My initial reaction to the use of these terms was that it is decidedly not American. I have seen Africans (specifically sub-Saharan Africans) and some West Indians refer to female leaders in that way, but never Americans. Even the littlest Hillary supporters among us, boys who showed up in Hillary gear and girls who sported pantsuits at Hillary's campaign events last year, called her Hillary. She related to them as citizens, and even though they were too young to vote, they all seemed to understand who she was, who they were, and that the campaign was a battle we all were in together - an exercise in democracy. So this mama meme² rang odd. Non-native. Not simply the words - the idea.
At first I questioned this usage directly on the Facebook timeline. I was met with anger, defensiveness, and misinterpretation of my words. No, I had not said African-Americans. I had said Africans. Some said they thought it was cute. To me it was anything but cute. There was something antithetical about it that I could not quite put my finger on. It was alien somehow. I started investigating.
It turned out that some undetermined percentage of the followers of that account are not American. A similarly undetermined percentage are. The account itself is run by an eastern European source. The username on the account is also the title of a short story published independently on a blog and is the name of the main character in that story. The source is not American. (I have chatted privately with one or more - it's unclear - representatives of that entity.) The source stubbornly impersonates an American on Facebook notwithstanding my having discovered the true location which the source has confirmed as have I, independently. Consequently, I have been blocked, likely an effort to prevent my leaking the location. No location is cited on the Facebook profile which is minimalist in the extreme.
More central to my issues with this account and this little enclave is that niggling mama meme. Something is not right about that, but what?
The Tracy Flick in me kicked in. Eureka! I know! It is the irrefutable Conservative metaphor at the basis. So I defer and bow in respect to George Lakoff³.
Conservatives really want to change the basis of American life, to make America run according to the conservative moral worldview in all areas of life.The mama meme is in direct conflict with progressive values. No matter what sort of "mother of us all" HRC is portrayed to be, the metaphor of HRC as mother is antithetical to the ideals held by progressives, liberals, Democrats. It is an alien concept. That is what bothered me about it.
In the 2008 campaign, candidate Obama accurately described the basis of American democracy: Empathy — citizens caring for each other, both social and personal responsibility—acting on that care, and an ethic of excellence. From these, our freedoms and our way of life follow, as does the role of government: to protect and empower everyone equally. Protection includes safety, health, the environment, pensions and empowerment starts with education and infrastructure. No one can be free without these, and without a commitment to care and act on that care by one’s fellow citizens.
The conservative worldview rejects all of that.
Conservatives believe in individual responsibility alone, not social responsibility. They don’t think government should help its citizens. That is, they don’t think citizens should help each other. The part of government they want to cut is not the military (we have over 800** military bases around the world), not government subsidies to corporations, not the aspect of government that fits their worldview. They want to cut the part that helps people. Why? Because that violates individual responsibility.
But where does that view of individual responsibility alone come from?
The way to understand the conservative moral system is to consider a strict father family. The father is The Decider, the ultimate moral authority in the family. His authority must not be challenged. His job is to protect the family, to support the family (by winning competitions in the marketplace), and to teach his kids right from wrong by disciplining them physically when they do wrong. The use of force is necessary and required. Only then will children develop the internal discipline to become moral beings. And only with such discipline will they be able to prosper. And what of people who are not prosperous? They don’t have discipline, and without discipline they cannot be moral, so they deserve their poverty. The good people are hence the prosperous people. Helping others takes away their discipline, and hence makes them both unable to prosper on their own and function morally.
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When I look at those "mama" posts, I see pleas for HRC to come and fix it all. For her somehow to transcend the possibly/probably illegitimate administration and roll back the damage. This message is counter to Hillary's which is, in perfect alignment with big 'D' Democratic principles as outlined by Lakoff: We all roll up our sleeves and, in whatever ways we can, move Onward Together.
I believe more fiercely than ever that citizen engagement at every level is central to a strong and vibrant democracy.The mama meme is a contradiction of this grassroots doctrine.
To support this wave of grassroots organizing, we’re launching Onward Together, an organization dedicated to advancing the progressive vision that earned nearly 66 million votes in the last election. Onward Together will work to build a brighter future for generations to come by supporting groups that encourage people to organize and run for office. - HRC
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There is much about that odd Facebook enclave that should cause Americans, particularly Democrats, pause. The language irregularities - typical of non-native speakers. The lack of local context. A friend/follower recommended contacting the source's congressional representative but stopped short of asking who that might be - apparently not suspecting that there is none despite no location identified on Facebook for that source. Recently, the source mistook a broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation for ABC News - the American Broadcasting Company. Americans asked which news show on ABC would carry the interview. No one called out this source for the confusion that ensued when the show did not air in the U.S. because it is an Australian show. There's the lack of familiarity with American culture as it intersects with the language. Could I possibly be the only American who noted the unfortunate use of "mama" by an adult when "yo' mama" is an insult most Americans would recognize?
Originally, I could not make sense of this Facebook phenomenon - essentially an eastern European Hillary troll. What would be the purpose? What could be the harm? Why collect Hillary supporters as friends? What is the agenda? But now, in the context of Lakoff's metaphor, I perceive an effort to wrench that demographic away, philosophically, from its grassroots, small 'd' democratic foundation in favor of an authoritarian ideal. Not the 'strict father' but the 'benevolent mother' who heals all hurts.
In this scenario, the 'benevolent mother' is one and only one person. No alternatives are tolerated, and it is imperative that HRC fulfill this destiny as seen by the perpetrators of this meme. No solutions beyond restoring HRC to the rank denied her is acceptable. No candidate other than HRC is worthy.
No one else can fix everything.
Where have we heard that theme before? Oh, right! From "strict dad," Donald Trump! It is one-and-the-same dogma, a most deleterious incursion to grassroots democratic thinking and values. One that Hillary Clinton would renounce and condemn if she knew about it.
It would not be surprising for a foreign source to misunderstand our party's ethic. But perhaps they understand it all too well and are out to undermine it. What better way than to heap praise and adoring compliments on Hillary and occasionally interject requests that she swoop in like Wonder Woman and right all wrongs? She may be getting that "Wonder Woman Award" but she knows better than anyone - in fact she is the one who keeps reminding us of this - it takes a village.
What is disconcerting is that some percentage of legitimate American Democratic Hillary voters buy into this questionable content. They have come for your hearts and minds, and you have surrendered.
For more on George Lakoff's analysis of Conservative thinking, go here.>>>>
¹ If you have been following my posts about this Facebook entity, you should note that in the past I referred to it as "she" based upon the scanty Facebook profile provided. I have come to doubt that the username" accurately reflects the source since the name also appears as a character and title in a fictional piece. I am not sure this is one person. There may be several people operating this account and one who was my contact in private chats. Therefore I have generalized the identity as "the source."
² Meme: A meme is "an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture". A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. Meme - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme
³ For more from George Lakoff, go here >>>>