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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How Revolutionary was the American Revolution?

 Richard Price, a British Unitarian minister, called the American Revolution "...the most important event in the history of the world since the birth of Christ." Ok, that might be a bit of a stretch, to say the least, but the core of his argument is that the American Revolution was a major world changer.  Yet when we look through the pages of history, it seems difficult to argue that the American Revolution was a great social revolution, such as the French Revolution in 1789, the Russian Revolution in 1917 and even the revolution that takes place in China in 1949.  According to most historians, a true social revolution destroys the institutional foundations of the old order and transfers power from a ruling elite to new social groups.

When we look at the American Revolution, we have to ask, was it a true social revolution or was it merely a rebellion? In the context of the American Revolution this is an important question that historians have been arguing about for generations. The question is whether or not the revolution was conservative in tone and tenor—essentially replacing one ruling stucture in Great Britain with another in America—or radical in the sense of changing the class system in society as well as changing the political structure. Carl Becker said it best a century ago: “The war was not about home rule, but about who would rule at home” (Carl Becker, The History of Political Parties in the Province of New York, 1760-1776,” [University of Wisconsin Press, 1909]).

This Week's Topic Question:
Do you believe that the American Revolution was truly "revolutionary" or do you agree with Carl Becker, that the American Revolution was purely a transfer of power from one elite group to another?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Affirmative Action....or not?

Once again, the topic if affirmative action is being debated across the country.  Some claim that it is absolutely necessary, while others claim that it has outlived its time.
Proponents of affirmative action point out that the groups it currently favors are coming out of "negative" backgrounds, which made it nearly impossible for them to succeed; thus, they deserve a positive advantage when competing for jobs or positions against others who experienced no systemic barriers to success. Without a special opportunity to enter into the system, disadvantaged groups might never be able to overcome the handicap which was forced on them by the exclusive priorities of their culture. Eventually, all should be able to compete equally, but discrimination is too recent to expect underprivileged groups to do so now. In the end, the goal is a free and equal society in which nobody gets a head start to success. There are, however, many people who are skeptical about these claims. These critics of affirmative action point out that selecting someone purely based on their ethnicity or origin actually devalues the person's real accomplishments; they also say that this devaluation ends up hurting the wider ethnic or racial group from which a candidate comes.
Another common criticism is that as a form of reverse discrimination, affirmative action keeps societies aware of the barriers that divide it and actually perpetuates alienation and resentment between ethnically diverse groups, thus increasing rather than reducing racial tension. Another concern is that affirmative action may encourage individuals to misrepresent themselves as members of an underprivileged group so that they can get a job or appointment.
Finally, critics claim that racially-based hiring or appointment policies encourage everyone not to perform at their best - the underprivileged, because they may get the position anyway, and the privileged, because they cannot be hired no matter how well they perform. The affirmative action debate is heated; while most Americans favor affirmative action when it is focused on gender and seeks to make sure that enough women are hired, fewer of them claim to support racially-based affirmative action programs.

This week's Blog Topic:
Has affirmative action outlived its time or is it a policy that is still greatly needed?  Make sure you can defend your point-of-view.

Monday, October 7, 2013

To Change or Not to Change, That is the Question!

For this week's blog, you have a small assignment.  Below is a link that you need to go to and read the article from the Washington Post.  The article is 5 pages long, but won't take you that long to read and is important for you to understand the purpose for this week's blog post.

Granted, some of you may not be big sports fans, or even more importantly for some, football fans, but the issue that is raised here goes far beyond that concept.  The real issue here is dealing with an question that is as old as the United States its self (actually, the issue probably can be traced back all the way to the first Europeans arriving in the New World).  But I'll stop here, for I really don't want to influence anyone's opinions on this issue.

Make sure you READ the article before responding to the topic for this week and feel free (highly encouraged) to use information from the reading to support your point of view.

Click here for the Washington Post article

Should Native American themed mascots (for all teams, both professional and even high school) be banned?   Or are we simply becoming too politically correct?  Defend your point-of-view.