Friday, August 31, 2012

Vote No on Marriage Crop Art!

From the Minnesota State Fair:

Wanda Jackson was at the Minnesota State Fair! plus more Fair thoughts

We were thinking the quality of the music might've declined at the fair, and then today, we were looking for a seat and something sounded familiar. An old woman was rocking out on the Leinie's stage. And we stared in awe, because it was Wanda Jackson.

Why kids might know her:

But Emma and I know her 'cause she was the queen of rockabilly:

Today was our last day at the fair, and that was a fine show for it.

Food consumed and recommended:

  • Cream puffs.
  • French fries from the Fresh French Fries stand.
  • A "doubles" from Harry Singh's: chickpeas and roti, nom!
  • Leininkugel's lemon shandy
  • Cheese curds from the "original" curds booth, which may have improved, 'cause we thought they were as good as the Mouth Trap's, which was certainly not the case fifteen years ago.
  • Minne-apple pie with cinnamon ice cream. I thought the ice cream was a little too sweet, but Emma liked it. The pie was very good, but not so good that we'll definitely have it next year.
  • Coffee from Farmer's Union.
  • Emma had more all-the-milk-you-can-drink; I had more honey lemonade.

Mostly, it was a very nice, lazy day. But we've done five days at the fair; I think we'll be content with three or four henceforth.

Today's reasons I'm a socialist: links

From One in Four Mississippi Residents Struggle to Afford Food:
In 15 states, at least one in five Americans say they struggled to afford the food they needed at least once during the past 12 months. Nationwide, 18.2% of Americans so far in 2012 say there have been times when they could not afford the food they needed, on par with the 18.6% who had trouble affording food in 2011.
And more evidence that the rich cheat more than the rest of us: from Harvard Investigates "Unprecedented" Academic Dishonesty Case | News | The Harvard Crimson:
Harvard College’s disciplinary board is investigating nearly half of the 279 students who enrolled in Government 1310: “Introduction to Congress” last spring for allegedly plagiarizing answers or inappropriately collaborating on the class’ final take-home exam.

triggered by trigger warnings online? who has honestly been "triggered" online?

My theory: if you need trigger warnings, you need to stay off the internet. Diagnosed PTSD sufferers function in life without trigger warnings; they learn to recognize what might trigger them or what is triggering them, and they react accordingly.

Are there any real sufferers of PTSD who are triggered by text? If so, wouldn't the trigger warning itself be triggering?

ETA: For some context:

When “Trigger Warning” Lost All Its Meaning | The Awl

The Illusion Of Safety/The Safety Of Illusion - The

Thursday, August 30, 2012

how to write a book, plus a little about the Minnesota State Fair

I tweeted this yesterday;
How to write a book: write a book.
In other news, there is no other news. Well, Emma and I are going to the State Fair a little too often, which I didn't think was possible, so we'll stop doing that soon.

Coolest freebie at the fair is a collapsible water bottle from AARP in the Education Building.

Best food? Um, all of it? Okay, best macaroons Emma has ever eaten—and Emma may be the premiere macaroon judge—are from the Salty Tart, whose regular bakery is about a mile from us. (Yes, two of the best bakeries in the Twin Cities are within bicycling distance. Life is good.)

Ole's Cannolis in Heritage Square are actually great. The lightly battered cauliflower and new potatoes on a stick nearby are also mighty fine.

The salmon wrap at Giggle's is well worth having again.

The $2.50 breakfast burrito at Tejas was ideal for the one time we managed to get to the fair before 11 am.

I liked the Leininkugel's berry shandy, but the lemon shandy is better, and Summit on a Stick—three samper beers in a paddle—is best. Though the Brau Brothers beers at the tasting in the Ag Building were grand.

Seed art is eternally cool.

The art at the art building is, as usual, much better than it needs to be.

The sky glider ride over the fair grounds is mighty fine.

Bonnie Raitt was great, and so was Mavis Staples.

Volunteering for the ACLU booth was heaps of fun.

All the milk you can drink was as wonderful as I remembered. So was the honey lemonade and the honey ice cream at the Ag Building.

I was mighty fond of O'Gara's battered green beans.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something else I really liked. The only thing that was a bit disappointing were the garlic french fries—there was plenty of garlic, but I would've liked a thicker and darker potato with it.

Well, there may be another post about State Fair love within a few days.

ETA: Deep fried cheese curds! How could I forget? We're traditionalists—we always get them in the Food Building, though I know we should check out the competition.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

about race, class, and Hurricane Katrina

Adolph Reed Jr., who was called "the smartest person of any race, class, or gender writing on race, class, and gender" by Katha Pollitt in Mother Jones, wrote in New Orleans - Undone by Neoliberalism:
A critique that focuses just on race misses how the deeper structures of neoliberal practice and ideology underlie the travesty in New Orleans, as well as in the other devastated areas of the Gulf Coast. (Adjacent to the Lower Ninth Ward, St. Bernard Parish, nearly 90 percent white, working class and reliably Republican, was virtually wiped off the face of the earth. Most of the parish's housing was destroyed. No hospitals or public libraries have reopened, and only 20 percent of its schools are operating.)
Reed's take is supported by Race, socioeconomic status, and return migration to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina:
However, the racial disparity disappears after controlling for housing damage. We conclude that blacks tended to live in areas that experienced greater flooding and hence suffered more severe housing damage which, in turn, led to their delayed return to the city.
Reed also wrote Three Tremés, nailing what's wrong with Treme the show and giving me a new word, "identitarianism." He notes (italics mine):
Simon was thus primed to lap up the touristic narrative of cultural authenticity. Since Katrina, that narrative has swirled together with the powerful imagery of an impoverished and abandoned black New Orleans, victimized by racialized inequality and injustice. Despite its symbolic power, that imagery was in some ways more apparent than real. For example, blacks were displaced by the flood at only a slightly higher rate than whites.11 And it was poor people of every race who were disproportionately stranded on overpasses and at the Superdome or convention center and who have had greatest difficulty in returning to the city, restoring losses and reconstructing a normal life. Although news footage of stranded black New Orleanians immediately called forth a familiar narrative of racial injustice, the immediacy and certainty with which perception of those images linked to this narrative contrasted with an utter vagueness concerning causal processes through which the inequalities are reproduced and why, therefore, they are most accurately or effectively characterized as specifically racial.12 Easy pieties like “black and poor victims of neglect” conveyed a generic sense of injustice but provided no clue as to its nature or sources, much less possible remedies. The dramatic imagery of the stranded and displaced, and the apparent urgency of the moment, overwhelmed capacity for sober reflection or interrogation of the pietistic declarations. Analogies to clearer, explicit forms of racial oppression like slavery or Jim Crow segregation commonly stood in for examinations of causes of manifest inequalities and strategic responses to them. That rhetorical move is not restricted to application of the discourse of racial oppression to post-Katrina New Orleans but is a conventional feature of black political discourse, across the ideological spectrum. A widely touted recent book attempts to understand mass incarceration as the “new Jim Crow,”13 and anachronistic allusion is the essential trope of reparations talk. In general its function and appeal lie in asserting continuity with regimes of explicit racial subordination in the past to support claims – in the absence of direct causal argument – that manifest racial disparities in the distribution of social and economic costs and benefits are best understood and addressed through the discourse of anti-racism.
Reed has known New Orleans all his life. From When Government Shrugs: Lessons of Katrina | The Progressive:
Guardians of a stripped-down discourse of racial piety, such as Manning Marable and David Roediger, persist in taking me to task for supposedly not recognizing race as the crucial dimension of injustice in New Orleans. This is an all too familiar, tiresome canard, but in this context I find it especially bemusing. I don’t want to descend into what seems like a claim of authenticity based on personal biography. However, I do know New Orleans and its politics, racial or otherwise. I doubt that I could have overlooked the role of race in the city’s power relations during all those years on the segregated buses, streetcars, and ferries, at the segregated public park and zoo, on the segregated lakefront (our space was near the opening to the Industrial Canal), at the Jim Crow takeout restaurant window, at my segregated high school, during the year of white rioting over school desegregation, vicariously through the lives of the domestic workers and caddies who were my neighbors, or in the everyday world that reminded me at every step that any white person could do or say anything to me with impunity and I could have no expectation of due process before the law. 
Yes, I’ve seen how many, if not most of the Crescent City’s white citizens’ perspectives on politics remain shaped by a racist worldview that persists as at least a default consciousness. This is especially notable in election seasons, most dramatically in David Duke’s two statewide races. Nominally educated, upper-status white people have been no less likely to embrace him and others like him than have stereotypical rednecks. 
I’ve also closely observed the racial transition in the city’s politics over the last thirty years. I’ve seen it from the bottom up and inside out. The new black political class, including the first three black mayors, emerged from my family’s social stratum—our former schoolmates and circle of friends and associates, all part of the rising or entrenched black professional-managerial class. I’ve known many of these individuals, and certainly the stratum writ large, nearly all my life. I’ve seen the content and trajectory of their understanding of race and politics evolve over decades. I’ve seen—from the most casual banter at parties, weddings, and funerals to the crafting of public policy—how racial discourse can be a form of class capital. I know how easily the language of racial equity functions to obscure (typically without self-conscious guile; that’s the beauty of ideology) the reality of a political agenda that concentrates costs and benefits asymmetrically within the black population. A politics built on denouncing racism simply cannot help us understand these dynamics at all.


The photos of the "looter" and "scavenger" are explained here.
Clayton James Cubitt's Katrina
Operation Eden
via Race and Class in America

the selective acknowledgment of class by SJWs

I've said social justice warriors hate to talk about class, but that's not exactly true. They happily mention class when racists denigrate people of color based on racial interpretations of poverty or crime statistics. For example, if someone said black folks in the US commit more crimes than white folks, anti-racists might cite something like this from Bill Bennett and Freakonomics:
It is true that, on average, crime involvement in the U.S. is higher among blacks than whites. Importantly, however, once you control for income, the likelihood of growing up in a female-headed household, having a teenage mother, and how urban the environment is, the importance of race disappears for all crimes except homicide. (The homicide gap is partly explained by crack markets). In other words, for most crimes a white person and a black person who grow up next door to each other with similar incomes and the same family structure would be predicted to have the same crime involvement. Empirically, what matters is the fact that abortions are disproportionately used on unwanted pregnancies, and disproportionately by teenage women and single women.
SJWs only hate to talk about class issues when class undermines their focus on race.

about the Taxi Test

Updated version of this post: it's all one thing: is it harder for black people to get a taxi in the US? or About the Taxi Test

about "parallel lives: a different race, a different class"

In 2007, many social justice warriors wrote posts for International Blog Against Racism Week. None of them mentioned class. I thought that was like describing a bicycle as if it only had one pedal, so I wrote this:
parallel lives: a different race, a different class

If you changed my race, but not my class, this would probably be my life:

My parents would not have been from small towns in northern Minnesota. Mom's parents owned a drugstore, and Dad's parents owned a small farm. Making them black in that time would probably make me a southerner or a westerner. (The north had middle-class black neighborhoods in its cities then, but few black farm-owners.)

I was born on an army base in 1955. Truman desegregated the army in '48, so Dad would've still been drafted.

Dad would probably still start Dog Land and get involved in civil rights, but instead of going to an all-white public school from kindergarten to fifth grade, I would have gone to a black one that had far fewer financial resources.

Instead of being called a nigger-lover, I would've been called a nigger.

I would've been beaten by bigots because of my skin, which I couldn't have changed, instead of my long hair, which I could have changed, but didn't.

Life would've been harder on me, but my parents would've done for me what middle-class black families of the time did for their children, and when the opportunity for me to go to the Choate School came, I would've gone.

I would've listened to more funk and less rock.

I would've still read Malcolm X and protested the Vietnam War.

I would've still wanted to become a writer.

I don't know if I would've met and fallen in love with Emma, but I think I would've; there were interracial couples at Beloit College.

I don't know if I would've become a fantasy writer, but I think I would've; I had Delany for inspiration.

Whether I would be more concerned with race and less concerned with class today, I don't know.

But I do know this: in the broadest strokes, my life would not have changed greatly if I had been born black instead of white. For someone born a few years earlier, a change of race would've made enormous differences, but I was born as the racial realities of the US were changing profoundly.

But what if I'd been born white and poor? My father wouldn't have had the opportunity to start a new business in a new land.

I would've only gone to public schools, and I might not have gone to college.

I might've had to join the army to support my family.

I never would've met Emma.

I might never have become a writer.

My life would be so different that it's impossible to imagine it paralleling the one I've lived. It's nice to think that because I'm reasonably bright, I would've risen out of my class. But the percentage of people who move outside their class in the US is tiny, smaller even than it is in the UK. To imagine that I would be an exception calls for imagining that I would be one of the very few for whom luck and hard work result in success.
That post got hundreds of comments, and the conversation rambled across many blogs. A few days later, I added a postscript:
When I wrote this, I made some assumptions that I didn't realize—oh, sneaky subconscious!—and some assumptions that I failed to realize other people would miss because I didn't spell them out. For example, I never meant to suggest that was the only life I could've had if you only changed my race. I know something that some fans of alternate history actually call (I blush repeating this) Will Shetterly’s rule: There are no correct alternate histories; there are only plausible alternate histories.

Some of you will undoubtedly think the life I posited is implausible. I don't; I think it's the most conservative version of my altered life. Here's where my sneaky subconscious comes in: I do believe that most Americans don't realize what a great role class plays in their lives. So when I was thinking about an alternate life, I was thinking about the one in which a change of race but not a change of class still gave me a life that in its broadest strokes was still remarkably like my life. In the multiverse of "Will grows up black," that is only one of an infinite number of possible lives.

Many people have pointed to some of the other likely lives that I glossed over when I said simply, "Life would've been harder on me." The latest one came from nigita, who pointed out a change that I had never considered: "And even if you were somehow able to transcend all these things, odds are good that if you stood out academically, you'd be under enormous pressure to do something with your life so that you could be a credit to your race." It's definitely true that in many of my infinite alternate lives, I would've become the lawyer that my father had hoped I would be. So, apologies for not realizing that I really needed to say something like the above at the beginning of my thought experiment. Stupid subconscious.
In 2009, two of Sparkymonster's examples in "Will Shetterly: Do Not Engage" came from the discussion on the original LiveJournal post of "parallel lives: a different race, a different class" in 2007. Here's more context from the original comments:

• Jonquil, a white American woman, brought up the taxi test:

jonquil: "What happens, among other things, is that you can't get a taxi in Manhattan in the rain."

willshetterly: "I wish someone would do a taxi test with a middle class black and a "trailer trash" white. For those who want to play the oppression hierarchy game, the result would be interesting. And while I'm not denying that there are racist taxi drivers, getting a taxi in Manhattan in the rain is an art form for anyone. As a young man, I tended to give up, cover my head with a newspaper if one was handy, and walk. Whether taxi drivers were prejudiced against me because I was a young man, I don't know, but I do know that I didn't look like someone who would give them a great tip."

jonquil: "The whole point of the taxi test is that black people are, on a day to day basis, treated differently than white people in identifiable ways. It isn't about the taxi drivers. It's about the taxi customers."

willshetterly: "Aren't the drivers making the choice?"

jonquil: "Are we talking about what happens when we change class but leave race constant, or are we talking about whether taxi drivers are Bad People?"

willshetterly: "...if you make me black, I'll run into racists. Not denying. Would having trouble getting a cab change my life in its broader outlines? Definitely denying. I survived not getting picked up because I was a kid. I would survive not being picked up because I was black. And I have to admit the taxi test smells of class bigotry to me."

• nicked_metal, a white Australian man, brought up self-esteem:

nicked_metal: "We seem to agree that if you had not had a choice about exposing yourself to victimization, that the outcomes for your self-esteem would have been hard to predict. If the outcomes for your self-esteem would have been hard to predict, how can you predict the outcome of your life in general with such confidence? Do you not believe that self-esteem is a determining factor in life outcomes?"

willshetterly: "I know an awful lot of blacks who don't have self-esteem problems, or at least, don't have greater self-esteem problems than any other insecure artist. Do you know many middle-class blacks with self-esteem problems?"

• sandersyager, who described herself as "a middle class, college educated black woman" from "a moderately expensive private Quaker institution" "who also identifies as queer" inspired the OJ Simpson comment:

sandersyager: "A nigger is a nigger is a nigger is a nigger. It doesn't matter if you're Michael Jordan, millionaire, or Michael Jones, the kid across the street in the projects. When you're out at night, today, in 2007, you worry if you're going to get pulled over and survive it. You worry if you're going to get turned away from a job because your skin is too dark, too yellow, and anything in between. You will, in most places, struggle in school because teachers will assume you are not as bright, and you will be the first placed in special ed and the last in honors track courses. You will be encouraged to think about the community college and Harvard? Forget it. You will time and time again be asked if you play basketball, if you sing. Not if you know physics, speak Japanese or travelled outside the US. You will know racism, and you will know classism, and you will see both perpetuated by a system that DOES NOT separate them but uses poor whites to carry out a mission that protects wealth through pitting them against poor blacks, and teaches them that The Minority is the one taking their opportunities away. You would not have the charmed little life you described above. Yes, many of those things would have been possible, but you missed all the little bumps in the road that you, as a white person, will never and have never experienced. Your arrogance later in stating your mission as the eradication of class, and pretending that class and race are not inextricably linked is misguided and insulting, as well as being one of the reasons that social movements continue to fail. You're right that there is enough wealth for people to live comfortably, were it dispersed fairly, but one of the key factors there is the use of race in determining who is worthy. Wealth, in the US at least, was built in past decades through treating people of color as property, and continues through the systems that mean a higher percentage of POC hold minimum wages jobs than college degrees, and that also disadvantages poor whites in through the same means."

willshetterly: "I completely agree that racism has been a tool of capitalism since the slave trade became a matter of rich Africans selling poor Africans to rich Europeans. But a nigger is not always a nigger: OJ Simpson got off because he was rich, even though comparable cases involving poor whites resulted in quick convictions. I agree about the bumps you describe; as I said in the post, my life would've been harder if I'd been black. We'll have to disagree about whether class and race are inextricably linked. There are plenty of monoracial cultures where class thrives."

sandersyager: "You cite the guilty white liberal's favorite counter example, OJ Simpson, but you have to understand that he does not represent the majority of African Americans in the legal system, any more than the Teflon Don represents all whites. While his class status certainly played a role, having access to more resources will always have an impact on the outcome, Simpson is, frankly, an anomaly in terms of African Americans in the justice system. ... I think everyone has the ability to claim personal power, but in order to do that, we have to stop parsing identities and causes and issues as if one matters more than the other. I do not believe your approach levels the grounds of oppression. In fact, I believe it raises one area of contention above others. This approach is what causes people to leave parts of their identities outside their work for social justice, it is what allows GLBTQ groups to ignore racism by saying that by erasing homophobia, everyone will be equal. It's what enables those working against racism to say that if we fix discrimination based on race, everyone will be equal. It is this approach that pushes other issues, other vital identities, off of the table. It is this approach that pushes people like me out of the room and out of the movements that should be seeking to benefit everyone but fail to make the critical connections between oppressions."

willshetterly: "That is where we disagree. You think the "isms" are equal and independent; I believe hierarchy lies at the heart of them all. I agree that "we have to stop parsing identities and causes and issues as if one matters more than the other," but I think the way we do that is by addressing hierarchy itself. Which doesn't instantly end the other isms, but it leaves them without any outside support. Of course OJ is an anomaly in the experience of African Americans. The point is that he's not an anomaly in the experience of the rich. By becoming rich, he becomes green, not black. As for pity and helplessness, I don't mean to imply that helplessness is a permanent state. But if you think everyone's capable of pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps, well, we have to disagree again. You can't fish without a fishing pole. (Uh, not the perfect metaphor from a vegetarian, but it's late, so I'll let it go.) Those of us who succeed do so because we were helped by our societies; there's no such thing as a selfmade man or woman. But how we keep from pushing anyone out of the room? It's tough. Conservative capitalists have it easy: they unite to keep their power. Until the rest of us find a way to be allies, the capitalists will keep winning."

• Starkeymonster, an Ivy League black woman, entered the discussion, quoting me in italics:

I wish someone would do a taxi test with a middle class black and a "trailer trash" white. For those who want to play the oppression hierarchy game, the result would be interesting.  
Michael Moore did with Yaphett Kotto and a poor white man who had an extensive criminal record. The result was..the taxi drivers kept on driving past the black man to pick up the white man. 
Kotto is a reasonably well off, well known black actor. Someone you feel has become "green" and yet, couldn't get a taxi. Every few years there is a huge scandal when a rich or well known black person is unable to get a cab in NYC. Their "greenness" has done jack all for them. When I'm in NYC I consistently have to ask my white friends to hail cabs for me. It's humiliating, degrading and frustrating. 
I am curious to see how you will explain these situations are still all about classism. Also, since you've also stated that racism does not negatively affect the self-esteem of middle class black people, I'd like you to consider how knowing that any white person is more acceptable than you might affect your self-esteem.
I kind of remember the test, but, much as I love Michael Moore, he's a rich white liberal who'll cheat sometimes. I forget the details. Did the guy look like "trailer trash"? 
And I don't mean to suggest it's all classism, honest. There are racist taxi drivers. No question. 
But as for the last, I've got a hell of a lot of black friends who reject the idea that "any white person is more acceptable than you." My favorite one calls it a manifestation of stupidism, which, I think, sums up the feeling of many. Yes, there are racist idiots out there. And sexist ones. And classist ones. And homophobic ones. They're stupid. That's the important part of the equation. If Condi Rice and Clarence Thomas can screw up both of our lives, I think there's a bigger problem than racism we need to deal with.
Of course OJ is an anomaly in the experience of African Americans. The point is that he's not an anomaly in the experience of the rich. By becoming rich, he becomes green, not black. 
Actually he doesn't. Rich black people face a lot of the same racially based discrimination out in the world that non rich black people face. A classic example would be an utter inability to get a cab to stop in the streets of NYC. Or having people assume their car doesn't belong to them. I'm confident that (pre-murder trial) OJ walking down the street woudl have been recoil in fear and nervousness. 
I'd also point out that class markers on black people are often ignored in favor of the bigger marker of race. Dressed up in my fancy college interview clothes, I had someone mistake me for a homeless person and toss money into the empty cup I was holding in my hand. The person tossing me money ignored the class markers I was displaying and saw "black person with cup" = homeless. This was not an isolated event. I often have people ignoring what I would consider my fairly obvious class markers (in terms of how I talk, how I dress, etc) in favor of what they perceive my class is based on my skin tone. 
I'd also remind you that having Delaney as a role model for writing fantasy would do jack all about the institutionalized racism in the publishing industry (and sci-fi fandom). Look at the dearth of writers who are black. Do you think that is just a random coincidence?
"Dressed up in my fancy college interview clothes, I had someone mistake me for a homeless person and toss money into the empty cup I was holding in my hand. The person tossing me money ignored the class markers I was displaying and saw "black person with cup" = homeless." 
Yeah, that's stupidism at its purest. What did you do with the money? 
As for the writers, about the time I began paying attention to their race, I was reading Delany and Frank Yerby. They would've told me that I could be a black writer--and they did tell me that I could be a writer.
And I have to admit the taxi test smells of class bigotry to me. 
Seriously, what the fuck? How can what is a clear cut example of people making racially based decisions to deny someone service actually be about class bigotry?
Racist taxi drivers are racists. But talking as if all taxi drivers are racists is making a class assumption about a specific set of blue collar workers. 
Here are two thoughts. It's a lot easier to say "I'm not racist" than "I'm working on my racism." Also, if I wrote a series of posts which caused large numbers of people to say "holy crap are you being dismissive about racism" to the point where a friend was contacted offline to step in, I would consider that I wasn't as over racism as I thought.
Could be. But if I'm the face of racism today, folks really can go home and celebrate, 'cause the race war's on its last legs. The class war? That's getting stronger every day. 
At the time, I didn't know Sparkymonster was fat. See what fat Social Justice Warriors don't know about class markers.

And I really didn't understand that believers in Critical Race Theory work on their racism the way Baptists work on being sinners. But I did grasp that their idea of working on class issues is giving good tips to efficient, happy, and deferential people who serve them.

my policy on "outing"

If someone puts information in a public post on the web, thereby making it public knowledge, I will share it; if they don't, I won't. If anyone tries to out anyone in the comments here, their comment will be deleted; I take privacy very seriously. Social Justice Warriors delight in outing their opponents—see the outings of Zathlazip and Igor Sanchez—but I believe people who make some effort to keep Google from linking their identities should be respected, no matter what I think of their beliefs.

When I know someone's identity and I'm not sure whether it's public knowledge, I do a Google Advanced Search using "all these words" to see if any of the hits are posts made by that person. But if I make a mistake, please correct me, and I'll delete the name from my blog immediately.

Recommended: Sierra Wyndsong - A Matter of Public Record

volunteering at the ACLU booth

Emma and I at the ACLU booth at the Minnesota State Fair, supporting gay marriage and opposing photo ID voting requirements.

I'm hopeful about Minnesotans voting down the marriage bill—though not confident—but worried about the photo ID bill. It'll take $80,000,000 from the state's general fund—meaning it'll hurt public education, most likely—to solve a problem that doesn't exist. Currently, Minnesota is number one in the nation for voter turnout. If this passes, that claim will go to someone else, because the inevitable consequence of increasing ID requirements is decreasing voter turnout, especially from students, the elderly, and renters, who move more often and therefore are more likely to have out of date IDs.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dear liberals, please stop appropriating Malcolm X

Liberals like Ta-Nehisi Coates are fond of comparing Barack Obama to Malcolm X. At Coates' blog, I outraged many liberals when I noted:
Malcolm X had very harsh things to say about capitalism and good things to say about socialists. Barack Obama, in many ways, continues the neoliberal policies of his predecessor. In Malcolm X's terms, Obama is a house-- Hmm. Do you have a policy on the n-word here?"
Malcolm opposed colonialism, capitalism, and imperialist wars. The idea that he, a Muslim, would support Obama's wars in the Middle East is something only a liberal could believe.

Coates objected, noting, "Malcolm's Ballot Or The Bullet speech is almost wholly premised on capitalism and an engagement with electoral politics."

Which completely misses Malcolm's take on capitalism. Here are his words:
It is impossible for capitalism to survive, primarily because the system of capitalism needs some blood to suck. Capitalism used to be like an eagle, but now it’s more like a vulture…. As the nations of the world free themselves, capitalism has less victims, less to suck, and it becomes weaker and weaker. It’s only a matter of time in my opinion before it will collapse completely.
After I shared some of Malcolm's thoughts on capitalism, imperialism, and foreign war, Coates said:
I thought about quoting from The Ballot Or The Bullet, and decided against it. People who are legitimately curious should read, and listen, to the speech themselves. I'd urge that, instead of playing this kind of game where we seek out quotes to buttress the particular analysis of Malcolm which we like. I'm writing specifically against that--not just for Malcolm X, but for everyone. 
It is, as I've argued before, necromancy and comes from an unwillingness to accept people with all of their wrinkles and complications. It comes from a desire to make history into a comforter under which we so sweetly slumber in our ideology of choice. It's wrong when the neo-Confederates do it. It's wrong when the anti-capitalists do it. 
Malcolm X does not have to be right. That's the whole point.
But if that's the point, what's left? Why cite Malcolm X at all if you don't care whether he was right? Why call on his imagery and ignore his substance? Isn't that precisely what Coates calls necromancy?

But that's apparently why Coates wrote, "Barack Obama reminds me of Malcolm, in his bearing, in his sense of irony, and in the almost epic quality of narrative. But mostly it's in his curiosity about the world, in his deep belief in intelligence and altering your views as evidence presents itself. The great tragedy of Malcolm X's life is how that curiosity was circumscribed and perverted. The great joy of Barack Obama is seeing that curiosity unbounded and rewarded."

Dignity, irony, narrative, curiosity, intelligence, and flexibility are hardly unique to Malcolm. What was unique was what he learned, something the black bourgeoisie, by definition, is incapable of learning: poverty will be racially disproportionate until the world's wealth is shared.

Because bourgeois folks are especially sensitive to words, they were greatly upset over the suggestion Malcolm would use a word that he used:
If the master's house caught on fire, the house Negro would fight harder to put the blaze out than the master would. If the master got sick, the house Negro would say, "What's the matter, boss, we sick?" We sick! He identified himself with his master, more than his master identified with himself. And if you came to the house Negro and said, "Let's run away, let's escape, let's separate," the house Negro would look at you and say, "Man, you crazy. What you mean, separate? Where is there a better house than this? Where can I wear better clothes than this? Where can I eat better food than this?" That was that house Negro. In those days he was called a "house nigger." And that's what we call them today, because we've still got some house niggers running around here.

are lightly-edited versions of older posts I've made about him:

Malcolm X on Afghanistan, I mean, Vietnam

His thoughts on Vietnam apply perfectly to Afghanistan if you substitute Karzai for Diem and the USSR for France. (Killing Diem doesn't apply, but I'm leaving it in 'cause I like the quote.)

Malcolm X in 1965, speaking about the US in Vietnam:
You put the government on the spot when you even mention Vietnam. They feel embarrassed - you notice that?... It's just a trap that they let themselves get into. ... But they're trapped, they can't get out. You notice I said 'they.' They are trapped, They can't get out. If they pour more men in, they'll get deeper. If they pull the men out, it's a defeat. And they should have known that in the first place. France had about 200,000 Frenchmen over there, and the most highly mechanized modern army sitting on this earth. And those little rice farmers ate them up, and their tanks, and everything else. Yes, they did, and France was deeply entrenched, had been there a hundred or more years. Now, if she couldn't stay there and was entrenched, why, you are out of your mind if you think Sam can get in over there. But we're not supposed to say that. If we say that, we're anti-American, or we're seditious, or we're subversive... They put Diem over there. Diem took all their money, all their war equipment and everything else, and got them trapped. Then they killed him. Yes, they killed him, murdered him in cold blood, him and his brother, Madame Nhu's husband, because they were embarrassed. They found out that they had made him strong and he was turning against them... You know, when the puppet starts talking back to the puppeteer, the puppeteer is in bad shape...
...from Washington, D.C., they exercise the same forms of brutal oppression against dark-skinned people in South and North Vietnam, or in the Congo, or in Cuba, or in any other place on this earth where they're trying to exploit and oppress. This is a society whose government doesn't hesitate to inflict the most brutal form of punishment and oppression upon dark-skinned people all over the world.
When reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X...

As Manning Marable notes in The missing Malcolm:
Malcolm did not have access to the final manuscript. He didn’t see it. And it was published nine months after Malcolm’s death. Betty Shabazz was in no shape to check and recheck facts. So all that says to me is you have to read the autobiography very, very carefully, very suspiciously. It’s a wonderful book. It is a great work of literature. But it is a work of literature. It is not an autobiography. It’s a memoir. And it’s gone through the prism of Haley who was a Republican, integrationist, and a defender of U.S. power. 
Highly recommended

malcolm x - documents > the pierre berton interview

5. My favorite quotes from Brother Malcolm

Monday, August 27, 2012

What we're doing at the Minnesota State Fair

Emma covers the basics best: Dark Roast - Meet me at the Fair...

We love the State Fair so much.

But we do not love the Republican legislature's ballot measures to restrict voting and marriage rights, so we're doing our little bit to encourage Minnesotans to Vote No 2012.

tweeting with Lavie Tidhar

In reply to

Sunday, August 26, 2012

CRTheorists should cite Elijah Muhammad, not Malcolm X

"The Blackman is the original man. From him came all brown, yellow, red, and white people. By using a special method of birth control law, the Blackman was able to produce the white race. This method of birth control was developed by a Black scientist known as Yakub, who envisioned making and teaching a nation of people who would be diametrically opposed to the Original People. A Race of people who would one day rule the original people and the earth for a period of 6,000 years. Yakub promised his followers that he would graft a nation from his own people, and he would teach them how to rule his people, through a system of tricks and lies whereby they use deceit to divide and conquer, and break the unity of the darker people, put one brother against another, and then act as mediators and rule both sides." —Elijah Muhammad

"I believe that there will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those that do the oppressing. I believe there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice, and equality for everyone, and those who want to continue the system of exploitation. I believe there will be that kind of clash, but I don't think that it will be based on the color of the skin." —Malcolm X / El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz

about Socialist Bible Verses

I've made a blog for Socialist Bible Verses and other things I've written about Christianity, Judaism, and the need to share. If I post anything new there, I'll mention it here.

In totally unrelated news, I was amused by a search string that brought someone to this blog: "I hate social justice warriors."

for anyone amused by SJ Warriors

Be a SJ Ally, not a SJ Sally

about the SJW take on "homophobia"

Fuck No Tumblr SJW - Let’s talk about a little thing called etymology.

about Social Justice Warriors: Do Not Engage

I'm done ranting posting about scifi’s Social Justice Warriors on this blog. If you want more, visit my dedicated blog, Social Justice Warriors: Do Not Engage. The first new post there is Social Justice Warriors, Self-Righteousness, and The Merciless War on Unconscious Racism.

Social Justice Warriors, Self-Righteousness, and The Merciless War on Unconscious Racism

I often question the usefulness of "self-righteous", an insult that can be applied to anyone who believes in a cause, but, perhaps because of social justice's religious roots, SJ Warriors take self-righteousness as far as any cult can. For example, in the recent Weird Tales kerfuffle, Rose Fox, who writes Genreville for Publishers Weekly, told Weird Tales' publisher, "I’m dismayed that you took down Kaye’s post, thereby deleting the comments that were on it. I think it’s important to keep an archive of such things, so both you and others can learn from your mistakes."

Any Maoist or McCarthyist would agree.

I'm regularly struck by the warriors' lack of compassion.  Because Fox seems to consider herself an SJ war correspondant,  I'll use her as a convenient example. At Weird Tales: From Frying Pan to Fire, she wrote, "I would entirely disagree that public shaming of offensive views accomplishes nothing."

She fails to see that shaming Marvin Kaye, a person who read an interracial romance about a racist white woman learning to overcome her racism and concluded the book was non-racist, is not the same as shaming the use of tropes that Critical Race Theorists have declared taboo.  She does not care that when you denounce a person's view as offensive and cite the person prominently, you are shaming the person. The religious attitude of social justice warriors is not "hate the sin, love the sinner"—it's "those who are not for us are against us."

Attacking people is the highest priority for SJ Warriors. In the same article, Fox demonstrates the flexible ethics this requires, writing, "While the ethics of reprinting personal emails are debatable..."

Her ethics did not include posting a comment I left there: "The ethics of reprinting private correspondence are not debatable by ethical people." To SJ Warriors, the only ethical question is whether sharing a private correspondance will boost their google juice.

In Weird Tales Goes Back in Time, Fox wrote, "It is just barely possible that Foyt may have had the best of intentions and been genuinely taken aback when her book was called out for displaying her unconscious racism. Kaye, however, has no such excuse."

Social justice warriors often talk about unconscious racism because they believe white people are either consciously or unconsciously racist. Whether any of them have taken the race test at Project Implicit to test their own "unconscious racism", I don't know, but I have. My result: "Your data suggest a slight automatic preference for African American compared to European American." That's not uncommon. Project Implicit debunks the theory that everyone is racist in favor of their race: "75-80% of self-identified Whites and Asians show an implicit preference for racial White relative to Black."

Social justice warriors assume friends criticize friends because they think the purpose of friendship is to help each other achieve ideological purity. When Charles A. Tan tweeted:

Wow. Lost a friend for taking a stance and criticizing them.
Rose Fox tweeted back:
I'm sorry your friend turned out not to be such a good friend.
SJ Warriors don't understand friendship or how to inspire others by any means other than the direct assault. Amanda Palmer, one of their targets, does get it. In real feminists don't gaze at males, she told people trying to promote feminism, "if you’re trying to turn your friends into feminists, i think you’re taking the wrong tack. i would back up and start off by not trying to turn them into ANYTHING…this is how we got into this whole mess in the first place."

ETA: At class, race, fandom, and Dr. Who, discussing K. Tempest Bradford accusing Paul Cornell of "unintentional" racism, I noted, "Tempest's comment about "unintentional" racism absolves no one of racism. All racism is unintentional: racists do what they do because they believe what they believe, not because they intend to be racist." Which is to say, either someone's racist or they're not. No one wakes up and says, "Why, I think I'll be racist today."

Saturday, August 25, 2012

how racist am I? on Project Implicit and other tests for racism

For most of my life, I believed the theory that inspired the Avenue Q song, “Everyone’s a little bit racist.”

Then, wondering how racist I was, I took the implicit association test for race at Project Implicit. I was scared. Was I a little racist or a lot? I didn’t think I was extremely racist, but I had been raised “white” in a society that valued whiteness—maybe I was more racist than I suspected.

The result:
Your data suggest a slight automatic preference for African American compared to European American.
That startled me. But when Emma and a white friend from Florida also found they had implicit preferences for African Americans, I realized the notion everyone’s racist is nonsense. Our biases come from our reaction to our culture, not from the culture itself—every culture creates people who want to change it.

Project Implicit debunked the notion that we all favor our own race:
75-80% of self-identified Whites and Asians show an implicit preference for racial White relative to Black.
Saying a majority of whites and Asians have an implicit preference for their race is accurate, but as Project Implicit’s researchers note, an implicit preference may not have a practical effect on the way you treat people. More importantly, people may be less racist than Project Implicit implies. John Tierney’s “In Bias Test, Shades of Gray” notes:
In a series of scathing critiques, some psychologists have argued that this computerized tool, the Implicit Association Test, or I.A.T., has methodological problems and uses arbitrary classifications of bias. If Barack Obama’s victory seemed surprising, these critics say, it’s partly because social scientists helped create the false impression that three-quarters of whites are unconsciously biased against blacks.
Whether Project Implicit or its critics are right, anyone who thinks everyone’s racist has either fallen for an unscientific notion or is projecting on others their recognition of their own racism. Every test of racism that I’ve found rejects the idea that everyone’s racist.

In “Institutional Discrimination, Individual Racism, and Hurricane Katrina”, Kristin Henkel, John Dovidio, and Samuel Gaertner staged an emergency and found:
When white participants believed that they were the only witness [to an accident] they helped both white and black victims very frequently (over 85 percent of the time) and equivalently. There was no evidence of blatant racism. In contrast, when they thought there were other witnesses, they helped black victims only half as often as white victims (38 percent versus 75 percent).
“The Police Officer’s Dilemma” from Stereotyping & Prejudice Research Laboratory at the University of Chicago takes a hard approach to implicit preference. In a video shooter game, you must distinguish between people of different races. Some are innocent. Some hold guns. If you’re too slow to shoot, you’ll be killed. If you’re too fast, you’ll kill innocent people.

On my first try, I shot one or two more innocent dark people than pale ones—whether that’s statistically insignificant or my encounters with SJ warriors had made me a bit racist, I don’t know. The second time, I shot one or two more innocent pale folks than dark ones. I’m content with the result.

In retrospect, it’s no surprise that Project Implicit puts me among the large minority of white people with “a slight automatic preference for African American compared to European American.” I had a lot of reasons to prefer dark faces:

• As a boy in Florida during the civil rights struggle, my first understanding of race was that white people were wrong and black people were right. The white people around me fell into three categories, a small group that was viciously racist, a large group that was casually racist, and a small group that was working to end what W.E.B. Du Bois called white skin privilege. Those of us in the last group were called race traitors and nigger lovers. The names we were given said we were not properly “white.” The people who tried to make us conform, the adults who threatened to burn down my home and the boys who beat me, were all white.

• As a teenager during the Vietnam War, my understanding that the face of evil was white grew stronger. Martin Luther King called it “a white man’s war, a black man’s fight.” Muhammad Ali said, “I am not going 10,000 miles to help murder, kill, and burn other people to simply help continue the domination of white slavemasters over dark people the world over.” Peace marches were usually racially mixed, but counter-protesters were always white.

• As a long-haired kid in a time when long hair was a political statement, I constantly watched out for white people who might jump me. Once when I was bicycling, someone yelled “hippie!” and a Coke bottle narrowly missed my head. The thrower was white.

• I’ve always preferred multicultural neighborhoods. When I lived in New York in the late ‘70s, I preferred the West Side to the East because it was less white. During those years, I changed planes in Toronto once and was uncomfortable for several hours without understanding why. When a First Nations family boarded the plane, I knew the reason. Until then, everyone I had seen was white.

• My lovers have included African American and American Indian women. For men who use women, that means nothing, but when I call them lovers, I mean that if my life had gone differently, I might still be with them today. I’ve always been attracted to dark-haired and dark-skinned women and indifferent to blondes for reasons I don’t know. The heart and the eye will seek what they seek.

But it’s possible I’m looking for more dramatic reasons than necessary to explain why I prefer people with dark skin. Emma and my Florida friend had less extreme histories with race than I did. Yair Bar-Haim of Tel-Aviv University led a study that found babies raised around a single race commonly develop a preference for faces like the ones they know, but “babies raised with frequent exposure to people of other races don’t develop this early bias.”

What other factors make people prefer other races or have no preference, I don’t know, but they clearly exist: Project Implicit’s people who don’t prefer their own race includes people who grew up in neighborhoods that were mostly people like them.

Perhaps a saying like “everyone’s racist” is only a saying.  Few generalizations about humans explain us all.

tweeting with Requires Hate and her pals

according to Shittery, people who call him out "attend the expensive private schools of the US's ruling class" Shittery went to Choate
 Yes. This is why I know so much about them.
* * *

"the nicest man anyone could ever know, and if everyone wasn't caught up in buzzwords, they would quickly see that he preaches equality"
 Why is it always "b-but he's the nicest ever!" He can't just be "nice" but the most nicest. Talk about sucking up.
 and even if he were a little puppy (likely of the incontinent, yapping sort) offline, online he's still shitting everywhere
  The "he's great in person" defence rings hollow because it turns out people online are actually people
   Well, except for the subhumans, of course.
* * *

 I saw the bingo card (class class class class) someone made and, to spout a cliche, laughed out loud
  I love that card! I used it as my LJ icon until I finally deleted the LJ.
* * *

"but he's REALLY a nice person!" used to defend everyone from serial murderer, Assange, to Shittery
 Every single time some guy goes nuts and kills a bunch of people: "He was nice and quiet." Every. Time.
  It is nice to be included in Assange's company. Being hated by the ruling classes is high praise.
* * *

"Classism bolsters every ism I can think of. Racism and sexism and all the rest are tools" quoth white man, Shittery
 Would you like to do an interview, white man vs. rich woman? I'm your huckleberry.
* * *

 Watch out when an American talks about "class" they usually mean "I envy people with more money & status than me."
  Standard Republican copout: No class warfare! That's envy talk!

* * *
 Didn't you see that the first WT post about it had a trackback from Stormfront? They were overjoyed. 
   I saw it. They were overjoyed that people were attacking an interracial romance story.
* * *

For the "subhumans" reference, see Acrackedmoon hates Jews! or how to be a Social Justice Warrior.

Regarding my time at Choate: a short autobiography by Will Shetterly