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The Trouble with Certainty in Politics, in Jusrisprudence, in Life
Basquiat's Head Knows . . .
(Basquiat's head collaged and extended from piece shown last week.
The head is very typical of his work.)
California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: May 6, 2005
Latest Update: May 6, 2005
This blog appeared in the May 6, 2005 Issue No. 16, Vol. 23 of Dear Habermas.
Certainty requires consensus or someone must be wrong. Once there is a right and a wrong we exclude someone, those who are wrong. And exclusion leads to colonization in that the stronger enforce their right over the weaker's wrong. Hierarchy and certainty suck.They lead to colonialism, and Jean-Michel Basquiat represents the anti-colonial position as expressed by Fanon. For me the Basquiat head offers one interpretation of the "one who knows, and thus enslaves and/or exploits the one who is wrong."
This is being said every day on the pages of the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times. It is being said about racism and all the other isms. It is being said about the exclusion of workers, about the outsourcing of jobs to the cheapest labor force. It is being said about the need for government to police the greed and fraud of private corporations and agents and representatives of government. It is being said about religious fundamentalism, about sexuality and the practice of sex, about judicial activism and judge-made policy, about the practice of war as "justified." It is being said so loud and so clearly that it scares me. It scares me that so many of us are so caught up in our own little worlds that we are not hearing in good faith the message about safety nets and control through "knowingness."
Yes, those who "have" will accomplish more and profit more if they pay no heed to those "who do not have" and move on to progress and expand and consume more as quickly as they can. Thomas Friedman's new book, suggests that the threat posed by India and China wrenching power from the U.S. through their greater ability to produce cheap commodities and to struggle to achieve is justifiable as the strongest strive to gain power over the weaker.Terrorism remains a threat, and we will all continue to be fascinated by upheavals in Lebanon, events in Iran and reforms in Egypt. But ultimately these trends are unlikely to shape the world's future. The countries of the Middle East have been losers in the age of globalization, out of step in an age of free markets, free trade and democratic politics. The world's future -- the big picture -- is more likely to be shaped by the winners of this era. And if the United States thought it was difficult to deal with the losers, the winners present an even thornier set of challenges. This is the implication of the New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman's excellent new book, ''The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century.''
'The World Is Flat': The Wealth of Yet More Nations By Fareed Zakaria, New York Times. Published: May 1, 2005.
It hasn't happened yet. It isn't even "about" to happen. But to the extent that Americans ignore disciplined education, ignore the sciences in favor of "belief," and ignore the answerability of the Other, in both East/West and North/South relationships, it is one alternative implicit in some of the willingness to exploit, to hierarchize, to commodify in the present global context. If Americans go to war while Indians and Chinese study and practice technology, somewhere along the line the production and control of technology is going to shift.
On p.A 14 of the New York Times today, Kansas legislators attack science in favor of religious belief. In Kansas, Darwinism Goes on Trial Once More. By Jodi Wilgoren. Published: May 6, 2005. "'These people are going to obfuscate about these definitions,' complained Jack Krebs, vice president of the pro-evolution Kansas Citizens for Science, whose members filled many of the 180 auditorium seats not taken by journalists, who came from as far away as France. 'They have created a straw man. They are trying to make science stand for atheism, so they can fight atheism.' "
The Los Angeles Times on P. A1, blazoned: Evolution Isn't a Natural Selection Here, by P.J. Huffstutter. "Kansas looks again at whether teachers should be allowed to present non-scientific theories." Kathy Martin is described as a School Board member whose family built on their farm "a white cross [that] dominates the landscape."
"The cross is a proud expression of Martin's faith. And as hearings challenging the role of evolution in the state's school science curriculum began Thursday, that cross left little doubt about where she stood in the debate. " 'Evolution is a great theory, but it is flawed,' said Martin, 59, a retired science and elementary school teacher who is presiding over the hearings. 'There are alternatives. Children need to hear them…. We can't ignore that our nation is based on Christianity — not science.' "
Our nation is based on the concept that all men [sic] are created free. We have freedom of speech, and important rights to privacy. We have the right to practice science as well as religion, without being forced to agree with anyone. We are a secualrist state. Freedom requires that. We have interfered with the religious need to control a state in the Middle East. How dare we practice such control in our own homeland?
When a gay student asked Justice Scalia at an NYU talk whether he sodomized his wife, he wasn't insulting the Justice. He was making clear by his very question just how private and personal human interrelationships are. If we are offended by the question, how much more should we be offended by the NYU Dean's confusion of the question with polite conversation. The question was an intense and intentional reference to the privacy destroyed by our actions on whether or not two consenting adults choose to engage in a given sexual practice. Those two consenting adults would never tolerate the intrusion as human and partner of the opposite sex. Yet that is fundamentally the question we ask of two consenting adults of the same sex. Do we have the moral right to so intrude on the basis of our private religious beliefs? The Bible is not the only religious authority. By what right do we make it the controlling authority, and by what authority is ours a "nation based on Christianity" when there are other religions, protected by our Constitution along with Christianity? If there are Christians, fundamentalist, evangelical Christians, who have a problem with pornography, what makes us think there are none who have a problem with gender choice in sexuality?
This is not about sex. This is not about evolution. This is not about how much government. It is about freedom. I thought that's why we fought the Iraq war. For freedom.
love and peace, jeanne
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