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Friday, February 07, 2014

Is Melting Pot a Misnomer?

What 69 years of the socialist melting pot looks like.
The Coca-Cola Superbowl commercial this year cranked up a lot of conservatives who claim that it is divisive and some sort of evil liberal plot to promote communism through soft drink commercials.

I didn't get that from it at all. I saw it as an affirmation of America as the melting pot. Remember, the song returned to English at the end as all those languages once again became melded into one. The English language and especially American English is the sum of many languages.

Don't believe me?  Sit down to supper.  Are you having jambalaya, barbecue, burritos or pizza?  Maybe you'll schlep down to the deli for a bagel. You could sit out on the patio and play your banjo, eat a banana or dip some tortilla chips in guacamole made with fresh avocado. Maybe eat a frankfurter or polish sausage. English borrows its vocabulary from the best of every other language there is. I think what we should see from this commercial is not that people come to this country speaking other languages, but that they all contribute to the beauty that is the American language.

Coke's behind-the-scenes video points out that, though we come from many countries with many different languages, we become one country out of all that. Rather than seeing our differences in that brief bit of film, why is it that we are not seeing the things that make us one.

It's little wonder we are called racists so often. There are racists among us as conservatives, though by no means are all racists conservatives. The liberal racism, anti-semitism and cultural paternalism is no lest pernicious.  It is time that Christians and conservatives seize the narrative and interpretation of things like this Coke commercial.  While it may be true that liberals try to make a point and use things like this to damn conservatism as a racist philosophy, it does not follow that these things are inherently racist in and of themselves.

Diversity is not a bad thing. If we as conservatives embraced diversity and made it an essential part of our own narrative, we would defang those leftists who treat people from diverse backgrounds as "groups".  As a conservative, I embrace our differences and believe we should lift up people of all backgrounds. We should point out what we have gained from every single culture we have absorbed into the American stew. I think melting pot isn't a particularly good metaphor.  A melting part makes a homogeneous liquid of everything put into it - everything the same everywhere.  That's a Communist idea.

The reason I put a picture of Moscow at the top of the page is to show what happens when Marxist socialism makes everything "fair" for all people. It created a melting pot that turned the very city of Moscow, once a colorful vibrant city into a bland, smoky gray and dull misery. We do not want that. Free market capitalism doesn't do that. America has never done that before except in places like Detroit where the socialist, central-planning experiment has been conducted with vigor. The consequences are obvious to anyone who looks hard at the historical evidence.

Freedom of opportunity, freedom of speech, religion, assembly and the right to self-defense have allowed us to become a vast stew (note I did NOT say melting pot). We have chunks of this and that and flavors that mingle throughout the broth. We are a banana split, not a milkshake. We are a five course meal, not a smoothie. The conservative ideal that raises the right of the individual human being to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness over everything else can be seen in that Coke commercial.

Let us not let the liberality of the framers of the Constitution be relabeled again. What was liberal in 1776 is now the ideals of those labeled "conservative".  We have seen a shift over 200 years of the opposition as well.  Those who supported government by the elite, central planning and rule by the powerful were once conservatives and sided with the British during the revolution. These same elitist; the same people who once defended the divine rights of kings have simply redefined the nobility as the hereditary smart people. They have appropriated Darwin's "survival of the fittest" to justify the rule of the nation's elite families that for generation after generation attended Harvard, Yale, Columbia and Princeton and went on to become senators, congressmen and presidents.

They have toyed with idea of eugenics to weed out the lower classes, then with Marxism as a tool to pacify the ignorant masses so they would not revolt again as they did in 1776 and endanger the preeminence of the new nobility that the liberal chattering class have fancied themselves to be. They've used Planned Parenthood as a tool to reduce the number of black people and poor people in America through the promotion of abortion generating a death toll of unborn children of more than 57 million. They've used a welfare system that's rigged to discourage the poor from rising above their station where they might make trouble.

They've pounded the middle class with taxation and regulation because the middle class make a disproportionate amount of trouble for our would-be overlords. The don't want to ever see the middle class elect another Reagan as president - someone who threatens change that would derail the steady march of socialism and give hope to the American people again. So they substitute the hope of bread and circuses today for the hope of a better future tomorrow. For the restoration of traditional American values, they substitute change that undermines our lively free-market capitalist economy and turns it into a dismal, over-regulated gradual and seemingly inevitable slide toward socialism.

These are not toy boats. These are full-sized fishing boats.
The Soviet government managed to dry up an entire sea.
That's what a centrally-planned economy will do for you.
Amazingly, we do not seem to be able to learn from this.

Sometimes our fans are our worst enemies where American bedrock conservatism is concerned. The racists, the conspiracy theorists, the paranoid and the ignorant cling to our flanks and weigh us down. We should not fear to shake them off by speaking truth to them. We need only one rule to give us the power to take back our society. It is a golden one and if we practiced that one rule above all others, we would be irresistible. We could take back our country; put it back on the right track.

Sadly, I think it may take the Second Coming to accomplish that. I am not discouraged by this. On the contrary, the more people who come to understand and embrace, freedom, diversity, opportunity and honor, the more fun heaven and the New Earth will be.

Just one man's opinion....

Tom King © 2014

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Is Your Dog Stupid? Maybe Not

My cousin Jeff Fong with his genius
dogs, Sam and Twist*
This article in Yahoo News purports to name the 5 least intelligent dog breeds.

I don't think this list is quite correct in it's assessment of dog intelligence.
It names Basset Hounds, Irish Setters, Weimaraners, Pugs and last, and probably most controversial, Chihuahuas as the dogs with the lowest intelligence.  I was surprised Beagles didn't make the list. They usually do. Our beagle, Suzy, wasn't stupid. Oh, in some respects, she had the intellectual awareness of a bag of rocks, but she could track down a butterfly in a flower patch, she had such a keen sense of smell. And she was fiercely loyal to us. I call that smart, if not in a sit up, roll over and fetch kind of way.

Intelligence in humans is multi-faceted.
One can have verbal intelligence, mathematical intelligence (measured by an IQ test) or social intelligence (politicians/actors/social climbers), kinesthetic intelligence (movement in space like for atheletes), musical intelligence, visual spatial intelligence (the kind artists, architects and sculptors have) and self-awareness (philosophers/preachers/psychologists), to name a few brands of smartness.

I think dog intelligence varies by type as well with some dogs having strengths in some areas and some in others. Some dogs are pack animals who respond well to training by a human alpha-dog. My dog is like that and is content, not challenging me for dominance. She trains very well and is also prey driven so she loves little rewards and needs lots of work to do. Many breeds, like chihuahuas especially, are instinctively driven by a need to BE the alpha dog which makes them little beasts to train. The cute factor makes them vulnerable to mishandling and spoiling by their owners. They also are one person dogs, tending to be drawn to the one person in the house that won't challenge them for dominance - hence their bad rep. It could be argued that chihuahuas are quite smart to know how to have figured out how to become king of their domain in a world where everybody is bigger than they are.

Some dogs are fiercely loyal to their pack and that factor makes them amazing protectors of their family. Other dogs are merely territorial and that makes them good at guarding your property, but they'll likely require a firm hand if you don't want them to eat the mailman.  So dog intelligence as assessed by dog intelligence experts, should probably factor in a great deal more than a measure of how obnoxious or how trainable the animal may be.

In some ways individual dog intelligence is more a measure of the "fit" between dog and human and how that makes us perceive them. One man's stupid Irish Setter is another man's bright, loyal and playful companion on long rambles in the countryside. Dog intelligence lists may be based more on our prejudices for behavioral traits than on real intellectual capacity. My dog is thick as a brick about some things like breaking off a chase, but I do believe she knows a startling number of words and phrases and that her stubborness is more about her love of the chase than about disobedience.

In humans it's easy to see how we differ in abilities. My wife, for instance, can hear a baby cry and know instantly what the child wants. Me, I don't get babies at all, but turn me loose on a broken water faucet or repairing my balky computer and I'm a magician next to her. We have different kinds of skills and intelligences. She's a musical and social genius, able to pick up all sorts of subtle nuances of speech and body language. I need a very large bucket and two baritones singing loudly in my ear to carry a tune and I'm a complete social oaf so far as social cues go. I am good, however, at visual-spacial tasks, putting things together and taking them apart. I'm a whiz at written verbal tasks too.  I'm only smarter than my wife at a few things which IQ tests happen to measure. She makes me look thick at other things the IQ test designers forgot to measure.  I think it works the same way for dogs. I think the measurement of animal intelligent is too subjective and far too heavily weighted to a single factor like trainability and calmness.

Me and my brilliant puppy dog, Daisy.
What is particularly amazing about dogs is that in the wild all dogs are pretty much alike. Scientists have shown, however, that in just a few generations with people, dogs that have come out of the wild not only become more tame, but they also develop this amazing variety of personalities, abilities and temperament. They even begin to develop distinct markings, body types and even change colors away from the dull browns and grays of wild dogs to the bewildering array of colors found in domesticated dogs. 

I think God designed them that way on purpose, just as He designed each of us with different skills and abilities. "And He gave some apostles, and some prophets, and other some evangelists, and other some pastors and doctors." (Eph. 4:11). And God told us that we should not envy the gifts which are not ours nor disrespect those who happen not to have our gifts. (I Corinthians 12).  I think animals like dogs and horses have been given that same plethora of "gifts" in order to make them perfect companions to man. That's why nobody agrees on what's the best dog and why some are drawn to specific breeds. We choose our animal companions as we choose our mates - we look for the best fit in personality, skill, temperament and affection.

How cool is that?

© 2014 by Tom King

* Side note on my Cousin Jeff's dog Sam: The previous owner couldn't do anything with Sam and returned him as incorrigible. Jeff took Sam from being what one person thought was a thick-headed reject and trained him to be a first place winner in frisbee dog competitions in a matter of months. It wasn't a case of stupid dog, just a bad fit with the previous owner. Sam needed energy, Jeff has energy to match. If you don't own a dog, try finding one that's your match. You won't regret it.