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Thursday, December 12, 2013
Purple State Of Mind News
Tracking Purple State of Mind across America…
Filed under: Education
Posted by: Purple State of News
Now here’s a heated conversation almost any two parents can have, no matter their political or religious or cultural affiliation. Is it okay to call your kids “garbage” when you’re trying to get them to play piano? Is it all right to bash their self-esteem to smithereens in the effort to push them to the front of the class? Are “Western” parents losers? Weaklings? Manatees who roll over for the kids in the name of love? Are harshly strict moms a better model? Or do they become monstrous in the application of disciplines, as some children of that approach have said in blogs?
Or maybe it comes down to a more basic set of questions. Is discipline in inherently cruel but none the worse for it? What exactly is the line between discipline and cruelty?
Finally, unavoidably, there is a race element here. What is the truth in the stereotype about Asians being smarter? Better students? Even better people?
These are just a few of the questions raised by Amy Chua’s insanely divisive and popular new book Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother, a self-described memoir about how this Yale-educated mom of ethnic Chinese origin applied the education strictures of her culture in rough and tumble, politically incorrect fashion to her children and apparently raised two stars.
Rather than try to recap the blast wave of writing on this topic, we’ll direct you to a few key links. For starters, go to the original Wall Street Journal article that announced the book’s presence to the world: “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior.”
Is your blood boiling yet?
Then proceed to the New York Times piece in which the Tiger Mother supposedly backtracks, one of the most popular articles in Internet land.
Then, for a snarky perspective on the husband of the Tiger Mother, sink your teeth into this Daily Beast diatribe against the silent and yet somehow accomplice-like Jed Rubenfeld.
Finally, for the calm after the storm, we suggest a glance at the review in the latest New Yorker, where Elizabeth Kolbert breezily dismisses the book while at the same time acknowledging its place in a larger narrative about Asian superiority.
For our money, this is one of the best and juiciest discussions in the country right now. Love or hate Amy Chua’s parenting style, you can’t deny that she has touched a valuable nerve. Equally hard to deny is the way this conversation will cut against the grain of almost any current political breakdown.
Are so-called Red State parents more likely to be ruthless disciplinarians? Are Blue State progressives obvious Manatees? Or are we likely to find conservative Christians more akin to weak-kneed Westerns? And social liberals secret fans of Tiger Mother tactics?
Any thoughts in Purple world?
Today, in Cairo, it is evidently impossible to get Internet service, but easy to find a cop with a baton. The crowds that showed up to protest the 30-year-old government of Hosni Mubarak in the wake of the toppling of a Tunisian dictatorship have not abated. On the contrary, with the encouragement of imams who appear to be giving young Egyptians permission to peacefully demonstrate, they have returned to the streets with renewed force.
Anyone old enough to have been reading newspapers–yes, newspapers!–or watching cable news in the spring and summer of 1989, more than twenty years ago, has become accustomed to the sensation of anticipation that now starts to build. In a sense, twenty two years ago, the world received a historical template for thinking about the events now unfolding in Tunisia and Egypt, a template that has been applied again and again since 1989 in Georgia, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine and most recently Iran.
First, something small and seemingly insignificant happens. A dissident is arrested. A dissident leader is released. A significant anniversary comes and goes. A young man sets fire to himself. Often, these events occur in quiet, while no one is watching, and it is only when the first large crowd later gathers that the rest of the world catches on.
In the case of Egypt, at least two factors seem to be the proximate cause of the eruption. One is obviously the collapse of the dictatorship in Tunisia. Last week, in a move that came as a shock to the system of the international community, President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali stepped down after weeks of protests by seemingly spontaneous crowds of young people.
His departure was a shock because Tunisia has been seen as an island of prosperity and stability in that part of the world, and because popular and democratic revolt has seemed for many outside observers to be an impossibility among Sunni Arab populations. In contrast to the restive Shiite people of Iran, the crowds of the Sunni world have been characterized collectively as “the Arab Street”, and in that street, it has seemed, people will submit to almost any indignity before they rise up.
Tunisia changed that perception over night, and changes in perception have been causing revolutions ever since Marie Antoinette tried to escape Paris in disguise three hundred years ago. There appears to be a structural law of history on the books. When a regime has lost all popular support, when its only means of self-preservation is through state violence and/or propaganda, its survival will hinge in the end on the ability to keep its people afraid. When that fear vanishes, revolution begins.
And the second proximate cause? Technology, of course. Facebook and Twitter appear to have allowed a quick mobilization of forces.
But has revolt really begun in Cairo? We’ve seen last year in Iran how a hated dictatorship can nevertheless retain power through a combination of security forces and a vestige of popular backing. Conservatives in Tehran aren’t quite ready to see the regime go, and there must be an echo of that sentiment throughout the country. Also, as limited and insufficient as the changes may be for the people of Iran, change of a sort has occurred in that country. Major democratic leaders have emerged to give voice to the opposition. There is a valve for protest in Iran.
The same cannot be said of Egypt, where the Mubarak family has ruled with spectacular cynicism ever since the assassination of Anwar Sadat. Not only has that government silenced all real and effective opposition through censorship, corruption and torture, it has done so under the guise of being a friend to the Great Satan of Democracy, the United States, using the neediness of successive American administrations as cover for its ruthless suppression of dissent at home. As a final telling flourish, it has set up the kind of meaningless and numerous little satellite parties that once populated the sham political landscape of Eastern Europe, creating the illusion of pluralism to mask the reality of iron rule.
It’s not clear yet whether the Mubarak game has reached its end, but events in the last two weeks in north Africa probably do portend a change in spirit, if not in rule, in the Arab world. Revolt in Tunisia means one thing for the Middle East. Revolt in Egypt means quite another. Revolt in Egypt has the distinct flavor of 1989.
Egypt has been for centuries the intellectual and artistic capital of the Arab world. The submission of its people to the Mubarak regime became analogy and model for other nations throughout the region. The great tragedy of the Middle East in the 20th Century has its ultimate home in this country where 20 percent of the people live below the poverty line and vast numbers of young people are unemployed–9 percent is the official count, but the number is likely far higher and could be as much as 30 percent. As a rule, dictatorships can never afford to release true unemployment figures.
One way or another, transformation takes time. The changes of 1989 didn’t begin that year. In some cases, they started decades before. In Czechoslovakia, the Soviet invasion of 1968 killed any last vestige of connection between people and government. In Poland, the ice began to crack with the ostensibly innocuous appearance of Pope John Paul II in Krakow. In Iran, the process continues to unfold. In China, which had its own watershed in 1989, a political dictatorship of sorts remains in place; economic freedom has been the valve for change.
It’s impossible to say where exactly these protests will go, but it is not at all difficult to make an educated guess that the beginning of the end has come for the Mubarak regime.
Here is another educated guess. If such a “miracle” were to occur, if Mubarak and other Middle East dictators like him were to fall, another, less obvious regime would come to an end as well. These iron-fisted rulers of voiceless, beached people are the silent partners and enablers of terrorists like Osama Bin Laden. Without the Mubaraks of the world to suppress all possibility of reform or improvement in the Middle East, a force like Al Qaeda loses its reason for being. As a valve for dissent, it becomes redundant. As a goad for change, it becomes overkill. As an expression of the will of the people, it becomes an obscene joke.
Neo-cons who supported the American intervention in Iraq may be nodding their heads, and perhaps there is some vindication here of their vision, but it’s too early to say, and sort of beside the point. What is now happening in Cairo may be more important to the future peace and security of the United States than any number of military deployments, and yet it seems on the surface to have little or nothing to do with our influence, unless, of course, you count Mark Zuckerberg’s invention, which you probably should.
With the announcement yesterday of the Oscar nominations (the full list is also available here), the awards season is now in full swing. Inevitably, there were the typical snubs and surprises among the nominees, and critic Roger Ebert offers his initial impressions here.
Since many of the nominated films were released earlier in the year – and not everyone (even in Hollywood) will have had access to some of the smaller titles – at least all of the nominees are available via streaming On Demand at Amazon.
If you’ve never had a chance to read a screenplay for a film before, on its own it can’t quite take the place of seeing the actual film version itself. However, reading a screenplay be a meaningful creative exercise, as the script essentially serves as the foundation and blueprint upon which the film is built, and one can also get a sense of the flow of the written word and the skill of the writer’s craft. Here, we offer two of the frontrunners for Oscar consideration (both in the Best Picture and Writing categories) this year: The King’s Speech (Best Original Screenplay) and The Social Network (Best Adapted Screenplay). These are officially available online via deadline.com and can also be dowloaded as pdf files. Deadline also offers this terrific Q & A with writer Aaron Sorkin on The Social Network. Here are his thoughts on blurring the lines between reality and fiction:
I’m not going to mess with somebody for the sake of making a flashier movie somehow. But, and I know that this will sound like I don’t have a conscience and I’m contradicting myself, but there is a difference between a non-fiction movie and a documentary. There’s a difference between a non-fiction movie and journalism. And I would tell anyone that if you are seeing a movie that begins with ‘The following is a true story…’, you need to look at that movie the way you would a painting and not a photograph. This is my take on what happened. You can put a bowl of fruit on a table and have 10 people take a picture of it and those 10 photographs would look pretty much like each other. If you ask 10 painters to paint it, you’re going to get a lot of different versions of the thing. And so I was telling a true story, but very quickly the people became characters to me and not historical figures. And people, and properties of people, and properties of characters, actually have very little to do with each other. I know people don’t speak in dialogue, and life doesn’t play itself out in a series of connected scenes that form a narrative. But that’s what a writer does.
Finally, if you want to venture over into the snark side, you can also see this year’s nominees for the Razzies, honoring the worst in this year’s films achievements, with tongue firmly planted in cheek.
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