Saturday, May 28, 2016

What Does It Mean to Say "I Do Not Have to Be Politically Correct?" It Means "I Have No Duty to Care for the Harmed"


I have been puzzling over what people who object to "political correctness" are objecting to.  Donald Trump says he "doesn't have time" to be politically correct.  This seems to be the trait that his supporters most admire.

Jonathan Haidt's research on liberals and conservatives found that the moral foundation that most resonates with liberals is caring for those who have been harmed.  Liberals feel a special duty to  those who have been harmed by powers and privileges that liberals themselves have benefited from.  This, I believe, is the heart of what it means to be politically correct.

So what is it that Mr. Trump and his followers get out of rejecting political correctness?  They reject any ethical duty to care for the harmed.

They reach this conclusion by two routes.

The first is to deny that anyone has been harmed.  If everyone is an individual who can succeed by his or her own efforts, then whatever condition people find themselves in is just.  They deny that there are structure of power or privilege which benefit some groups and harm others.

The second is to claim that they, the privileged, have also been harmed - especially due to "reverse discrimination" by liberals trying to help those previously harmed by power and privilege.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Best Way to Fight the Demagogues? Know, and Say, The World is Getting Better


What makes reactionaries, reactionaries is that they view all change as decline.  It is not surprising that they are doomsayers - that is their slogan and recruiting strategy.

But it is a contradiction when progressive don't believe in progress.  They should be the most devoted to seeing hope in change.

In this moment it is left to centrists to see that, in a thousand important ways, the world is getting better.

As Greg Easterbrook said in a recent well-named piece, "When Did Optimism Become Uncool?", the problem is that "the lack of optimism in contemporary liberal and centrist thinking opens the door to Trump-style demagogy."

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Silver Lining: Trump Nomination Leads to Huge Increases in Hispanic Naturalization and Voter Registration


The rate at which Hispanic immigrants are becoming naturalized citizens has picked up dramatically this year, doubling rates seen even last year.

And the rate of Hispanic registration to vote, both among recent and long-time citizens, is also way up, tripling in some places.

All of which is an unexpected benefit of Donald Trump's likely nomination as the Republican candidate for president.

There is almost always a silver lining, even in dark events.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The World Is Drinking A Bit Less Booze


For the first time in ten years, worldwide alcohol consumption went down.  The drop, about 1.7% compared to last year, includes Eastern Europe, notorious for its high rates of alcoholism.

Unfortunately, drinking rates in the U.S. continue to rise.

Still, a worldwide decrease in the use of the most damaging drug is good news.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Longer Living Through Sociology: The Oldest American is a Sociologist



  • From the American Sociological Association Newsletter
  • The oldest person in the U.S., 113-year-old Goldie Michelson, received a master's degree in sociology from Clark University in Worcester. Her thesis was titled "A Citizenship Survey of Worcester Jewry" and examined why many of the city's older Jewish-immigrant residents did not pursue American citizenship or learn English.
  • Monday, May 16, 2016

    The Ironic Effect of the Gay Marriage Debate Has Been to Make Liberals More Pro-Marriage


    A decade ago it was common for liberals to consider whether all "personal relationships" should be considered not only equally valid choices, but equally good in their effects on the adults and their children.

    At the same time, though, the most successful argument for same-sex marriage touted the importance of marriage for the couple, their children, and society as a whole.

    As a result, liberals, who almost by definition opposed the ban on same-sex marriage, came to talk less about the irrelevance of marriage, and more about marriage as a right for all and a benefit to society.

    Friday, May 13, 2016

    Sociology Understands the Difference Between "Most People" and "Each Person"


    The hardest part of teaching sociology is getting students to see how we can make generalizations about groups which are true of the group in general, without being true of each in individual in the group.

    One teachable aphorism I came up with this year is "Sociology Understands the Difference Between 'Most' and 'All'".

    Today a refinement of that aphorism came to me, which appears in the title of this post.