dexeron: (ultima)
I think it will be important to remember this scene from an old comic book in the years ahead.

There was a scene in the original Civil War comics where Peter Parker (Spider-man) speaks with Steve Rogers (Captain America) about the burden of going against the popular sentiment of the nation. As background, Captain America had positioned himself against Iron Man in the debate over the Superhero Registration Act (which enjoyed considerable public support.) Captain America believed that the Act was a violation of fundamental rights, and even when his refusal to comply branded him as a traitor in the eyes of the public, he still refused to change his mind (and continued to lead the Secret Avengers: other heroes who refused to comply.)

Peter Parker had been, initially, on the pro-registration side, but changed his mind after learning that heroes who had refused to register and got arrested were going to be detained indefinitely. Parker went from a national sensation and rising star to a "Benedict Arnold" in the eyes of the American public almost overnight, and he asked Captain America how someone can deal with that kind of a weight on their shoulders.

Captain America smiled, and Parker realized he had a story to tell. Parker demanded of Rogers: "When the whole country is against you... when it's all bearing down on you like some kind of ten-ton weight, and you don't know your own heart anymore sometimes -- how does someone like you deal with it? I mean, you practically are the country. How does the man who is the country react when the country goes a different way?"

Captain America answered:

"I remember the first time I really understood what it was to be an American...What it was to be a patriot.

I was just a kid...A million years ago, it seems sometimes. Maybe twelve. I was reading Mark Twain. And he wrote something that struck me right down to my core...something so powerful, so true, that it changed my life. I memorized it so I could repeat it to myself, over and over across the years. He wrote --"

"In a republic, who is 'the country?'

Is it the government which is for the moment in the saddle? Why, the government is merely a temporary servant: it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn't. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them.

Who, then is 'the country?' Is it the newspaper? Is it the pulpit? Why, these are mere parts of the country, not the whole of it: they have not command. They have only their little share in the command.

In a monarchy, the king and his family are the country: In a republic it is the common voice of the people. Each of you, for himself, by himself and on his own responsibility, must speak.

It is a solemn and weighty responsibility, and not lightly to be flung aside at the bullying of pulpit, press, government, or the empty catchphrases of politicians.

Each must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, and which course is patriotic and which isn't. You cannot shirk this and be a man.

To decide it against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let men label you as they may.

If you alone of all the nation shall decide one way, and that way be the right way according to your convictions of the right, you have done your duty by yourself and by your country. Hold up your head. You have nothing to be ashamed of."


"Doesn't matter what the press says. Doesn't matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn't matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right.

This nation was founded on one principle above all else: The requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world--

--No,you move."
dexeron: (Mr. Salt)
cross-posted to [livejournal.com profile] talk_politics. Left as public because it was posted elsewhere.

The so-called "alt-right" is an American political movement described as containing elements of nativism, white-nationalism (sometimes including separatism or supremacy,) a belief that Christianity is a core and essential element of "Western Civilization," as well as sometimes antisemitism and neo-reactionary opposition to Democratic forms of government. While this kind of movement is certainly not unique to the U.S., its popularity is, and that demands some examination.

As stated above, while the adherents of "alt-right" philosophy would deny that it has any one specific definition, it's become clear that it is, if not fundamentally aligned with, at least friendly with white nationalism and christian dominionism, and is at least somewhat hostile to democracy. This presents a problem: the vast majority of American citizens reject these things (or at least their most overt manifestations.) Most Americans were raised to believe in the ideals of the Enlightenment, the ideals held by the Founding Fathers: ideals of democracy, equality of race and gender, and freedom of religion. Admittedly, the U.S. has not always adhered to these ideals perfectly (sometimes not at all,) but they have always been held up a goal, an ideal to strive towards, and our understanding of them has only broadened over the centuries. In the early twentieth century, it likely would not have been hard to find folks who'd agree, at least in part, with the philosophy espoused later by the Nazis. Today, it would be much harder to find people willing to agree with that.

Enter the alt-right. The alt-right is facing a problem: most folks reject what they are offering, when it's presented openly and honestly. Most Americans do not want nativism, white nationalism (or white separatism,) neoreactionism, or dominionism.

The alt-right has a solution to this problem.

16 points. )

Cognitive Dissonance )

What does this have to do with the alt-right? )

Sunlight )
dexeron: (ultima)
Leaving public because I think it's worth repeating.

When we are faced with moments of crisis, it is all too easy to fall back on reactions that served us well in the wild, and have remained ingrained within us: fight or flight. Something happens, and we perform a stress response. The problem with this kind of response is that it is automatic, and often unthinking. It might work when suddenly confronted with a predator, but when we're dealing with issues that affect the lives of millions of people and exist in the world of realpolitik, an unthinking response is the last thing we want to perform. Had world leaders during the Cold War reacted to every threat and perceived slight without measured thought and consideration of consequences, we would have all perished in nuclear fire. Yet all to often, we (meaning all of us humans) can so easily resort to such quick, but harmful methods of reaction.

How easily we give into fear... )

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