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I haven’t been writing much lately, because life here in Sweden is pretty uneventful. I’m studying again – doing a master’s program in linguistics and a few other courses – and earning money here and there – teaching, editing and translating, babysitting. Things are good and there’s not much to say about it.

On the other hand, there’s a lot to say about US politics, so much that I get overwhelmed by all the things I want to write about, and discouraged that the people who I would want to hear what I have to say will never read this blog anyway, except for maybe a few members of my extended family who will just say to themselves “Oh, that Megan” and just go on thinking in their ignorant, backward, racist ways. But anyway, I’ll try to unload some of the stuff that’s been going around in my head…

I’ve finally reached an understanding of what “elitism” and “common sense” mean when uttered by a Republican. Elitism does not mean those who have a lot of money, or who come from situations of privilege, otherwise George W. Bush would be an elitist. To the average Republican, an elitist is a person who is intelligent, and who demonstrates that intelligence by having nuanced and well-thought out positions on policy that are based in facts rather than feelings. The average Republican cannot understand what such elitists are saying, and they much prefer the little zingers that people like Sarah Palin are so good at. (The woman can’t name a newspaper that she reads or a Supreme Court decision that she disagrees with other than Roe v. Wade – which she also clearly doesn’t understand – but she can deliver a great line implying that people who have the curiosity and ambition to travel abroad are all spoiled trust fund babies. But wait a second! George W. Bush is a spoiled trust fund baby and he also never bothered to visit Europe until he became president!)

Of course, a Republican would not describe an “elitist” in these terms, because that would imply that the non-elitists aren’t intelligent. The “elitists” are out of touch because they went to elite places like Harvard and Yale (like George W. Bush, only, see, he’s not an elitist because he talks like a moron). I’ve actually seen “Harvard” used as an epithet on some comment threads criticizing Obama. And here you thought that a biracial kid raised by a single mother managing to make it all the way to Harvard Law School had to be pretty smart and motivated to overcome the odds stacked against him. But, you see, “elitists” are actually stupid because they lack “common sense”. Basically, as far as I can tell, “common sense” means all those prejudices that you grew up with that you never bothered to unpack and examine. Like homophobia. And racism. And the notion that taxes are communist when they provide things like education and health care, but all-American when they provide things like corporate welfare and war.

All right, that’s enough ranting for now, but I’ll pass along a few must-read links.

Here’s an analysis of some interesting studies on psychology and political affiliation.

Tim Wise’s article on white privilege is a real eye-opener, if you’re willing to let your eyes be opened without getting defensive. This article speaks not only to the racism thriving in this election, but also to the general hypocrisy of the right wing.

And here is a really powerful blog post about prejudice and violence against Muslims from one of my favorite blogs. It’s being done by and in my country on a small scale, like the terrorists in Dayton, Ohio, who sprayed pepper spray into a nursery in a mosque, and on a large scale by an administration that invaded Iraq on false pretenses and its supporters who, as M. LeBlanc points out in the blog post, don’t seem to understand that Muslims are people.

Edit: One last link – some tips for Joe Biden tonight.

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It’s not clear what happened: the Swedish Migration Service says that Kostia’s residence/work permit application arrived without the necessary employment invitation and so the application hasn’t been processed because it is incomplete; the Swedish Consulate in St. Petersburg, where we submitted our (completed!) applications, claims that they sent everything and that everything is fine. The university is finally getting involved and hopefully all this will be resolved soon, but it is mighty irritating that the applications were submitted seven weeks ago and we only just found out that they weren’t being processed.

I’m really starting to despise government bureaucracies. And I hate it that the age of globalization means that people can ship stupid environmentally devastating plastic crap all over the world, but that it seems to be getting more difficult and unpleasant for actual human beings to cross borders.

Happy International Women’s Day, everyone! Or maybe “happy” is too… happy. After all, there’s still a lot of inequality in the world.

Swedish 9-year-olds are already aware of this. Today I visited the third-grade class that I’m observing for my Swedish Education System class. Each morning the teacher and one of the students look at the calendar and announce the date, what’s for lunch, and anything else important that’s going on. Jakob read from the calendar that today is Internationella kvinnodagen. The teacher said “And why do we have International Women’s Day?” “Because men and women weren’t always equal,” said a few of the kids. “Are they equal everywhere in the world today?” “Noooooooo,” said all the children in unison. “That’s right,” the teacher said, “Even in our country, some immigrant women aren’t equal in their own families.”

Gender equality is one of the core principles in the Swedish national school curricula. The effect is noticable.

About This Blog

I'm an American who started blogging when I moved to Russia in 2004. Eventually I moved to Sweden, where life is pleasant but uneventful, and stopped blogging for lack of interesting things to say. And then I joined Facebook, which further destroyed any motivation for blogging. Maybe someday I'll start blogging again, but for now, this blog is dormant, an archive of The Russia Years: 2004-2008.

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