Archive for July 25, 2009

One of the things that I enjoy about Doctor Who historical stories are the reactions of the Tardis crew to the mindsets of various ancient times and the clashes in culture that take place. One of the weaknesses that can take place is when a person taken from their own time ends up acts with 21st century reactions.

The Very good Blog Just one Minute forgets this fact when making his case for the president mother et/al having a motivation to provide false documents concerning her child’s birth. He says as follows:

My point, then and recently – Barack’s mom and maternal grandparents had a strong incentive to create a paper trail documenting Obama as a US citizen back in 1961 and it had nothing to do with assuring his future viability as a Presidential candidate. Alll they needed to do was imagine a day when the white Ms. Dunham would be engaged in a custody fight in a Kenyan court contesting the fate of a black Kenyan baby sought by the black Kenyan father and his African family, and their course would have been clear.

To us in the year 2009, a land where Gay marriage is debated and legal in some states, where Christianity is openly mocked on television cartoons to win awards, where 77 year old men are surgically altered to be 77 year old “women” and where father’s day affairs don’t drive governors from office and where an Anglican priest can describe Abortion as a blessing, that might fly….

However in 1961 Culturally all of those things would be impossible, rejected and scandalous. The concept of divorce itself was not very well excepted outside of Hollywood or the elites. Hell a pre-nup would have been considered off the wall. The thought particularly at the time of marriage that it was going to end in a custody fight just didn’t wash.

The US was at it’s height of self confidence as well. The idea that a US court was going to rule against a US citizen in a fight over a child, particular in favor of a non Christian Black African was far fetched. Cripes; Miranda rights didn’t even exist at the time.

It would be like going to 1896 and saying to someone “Michael Jackson is cool.” They would tell him to come closer to the fire. The idea that she was planning for a custody fight in 1961 would be a foreign to her as the idea of e-mail.

This is exactly the opposite of the mistake the AP is making with bloggers. AP is trying to win an argument using the norms of the past. This argument is applying the norms of today to a different culture. It just doesn’t wash.

Update: My own argument concerning this is here.