Friday, 29 November 2013

Crevecoeur and the 'Land'... Is work what it used to be?

A clear sense I got from Crevecoeur when I read Letter III 'What is an American' is a freedom and ability to work for yourself, to live off your own private owned land, to farm and feed yourself and the rewards you would get from this would be incredible.

'They receive ample rewards for their labours: these accumulated rewards produce them lands: those lands confer on them the title of free men.'

'The American is a new man, who acts upon principles; he must therefore entertain new ideas a opinions. He has passed to toils of a very different nature, rewarded by ample subsistence. This is an American.'

My view on these quotes is that both similarly use the word 'reward,' working off the land will earn you something worthwhile, something you want, it will earn you something that will make you feel happy. 'Labours,' 'lands,' 'nature,' all seem to point to a view that Americans will work one on one with nature and the rewards and freedom that come out of it are blissful. Many moved from Europe to America to be free men, to work for themselves and not others and personally this seems to me to be idealist. You gain your own rewards, you do not have to share your hard work with others, just yourself and your family. If America was founded upon these philosophies I believe America is more 'European' than Europe. For example: 'The US Government breaks employment into groups, for example there are 235,086 Civilian noninstitutional employees as of 03/31/09' ( This shows me that a very small percentage of Americans do not work for others or their society or companies, showing that very few Americans work for themselves any more or off of the land. As America has developed it has become the super power Crevecoeur's ideas of what Europe was like, work is not for yourself anymore, nature is unimportant and working off the land is not the first choice of livelihood anymore. Personally I think this is a shame.

Reading further into this thought I looked at how an American could go about living off the land and looked to a website called 'EHow' a website which helps people to be more creative and artsy and live for themselves, at first glance at this instruction website there was no mention of any permanence. 'Ever gotten the urge to quit the rat race and live in the wilderness? In
fact, it's very difficult for a solitary person to live comfortably off the
land.' (
From the offset it tells you it would be 'difficult' to live comfortably off the land and almost tries to put you off not living within society. All of the points also point towards buying things from society to help you to live independently, like going on a course within the wilderness and buying many tools to help you in the process or even point 11) 'Keep an apartment in Manhattan for those times when you need to get away from it all.' This all points to consumerism that even if you want to escape society and live for your self you should still give to society to help you towards it.

Nowadays Crevecoeur's idea of living off of the land is null, people will buy from supermarkets, work for society and not for themselves and their family will most likely continue this chain further. Thus showing that work and the 'land' are not what they used to be.

Manifest Destiny painting... Is it as positive as it seems?


The first thing that draws my attention in this painting and this title is the use of a star. The train headlight draws your eye to it's light immediately showing it's grand importance and also distracts your eye from the desolate landscape surrounding the light. This immediately made me think of religious terms, where a star guided the wise men to their destiny and to their faith. This symbolises the mystical and religious aspects of Manifest Destiny, men are being lead to their destiny through the Christian faith and it would be obvious that this would be depicted through a star. The fact the star is in fact a train symbolises the technology and the travel of this time is the destiny guiding those to their path. The next thing I notice within this painting is the cracked train track which would derail the train if it were to pass this point, this interested me and made me wonder if this was a metaphor for Americans taking Manifest Destiny too far and if it passes a certain point it may derail and be destroyed. This then makes me wonder whether this painting is more of a warning than a presentation of Manifest destiny, the light creates a positive connotation but also draws you away from the immanent dangers in the surroundings, this could be a warning, 'do not be blinded by the light, open your eyes and see.'

Further from the train rail we see Deer flocking from the train with a look of fear and confusion, this could be a message that Manifest Destiny is destroying the nature and the surroundings, nature is running away from the people. This is also represented through the desolate and bare surroundings in the left hand of the picture, most of the trees are stumps and what you are left with is a single house, this could show how much a single person or family could affect nature, with so many trees being cut down is this a representation of greed, taking too much from nature. In turn we get a dark and almost fearful sense within this side of the picture. This was apparently supposed to represent San Francisco, which would later become a beautiful and nature friendly area of America, however this depiction shows a lack of nature, a lack of light and a lonely place. This to me seems ironic that a place that has a depiction of being against nature later became one of the places helping to preserve it. I believe this painting is all in all a mere warning that Manifest Destiny may go too far, it is against nature and is a dark place to follow.

Although the star/ train has a positive connotation of Manifest Destiny it is almost a sign that the light and the mystery and the magic of Manifest Destiny is blinding your sight to the darkness which surrounds the rest of the picture, I believe that Andrew Melrose the artist has intended this painting to show the negatives of Manifest Destiny that no body saw, he wanted to get past the ideology and show that destroying nature was dark and stripped all of the beauty out of America like it has done in the painting.

German views on America.

When looking for a source of information to base an entire countries view on America I unsurprisingly had some difficulties. It is hard to round up enough people who represent their country and unique viewpoints well enough to be statistically accurate, so I thought instead of trying to use statistical views or percentages I would use a blog site full of opinions because after all having a view on something is merely an opinion.  So what better than to use a blog site of German people 'rambling' and joking over their stereotypes of America.

First of all what I found obvious was that most of the topics followed food and drink, media, TV and music. German being a country who is stereotypically proud of its food and drink it did not surprise me to see quotes like this: 'And don't get me started on American beer or bread.' Another obvious view point that came from Germany was a slight fear and reluctance of American patriotism, they found it disturbing, however we have to ask ourselves if this is due to the past in Germany and their inherent fear to love their country and follow their leader too much because of the happenings around WW2. We have to ask ourselves whether Germany dislikes certain parts of America because it is American or because they do not want to pick out their own flaws and because they are all too proud of their produce.

Another interesting point that people addressed was it's America's vastness, although they had views on the industries of America, their food and their scandalous tabloids they would not specifically negatively portray the people themselves, they mention that, 'I think there are Americans that are assholes, idiots, and ignorant people, just like you'll find the same type of people here and any other country in the world.' This view surprised me, so many people on the blog were ready to argue that American culture and its portrayal in the world is negative and wrong, however the specifics about its people remain mainly positive, this view makes me feel that Germany does not think that American people are bad, they believe it is their portrayal through the media, their music and food industry that remains the worst part of America.

The German views I found within this blog especially in pages 2 and 3, seemed to skim over the important factors like WW2 and their own history and concentrated on less important factors like beer, their ability to cook and their scandalous and corrupt politicians which seemed to be very ironic coming from a German point of view. One of the first criticisms of America on this site was, 'Americans are over-sensitive to past sins of their politicians,' this adds to the irony that Germans within this blog post are trying to avoid the obvious large elephant in the room when it came to discussing America. Therefore I do not believe that Germans on this blog have talked about anything specific about American people because they understand that because of the stereotypes of their own country it would be wrong or hypocritical to talk about America in a way which does not involve the obvious issues of music, TV and food.

Here are some of the quotes I found interesting and quite funny within the blog:

'I do think many Germans are too harsh in their opinions about the US, and don't see the full picture, simply because of how Americans are represented in the media (which is pretty far off reality in my opinion).' An issue of media portrayal within America.

'Not to generalize, but I find that Americans are, surprisingly, more interested in whistling and less in frottage, while they enjoy leather trousers they do not spend enough on talcum powder, their notion of a flan is frankly laughable and their attitude towards a souffle would shame a Botswanan bushman, while at the same time their resourcefulness in avoiding goat herds deserves all our admiration.' An Issue of the production of food and Drink within America

'It's that last sentence that really stands out. I'm disturbed at the notion that anyone in the world hasn't carefully compiled a comprehensive opinion of Americans.'

'The thread is ridiculous, because you can't compare an American from bum-f*ck Arkansas to one from San Francisco. The country is HUGE. It's like comparing a Hamburger to a lederhosen-clad Bavarian, only worse.'

Thursday, 21 November 2013

American Studies Blog Week 9

American Studies Blog Week 9

Compare any TWO websites, one pro-gun control and one anti-gun control. If your views are pro-gun control, analyse the video in favour of guns and explain its point of view - and vice versa if your views are anti-gun control.

            Being in favour of gun control myself, I selected a source that is against the idea of restricting the ownership of guns in the U.S. The video I chose is from a public hearing concerned with the prevention of gun violence. The speaker is Henson Ong, an American citizen, presumably of Korean or Chinese ancestry. He argues that the proposed gun-control measures would “do nothing to deter future crimes” and that real problem that lies behind gun violence today is “societal decay”. It seems that here he is expressing his belief that crimes would persist regardless of whether firearms are banned as the problem with violence lies with people. He reinforces this point by claiming that firearms have existed for years, whilst it is only recently that we have seen them used in tragic circumstances, like the massacre at Columbine High School.
            Other points he makes include a reference to the high crime rates of cities such as Washington D.C and Chicago, which persist despite their strict gun control policies, and an argument against the notion that “assault rifles” or AR-15’s are “weapons of mass destruction.”  Here he claims that the Department of Homeland Security described such firearms as “suitable for personal defence of use”. Another reason he gives for being allowed to own firearms is the claim that “assault rifles” saved Koreans during the LA riots, as they allowed them to defend their lives and protect their businesses from being burnt down, unlike other people who did not possess such weapons. He also refers to the Tiananmen Square protests in China in 1989, noting that the number of students that were killed would not have been so high had they not been unarmed.
            As is the case with many anti-gun control activists he also refers to the Second Amendment. He categorically states the “state” to which the Second Amendment refers to is not the “government” but the “people” and as such it is their right to bear firearms. He also makes it clear that he believes there is no relation between the Amendment and hunting, stating that the right to own firearms is specific to the “preservation and efficiency of a well-regulated militia”. The “militia” in this context means, in his understanding, any male capable of “acting in common defence” and he states that the Amendment requires all men to appear “bearing arms supplied by themselves” if called to serve their country. He concludes by quoting a statement from a court case in 2003 by Judge Alex Kozinski who said that the “Second Amendment is a doomsday provision” that is designed for “those exceptionally rare circumstances when all other rights have failed”.
             As we can see, there are two main points on which his argument rests: 1) Society is to blame for gun violence; 2) It is the constitutional right of Americans to bear firearms. Yet the first point can easily be refuted as the “societal decay” to which he refers to is far too vague and difficult to prove. Also if the “decay” is meant to refer to mentally ill people, for example, it would seem to be in the general population’s interests to ban firearms to prevent such people from having the means of causing the tragedies to which Americans have become accustomed to today. The examples that he uses to highlight the positive uses of firearms are valid, but it seems that more often than not there are more negative aspects and problems associated with firearms. His second point is also weak in places, as the language of the Second Amendment itself is vague and is open to interpretation. In addition, his point about the “militia” is contradictory, as it seems as though it suggests that it is only in the context of protecting the country that one has the right to own and use firearms.
            In conclusion, although his arguments appear initially to be well constructed and valid, they have had little effect in changing my opinion in favour of gun control. However, it is interesting to note that his point on crime rates being high in Washington DC and Chicago despite gun control, correlates with the similar crime rates of UK and Australia which have not been reduced despite the banning of firearms. This suggests that gun control is not quite as effective as I thought it was.

Anti-Gun Control Sources

Pro-Gun Control Video -

Anti vs Pro

I choose to discuss the anti gun control arguments that is found on the progressive cynic website. This site is used  too find particular  articles, and there is an article on anti gun control. There is a comic like  picture that is used at the top of the web page and the person holding the gun kinda looks like what death would look like. This could by symbolism for maybe that owning a gun will only cause nothing but death to the person who owns the gun but if we read it does go to agree with the amendments so why is the character with the gun still looking like death if this is meant to be an anti gun website? This article that is written is very formal and constantly looks back at the amendment for gun control and how it affects the anti gun control believers. The article is full of facts like the fact between 2007-2011 there was over 46,000 people killed by firearms. Yet guns are still legal how much effort will the anti gun control societies have to fight to get rid of the gun amendment like England has or countless other countries who do not have the rights to own a gun.

Pro gun control

For pro gun I chose the NRA official website. NRA, this stands for National rifle association. Just in the name you can tell that they are for guns.   I thought this was a really good example of pro guns because of the fact that they are in fact a association that goes hunting and trains people in the area of firearm training. Although the training is useful for area’s like police no one else should really be allowed to have the right to train because they do not need it, hunting doesn’t have to happen that is a choice just like it’s a choice for the criminals who own a gun to shoot people.  The NRA organisation was founded in 1871 and its objective is to promote the use of firearms.  The NRA is one of America’s biggest organisations in safety firearms and training programme’s for the police.  This website has a lot more things going on for it than the first one which  might attract the audience. 

No matter what side you look at this argument there will be an answer. If your anti gun control you against the school shootings and the amount of murders that happen per year in american as well as being against the police firearm training that police would have to go through but how would it be okay for them to have a gun and not the rest of the citizens to not be able to protect there homes.. But then if you are pro you are against firearms altogether and even though this may  be the right thing to be it's not always as simple as that as it causes alot of problems like the police not being able to protect themselves on the street. 

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Anti-Gun control verus Pro-Gun control

                     Anti-Gun control verus Pro-Gun control

Anti-Gun control

I choose to discuss about the website called ‘Brady Campaign’ which is in favour with the anti-gun control. Mark Borinsky is the founder of the campaign; he created it after having been robbed and nearly killed at gunpoint. The organisation has been founded 40 years ago (1974) as the National Council to Control Handguns. The center has been renamed after James Brady who was permanently disabled as a result of an assassination attempt on U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1981. ( James Broday was a former Assistant to the President and White House Press Secretary under U.S. President Ronald Reagan)
The Brady Campaign believes that it’s not complicated for dangerous people to get arms (weapons, guns..) in the United States. They are trying to make it more complicated for convicted felons, people who are mentally ill or dangerous to be around to, people who are not stable or others.


Pro-Gun Control

In opposite I choose the website call ‘Gun owners’ – Gun Owners of America or GOA
In 1975,  ‘Gun Owners of America’ (GOA) a non-profit organization is formed to preserve and defend the Second Amendment rights of gun owners: 

'A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.'

GOA was founded in 1975 by Sen. H.L. (Bill) Richardson (now retired)
‘The GOA Board of Directors brings over 100 years of combined knowledge and experience on guns, legislation and politics. GOA's Board is not satisfied with the "status quo." Americans have lost some of our precious gun rights and WE WANT THEM BACK! This is why GOA is considered the "no compromise" gun lobby.’

After looking through different website I decided to be in favour with pro-gun control. I watched few videos on YouTube and analysed them. Some of them are quite repetitive. I was watching a debate about pro or against gun control and I realised I was agree with both sides but some arguments from the Pro-gun side got my attention.
In this video, a 15-years-old girl is arguing Pro –gun control. She has few good argument, notable:
‘Guns are not the problem, people are’  -
 ‘..instead of liberating American citizen over constitutional rights’
‘ are not eliminating  guns through our society but the ability to protect our lives and liberty of pursuit of happiness’ .
This video specially got my attention because we could think that she is really young to discuss about guns. But the fact she is talking about happiness… Having a gun, is something that make people happy? That’s really what we want people to think about America and happiness?