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Life Arts

Too Many African Americans Are Murdered in the U.S.

By       Message Thomas Farrell     Permalink
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Moreover, in oral cultures and in residually oral cultures, a strong honor-shame culture is usually dominant. Now, if you have no clue about what anthropologists mean by honor-shame cultures, check out the book CULTURE AND CONFLICT IN THE MIDDLE EAST by the anthropologist Philip Carl Salzman (2008).


Next, I want to turn to the big-time transformations of agonistic structures that emerged historically with the development of modern capitalism, modern science, and modern democracy in what Ong refers to as print culture. These three big-time transformations of agonistic structures can be characterized as more irenic in spirit than, say, warrior training typically was and is. The code term for referring to the cumulative impact of these three big-time transformations is modernity.


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I said above that all non-Western cultures in the world today are to one degree or another residually oral cultures. In other words, to a significant degree, they are pre-modern cultures.


In his thought-provoking book MANLINESS (2006), Harvey C. Mansfield of Harvard University makes a relevant observation: "The entire enterprise of modernity . . . could be understood as a project to keep manliness unemployed" (page 230). But the Navy SEAL Team 6 that carried out the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan would be an exception to Mansfield's generalization. But instead of thinking of SEAL Team 6, we should think of warriors such as Achilles, Beowulf or Othello, because we can then perhaps understand Mansfield's point better.

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Before I move to my next point, I want to explain that the Greek word "andreia" means both manliness and courage. At first blush, this may seem to exclude women from manifesting courage. But of course this is a foolish contention because women can manifest courage.


Next, I want to turn to making some admittedly controversial points.


In the book VIOLENCE & GENDER REEXAMINED (2002), Richard B. Felson "cites research suggesting that the motives for violence against women are similar to the motives for violence against men: to gain control or retribution and to promote or defend self-image."

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In the terminology that I used above regarding the honor-shame thought-world, it sounds like the honor-shame thought-world is behind the motives for violence, specifically behind the motives to gain retribution presumably for being dishonored and to promote or defend self-image and one's honor.


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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; Ph.D.in higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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