Workingmans Death, Kansas and Winter Games


Workingmans Death

I just had a chance to view the documentary Workingmans Death which is a German documentary by director Michael Glawogger. The doc gives the viewer an eye into some of the worlds nastiest and most daerous professions. It shows you bootleg coalminers in Ukraine and shows you their families, sulfur workers in Indonesia who are mining just enough Sulfur to get money for hookers and booz, Nigerian butchers who slaughter cows and goats in a bloody and chaotic and filthy urban market and those who roast the meat ( most of these guys are Muslims), workers in a Pashutn run ship wrecking yard in Pakistan that have an extremely dangerous job and like the Nigerians they are shown praying, and a modern Chinese steel mill. The film ends with us getting to look at an old German steel mill that has now been turned into an amusement park where young couples go and make out. This was a nice doc and it also contains a lot of humor ( even though you would never know it as the sterile Manhattan crowd made no reaction to the film other than to shiver at the site of animal throats being slit).

Whats the Matter With Kansas
I started to read this book by Thomas Frank like a year ago and even talked to the writer on the telephone but this weekend I finally got the chance to sit down and read the whole thing. For those of you unfamiliar with the premise of the book it is basically about how conservatives have taken over he Midwest and seeks to answer the question as to why many Americans are voting against their class-interests and voting Republican. In order to answer this question Frank deals heavily with religion and hot button issues like abortion and gay marriage.

Frank is a native Kansan, from the suburbs of Kansas City, MO, and takes us all over the state of Kansas ( but not to the Democratic stronghold of Lawrence) and tells us of how Sen. Sam Brownback, a Republican stalwart has said ” Kansas voters don’t care about economics” which would seem to be true as the poorest Kansans are voting for Republicans who implement polices that will only make them poorer. We are told of Republican candidates speaking in tongues while campaigning and fistfights over yard signs accusing people of being ” Pro-Gay”.

Particularly Frank is upset with the caricature David Brooks makes of urban liberals and it is here where I disagree with Frank. I firmly agree with him that most Americans are voting against their class-interests by voting Republican and I also agree when someone in the book said ” how can anyone work for someone else and vote Republican”. But the root of the problem, as I see it, is what one Wichita union worker says. He said that after Clinton supported NAFTA and when he saw the Democrats supporting Free Trade he knew they were no longer representing his economic interests. So he then starting voting for other issues he cared about, like the cultural ones, and on those issues he was closer to the Republicans.

The Democratic Party has allowed itself to be hijacked by a group of urban liberal elitists, and I do think there are liberal elitists contrary to what Frank says, and in the process has become a party that cannot win nationally ( or even in some regions). If the Democrats want to keep in fighting for  issues like that they are going to lose every time outside of Lower-Manhattan ( where they even lost because of culturally liberal Republicans). The Democrats win when they fight for the economic interests of the masses; social security, health care, public education, minimum wages, public transport, jobs programs, etc. .

Winter Olympics
I have to admit that I am a big fan of the Olympics and I enjoy watching them a lot. Like most Americans I enjoy the summer games more than the winter games though. There are many reasons for this but I think the major one is that in the summer games people play games that not only are Americans familiar with; but they re games played by people we actually know. Sports like track and field, boxing, baseball, softball, soccer, table-tennis and badminton are blue-collar sports that are practiced by a lot of Americans. Then you have sports that may be elite sports, like tennis, swimming, diving and gymnastics but at least they are pretty easy to follow the rules of what is going on. Other sports like skeet shooting are easy to figure out as well.

The summer games are also very diverse in the sense that you see many people of color competing and winning and the American team has a lot of participants from working class backgrounds. As a Muslim I am also happy that during the 2004 Athens games a number of Muslims rose to prominence in winning the medals.

Now the winter games I like as well bu I think like most Americans I don’t feel a real connection to the games. Half of the sports I have either never heard of or don’t know the rules of and the only sport that I knew anyone who ever competed in the sport is hockey. Most of the sports are those that are practiced by the upper-crust in American society. I’ve never seen two Italian guys in Bensonhurst or two Irish guys in Dogtown St. Louis talking about Alpine Skiing, speed-skating or bobsledding. Having said that I do appreciate these sports when I watch them especially bobsledding, luge and curling and they look fun even if I am not really sure of what I am looking at and that goes for the skiing events as well.

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