Archive for the ‘culture’ Category

A Talented Young Lady   Leave a comment

Posted May 10, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in culture

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A Historical Reminder   Leave a comment


#culture #immigration #commonsense #history #ohiohistory

Posted February 7, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in culture

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Meryl Streep Finally Realizes the Government Does Bad Things | Carey Wedler   Leave a comment

World-famous Hollywood actress Meryl Streep recently made an earth-shattering discovery — one she shared with the rest of the world during her speech at the Golden Globes award ceremony Sunday evening: the government is capable of doing terrible things.

When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.

Since Streep delivered her anti-Trump speech, she has received heaping praise from the media and the internet at large. She is being lauded for speaking out against injustice and Trump’s intolerable, exclusionary ideology. Like much of Hollywood and the left-wing branch of the corporate media, Meryl Streep has embraced a newfound sense of righteousness and political activism in the era of President Donald Trump.

As she informed viewers on Sunday after condemning Trump’s infamous decision to mock a disabled reporter:

“Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”

She is painfully correct and is right to be concerned about Trump’s impending reign. But missing from her opinion Sunday evening (and over the last eight years) was her indignation at outgoing President Obama’s own disrespect, violence, and bullying.

Though the media establishment has been content to downplay the Nobel peace prize-winning president’s innumerable acts of violence — including the deaths of hundreds of children via U.S. drone strikes, the arming of radical terror groups in Syria for the purposes of geopolitical posturing, and his support for Saudi Arabia’s bloody, human rights-violating assault on Yemen — speaking out against violence and disrespect has once again become trendy in the face of Donald Trump.

But one of Meryl Streep’s most urgent points focused on, as she noted, “when the powerful use their position to bully others.” Immediately after expressing this, she went on to insist the press is vital to holding these bullies accountable:

“We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call them on the carpet for every outrage.That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in our constitution. So I only ask the famously well-heeled Hollywood Foreign Press and all of us in our community to join me in supporting the committee to protect journalists. Because we’re going to need them going forward. And they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.”

Again, Streep is correct. But her previous support for President Obama — and her presence at his farewell party over the weekend — unfortunately renders her sentiment hypocritical. During his time in office, President Obama perpetuated some of the most severe “bullying” the press has seen in U.S. history — unfortunate details the Hollywood establishment is evidently yet to learn of or acknowledge. These acts were indisputably unconstitutional but failed to draw rebuke from celebrities and the corporate media (according to Streep, apparently, such rebuke was not necessary until Trump rose to power).

President Obama’s first attorney general, Eric Holder, helped soil Obama’s “progressive” record when he subpoenaed the Associated Press for records of its phone calls. Further, Obama’s ongoing approval of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) directly threatens journalists by implementing a broad stipulation against associating with terrorists — something renowned journalist Chris Hedges sought to highlight by unsuccessfully suing the U.S. government and the president.

Obama even directly intervened in another country’s affairs to ensure a Yemeni journalist, who reported on U.S. bombs that killed civilians, was kept in prison even after he was cleared for release.

Would a celebrity genuinely committed to the free flow of information support a candidate with a proven track record of stifling truth?

Further, the very same president who campaigned on transparency and protection for whistleblowers set a record for the number of people charged with a century-old law passed to silence dissent against World War I: the Espionage Act. This law has been used against Chelsea Manning, who exposed Bush-era war crimes, Edward Snowden, who revealed Obama’s mass surveillance programs, and other whistleblowers who were promised protection for revealing government crimes during the Obama administration.

Most recently, President Obama signed the latest NDAA, which includes not only the familiar indefinite detention clause, but also a new law to establish a government-sanctioned ministry of truth in the face of alleged “fake news.” Though mainstream outlets like the Washington Post have repeatedly published false and misleading stories, the president is now cracking down on independent media under the guise of fostering accurate reporting — reporting the administration has attempted to stifle by targeting whistleblowers and journalists. Obama signed this new law knowing full well President Trump will preside over its enforcement.

But it still gets worse. Though Meryl Streep stood on her gilded bully pulpit lecturing the world about holding Trump accountable and preaching about freedom of the press and tolerance, her chosen candidate for 2016 spent years violating the very same values Streep claims to uphold. Streep spoke in favor of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention over the summer, apparently unaware of the former secretary of state’s own role in stifling the free press and perpetuating violence, disrespect, and bullying.

Through Wikileaks’ release of DNC emails, none of which the DNC or the Clinton campaign have disputed, it became abundantly clear that Clinton and the Democrats colluded with the media to craft a pro-Clinton narrative regarding the election. Further, when she was in office and held tangible power, her State Department planted questions with CBS’ 60 Minutes ahead of the show’s interview with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. The questions were carefully framed to cast doubt and paint Assange as a traitor.

Would a politician concerned with justice and accountability directly attempt to secretly puppeteer the media in order to discredit a figure forcing transparency on those in power? Would a celebrity genuinely committed to the free flow of information support a candidate with a proven track record of stifling truth?

Democrats wrap their violence and power mongering in inclusive rhetoric.

(This is to say nothing of Clinton’s support for regimes that violently oppress women and gays or her severely hawkish plan to institute a no-fly zone in Syria, to name just a few of Clinton’s shows of disrespect and violence.)

Though Meryl Streep has drawn enthusiastic praise for her takedown of the president-elect, it appears her outrage stems from a two-party-tinted worldview rooted not in principle, but in empowering equally repugnant politicians who happen to share her ideology. Because Democrats wrap their violence and power mongering in inclusive rhetoric, she and millions of other Americans do not consider them a threat.

Should the press monitor Trump stringently? Of course. Does he pose a danger? He actually poses many. Did Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton conduct themselves in the very same way Streep fears Trump will?

As Meryl Streep realizes how dangerous the executive branch of the U.S. government can be, the precedents Obama established are proving powerful weapons for the incoming president she vows to challenge.

Source: Meryl Streep Finally Realizes the Government Does Bad Things | Carey Wedler

Posted January 12, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in culture, Uncategorized

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Progressive Thinking Errors   Leave a comment

Have you noticed that Democrats … really progressives in both parties … are freaking out lately? In a way, it’s fun to see. The media was so focused on the alleged extremism of the “conservatives” in the Republican Party that the extremism of the progressive Left in the Democratic Party was mostly ignored. Watching them trash cars and smash windows would be entertaining if it weren’t for the fact that people own those cars and windows. The dramatic impact of Democratic extremism on our economy and culture continue. Now that they’re showing themselves as the emotional adolescents some of us suspected they were, hopefully we’ve stopped living in denial, but I doubt it. Denial is so seductive.

Image result for image of speech codesModern progressivism perplexes me, mainly because of adherents’ intolerance to alternative viewpoints. Consider campus speech codes. When I was a student on campus in a pretty conservative/libertarian state, we used to gather around and debate different positions in the student union. Nobody got really mad (well, the huffy ones usually just walked away in a huff), sometimes we learned something, and occasionally we strengthened our own arguments for the next time. There was an unwritten rule that everybody had a right to an opinion and to state it, but everybody also had a right to disagree and to state their case. This wasn’t just a group of my friends. The entire campus understood that University of Alaska Fairbanks was a good place to test your intellectural, moral and philosophical boundaries.

Today, it appears that my children’s generation has adopted the utopian vision of an offenseless society where politically correct speech codes ensure that hypersensitive young people will never be confronted with angst-inducing dissent. Both of my kids, raised in my home, say they were amazed at the uniformity of their friends’ philosophies until they realized that any of them who disagree with the unitary view simply had been driven into silence. Statistics bear out their observations.

By a margin of 51 to 36 percent, students favor their school having speech codes to regulate speech for students and faculty. 63 percent favor requiring professors to employ “trigger warnings” to alert students to material that might upset them.

According to the same Notable and Quotable piece in the Wall Street Journal, one-third of the students polled could not identify the First Amendment as the part of the Constitution that dealt with free speech. Thirty-five percent said the First Amendment does not protect “hate speech,” while 30 percent of self-identified liberal students say the First Amendment is outdated.

Does that scare you? It scares me.

Silly word games are now the object of intense study at many of our leading colleges and universities. As a parent who pays tuition, you pay for this pseudo-intellectualism. It’s time to remind our coddled children that a great big competitive and often nasty world awaits them. We need to expose the intolerance and stop indulging the idiocy. Time to make freedom cool again!

Now that the election is over and the US electorate has shown that the demographic tide theory of recent elections is not as strong as once supposed, there is no better time to start talking about liberty and principles again. Yeah, your kids need to hear you talk about it. Our son, like our daughter before him, doesn’t always agree with us, but he at least gets to hear that there’s more than one side to the discussion. He also gets to disagree and make his case, because that is a part of freedom. And maybe, some day, when he gets a little older, those discussions will bear fruit. The similar discussions I had with my parents eventually did.

Becky Aker on Mattis & the Police State   Leave a comment

I move that from now on, we put politicians who refer to “American democracy” on a flight to nowhere after an especially enthusiastic groping from the TSA.

The offender who most recently prattled about “democracy” while sitting in the Congress of a representative republic is that silly senator from New York, Kirsten Gillibrand. Worse, she’s a “ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Personnel”; so terrifying a fact ought to convince even Leviathan’s most die-hard fans of the beast’s intellectual bankruptcy.

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Kirsten’s knickers are in a twist over The Donald’s selection of Gen. James Mattis for Secretary of Defense (sic for “Secretary of Imperial Aggression”). It seems Mattis resigned from the military in 2013—yet federal law stipulates that “retired service members must wait seven years after serving on active duty before they can hold the office of the secretary of defense or other senior civilian defense positions.” Congress must waive this rule if it wishes to confirm Mattis.HalestormBecky Akers

That had Kirsten caterwauling—or, more accurately, speaking out of both sides of her mouth, as politicians always do: “While I deeply respect General Mattis’s service, I will oppose a waiver. Civilian control of our military is a fundamental principle of American democracy, and I will not vote for an exception to this rule.”

Kirsten’s ignorance of the central government’s form is but the tip of her absurdity. She’s also picked a hill of quicksand on which to die since the law specifying 7 lean years is hardly set in stone. Congress amended it as recently as 2008; before that, veterans had to log a whole decade of distance from active duty before accepting an office.

Furthermore, the law itself dates only to 1947. And like everything DC spews, it makes no sense. I’ll let “Former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers” take a stab at explaining the legislation’s purpose: “…you don’t want a military attitude in the civilian position.

Hmmm. That would be news to the founding generation: they elected George Washington to the presidency a mere 6 years after he’d relinquished his Revolutionary sword precisely because of his military record.

But I interrupted Silver-Tongued Mike: “When you get to that Defense Secretary role, it has to be a broader, strategic impact brought to any decision you make in any strategic event you make around the world — including, by the way, acquisitions of weapons … I think they just want a little distance there to make sure you don’t just take a general and make them a secretary. And that’s why, originally, the law was passed to give that seven-year window.”

All clear? Just as Kirsten’s Senatorial stint speaks volumes about that rats’ nest, so Mike’s gig on the radio witnesses to the corporate media’s tin ear and desperation. Ergo, let me translate what Silver Tongue and Silly Senator are trying to articulate: the division between soldiers and civilians should be deep and wide lest we wind up in a military dictatorship.

Apparently, neither dimwit has observed that we’re already living in said dictatorship. And have been for decades, regardless of how many ineffectual laws mask Congress’ infatuation with and approval of America’s police-state.Abducting ArnoldBecky Akers

Since the 1850s, when “civilian” police forces first tyrannized us, Americans have touchingly but falsely believed that if they call the armed forces killing them “cops” instead of “infantry,” they’ve somehow inoculated themselves against despotism. Perhaps because they know nothing of political philosophy or of history, especially their own, Americans don’t realize that political liberty requires far more than a gap between soldiers and civilians. Living free means we must utterly reject a professional soldiery by whatever name; instead, we ourselves must defend our families and homes when necessary. It also demands that most Americans—not all, mind you, but a proportion sizeable enough to defang the socialists, communists, Progressives and other loonies—cherish a devout commitment to liberty as well as an unyielding hostility to the legalized compulsion, corruption, and cruelty that is the government.

The generation that waged the American Revolution was among the freest ever. Most of them were lifelong members of the militia; they fought only long enough to repel the enemy before returning to their shops and fields.  And while some considered the Continental Army a necessary evil, everyone agreed that it would disband when the Revolution ended. A set of roustabouts permanently leeching off taxpayers while sowing mayhem worldwide would not only have horrified our forefathers but provoked them to another rebellion.

For sure, they would advise us to abolish all standing armies, whether we call them “cops” or “the U.S. Armed Forces.” Nor should we allow demagogues to lull us with risible laws that pretend seven or ten years of civilian life somehow purges a warmonger of his devotion to brute force.

Gen. Mattis famously counsels, “Be no better friend, no worse enemy.” Let the first phrase summarize our relationship to liberty and the latter to Leviathan.

Posted December 12, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in culture, Uncategorized

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Childhood Television   14 comments

Today’s blog hope asks what television shows from our childhoods would we bring back and why?

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Wow! I had to google television shows from the 1960s and 70s to even remember what shows there were and I will admit — I didn’t find a lot I’d want to bring back and the ones that I would like have already been brought back with mixed results.

My childhood television viewing window was 1965 through 1979, and it was a sea of episodic banality. Most shows simply sought to fill in a half-hour or hour with something that people wouldn’t turn off and so, they didn’t try all that hard. I watched them and some of them I loved at the time, but I watch them now and wonder at the very poor writing choices.

I will give nods to some shows I think you should find on Netflix and watch – The Waltons showed a good family dynamic and my mother (who grew up in that era) said it was a fairly accurate presentation except you didn’t see the kids working that hard. Mom and her siblings worked very hard.

The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry RFD were good for showing police as they ought to be — peace officers instead of law enforcement officers. I don’t see that being reality anymore, but I think it should be. If cops were more like that, there’d be less crime and fewer people wanting to shoot cops. I liked All in the Family and MASH. Actually I’ve watched MASH several times as an adult and it was a great show. All In the Family doesn’t play well in this era, in my opinion.

I liked the family movie nights. From Disney when I was a little kid to the CBS Movie when I was a teenager, it was a good opportunity to hang out with my parents. I wouldn’t want to see the same shows, but the concept of a family movie night is a good one.

Image result for image of mashI can’t really think of a single show I would bring back from my childhood. A few have been brought back and, frankly, ruined. Television remakes in general have an abysmal track record. The Bionic Woman, Knight Rider, Get Smart, Love Boat, Dragnet, Charlie’s Angels, Wonder Woman, Dallas (that was when I was in college, actually) have all been redone and stank like last week’s fish left out on the counter. Now that we have the ability to go back and watch the original shows, I can see why. They weren’t very well-written to begin with. They didn’t think they needed to be. People would get to see it once … maybe twice … and then it would be forgotten. There was no need to write anything with the thought that people would come back and want to redo it. So there wasn’t much to work with and writers don’t want to bypass what was great about the original shows and thereby bypass a built-in audience, so they end up writing something not worth watching by a modern audience who has grown accustomed to well-written dramas and actually funny comedies.

Shows that have been brought back successfully have mostly done so by re-imagining the classic series. Battlestar Galactica was quite different from the 1978 show as is Hawaii Five-O. Twilight Zone followed a similar concept with new content. Star Trek (I know it’s a movie, not a television show) keeps some of the elements that made the show great writ large for the big screen and updated for a modern audience. Mostly, it’s saved by the current casts ability to make you see the former cast in them without being slavish to the original.

What I would like to see brought back is not so much individual shows as the concept of families watching television together because the shows were not written for a particular age group, but for the entire family. That would mean easing back on the sex talk and controversial subjects and I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Hollywood is not through with remaking American society in its own image and American society no longer has any gatekeepers for what is appropriate, so I suggest we just leave those old shows available on Netflix et al so that people who want to see them in the original version can find them and binge watch. Maybe some of the older-era dynamics and worldview will wear off, but you know what they say about bringing horses to water.

Posted December 12, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in culture

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Safer with Criminals or Lynch Mobs?   Leave a comment

In Wasilla, Alaska, a community about 250 miles south of Fairbanks, a young man fell in with a bad crowd and ended up bludgeoned to death. Five other young men are now accused of his murder.

Image result for image of finger pointingI don’t know anyone involved. I feel compassion for the family that lost their son, who by their account was a good kid … although I would note that he was hanging out with this other kid who is now accused of killing him, which makes me wonder about the nature of this relationship. Generally, teenagers don’t kill one another over baggies of pot. It’s usually something bigger than that.

But I don’t know the details and ultimately, it probably won’t matter to me because I don’t live in Wasilla. Except … the Alaska Dispatch News has a comments section and people are going crazy on the thread, essentially advocating that these young men be executed without a trial and disparaging a recent criminal justice reform bill that Alaska passed. They reached a bridge too far for me when they started talking about “all the other thugs” in the Valley that need to be “dealt with” BEFORE they can commit similar crimes.

I don’t make any secret that I think the criminal justice system in the United States stinks like last week’s fish left out on the counter. Alaska has one of the toughest presumptive sentencing schedules in the country. We needed criminal justice reform for lower level crimes because our jails are overcrowded with a revolving door population. But as soon as something like this happens, people start freaking out about how this or that law needs to be toughened and advocating for the death penalty, insisting that this will reduce crime.

Does it? The statistics say tough-on-crime bills don’t reduce crime as much as armed homeowners do and I know peole in the Valley are armed. What tough on crime legislation basically does it just guarantee prison guards have jobs.

But more … a boy who grows up with a father in prison is twice as likely to go to prison himself.So, we’re not just guaranteeing prison guards jobs today … we’re guaranteeing their children jobs as prison guards in 25 years.

First, we need to realize that human nature isn’t good and so things like this are bound to happen. We used to know that, by the way. The Bible tells us that human beings are all depraved. Some of us are just less depraved than our base nature.

Second, we need to realize that when you lock young people away for decades and then release them, you pretty much guarantee that they’re going to return to a life of crime because they have to feed themselves somehow and most states don’t provide much of anything in the way of re-entry services beyond halfway houses, which have such convoluted rules about curfews and number of hours you’re allowed outside of the facility that it is virtually impossible to maintain any of the few jobs felons can get.

Third, we need to stop putting people in jail for non-violent crimes. It sure doesn’t rehabilitate the incarcerated, but more it does nothing to make the victim (if there is a victim) whole. Whatever happened to the idea that if you broke something, you bought it? If you vandalized the neighbor’s fence, you built them a new fence. My mother’s tribe used to make a man who killed another man responsible for the dead man’s family. He wasn’t allowed to neglect his own family either, so he had a lifetime of hard work ahead of him instead of being dead or sitting on a cot staring at four walls for decades.

Ultimately, though, what we really need to have a serious talk about is the idea that whole classes of people are deemed murderous thugs simply because of the actions of a few. Right now in the Valley, there are people calling for the expulsion of certain people because they are related in one way or another to the five young men who allegedly murdered this young man. “If the police won’t do anything about it, the community must.” I have to wonder how many of the “good” citizens of the Palmer-Wasilla area are harassing the families of the accused. They’re certainly free with their opinions in the Dispatch about how the parents ought to be held responsible too.

From an outsider’s perspective, the “good” people with their violent rhetoric are no better than the “thug” members of their community. When you’re pointing that finger at the “other”, you might want to notice that there are three fingers pointing back at you.

On the thread, someone said this was about keep the community safe and I thought … armed as I am, do I feel safer potentially interacting with criminals or with lynch mobs running around looking for a criminal behind every spruce tree?

I think I’d take my chances with the criminals.

Finding Unity in Division   Leave a comment

I’ve been thinking about societal cohesion because in Daermad Cycle (my fantasy series), the secret for overcoming the advancing Svard invasion is for the Celdryans to ask the Kin to join them in the fight.

I set that up in the first book The Willow Branch. “A healer must mend a fractured kingdom and bring two enemy races together before a greater threat can destroy them both.” Now I have to start bring it about.

The problem is that the Kin have every reason not to trust the Celdryans. The Celdryans pushed them off their lands into inadequate mountain enclaves and have maintained that exile by fomenting bigotry in Celdryan children for generations. Now that it is convenient and necessary, the Celdryans can’t expect the Kin to just join them and then later see themselves once more subjugated by the Celdryans.

Image result for image of societal cohesionThat’s the problem with deeply divided societies. They are often divided because of entrenched mistrusts borne of a huge amount of disrespect. Yeah, maybe the Celdryans think it would be better for the Kin to join them in fighting the Svard because it gives both groups a chance of prevailing, but the existing division has worked better for the Kin than previous attempts at cohesion have. Demands for inclusion sound like demands for their subjugation, which makes them feel threatened.

It’s something we ought to be considering in the United States right now. Approximately 40% of the country voted like a minority group and swung an election. I had a guy on the Alaska Dispatch the other day ask me “What should Hillary supporters do to reach out to Trump voters and bring about unity?” Not being a Trump voter, I couldn’t really answer him. Instead, I suggested exactly what I’m saying in this post.

If you want cohesion with a group within your society that you have previously treated like crap, demanding cohesion (sometimes called “unity”) is not how to go about it. In fact, it’s probably counter-productive. Nobody wants to abandon their own identity to become someone “other” and submit to majoritarian dominance. Those who are now stomping their political feet and demanding that they be allowed to stay in charge after they lost an election are only making the divisions deeper.

Stop talking about unity and cohesion and try listening for a while. Try showing some respect to those “unskilled illiterates” in the “flyover states” who mine the energy that heats your home, grow your food, and provide so many things in your life that you take for granted. Get to know some of them as — gasp — equals. Walk for five minutes in their shoes. Get to know what is important to them and, more importantly, why it is important to them. Pause and ask yourself if you really know what the best lifestyle is or are you just clinging to your own social niche because it’s all you know.

If you really want to build a harmonious, unified society, take one for the team.  Discard your anger, swallow your pride, and show out-groups unilateral respect and friendship. Let them teach you for a couple of years and then see where you stand on the other side. Your new friends might have come to accept some of your position and you may have come to accept … or at least understand … some of their positions.

Whoa, that sounds like “cohesion”.

Posted November 28, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in culture

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Integration by Appropriation   Leave a comment

Growing up, my life reflected a lot of cross-cultural exchange and cultural appropriation. I never really gave any of these things thought because it was just life here in Alaska to parents who came from two different backgrounds. My father was Swedish American. His father was born in Stockholm. His mother was born in Ohio, from parents who were born in Gotland. Dad grew up in a lumber mill town in Washington State where a large population of Swedes meant that he grew up speaking Swedish and English in equal measure. As an adult, he traveled widely in the Merchant Mariner service and first married a Creole woman and then my mother.

Image result for image of kuspukMy mother grew up in Montana and North Dakota. Her father was born in North Dakota, to Canadian immigrants of Irish and Welsh stock. Her mother was born in Michigan of an Irish immigrant father and a “French Canadian” (code word – Indian) mother. My mother swore they never really faced racism growing up — there were too many Metis around on the plains, but once they got to Seattle, she was surprised to discover that they were considered different. She was equally surprised when she moved to Alaska with her first husband that nobody really cared in Alaska and there was actually a law here that said they couldn’t. It was 1946. Mom arrived in Ketchikan less than a month after the nation’s first anti-discrimination law was passed.

Alaska is an extremely diverse state. About 20% of the population are Alaska Native and about 40% total are non-white. So, nobody should be very surprised, I think, that my parents were comfortable with the diversity within their marriage. They each brought their own backgrounds to raising me. Dad put candies in my shoes for St. Lucia’s Day and Mom told bedtime stories filled with windego (though that is not a Wyandot tale) and the island on the back of the Turtle. Dad made some cool Christmas cookies from Sweden and Mom made a mean colcannon for St. Padrick’s Day. Dad being a chef and Mom a diner waitress, they loved good food and so we ate at a lot of exotic restaurants. That seemed like the sole purpose of visiting Seattle when I was a kid.

My favorite cuisine is Asian. With the exception of really spicy Thai and Indian dishes, I love it all. During the Alaska Federation of Natives gathering here in Fairbanks earlier this month, I wore a kuspuk. I really wasn’t thinking about it. I wore it because we were meeting the ana (Native elder female) who made it for me and I was honoring her, not trying to appropriate a culture. But someone brought it up … was it appropriate for me (a non-Alaska Native) to dress in Native garb? When I was growing up, it was considered very appropriate. It showed respect for the culture and, frankly, kuspuks are comfortable. Today, that zeitgeist is being questioned. Instead of being an exhibition and embrace of cultural diversity, some see it as  an affront to their culture.

When I was a kid, we saw cultural appropriation as a gesture of love within humanity. It was a refreshing deviation from conventional American ethnocentric patriotism and isolation. We weren’t just wearing jeans and … well, what exactly is standard American garb? American Flag trucker hats and Confederate bikinis? Dockers and North Face jackets? Royal Robbins sporting wear? Well, maybe Levis, cowboy boots and a Stetson?

As our culture becomes increasingly politically correct and censorious of “offensive” displays of cultural mimicry, diversity has become less about expressions of humanistic cooperation, and more about competitive oppression.

Wyandotte Nation Chief Billy Friend addresses a packed house at the Grand Opening of the new Cultural Center across from Bearskin Healthcare & Wellness Center in Wyandotte. (Photo by William Swaim)On Saturday night, my son went to a Halloween party. As I was picking him up, I saw a beautiful blonde girl dressed as a Salsa danger. It reminded me a lot of my daughter dressing similarly when she was in high school. The difference being that my daughter is dark haired and really could dance the Salsa. I went home and read a rant by one of my daughter’s college-aged friends about how costumes like this are culturally insensitive to the economic suffering of Hispanic women who had to subject themselves to patriarchal theater. This is the narrative you will commonly hear pushed on many progressive university campuses and blog sites.

Yeah, such killjoy attitudes are kind of annoying, but I actually found the rant outright insulting and abusive. If you want to dress in my tribal regalia, who am I to tell you that you’re not allowed to express your love for another culture? I don’t arbitrarily hold exclusive claim to my tribal culture. Conversely, my daughter is over half-Irish (thanks to the combination of her father’s and my DNA), but she can pass for either Irish or Indian (but not Swedish; like me she is way too dark for most people to believe that of her). When she dressed in Highland dress for dance performances, I suppose there might have been some people with Scottish ancestry who objected to an Native-American-Irish and an African American girl pretending to be Scottish, though nobody ever said anything … I suspect because they were just glad to see their culture preserved by dancers of some technical skill.

These misguided progressive attempts micromanage identity and dictate what types of multiculturalism is tolerable in an effort to socially abolish what they have decided is problematic cultural appropriation makes ethnic relations less harmonious … not more. Of course, it’s not just the far left that has this attitude that seeks to shame (mostly) whites for embracing and adopting cultural differences; that insists they don’t appropriate. The Alt-Right also shames whites for abandoning what was once a rich American heritage and demands that non-whites appropriate European culture.

Neither side wants a free and natural marketplace of voluntary inclusiveness and association. Barriers are not to be breached from either side. And, therein, lies the problem. A world without cultural appropriation is a dull, one-dimensional one without learning or progress. It’s a world where we may peek across the barriers that separate us only in museums and cultural studies classes. How is that helpful to advancing equality or association? Intellectually and socially isolating people from one another is dangerous for everybody, especially culture minorities.

Take it from someone who grew up astride a few different cultures. Culture is spontaneous, and your expression of it should be too. If someone gets angry for you doing it, it may be they have issues they need to deal with.


A word about the photos in this post – 1) is a friend dressed in a kuspuk. I picked her because she is clearly not Alaska Native. 2) is Wyandotte Nation Chief Chief Billy Friend as he addresses the grand opening of my tribe’s new Cultural Center, wearing tribal regalia (yeah, you have to have a sense of humor to wear THAT) Notice that Chief Friend doesn’t look terribly Indian. I believe he has more Wyandot blood than I do, but the DNA just fell a little different. My daughter, who has less blood than either of us, looks more Indian than we do. DNA expression is a fascinating subject. 3) is the Wyandotte nation’s Princess Emilee Willis, dressed in very Western clothing.

Posted November 4, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in culture

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The Truth About the Detroit Public Schools   Leave a comment

Walter E. Williams

Detroit school students, represented by the Los Angeles-based public interest firm Public Counsel, filed suit last month against the state of Michigan, claiming a legal right to literacy based on the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Ninety-three percent of Detroit’s predominantly black public school eighth-graders are not proficient in reading, and 96 percent are not proficient in mathematics. According to the lawsuit, “decades of State disinvestment in and deliberate indifference to Detroit schools have denied Plaintiff schoolchildren access to the most basic building block of education: literacy.”

Source: The Truth About the Detroit Public Schools


In terms of per-pupil expenditures, the state does not treat Detroit public school students any differently than it does other students. According to the Michigan Department of Education, the Detroit school district ranks 50th in state spending, at $13,743 per pupil. This is out of 841 total districts. That puts Detroit schools in the top 6 percent of per-pupil expenditures in the state. Discrimination in school expenditures cannot explain poor educational outcomes for black students in Detroit or anywhere else in the nation. Let’s look at routinely ignored educational impediments in Detroit and elsewhere.

Annie Ellington, director of the Detroit Youth Violence Prevention Initiative, reported that 87 percent of the 1,301 Detroit public school students interviewed in a survey last year knew someone who had been killed, disabled or wounded by gun violence. According to an article published by the American Psychological Association, 80 percent of teachers surveyed nationally in 2011 had been victimized at school at least once during that school year or the prior year. Detroit public schools are plagued with the same problems of violence faced by other predominately black schools in other cities.

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In Baltimore, each school day in 2010, an average of four teachers and staff were assaulted. In February 2014, The Baltimore Sun reported that more than 300 Baltimore school staff members had filed workers’ compensation claims during the previous fiscal year because of injuries received through assaults or altercations on the job. A 1999 Michigan law requires school districts to expel any student in sixth grade or above who physically assaults a school employee. The Lansing Board of Education ignored the law and refused to expel four students for throwing chairs at an employee, slapping a teacher and punching another in the face. It took a Michigan Supreme Court to get the board to enforce the law. The court said the law was enacted “specifically (to) protect teachers from assault and to assist them in more effectively performing their jobs.”

Colin Flaherty, author of “Don’t Make the Black Kids Angry,” has compiled news stories and videos that show how black students target teachers for violence. He discusses some of it in his Jan. 12, 2015, American Thinker article, titled “Documented: Black Students Target Teachers for Violence” ( As a result of school violence and other problems, many teachers quit when June rolls around. Every year, Detroit loses about 5 percent of its teaching positions (135 teachers). According to a Detroit schools representative, substitutes, principals and other staffers must cover classes, a situation not unique to Detroit ( In California, signing bonuses of $20,000, “combat pay,” aren’t enough to prevent teachers from leaving altogether or seeking out less violent schools.

The departments of Education and Justice have launched a campaign against disproportionate minority discipline rates, which show up in virtually every school district with significant numbers of black and Hispanic students. The possibility that students’ behavior, not educators’ racism, drives those rates lies outside the Obama administration’s conceptual universe. Black people ought to heed the sentiments of Aaron Benner, a black teacher in a St. Paul, Minnesota, school who abhors the idea of different behavioral standards for black students. He says: “They’re trying to pull one over on us. Black folks are drinking the Kool-Aid; this ‘let-them-clown’ philosophy could have been devised by the KKK.” Personally, I can’t think of a more racist argument than one that holds that disruptive, rude behavior and foul language are a part of black culture.

Here’s my prediction: If the Michigan lawsuit is successful, it will line the pockets of Detroit’s teaching establishment and do absolutely nothing for black academic achievement.

Posted October 22, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in culture, Uncategorized

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