Monday, 29 October 2012

An American

“He is an American, who, leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank he holds. He becomes an American by being received in the broad lap of our great Alma Mater. Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose labours and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world.”

Letters From An American Farmer - What is an American? pg44.

This quote is given me ingredients of what an american consist of, in the sense that you have to leave behind your old cultural values and embrace what Americans believe to be the "new mode of life" it also shows prosperity of an individual by coming and being an american. It  gives you the feeling that becoming or being american you will have an impact to change the world. 

However to a certain extent this quote still survives today, in the sense that races all over the world still migrate to america to escape religious persecution, war and economic troubles. because some people share Americans beliefs in which they hold. 

Although some people migrate to America they may only embrace some aspects of Americans belief  for instance in this article a man MURDER'S his daughters just because they decided to date men who are non-Muslims, and their father concluded their murder as an "Honour Killing." this shows that some people still hold on to their religious values they grew up on which is different to american ideal of new life.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Immigrating into America

'There is no wonder that this country has so many charms, and presents to Europeans so many temptations to remain in it. A traveller in Europe becomes a stranger as soon as he quits his own kingdom; but it is otherwise here. We know, properly speaking, no strangers; this is every person's country; the variety of our soils, situations, climates, governments, and produce, hath something which must please every body. No sooner does an European arrive, no matter of what condition, than his eyes are opened upon the fair prospect; he hears his language spoke, he retraces many of his own country manners, he perpetually hears the names of families and towns with which he is acquainted; he sees happiness and prosperity in all places disseminated; he meets with hospitality, kindness, and plenty every where; he beholds hardly any poor, he seldom hears of punishments and executions; and he wonders at the elegance of our towns, those miracles of industry and freedom. He cannot admire enough our rural districts, our convenient roads, good taverns, and our many accommodations; he involuntarily loves a country where every thing is so lovely. When in England, he was a mere Englishman; here he stands on a larger portion of the globe, not less than its fourth part, and may see the productions of the north, in iron and naval stores; the provisions of Ireland, the grain of Egypt, the indigo, the rice of China. He does not find, as in Europe, a crouded society, where every place is over-stocked; he does not feel that perpetual collision of parties, that difficulty of beginning, that contention which oversets so many. There is room for every body in America; has he any particular talent, or industry? he exerts it in order to procure a livelihood, and it succeeds. Is he a merchant? the avenues of trade are infinite; is he eminent in any respect? he will be employed and respected. Does he love a country life? pleasant farms present them- selves; he may purchase what he wants, and thereby become an American farmer. Is he a labourer, sober and industrious? he need not go many miles, nor receive many informations before he will be hired, well fed at the table of his employer, and paid four or five times more than he can get in Europe. Does he want uncultivated lands? Thousands of acres present themselves, which he may purchase cheap. Whatever be his talents or inclinations, if they are moderate, he may satisfy them. I do not mean that every one who comes will grow rich in a little time; no, but he may procure an easy, decent maintenance, by his industry. Instead of starving he will be fed, instead of being idle he will have employment; and these are riches enough for such men as come over here. The rich stay in Europe, it is only the middling and the the poor that emigrate.'
Crevecoeur, page 55-57

This extract from 'Letters from an American Farmer'  reads the ideas of the American Dream, how Europeans will be treated right and will have a chance to be what they want to become. This extract makes America seem like the ideal place to be when wanting to be someone important, how every person will be fed and will be employed to do what they are skilled to do. This is a similar idea to the modernised way of thinking for instance, some Mexicans try to cross the border into America because they have the idea that they will be able to get paid well and to be treated like an American. However this is not always true especially for illegal immigrants. New policies in America are making immigrants be able to continue their visas so they can still live in America without the risk of deportation.

Week 5: The Fresh America!

Extract from De Crevecoeur - Letters from an American Farmer
  • Chapter 5, What is an American?
"Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose labours and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world. Americans are the western pilgrims, who are carrying along with them that great mass of arts, sciences, vigour and industry, which began long since in the east. They will finish the great circle." 
 J. Hector St John De Crevecoeur,  Letters from an American Farmer. (New York: Oxford University Press. 1998), p44.

Modern day interpretation
  • Obama: "A New Vision Of An America In Which Prosperity Is Shared"

"Too many folks still don't have a sense that tomorrow will be better than today. And so, the question in this election is which way do we go?" President Obama asked at a fundraiser in Chicago on Sunday.
"Do we go forward towards a new vision of an America in which prosperity is shared?" Obama asked. "Or do we go backward to the same policies that got us in the mess in the first place?"
"I believe we have to go forward," Obama said. "I believe we have to keep working to create an America where no matter who you are, no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, no matter what your last name is, no matter who you love, you can make it here if you try. That's what's at stake in November. That's what is why I am running for a second term as president of the United States of America."

In relation to the upcoming Presidential election President Barrack Obama spoke at his campaign fundraiser in Chicago about the way in which he wants and see's America to be, in that he believes that with his help America will be an ever progressive country that doesn't discriminate its inhabitants.
In comparison to De Crevecoeur's there are similarities in that they both talk about how everyone is equal and in essence stand as one. It is interesting that the way Barrack Obama talks about unity and in which America must move forward thus preventing from repeating it's past, which can relate to early historical periods in America where unity and equality was very much non-existent. For example between the Native Americans and the Settlers.

Week 5 blog post. Starting again.

"Perhaps you got married or started a family. Maybe you didn't get enough financial aid, or you couldn't keep up with your schoolwork in addition to job responsibilities. Or perhaps you had a bad semester, you didn't have clear direction and goals for your education and your career, or you just didn't feel like college was worth your time and energy.  But your situation has changed. You might be in a better position to devote time to studying, or you might just be more willing to put in the effort so that your education can take you where you want to go in life. Whatever the case may be, going back to college after dropping out is a brave choice, one you won't regret."

As this advertisement suggests, any individual has the opportunity to go back to college (university) if they have dropped out. It emphasizes De Crevecouer's idea that people in American society have the opportunity to start over with a 'clean slate.' It states that although an individual's first attempt at something wasn't perfect or complete, it is completely down to them to see if they wish to attempt to repeat their desire, hoping for a different outcome. 

"If you're planning on going back to college after dropping out, odds are good that you'll perform better than you did the first time around. College dropouts who go back to school usually have a better idea of what to expect from higher education and more clearly defined outcomes."

This section of the advertisement gives the reader hope that their second attempt at completing their studies will be far easier to complete, suggesting they are far more likely to succeed in their goal to complete the course. It goes on to say that the individuals teaching classes, are far happier with more mature students, as they bring higher levels of motivation, seriousness and maturity.  It makes the reader believe that they will in fact be a positive influence if they choose to go back to university, that their decision to return, will not only be beneficial to them, by allowing they to 'start over', but also to the teachers teaching them and the students around them. The advertisement shows that it is perfectly acceptable to want to start over, agreeing with De Crevecouer's idea of 'starting again'.

Week 5 Blog Post

I chose these websites just because they were the first I found however there are probably close to a hundred thousand other law firms in America that you could put in its place. There were 19000 results for New York alone.

In "Letters from an American Farmer" De Crèvecœur wrote about how litigious the American people are:

"As freemen they will be litigious; pride and obstinacy are often the cause of law suits; the nature of our laws and governments may be another. As citizens it is easy to imagine, that they will carefully read the newspapers, enter into every political disquisition, freely blame or censure governors and others. As farmers they will be careful and anxious to get as much as they can, because what they get is their own. As northern men they will love the chearful cup. As Christians, religion curbs them not in their opinions; the general indulgence leaves every one to think for themselves in spiritual matters; the laws inspect our actions, our thoughts are left to God. Industry, good living, selfishness, litigiousness, country politics, the pride of freemen, religious indifference, are their characteristics. If you recede still farther from the sea, you will come into more modern settlements; they exhibit the same strong lineaments, in a ruder appearance. Religion seems to have still less influence, and their manners are less improved." (Crèvecœur, 1997, 46)


"Now we arrive near the great woods, near the last inhabited districts; there men seem to be placed still farther beyond the reach of government, which in some measure leaves them to themselves. How can it pervade every corner; as they were driven there by misfortunes, necessity of beginnings, desire of acquiring large tracks of land, idleness, frequent want of economy, ancient debts; the re-union of such people does not afford a very pleasing spectacle. When discord, want of unity and friendship; when either drunkenness or idleness prevail in such remote districts; contention, inactivity, and wretchedness must ensue. There are not the same remedies to these evils as in a long established community. The few magistrates they have, are in general little better than the rest; they are often in a perfect state of war; that of man against man, sometimes decided by blows, sometimes by means of the law; that of man against every wild inhabitant of these venerable woods, of which they are come to dispossess them." (Crèvecœur, 1997, 46)

Although I suspect the meaning of the term has been adjusted over the year, the basic idea that "The American" has a right to sue for their equal rights, to get what is rightly (in their eyes) theirs is profound. Whilst it has started to come over here, the fact that a main tenet of the legal system is being exported to another country through commercial interests alone tells you something about the nature of litigation.

While Europeans attempt to rally against "no win no fee" lawyers (litigation attorney's in America) and view it as something only the desperate and uncouth use, it doesn't have that tainted image to such an extent in the USA. Interestingly The Simpson's parody the typical "ambulance chasing" lawyer with Lionel Hutz, but even this says something about how prevalent, how encroached in society these law firms are.

I suspect that De Crèvecœur didn't mean the settlers go around suing each other for running a cart over his neighbours foot or firing his son for having a tattoo, you can read between the lines and trace the growth of these companies from those passages above.

DC is saying that the American is proud, fiercely protective of his own and not shy to stand up for his rights. If something is wrong, broken or unfair, he will fight to change it....not only will he fight, there are mechanisms in 18th Century America to allow him to do so. I can't imagine European workers would have had such ready access the ear of the legal system - this reflects the innovation, the new free regime and the relative prosperity of America.

Also, because everything is still new and there are riches to be had, setting out a social order is paramount. Unlike Europe where boundaries (both physical and social) have been set in stone for centuries, Americans are still find their place in the country. How this relates to the modern law firms is debatable - but certainly many of them believe they are actively helping to change society for the better.

Another point one could make about litigation and the "freshness" of America is how these firms have diversified into overseas contract law, new technology and immigration law. Possibly no other institution from the beginning of America has been on the cutting edge of societies dilemmas  And unlike British or French law which is based on hundred of years of precedence and crown intervention, the American legal system is unhindered as long as it operates within the general tone of the Constitution.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Life Stories Profiles of Black New Yorkers During Slavery and Emancipation

"On a spring night in 1712, after the moon set, two slaves set fire to a building on the property of baker Peter Vantilborough. They then ran to a nearby
orchard and joined other slaves who were waiting quietly in the darkness.
There were more than 20 of them, and they were all holding guns, knives, or
hatchets. When neighbors noticed the fire and came running to put it out, the
slaves attacked and killed nine white people. The governor sent troops to
capture blacks thought to be involved. Six slaves committed suicide rather
than be taken. Thirty-nine others were charged with the crimes. Mars was
one of several blacks charged with killing Adrian Beekman. 
This was the first big uprising of slaves in New York. Most of the blacks
belonged to the Coromantee or Pawpaw people of West Africa. Most had
only been in New York City for a year or two. They were just beginning to
understand what it meant to be a slave here. In West Africa, a slave could
eventually become absorbed into the owner’s family. When these Africans learned that in New York they would
always be slaves, they started planning their rebellion. 
The trials began within days, and most were quick. Some people were tried, found guilty, and executed in a single day. Mars’s owner, Jacob Regnier, testified at his trial. He may have spoken in Mars’s favor, because Mars
was found not guilty. The Attorney General had an old feud with Regnier, and decided to try Mars again for
killing Beekman. Mars was found not guilty at the second trial, too, but the Attorney General was not finished.
He ordered a third trial of Mars, and charged him with a different murder. This time, Mars was found guilty and
sentenced to be hanged. It was June 7, 1712.
Then Royal Governor Hunter stepped in. He thought the Attorney General was using Mars just to get back at his
old enemy, Regnier. The governor issued a reprieve for Mars, and wrote to England for an official pardon. Mars
had to wait in jail until the pardon arrived in October, but then his case was finally settled. He was not hanged,
and he was returned to Regnier as his slave."

This source is a life story profile on a man named Regnier’s Mars an African Slave who appeared in the public record documents in New York of the year 1712. The source reflects Mar’s view of what he thought slavery would have been like when he migrated to America in the 1700.
However his perception had changed when he discovered the difference between being a slave in West Africa and a slave in America was unfair. In West Africa, the slaves would be absorbed into the owner's family meaning the slaves would be involved and in a way part of their owner’s family, which was completely different in New York especially when Mar’s learnt that he, would always be a slave. This resulted in rebellion. African Americans thought and knew that it wasn't fair.

Reading Mar’s profile of his experience in America gave me an insight of what and how Africans were treated particularly in New York.
This is inconsiderate to black Africans especially when people who come from other countries such as Germans only had to be slaves for about 6 years to pay off their dept, but for black Africans they could never have the choice of freedom or even experiencing having their own land just because they are black.

Besides that it was interesting to know that the African slaves didn't have their name their biological parents gave to them but they had to have the name of their owners. This is a basic implication that African slaves weren't consider as a person but a property owned and sold numerous of times.

Sources: “Rev. John Sharpe’s Proposals, Etc., 1713,” Collections of the New-York Historical Society for the Year 1880 (New York: New-York Historical
Society, 1881), 339-363; Kenneth Scott, “The Slave Insurrection in New York in 1712,” New-York Historical Society Quarterly 45 (1962).

Life Stories aims to portray slavery not as an abstract system but as an interaction of human beings.

Women settler in Connecticut

''There are everywhere in the Towns as I passed a Number of Indians, the Natives of the Country, and are
the most savage of all the savages of that kind that I had ever Seen: little or no care taken (as I heard upon
enquiry) to make them otherwise. They have in some places Lands of their own, and Govern’d by Laws
of their own making; they marry many wives and at pleasure put them away, and on the least dislike or
fickle humor, on either side, saying stand away to one another is a sufficient Divorce. And indeed those
uncomely Stand aways are too much in Vogue among the English in this (Indulgent Colony) as their
Records plentifully prove, and that on very trivial matters, of which some have been told me, but are not
proper to be Related by a Female pen, though some of that foolish sex have had too large a share in the

Sarah Kemble Knight, Remarks on “this whole Colony of Connecticut”

This extract tells of one woman's findings whilst settling in Connecticut. Her ideas about how the Natives have lived, and have no intention to change how they have lived surprises her and makes them seem uninterested in the settlers. She seems to be appalled by how the Natives have managed themselves with marriage, the 'Laws on their own making' appears to her to be wrong, as her upbringing in England taught her differently.
In this extract I imagine that the settlers wanted the Natives to believe in what they believed in and were confused by their way of living. By calling them 'savages' she implies that they are in the wrong and should convert to their laws and their beliefs.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Week 4: Accounts From Early Settlers In America

Description of  Pennsylvania of the 1690s: Francis Daniel Pastorius’s

"I herewith present to you the province of Pennsylvania, lately discovered by means of the expeditions sent out under Charles Stuart the First of England, and likewise its inhabitants, the Christians as well as the native savages, together with the laws, form of government, customs and habits of both of these, and also the towns which have already been settled, and the commerce which has been established . . . . And it is worthy of remark that this province, as early as the year 1684, contained four thousand Christian souls; therefore, at the present time, at the end of sixteen years, it must necessarily have a much greater population, both because of the yearly arrival of settlers, and because of the natural increase of the Christian colonists, and must also have attained to a state of greater prosperity in agriculture, in dwellings, and in trade."
 Here provided is an extract from Francis Pastorious about the origins or Pennsylvania and how it came about to be discovered, and with it its early history. The extract provides knowledge on what the state consisted of before expeditions to its land. Interestingly enough it acknowledges that there was indeed inhabitants already living in Pennsylvania, thus questioning the notion of whether it was actual being 'discovered'. This piece of extract continues on to include chapters about how Francis Pastorious saw Pennsylvania as an ever changing and prosperous state that is always progressing.

The chapter which is of relative importance is that of chapter eleven whereby he talks about the concerns of the inhabitants with the province. Specifically he categorises them into three groups the natives (however notes they are so-called savages), the Christians (old-settlers) and newly arrived associations and companies. He talks about how each of them live and how it differs from his as well as emphasising the difference in the way the look at religion and talk of God.
"So far as concerns the first, the savages, they are, in general, strong, agile, and supple people, with blackish bodies; they went about naked at first and wore only a cloth about the loins. Now they are beginning to wear shirts. They have, usually, coal-black hair, shave the head, smear the same with grease, and allow a long lock to grow on the right side. They also besmear the children with grease and let them creep about in the heat of the sun, so that they become the color of a nut, although they were at first white enough by Nature."
The above quote is specified to the Natives.

Settlers to America

"Our Europeans, who are purchased, must always work hard, for new fields are constantly laid out; and so they learn that stumps of oak-trees are in America certainly as hard as in Germany. In this hot land they fully experience in their own persons what God has imposed on man for his sin and disobedience; for in Genesis we read the words: In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread. Who therefore wishes to earn his bread in a Christian and honest way, and cannot earn it in his fatherland otherwise than by the work of his hands, let him do so in his own country, and not in America; for he will not fare better in America. However hard he may be compelled to work in his fatherland, he will surely find it quite as hard, if not harder, in the new country. Besides, there is not only the long and arduous journey lasting half a year, during which he has to suffer, more than with the hardest work; he has also spent about 200 florins which no one will refund to him. If he has so much money, it will slip out of his hands; if he has it not, he must work his debt off as a slave and poor serf. Therefore let every one stay in his own country and support himself and his family honestly."

This extract explains the hardship of the work that has to be carried out in exchange for safe passage across the Atlantic to America. How one must work for several years of their life in order to 'pay back' what they owe to the people that helped them reach America. Shows the introduction of Slavery, getting bought straight off the boat in order to begin work in the fields. They must work 3,4,5,6 years in order to gain their freedom, as then their 'debts' will be paid off and they will be able to start their new life as they had planned when they first came to America.

“Work and labor in this new and wild land are very hard”: A German Migrant in Philadelphia, 1750

by Gottlieb Mittelberger

Friday, 19 October 2012

Week 4 Blog Post

A Baptist minister in Rhode Island explains that, by driving out and killing the Indians as punishment for their sins, “God was pleased to make ready a Place prepared as an Asylum” for the early New England settlers.

The Indians in this Part of America appear to have been some of the least improved of the human Species, without any Learning or Knowledge in any of the politer Arts of Life, even without Iron and the Improvements which depend on that. The strange Destruction of this People, now since the Wars ceased, and within Memory, is very remarkable. Their insuperable Aversion to the English industry and Way of Life, the Alteration from the Indian Method of living, their Laziness, and their universal Love of Strong Drink, have swept them away, in a wonderful Manner. So that there are now above twenty English to one Indian in the Colony. Their few miserable Remainders are left as Monuments of the Anger of a righteous God, and for our Warning & Instruction. . . .
And this brings me now at last, to the Remarks I promised at the Beginning. And
I. The first is, The wonderful and unsearchable Providence of GOD in the whole Affair of driving out the Natives and planting Colonies of Europeans, and Churches of Christians, in the Place of Heathenism and Barbarity. . . .
The Discovery and the Conquest of America, with the amazing Desolations wrought therein, appear a more remarkable Event than any other in all profane History since the universal Deluge. A new World, as it was justly called, discovered to the other, or rather to Europe, and all its Riches and Glory overturned, and given away to another People; and the Aboriginal Natives, by Famine, Sword and Pestilence, destroyed, and wasted away by Millions throughout all America! Who can tell how, or how long it had been inhabited; and by what a Series of Iniquity, it was ripe for such a fearful Desolation, such an utter Destruction! . . .
Moreover, as these People came not here for Plunder, which drew over the Spaniards to the South-ward, neither did they settle themselves by Force or by their own Might; but GOD was pleased to make ready a Place prepared as an Asylum for them. And since he has wonderfully driven out and consumed the Natives by his devouring Judgments, their Sins have proved their Punishment, and their detestable Vices have drawn on those mortal Sicknesses which have wasted away all within the English Pale; but a few embraced Christianity or who, by submitting to the English Power, remains the Memorials of these wonderful Events.

–Rev. John Callender, An Historical Discourse on the Civil and Religious Affairs of the Colony of
Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations in New-England in America,1739, excerpts.7

It is quite hard to read this article with impartiality because the words of Rev John Callender seem so abhorrent to our contemporary morals. However, it does offer an important insight into the mindset of the early settlers (primarily English) and how they believed they were acting under God's will, which underpins Callender  comments on two specific points - the land of plenty and the native Americans.

Calling the Native Americans "the least improved of the human species" in the first line sets the tone. It can be logically inferred that as a Reverend in 1739, Callenders views are indicative of wider opinions. Going on he mentions how, even following the end of the wars with the Natives, they continue to die out - their "strange destruction". He attributes this to their "laziness" and their "love of strong drink" (both sins) which has "swept them away, in a wonder manner." The idea that these people were somehow, less than human and it is their sins (not disease or famine from European origins) which is causing their deaths is obscene today but then it would be have a powerful tool for the Reverand to use with his own parishioners  He states "their few miserable Remainders are left as Monuments of the Anger of a righteous God and for our Warning." Follow me or you too will pass away like they did, this is the central theme of Callenders Discourse.

He continues this theme throughout the following paragraphs, they are not settling these lands with good luck and skill, but rather they were called by God to do his bidding, to rid the world of heathens with "Famine, Sword and Pestilence" in order to save a sacred place of riches which was "wasted" by these Native people.

There is an interesting paragraph which seems to state that he believes the Native Americans killed themselves or were struck down by Pestilence before settlers arrived. The line "Who can tell how, or how long it had been inhabited;" could imply that Callenders believes a civilisation that may have existed in the country before, but it is no more and all that is left are a few remain enemies of God.

He goes to on to speak of the first landings as being uneventful. The English and Spaniards came in peace - "not here for Plunder" and did not "settle themselves by Force" but were welcome with bounty and riches. He calls this God's "Asylum" - areas where God has removed the Native American population in order to make way for his chosen people.

He never once deviates from the idea that the Native Americans are a people against God. His final line - "a few embraced Christianity or who, by submitting to the English Power, remains the Memorials of these wonderful Events." - is the only mention of converting/saving the sinners which suggests he didn't think it was worth doing or so few Natives converted that these "Memorials" are rare indeed.

Callender's narrative, as the title suggests, is intent on saying there was a War which wiped out the Native Americans, and that as a reward God helped Europeans to settle in New England. I noted the term "Asylum" above because it is likening America to the next Garden of Eden. It's resources are destined for the Europeans and are the reward for believing in God. He uses the imagery of Noah discovering land after the great flood (the "universal Deluge"). It is odd then that people who exist in this promised land are not revered but discounted as heathens. I suspect if the Native's hadn't been susceptible to European diseases or had steel weapons then Callender may well have changed the tone of his thesis.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Week 3: Website Research on America From Other Nations

Britain's opinions on America

This website is a very up to date news feed which can be seen to read about and get updated of current affairs that are going on in the United States. Articles that are posted consist of various topics from politics, sport and television to local news headlines.

This site can be very informative if you want a quick on the go check up of popular goings on across the pond! As well as feedback from what readers think about specific articles by contributions in the comments, where people can debate and discuss their thoughts. However given that the site is known as a 'gossip' site then all articles would have to be taken with a pinch of salt, due to the style of writing being informative yet exaggerated in places, to make the readers more engaged, and to create more discussions.

Canada's opinion on America

The Canadian Encyclopaedia on the other hand differs from the above website as it provides extensive, tangible and accurate sources of information on Canada for a wide variety of consumers, most notably students and academics throughout Canada and the world. It is a primary foundation on multiple Canadian topics; thus providing information about America with titles such as 'Canada and the United States' and 'Canadian- American Relations'.

Why Europe Hates America

I choose this video because it does not just talk about why individual countries outside of America do not like America, but it talks about Europe's hatred for America. Their hatred for Americans has increased with George Bush's decision to enter Iraq. This changed Europeans view on Americans and their political system. Other reasons are how Europeans have been fed negativity through media which has offered the world a negative reflection on America’s choice. The way America is publicized through the media has left many questioning not only their politics but also their ethics.

What I didn't like about the video is that people have views about America but they do not know the full story, as most media outlets are biased. News Papers and edited footage automatically create the impression that America is all about conflict, when it is not, every country makes bad choices. There is more to America than George Bush and Iraq.

Opinions of American withdrawal from Iraq

The article I chose did not specifically talk about Iraq's view to American politics, but rather the impact of the withdrawal of US troops from their country. It suggests that America's withdrawal from the country will breath a collective sigh of relief for anyone not wishing either Iraq or America harm. The war on terror had a detrimental effect on all countries involved; highlighted by;

Impact on Iraq:

  • human casualties; unbearably high.
  • Iraqi economy; in ruins
  • social fabric; torn apart
  • home security; out of control
  • national heritage; skimmed, dispersed, damaged or simply vanished.
  • proximity to democratic rule; negligible.

Suggesting that the end of such a conflict could help restore the country back to some semblance of normality and control. The end of the war could enable the Arab world to at last be seen from the prism of home-grown values: such as personal liberties, an independent judicial system, fair elections, social justice and accountability, rather than the catalyst in the war on terror.

'The annals of history are filled with examples of something good sometimes coming out of terrible and ill-conceived wars and human follies. Let's hope that this Iraq war will be one such example and a new dawn in Arab-American relations will bring about a mutually beneficial future'

Friday, 12 October 2012

Week 3 Blog Post

These are two opinion articles from the Arab news site Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera is, I believe, banned in the USA and if you at the site there are a number of petitions to support Al Jazeera being shown in America.

It is with this in mind and the fact that Osama bin Laden used this station nigh on exclusively for his video broadcasts that I decided to search the site for opinions of the USA's policies. I was stunned at how neutral everything was. Even the articles on the Syrian conflict were fastidious in their bland retelling of the events without indicating a single value judgement.

This is pretty much what you would expect from a reputable news channel and even an article such as this from China Daily which is about Chinese anger at a USA duty on Chinese solar power, still maintains impartiality.

So I went to the opinion/editorial section of Al Jazeera and this also surprised me - the articles I have chosen are typical of the ones of this part of the site. Their authors are white, well educated men from America and not the angry muslims that many, including myself, have stereotyped with this news channel.

However, looking past the critical content of the articles, which do indeed crticise america's policies (and searching the opinion sections shows there is a strong lean toward critical rather than supportive articles, and not just of america but all non middle eastern countries), the video widgets embedded in the page - such as "Are US drones terrorising civilians?" - show a bias against the US beyond that of the author.

Given the recent events between so-called Christian America and Islam, it is unsurprising to find an anti US/UK bias. But I was 16 when the Twin Towers came down and before that day no one in the West had heard of Al Jazeera. Since 9/11 they have been portrayed as the mouth piece of the "terrorists" so, as I say, I was surprised at the moderate tone of the site. It is even progressive in some articles -such as this one which touches on the recent American film which caused rioting throughout the middle east

Monday, 8 October 2012


These maps are to show the correlation in McDonald's locations and obesity rates taken in 2008. The darker areas on the second map show the highest obesity rate in America, and unsurprisingly the most fast food locations in each area. 

These maps were taken from an article entitled; 'Causation or Correlation?'. This argument can be valid on both sides. On one hand the fact that there are easy and cheap ways to access fast food can cause obesity to rise, however i believe it is the attitude by some Americans. Some people find it easier to grab a McDonalds than to cook. No matter how many fast food restaurants are in each city, people with the wrong attitude to food will be obese. 

The United States Of Shame..... What is your state the worst at?

Taken from:

Whether it’s a fat population, high rate of STDs or excessive tax rate, it turns out that every state ranks dead last in at least one unsavory category by Jeff Wysaki 

America is one of the richest Countries in the world but this map has shown more negative than positive things happening in the USA. I'ts very biased implying that subjects such as high school graduation only happens if you live in Texas, Which is inaccurate because KY, AZ also have the highest high school graduation.

The Map is reflecting each states demographic outlook and conditions. Which builds America because some of them are interrelated however some more in each states.

The Map is also labeling negativity in each state this could be based on statistics or judgement or in accurate surveys. 


Sunday, 7 October 2012

Stereotypes by state.

This map shows the mass stereotyping of each state in America. When one thinks of a certain state in America, they are often drawn to a certain image of a typical inhabitant of that state. For example, when I think of a Texas-born individual  I initially assume  he is deeply religious and either houses or carries a gun on his person.  The same can be said about the state of California, where everyone assumes that each individual is an aspiring actor/actress or model. Although these stereotypes come to mind easily when thinking of a certain state, they are often widely inaccurate and incorrect. This map indicates the first thought that would fall into someone’s head after hearing a states's name. While many people would find these labels offensive, I believe that most of them are probably true reflections of peoples’ thoughts and what many people from different areas think.

The map is oversimplified and paints certain states in a bad light, even if they are the phrases that spring to mind when thinking of each of the states.

Stereotype (def.): A widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing... in this case, country/area.

Week 2: A Contrasting View Of The USA Map

When finding this map I thought it was rather interesting to see a perspective from America onto the rest of the world, as well as a reflection onto themselves.

This is a parody map (joke) shows the world as Ronald Reagan (US president 1980-1988) might have seen it. Even though it is a parody it produces quite a polarity: on one side it shows a view of the world which is no longer in existence, such as the USSR; and on the other hand, it illustrates an outlook on the rest of the world as a modern day pictorial of American culture and foreign policy.

The map can be seen more as a divide of Us vs Them, and within that there are subsidiary's of the 'good' guys and the 'bad'. For example those considered the bad guys can be seen as communist and socialist regimes, like those of the USSR, Poland, Iran and most interestingly 'Their China'; who contribute to communism.
Nonetheless the good guys are inclusive of the UK (or seen as a subsidiary of Disneyland), Our China (Taiwan), Grenada and more, because according to the notion of Ronald Reagan's world are liberated

More so within the USA itself is divided into what can be also seen a the good vs bad guys. With California taking up the majority of the land as well as the Republicans and 'real Americans ; suggesting these are the areas that Ronald Reagan would have been most popular and thrived in. And yet the areas east of the White House seen as Democrats and Welfare bums plus the small area in the top right of America named as Ecotopia would have been the 'bad' guys.

However the discussions on this map have been varied mostly with the right wing critiquing the map as NOT how Ronald Reagan saw the world but instead a political caricature of the self proclaimed perception that he talked about. 

Friday, 5 October 2012

Week 2 Blog Post

This map is a simple depiction of the North/South divide within the USA. It's author has called the northern area and California "The United States of Canada" implying that it is liberal and secular, while the South or "Jesusland" is the home religious zealots. The website has a nice quote:

"This map started popping up after the 2004 Presidential election in the US, when George W. Bush got re-elected (with a legitimate majority this time). Democratic challenger John F. Kerry only won a handful of states, mainly on both coasts – where the electorate is more ‘liberal’ than in the more rural ‘flyover’ states in the middle. This map was to demonstrate the political divide between the Bushites on one side and rational people in the US and elsewhere." (Source
Although it has an element of truth in it, Canada is famously liberal and certain states of America like California and New York pride themselves of not being as overtly religious as say, Texas, it is really simplistic and, in my opinion, gives too much credit to the north. These states are also staunchly religious as everyone in America is assumed to believe in God. There was a cartoon a few years back in which one of the characters is ousted as an Atheist and turned into a pariah. They mention during the show that although he never went to church on Sundays, they expected him to still believe in God. This is an interesting attitude - maybe even the exact opposite to the UK where you are more likely to be assumed an Atheist before a Christian?

Although there is a legal separation between states and church, all court rooms still have the words "in god we trust" and the ten commandments often appear on monuments outside court houses (weirdly, this began as a publicity stunt by the movie The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston!)

However, I don't know if focusing entirely on religion is the right way to analyse this image. Although it does mention "Jesusland" it may be better to assume that means "Conservative" - in which case you expand on to politics, drug laws, death penalties, gay rights and abortion laws - taking NY and CA as out examples and comparing them to Texas shows that the map if fairly accurate in its Progressive Liberal/Conservative divide.

Why is the South more right wing then the North?

This goes right back to who originally settled where in frontier America. Also, there are influences from the "fear" of mexicans crossing the border, the terrain keeping communities sheltered, oil and cotton interests, the civil war and slavery and the greater diversity of the "liberal zone" (The United States of Canada).