Thursday, June 23, 2016

Joe Cusumano on the worst thing neoliberalism has done

"The worst thing neoliberalism has done: hearing someone complain about "political correctness" is no longer a reliable indicator that they're a right-wing douche bag." —Joe Cusumano

Keshia Thomas, universalist hero of the day


"You can't beat goodness into a person." —Keshia Thomas

"That some in Ann Arbor have been heard grumbling that she should have left the man to his fate, only speaks of how far they have drifted from their own humanity. And of the crying need to get it back." —Leonard Pitts Jr.

From A Mighty Girl:
Twenty years ago today, Keshia Thomas was 18 years old when the KKK held a rally in her home town of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Hundreds of protesters turned out to tell the white supremacist organization that they were not welcome in the progressive college town. At one point during the event, a man with a SS tattoo and wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with a Confederate flag ended up on the protesters' side of the fence and a small group began to chase him. He was quickly knocked to the ground and kicked and hit with placard sticks. 
As people began to shout, "Kill the Nazi," the high school student, fearing that mob mentality had taken over, decided to act. Thomas threw herself on top of one of the men she had come to protest, protecting him from the blows, and told the crowd that you "can't beat goodness into a person." In discussing her motivation for this courageous act after the event, she stated, "Someone had to step out of the pack and say, 'this isn't right'... I knew what it was like to be hurt. The many times that that happened, I wish someone would have stood up for me... violence is violence - nobody deserves to be hurt, especially not for an idea." 
Thomas never heard from the man after that day but months later, a young man came up to her to say thanks, telling her that the man she had protected was his father. For Thomas, learning that he had a son brought even greater significance to her heroic act. As she observed, "For the most part, people who hurt... they come from hurt. It is a cycle. Let's say they had killed him or hurt him really bad. How does the son feel? Does he carry on the violence?" 
Mark Brunner, the student photographer who took this now famous photograph, added that what was so remarkable was who Thomas saved: "She put herself at physical risk to protect someone who, in my opinion, would not have done the same for her. Who does that in this world?" 
In response to those who argued that the man deserved a beating or more, Pulitzer Prize-winning commentator Leonard Pitts Jr. offered this short reflection in The Miami Herald: 
That some in Ann Arbor have been heard grumbling that she should have left the man to his fate, only speaks of how far they have drifted from their own humanity. And of the crying need to get it back.
Keshia's choice was to affirm what they have lost.
Keshia's choice was human.
Keshia's choice was hope.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Why Identitarians Can't Empathize: on the reactions to a Baby Taken by an Alligator and a Mass Shooting in Orlando

Quick take:

Why can't identitarians empathize? Because they can't identify with people who have social identities that they consider "other". Conservative (or right) identitarians can't identify with people who don't share their identity, whether it's racial or ethnic. Liberal (or left) identitarians can't identify with people they assign to "oppressor" identities.

And so a left identitarian, a white woman, was able to tweet this:


Because identitarians tend to be authoritarians, they think people should obey signs. But in this case, the sign merely said "No swimming" and had no mention of alligators, so a number of parents thought it was safe to let their children wade there. See PRAY, PRAY so hard for the family & for those... - Jennifer Venditti.

Longer take:

You might think Brienne of Snarth didn't have to share her inability to care about parents seeing their baby carried to its death by an alligator. But for identitarians, sharing their indifference to tragedy involving people they consider "other" is effectively a religious obligation. I wrote in Malcolm X, "A very beautiful thing", Bahar Mustafa, and #KillAllWhiteMen:
In 1962, while Malcolm X was still part of the Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam, Air France Flight 007 crashed carrying 122 white art patrons from Athens, Georgia and ten crew members. All of the passengers and eight crew members were killed. Ann Uhry Abrams wrote that “the impact on the city in 1962 was comparable to New York of September 11." Out of respect for the mourners, Martin Luther King canceled a sit-in that had been planned to protest segregation.

But Malcolm X said, "I would like to announce a very beautiful thing that has happened...I got a wire from God today...well, all right, somebody came and told me that he really had answered our prayers over in France. He dropped an airplane out of the sky with over 120 white people on it because the Muslims believe in an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But thanks to God, or Jehovah, or Allah, we will continue to pray, and we hope that every day another plane falls out of the sky."
After discussing the very privileged Ms. Mustafa,  I concluded,
In 1964, Malcolm X came back from Mecca with a new understanding of the world. He said, "I totally reject Elijah Muhammad's racist philosophy," and declared, "I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the systems of exploitation. I believe that there will be that kind of clash, but I don’t think that it will be based upon the color of the skin."

Insh'allah, Ms. Bahar and her fellow identitarians will someday catch up to Malcolm half a century ago.
Sady Doyle defended Brienne of Snarth on Twitter:

Doug Henwood shared her tweet on Facebook with the comment "Something we should keep in mind before feeling any sympathy over a 2-year-old eaten by an alligator."

I am sorry I'm not able to ask Brienne of Snarth, a lesbian, about another tragedy that some left identitarians exploited. After the slaughter at a GLBT club in Orlando, a  #BlackLivesMatter activist decided to take over a memorial service:



When that killing was called America's worst attack by a mass shooter, a Portland woman sent out a press release to remind people of 19th century attacks on American Indians. Other activists brought up killings by mobs during the Jim Crow era. I posted this on Facebook:
Dear people who are sharing other massacres to diminish the effect of what happened in Orlando: Orlando's killing is the greatest mass shooting by a single person in the US—it's the US's equivalent of what Anders Breivik did in Norway. Pointing to other massacres involving more attackers does not change that. Right now, the gay community has been attacked. Give them a day or two before you rush in with false comparisons to Wounded Knee and Greenwood.
Will identitarians ever change? Only if, like Malcolm X, they outgrow their identitarianism. Two days before he was murdered, he said,
I did many things as a [Black] Muslim that I'm sorry for now. I was a zombie then—like all [Black] Muslims—I was hypnotized, pointed in a certain direction and told to march. Well, I guess a man's entitled to make a fool of himself if he's ready to pay the cost. It cost me twelve years.

That was a bad scene, brother. The sickness and madness of those days—I'm glad to be free of them.
ETA: Tonia Thompson defends Brienne of Snarth: In The Wake Of Tragedy, Black Parents Face A Racist Double Standard - The Establishment. Her argument boils down to "We're just like the white racists who blamed the mother whose baby got into a gorilla pen." She assumes every critic of the mother at the gorilla pen is racist, even though parents of all races are damned by some people when their kids do wrong. Moreover, Thompson's guilty of false equivalency: the mother at the gorilla pen knew there were gorillas there, and the child in the gorilla pen survived. The latter means that mother's critics did not need to consider whether she might be grieving; they knew she had her living child. That said, no parent can be watchful every second of every day; that mother does not deserve to be blamed for her child slipping into the pen.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Must read for a leftist refutation of much identitarian mythical history

Why Did White Workers Leave the Democratic Party? | Jacobin. One example of many rejections of the mythical history of identitarians, regarding Jim Crow:
...the argument that these laws were simply racist because they excluded agricultural workers is wrong. First, most social welfare laws everywhere initially excluded farm workers. Today, farm workers in New York have fewer rights than industrial workers. Then, the majority of sharecroppers in the South of the 1930s were white, not black. Did Southern legislators advocate minimum wages and pensions for white sharecroppers?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

SJWs as the Moralist Left, and a bit about Kameron Hurley and WisCon

#JeNeSuisPasLiberal: Entering the Quagmire of Online Leftism | The American Reader is an interesting attempt to divide the left into four groups. Most relevant to scifi fandom is this bit:
Hurley’s rage-born preference for megacorporate San Diego Comicon over Wiscon closely parallels Garvey’s preference for the KKK over white liberals. Alternating between Ethical betrayal and Structural futility, her essay ultimately settles on the hope that something better will take its place, without explaining how that will happen.
The reason identitarians rage and never offer solutions may come from the fact that they tend to be neoliberals rather than leftists. They love the pyramid of economic privilege and wish it had no impurities so they could enjoy their privilege without discomfort. And so they rant about the impurities without realizing the pyramid itself must be flattened.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Three essential points from Cathy Young's The Brock Turner case: Sexual assault, mob justice, and the war on "rape culture"

From The Brock Turner case: Sexual assault, mob justice, and the war on "rape culture":

Would a black student in a similar situation get a similar sentence? Yes.
While I think there's elite college athlete privilege at work, Baylor University football player Sam Ukwuachu, who is black, was given a 6-month jail sentence and 10 years' probation last year after being convicted of sexually assaulting a female former Baylor soccer player. (An ex-girlfriend also testified that Ukwuachu had battered and choked her.) Obviously, a single case does not prove a pattern. But one may legitimately wonder if a black defendant would have been picked as the "face of campus sexual assault," the way Turner was.
Is it possible that Turner did not intend to rape his victim and therefore received an appropriate sentence? Yes.
The defense theory was that the victim consented to sex and passed out at some point during the sexual activity, and presumably that Turner (who was also heavily intoxicated though not as much as the victim, with his blood alcohol level twice the legal driving limit and hers 3 times) was too out of it to notice. Is this a possibility? Phone records do indicate that the victim was conscious, though disoriented, about 15 minutes before she was found with Turner; she called her boyfriend and left an incoherent message. If Turner was too drunk to notice that she had passed out, I don't think that absolves him of responsibility, any more than a drunk driver is absolved of responsibility if s/he is too drunk to realize s/he shouldn't get behind the wheel. But it could make this a crime of negligence more than intent, in which case the six-month sentence seems more adequate (especially combined with additional penalties: probation, a lifelong ban from the Stanford campus, and probably lifetime sex offender registration).
Was the light sentence recommended and supported by women? Yes.
...the probation officer who recommended the light sentence (on the grounds of Turner's youth, lack of criminal record, and intoxicated state at the time of the crime) is a woman. The head of the Santa Clara Public Defender's Office, Molly O'Neal -- a feminist, an openly gay woman and the mother of a college-bound daughter -- has also defended the sentence as fair and not out of the ordinary given the details of this case. I still believe it was too light; however, there is clearly a legitimate, non-misogynist view that the sentence was appropriate.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Freddie deBoer on 21st century liberalism

"21st century liberalism is ensuring a panel at a defense industry conference called Building a Deadlier Drone has adequate gender diversity." —Freddie deBoer

Glenn Greenwald on people who think their side doesn't have trolls

"Self-centered people always think their own group is free of trolls because they're never targeted by them." —Glenn Greenwald

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Dear Identitarians, here's why Clinton is the racist and sexist choice

I just left this comment elsewhere:
It takes an astonishing amount of privilege to claim that Sanders' supporters are privileged. Statistically, they're poorer than Clinton supporters. Google "A Key Divide Between Clinton and Sanders Supporters: Income" if you doubt me.

More importantly, it takes an astonishing amount of privilege not to support a $15 minimum wage, medicare-for-all, and free public higher education. These things would greatly benefit poor people. And if you don't care about poor people, you should notice that because poverty is disproportionately female and of color, these things would disproportionately benefit women and people of color.

All of which is to say that if you only care about race and gender, Clinton is the more racist and the more sexist of the Democratic candidates.
ETA:  A quote from an interview by my favorite thinker on race and class, Adolph Reed: "You can go down Sanders’s platform issue by issue and ask, “so how is this not a black issue?” How is a $15 minimum wage not a black issue. How is massive public works employment not a black issue. How is free public college higher education not a black issue."