It would be too simple to write off the reactions to Robert Bergdahl’s Arabic- and Pashto-laden speech – to say nothing of his beard – as merely so much anti-Muslim bigotry in America. Bill O’Reilly, for example, was obviously upset because Robert Bergdahl’s presentation could conceivably – somehow, somewhere, by America’s lowest common denominator – be construed as weakness on the part of the federal government, which is why he said “[Bergdahl’s] appearance was totally inappropriate.” Accusing O’Reilly of bigotry does absolutely nothing to further a real understanding of his influential views, which are dominated by a desire to implement large-scale national solutions to nearly every problem.
Mass media ignorance aside, Robert Bergdahl is obviously the kind of man who doesn’t lie down and accept that something awful is happening – he acts. Studying two languages while establishing numerous contacts on the other side of the planet is the real-world equivalent of Liam Neeson in Taken; it’s also proof of a level of devotion to which every father aspires. His unglamorous willingness to “look Muslim” and say whatever might keep his son alive shows that he loves his family more than the idea of “killing foreigners whom the State has designated the enemy.” As Will Grigg has pointed out, such commitments constitute “an unforgivable heresy.”
Perhaps more offensive to the masses than his failure to worship the unitary American nation-state, however, is Bergdahl’s failure to let government “experts” take the lead in returning his son; Robert was personally involved with “the Qatar connection” that ultimately led to his son’s release. This elevated level of self-reliance – which naturally carries with it some eccentricities – is still quite common in Idaho. But much of America has lost it, and to them Robert Bergdahl is a conspicuous reminder of their dependence upon the unsustainable nanny-state that is increasingly unable to meet their expectations.
As always, those who willingly submit to paternalistic government are above all envious of their more courageous peers. It seems to me that this envy is the real driving force behind the alternately vapid and vicious condemnations of the Bergdahls. How else can one make sense of the simultaneous claims that Bowe and Robert are individualists who “distance [themselves] from institutions” and that they sympathize with cults of religious violence?
Sadly, coherence is of no concern when there’s some imaginary darkness to defeat, and envy has a funny way of making its object appear pitch black.
Though it may not be still at the top of the headlines, it’s not as though the NSA isn’t still spying on Americans. So, even if the subject matter of this podcast doesn’t seem timely because of the attention spans the media have given us, I believe it is. But a further question is, why should you want to hear the TNP take on it?
It is our contention at TNP that all, or nearly all, political problems could be extensively mitigated or solved by bringing decision making to the most local level possible. This is the what we refer to as localism. And though at first glance localism might not appear to apply in this case, we believe it does.
I wanted to share this video because John Bush of Sovereign Living TV seems to take the The New Polis‘ ideals of liberty and community to heart.
Of course, this kind of lifestyle isn’t for everyone, nor do I believe one must replicate it to embrace localism. Though there are more encompassing ideas of what localism is (such as Christopher Felt’s ideas on it), The New Polis takes a more limited definition: localism is the idea that decision-making should be done at the most local level practical.
Clearly, though, there are certain conditions that are more conducive to localism and John Bush embodies some of them. An important one that he mentions about a minute in is community defense. Indeed, it ought to be obvious that the amount of crime in any neighborhood has much more to do with the character of the community that lives in it than the quality of public policing. Just ask yourself: what is more effective in protecting your home when you are away: a neighbor who will check in on your house? Or a police officer who randomly patrols in his or her car?
As well, if it ever becomes the case that money creation by the Federal Reserve results in high inflation and the federal government responds by instituting price controls on food, there will likely be food shortages in the stores. This is what typically happens with price ceilings. A community will be better off if it has access to locally grown food and can thereby nullify price controls.
Bush also mentions medical care, which just like every good and service, is produced more efficiently when it is decentralized and open to competition. Central planning has had some disastrous results, especially in medical care, and Bush’s dedication to take control of his and his family’s medical decisions is another application of localism.
Personally, I am very excited about their endeavor and have great hope for their success. If you share this interest here are links to their website and YouTube channel.
In this episode, Jackson B. and I discuss not so much the facts of the immensely controversial Trayvon Martin case, but rather the national media’s power to shape public perceptions.
Can a “society” of over 300 million people have uniform racial problems or are they products of specific communities? Does the media need to create simplistic narratives on race to make sense across so many people? How much does the mass media influence our ideas of what issues are important and which are not?
For many people, the question just posed will induce puzzlement. After all, are not all Idahoans also Americans? While that is certainly true, there is nevertheless an important sense in which being an Idahoan and being an American are incompatible. This sense is captured in everyday life when we speak of our “country” or “nation” in an exclusive way. And this is well and proper, for national identity is an important and necessary boundary in human affairs. It provides a sphere of loyalty in which people with a common way of life may pursue political and communal meaning to their own satisfaction. Additionally, it allows other people – other nations – to pursue a different path, shaped by a different culture or way of life.
In this sense, then, one may be primarily either an Idahoan or an American. With that in mind, here are a few reasons why Idaho is better than America. Continue reading →