Long weekend reads: USA

Me to me, whenever I feel things about my country
It’s Memorial Day weekend, and though I as a remote laptop lady with squishy hours and journalist deadlines don’t get the same experience many of my Instagramming peers seem to have, I have found an extra few minutes to gather some good reads from my Twitter likes and bookmarks worth sharing for all friends on any side. Enjoy some food for thought about our strange and beautiful country.

George Washington’s 1796 farewell address | in which he vehemently warns against breaking unity to form political parties. Been nice nonpartisan food for thought this week. (And making me think of Hamilton — Alexander did help him draft this address — “I want to warn against partisan fighting, pick up a pen, start writing”)
“Your union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty, and the love of the one ought to endear to you the preservation of the other. […] The common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it. It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-rounded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another; foments occasionally riot and insurrection.”

 

Why men feel the need to carry guns | in which Jennifer Carlson, author of Citizen-Protectors: The Everyday Politics of Guns in an Age of Decline, distills a main finding from her research on gun owners.

“The men I interviewed discussed Michigan’s past nostalgically, not only as a place that promised safe neighborhoods but as one in which their fathers had clear, vital roles to play. Men were entrusted with supporting their families; they made happy suburban home life possible. […] The gun rights platform is not just about guns. It’s also about a crisis of confidence in the American dream. And this is one reason gun control efforts ignite such intense backlashes: Restrictions are received as a personal affront to men who find in guns a sense of duty, relevance and even dignity.”

 

The weaker sex | A great follow-up/explainer to the above from the Economist.

“Men cluster at the bottom as well as the top. They are far more likely than women to be jailed, estranged from their children, or to kill themselves. They earn fewer university degrees than women. Boys in the developed world are 50% more likely to flunk basic maths, reading and science entirely. […] Working-class men need to catch up. Women have learned that they can be surgeons and physicists without losing their femininity. Men need to understand that traditional manual jobs are not coming back, and that they can be nurses or hairdressers without losing their masculinity.”

 

We Weren’t That Resilient | Someone with a ’70s childhood dispels the myth that they grew up in the golden age of American happiness.

“Look, if we take away the sepia tones of nostalgia, we might also remember things like the fact that we said “gay,” “retarded,” and “Jewish” as put-downs in my Catholic high school and nobody stopped us. God forbid someone was actually gay, learning disabled, or of another ethnic or cultural background than most. Kids who were in any way off the extremely narrow line of the norm were persecuted ruthlessly, and I don’t know anyone who just got over it. We pretended it wasn’t happening, when we could. When we couldn’t, we just counted the days until we could be out of our Wild West childhoods and into someplace that made sense.”

Postscript: If any of you are looking for a longer read, I’ve been enjoying having American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America read aloud to me by my 1940s-radio-announcer-voiced boyfriend lately. Though I’m sure it is just as cathartic to ex-Evangelical babies when read alone. xo

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