Millstones were used since prehistoric times to crush grain into flour for baking. Mills were turned by animals power and the millstones attached to a shaft would turn over the grain. Millstones eventually had to be replaced. They found their way other uses in those barbaric times.
When a crime was deemed so heinous it deserved a punishment more horrible even than crucifixion, the millstone sometimes came into final use. The Gospel of Matthew makes reference to that form of execution in describing the souls of those who would make advances on children, enticing them into sins: "it were better for him that millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea."
Largely because of that stray reference, the millstone came to a place in our language. It became known as a heavy, painful, perhaps fatal burden. It later evolved into its current definition: the traditional Republican attack on the patriotism of Democrats.
I thought about it this past week as conservative blogger John Houk reviewed a piece I had forwarded to him. He derided the very idea that "that a Liberal could possess Patriotism..." I suspect John may have meant "liberal." You know, with a small "L"? Anyway, he goes on:
Making ugly epithets about military personal is not an abundance of Patriotism (you know e.g. baby killers, murderers and the such thinking).
[Italics are John's]
Even combat heroes like Max Cleland, who had lost three limbs in Vietnam, and John Kerry were attacked as unpatriotic by opponents who had never served. Max Cleland opposed an anti-Union provision of a portion of Homeland security legislation. So he was portrayed as soft on terrorism. Kerry was attacked by fellow veterans, most of whom had never met him. They were recruited and financed by a small and secretive group of conservative billionaires, then propped up to appear as if they were exposing some wartime fraud they had themselves witnessed.
This was a new variant, but it's the sort of thing that has been going on for as long as I can remember. Even clear personal sacrifice can be turned around and used to show a lack of patriotism.
Al Gore, who served in Vietnam as a military reporter with the 20th Engineer Brigade in Bien Hoa, is routinely attacked because of his activism on global warming, for which he has been awarded the Nobel Prize. He is attacked as ... you guessed it ... unpatriotic for believing the clear evidence on global climate change.
It is the millstone around our necks. If we oppose an unwise war, we are unpatriotic. If we are pro-union, we are unpatriotic. If we are for a rational environmental policy based on science, we are unpatriotic. If we sneeze, we are unpatriotic.
One leader of the shouting is Michele Bachmann, who once begged reporters to investigate the patriotism of Democrats in Congress.
So we might not expect restraint among Democrats as Ms. Bachmann achieves a feat most of us thought was impossible, increasing the proportion of Swiss citizens in the US Congress by ... well ... how do you calculate a percentage of increase from a base of zero? She has applied for and been granted citizenship by the government of Switzerland. Yeah that Switzerland. Right in the middle (I think) of that part of Europe derided by Dick Cheney. A chocolate republic. Wouldn't stand up to the Nazis or to the USSR. Geneva Convention. Peace.
It seems she did it for the children. Her husband is of Swiss descent, which made her eligible. According to her spokesperson, "...some of their children wanted to exercise their eligibility for dual-citizenship so they went through the process as a family."
It seems harmless to me. Still, we can speculate what her reaction might have been had a Democrat become a citizen of a European country with a national identity known for neutrality.
We do not have to wonder about the reaction of some on the right. Their knives are sharpened, they are on the attack. Mark Krikorian, writing in National Review Online, is brutal.
The fact that even a patriot like Bachmann would do something like this is testament to how thoroughly the moral relativism of the post-national Left has permeated our culture.
Yup. You read it right. Ms. Bachmann became a European citizen because of a lack of patriotism on the part of liberals. We leftist hippies made her do it.
More proof we are unpatriotic.
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Politics is poisoning my mind and wasting my time. I need a break.
I believe I speak for all such relativistic permeators. I am appalled, Ryan, at the possibility that our permeation may also have contributed to the poisoning of your mind, necessitating the break of which you write.
Does that mean you will be free to generously write more frequently for us? We may as well benefit from our guilt.
I sincerely hope the entire crazed Marcus Bachmann clan will permanently emigrate to Switzerland, never to return here. They have proven time and again they do not understand democracy, and our country would be far better off without them around.
The Heathen Republican once said to me:
"If you have a fear of 'divisive, undesirable politics' you are in the wrong country (and the wrong internet). You may need a thicker skin."
I don't need a thicker skin; I can bear it. But I resent what it does to me and others and I think it gets us nowhere--at best. There is much better material to allow into my mind than what the likes of Krikorian, John Houk, and Chuck Thinks Right produce.
I hope you see this. Everyone always things whatever oneself is reading at the moment is the greatest thing in the world, so I am hesitant to suggest someone should read a book unless my intention is to imply they are ignorant and in need of training (which I admit is a low-toned desire).
You are neither ignorant, nor in need of training, but in this case, I am going to recommend a book anyway. It will not "teach" you anything you don't already know, but it may release some of the pressure these political discussions causes to build up. It may be a good remedy to the “poisoning” of your mind.
Of all those on the web I have encountered so far, your philosophy, reasoning and rational education seems to most closely mirror mine. I read some of your articles in shock that I did not write them. Sometimes I fear I did. I have taken to leaving a hair on my keyboard and checking for it in the morning. I you post something while I am away, but the hair was still on my keyboard when I logged in, then you are not me. It turns out, much to my surprise, that you are not me. I cannot state this with certainty, of course, because I recently discovered that I am an epistemological buffoon. However, I think you are not me.
Back to the book: The Righteous Mind written by “moral” [cognitive] psychologist Jonathan Haidt. He is moderate who moved to the center, by his own claims, perhaps slightly to the right of center, while researching The Righteous Mind. Prior to that, he was a die-hard liberal. The book is the documented result of a series of scientific studies trying to explain how people (started out with how conservatives) could possibly think the way they do in face of overwhelming contrary evidence.
He begins by marching through the recent history of cognitive psychology (where he thought relevant. He largely ignores Festinger and focuses more on Paiget and Kholberg, and Plato, just for grins).
If you are like me, and I think you are like me, assuming you are not me, then you have read tons of books related to cognitive theory. What sets this book apart from others, at least the others I have read, is that it is hypothesis-driven more than historical. Most treatments of the topic, tell you of some experiments, repeated over and over, and the outcomes that lead us to our knowledge of cognitive traits in humans. They do not tend to challenge anything. Instead they tell you “how we know.”
Haidt’s work cites the experiments as they unfolded, and ventures into the unknown. He does not just tell the reader what we know now, but takes the study to the next level, and then hypothesizes what it may mean. There is a comfort in this. Every time I read another book on cognitive psychology I am reassured (it is confirmed. Ahaahahaha), that we are all biological machines responding to our human nature. Burr Deming knows about the economy. He has it all figured out. The Heathen Republican knows the opposite, but also has it all figured out. John Myste does not know. That is his “knowledge,” his Truth.
It is OK to disagree. The poison will flow off you with a mellifluous swoosh once we remind ourselves that none of us are Right, and that it’s our human nature to be wrong and to embrace our wrongness as the Truth.
Yes, it is OK to disagree. What bothers me is how people choose to do so, how little interest they seem to have in learning or finding common ground, and how forgiving they are towards their own group for the offenses that they condemn among others. These are all elements of tribalism, which I detest. Unfortunately, exposure to tribalism often breeds more of it, so sometimes the best course of action is simply to avoid it.
You might be surprised to learn that I have very little education in philosophy and psychology and have read virtually nothing on cognitive theory besides an occasional Wikipedia article. With the exception of news articles, that actually sums up my reading habits in general. Your recommendation, however, has weight, so I will look into this book--if I can remember to do so.
I am surprised, but I still recommend the book. It is excellent and scientific, which I think you can appreciate more than some, who only seek to confirm their philosophy (everyone here excepted, of course).
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