October 7th, 2015

Political identity: connecting the dots

Yesterday I read this article by John Hinderaker at Powerline:

During our previous wave of mass immigration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, both immigrants and American officials understood that assimilation into American culture, most importantly learning to speak English, was required. Immigrant parents made great sacrifices so that their children would grow up speaking English, and thereby enjoy the opportunities available to those who can participate fully in America’s economy.

Today, assimilation seems no longer to be even a goal. The Democratic Party is happy to have immigrants ghettoized, with limited opportunities for advancement. It makes their votes easier to harvest.

This chart summarizes the data:

langruage

Seeing that brought back some memories for me of when I first read about the movement for bilingual education—not to teach children a new language, but to teach them in their old language for a longer time in order to ease them into this country and English more gradually.

I don’t remember what year it was (late 60s, perhaps?), but I know that I was a young adult and a liberal. My liberal identity was already so well-rooted, despite my relative youth, that it seemed a part of me that was never going to change, any more than I would wake up one morning and find that I had grown 6 inches. My political growth plates had fused, as it were, and that was that.

That conclusion turned out to be wrong, of course. But that’s another story for another day.

But even back then, despite what I thought of as my set-in-stone liberal political affiliation, I didn’t always agree with everything liberals advocated. I most definitely didn’t agree with the idea of any sort of extended bilingual education. It seemed to me that children had done very well in this country with a fairly pressured crash course of learning English. Their brains were plastic enough (especially with language) to succeed, and if they didn’t have the alternative of speaking their native tongues at school, and the repeated reinforcement of being taught in those tongues, their adjustment might be harder in the short run but easier and better in the long run. As a result, they and everyone else would benefit.

I’ve seen nothing since to disabuse me of that notion.

What I didn’t see at the time, however, was any larger left vs. right issue. My stance seemed to me to be an isolated instance of minor disagreement with one small aspect of the liberal line. I didn’t sense a connection to any other tenet of liberalism, and it had no significance to me in terms of causing me to question the whole. Over the years I had many such points of disagreement with liberalism, but since I was not all that interested in politics at the time, and plenty busy with other things (including, after a while, motherhood), I never connected any dots or had an “aha!” moment about it all until decades later.

I maintain that in this I was hardly unique. Not all habitually liberal voters mark in lockstep with everything on the liberal agenda. Some do, of course; some wouldn’t think of deviating from the party line, and they are the true believers. But there are many more who are somewhat like I was: not happy with everything on the agenda, disagreeing with this or that, perhaps even fairly conservative in their private lives, but voting for liberal Democrats out of personal history and a lack of knowledge of what the alternatives really represent, as opposed to what the Democratic Party and the mainstream media say the alternatives represent.

Nowadays, of course, such ignorance about the right is harder to justify and understand. In an earlier day there was no internet, and it was much harder—although certainly not impossible—to gain easy access to coherent, comprehensive, and undistorted presentations of conservative points of view. A person would have had to be motivated, however, and to know where to look, and if that person was (as I mostly was) surrounded by a liberal echo chamber, motivation and opportunity could be lacking. Without knowledge and information, it would be very hard to connect those dots and finally have that “aha!” moment.

The left knows that. Today, with easier access to alternative points of view, it’s even more important for them to discredit those points of view in advance so that people will think them invalid and duplicitous and never seek them out to hear for themselves. Thus, the myth of “Faux News” is born, reinforced by jokes and sneering whenever liberals gather together.

I know; I gather in those groups all the time, too; sometimes incognito, sometimes not. These days I have a coherent political philosophy and framework into which I can fit the information I read, and a way to explain my own positions. It’s taken me quite a few decades to get there, though, and perhaps that makes me more patient than most on the right with those who never make the journey—or who have yet to make the journey.

But the hour is late, very late. And getting later.

38 Responses to “Political identity: connecting the dots”

  1. Ymarsakar Says:

    That conclusion turned out to be wrong, of course.

    Did you change or did Democrats change from being about liberty to being about totalitarian power? Or perhaps there was a certain Democrat sub culture that was always going for that and few people knew about it.

  2. Ymarsakar Says:

    They were lying about bilingual promoting English transition. As they were lying about homo marriages never interfering with traditionals.

  3. neo-neocon Says:

    Ymarsakar:

    A combination of the two.

    More Democrats back then were not leftists than is the case today, I think. But still, there were a lot of leftists-in-hiding back then, as well.

  4. Nick Says:

    “there was music in the cafes at night and revolution in the air” – Bob Dylan

    It simply didn’t occur to people back then that an established system shouldn’t be changed without serious thought. They were going to do something different and it was going to be better because it was different, and they believed in it. Education is more prone to experimental thinking than most any other field.

  5. Ymarsakar Says:

    1960s America got bribed with sex and drugs. They fell for it.

    It is what happens when the 1950s WWII generation went naive and soft on their kids, tried to make sure they would never suffer the “excesses of war” like the WWII gen did.

    But the thing is, you see, if your kids don’t learn from your experiences because you refused to pass on the tradition, with good and bad memories… they’ll just get sent to the meat grinder every few years, like Vietnam, and have to re learn it all over again.

  6. Ymarsakar Says:

    Dry your eyes and quietly bear this pain with pride
    For heaven shall remember the silent and the brave
    And promise me, they will never see, the fear within our eyes

    We will give strength to those who still remain

    So bury fear for fate draws near and hide the signs of pain
    With noble acts, the bravest souls endure the heart’s remains
    Discard regret, that in this debt a better world is made
    That children of a newer day might remember, and avoid our fate.

    And in the fury of this darkest hour we will be your light
    You’ve asked me for my sacrifice and I am Winter born
    Without denying, a faith is come that I have never known
    I hear the angels call my name and I am Winter born

    Hold your head up high-for there is no greater love
    Think of the faces of the people you defend

    And promise me, they will never see the tears within our eyes
    Although we are men with mortal sins, angels never cry

    So bury fear for fate draws near and hide the signs of pain
    With noble acts, the bravest souls endure the heart’s remains
    Discard regret, that in this debt a better world is made
    That children of a newer day might remember, and avoid our fate.

    And in the fury of this darkest hour we will be your light
    You’ve asked me for my sacrifice and I am Winter born
    Without denying, a faith in God that I have never known
    I hear the angels call my name and I am Winter born

    And in the fury of this darkest hour

    I will be your light
    A lifetime for this destiny
    For I am Winter born
    And in this moment…
    I will not run, it is my place to stand
    We few shall carry hope

    Within our bloodied hands

    Winterborn – Cruxshadows

    That song was like some kind of message to me back around 2007-2010 when most people were concerned about how to buddy up to the Left and underestimate the power of the Left.

    It sounded, to be honest, like a prophecy, because that was how things was looking to me as I connected the dots starting in 2007: that was when I realized that the Leftist alliance and the Democrat party were not merely anti Iraq, they were also traitors and extremely dangerous traitors at that.

  7. Paul R Says:

    Hi Neo

    Read the article at Weekly Standard and agree with your conclusions but would like to add another element that I think is THE BIGGEST FACTOR:

    Europe has walked away from God. As poorly as we do here in the U.S., where church attendance averages about 25% of most congregations(across the board, by the way, Catholic, Protestant and Jewish), in Europe I hear attendance is well below that.

    God is either a reality or He is not. My understanding is that the answer to this is definitely affirmative, and when entire cultures decide this is no longer so, Silly Season sets in for good, and the results are fairly predictable. Unfortunately, I’m afraid we are not far behind them.

  8. Ymarsakar Says:

    Every culture and civilization has a religion, whether they know it or not. There is a chain of command for the faithful as well, although many systems are very diffuse or de centralized (Such as the Greek gods or the pagans).

    So when Europe or Western apathetic fools thought that getting rid of religion for secular sex, decadence, and goodies was a good idea, they never paid attention to the Christians or others who told them that there would be severe consequences for creating the Void.

    Because every civilization or culture has a religion. You can either pick a peaceful one, or the foreign invaders like Islam, will convert you to theirs via the sword.

    A few guesses what Europe is going through. The strong rule over the weak. That is the Natural or even Divine law. It’s not something a bunch of pseudo fake intellectual political elite dynasties in Europe can over turn.

  9. Margaret Ball Says:

    I grew did some volunteer tutoring during my college days in Texas. The “English-only” approach did not work for some children. They got promoted grade after grade with nobody noticing or caring that they didn’t speak English, until some time in seventh grade or even later if they were lucky, they got sent for tutoring; if they weren’t lucky, they were just labeled “stupid.”

    When people started talking about bilingual education, I thought they meant having a program in the early grades to help Spanish-speaking children make the transition to English, and I thought this would be a good thing.

    Color me stupid.

  10. CV Says:

    Paul R,

    I agree. Whether on a micro or macro level, when God is removed from the equation–power rules. That’s true on a personal level or national/global level. On my first trip to Europe, I was shocked by the general indifference toward the practice of Christianity, which is the foundation of European civilization.

  11. Cornhead Says:

    Tower of Babel story is more true today.

    The Left lives on identity politics and assimilation (by language and otherwise) does not serve the Dems.

  12. Ymarsakar Says:

    When people started talking about bilingual education, I thought they meant having a program in the early grades to help Spanish-speaking children make the transition to English, and I thought this would be a good thing.

    Generally, a child only needs the directions translated into their native language. That way they can understand test instructions and be able to pit their abilities to the test.

    A peer translator generally exists in a class that is based on a normal hierarchy. Teacher to student leader to students. They don’t exist in an authoritarian totalitarian teacher union system that has administrators > teacher > student > parent.

    Bilingual doesn’t do anything to improve English vocabulary and language skills. Language skills are improved via immersion and using the language, unless you have some prodigy level skills in learning foreign languages. And vocabulary is picked up via reading English.

    How would a bilingual system that teaches in X Audio and X written language, improve Y Audio and Y written language, was a question they did not allow to be asked.

  13. Cornhead Says:

    CV

    My youngest is in Paris this semester and went to Mass at Notre Dame. She said it was disappointing because tourists were wandering all around during Mass talking and taking pictures.

  14. David Foster Says:

    It would be interesting to extend the language chart back earlier in time. My impression is that during the great waves of immigration circa 1900 there may well have been a higher % of foreign-language-only speakers than there were in the 1960s.

    The big difference, of course, is that in the earlier period America had far more civilizational self-confidence, making people (or at least their children) *want* to assimilate.

    There is a very interesting book from 1914 (written by Mary Antin, herself a Russian Jewish immigrant) arguing eloquently for a greatly-expanded immigration policy. I reviewed in here:

    http://chicagoboyz.net/archives/49641.html

  15. blert Says:

    I take the view that the Democrat party was simply hijacked by the Left.

    That’s the phenomena that had Ronald Reagan flipping to the GOP.

    “I didn’t leave the Democrat party, It left me.”

    The Democrat party has been shedding Democrats for quite some time now. Hence, the need to find “fresh ones” — especially if they can’t speak, read or comprehend American English.

    For such souls, all history and context is erased.

    Winston Smith can retire. His task is done.

  16. blert Says:

    David Foster…

    The BIG flip occurred in 1916-1917. German language education was terminated in the Old Northwest. ( Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa…)

    And Danish, Swedish, on over, too.

    Yes, popular attitudes flipped on a dime. There was nothing gradual about it at all.

    The dough boys were also driven wholesale towards a common American English.

    This was repeated in WWII.

    It was quickly discovered that the kids were able to make the transition in nothing flat.

    Why ?

    Children live in a linguistically simple world. There is no social loading for language gaffs — since their peers are also gaff prone.

    Adults feel very self conscious entering a new language — where their bumblings reduce them to the speech of a four-year old… And pretty frustrated, too.

    In contrast, children are not even burdened with the need to express complex thought — and shades of meaning.

    They also get constant social reinforcement as they build their vocabulary… from their mothers. Nothing tops that.

  17. Cornhead Says:

    I was only a few miles of the Luthern school that was the starting place for the famous Meyers v Nebraska German language case and I didn’t know it. Church and school still there.

  18. neo-neocon Says:

    Margaret Ball:

    What you are describing is not the failure of the “English only” system. You are describing the failure of the “English only” system when combined with the “social promotion no matter what” system.

    The latter did not yet exist when I went to school, at least not in NYC.

  19. Oldflyer Says:

    While it seems to be fairly quiet up there recently, I have always felt that there is something to be learned from the Canadian accommodation.

    There seems to be a logic that implies that if you speak different languages, you have different loyalties. This certainly has been manifest among Quebecois on a recurring basis.

    If nothing more, a whole country has been twisted like a pretzel to paper over the situation. If you think that the Flight Attendant’s mandatory spiels are tedious, try listening to every one twice in different languages. Wait, we are getting there. Press one for English.

    Cornhead cites the Tower of Babel parable with justification. More recently, the term Balkanization resonates–although I know that they are divided by more than language.

    On my early morning walks along a popular trail, at least 75% of the people I meet are conversing among themselves in Spanish. Maybe ten percent in an Asian language. They all speak English, because I greet them, and they respond easily in kind. I can only wonder if there is a certain resistance to accepting our culture.

  20. RickZ Says:

    test

  21. RickZ Says:

    Well, that was weird. Tried posting but would not take. Closed out this site then reloaded it, then my ‘test’ post worked. I cannot begin to explain the strange workings of the innertubes.

    Anyway, here’s a ‘English as a second language’ story.

    My last name is Hungarian. I was married to a girl from Brooklyn whose parents were Argentinian and Honduran, with a decidedly Hispanic last name. My ex had two brothers. Now if they and we had had kids, her brothers’ kids would automatically be tossed into an EAASL path in school (bi-lingual ed), while my kids would not, all because of a last name, even though the kids would be cousins. That is just insanity.

  22. F Says:

    During the course of a 28-year career I have studied three different languages at the Foreign Service Institute in the Washington suburbs of northern Virginia. It is a total immersion program: you walk into class the first day and the instructor (frequently a foreign-born wife) is speaking the language you have been assigned to. Many of the instructors can speak English, but they don’t, although in the early days they might clarify something in response to an English question.

    But there is no thought of starting us off in English and gradually getting us to speak another language: we are thrown in and we swim. And thousands of Foreign Service Officers show up at posts with a working knowledge of the language after anywhere from 16 weeks to two years (Chinese and Arabic taking the longest time).

    Total immersion is, after all, how you learned your native language. It works, although during the time you are still thinking in one language and trying to use another it is frustrating. But it works.

    Putting foreign-born kids into a classroom where they are working in their mother tongue just delays the transition to being able to speak English, which is ultimately crucial to their being a member of American society. But it does give employment to another set of teachers. I think we should end bilingual education, abruptly and completely. And I have a little experience in the results when you do.

  23. RickZ Says:

    F,

    That was my experience in real life. I had to go to Argentina back in ’92 when my ex was in a serious traffic accident, with doctors telling me on the phone they weren’t sure whether she would live or die; they said they were making decisions only next of kin could make. At the time, I only spoke restaurant menu Spanish. I was there for a month, being on my own and having to interact with people while she was in the hospital. The ex got out of the hospital after 2 1/2 weeks and we went to a diner across from the hotel for lunch. She said she’d order for me and I told her that I’d been there long enough and I’d order myself. I had a conversation with the waiter and ordered exactly what I wanted. She was stunned. Now I’ve forgotten pretty much everything (the ol’ ‘you don’t use it, you lose it’ scenario).

    Total language immersion does work. (See: Berlitz)

  24. Tom Says:

    Neo, I’m curious, do your liberal friends know your current political views? Have any of them ever visited your blog, or read any of your articles in places like Townhall? Do they just consider you batshit crazy?

  25. David Foster Says:

    If immigrants don’t generally learn the language of the host country, then they will be largely dependent on “community leaders” of one kind or another for their interactions with the larger society. These leaders may be something like Tammany Hall, or they may be something much worse.

    The effect, in the case of the US, is that the country ceases to be a federal republic and becomes something more like the old Austrian Empire, with ethnically-based states-within-a-state.

  26. David Foster Says:

    Speaking of the Austrian Empire, see

    Government Overreach and Ethnic Conflict:

    http://chicagoboyz.net/archives/25386.html

  27. Ray Says:

    “some wouldn’t think of deviating from the party line, and they are the true believers.”
    That is so true. The other day the host of a conservative talk radio show was talking about having dinner with a liberal. The topic of planed parenthood came up and he asked what she thought about planed parenthood selling baby organs. The liberal said she didn’t believe it. He told her she should look at the videos and she responded the videos had been doctored. He told her the uncut, unedited videos were available and she said she still didn’t believe it. Liberals refuse to believe the truth.

  28. formwiz Says:

    All the stories about yoots in France burning cars and gang rapes in Norway began the same way.

  29. neo-neocon Says:

    Tom:

    Somewhere I think I’ve got a post answering those questions. But since I can’t find it now, I’ll just answer them.

    Yes, my liberal friends and/or relatives all know about my politics. Even some acquaintances know, depending on the context. I don’t automatically tell everyone I meet, though.

    A few friends and/or relatives have read a couple of my articles, but most have not. They don’t care to, for the most part. Some of them have explicitly said they don’t read what I write because they don’t want to get angry at me. Most just don’t read blogs, or they’re very busy, or they’re not all that curious. One liberal relative reads my blog with some regularity, but I think only one. I sometimes send people links to posts I think they will like that aren’t about politics (such as the dance posts for people who like dance).

    Yes, I would wager some think I’m “batshit crazy,” although they are kind enough not to say it to my face. One or two stopped talking to me long ago, and I suspect it was over politics, but maybe it was something else. I would wager that the vast majority are merely puzzled by me. They think I’m eccentric rather than crazy (these are old friends). Some newer acquaintances find me offputting, I think, and have not become friendly with me in part because of this (although maybe we would not have become friendly anyway).

    One of two liberal friends seem to respect me for my intelligence and sometimes ask me what I think about this or that issue, and listen to me with some respect although I doubt I’ve ever changed their minds. Some don’t seem to have had it affect their attitude towards me although we avoid speaking about politics because we are so opposite on that (including the way we approach the topic, how much reading we do on it, etc.).

    But you have to understand that I’ve never really fit in all that well anyway, even prior to this. I think I was always considered mildly eccentric or different by a lot of my friends in some indefinable way. So now the politics is part of that. If they were my friends before, they obviously liked my mild eccentricities well enough (or at least didn’t dislike them too much) to be friends, so politics is now in that same category.

    And lastly, a few people have used the opportunity to come out of the political closet themselves and declare their conservative and/or Republican status. Just a few.

  30. Molly NH Says:

    @Neo, have you ever been able to *convert* anyone, eg your son ?
    My youngest son & his wife are slowly seeing things differently (they are 26) she has a degree, he is *working class*. They were influenced by all the hype over the *cool Barack Obama* & my older son who sadly is a Lefty having gone to that factory the University of New Hampshire. Funny how *somebody* with a law degree can be totally onboard with Americans losing their Rights !
    Anyway we got the youngest boy & wife interested in *their rights* through the 2 nd amendment!!! For some reason the empowerment of being able to *defend* themselves really, really appeals to them !
    Interesting stuff!

  31. neo-neocon Says:

    Molly NH:

    I “converted” one person, and perhaps that person would have converted anyway, but I probably hurried the process, anyway. I three-quarter converted another, who really was a conservative to begin with but kept voting liberal out of habit or something like that.

    But most people don’t listen to me for all that long, anyway. The ones who do, I don’t see that they’ve changed in a fundamental way. Maybe small ways. I don’t think they “connect the dots.” They might end up agreeing with me on this issue and that, but they don’t have the context. I’ve recommended books for them to read (like Sowell, for example), but they haven’t read them.

  32. Molly NH Says:

    neo : Perplexing isn t it ! I guess our buddies are *not as bright* as we think they are, LOL !

  33. F Says:

    N-n: Your last answer: “I don’t see that they’ve changed. . .” and “but they haven’t read them” sum up the liberal mindset perfectly in my own experience. The description I keep coming back to is “arrogant.” Or willfully obtuse. But Republicans are called the stupid party. Because Republicans won’t support policies that are ultimately inimical to their own interests, I guess. You can’t say that about Hillary supporters, especially the women who support her. They appear to be proud to support her because of their similar plumbing.

  34. Tom Says:

    Neo, Thank you for indulging me.

  35. blert Says:

    My brother and brother-in-law have converted — the other way.

    !

  36. Paul R Says:

    Hi Neo

    Re: Political and “other” types of conversion

    Some of the sweetest people I know are liberals. I think the biggest reason is that they “think” mainly with the heart, rather than the head and heart. Thus the reluctance to explore, and read, other points of view. They don’t seem curious when it comes to politics, and spend their time elsewhere, or in just wasting some of their free time on TV.
    But the ones I know have very good hearts/intentions.

    I converted back to my faith about 10 years ago(at age 50 after 35 yrs in the desert), and have found this to be a very rare event as well. Seems actual conversions in any form are pretty rare. I’ve also sworn off trying to convert anybody. I’ve had no success with it whatsoever, and tend to just tick people off. In politics, live and let live, and in faith, I just pray for them.

  37. Ymarsakar Says:

    They might end up agreeing with me on this issue and that, but they don’t have the context.

    Thinking is hard. Most people, like Corn or Chuck, think the truth is crazy because they haven’t paid the price for it and probably never will.

    Humans aren’t naturally inclined to imagine connections between abstract stuff that have never hit them directly.

  38. Ymarsakar Says:

    I’ve had no success with it whatsoever, and tend to just tick people off.

    Remember Saul on the Road to Damascus moment?

    People aren’t going to be converted if they are fanatics, without that. And the weaker ones, when faced with it, will not continue the path.

    Some of the sweetest people I know are liberals.

    A valid point, just as valid as Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany having good and sweet people living their lives.

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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