Grand New Party, America, Black History Month

Here are some odds and ends for today:

1. I’m reading a book that Felix recommended a while back: Grand New Party (New York: Doubleday, 2008), by Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam. The book is not entirely what I anticipated. I expected its thesis to be: “The Republican Party is too darn conservative! It needs to moderate its positions on abortion and homosexuality if it is to make electoral headway.”

Actually, the book is sympathetic to the Republican Party’s cultural conservatism. For Douthat and Salam, the working class has flocked to the GOP on guns, religion, and marriage, not because they’ve been duped, but because their economic security goes hand in hand with their cultural stability. The working class is actually affected by crime and the sexual revolution, and negatively at that! As Douthat and Salam point out, the Republicans’ “law and order” mantra was not a code word for racial fears; rather, it resonated with the working class because (unlike rich liberals) it has to experience the effects of rising crime rates. And working class people are less able to absorb the costs of the sexual revolution, so they tend to be old fashioned in the area of sex (or so we’re told).

I cheered as I read these parts because they highlight how condescending and patronizing the Left can be. I had to shake my head when it said that the judge who forced bussing on South Boston in the 1970’s “lived in Cambridge and sent his kids to private schools” (45), meaning he was unaffected by the liberal social tinkering he imposed on others.

The book so far seems to advocate social/cultural conservatism combined with a dime-store New Dealism: an approach to government in which it gives people a hand-up, not a hand-out, in a cost-effective manner. The book is enjoyable because it goes beyond the “us vs. them” mentality that I see on Fox News, as it acknowledges the strengths and weaknesses of the Left and the Right. At the same time, I see from the book that the terms “Left” and “Right” are themselves problematic, since there is variety within those ideologies and among the figures who represent them.

2. Speaking of stability, I’ll be watching the movie America tonight on Lifetime. It’s a new movie that stars Rosie O’Donnell, and it’s about a young adult tossed to-and-fro within the foster system. I can’t imagine what that would be like for a kid–not being able to find a place where he can rest in the unconditional love of parents. What a rootless feeling that must bring! I don’t agree with Rosie O’Donnell’s politics, but I’ve liked her in some of the movies she’s been in (i.e., Wide Awake). I expect America to be a sad yet inspiring movie.

3. Today is the last day of Black History Month. I didn’t see all of the movies that I wanted to see, and I didn’t write all of the posts that I wanted to write. But there’s always next year!

I’ve thought about this question: What should be my focus when I write about Black History Month? Should I focus on blacks as victims in America? Or should I highlight their accomplishments and contributions? I expected this to be a month in which I would watch Roots and Malcom X, which focus a lot on African-Americans’ struggles against racism. But my mom recommended movies that tend to focus more on the accomplishments of black Americans (i.e., Antwone Fisher, Men of Honor). Next year, I’ll pursue a balance.

What can people gain from Black History Month? I don’t know. I get something out of it for a variety of reasons, so that’s why James’ Thoughts and Musings will continue to celebrate it.

Have a good day!

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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