You are here

Critical Thinking

Our gun myths are all wrong: The real history behind the Second Amendment clichés that have sustained our lethal gun culture

America was born with a unique bond to gun culture, some would have you believe. They're peddling bad history.

Pamela Haag, Salon If you like reading this article, consider joining the crew of all reader-supported Evergreene Digest by contributing the equivalent of a cafe latte a month--using the donation button above—so we can bring you more just like it. John Wayne in "True Grit"

Excerpted from "The Gunning of America: Business and the Making of American Gun Culture"

Saturday, Apr 30, 2016 | An abridged history of the American gun culture, told from legend and popular memory, might go like this: We were born a gun culture. Americans have an exceptional, unique, and timeless relationship to guns, starting with the militias of the Revolutionary War, and it developed on its own from there. Some celebrate and some condemn this relationship, but it is in either case unique. Guns have long been a commonplace part of American life, which is why guns pretty much sell themselves. The Second Amendment, ubiquitous to contemporary gun politics, was a prominent presence historically and is a source of the gun’s unique stature, while the idea of gun control is more recent. The American gun story is about civilians and individual citizens, and they are its heroes or its villains—the frontiersman, the Daniel Boone “long hunter” who trekked far into the wilderness alone, the citizen-patriot militiaman, the guiltily valorized outlaw, and the gunslinger. The gun’s mystique was forged most vividly on the violent western frontier of the 1800s, and this mystique is about individualism: guns protect citizens against overzealous government infringement of liberties; they protect freedom and self-determination. book tells the story of American guns from the perspective of what the gun was—in essence, an object, produced by businesses, to be sold. The story that highlights the Second Amendment, frontiersmen, militias, and the desires and character of the American gun owner is not to be found in the pages of this book. Or, more accurately, my work deliberately skews the story of the gun in another direction: it focuses on the missing element of the gun culture rather than reworking the familiar themes. As such, it has different characters, motivations, plot twists, highlights, and timelines, and all of these elements call into question the gun clichés that animate contemporary politics.

Pamela Haag holds a Ph.D. in history from Yale University. Her work on a diverse range of topics has appeared in many venues such as American Scholar, NPR, Slate, and the Times (London).

Full story … 

Chris Hedges | The Socialist Alternative

  • “My biggest fear is that there could be an abdication of responsibility by the leadership of the left to provide an alternative,” Socialist Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant said. “We can’t react to events. We have to shape events. We need a party of the 99 percent.”
  • Related: Bernie Sanders Is No Eugene Debs

Chris Hedges, Truthdig Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant responds to President Obama’s State of the Union address in January. (Socialist Alternative / YouTube)

May 1, 2016 | The disintegration of the ruling political parties, along with the discrediting of the established political and economic elites, presage radical change. This change may come from the right. It may result in a frightening proto-fascism. If it is to come from the left it must be pushed forward by dogged activists and citizens who are willing to accept that stepping outside the system will mean surrendering all hope of power for perhaps a decade. To continue to engage in establishment politics, especially attempting to work within the Democratic Party, will further empower corporate capitalism and extinguish what remains of our democracy.

Willingly entering the political wilderness requires a vision that is worth sacrificing and fighting to achieve. It means that some of those who begin the revolution against corporate capitalism will not live to see its culmination. It will mean marginalization, harassment, persecution, prison and, if the movement becomes effective, state violence. History has taught us that. But given the alternative—the planet’s ecosystem destroyed by the fossil fuel and the animal agriculture industries, greater pillaging by corporate oligarchs and the rise of a global security and surveillance system that takes from us all pretense of liberty—the battle is worth it.

Chris Hedges, a weekly columnist for Truthdig, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has reported from more than 50 countries, specializing in American politics and society. 

Full story … 

Related: Now you can follow Evergreene Digest on Twitter. Sanders Is No Eugene Debs, Howie Hawkins, Socialist Worker

  • Progressives in the Democratic Party are going to need a Plan B after Bernie Sanders throws his support to Clinton in about 10 months, after the March primaries seal the nomination for her. We should be building Plan B now.
  • Bernie Sanders for President? Why Not Try a Real Socialist for a Change? 


Let’s Stop Referring to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault as ‘Women’s Issues’

  • We all benefit when responsible men stand in their communities as shining examples of healthy and respectful masculinity.
  • Related: “Dear Kim. Please stop using the term ’empowerment’ when you really mean ‘marketing’.” 

Linda A. Seabrook and Quentin Walcott, Huffington Post George Doyle via Getty Images 

04/28/2016 | From reproductive rights to paid family leave to sexual and domestic violence, our society neatly categorizes issues where women bear the brunt of the burden as “women’s issues,” turning them into problems for women and women’s rights advocates alone to solve. But this framing couldn’t be more wrong, and only serves to reinforce the practice of victim blaming that is so pervasive in our society.

As we close another Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we can’t help but wonder — where are the voices of the men? Yes, women are overwhelmingly victims of domestic violence, but men are overwhelmingly perpetrators. It comes down to male behavior and conditioning, so preventing and addressing violence requires men to be engaged in this issue, and take action as well. And breaking the cycle of violence starts with addressing how boys are conditioned to model “male” behavior and attitudes.

Linda A. Seabrook, General Counsel, Futures Without Violence
Quentin Walcott, Co-Executive Director, CONNECT-NYC

Full story … Journalism with real independence and integrity is a rare thing. All reader supported Evergreene Digest relies - exclusively!- on reader donations. Click on the donation button above to make a contribution and support our work.

Related: “Dear Kim. Please stop using the term ’empowerment’ when you really mean ‘marketing’.” Jacqueline Lunn, Mama Mia

That’s not empowerment. That’s two, very privileged, mean girls in a bathroom taking pictures of themselves and giving the world the finger.

Full story ... 


We let the idiots take the wheel: Donald Trump, Fox News and how we let our democracy rot.

  • Disgraceful state of politics is tied to collapse of education. Philistines are marching, swarming Trump rallies.
  • Related: Special Project | The Dumbing Down of American Politics

David Masciotra, Salon / AlterNet Now you can follow Evergreene Digest on Twitter <>.

 Photo Credit: Darron Birgenheier/Flicker CC

Apr 12, 2016 | It is easy in a country dedicated to a megalomaniacal style of self-praise to grow tired of all the parades, hymns, and maudlin speeches about the wisdom of the “founding fathers.” Compounding the frustration is that many of their most valuable insights are now forbidden from entry into public school curriculums and cultural discourse. As the word “elitist” continues to undergo unfair demonization, no one dare utter that the framers of the United States Constitution were, themselves, elitists. They were terrified of what damage the public might inflict upon their invention. Benjamin Franklin even went so far as to predict that “the people shall become so corrupted as to need Despotic Government, being incapable of any other.”

Thomas Jefferson, a more democratic thinker, called information the “currency of democracy.” It would appear that large parts of America are all but bankrupt, suffering the consequences of a long liquidation at the hands of a sensationalistic media, but most of all, a broken education system. 

David Masciotra is the author of Mellencamp: American Troubadour (University Press of Kentucky). He has also written for Salon, the Atlantic and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Full story … 

Related: Project | The Dumbing Down of American Politics, Week of October 6, 2013, David Culver, Ed., Evergreene Digest

  • Karl Rove, the architect of Bush's career, privately said 'Fuck the truth; all that matters is the reality that we make people swallow.'
  • 8 New Items including:
  • Paul Krugman | Moment of Truthiness
  • Welcome to This Generation's Joseph McCarthy
  • Life Lessons in Fighting the Culture of Bullshit
  • 10 ‘Chained CPI’ Facts the White House Doesn’t Want You to Know
  • The Death of Truth
  • Ralph Nader explains how voting for the ‘least worst’ candidate corrupts democracy
  • Human Stupidity Is Destroying the World
  • Further Thoughts on Japan ... and America

The Arrogant Ignorance of the 'Well-Educated'

To be “well-educated” is not merely ignorance, it is the arrogance of ignorance.

Joseph Pearce, Intellectual Takeout If you like reading this article, consider joining the crew of all reader-supported Evergreene Digest by contributing the equivalent of a cafe latte a month--using the donation button above—so we can bring you more just like it. 29, 2016 | On more than one occasion my essays for The Imaginative Conservative have been inspired by bumper stickers. Many moons ago, for instance, I wrote “The Wisdom and Wickedness of Women” in response to seeing a bumper sticker declaring that “Well Behaved Women Do Not Make History.” Recently, sitting in traffic, I saw this very same bumper sticker on the car in front of me, beside another which declared the following: “What you call the Liberal Elite, we call being well-educated.” The juxtaposition of these two stickers, carefully selected by the car’s owner to teach me a lesson, set me thinking. I might even say that it taught me a valuable lesson, though not the lesson that my neighbor in the car in front of me meant to teach me.

Let’s take the second bumper sticker first. Clearly designed to offend other motorists, it is supremely supercilious and extremely arrogant. We, the average Joe, whoever we may be, are not as “well-educated” as the royal “we” driving the car in front of us. This pompous “we,” who is presumably a she, presumes that anyone who disagrees with her is poorly educated, whereas she, of course, is well-educated. If we were as well-educated as she, we would agree with her.

Joseph Pearce is an English-born writer, and as of 2014 Director of the Center for Faith and Culture at Aquinas College in Nashville, Tennessee.

Full story … 

The obscene moral hypocrisy on Brussels: Why are terror attacks against civilians in the Middle East ignored?

  • The hundreds killed in the Middle East in the past few days don't get a fraction of the attention dead Europeans do.
  • Until the deaths of the infinitely more victims of Western crimes are mourned equally (the millions of dead Iraqis, Yemenis and Libyans — not to mention the countless more Afghans, Palestinians, Syrians, Pakistanis, Somalis, Nigerians, Congolese and more), the whole charade following tragic attacks like those seen in Brussels and Paris reeks of extreme hypocrisy — moral and political hypocrisy that is nothing short of obscene.

Ben Norton, Salon If you like reading this article, consider joining the crew of all reader-supported Evergreene Digest by contributing the equivalent of a cafe latte a month--using the donation button above—so we can bring you more just like it. People display a solidarity banner in Brussels following bomb attacks in Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2016. Banner reads "I am Brussels" in French and in Flemish languages. REUTERS/Charles Platiau - RTSBS6P(Credit: Reuters)  

Wednesday, Mar 23, 2016 | When a bomb emblazoned with “Made in USA” massacres civilians in the Middle East, scarcely a single tear is shed. When Westerners are subjected to the same terror people in Muslim-majority countries endure on a regular basis, the sky falls.

We have seen it numerous times — in Paris in January and November 2015, and in Brussels now. The response of the international community makes it clear: the lives of Westerners (particularly the white ones) are valued exponentially more than those of people in the Middle East.

Ben Norton is a politics staff writer at Salon

Full story … 

America, you’re stupid: Donald Trump’s political triumph makes it official — we’re a nation of idiots

  • Trump's rise proves we're full of loud, illiterate and credulous people — and he's a mirror of them
  • The cult of ignorance in the United States: Anti-intellectualism and the "dumbing down" of America
  • Notre Dame Prof: Our Schools are Committing ‘Civilizational Suicide’ 

Sean Illing, Salon

Wednesday, Feb 24, 2016 | “I love the poorly educated.” — Donald Trump

Before any votes were cast, when Donald Trump was the theoretical front-runner, the optimists preached patience. Just wait, they said. This will blow over. He’s a clown, a huckster, a TV personality. There’s no way he can win. It’s just not possible.

Well, it’s not only possible – it’s likely.

Trump won again in Nevada on Tuesday night, by a massive margin, and he may well sweep the Super Tuesday states. If that happens, and it’s the most probable outcome at this point, the race is effectively over. Trump will have won the nomination of one our two major parties, and he’ll have done it with extraordinary ease.

Sean Illing is a USAF veteran who previously taught philosophy and politics at Loyola and LSU. He is currently a staff writer for Salon.

Full story … 


The cult of ignorance in the United States: Anti-intellectualism and the "dumbing down" of America, Ray Williams, Psychology Today / Signs of the Times 

  • Our education system produces solipsistic, self-contained selves whose only public commitment is an absence of commitment to a public, a common culture, a shared history. They are perfectly hollowed vessels, receptive and obedient, without any real obligations or devotions. --Professor Patrick Deneen explains how kids have become a generation of know-nothings
  • Is Education the overlooked issue of 2016?
  • The cult of ignorance in the United States: Anti-intellectualism and the "dumbing down" of America


Notre Dame Prof: Our Schools are Committing ‘Civilizational Suicide’ Daniel Lattier, Intellectual Takeout

Kings College Chapel

As Alasdair MacIntyre lamented in After Virtue, “[T]he barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time.” It’s perhaps too late to avoid a new Dark Age. Now is the time to begin the effort of recovery and rebuilding.

Here’s 6 Common Welfare Myths We All Need to Stop Believing

  • Debunked.
  • Why wealthy Americans’ delusions about the poor are so dangerous.

Tom Cahill, U. S. Uncut  November 22, 2015 | This Thanksgiving, if one of your right-wing relatives starts mouthing off at the dinner table about the welfare system and how it enables freeloaders to bilk the taxpayers out of their hard-earned cash, show them this article.

Some of the more persistent myths about welfare recipients and the welfare system have been thoroughly debunked thanks to economic research. Busting these offensive and insensitive myths can help us better understand how to simultaneously help impoverished families become economically stable and save taxpayers’ money.

Tom Cahill is a writer for US Uncut based in the Pacific Northwest. He specializes in coverage of political, economic, and environmental news. 

Full story … 


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



Why wealthy Americans’ delusions about the poor are so dangerous, David Sirota, Salon

  • Regressive state and local tax policies don’t just harm the working class -- they can ruin entire economies.
  • The False Debate on Homelessness


Subscribe to Critical Thinking