Daily Podcast: Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

daily podcast why cant we all just get along

A reader emailed me recently, asking why I tolerated the following post by coupdetat: "I remember being at the old Ontario Motor Speedway and not being able to see the San Bernadino Mountains back in 1973. I figure the pollution controls on cars and industry allow us to enjoy the beauty of the state and have the beauty there for the coming generations. Now if we could get all these transplants to leave, it would be even nicer." The reader reckoned it was a racist remark. I saw it as a off-hand, tongue-in-cheek comment about out-of-staters. The reader was adamant. "It's an 'us vs. them' statement that definitely has nothing to do with the topic at hand," he protested. Barring some convincing argument here, I've decided to go with my gut and leave the post as is. Meanwhile, the debate got me thinking about the wider point: how life is, at its most fundamental level, a competition for resources. There are millions of battles every minute of every day; for clean air, water, steel to make cars, customers to buy the cars, readers to visit car-related websites, etc. Call me a heartless Darwinist, but I don't think 'us vs. them' conflicts are inherently bad. In fact, I believe humans were born to compete– in groups. If we weren't, I wouldn't be here. Nor, in fact, would you. And I mean that in the full, collective, inclusive sense of the word.

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  • Geeber Geeber on Mar 14, 2008
    Ingvar: For living in a country founded by colonial immigrants occupying another peoples land and earning their livings on slavework from another, I find americans very bigot and anti-immigration in their mindset when it comes to people who wants to move to their backyard. Perhaps we should do like the French do, and herd them into ghettos outside the major cities. (That seems to have resulted in some rather nasty riots within the past few years.) Or follow the path taken by the Germans, and make it very difficult for them to become German citizens, because they aren't "true" Germans. (Incidentally, my mother is a German who moved here from Heidelberg in Baden-Wurttemberg, and I still have relatives there and visit regularly, so I'm quite familiar with the German mindset.) Ingvar: The american economy is founded and based on immigration, and the economy booms for every new immigrant that arrives. No, the American economy is based on innovation and the free market system. Throughout our history, immigrants have made serious contributions, but so did native Americans, including Henry Ford I, Walter P. Chrysler, Henry Joy, Thomas Edison and Alfred Sloan. As for the idea that the American economy "booms" when every new immigrant arrives - it boomed in the 1950s and early 1960s, even though this country seriously restricted immigration in the mid-1920s, and didn't liberalize the number of immigrants admitted annually until the mid-1960s. Linking American economic success to immigration is far too simplistic. Ingvar: No, You personally didn’t kill any indians, but it’s part of the culture and the true heritage of the american mindset. I assume, Ingvar, you are a European. I seem to remember about 60-70 years ago lots of Jews and other "undesirables" were rounded up and systematically killed by Germans, and when the Germans conquered other European countries during that little episode now known as "World War II," a fair percentage of the local citizenry rather enthusiastically assisted in the effort. But then, Hitler was only tapping the anti-semitism that had long been part of the European culture and mindset, and still lurks just below the surface of many European countries even today. Tell me - is genocide therefore part of your true heritage and mindset, as a European? Because using the standards you apply to Americans, it is. Ingvar: I think that USA will invade Iran and occupy that country, steal their land and seize their oil, and killing some half million arabs on their way, as in Iraq. Last time I checked, we hadn't annexed Iraq as a territory, and the revenues from oil sales were being funneled back to Iraq. And if you are using the Lancet studies for the number of Iraqis killed in the war, you may need to do further research. That study has largely been discredited. Or perhaps should we have followed the policies of France and Russia, which, in violation of the U.N. sanctions, traded with Iraq and gave the money to Saddam, who undoubtedly used it to build another palace. So...it turns out it was the French and the Russians who were "stealing" oil from the Iraqi people. That's the better policy, I suppose? Ingvar: Remember the next time you complain about gas prizes, that if it weren’t for the sacrifice of some million others that you don’t give a shit about, the prices would be even higher. Uh, no. First, America does not import the majority of the oil it uses from the Middle East. (The figure is about 13-15 percent.) Second, Europeans depend on Middle Eastern oil, too (more so than Americans, when looked at as a total percentage of oil used), and high oil prices are going to hurt their economies as much as they will hurt the American economy. Ingvar: The americans lust for oil is payed with blood. Because cars in Europe run on cow manure and chicken fat, and Europeans never use any plastics, and their homes are all heated with windmills and solar panels. They have not benefited at all from Middle Eastern oil, and those inconvenient statistics that show automobile use increasing faster in Europe than in America were cooked up by the Bush Administration as part of a dastardly misinformation plot... johnny ro: Summing up, when we see Mexicans hopping over fence into southern Cali (and into Texas etc), they have history there too. Unless those Mexicans are at least 180 years old, they don't have any history regarding Mexico's ownership of California. Let's see, my mother emigrated from Germany in 1960 when she married my father, and HIS family left Germany in the 1700s...guess I should go back to Germany and start demanding all of the benefits native Germans receive, and maybe even a free Porsche or two...

  • JJ JJ on Mar 14, 2008
    But then, Hitler was only tapping the anti-semitism that had long been part of the European culture and mindset, and still lurks just below the surface of many European countries even today. Meh... Wouldn't say so, living in the Netherlands. At least not in Western Europe. We have radical islamism to complain about now, although personally I believe that 1) The problem is not as big as portrayed by the media 2) The muslims overexaggerate their "victimization" by the same media 3) 1 and 2 tend to reinforce one another. In Eastern Europe (ironically) racism and anti-semitism are more prevalent, yet it still is just a small group of people that is usually poor and uneducated, much like some rednecks in Southern US states (for instance, as pictured by the Topgear America special). I witnessed it first hand when I was in Cracow with fellow students from Venezuela and a sikhi from Los Angeles. The latter repeatedly got called Osama and was later beat up by some skinheads in Ukraine. Humans will be humans, so what are you going to do about it... At a more positive note; pictures of the new small Alfa via TopGear.com

  • Ingvar Ingvar on Mar 14, 2008
    Geeber: "immigrants have made serious contributions, but so did native Americans, including Henry Ford I, Walter P. Chrysler, Henry Joy, Thomas Edison and Alfred Sloan." So, Ford and Chrysler et al is really american natives? Born from indian blood? I regard everyone since Columbus as immigrants, as they colonized america, killed off all the indians and stole their land. Lets face it, america is founded and based on immigration. Your economy depends on it. Geeber: "Tell me - is genocide therefore part of your true heritage and mindset, as a European? Because using the standards you apply to Americans, it is." Yes. That's a part of our culture. And that's why it is important to hold all the bloodthirsty hawks on a really tight leash. For without a proper leash like democracy, you end up with a George W Bush government, where torture is part of the agenda. I can't talk about races here, because it's not a racial thing as it is a cultural thing. But the fact is that the western culture since the greeks and the invading huns before that, is the most violent and bloodthirsty culture this earth has ever seen. War is the mother of all invention, and this culture has made the western civilazition the must "successful" of all, depending on what you lay in to those words. And the europeans are descendents to that culture, and the americans are the long lost cousins from that family-tree. And as such, the american culture is extremely violent and aggressive. It's all about "using the force" as Obi-Wan Kenobi would have put it, as it is really easy to join the dark side, but very very hard to always do the right thing. Geeber: "...and the revenues from oil sales were being funneled back to Iraq. " Really? Boy, are you kidding? Who's being naive now? And according to Goodwin's Law, I have now won this discussion through reductio ad hitlerum, as You draw the Nazi card up to this discussion: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_Law http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_Hitlerum

  • Geeber Geeber on Mar 14, 2008
    Ingvar: So, Ford and Chrysler et al is really american natives? Considering that Henry Ford I was born in Michigan, and Walter P. Chrysler was born in Kansas, and, the last time I checked, those respective states were part of the United States when they were born, and remain so today, I'd have to say "yes." Ingvar: Born from indian blood? I regard everyone since Columbus as immigrants, as they colonized america, killed off all the indians and stole their land. Sorry, but no one - except for you, apparently - considers people who were born in the United States of parents who were legally here to be immigrants. Please, learn from history before attempting to quote it. The natives were killing each other long before any Europeans set foot on the continent, and were decimated by unintentional exposure to diseases borne by Europeans as much as anything else. Ingvar: Lets face it, america is founded and based on immigration. Your economy depends on it. Uh, no, it is founded on innovation and free markets, which attracts a fair number of immigrants. Ingvar: I can’t talk about races here, because it’s not a racial thing as it is a cultural thing. But the fact is that the western culture since the greeks and the invading huns before that, is the most violent and bloodthirsty culture this earth has ever seen. War is the mother of all invention, and this culture has made the western civilazition the must “successful” of all, depending on what you lay in to those words. And the europeans are descendents to that culture, and the americans are the long lost cousins from that family-tree. And as such, the american culture is extremely violent and aggressive. Nonsense. Several Native American tribes were extremely warlike, as were several African tribes. The idea that all Native American tribes were living in some sort of pre-Columbian version of a 1960s commune is fantasy concocted by those who either don't know history, or ignore certain parts to suit their agenda. You should also read the Old Testament of the Bible to find out what went on the Middle East long before even Rome or Greece were significant nations. It's pretty gruesome. When the Spainards first arrived in the New World, they were able to initially ally with other tribes that were oppressed by the dominant tribes (Aztecs, etc.). Sorry, but blaming all of the world's woes on western civilization, or claiming that the West is somehow more violent than other cultures, is both simplistic and inaccurate. Ingvar: Really? Boy, are you kidding? Who’s being naive now? And you seem to be unfamiliar with how Russia and France were violating the U.N. trade sanctions with Iraq, and were thus padding Saddam's pockets. Ingvar: And according to Goodwin’s Law, I have now won this discussion through reductio ad hitlerum, as You draw the Nazi card up to this discussion: Sorry, but, once again, no. Reading the entry that you cited for Godwin's law: Godwin's Law is often cited in online discussions as a caution against the use of inflammatory rhetoric or exaggerated comparisons, and is often conflated with fallacious arguments of the reductio ad Hitlerum form. First, you are the one who basically accused Americans of genocide, and saying it is part of their heritage, so bringing up what Hitler did, and asking whether the same standards can be applied to Europeans, is reasonable. The two deal with the same subject. Second, that is hardly inflammatory. If anything, basically implying that people living today are still somehow responsible for bear the guilt of what happened well over a century ago is more inflammatory, not to mention fallacioius. Perhaps we need a new law for people who speciously bring up Godwin's Law to mask the weaknesses in their own arguments. I'll call it Ingvar's law...

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