[Between 1776 and the present, the United States seized some 1.5 billion acres from North America’s native peoples, an area 25 times the size of the United Kingdom. Many Americans are only vaguely familiar with the story of how this happened. They perhaps recognise Wounded Knee and the Trail of Tears, but few can recall the details and even fewer think that those events are central to US history.
Their tenuous grasp of the subject is regrettable if unsurprising, given that the conquest of the continent is both essential to understanding the rise of the United States and deplorable. Acre by acre, the dispossession of native peoples made the United States a transcontinental power. To visualize this story, I created ‘The Invasion of America’, an interactive time-lapse map of the nearly 500 cessions that the United States carved out of native lands on its westward march to the shores of the Pacific.]
“My only FOMO is that you can’t see my boobs,” a blue-haired artist said. “And that I can’t see yours.”
We were sitting under a heat lamp on the deck of the Country Club, an ironically named New Orleans restaurant, bar and pool a few days after Halloween—me in jeans and a sweater, her in a sports bra and undies, soaking wet from the pool. I could see her tattoos, her BDSM bruises, and her nipples, kind of, but by Country Club standards, it was an oppressive ensemble.
Two weeks earlier, in October, a consent judgment handed down by the New Orleans Alcohol Beverage Control Board abruptly ended the club’s clothing-optional policy, forbidding patrons from swimming, tanning and drinking in the nude for the first time in its 37-year history. The policy had been New Orleans’s worst-kept secret, often touted as proof that nonconformity lived on in the Bywater neighborhood, even as the rest of the city Disneyfied.
But the appeal of the club, tucked inside a 19th-century Italianate mansion on a quiet residential block, was not purely symbolic. Its parties were wild, its bartenders were affable, and it reliably provided the Authentic New Orleans Experience, for just $10 at the door. The Club was a testament to the reasons transplants had moved to New Orleans. It was on savvy tourists’ list of must-dos. And when a woman reported being drugged and raped there in July, it became a flashpoint for a debate about whether the newcomers’ arrival threatens the same Bywater culture that drew them there.
Ipsos MORI’s new global survey, building on work in the UK last year for the Royal Statistical Society, highlights how wrong the public across 14 countries are about the basic make-up of their populations and the scale of key social issues.
For example, survey respondents in the 14 nations included in the study massively overestimate the unemployment rate, and the percentage of immigrants and Muslims in their country’s population. Most also believe that the murder rate is rising, even though it has actually been falling in every country. Even in Sweden, the country that scored highest, respondents are on average badly off on politically important issues such as the unemployment rate (which they think is 3 times higher than it actually is) and immigration (which they overestimate by “only” about 45 percent).