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Why America is the World’s Most Uniquely Cruel Society

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  • Or, How Punching Down Became a Way of Life
  • Related: “No civilization would tolerate what America has done”
  • Related: "Morally Obscene" Trump Budget Proposal Stands to Make America Cruel Again

umair haqueEudaimonia and Co

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Feb 19, 2018 | In this essay, I want to share with you a tiny theory of what it means to be American. It is up to you to judge, as ever, whether it carries any weight. All that I will say is that when I look around, it explains, a little, what I see.

Any theory of being American must explain one salient and striking fact: cruelty. America is the most cruel nation among its peers — even among most poor countries today. It is something like a new Rome. It has little, if any, functioning healthcare, education, transport, media, no safety nets, no stability, security. The middle class is collapsing, and life expectancy is falling. Young people die for a lack of insulin they cannot crowdfund. Elderly middle-class people live and die in their cars. Kids massacre each other in schools — when they’re not self-medicating the pain of it all away. The combination of these pathologies happens nowhere else — not a single place — in the world. Not even Pakistan, Costa Rica, or Rwanda. Hence, the world is aghast daily at the depths of American cruelty — yet somehow, they seem bottomless.

https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/fit/c/100/100/0*lI5-avJvcBbQDmA2.jpeg umair haque <>, vampire

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Related:

“No civilization would tolerate what America has done.” David Masciotra, AlterNet / Salon 

  • (We) have … been programmed into cruelty and apathy by (our) schools, churches, families, politics, and pop culture(.)
  • Institutional racism. Rampant income inequality. A broken justice system. America may never be a great society.
  • Torture Is Who We Are

Related:

"Morally Obscene" Trump Budget Proposal Stands to Make America Cruel Again, Deirdre Fulton, Common Dreams

http://www.commondreams.org/sites/default/files/styles/cd_large/public/headlines/trump-nashville.jpg?itok=hTc06Em8 President Donald Trump in Nashville on Wednesday. Analysts said his budget proposal would hurt those voters who helped get him elected. (Photo: AP)

  • Environment, public education, worker protections, and cultural institutions all stand to lose under Trump's "cruel" budget blueprint.
  • Related: What It Really Means To ‘Defund’ Planned Parenthood

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The Religious Roots of America’s Gun Culture and the Gospel of American Nationalistic Christianity

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  • Part 1: Billy Graham and the Gospel of American Nationalistic Christianity
    • Billy Graham is finally at rest, but we still wrestle with his complicated legacy.
  • Part 2: A Locked and Loaded Covenant: The Religious Roots of America’s Gun Culture
  • Tracing the historical and religious roots attaching to the sanctity of the Second Amendment.

Compiled by David Culver, Ed., Evergreene Digest

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Part 1: Billy Graham and the Gospel of American Nationalistic Christianity

For the most prolific modern-day evangelist of not only Jesus, but a nationalistic American style of Christianity, this (lying in state in the US Capitol is the right ending to a complicated story. Billy Graham is finally at rest, but we still wrestle with his complicated legacy.

Anthea Butler, Religion Dispatches

http://religiondispatches.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/grahamPower.jpgFebruary 22, 2018 | Billy Graham’s death on the same day as the anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X is an interesting postscript to the life of America’s premier evangelist of Americanism. It would take an outsider to deftly articulate Graham’s mission. In his speech, Message to the Grassroots, Malcolm X said: “I have watched how Billy Graham comes into a city, spreading what he calls the gospel of Christ, which is only white nationalism. That’s what he is. Billy Graham is a white nationalist; I’m a black nationalist….”

I’m sure that Billy Graham did not like being called a white nationalist back then, and many evangelicals will bristle at this quote even now. With Graham’s death, it’s time to reconsider how his promotion of a nationalistic version of Americanized Christianity has influenced evangelicals today. Graham’s proximity to the office of the presidency and government since the Eisenhower administration is part of why we see scenes of eager evangelicals embracing President Trump. It’s also responsible for a large cohort of evangelicals who are actively supporting Islamophobia, isolationism, and America first policies.

http://religiondispatches.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/anthea_258.jpg Anthea Butler is a Contributing Editor to Religion Dispatches. Her book, ’The Gospel According To Sarah: How Sarah Palinin’s Tea Party Angels are Galvanizing the Religious Right came out in 2013. 

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Part 2: A Locked and Loaded Covenant: The Religious Roots of America’s Gun Culture

A review of Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz' Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment,  which traces the historical and religious roots attaching to the sanctity of the Second Amendment.

Peter Laarman, Religion Dispatches

http://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100460830/Images/87286100460830M.jpg?1523210544437 March 7, 2018 | Garry Wills was being only slightly ironic when he wrote (in the wake of the ghastly Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando) that it is “theologically inconceivable” to implement real gun control in the United States:

  • God gave us guns to show us who we are. Giving up the gun would be surrender to evil, taking us abruptly into eschatological time …
  • The Gun is patriotic.
  • The Gun is America.
  • The Gun is God.

In her highly readable and timely new book, Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz deftly traces the historical and religious roots attaching to the sanctity of the Second Amendment in the minds of millions of Americans who are not gun owners or NRA members.

http://religiondispatches.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/laarman-150x150.jpg Peter Laarman is a United Church of Christ minister who served as senior minister of New York's Judson Memorial Church and then as executive director of LA's Progressive Christians Uniting before retiring in 2014. He remains deeply involved in national and regional social justice projects touching on race, class, and religion.

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Goodman: Has our democracy become a reality show?

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Sgt. Phil Esterhaus (Michael Conrad) calls the roll on Hill Street Blues.

Government has become a 24-hour reality show, and its leader is creating reality by the second, tweet after tweet, post after post, firing after firing. In its wake we’ve seen less heroism and more hedonism, less truth and more fiction, as the nation lurches from nuclear showdowns to tariff-spawned meltdowns.

Adam Goodman, special to the Tampa Bay (FL) Times

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April 5, 2018 | Hollywood lost a legend this week, and America a road map, when Hill Street Blues creator Steven Bochco played out his final episode on Earth. Bochco was the pioneering force in television, and mentor to countless entertainment giants, who braved censors and cynics to craft unforgettable stories grounded on the streets of urban America.

His Emmy Award-winning Hill Street Blues for NBC (together with Fame, Taxi, and Cheers) anchored what was known in the ’80s as the best night in television. It was a landmark show because it dealt with reality as a life force worth experiencing.

Adam Goodman is a national Republican media consultant based in St. Petersburg and the first Edward R. Murrow Fellow at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Full story … 

What Movies Get Right (and Wrong) About Our Current American Moment

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  • Part 1: Television's best (and worst) attempts to capture our current American moment
    • By far the strongest shows to take on America's current moment are … science fiction and fantasy.
  • Part 2: What The Post Gets Right (and Wrong) About Katharine Graham and the Pentagon Papers
    • A Smithsonian historian reminds us how Graham, a Washington socialite-turned-publisher, transformed the paper into what it is today.
  • Related: Audiences Want Diversity In Hollywood. Hollywood’s Been Slow To Get The Message.

Compiled by David Culver, Ed., Evergreene Digest

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Part 1: Television's best (and worst) attempts to capture our current American moment

http://evergreenedigest.org/sites/default/files/Scene%20from%20%2522The%20Good%20Place%2522.jpg"The Good Place." Colleen Hayes/NBC | 2017 NBCUniversal Media, LLC

By far the strongest shows to take on America's current moment are not cable dramas, political barnburners or family sitcoms, but science fiction and fantasy.

Jim McDermott, America 

February 16, 2018 | Given the moment we are in, you might think a lot of shows on television would be trying to talk about current events or “America” in some way. But in point of fact, there aren’t that many. And even fewer are doing it well.

The most recent to enter the ring is “Here and Now,” HBO’s new show about a late-middle-aged liberal couple in crisis and their four semi-adult children, one of whom is haunted by the numbers “11:11.” (No, really.)

http://evergreenedigest.org/sites/default/files/Jim%20McDermott%2C%20America.jpgJim McDermott is America’s <> Los Angeles correspondent.

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Part 2: What The Post Gets Right (and Wrong) About Katharine Graham and the Pentagon Papers

https://thumbs-prod.si-cdn.com/5SgQFxARUs7_4n9VeqaQnrktBZs=/800x600/filters:no_upscale()/https://public-media.smithsonianmag.com/filer/55/33/553396c3-3b1d-4d9d-a664-bd59e18009c5/thepost-web.jpgMeryl Streep and Tom Hanks in “The Post.” (20th Century Fox)

A Smithsonian historian reminds us how Graham, a Washington socialite-turned-publisher, transformed the paper into what it is today.

Anna Diamond, Smithsonian

https://riseuptimes.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/journalism.jpg?w=240 December 29, 2017 | The decision to publish the famed Pentagon Papers in The Washington Post ultimately came before its publisher, Katharine Graham. Caught between the caution of her lawyers and the zeal of her hardworking journalists, Graham was under enormous pressure. The estimable New York Times first broke the story about a cache of classified government documents revealing uncomfortable truths about the Vietnam War, but after the Nixon Administration successfully stopped the Times from printing, Graham’s paper had a golden opportunity to pick up the story.

On one side were her Post reporters and editors, eager to play catch-up while they had the advantage on the Times. On the other, were the lawyers arguing against publishing the study, warning that the court might order an injunction against them as well. The newspaper board’s advisors feared that it would lead the paper, which recently went public, into financial turmoil.

Anna Diamond is the editorial assistant for Smithsonian magazine.

Full story … 

Related:

Audiences Want Diversity In Hollywood. Hollywood’s Been Slow To Get The Message. Marina Fang, Huff Post

  • http://evergreenedigest.org/sites/default/files/Hollywood%20sign.jpgMovie and TV executives continue to treat successful projects with diverse casts and creators, like “Black Panther,” as the exception rather than the rule.
  • Related: Why aren’t Hollywood films more diverse?

Audiences Want Diversity In Hollywood. Hollywood’s Been Slow To Get The Message.

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  • Movie and TV executives continue to treat successful projects with diverse casts and creators, like “Black Panther,” as the exception rather than the rule.
  • Related: Why aren’t Hollywood films more diverse?

Marina Fang, Huff Post

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02/27/2018 | The conventional wisdom in Hollywood is that movies by and about people of color don’t perform well with audiences. But the massive box office numbers for Marvel’s “Black Panther” are just the latest piece of evidence that that’s simply not true. And as a new study from the University of California, Los Angeles, demonstrates, entertainment executives have been slow to recognize that “diversity is essential for Hollywood’s bottom line.”

The findings of the report on diversity and representation, released Tuesday, match those of similar studies that have shown incremental improvements over the last few years, obscuring a lack of lasting, systemic change in Hollywood.

http://evergreenedigest.org/sites/default/files/Marina%20Fang%2C%20Huff%20Post.jpgMarina Fang is a reporter at Huff Post, based in the Washington, D.C. bureau. She covers politics breaking news and the intersection of politics and pop culture.

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Related:

Why aren’t Hollywood films more diverse? Roberto Pedace, the Conversation / Salon

It may not be misogyny or white privilege. The problem may be the international box office.


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Help expand your impact by forwarding this story to any friends looking to get involved in 2018.

US Military and Intelligence Agencies Have Turned Over 1,800 Movies and TV Shows Into Pro-War Propaganda.

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  • Part 1: “I Paid To See A Movie About Singing. I Got Ninety Minutes Of Pentagon Propaganda.”
    • It's a wonder we don't have to stand for the National Anthem before movies.
  • Part 2: Documents Expose How Hollywood Promotes War On Behalf Of The Pentagon, CIA, & NSA
    • US military intelligence agencies have influenced over 1,800 movies and TV shows.

Compiled by David Culver, Ed., Evergreene Digest 

To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up here to receive the latest updates  from all reader supported Evergreene Digest


 





Part 1: “I Paid To See A Movie About Singing. I Got Ninety Minutes Of Pentagon Propaganda.”

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It's a wonder we don't have to stand for the National Anthem before movies.

Caitlin Johnstone, medium.com / Straight Line Logic

January 15, 2018 | To cap off a long, strange day, my husband and I took the kids out last night to see Pitch Perfect 3. The first Pitch Perfect is a firm favorite in our household, the kind of movie we end up watching when we can’t agree on what to watch. We’d been waiting til we all had a night to see the latest one together, so we made a night of it and went out for some dinner, too. I even had a Coke. The sugary kind. This was a big night, people! So we were all in high spirits and I entered the theater excited to see some good music and have a good time.

I wasn’t expecting a masterpiece, but I also wasn’t expecting to be blasted in the face with ninety minutes of blatant war propaganda from the United States Department of Defense.

https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/fit/c/60/60/1*ZVXYCWfCPhsF5l-4EFhAIQ.jpeg Caitlin Johnstone: Rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper.

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Part 2: Documents Expose How Hollywood Promotes War On Behalf Of The Pentagon, CIA, & NSA

US military intelligence agencies have influenced over 1,800 movies and TV shows.

Tom Secker and Matthew Alford, medium.com

https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/2000/1*UCfJ71PaFR9wkLZ7Ib_Jiw.jpegJuly 4, 2017 | Tom Secker and Matthew Alford report on their astonishing findings from trawling through thousands of new US military and intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

The documents reveal for the first time the vast scale of US government control in Hollywood, including the ability to manipulate scripts or even prevent films too critical of the Pentagon from being made — not to mention influencing some of the most popular film franchises in recent years.

Tom Secker and Matthew Alford are co-authors of the new book, National Security Cinema: The Shocking New Evidence of Government Control in Hollywood.

Full story ... 

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The Super Bowl Is Taking Over Minneapolis and Residents Are Mad as Hell

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Residents are planning to protest Super Bowl LII when it comes to Minneapolis. (Gian Lorenzo Ferretti/Shutterstock)  

  • If the Host Committee really wants to leave a long lasting positive legacy in our communities, they must invest in local policy that supports children and their families.
  • Related: The Business Side of the NFL

 

Sarah Lahm, In These Times 

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Friday, Jan 26, 2018 | Mel Reeves is a long-time human rights activist based in Minneapolis who describes himself as a writer, organizer and a “human being who stands for everybody’s rights.” When Super Bowl LII rolls into Minneapolis on February 4, Reeves will be ready. He is part of a grassroots national group called Take a Knee Nation, dedicated to keeping police brutality and racism front and center. He has, therefore, been part of planning both a national conference and a protest rally—to be held in Minneapolis on the same weekend as the National Football League’s biggest party of the year, the Super Bowl.

“The Super Bowl provides a unique opportunity to place the spotlight on the problem of police violence,” Reeves pointed out in a recent phone interview, recalling how the 2017 NFL season was shaped by controversy over whether or not players “making millions of dollars,” as Donald Trump put it, have the right to take a knee in protest. The players who did get down on one knee as the national anthem was played, drawing both criticism and support, were doing so for two main reasons: to call attention to police violence and to demonstrate their right to protest.

 

Sarah Lahm is a Minneapolis-based writer and former English Instructor. She is a 2015 Progressive magazine Education Fellow and blogs about education at brightlightsmallcity.com.

Full story … 

 

Related:

From the Arvhoves | The Business Side of the NFL, Compiled by David Culver, Ed., Evergreene Digest 

 

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As the most popular of the four major American sports leagues, the NFL is an industry unto itself.

  • Part 1: The Real NFL Scandal
  • Part 2: Graphic: The Business of the NFL
  • From the Archives | The Problem with Subsidizing Huge Stadiums for Billionaire Team Owners

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Oprah Winfrey Helped Create Our American Fantasyland

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  • Oprah Winfrey gave national platforms and legitimacy to all sorts of magical thinking.
  • Any assessment of her possible presidential bid should consider the irrational, pseudoscientific free for all she helped create.

   http://evergreenedigest.org/sites/default/files/Editor%20Comment%20icon.jpgSlate Editor's Note: Adapted from Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History copyright © 2017 by Kurt Andersen. With permission from the publisher, Random House. All rights reserved.

Kurt Anderson, Slate 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41c5JF08WML._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgJan 10, 2018 | Forty-eight hours ago, after watching Oprah Winfrey give a terrific, rousing feminist speech on an awards show, millions of Americans instantly, giddily decided that the ideal 2020 Democratic nominee had appeared. An extremely rich and famous and exciting star and impresario—but one who seems intelligent and wise and kind, the non–Bizarro World version of the sitting president.

Some wet-blanketing followed immediately, among the best from the New York Times Magazine writer Thomas Chatterton Williams in an op-ed headlined “Oprah, Don’t Do It.” “It would be a devastating, self-inflicted wound for the Democrats to settle for even benevolent mimicry of Mr. Trump’s hallucinatory circus act,” he wrote. “Indeed, the magical thinking fueling the idea of Oprah in 2020 is a worrisome sign about the state of the Democratic Party.”

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c3/Kurt_Andersen_May_2013_%282%29.jpg/220px-Kurt_Andersen_May_2013_%282%29.jpg Kurt Andersen is an American novelist who is also host of the Peabody-winning public radio program Studio 360, a co-production between Public Radio International and WNYC.

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Related:

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Why aren’t Hollywood films more diverse? Roberto Pedace, The Conversation / Salon

It may not be misogyny or white privilege. The problem may be the international box office.

 

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