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andym's Journal
andym's Journal
December 27, 2021

First They Fought About Masks. Then Over the Soul of the City.

"First They Fought About Masks. Then Over the Soul of the City."
Sabrina Tavernise
Dec 26, 2021
NY Times (reprinted by Yahoo News -- 9 min read)

The story begins sometime in July 2020, with Enid, OK city commissioner Jonathan Waddell, a retired military man, who attended a meeting for public comments on a proposed mask mandate, a mandate he favored as good for public health. A rowdy crowd of people dressed in red had other plans:

At the end of the night, the mask mandate failed, and the audience erupted in cheers. But for Waddell, who had spent seven years making Enid his home, it was only the beginning. He remembers driving home and watching his mirrors to make sure no one was following him. He called his father, a former police officer, and told him what had happened. He said that people were talking about masks but that it felt like something else. What, exactly, he did not know.

From lockdowns to masks to vaccines to school curricula, the conflicts in America keep growing and morphing, even without Donald Trump, the leader who thrived on encouraging them, in the White House. But the fights are not simply about masks or schools or vaccines. They are, in many ways, all connected as part of a deeper rupture — one that is now about the most fundamental questions a society can ask itself: What does it mean to be an American? Who is in charge? And whose version of the country will prevail?

Social scientists who study conflict say the only way to understand it — and to begin to get out of it — is to look at the powerful currents of human emotions that are the real drivers. They include the fear of not belonging, the sting of humiliation, a sense of threat — real or perceived — and the strong pull of group behavior.

“If my American identity is an important part of who I am, and suddenly there’s a serious threat to that, in some ways that means I don’t know who I am anymore,” he said. “It’s an attack on the very core of how I see myself, of how I understand myself.” In Enid, both sides in the mask debate believed they were standing up for what was right. Both cared deeply for their city — and their country — and believed that, in their own way, they were working to save it....
--more at the link--
A very interesting editorial worth reading in full, from the perspective of one man who was ostracized from his community to some extent for supporting mask mandates. The article tries to get to the heart of the matter, which seems to be a backlash from people who feel that their "group" is losing "control" in the USA, and are acting out to stop that. Mr. Waddell feels there is a conflict about who will write the next chapter of American history, and that there will be some kind of battle to decide it. The article ends with the statement that he is thinking of moving to AZ because Enid, OK no longer feels like home to him and his family.

December 10, 2021

David Brooks on the end of American Conservatism and his becoming a moderate Democrat

The rich philosophical tradition I fell in love with has been reduced to Fox News and voter suppression."
David Brooks
The Atlantic
"What passes for “conservatism” now, however, is nearly the opposite of the Burkean conservatism I encountered then. Today, what passes for the worldview of “the right” is a set of resentful animosities, a partisan attachment to Donald Trump or Tucker Carlson, a sort of mental brutalism. The rich philosophical perspective that dazzled me then has been reduced to Fox News and voter suppression.

I recently went back and reread the yellowing conservatism books that I have lugged around with me over the decades. I wondered whether I’d be embarrassed or ashamed of them, knowing what conservatism has devolved into. I have to tell you that I wasn’t embarrassed; I was enthralled all over again, and I came away thinking that conservatism is truer and more profound than ever—and that to be a conservative today, you have to oppose much of what the Republican Party has come to stand for....

Trumpian Republicanism plunders, degrades, and erodes institutions for the sake of personal aggrandizement. The Trumpian cause is held together by hatred of the Other. Because Trumpians live in a state of perpetual war, they need to continually invent existential foes—critical race theory, nongendered bathrooms, out-of-control immigration. They need to treat half the country, metropolitan America, as a moral cancer, and view the cultural and demographic changes of the past 50 years as an alien invasion. Yet pluralism is one of America’s oldest traditions; to conserve America, you have to love pluralism. As long as the warrior ethos dominates the GOP, brutality will be admired over benevolence, propaganda over discourse, confrontation over conservatism, dehumanization over dignity. A movement that has more affection for Viktor Orbán’s Hungary than for New York’s Central Park is neither conservative nor American. This is barren ground for anyone trying to plant Burkean seedlings.

I’m content, as my hero Isaiah Berlin put it, to plant myself instead on the rightward edge of the leftward tendency—in the more promising soil of the moderate wing of the Democratic Party. If its progressive wing sometimes seems to have learned nothing from the failures of government and to promote cultural stances that divide Americans, at least the party as a whole knows what year it is. In 1980, the core problem of the age was statism, in the form of communism abroad and sclerotic, dynamism-sapping bureaucracies at home. In 2021, the core threat is social decay. The danger we should be most concerned with lies in family and community breakdown, which leaves teenagers adrift and depressed, adults addicted and isolated. It lies in poisonous levels of social distrust, in deepening economic and persisting racial disparities that undermine the very goodness of America—in political tribalism that makes government impossible...."

In a long essay, Brooks details his journey from socialism in his youth, to his adult self's love of Edmund Burke and American conservatism to his disgust with what conservatism has become in recent years. I found this a very interesting essay that explains the conservative intellectual mindset fairly clearly, while ignoring the deep contradictions that have always been part and parcel of the modern American conservative movement-- though Brooks does acknowledge the racism that even people like Bill Buckley fell prey to. What's most interesting is that he concludes that Burke himself was not anti-government and that "The central conservative truth is that culture matters most; the central liberal truth is that politics can change culture," and he believes that they should be combined.

Brooks realizes that it is the Democratic Party that still retains the sense of modern American democracy and sensibilities while the Republican Party has gone off the deep end toward Trumpian fascism.

December 2, 2021

Germany locks down unvaccinated people, as leaders plan to make shots compulsory

Source: CNN

Berlin (CNN)Germany on Thursday announced a nationwide lockdown for the unvaccinated, as its leaders backed plans for mandatory vaccinations in the coming months.

Unvaccinated people will be banned from accessing all but the most essential businesses, such as supermarkets and pharmacies, to curb the spread of coronavirus, outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel and her successor, Olaf Scholz, announced Thursday, following crisis talks with regional leaders.

The pair also backed proposals for mandatory vaccinations, which if voted through the parliament could take effect from February at the earliest.

Under the tightened restrictions, unvaccinated people can only meet two people from another household. Bars and nightclubs must shut down in areas with an incidence rate above 350 cases per 100,000 people over one week. And the country would limit the number of people at large events like soccer matches.

Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2021/12/02/europe/germany-lockdown-covid-restrictions-intl/index.html

Germany will impose greater restrictions specifically on the unvaccinated. They also also discussing making vaccinations mandatory, and voting on it in February.

Such measures are not possible in the USA.

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