Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Short Posts, 5/30/18: The Le Carré World, The Importance of Facts And The Culture of Cruelty

1.  When reality imitates a John le Carré spy novel.  Well, given dictators such as Vladimir Putin, we shouldn't be astonished by that. 

2.  I saw several tweets about the German football team which was banned for not giving the Nazi salute in 1934:


The current context for sharing that news clipping, of course, is the NFL decision to fine teams if their players kneel during the anthem to protest police brutality against African-Americans.

Snopes rates the 1934 story as mostly true:

What's true:
Newspaper clippings featuring a story about a German football club being banned from playing in 1934 after failing to give the Nazi salute are genuine.
What is not true about this story does matter in today's specific context:

However, viewers who merely glanced at this clipping may have been left with a few misconceptions. This incident took place in France, not Germany, and unlike the NFL players who knelt during the national anthem in the United States, this team was not protesting the Nazi regime. In fact, FC Karlsruhe was one of the teams who readily adhered to Nazi policies (such as expelling Jewish players) in the 1930s.  
The Karlsruhe Football Club was scheduled to play in Metz, France on Christmas day in 1933. The French players reportedly threatened not to play the match if the Germans used the Nazi salute. The Karlsruhe players were also also reportedly worried that the salute could cause fans to riot, and decided to forego the Nazi salute in order to play the match; when word reached Berlin, the team was banned from playing outside of Germany for a year.
I see the athletes who are kneeling as participants in an important form of peaceful protest.  They demand that this country do better, that it should be worthy of its anthem for all its citizens. 

So why did I want to nitpick one particular trivial example of fervent Twitter support for beliefs that I myself share?

Mostly for that very reason.  This is an example that is unlikely to press anyone's ideological buttons.  It's an example made more neutral by the passing of years.  And it's an example which gives us a very quick lesson about the importance to check the original sources*.

Failing to do so doesn't matter in this example**, but it can matter greatly when the information or misinformation is about current events or new research findings.

3.   My third short post was to be about the work requirements the Republicans wish to add to Medicaid, but I have too much material for that post to be called short.  It's going to get its very own Big Girl Post later.

Instead, I might note that yesterday I saw the very first Alt Right bumper sticker in meatspace.  It said "White Pride, Worldwide."  The truck also had two identical banners, but I didn't see what they depicted.

4.  This is an interesting essay on the culture of cruelty, though few women probably would have felt able to quote Rousseau or Lasch quite so blithely, without at least wondering if their messages truly were universal.


* That doesn't mean every consumer of news should do that!  But not every online source is equally valid, and that is good to keep in mind, especially with the proliferation of secondary and tertiary sources, many of which fail to connect to the primary sources. 

Some of the errors I see on Twitter are innocent ones, based on someone honestly misinterpreting a piece of research or a legal judgement (and getting a thousand retweets for that erroneous conclusion...). 

Thus, it's not enough to be aware of the obvious political biases of those sending the messages, though that's a good starting point.

**  Which makes it both a great pedagogical example, but also might contribute to the idea that not getting facts right wouldn't matter more generally. 

Don't believe the latter!  That's the way to Trump Reich where "truth" is whatever makes him feel good.