Reggie Watts’ 2012 TED Talk had many unique observations, but one has always stuck with me as particularly insightful.
“As we face fear in these times—and fear is all around us—we also have anti-fear. The background radiation is simply too static to be able to be seen under the normal spectral analysis.”
That line of satirical pseudo-babble was part of an improvised comedy/musical performance but has achieved a surprising resonance in years since, and it’s as concise a summary of journalist Sasha Abramsky’s latest book Jumping At Shadows as the one it gives itself. Continue reading Book Review: Sasha Abramsky’s ‘Jumping At Shadows’ is important but covers little new ground
1. It’s homophobic and deserving of criticism.
2. Those calling for a boycott are doing it cynically from the right, and don’t actually care about LGBTQ rights.
3. Those sincerely critical of it are not calling for a boycott or Stephen Colbert to be fired.
4. Colbert has consistent homophobic and transphobic sensibilities and has often used gay and trans people as punchlines. The reason (sincere) criticism of this sort of humor is important is not to censor it but to make the comedians involved aware of it, question their own reasons and biases, and hopefully correct it in the future.
5. This isn’t the left ‘tearing itself apart’. This is the right upset that Trump and Putin were targets of criticism and trying to use progressive language for an incredibly narrow purpose, and, short of that, to try to use their own facetious overreactions as evidence of something the matter with people whose ideas and values they disdain. This is the equivalent of a 4chan prank where all of the prank posts and twitter accounts are retroactively taken at face value and pointed to as evidence Justin Bieber fans are stupid or feminists widely support free bleeding. Continue reading Anti-fascism is not mutually exclusive from homophobia
Donald Trump is and remains president-elect despite earning, to this point in the counting, 1.7 million fewer votes than his opponent nationwide, or roughly every man, woman, and child in the Dakotas.
So despite having a plurality of the electorate, Democrats and the left have 0 percent of the power in federal government, and full control of six state governments compared with 26 for Republicans.
Part of this is by design: voter suppression and gerrymandering are ongoing efforts to disenfranchise minorities and other Democratic voters. But it’s a lot easier when people you don’t want to vote move to places where it doesn’t matter whether or not they do.
Continue reading Without a windbreak in the country, Hollywood liberals will destroy America
After the physicist Richard Feynman helped to create the atom bomb, he spent a period of dazed depression wondering why anyone bothered to build anything when it was all going to be destroyed soon anyway.
That’s what most liberal Americans feel like right now, and have for the better part of a week.
It’s common for losing parties to behave like it’s the end of the world, and Democrats told conservatives to suck it up after 2008 and 2012. The republic didn’t come undone in 2004 or 2000, either. It’s good to remember that history is a long time, and sometimes you lose elections. Even acknowledging that, this time it is different.
Things are only unprecedented once. After that, it gets easier.
No future presidential candidate is ever going to be compelled to release their tax returns. If asked they can always say, ‘President Donald J. Trump didn’t, and look: no one cared.’ After two or three elections go by, that transparency won’t even be an expectation.
At a minimum, the next four years will be like that but with virtually every aspect of the presidency and elected office.
Continue reading Things are only unprecedented once, so what rhymes with ‘Trump’?
The other day the candidates finished up the last of three presidential debates after a year and a half of serious campaigning, and the only thing left on the calendar is Election Day itself. Now the final hours of the election are unfolding like the extended director’s cut of Return of the King: we’re ready for it to be over any time now, but there’s still much more than you need or want ahead.
So the 2016 Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner just happened, and because there are pageviews to get and 24 hours of cable to fill and politics are consumed and pored over by laymen like Westerosi genealogies, it wasn’t just another private white-tie fundraiser for New York Catholics and other elite figures to mingle and lightly roast one another; it was a public occasion open to anyone with cable or YouTube and another subject to fill conversation for the chattering classes we can now all count ourselves among thanks to the steady march of progress and the Internet.
Donald Trump gave his speech; Hillary Clinton gave hers. They each apparently gave two versions of their talks because that’s how people reacted to it. Ideology is a prism for splitting the light from any event into your preferred spectrum, and we’re lucky enough to have plenty of sources available to better crystalize our thoughts, whatever the ideology.
Continue reading Donald Trump isn’t president yet, but he’s already started bombing