Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Stateside With Rosalea: Civility


Stateside With Rosalea: Civility

Ooops! I said I'd provide a Wednesday-lite column and then forgot that I'd have to write it on Monday night, my time. Blame it on the Civil War. Or at least on the epic documentary called 'The Civil War', which first aired in 1990 and has now been digitally remastered and will show each night this week on the local PBS channel. Comprised mainly of photographs from the period, and comments taken from contemporary letters, diaries and official documents, this "film by Ken Burns" was a huge ratings success when it first aired.

I'm sure it will be now too. For someone like me, who hasn't grown up in the US school system, it's a valuable history lesson. I had no idea of the numbers of people who slaughtered each other in the fields - thousands at a time because weaponry was so far in advance of tactics. The fighting happened at too close a range for the bayonet-charge style of warfare the aging generals had trained on. "Rich man's war; poor man's fight" is how it was called.

It's kind of weird watching this documentary in the midst of today's current affairs. On the one hand it serves to highlight the awful damage that war inflicts, and on the other it sheds some light on why the US is so full of pride and arrogance in its dealings with other nations. Its citizens paid an astonishingly high blood price to create this nation - it was after the trauma of the Civil War that people started saying the United States "is" instead of "are". You can check out the documentary at http://www.pbs.org/civilwar/



Not that other countries don't pay an astonishingly high blood price to exist or be created. Nor does it excuse any country from being a civil participant in a civil world - which is what we all hope to live in, surely. The USA reminds me of a boy I once cared for. Seven years old, he had the build and strength of a stocky 11-year-old, and the mind of a two-year-old. Fundamentally blind, he needed other people to help him get around but got angry with them if he didn't get his way, and he had difficulty trusting others. He reacted by hitting out, knowing neither his own strength nor the social benefits of limiting his use of it. There is no point in pitying such a child or getting angry; you simply have to get on with the business of offering guidance, discouraging selfishness and encouraging participation as an equal, not a bully.

BTW, if you're interested in seeing the news-go-round - around in circles and around the world until it disappears up its own fundament - you should check out Google's newly launched http://news.google.com - I especially love the disclaimer: "This page was generated entirely by computer algorithms without human editors. No humans were harmed or even used in the creation of this page."

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Scoop 3.0 Update & Membership Sale: The End Of ‘Objectivity’ In Journalism

2019 looks like it might well be another really bad, terrible, not so good year for the traditional journalism model globally... on the positive side, smaller independent players with innovative digital models and a more open approach like our ScoopPro service look likely to be more relevant than ever. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On America’s ‘Green New Deal’

‘Socialism’ is more of a political scare word than an objective condition. Even in the US, as Nate Silver’s 538 website pointed out this week there is polling evidence that modern Americans are inclined to treat socialism as meaning ‘equality’ rather than the ‘government ownership or control’ that Americans understood the term to mean back in the 1940s... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Listening To Ocasio-Cortez About Tax

In its attitudes to tax, New Zealand has been the last colonial outpost of Thatcherism. Change, however, may be in the air. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Nelson Fire And Climate Change

The Nelson fire has been a useful warning of things to come, given how climate change will (a) increase the likelihood of reduced rainfall and drought-like conditions in many parts of New Zealand, which – obviously – will raise (b) the fire danger and (c) the cost of providing the communities at risk with the enhanced firefighting capabilities that they’re going to need. More>>

ALSO: