

      You can see in Swedish fiction people that feel they cannot tell their spouses that they are sick, for instance, because they don’t want to burden their spouse with their problems.

      (*) a remanant from when alcohol taxes was one of the main sources of income for the Swedish CrownReport

  2. notme says:

    Detained Cuban artist who mocked Castro’s death ‘was badly beaten,’ family says

    Read more here:

    They have health care and education but still want to leave, I can’t imagine why. Yet American journos compare Fidel to George Washington.Report

  3. Oscar Gordon says:

    Sweden: As usual with social metrics, there is a great degree of subjectivity involved.

    What I will be curious to see if this kind of result is accepted as women expressing their true desires, or if, since this result will not be ideal for some, there will be claims that those women still do not have true freedom of choice and equality of opportunity.

    But lets be honest, none of us has complete freedom of choice or equality of opportunity; we all develop under social, genetic, developmental, & economic constraints, many of which can not be affected by social policy. We try to affect what we reasonably can, and have to be ok with the rest.Report

    • fillyjonk in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      IOW, “Having it all” (a claim I remember from the 1980s and 90s that some women made) is a lie.

      Shoot, I don’t have a husband or kids and **I** struggle with work/life balance. Or even just “work/getting my laundry done and keeping the house at some minimal standard of hygiene” balance.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to fillyjonk says:

        “Having it all” has always been a lie, even for men. Sure, there are men who appear to ‘have it all’, but if you dig in, I bet the number of men who truly have total contentment is close to nil. What men have historically had is few legal constraints on what they could achieve (well, recent history, anyway*). I’m all for removing all legal constraints on women, and mitigating whatever other constraints we can through social policy, but at some point, we will have done all we can and we’ll just have to trust that people will find their own level of contentment.

        Case in point, my wife is a manager where she works. She has senior managers and executives grooming her for further advancement, but she balks at that, because the work would involve longer hours, more stress, and more travel, and we have a 4 year old. She wants to spend time with our son much more than she wants to advance professionally in that way. I’ve told her it’s fine by me if she wants to pursue those goals, I have no trouble being the primary caregiver, but in order for me to take on that role, I have to limit myself professionally for similar reasons.

        Not enough time in the day to have it all, we all make trade-offs.

        *even that is a lie, since even a minor felony conviction, or a misdemeanor that results in jail time, can legally restrain a person.Report

        • fillyjonk in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          True. Though the lie seemed to be told bigger to women in the Wave 2 (or whatever it was) feminist era, the implication being if you DIDN’T have it all you were somehow a failure. Maybe men were better at hiding the fact that they couldn’t have it all?

          I still often feel like a failure because my house is a mess and yet I have fewer published articles than some women scientists. And I don’t have a kid. On bad days, I feel like “having even some” isn’t quite achievable for me.Report

      • Tod Kelly in reply to fillyjonk says:

        IOW, “Having it all” (a claim I remember from the 1980s and 90s that some women made) is a lie.

        Speaking as an old fart, it’s important to remember the context of the old feminist line “you can have it all.”

        “All” wasn’t meant to mean “everything.” It was meant to be a response to the pretty common argument at the time that women, unlike men, could only be one thing. They could be a good parent or they could have a career. They could have a good education or they could have be attractive. They could enjoy sex or they could have a happy marriage.

        In the context from where the phrase originates (and recognizing the actual verb being used is “can have”) it’s absolutely true.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      True desires are hard to determine because we don’t live in a perfect world and there is not complete freedom of choice or equality of opportunity.

      I don’t know about Sweden but in the United States, there are still a lot of careers where you make your mark and advance by spending a ton of hours in the office. Something like 80-100 hours a week. Men can do this for longer periods than women because men can always have kids much later in life (and many do). I’ve know women who got pregnant in their mid to late 40s but that is more of an exception than a rule. One probably had help and the other pregnancy was more of a surprise because she and her husband had the previous two kids in their 30s.Report

      • fillyjonk in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Even without kids, there are a lot of people who don’t want the 80-100 hour a week career, and as I close in on age 50, I find I cannot work as long and as hard (mentally or physically) as I did in my 30s.Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to fillyjonk says:


          True. A former job wanted at least 65-75 hours a week and I found it impossible to meet these hours even at 35. I could work 12-13 hour days for three days in a row and then would crash. I still think that there has to be a lot of fudging with numbers when people say they are working 80-100 hours a week.

          Yet we seem to live in a society where the workaholics advance and look down on anyone who doesn’t want to put 80-100 hours a week in the office.Report

          • fillyjonk in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            I was hopeful, before the 2008 crash, that maybe we were beginning to progress a bit more towards a culture where people went, “You know? Working until 9 pm every night and working every Saturday is for the birds, I’m going to scale back and do fun things in free time” but frankly lots of people are scared for their jobs now and there’s that added push.

            I am in a relatively privileged position (unlikely I would lose my job unless I did something spectacularly boneheaded and wrong, like having an affair with a student) and even I feel that quiet murmur of “there must be more achievement” (a la “The Rocking Horse Winner”)

            Part of the problem is that most of the stuff I am good at and value doing are things that aren’t accorded high status by our culture.Report

          • Francis in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            Many years ago I knew quite a few investment bankers. The 100-week is both true and false. Yes, they are physically in the office that much. No, they are not actually doing productive work all that time. The first workday is just watching the daily market. Then the second workday starts after the senior managers finish processing all the calls from clients on active deals, and give direction on re-working the deal books overnight.

            (This is a gross oversimplification.)Report

            • Saul Degraw in reply to Francis says:


              This is what I thought. The version I heard for junior investment bankers is “Yes you are in the office at 9 but you probably don’t have anything to do until 3 or 4.”

              But then there is consulting and billable hour law where you spend that much time in the office and you are working and/or cursing at all the admin you need to do because it is getting in the way of billable hours.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      The women who are “leaning back”… were they raised in the environment that Sweden offers now? Or were things different when they were kids? Old habits die hard.

      But what does it mean to “have it all”? Are men “having it all”?Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:

        This goes to Saul’s comment as well – no, I doubt any man is having it all. Sure, men can have kids later in life, I was 38 when Bug was born, but it comes at a price. As he graduates, I’ll be creeping up on 60, and that will limit me in ways that I I would not have been in my early 20’s, but it also opens up other things I couldn’t do at 22 (financial security means he will have a whole lot more experiences and opportunities than I ever did).

        The metric should not be, “how many men/women are in high powered careers”, it should be “how many women are being artificially limited in their ability to seek a fulfilling life”. We talk about things like companies not giving women any kind of support when they have kids (leave, flex schedules, etc.), and that is good, but it’s not the whole picture. We complain about companies, but what about her spouse, what responsibility do they have when it comes to her career.

        E.g. we have a doctor & a lawyer married and having kids. Both want a successful career, but building that requires a lot of effort and time. Real hard to have kids and high powered careers when both parents seek them, unless there is some kind of additional support* (i.e. third party care providers for the kids). If the couple can’t afford, or doesn’t want to have a nanny, then someone’s career has to dial back, and if it’s the woman’s career, she becomes a negative statistic and corporations take it on the chin for not supporting her more fully (and she risks getting a social stigma of mommy tracking it from some quarters). If the man dials it back, his career also suffers, but he get’s an atta boy from some quarters (and called a beta male from others).

        The problem with all of this is the lie you can have it all – no, you can’t, something always has to give. What is sacrificed is dependant upon personal values. We shouldn’t be telling people they can have it all, we should be asking them ‘are you fulfilled by what you have, and if not, what is holding you back?’, then see if there is a reasonable public policy that could help. But if the limitation is a personal choice, she dials back her career to support her husbands – well, that is the sacrifice she chose to make, there is little policy can do to correct that.

        *Unless something happens to free up wage stagnation, I wouldn’t be surprised to see marriage evolve again into some kind of plural setup, where there is at least one member that is happy to be the homemaker while the rest work.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          “The metric should not be, “how many men/women are in high powered careers”, it should be “how many women are being artificially limited in their ability to seek a fulfilling life”.”


          What we need to remain mindful of is how many people willingly make their choices and how many feel as if they don’t truly have a choice. This is really difficult to tease out and, ultimately, if someone says they have made their choice freely, I am inclined to accept and respect that. If a woman wants to stay home and that choice works for her and her family, that should be welcomed and celebrated. Equally so if a man makes that choice. Or any other choice.Report

  4. Chip Daniels says:

    So now we are seeing the “socialism” part, after the “nationalism” part.

    Which I find hopeful, actually. As I kinda suspected, none of Trump’s supporters really are free market disciples, and when the firehose of government benefits is turned in their direction, they eagerly support it.

    Though experiment- can anyone here imagine Trump announcing a massive Federal program where the government directly hires millions of displaced workers, like a WPA or CCC?

    I think he would do it in a heartbeat.

    He loves to be the Big Man, astride a horse heroically delivering manna to the masses.Report

  5. Jaybird says:

    Turkey is threatening the EU with a new refugee surge.

    Why would a refugee surge be a threat?
    Doesn’t everyone benefit?Report

    • notme in reply to Jaybird says:

      The only folks that benefit are the Turks and I guess the refugees. The Europeans are the losers.Report

    • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

      Like killing them with kindness sort of thing, I should imagine.

      I honestly haven’t been following Turkish/German relations, is their any reason to think they might be unhappy with German fiscal (or other) policies? Talk about tampering with elections… real people streaming across real borders beat the piss out of fake facebook feeds.Report

      • InMD in reply to Marchmaine says:

        My understanding is that there is a lot of Turkish bitterness about inability to actually join the EU despite decades of promises that it would be permitted when ready. France and Germany have been the main opponents of allowing Turkish membership. I’ve read arguments that it’s been a contributing factor in Turkey’s slide away from secularism and democracy but I’m not familiar enough with Turkey’s internal politics to have an opinion of my own.Report

        • Marchmaine in reply to InMD says:

          That may be right; but if the goal is to get EU membership, then sinking Merkel with a flood of refugees probably wouldn’t get a pro-Turkey government (I’m guessing). Unless the second level of chess is to make sure they *don’t* get EU membership…Report

          • North in reply to Marchmaine says:

            Yeah you have it backwards. The basic idea was Turkey tried and tried to get EU membership then when the EU backed off of it emphatically Erdogan and Turkey’s new direction was a reaction to that rejection.Report

            • J_A in reply to North says:

              I’m quite familiar with Turkey myself

              This is correct as far as I know. Turkey was expecting to be allowed to join, and, around 2010, it became clear it wouldn’t happen in the foreseeable future. Erdogan’s internal and external politics changed dramatically at that point.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to J_A says:

                So that’s what I’m asking… is Erdogan motivated then to “spite” Merkel with waves of refugees leading up to the 2017 election?Report

              • J_A in reply to Marchmaine says:


                The very, very, very, short answer is yes. Erdogan is quite petty and vengeful.

                The much longer answer is that there is a long game involved, that Erdogan is playing.

                Munch longer answer starts now

                Turkey is nothing like most Americans would imagine it. It’s not the Middle East. Infrastructure wise, business wise, industry wise, utilities wise, Turkey is very “modern”. Istanbul is Europe’s largest city. Turkish manufacturing base is huge. Turkish agriculture is huge, and, again, modern. South Turkey is a non stop row of beach resorts and hotels receiving tourists from all over Europe. Turkish Airlines is one of the world’s largest airlines, with a web of nonstop routes that include anything you can imagine, from a Beijing, to Houston to São Paulo to Panama City. If I drop you in the center of Ankara, or, really, any middle sized Turkish city like Osmangazi, you would believe yourself somewhere in Central Europe, while you walked past a Starbucks and a Cafe Nero in your way to buy a new Samsung 70 inches TV to better watch soccer matches that include some of Europe’s top teams like Galataserai or Besiktas (Istanbul has four first division soccer teams, Madrid has three, Barcelona has two).

                For many decades, Turkish leaders, and a large part of the population (but not all of it) have dreamed of, and worked towards joining the European Union (Turkey is already part of the custom’s union). That it hasn’t happened is, very likely, due to the reluctance of European leaders to agree to incorporate a Muslim country of such size (no one is worried about tiny Bosnia or Albania) into the Union. I won’t call it racism (Germany, a country with a large Turkish diaspora for decades was Turkey’s strongest supporter), but I would call it apprehension at what they felt was a much bigger social experiment: to add 75 million nominally (very, very nominally, for the most part) Muslims into a 750 million nominally Christian Europe. Personally, I think it would have worked fine.

                But Erdogan and the (large enough) base of his AKP Party were the minority that didn’t want to move into the EU. The AKP is as much of a confessional party in what it was designed by Atatürk to be a fanatically secular country. For the AKP the EU would have been the last nail in the coffin.

                But the EU accession was (and still is, but less) extremely popular. Erdogan could not be seen to oppose it. So, when he arrived into power, he continued through the motions.

                At some point in this story, it became clear to Turkey that the EU accession was not going to happen, even though the EU not only hasn’t said NO, it still continues to say YES, BUT NOT YET. That gave Erdogan coverage to start sabotaging the accession project (while still remaining nominally in favor), making sure the Not Yet was pushed by the EU itself further into the future by sowing mistrust between the EU and Turkey, and (sort of) approaching Putin, given that Russia is probably Turkey’s largest individual trade partner (though a small fraction of the whole EU trading), and given also Putin’s perceived pro traditional religion/nationalism positions and opposition to the secular, multinational EU project.

                tl/dr. Erdogan and his party don’t want Turkey to join the EU, even though the vast majority of the country wants to. Erdogan is thus satobating the process as much as he dares to, hoping that the EU itself will kill the accession process.

                Final note: Erdogan and his party don’t give a fish about the Syrians, the Iraquis, the refugees, or other Muslims in general. They are Turkish first, Muslims second. Their fight is for Turkey’s greatness but against the secular Atatürk model. Non Turkish Muslims can drown in the sea for all they care.Report

              • Kim in reply to Marchmaine says:

                Erdogan invaded Iraq, as near as we can tell, because someone posted on Facebook something nasty about him.Report

    • North in reply to Jaybird says:

      In the long run? Yes. But in the short run it’s expensive for the recipient societies and in the medium run there are assimilation pains for both sides.Report

  6. Mo says:

    A friend of mine in high school was, for reasons that I no longer recall, a US permanent resident, but not a citizen of any country.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to Mo says:

      A friend of my wife’s family I believe is in a similar situation (or was for a long time before becoming a US citizen, I’m not sure if he ever became one). He was born in the then British Palestinian Mandate in the 1920s, came to the US to go to University in ’46 or ’47, and then after all the, uh, stuff, went down in 1948, never returned as far as I know. (He spent most of his working life in Mississippi and became a bigwig at the NASA facility there)Report

  7. veronica d says:

    [cw: philosophical wankery]

    Honestly, Sweden’s social democracy sounds lovely to me. I’m not sure if I would “fit in,” on a cultural level, but the idea of greater gender diversity for kids sound quite nice, as does a more open attitude toward gender the workplace, along with social support for a wide variety of life choices. These are good things.

    The point is, even in “gender utopia,” we might find that kids-born-with-penises prefer playing with trucks and kids-born-with-vaginas prefer playing with dolls. Which, okay, that’s fine. The point is, some kids might chose differently from the others. We should avoid rigidly prescribed roles.

    It’s complicated. It seems like, people search for some identity, some kind of meaning for their lives, and these meanings are always socially prescribed. They are received narratives. Even the various “queer narratives” are not entirely self-generated.

    I am a product of my culture, as are you, even if in some ways we rail against it.

    Some people want rigid roles. They become quite unhappy if given the actual freedom to “self define.”

    So Sweden — I’ve never been there. I only know what I read, which is what someone has chosen to share with me. I am hesitant to say much.

    I know this: in the United States, many queer-ish kids live lives of torment. I want to diminish this. However, I’m not a “utopian.” You cannot just “remove gender” from society. It doesn’t work that way. On the other hand, right now our society is going through a crisis of gender, which is revealed by our shitbag president-elect and all the thin-skinned “angry guys” who voted for him. This is a symptom of something quite rotten.

    It’s paradoxical, maybe, that those who fetishize strength are usually quite weak. It almost seems a banality to call it ressentiment, but so it is.

    Contemporary American masculinity is a nightmare. Good luck.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to veronica d says:

      The point is, even in “gender utopia,” we might find that kids-born-with-penises prefer playing with trucks and kids-born-with-vaginas prefer playing with dolls. Which, okay, that’s fine. The point is, some kids might chose differently from the others. We should avoid rigidly prescribed roles.


      • Kazzy in reply to Tod Kelly says:


        I actually see this with my kids a lot (not so much my-my kids, but my kids who are actually other people’s kids).

        “This table is for boys!”
        “How come?”
        “Only boys are sitting here.”
        “So you’re noticing that right now only boys are here. Does that mean the table is always just for boys?”
        [A mix of mumbled agreement and disagreement.]
        “This table is actually for everyone. Sometimes only boys will choose to sit here, sometimes only girls will choose to sit here, and sometimes both boys and girls will choose to sit here. But it is always open to everyone.”

        3/4/5-year-olds mixing up descriptive observations and prescriptive rules makes sense. The problem is when adults still fall victim to this thinking.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:

          It’s interesting to start seeing the gender separation happening at 3/4. We have a group of friends with kids all in the same age range. One of Bugs best friends is a girl, C, and when those two are alone together, or with only one other kid, the 2 (or 3) of them all play together. But if there are 2+ boys & 2+ girls, BOOM! Separation.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            This is another weird area where we strangely take our cues from the behavior of individuals with still-forming brains.

            Children at that age have brains wired for sorting and classifying the world around them. Sex/gender (seems to) give them a really easy, clear way of sorting the world: you go into this box, you go into that box; you are like me, you are different than me. So, naturally, they gravitate towards it especially in situations that seem to call out for organization (like large groups!). But in other settings, such as the more intimate settings you describe, such behavior falls by the wayside.

            But because we tend to misunderstand the behavior of young children, we assume they are self-sorting for reasons related specifically to sex/gender as opposed to that simply being a really accessible variable by which to sort. And to further compound the issue, we then say, “Well, they must know something… OBVIOUSLY we should treat the sexes/genders differently because young children do. That is how we should make decisions.”Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:

              Well, that makes an astounding amount of sense! I hadn’t thought of it that way, but yeah, right now they are all doing a lot of categorizing and classifying things.

              I’ll have to pass that along to the rest of my group.

              Thanks for the insight.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                It’s why they say all sorta of seemingly hateful things.

                “The black guys are the bad guys!”

                They’re not racist.. it’s right process, bad inputs.

                And we bumble our response.

                “No, honey… square. Four sides and four right angles.”

                “Bad man!”
                “Sh! Stop pointing!”

                Also, what’s your “group”?Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

                WE want them to sort and classify and generalize and all that but freak out when they do so with people. Which IS problematic but to them they don’t see that and can’t really understand the baggage. We can push back — offering better inputs and challenging the “rules” they’re develop — but need to avoid blame-and-shame or they just learn to think it but not say it.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:

                Also, what’s your “group”?

                The group of families we are friends with who have kids all the same age (originally our PEPS group, but we have a few additions and drop outs along the way).Report

            • Gaelen in reply to Kazzy says:

              because young children do. That is how we should make decisions.”

              It’s why I’m eating paste for dinner tonight.Report

            • scott the mediocre in reply to Kazzy says:

              All makes sense. A (frequently not representative of reality) Platonic ontology seems to be deeply encoded into our brains. Probably computationally cheaper with the circuitry available for evolution to work on.

              From my experience as a parent (long long ago, when purple dinosaurs roamed the earth and parents were terrified of them), it seems that we (collectively) prime the children’s minds with the categories (e.g. racial ones), although specifically gender recognition probably has some really deep substrates going back to early mammals if not sooner.

              It would be really interesting to see what would happen at that young age if the children had been consistently primed (i.e. since birth) to divide on some other basis than gender phenotype. Say the evil totalitarian scientists divide children at birth into two notionally equally privileged groups essentially randomly, and somehow coerce everybody to go along with it (e.g. different clothing, different pronouns and name classes, different subtle cuing for play styles, media consistently reinforcing the dichotomy, …), deliberately trying to damp gender-keyed behavior and expression. My hypothesis is that gender would still emerge as a cleavage plane (horrid pun undesired but acknowledged) – I fear that gender is that heavily built in.

              I know there is some fairly solid research on brain differentiation by gender at pretty early ages, with effect sizes (Cohen’s D or equivalent) of greater than one. How much that would map behaviorally in the absence of the extrasomatic priming is another question.


    • LeeEsq in reply to veronica d says:

      Rigidly prescribed roles are bad but I’m not keen on elaborate social engineering either. Especially if the social engineering is done by people with official power and potentially against the wishes of others.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Start small, like telling parents that no, your preschool boy will not grow up to be a girly man or gay just because he likes stuffed animals and watches My Little Pony.

        And PS so what if he does, you should love your kid anyway.Report

        • scott the mediocre in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          I like to think that I’m a tolerant man, and I’d have no problem – in fact I’d be pleased, I think – if my hypothetical son (I have two girls, now 24 and 22) liked stuffed animals (I did FWIW), wanted to play with dolls, or perform some other stereotypically female behavior.

          But My Little Pony? For a child of either gender? I think that would cause at least the same gnashing of teeth and rending of hair as my younger one’s fondness, back in the day, for Barney. Oh, the horror.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to LeeEsq says:

        “…elaborate social engineering…”

        Are there any examples of this actually happening on any sort of large scale? We’ve all heard the story about the family that have not assigned their child a gender and will let zher choose for zherself when zhe’s ready. But that is a single family. And I’m sure there are some schools out there doing some funky things. But do we have any more than that?Report

  8. Mo says:

    Re: Farage

    As I’ve said in other places, I thought Trump was keeping all of the undesirable immigrants out, he had one job.Report

  9. Saul Degraw says:

    Here is an interesting and depressing theory that Asian-Americans saw their stature and reception improve in the United States as a way to keep African-Americans down:

    I think the Japanese American experience also highlights some of this contrast. At the same time in the 1950s, you hear these stories about how the Japanese Americans dramatically recovered from the internment camps, how they accepted their fate. “After internment, many families were scattered across the country, but they took it as an opportunity to assimilate,” that sort of thing.

    Japanese Americans aren’t perceived to be doing any kind of direct action, they weren’t perceived to be protesting. A bad thing happened to them, and they moved on, and they were doing okay.

    These stories were ideologically useful. They became a model for political cooperation. The ideas solidify in the 1950s. Americans had recast Asians into these citizens capable of assimilating — even if they still saw Asians as somewhat different from whites. And by the 1960s, what becomes important is that these socially mobile, assimilating, politically nonthreatening people were also decidedly not black.

    That’s really the key to all this. The work of the African American freedom movements had made white liberals and white conservatives very uncomfortable. Liberals were questioning whether integration could solve some the deeper problems of economic inequality. And by the late 1960s, conservatives were calling for increased law and order.

    Across the political spectrum, people looked to Asian Americans — in this case, Japanese and Chinese Americans — as an example of a solution, as a template for other minority groups to follow: “Look how they ended up! They’re doing just fine. And they did it all without political protests.”

    That isn’t really true, by the way. Asian Americans did get political, but sometimes their efforts didn’t get seen or recognized.

    These stereotypes about Asian Americans being patriotic, having an orderly family, not having delinquency or crime — they became seen as the opposite of what “blackness” represented to many Americans at the time.


    • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      This isn’t really convincing. America always had preferred minority or immigrant groups. The Know Nothings saw Jewish immigrants as preferable to Irish Catholics because the Jews of that time didn’t protest the latent Protestantism in American culture so much. Later in the 19th century, the Scandinavisns became the model to others.Report

  10. dragonfrog says:

    Re Sweden: If you see the name Margaret Wente in the masthead, be suspicious. She is consistently a disingenuous writer, misquoter, and misrepresenter. This essay was weirdly non-cranky by Wente’s standards, but this only serves to make me further suspicious of what she’s hiding.Report