Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Race: Human

I heard an interesting interview about the U.S. Census which reported that 50% of the increase in population was among Hispanics. This researcher always goes directly to the race and ethnicity questions, checks other and fills in race: "human" which is the "only one I recognize". He calls race and ethnicity a "pigment of the imagination" when talking with his students. I like it. Actually, I view "hispanic" as a geo-political designation rather than a race or ethnicity and I like the idea of answering "other - human" to that question on all forms.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Protesting Against vs. Advocating For

The situation in Lybia brought something to my attention. The problems which can arise when you protest against something vs. the cohesive nature of a group which advocates for something. When you protest against something -- an established government, for example -- you can be joined by a diverse group of people who agree that the thing is bad. However, they don't always agree on what is good when the protest succeeds and the bad thing is eliminated. That is, they agree that the thing is bad, but not the direction to follow once that thing that you protested against is eliminated. This can cause issues once the regime, for example, falls.

On the other hand, a group advocating for something have the advantage of a goal to work toward once the bad thing is eliminated. They are working to a specific agreed upon end and the issues involved in reaching that end are less divisive that the protester case.

We can learn something from this in both domestic and international relations. If we back protesters, we are often faced with the issue that the resulting situation can be worse for the U.S. than the existing situation. Of course, as in the case of Lybia, if we are advocating democracy, we need to be prepared for the messy results of a democratic process. (Just look at our country and the divisiveness now!) On the other hand, if we back advocates, we know what the desired outcome can be and the likely results for the U.S.

In the U.S. we have much the same situation with the deficit. We protest against it, but have very different views on the outcome we want when it is reduced.