Archive | June 2014

The “Redskins” Controversy May Not Now Seem to Be a Life and Death Issue, but, from a Cultural and Historical Perspective, It Is Fundamentally Just That Sort of Issue

ACADEME BLOG

Even if the name “Redskins” is offensive, one can at least argue that the image featured in the team logo is rather dignified.

Redskins Logo

The same cannot be said for the Cleveland Indians mascot’s appearance or name– Chief Wahoo:

Chief Wahoo

Interestingly, Chief Wahoo’s skin color less resembles that of a Native American than that of a very pale White guy who drank a little too much beer and nodded off in the bleachers on a sunny afternoon.

Not surprisingly, the organization at the forefront of the effort to change team names that perpetuate stereotypes has produced a logo that looks more like the Washington Redskins’ logo than the Cleveland Indians’ logo:

Anti-Stereotype Badge

In response to the growing contention over this issue, the Atlanta Braves have significantly modified their logo while maintaining the team name:

Old Braves Logo

has become

New Braves Logo

St. John’s University’s athletic teams used to be known as the Redmen. For six decades, their logo…

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President Obama’s Commencement Address at West Point

ACADEME BLOG

President Obama delivered the following remarks at the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., commencement ceremony on May 28, 2014. Transcript courtesy of Federal News Service.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you, General Caslen, for that introduction. General Trainor, General Clarke, faculty and staff at West Point, you have been outstanding stewards of this proud institution and outstanding mentors for the newest officers in the United States Army.

I’d like to acknowledge the Army’s leadership — General McHugh — Secretary McHugh, General Odierno, as well as Senator Jack Reed who is here and a proud graduate of West Point himself. To the class of 2014, I congratulate you on taking your place on the Long Gray Line.

Among you is the first all-female command team: Erin Mauldin and Austen Boroff. In Calla Glavin, you have a Rhodes Scholar, and Josh Herbeck proves…

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The Latest Crisis in Iraq Is Not Necessarily a Reason for U.S. Re-Intervention in That Nation

ACADEME BLOG

The major ethnic groups in Iraq are the Arabs, which constitute 75% to 80% of the population, and the Kurds, which constitute 15% to 20% of the population.

Islam is, of course, the dominant religion, with 97% of Iraqis identifying themselves as Muslims. Among the Muslims, 60%-65% are Shiites and 32% to 37% are Sunnis.

The Kurdish minority is largely Sunni, and roughly half of the Sunnis are Kurds. But the Kurds have long been very antagonistic toward the Arab majority.

So Shiite Arabs outnumber Sunni Arabs not two to one but three or even four to one.

The Shiite majority controls the major cities from Baghdad south, as well as the major oil-producing regions of the nation.

These numbers are important in considering the ISIS insurgency, which thus far has seized control of territory largely in the Sunni-dominated areas of Iraq. Notably, ISIS has not attempted to seize either…

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Snarkiest Headline on the Torturously Slow Winding Down of the Afghanistan War

ACADEME BLOG

I receive a number of e-mailed newsletters from political blogs, and this was the headline of the daily newsletter from HuffPost Hill:

How Do You Ask a Drone to Be the Last Drone to Crash for a Mistake?

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The Apocalypse as Personal Vindication

ACADEME BLOG

Last month, a small herd of bison was running along a highway in Yellowstone National Park and happened to run past a film crew from a local television station that was there to do another story.

The footage of the bison soon went viral, fueling endless speculation about what the bison were running from. Initially, the theorizers did acknowledge that the bison could have been running from all sorts of things, including carnivores, such as grizzly bears or wolves, or even poachers. But very quickly, all of the other possibilities receded and just about everyone honed in on the most catastrophic possibility: namely, that the bison had sensed an imminent eruption of the Yellowstone super-volcano and were literally running for their lives.

If that seems a fairly spectacular speculative leap, well, consider the “evidence.” That week there had been a very moderate earthquake in Southern California that had received some…

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Storms and Communities and Politics

ACADEME BLOG

Yesterday, I was in Dayton, Ohio, meeting with several leaders of the Ohio Student Association (OSA). The Ohio Conference (OCAAUP) and our chapter at Wright State University have been supporting the group very enthusiastically. The OSA formed during the We Are Ohio campaign to repeal Senate Bill 5 as a mechanism for reaching voters 18-30. It has become a progressive advocacy group not only focusing on issues of particular interest to young voters, such as reducing student debt and maintaining adequate funding for public education at all levels, but also in demonstrating the linkages between those issues and others–such as the exploitation of adjunct faculty; attacks on academic freedom, tenure, and shared governance; administrative bloat; and the imposition of “right to work” to reduce the impact of organized labor.

The leaders of the OSA are all almost as young as the student activists whom they are recruiting and training, but…

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If Obama Is “Big Brother,” Then Who Is Bobby Jindal?

ACADEME BLOG

This is my fourth post on Bobby Jindal in the past month or two. I don’t believe that this focus on him represents some sort of undue obsession with him or a vendetta against him. Instead, I think that I have coincidentally and simply become more aware of what has been occurring in Louisiana under Jindal’s administrations.

With a sort of relentless desperation, the Far Right has attempted to characterize President Obama as a Hitler-like figure and his administration as a Nazi-like regime inserting itself into every private corner of its citizens’ lives. The revelations about NSA surveillance have, of course, provided some reinforcement of this paranoia. But, to suggest that there is a cause-effect relationship between what the Obama administration has done and how it is perceived by the Far Right would be very misleading. For, from the start, the Far Right has simply been very determined to characterize…

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Core Paradoxes in the National Character and Schisms in the Far Right’s Political Ideology

ACADEME BLOG

All nations, and this seems especially true of great nations, have paradoxes at the core of their national characters that define them. The tensions within these paradoxes are alternately, or in times of crisis simultaneously, a dynamic source of national strength and also an anarchic source of national turmoil.

In the United States, these paradoxes are every bit as clear today as they were a hundred or two hundred years ago.

They include the following:

1. We have enshrined the concept of representative government, but we have allowed elites to exercise powers associated more with oligarchies than with truly democratic republics, and as a result, although we honor public service, we have less trust in our elected representatives than in almost any other category of people; likewise, we talk much more about the value of democratic process more than we actually vote.

2. We emphasize individualism and self-reliance, but we…

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President Obama’s and Joel McHale’s Remarks at the White House Correspondents Dinner, 2014

ACADEME BLOG

Thank You. Thank you so much. Thank you very much. Thank you. Everyone, please have a seat. Have a seat.

Before I get started, can we get the new presidential set up out here?  It has worked before.  That is more like it.

It is great to be back. What a year, huh? I usually start these dinners with a few self-deprecating jokes. After my stellar 2013, what can I possibly talk about?

I admit it—-last year was rough. Sheesh.

At one point, things got so bad, the 47 percent called Mitt Romney to apologize.

Of course, we rolled out Healthcare.gov. That could have gone better.

In 2008, my slogan was “Yes, we can.” In 2013, my slogan was “Control, alt, delete.”

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