Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rand Summary

Ayn Rand explores racism in her piece, Racism. But she is not simply exploring the stereotypical racism of white-to-minority race-racism but the idea of very racism itself; she claims that the "civil rights" that African Americans are demanding is also a type of racism, in a way that it is a "right" that violates another's right, which should not and cannot exist. For example, she mentions that "...to assign children to certain schools by reason of their race, is equally evil whether one does it for purposes of segregation or integration" (133). And she believes that racism is "the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism" (126) because it ignores the individual's rights and that it leads to backwardness in the US, not allowing equal rights among the individuals but promoting the privilege of "group(s)" that's divided by races. Thus, according to Rand, since the new legislation for the civil rights violate the rights of white people (or "the government is discriminating for some citizens (African Americans) at the expense of others (white Americans)" (134)), the problem of racism is not corrected but is still remaining.

I did not enjoy reading this piece, first because of so much hatred and ferocious styles in the writings, then because of her bluntly stated ideas that I couldn't and wouldn't agree with. I thought that Rand didn't have a proper understanding of the concepts that she was frequently using, such as collectivism and individualism because she took those ideas to the extreme and really focused on one (or a very few) aspect of each concept. I could see where she was going but she shouldn't have addressed collectivism as a whole to be the source of racism because "group before individual" is only a part of its aspect and it can't be put that simply. Same reason would go with individualism and capitalism. She also somewhat contradicts her argument because if what she wants is disappearance of civil rights, then the discrimination against African Americans will continue to exist and if individuals were allowed to choose whatever they want with their "equal rights", the segregation probably won't be fixed. For instance, an African American could say that he or she wants to be integrated in public services (such as schools) but a white American can say that he or she doesn't want that because of some other reasons. Then the compromise cannot be made since if the public services were integrated then it's violating the white American's right; if not integrated, then segregation remains, which is a type of discrimination. So she should've explained better on the part where she says that the civil rights law is an "inverse" discrimination, while she claims that the "mixed economy" with individualistic capitalism is good for America.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Solution to Saturday's Puzzle

I found this piece to be quite funny. It almost seemed like the whole story is supposed to be a joke and humorous, but if I were to pick a joke or a part that's supposed to be funny, I would pick the part when he fills out the answers for the crossword puzzle. (At least that was the part that I started to crack up) I think it's supposed to be funny because even though the answer that Sedaris wrote wasn't the right answer, it kind of fit or went well with the clue. To directly bring the example from the piece, the first clue said "Seventeen across: a fifteen-letter word for enlightment." Then Sedaris says, "'I am not an asshole,' I wrote, and it fit." Another part that I would call a really good joke would be the part when he said that even the women's snore sounded like it was accusing him. And the way the a-word was written with the dashes, I felt like I was hearing Sedaris' voice, reading the story to me.

And I don't know if you'd accept a cartoon as a joke, but I hope you like it.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ronson Summary

Through describing his experience with the new leader of Ku Klux Klan, Ronson tells the readers that the extremists like the Klansmen are as good as stupid because of their extreme racist ideas, which blind them from seeing the very fundamental, and easy problem. In Ronson's narration, Thom Robb, the new leader of KKK, tells the Klansmen that they should look friendly, that they should act like the good guys, so they can gain the political power, or the support of "feminine masses". And he goes on to claim that they will not gain the political power if they kept the old, "bad" way, which holds much aggression and thus forming negative images in other people's mind. This depicts the absurdity of Thom's whole speech because KKK or any other racist group is not gaining public support not because of their negative image but of their very nature - a group existing to discriminate any other ethnic group than white.

I found this piece to be quite amusing because Ronson tells this story very objectively, as if he was just observing them and not really thinking or judging any of their actions. But it is hard not to think that people described in here are stupid. And Ronson's close-to-being-dry tone just adds to its witt. I thought that it was much harder to find a solid point on this piece than on Gross', because he's not really stating anything and just implying his point, letting the reader to feel what he's trying to say.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Gross Summary

In her short piece, Bitch, Beverly Gross introduces the reader to the various meaning of the word "bitch," ranging from the dictionary definitions to the definitions that people give when they were asked for the word's meaning. Gross gives a few examples from each source that she got the definitions from, and claims that "the metamorphosis of bitch...is a touchstone to the changing position of women through this century" (80). The themes of bitch that emerged over time, according to gross, ranged from the promiscuousness to temperament to power (as in more liberty and competence), corresponding with the traits that men fear to see in women. Towards the end Gross implies that the word bitch might not be as powerful in the future, giving the example case of Madonna, that it "will embolden others with what consequences and effects it is impossible to foresee" (84).

Generally I agreed with most of the definitions that Gross gave, but I felt like she put too much emphasis on the "breaking the gender role" idea. I do agree to her point when she says that women's position is changing over time, that they are gaining more power, but it's hard to see that that change is what men fear to see in women (at least, not all men do). I guess that could relate to the datedness of the piece, when gender-based stereotype was rather rigid. I also found hard time agreeing with her "prediction," that the word bitch could lose its power in the future because I still think that it's a very offensive word to use, even almost 20 years after the piece was written, and I also believe that the "trend" of using the word bitch lightly shouldn't happen.