How to Read the News

If you’re still shopping for someone to blame for it all, consider:


Or, for another perspective, James Sinclair bridges a rift in civic discourse with a simple Venn Diagram (everybody loves a good Venn Diagram):

Venn Diagram comparing OWS & the Tea Party

I love Venn Diagrams, don't you? James Sinclair made this one.

Sinclair’s discussion of this, which has been cited by The Atlantic and is shockingly deficient in polarizing rhetoric, raises some worthwhile questions. He writes,

The problem, and I suppose this was inevitable, is that Occupy Wall Street is being portrayed as some kind of anti-Tea Party. Left vs. right, blue vs. red, rock vs. country, et cetera—it’s the only way we know how to draw battle lines anymore. But how are the two movements meaningfully different? I sure as hell can’t figure it out. There are plenty of minor differences, mostly concerning priorities and demographics, but the similarities are much more substantial. Both are popular uprisings against powerful-but-nebulous entities believed to be responsible for America’s economic struggles. Both are defined not by easily-identified leaders, but by the sum total of countless unique viewpoints, and thus are not capable of articulating their goals with any cohesiveness or specificity (nor should they be expected to).”

He admits to oversimplifying, and I don’t know that I can sign on to his conclusions, but I find his contributions to the political discourse refreshingly clear-headed, cutting through a lot of the rhetorical noise generated by both sides.


  • Jonathan Frey Jonathan Frey says:

    Thanks to Jon Snow for pointing me to these links.

  • Shira Richman says:

    I guess it’s time to re-watch all the GI Joe cartoons. Apparently I missed a lot of the more serious content the first time around. My favorite quote in the above clip: “In short Cobra’s got us basted and over a fire.”

  • Melissa says:

    “Shockingly deficient in polarizing rhetoric.”

  • I’ve honestly been sitting back thinking the exact same thing Sinclair states. My primary interest in it has been how the discourse and political narratives have played out between the 2 movements, which is just a very college-paper way to say, “It’s amazing how the media has completely polarized 2 movements that share such a similar base sentiment.”

    But really, it’s not even the media that’s doing it. A lot of it lies in the prejudices of the people within these movements. The media is just exploiting those prejudices to further the divide in what I see to be a very similarly minded group.

    • Jonathan Frey Jonathan Frey says:

      I’ve been wondering about these connections for a while, too. Sinclair downplays the groups’ differences, I think too much. There are differences beyond “priorities and demographics,” but the similarities are far more striking.

      Lots of people have made/refuted assertions like this, but most of those conversations seem to miss the point. It’s that shared “base sentiment” that you mention, the sense of powerlessness and rage, that I’m most interested in.

  • Sarah Frey says:

    Haha GI Joe

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