A useful concept from the social theory of revolutions is reification: the degree to which a given system or way of thinking has manifested itself in concrete forms and therefore become resistant to change. The idea of the heritability of property, for example, is highly reified—in probate law, in the use of pratronymics as family names, in the strong association between ethnicity and land. Reification doesn’t just affect socioeconomic systems or broad mores; it can also take hold in cultures, codifying ideologies and systems of behavior so that it becomes difficult for people to leave or join a given culture. In politics, this phenomenon is called 2008 To Present. Since the election of President Obama—an occasion of joy for much of the country and of bitter resentment for a voluble minority—the lines between different cultures and different political affiliations have become increasingly A) sharp and B) congruent. One can predict with great precision what a Republican will think about a given policy proposal, and with great accuracy who will agree with him. The beautiful horror of cultural reification, like watching a lava flow over a rain forest and then set up, is that it has much more power than, say, logical argument. It’s Friday, and today’s link roundup features multiple instances of reification proving more powerful than argument, information, sense or the pleas of elementary schoolchildren. Won’t you abandon persuasive discourse with me?
First, the good news: Tennessee is not yet safe from Islamic theocracy, but it should be in a month or so. The pork rind industry can sleep soundly tonight, thanks to state legislators Judd Matheny (R–Tullahoma) and Bill Ketron (R–Murfreesboro) who, besides coming from the most Tennessee-sounding places on earth, have also introduced a bill that would make it illegal to follow the Islamic code known as Sharia Law. That’s a great idea, provided you don’t think about how a law works for even one second. Typically, we do not make it a felony to obey things, for logistical reasons pointed out by Imam Mohamed Ahmed of the Islamic Center of Nashville. “What do you mean, really, by saying I can’t abide by Shariah law?” he asked the Tennesseean, presumably rhetorically. “Shariah law is telling me don’t steal. Do you want me to steal and rob a bank?” Ahmed is in Guantanamo Bay now, but once he is allowed to speak to his lawyer and prove that he does not intend to rob any banks, he will probably remind people who are terrified of the minuscule portion of the minuscule American Muslim population that follow Sharia law that, um, look at this chart.
…and WordPress has crashed and erased the last 90 minutes of work. Thanks, otherwise enjoyable version 3.1 and/or GoDaddy web hosting! It’s the end of the month and I don’t have time to rewrite today’s blog post—which was extremely witty and thematically unified, I assure you—so I’m just going to give you the links. Sorry, snide commentary fans. You’ll have to provide your own sardony for the news that:
which might explain why only 52% of Americans know that Obamacare has not been repealed. Seriously.