|Some things I wish Americans were better informed about . . .
||[Jun. 6th, 2015|02:58 pm]
(1) The world outside our borders.
Probably about half of us know there were some big elections in the UK not that long ago. I hope. Not sure about this. A double digit percentage of that half might be able to tell you who the SNP are, but I doubt it. Hell, I had never heard of the Plaid Cymru until the run up to said election, still don't know much about them, and still don't know what the differences between the Scottish and English greens are, just that differences exist (and this latter knowledge is entirely due to reading a stray remark on a fiction writer's blog) .
Maybe a quarter know there was a big upset in a recent Canadian election, tho I'm doubtful it's that high.
Getting outside the "English as primary language spoken" areas of the world, I would guess the number of Americans who would know what the hell you are talking about if you said "Syriza" would be well south of 5%. If you said "YPG" or "YPJ" the number would almost certainly be less than 1%, and probably a lot more of those on the conservative side of the spectrum than the left, which is so sad it makes me want to cry. You might get back up around 5% for "Yazidis".
Likewise politics, economics and animal rights and environmental issues on every other continent. Except Japan. We all know there was a bit of an issue in Japan with a nuclear reactor at some point in the recent past. And oh, Fair Trade. Most of us know "Fair Trade" labeling has something to do with other countries.
(2) Environmental issues.
There seems to be a concerted effort not to talk about climate change as a sociopolitical issue over here. Most people seem not to get how bad it is. Most people with the platform to inform others seem to actively avoid doing so. When someone tries, there seems to be an active effort to ignore them. I think this tactic likely to have exactly the same effect as closing your eyes and hoping it goes away when there really IS a super strong, super fast, hard to kill with any sort of weaponry kid eating monster with super great vision, hearing and sense of smell crawling out from under the bed wondering where its next meal is. Which fate all the people in power trying to ignore the issue completely, entirely and without reservation richly deserve. Sadly, the rest of us are stuck on the same planet with them, and we can't make them go away, and we don't have any way to take all the good stuff about the planet and go anywhere else either.
Most people don't know there are floating islands of garbage larger than Texas out in the ocean. Most people don't know about the likely upcoming extinction of coral reefs, and how much of them are already gone. Most people don't have the faintest clue how severe the overfishing problem is and how severely depleted the ocean is of practically everything. (Except human waste products! Those are ever growing!) Most people have no clue honeybees are at risk or why and how easy it would be to do something about it and how are our government is trying to take the head in sand / hide under pillow approach.
I belong to a couple of left wing political action mailing lists that frequently ask what I care about. They list a range of issues. Environmental ones are never on there. Climate change is never on there. Extinction events are never on there. That these should be trumping everything even from a purely self-interested, self preservation viewpoint apparently does not occur to whoever makes these lists, or they simply don't care, because ... tribalism? Paid off? Just plain stupid? I don't know. I am reminded of stories about how when Al Gore wanted to talk about climate change and the preservation of the natural world during the run-up to the 2000 elections, his handlers wouldn't let him. When he finally overruled them and insisted, they actively discouraged the media from covering such talks.
Obama, I will grant you, has talked about climate change a couple of times in order to criticize Republican stupidity. The media has covered this. He has then immediately proceeded to okay more offshore drilling, more fracking (so has supposedly left wing Cali gov. Jerry Brown) and offshore drilling in the arctic. Wow. That is so disgustingly cynical I don't have words. The media manages not to make any connection here.
Does even 20% of the country know the US was successfully sued for allowing "country of origin" labelling laws? (see also: efforts in this country to make it illegal to label something non-GMO and the like, which is also mostly unknown)
Meanwhile, something like 70-85% of Republicans even oppose the TPP. So do the vast majority of Democrats and Independents. But it's on the verge of getting through Congress, with nearly all Republican Senators and Representatives on board, and being pushed as hard as possible by Obama in public, and then you have crazy shit like Schumer and Pelosi pushing it as hard as possible behind the scenes while opposing it in public. It totally guts national sovereignty in favor of huge corporations. So, Shell or Monsanto or NIKE or China or More Toxic Than Thou Plastics Inc can sue the US for requiring labor standards, or labeling stuff fair trade, or what have you (see: Myanmar, and Obama's support for allowing said human slavery exemption to get them on board). And of course, no one is even allowed to see the damn thing. Except members of Congress. While being watched to make sure they don't take notes or make copies. Under penalty of something or another if they talk about it.
I don't think most people get the issues with this. It would be the second biggest fuck up since the Iraq War. (the biggest being, again, our failure to act on climate change) And the way it is being handled is . . . scary is sort of an understatement. I'm hoping the lack of mass outrage is due to ignorance. So yeah, this is something I wish more Americans knew something about.
(4) The importance of critical thinking skills. And the courage to use them. And not jumping to conclusions, or on bandwagons, and resisting tribalism and groupthink. And understanding gradations, and complexity, and the difference between being wrong and being evil, having some ability to tell when someone is one or the other.
And . . . I'm getting less angry and more sad, so going to stop listing stuff now. There is more. And I'm very very sure there's lots more I don't know even know about, cause not a whole lot of free time and don't want to spend all of it trying to find every corner of real news, since mainstream news is ... verging on totally useless?
Ppeople should be able to be reasonably well informed if they check out an hour or two of mainstream news every week. And they are not. A lot of this vast ignorance comes back to our mainstream media. They are basically traitors to humanity and the world, with what they spew and how they present things. From passing off (demonstrably false, which they had to have been complete idiots not to know) Bush administration propaganda as fact during the run up to the Iraq War to the concerted effort to ignore or minimize world threatening problems such as climate change to crap such as the admission by many political journalists that they actually let what kind of food they got from different candidates on the presidential campaign trail affect how they covered the candidates/issues, Western and especially American journalists have grossly violated the public trust. Our corporate media likes to think it is better than Dick Cheney and the neocons, but it isn't. Not that this makes them different from most other people who have had any major responsibility in the past 40 years, but unlike corporate execs, billionaires, and politicians, they are not getting rich off this. All they are doing is getting to suck up to rich people and demonstrate their boot-licking skills. That is . . . pathetic as much as it is anger inducing and disgusting. Anger inducing and disgusting with regard to the effects on the rest of us, and just . . . pathetic when it comes to what it says about them.