October 18, 2013

"The people of Iowa are a whole lot like the people of Montana. And, of course, New Hampshire’s a lot like Montana."

"We don’t have a sales tax. 'Live Free or Die' — we understand that notion in Montana."

Thinking out loud about running for President.

That thought, expressed by Brian Schweitzer — ever heard of him? — reminds me of the discussion we were having last month about "national psychology" — "the (real or alleged) distinctive psychological make-up of particular nations, ethnic groups or peoples, and... the comparative study of those characteristics in social psychology, sociology, political science and anthropology."
The assumption of national psychology is that different ethnic groups, or the people living in a national territory, are characterized by a distinctive "mix" of human attitudes, values, emotions, motivation and abilities which is culturally reinforced by language, the family, schooling, the state and the media.
It's out of fashion:
Politically and morally... it is conducive to racist generalisations about people... [and] may lead directly to ascriptive discrimination against foreigners, meaning that one's own people are regarded as naturally superior....

Scientifically, because... [even if] generalizations and distinctions drawn are valid, they may be too general, or require too many qualifications, to be useful. There is an intrinsic difficulty involved in verifying national-psychological characteristics scientifically in any positivistic sense.... 
But when we step down a level of generality and talk about the psychology of the people of the various states of the United States, we somehow lose the sense that we're doing something wrong. Why?

1. Because this is a type of thinking that springs quite naturally to the human mind, and so much of it is forbidden. What little access to the relief of spewing such notions remains is so valuable to people that they self-protectively inure themselves to the problem.

2. Because even consciously thinking about it now, stereotypes about people from particular states don't seem too harmful. We're fortunate as Americans to have inherited these strange internal borderlines with charming names like Iowa and Montana, and our various thoughts about the people in these places gives texture and dimension to our concept of the people of America. It's not one big mass, it's We the People of the united STATES of America. It's a helpful visualization, even if it's pretty dumb — a map, with farmers standing on Iowa and so forth.

3. ???

28 comments:

Lyssa said...

It doesn't seem like this kind of thinking is all that out of fashion to me, at least when applied to races. See, for example, the post from a few days ago about the fellow who adopted two children of a different race and couldn't see anything but their "black identity." Or the (thankfully, bound to lose) arguments in the recent affirmative action case.

TosaGuy said...

Mr. Schweitzer has thrown his hat into the ring for vice president.

David said...

So now it's out of fashion to generalize about southerners, the ignorant racist pigs?

I'll believe it when I see it.

Titus said...

Northern New Hampshire, where there is little population, is more of a combination of Montana and a little Canuck thrown in.

Southern New Hampshire, which has the population, is basically Masshole transplants, which is why New Hampshire has turned pretty blue in the past three presidential elections.

Titus said...

All of New Hampshire' reps in DC/senators and governor are women

Paul Zrimsek said...

Get rid of that 6.9% state income tax, and maybe I'll stop laughing.

Paul Zrimsek said...

On the other hand, Montana didn't used to have a speed limit on its Interstates until the Feds strong-armed them into it. So there's that.

Mitch H. said...

The other Mead had a long state-of-Europe post the other day that noted, briefly, in the middle of the piece that although it is now considered racist to call the Roma "Gypsies" while you're sending the storm-troopers in to clear out their encampments and send them bloody-headed on their way. Now, I make no warrant for the Gypsies/Roma/Travellers/Pikeys/whateveryouwanttocallthem, one way or the other, but the idea that you can do whatever the hell you want to a minority, just don't call them names - well. There's something mad about that.

Gabriel Hanna said...

4. Profit!

Bruce Hayden said...

Montana also has Sens Baucus and Tester, both of whom have been bought and paid for by the system. The come back to MT long enough to get filmed driving a combine on the family farm for campaign photos, and wear cowboy hats. Watched the entire sordid affair last year when Tester was swamping his Republican opponent with millions of out of state advertising dollars spent. It was so bad that you might see two of his ads sandwiching one of his opponent in a commercial break. And Baucus, of course, was the main driver of ObamaCare in the Senate.

The problem politically is that the state used to have a large union presence in esp the extractive industries, so the Dems have more power than in the bordering states (excluding WA to the W). Which is why it is so necessary for state wide politicians on the left to play good-old-boys.

The state still has some of the no-speed-limits past. Come over the pass from Idaho here, and the speed limit jumps from 55 to 70, and there are a lot of state and federal roads that have 70 mph limits. State also has fairly liberal gun laws - e.g. You only need a concealed carry to carry concealed in cities with ordinances requiring such. Never in just your vehicle. And most everyone outside big cities is armed, typically with both hand and long guns. They are bought, sold, and traded, along with boats, vehicles of all type, chain saws, etc, with great abandon. Trying to sell an ATV this summer, maybe 1/3 of those calling wanted to include the trade of guns in the bargain.

Ann Althouse said...

"See, for example, the post from a few days ago about the fellow who adopted two children of a different race and couldn't see anything but their 'black identity.'"

Your characterization of what that man wrote is quite wrong.

Couldn't see anything but their 'black identity.'

You're presenting yourself as above prejudice, but your distorted picture of him reveals you to be operating at a lower level.

I suggest that you reread what he wrote and come back and restate whatever it is you would like to say about him.

Bruce Hayden said...

Oh, and MT is a bit larger than NH.

You don't realty get the scale of it until you start driving it. Closest Wal Marts are 80-100 miles away different directions. And you do the drive for an afternoon shopping trip. At least the number of people who tell driving distances by beers has dropped a bit.

Lyssa said...

Sheesh, Althouse, have I ticked you off recently or something? You seem absurdly defensive of someone you simply quoted and linked to with no substantive commentary.

I said exactly the same thing at that specific post, and it seemed, and remains, perfectly appropriate. Yes, I'm interpreting what he said, but it was well within reason. His entire piece was about the kids as having a different culture based on their color and being part of the black community rather than individuals. Plenty of other commenters contributed similar stories about such well-meaning but racially based generalizations.

If I misunderstood him, I certainly wasn't the only one - which indicates to me that perhaps he is the one who should examine how his thought processes and words on this issue comes out.

I'm surprised that you want to rehash it, but OK.

RecChief said...

isn't he also the guy who asked if someone else besides a clinton could be president? good stuff

YoungHegelian said...

Of course, one can't make generalizations about an ethnic or racial group. That's just silly. Except for white people & their culture are the oppressors, because, well, that's just historically obvious, isn't it?

Much of the rest of the world sees their own & other countries as having a "national character", and routinely use it as an explanatory tool for the political world around them --- "Oh, those (Americans, French, Chinese, Russians, etc). They're just like that." For an eye opener, try having an honest discussion on the topic with a Han Chinese.

Ann Althouse said...

"I'm surprised that you want to rehash it, but OK."

You're surprised I care about accuracy, fairness, and avoiding misplayings of the race card?

Really?

Stanley Smith said...

Seems like that makes "diversity" seem like the crock it is, then, doesn't it?

cubanbob said...

Paul Zrimsek said...
Get rid of that 6.9% state income tax, and maybe I'll stop laughing.

10/18/13, 9:50 AM

First thing I did when I glanced at post was look up the Montana State Income Tax. From the site:


If your income range is between $9,501 and $12,200, your tax rate on every dollar of income earned is 5%.
If your income range is between $12,201 and $15,600, your tax rate on every dollar of income earned is 6%.
If your income range is $15,601 and over, your tax rate on every dollar of income earned is 6.9%.

Iowa Income Tax Rates:

For earnings between $5,756.00 and $12,951, you'll pay 4.50% plus $85.48
For earnings between $12,951.00 and $21,585, you'll pay 6.12% plus $409.25
For earnings between $21,585.00 and $28,780, you'll pay 6.48% plus $937.65
For earnings between $28,780.00 and $43,170, you'll pay 6.80% plus $1,403.89
For earnings between $43,170.00 and $64,755, you'll pay 7.92% plus $2,382.41
For earnings over $64,755.00, you'll pay 8.98% plus $4,091.94


" We're fortunate as Americans to have inherited these strange internal borderlines" Yes indeed as a Florida resident I am so grateful for the strange internal borderline that keeps me from paying the above mentioned taxes for public functions my state manages to do as well without those taxes.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

The assumption of national psychology is that different ethnic groups, or the people living in a national territory, are characterized by a distinctive "mix" of human attitudes, values, emotions, motivation and abilities which is culturally reinforced by language, the family, schooling, the state and the media.

And that's obviously true, or there would be no such things as nations. Especially no such things as nations powers have tried repeatedly to kill. Ireland and Poland are nations, ones that are currently also nation-states. Scotland and Wales are nations that aren't nation-states. I'd wager that Sicily is another one, and certainly the Basque territory of Spain is one. Quebec is one. Hell, Bavaria might be one. All of these are nationalities, whether embodied in state governments or not.

WRT US states, talking about "stereotyping" people from different parts of our very large country is counterproductive. The original 13 colonies had very different cultures. You had Puritan New England and Catholic Maryland and Quaker Pennsylvania, for starters, and you have to bear in mind that as these colonies were founded, people were being persecuted, sometimes even burned alive, for professing some of these faiths.

IMO the very best thing about the Constitution -- maybe even better than the Bill of Rights, and that's saying something -- is that states are allowed to be states.

William said...

Beyond the pale: The English who lived beyond the palisades of Dublin were said to live beyond the pale. Such people soon went native and became Irish. The Duke of Wellington's family lived in Ireland since the 12th century. He famously said that being born in a barn doesn't make you a horse. His father sent him as a young child to school in England so he would not speak with an Irish accent. Sadly, he was afflicted with red hair and during the early part of his career he was often mistaken for an Irishman. Wellington, nonetheless, persevered and is now considered English by both the Irish and the English.......In America when we feel the conflicting tugs of ethnicity and regional assimilation, we generally go in the direction of whoever tugs the hardest. I grew up in New England and was exposed at a vulnerable age to a lot of WASPs. I'm of Irish Catholic descent but seem to have acquired a lot of WASPy mannerisms. I honestly can't see a who,e lot of difference between the two groups, but, at one time, people were willing to kill because of them..

TosaGuy said...

"Oh, and MT is a bit larger than NH.

You don't realty get the scale of it until you start driving it. Closest Wal Marts are 80-100 miles away different directions. And you do the drive for an afternoon shopping trip. At least the number of people who tell driving distances by beers has dropped a bit. "

I've driven across Montana in I-90 in the reasonable and prudent days and also taken the Empire Builder across three times. A truly big state and beautiful state that few can comprehend.

ken in sc said...

At least one person noticed the hatred that is often expressed here for the people of the American South—You Titus, for example. And there is seldom anyone who calls him on it.

The South is a nation, and it is a big place. It stretches from the Potomac to the Rio Grand. It goes as far north as parts of Indiana and Illinois. Any place where you can get grits in a truck stop is Southern. Even parts of Canada are Southern. There is a marker on the Hudson's Bay Dept Store in Montreal, saying that Jefferson Davis once stayed there.

Lots of many kinds of people settled the South. Lebanese in Mississippi, Amish and Mennonites in North and South Carolina, (even thought they did not own slaves or fight for the Confederacy, the Union Army burnt their farms and killed their livestock), Black plantation owners in South Carolina and Louisiana (didn't know about them did you?), to avoid TLDR, I won't go on any more, except to note that our current SC governor is Sikh, and most of us love her.

We are a nation.

Mountain Maven said...

I hope he runs if only to bleed HRC some in the primaries. Who knows, she couldn't beat obama last time.

rcocean said...

"It stretches from the Potomac to the Rio Grand."

Is Texas really part of the "The South"? East Texas maybe.

Seems like such a mix of Mexican-American West-American South; I wouldn't call it "The South" anymore than Florida.

rcocean said...

Yes, I know it fought for the Confederacy but that was 150 years ago, and Texas had 500,000 people.

ken in sc said...

Yeah, I know Texas claims that anyone not from Texas is a Yankee. I was called a Yankee even being from Alabama. Texas culture, even with the Mex-Tex-German culture is still Southern. My relatives are still buried under Fort Hood, and there ain't nothing you can do about that. They are still there.

ken in sc said...

Do you know that there are two towns in Brazil founded by Americans. America and New Texas. Once a Year, they get together and eat biscuits and gravy, and fried chicken?

Most of them speak Portuguese but they still know a little English.

They are considered pretty good people.

Did you know Brazil ended slavery without a war? Wonder how they did that?

Donna B. said...

U.S. Regions Exhibit Distinct Personalities, Research Reveals

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131017093459.htm

Note that Texas (and to a lesser extent, Louisiana) personalities have more in common with New England personalities than they do with the rest of the South.