How Melania Trump’s Plagiarism Happened
By Dennis Loo (7/19/16)
As a professor, I have seen more than a few examples of the plagiarism that Melania Trump was guilty of last night.
This is probably what happened and is the least convoluted explanation possible. Whichever speechwriter drafted her speech had to have knowingly copied and pasted the portion of Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech used and intended to later on revise it so that where it came from was no longer apparent. After copying and pasting it, however, s/he forgot what s/he copied verbatim and then failed to extensively revise their copying Michelle.
No one in the Trump camp was smart or aware enough to spot the plagiarism and certainly Melania, who claimed to Matt Lauer that she wrote this speech herself – obviously not true and no one of that prominence giving a speech of that significance is going to write it all by themselves anyway – wasn’t aware that she was restating what Michelle had said.
Besides the lack of attention to detail that this incident, played out before 40 million viewers last night, reveals, it also shows how little difference ideologically exists between the two parties. The same themes and in this case the same grammatical structure and word order are being sounded - "you can make it if you try" (i.e., the (capitalist) American Dream) - and those who can see beneath the very surface appearance of their differences can understand this.
An excerpt from an essay I wrote called "The Liberal Version of Individualism: Meritocracy and 'Equal Opportunity'":
By Dennis Loo (12/11/13)
This is Part 2 of a series. The first installment “Individuality and Individualism” can be found here.
The spectrum of political opinion in the U.S. is customarily depicted as that between conservatives and liberals. In most people’s minds those ends of the spectrum are at least roughly equivalent to the Republican Party (conservatives) and the Democratic Party (liberals). The span between the two perspectives is the scope for what is considered legitimate and realistic differences of opinion – if you are outside of those parameters, then your views are seen as either too extreme or outside the pale and not to be taken seriously.
What is not well understood is just how much the GOP and the Democrats actually share; what the two of them share is far and away greater than what they differ on. I am speaking here principally of the leaders of both parties rather than the rank and file membership and particular individuals’ party affiliations and registration. Most people in this country align themselves with one or the other party or are Independents and while there are some significant differences among them (e.g., over gender and race), the underlying premises of conservatives, liberals and Independents share a substantially common origin.
As much as the two ends of this really very small spectrum might dislike the other, conservatives and liberals share altogether a great deal in common in their views about individualism. As I discussed in “Individuality and Individualism,” individualism actually interferes with the fullest expression of individuality. Individualism is an ideology that celebrates individuals in opposition to the group, a recipe for profound problems both for individuals themselves and for the group. Individuality, on the other hand, is a readily recognizable fact: individuals differ from one another in temperament, taste, abilities, and so on.
What I am going to focus on in this installment are the particular features of the politically liberal version of individuality and how much it shares in its premises with the conservative version of individuality. Viewed from that perspective, liberals and conservatives are more at one and the same end of the ideological spectrum, with yes, some gap between them, but fundamentally they are at the same end in contrast to the view on the other end of this political spectrum that individuals and the group are inextricably bound together. As I wrote in the Preface to Globalization and the Demolition of Society, summarizing key points in the book:
Using market forces and individualism as the organizers for economic and political affairs is a recipe for ever-expanding inequities and the shredding of the social fabric, leading inevitably to myriad disasters on the individual, regional, and global level. It will not do to attempt to mildly modify this [neoliberal/free market fundamentalist] invasion, gesturing and gesticulating at the margins. The response to this assault that is occurring on every conceivable level requires an equally comprehensive retort, an alternative vision for our society.
Where liberals and conservatives differ is in how they see the status quo: conservatives view social inequality as due to individual merit. If you are higher in the social hierarchy, then you deserve it and if you are lower on the social ladder, you also deserve that. Where one is and where one ends up over one’s life are entirely up to one’s own doing. Thus, conservatives oppose any measures that are designed to mitigate the impact of social structures on individual life chances. For example, they oppose governmental assistance to anyone in need, regarding this as the illegitimate intrusion of public services into the workings out of social Darwinism’s “survival of the fittest.”
Liberals, on the other hand, acknowledge the impact of social factors such as racism, nativism, and other forms of structural discrimination such as sexism and homophobia. They support governmental measures such as affirmative action, assistance to the poor, and public subsidies to help to alleviate institutional discrimination and historic disadvantages. The underlying logic of liberalism is that there should be a fairer “footrace” in which individuals are not hampered by forces outside of their personal control and are allowed as much as possible to compete as individuals on equal terms with others. As Emile Durkheim, himself a political liberal, put it,
“[The division of labor] not only supposes that individuals are not consigned forcibly to performing certain determined functions, but also that no obstacle whatsoever prevents them from occupying within the ranks of society a position commensurate to their abilities. In short, labour only divides up spontaneously if society is constituted in such a way that social inequalities express precisely natural inequalities.”
The rest of this article is here.