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Friday, November 22, 2019

Harper’s: Why we miss the WASPs


A reader sent in this article (thank you):
Others can decide if this represents an insightful contribution, or just another typical Internet piece replete with "mostly right facts and mostly wrong analysis."  


35 comments:

  1. I would go along with your "mostly right, mostly wrong" assessment, American history through the lens of critical theory, with envy and feelings of superiority existing simultaneously, a thoroughly joyless way to interact with the world.

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  2. The author incorrectly stated that Baltzell referred to WASP rule as a caste system. Baltzell made clear it was an open system that eventually devolved into a caste system before its demise, but he stressed that it was not a caste at the founding and when it flourished. GLH

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  3. "...with envy and feelings of superiority existing simultaneously, a thoroughly joyless way to interact with the world." Lord I know some people like this and they are miserable, bless their hearts.

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  4. I found the article,not incoherent but strangely unfocused. He bit off more than he could chew,though, if you throw enough darts ,youll eventually hit something

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  5. Highly informative and obviously a well-researched WASP article, but one wonders how someone as hyperintelligent as Henwood could be so wrong about President Trump (who appears here as merely the cartoon villain the Swamp/Media/Democrats have been smearing and denigrating since he entered politics.)

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    1. You may or may not have noticed that this essay is a non-fiction piece, Herr Reichardt. He "appears here as merely the cartoon villain" because that's what he actually is. As you say, the piece is highly informative and obviously well-researched.

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    2. I completely agree about Henwood's treatment of Trump. He is way too kind.

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    3. Aw, schucks.

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  6. Not sure why the introduction refers to the article as "just another typical internet piece." I read the article in my print copy of the current Harper's. I suppose that may be online now.

    The adjective that comes to mind for me to describe the article is thought-provoking.

    To my mind, the early WASPs, while far from perfect, did seem to have a sense of noblesse oblige.

    It is a curiosity to me that John Kennedy seems to be thought of by many as a WASP.
    The P in WASP, to my understanding, refers to protestant.
    I don't believe Cardinal Cushing conducted any protestant funerals from St. Matthew's Cathedral.

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    1. Big yawn. Somebody always brings this up (usually as an ostensibly innocent "just curios" comment) in these discussions. JFK died 56 years ago and no one cares what his religion was. All it does is reflect back on the poster.

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  7. “A society like ours … needs a coherent ruling class …” Really? I seem to remember a coherent group of white males that led us directly into this mess.

    They also seem to be willing to continue the lies and cover up. Reminds me of this quote from Tennessee Williams’s Big Daddy Pollit (from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof):

    “There ain’t nothin’ more powerful than the odor of mendacity. You can smell it. It smells like death.”

    I sure smell it.
    Aiken

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    1. 53% of white women voted for Donald Trump, Aiken, even after all his grotesque comments about women, and his contempt for women's rights. His donations among white women, even on the eve of 2020, are stratospheric. Let's give the "white males" cliché a rest, shall we? Time to take in the totality of what "led us directly into this mess."

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    2. Sadly, these discussions always deteriorate, usually starting with statistics. Regardless, I believe my lyin’ eyes: every image I see is of men—mostly old, white men—who are making the important decisions that affect us all.

      Aiken

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    3. If facts make these discussions "deteriorate," then the premise is flawed at the outset. Women make up a literal majority of the population, and could theoretically dictate the outcome of every election if they chose—and could definitely have stopped Donald Trump in his tracks in 2016. All they had to do was vote, and vote against him. Instead of using (more) clichés like "old, white men" in this context, save your energy for asking other women why they supported this terrible misogynist in the first place, and why they still do so.

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    4. Anonymous at 12:32 - I expect the answer you will receive is that they do not make their political decisions based solely, or even partially, upon an identity pigeon hole assigned to them by someone else. Some people actually vote on issues and policy, and don't pay much attention to the package their preferred policies come wrapped in. Others will choose based upon the width of one's lapels or the crease of their pants, or the length of their skirt. To each his own.

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    5. Nancy, Masha and Fiona save us from these old lying white men.

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    6. Very good point, Dave—my exact point about the "white males" cliché, which ignores the many millions of "white males" who voted against the current regime. They, too, "voted on issues and policy," and didn't pay "much attention" to the packages their "preferred politics" came "wrapped in." Thanks for making my point for me—again.

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    7. The focus on 2016 is misplaced. The mid-terms in 2018 showed dramatic changes, which have been omitted. You seem to be debating how many voters can dance on the head of a pin while the country faces historically critical issues. Further, those who have been making policy decisions have been all men, regardless who voted for them. And further than that, they circle wagons around a president clearly compromised and clearly engaged in extra-Constitutional, if not criminal behavior (he is, after all, an un-indicted co-conspirator in the SDNY -- remember Stormy Daniels?). Debating about who voted for whom misses the point.

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    8. The fact is, the wagons are being circled by both women and men. Do you have a television, by any chance? If so, turn it on. It could be instructive. Governor Kay Ivey of Alabama signed one of the most restrictive abortion bills in U.S. history into law—a bill that was introduced by a Terri Collins, another conservative woman, and she praised it.Also, the notion that "who voted for them" "misses the point," then the point is no longer about the consequence of votes. On the other hand, if the Democrat-voting prattlers on social media and the so-called "progressives" continue to deal in stereotypes and clichés, instead of taking a long, hard look at who's voting for him, and why, and how to defeat them, they're going to give the Trump White House another four years. Which, to bring it right back 'round to the topic of the essay, would have been unlikely a a less vulgar political time.

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  8. The author is another wearisome adherent of "The Feelings" in journalism and academic analysis. This piece had no other value than expression of the personal preferences and mood affiliations of the author and similar denizens of that mindset. The field is ripe for an informed analysis that is informed by a broader knowledge of human nature, history, and social organization. Instead, Harpers merely provided their readership with comforting reassurance of their lazy biases without challenging them to think.

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    1. Do you have any actual, specific, articulate thoughts about the piece and the points it makes? Or did you actually intend to restrict yourself to a facile review of it?

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  9. “I believe that with great wealth comes great responsibility, a responsibility to give back to society and a responsibility to see that those resources are put to work in the best possible way to help those most in need." -- Bill Gates -- people like him give me hope.

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  10. After reading certain comments, I am reminded of my mother's wisdom when she she advised her only child that "civil discourse is impossible if one insists upon mentioning money, religion, or politics. All are vulgar and counter to good breeding."

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  11. Well-written, informative, and accurate. Thank you, Ms. Aldrich, for sharing this.

    Old Bostonian

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  12. Thank you very much-excellent article. No one article will fully illuminate this , but this is an excellent contribution economics, history anthropology,etc. Knowing what was, what is, and maybe even an accurate view of what will be is an excellent format for looking at what should be. Keep it simple yes, but not to the point where it encourages low quality conclusions. My personal view is we've been on a journey where mass culture spits on quality control, caution, etc. I don't pick my president based on who I would like to have a beer with. Better a smart enemy than a stupid friend. Today's capitalism is empowered by the realization that bad behavior is rewarded in the short run. That doesn't mean capitalism is unable to function. I do think it is mistake to lump Bill Gates with Donald Trump. To me, they are very different.

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  13. Anonymous 12:23 - Some maintain that historically politics has always been vulgar and messy, and that the recent era of relatively civilized political discourse is the exception, the oddity, not the rule. When one looks back at the political smears some of the founders engaged in, it would seem to be an accurate assessment. I do, however, quickly lose interest when someone writes about the rightness of a superior elite ruling by moral right over their unwashed inferiors, who usually seem to mean anyone who disagrees with the writer.

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    1. Today, that moral right is wrapped up in forcing certain religions and ethnic backgrounds and denigrating others on false moral grounds. We've had it in the past and it's resurfaced again today. We also see that when power becomes one-sided and unchecked like it has these past few years, it results in greed, corrupt alliances & shady actions designed to retain and increase power, control and profit. We are at an inflection point. We will either loose our country or take down the corrupt.

      Even though my family has a long waspy heritage in Boston, WASPs won't save us from our political and international disaster. Nor will white men. It's going to be women who turn this country around. I for one can't wait.

      LMVT

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    2. Then let's hope 53% of white women don't vote for Donald Trump again in 2020 like they did in 2016, LMVT. Until that happens, this is all just a lot of social media prattle.

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    3. That same comment has been repeated 4-5 times in this thread. I think we get it and we disagree.

      LMVT

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  14. Henwood will never be mistaken for Fussell. A curious article nonetheless. Thank you, Mrs. A.

    I've no issue entrusting power (cultural or political) to those virtuous and educated enough to resist excess and pride. I'd greatly prefer a constitutional monarchy or at least a democratic republic rather than what is at the moment.

    The current push towards raw democracy and personal enrichment practically gives me hives.

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  15. In regards to the article - codswallop.

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