Thursday, April 28, 2016

For people going mad because Apple Pages' epub conversion does weird things to the Table of Contents

Yes, this may just be a post for me.

I spent hours trying to make an epub from a Pages document. Mind you, I've done this occasionally for years and still haven't a clue why this time I couldn't get a Table of Contents that would appear properly in other epub readers. Finally, I realized the Pages document's Table of Contents included the document's Title. I unchecked that in the ToC contents so the only items in the ToC were chapter headers, and now it's working fine.

Yay, me!

Can anyone explain how I'm supposed to have doxed Nora Reed?

Just saw this tweet:

femme ex machina @NoraReed

special thanks to will shetterly and the fan club of people who hate me on metafilter for helping get me doxed again today~

Does anyone have a clue what that's about? So far as I know, I am alleged to have doxed one person in my life, someone who, at the time, was using her full legal name in public posts on her LJ that Google was sharing for anyone who could type her name into a search bar. But I haven't a clue what Reed's alluding to.

She does seem to like attention, so apologies if I took her bait.

ETA: If she means to include me with the people who hate her, I haven't noticed her enough to have much of any feelings about her and certainly have no reason to hate her. She's an identitarian, and I criticize identitarianism frequently, but I feel about identitarians the way I feel about Scientologists: they're wrong, and sometimes they do horrible things to defend their faith, but the problem ultimately is not with the individuals who've fallen for a simplistic understanding of the world.

ETA 2: Googled "Nora Reed Metafilter" and found she has been doxed, and she seems to be a fierce warrior for what she thinks is social justice, but I still haven't a clue what I'm supposed to have had to do with her doxing. Ah, well. It's a little flattering to think I'm Dalton Trumbo to the neoMcCarthyites.

ETA 3: So I vanity searched again and saw Nora had tweeted "will shetterly cannot figure out how to read tweet threads" which amused me because it meant she had vanity searched herself and seen my post, but instead of replying on the post, she had tweeted to the ether.

So I logged out of Twitter, went to her feed, and searched my name to see her explanation for what MeFites and I were supposed to have done. It is "y'all had your angry posts about what an evil sjw i am used as reasons to go after me and my family on a hate form. nice going!"

By her logic, I should blame Coffeeandink for the death threat I got during Racefail. I don't; I blame whoever it was who sent the death threat, and I blame myself for getting caught up in a flamewar that I should've ignored. Nora appears to have operated in full SJW mode for years, and she finally got someone angry enough to dox her. Now she blames the people who didn't dox her because her approach to justice requires people to laugh and rage at.

I'll end this with a quote by Jay Lake, one of the earlier targets of fandom's SJWs:

"Any cause that requires mockery and abuse to advance itself isn't one I need to engage with, regardless of my basic beliefs or agreement with the underlying goals." -Jay Lake

ETA 4: Actually, not done with this. I wondered if her doxxer had actually cited me, so I went looking for the source and happened on a thread at MetaFilter where Nora asked about being pseudonymous and said she was using her first and middle names. This response is significant:

From shoring up the digital ramparts against hate mobs - harassment feminism gamergate | Ask MetaFilter:

I'm afraid there may be some kind of disconnect here. Did you really say that you're blogging under your real first+middle name (the same as your user name here)? If so, as others have pointed out, doxxing isn't an issue. You've already doxxed yourself. You don't need to worry about protecting your identity (it's already exposed), and can move directly on to the other steps you asked about.
posted by alms at 6:49 AM on February 26, 2015
There seem to be more than a few people in the SJW community who think you don't have to make any effort to be pseudonymous. Whoever "doxxed" her now would not have been able to if she'd taken that advice in 2015 and created a nomme de guerre de justice sociale.

ETA 5: So it looks like a group of people doxed her. They were astonishingly thorough; their archive has dozens of examples of what they hated. They had one comment about Nora that made me smile: "She's also constantly searching for herself and will do opposition research on anyone she comes in contact with, such as scouring their blogs etc." I'm still surprised by how often people accuse others of doing what they secretly do.

Nora, free advice: if "social justice" is your concern, learn from Martin Luther King and Dorothy Day and Helder Camara and treat everyone with respect. You may do some good in the world if you do.

ETA 6: Her MetaFilter post shows that her intention from the beginning was to be noticed: that's why she was seeking advice for how to be a pseudonymous warrior. Yet now that she has been "doxed", instead of blaming the people who revealed her parents' names, she is blaming the people who gave her the attention she sought all along.

ETA 7: I finally have a clue. This appears to do a decent job of explaining the backstory: Randi Harper Labeled a Transphobe After Attacking Social Autopsy Account Fakery. It seems to be mostly about antiGamerGaters fighting among themselves and Nora Reed taking over someone else's discarded Twitter account. Which suggests that the person who "doxed" Nora was one of the antiGamerGaters, and may've included the person whose Twitter account was taken.

ETA 8: And this seems relevant, though the story is becoming stranger and stranger as I look into it: Why Are 'Anti-Abuse' Activists Zoe Quinn and Randi Harper Trying to Protect Anonymous Trolls? - Breitbart

ETA 9: And the story keeps getting stranger. This seems like a reasonable timeline of the events, though the spin is for Quinn and Harper, even though Candace Owens could be correct when she says Quinn is the only person who could've doxed her: The Strange Tale of Social Autopsy, the Anti-Harassment Start-up That Descended Into Gamergate Trutherism.

The one thing I can say with certainty about #GamerGate is that every horrible thing that's been done by one side has been done by the other, too. The history of SJW death threats and doxing can easily be traced to 2008 and may well go back much earlier.

ETA 10: And that, I hope, is far enough down the rabbit hole. I'll do my best to forget about this entire affair now.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Kurt Vonnegut on being poor in America

In the comments at The Worker and the Liberal, Kragar quoted this bit from Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five:
America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves. To quote the American humorist Kin Hubbard, ‘It ain’t no disgrace to be poor, but it might as well be.’ It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters. The meanest eating or drinking establishment, owned by a man who is himself poor, is very likely to have a sign on its wall asking this cruel question: ‘if you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?’ There will also be an American flag no larger than a child’s hand – glued to a lollipop stick and flying from the cash register.

Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue. Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say Napoleonic times. Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not themselves.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Robert Frost saw the problem with "intersectionality", a response to Tressie McMillan Cottom

In Trickle-Down Feminism, Revisited | Dissent Magazine, Tressie McMillan Cottom says, "As someone who clearly remembers Angela Y. Davis’s Women, Race, and Class, I am skeptical that elite white women will do anything different to or for brown women, poor women, black women, queer people, and differently able-bodied women than would elite white men."

Now, Cottom is one of the better intersectionalists, someone who understands that class is more than an element to acknowledge and then dismiss when focusing on race or gender. Talking about Sanders' plan for free higher public education, she said, "Along with talking the talk about white privilege and unpacking their racist knapsacks in presidential debates, I hope that concrete discussions of concrete investments in black lives will come to matter this presidential cycle."

But as for her comment about elite white women, I'm skeptical that elite brown or black women will do anything different to or for those groups, too. I'm skeptical that elite queer people and "differently able-bodied women" will do anything different. You can find representatives of those groups in lists of the world's richest people, yet the wealth gap grows between the elite and the rest of us, regardless of our social identity.

There are many valid interpretations of Robert Frost's poem about coming to the intersection of two roads. Today, I'll go with this one: At the intersection of social identity and class, we take one road or the other, and that makes all the difference.

Related: Sanders feminists versus Clinton feminists: illustrating the main schools of contemporary feminism

A low key version of a hoax hate crime

Thursday, April 21, 2016

on liberal smugness, and questioning the assumption that racism drove the white working class to the Republican Party

I recommend both of these pieces on liberal smugness:

The smug style in American liberalism by Emmett Rensin

a few thoughts on liberal smugness | Fredrik deBoer

As Freddie deBoer notes, the first piece is long, but it's got some very good bits, so stick with it and don't assume you know the writer's politics. Perhaps its theme is here:
If the smug style can be reduced to a single sentence, it's, Why are they voting against their own self-interest? But no party these past decades has effectively represented the interests of these dispossessed. Only one has made a point of openly disdaining them too.
And the most insightful bit is this:
The rubes noticed that liberal Democrats, distressed by the notion that Indiana would allow bakeries to practice open discrimination against LGBTQ couples, threatened boycotts against the state, mobilizing the considerable economic power that comes with an alliance of New York and Hollywood and Silicon Valley to punish retrograde Gov. Mike Pence, but had no such passion when the same governor of the same state joined 21 others in refusing the Medicaid expansion. No doubt good liberals objected to that move too. But I've yet to see a boycott threat about it.
On Twitter, Jamelle Bouie linked to the article, saying,
I am just starting this but I’ll say the white working class abandoned Dems over attempted inclusion of minorities.
I tweeted back:
Racism or coincidence? Did the Dems begin abandoning the whole working class when they began focusing on the bourgeoisie of color?

It's been said many of the post-civil rights efforts have helped the black middle class far more than the black working class.

And it's old news that the black working class and ruling class are disconnected:
Blacks See Growing Values Gap Between Poor and Middle Class | Pew Research Center
 Now, it's obvious racists prefer the Republican Party since Nixon's time, but that may just be because the Republicans tend to be more tolerant of what people do with their money. A few things liberals forget about the end of the '60s:

1. Most of the 60,000 killed and 150,000 wounded in the Vietnam War were working class kids. That war was begun by Kennedy and continued by Johnson, both Democrats—though Nixon took a lot longer to end it than any of us wanted, the fact remains that a Republican ended it.

2. Nixon had a great many flaws, but he supported an early version of Basic Income and Universal Health Care that would've helped the working class enormously. The Democrats let both proposals die.

3. The great identity wars of the '60s over race and gender ended with identitarian solutions that primarily helped middle and upper-class women and people of color. From Rethinking Affirmative Action - The New York Times:
Low-income students, controlling for race, receive either no preference or a modest one, depending on which study you believe. At the country’s 200 most selective colleges, a mere 5 percent of students come from the bottom 25 percent of the income spectrum, according to Anthony P. Carnevale of Georgetown.
Back in the 1960s, Dr. King understood the vulnerability of today’s affirmative action. “Many white workers whose economic condition is not too far removed from the economic condition of his black brother will find it difficult to accept,” he wrote in a private letter, “special consideration to the Negro in the context of unemployment, joblessness, etc. and does not take into sufficient account their plight (that of the white worker).”
King's solution was the same as Nixon's: help everyone who is poor, regardless of the reason why.

So blaming racism for the Democrats' loss of the white working class may comfort those who like simple solutions, but it hides far more than it reveals. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Did Bernie Sanders vote to attack Libya? No.

tl;dr: Obama never asked the Senate for authorization to use military force against Libya, so no Senator had the chance to vote for or against war. From Obama, Libya and the authorization conflict - politics | NBC News: "Obama’s stance is striking: not only hasn’t he addressed the question of congressional authorization, but acting without it appears to be at odds with what he stood for when he ran for president."

As noted at Clinton says Bernie Sanders voted for regime change in Libya | PolitiFact, "Sanders supported a non-binding Senate resolution that called on Gaddafi to resign his post in a peaceful, democratic transition of power." The summary at the beginning of S. RES. 85 makes it clear that bill was not about authorizing force: "Strongly condemning the gross and systematic violations of human rights in Libya, including violent attacks on protesters demanding democratic reforms, and for other purposes."

Liberals and conservatives were upset in 2011 that Clinton and Obama used Senate Resolution 85 to excuse not asking Congress.

Obama Attacked for No Congressional Consent on Libya - The New York Times:
Some Democratic lawmakers — including Representatives Jerrold Nadler of New York, Barbara Lee of California and Michael E. Capuano of Massachusetts — complained in a House Democratic Caucus conference call as the bombing began that Mr. Obama had exceeded his constitutional authority by authorizing the attack without Congressional permission.
From The Senate and the No-Fly Zone: The Legend Begins:
When this resolution passed, on March 1, the Obama administration to all appearances couldn’t have cared less. Obama did not at that point issue a clarion public call for a no-fly zone, or rush to the Security Council brandishing Resolution 85 and demanding action. Nor did the administration turn to Congress for anything of genuine heft. For almost two more weeks — during which Muammar Gaddafi’s forces were regaining the advantage and slaughtering Libyans — President Obama waited and dithered. On March 11, he held a press conference in which he talked about organizing “conversations” with NATO and consulting with the “international community” on Libya. He made not a single reference to the March 1 Senate resolution. He made precisely three mentions of the Senate. None of these had anything to do with Libya; they were strictly about the U.S. budget.

It wasn’t until the Arab League passed its own resolution, on March 12, calling for a no-fly zone over Libya, that the Obama administration swung into action. It took another five days before the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1973, authorizing a no-fly zone. When that happened, Obama’s ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, did not credit the Senate’s nonbinding hotlined no-debate no-vote resolution passed 16 days earlier. She said the UN measure had been passed “in response to a strong request by the League of Arab States.” She credited support from Lebanon and African members of the Security Council. She made zero mention of the U.S. Senate. Likewise, Obama in his remarks delivered during the week after the UN resolution, as he made his way from Washington to Brazil to Chile to El Salvador, talked about the calls and partnership and support and you-name-it of America’s allies and Arab “partners.” Not only did Obama leave the Senate and its nonbinding resolution unsung. He didn’t even stick around Washington to explain himself. For the first few days of American use of force in Libya, Congress was left trying to glean specifics of America’s new war from presidential press encounters in Rio, Santiago and San Salvador.

Not until Obama returned from his Latin American tour to face a highly disgruntled Congress did Senate Resolution 85 start to acquire the stature with which Clinton and Gates over the past six days have tried to retroactively endow it.
From MSNBC Untruthful About Sen. Pauls Views on Libya:
This bill was hot-lined there was no debate allowed on the issue, no legislative language provided to consider and there was no vote. Senate Res. 85 described a no-fly zone as a possible course of action for the UN Security Councils consideration it did not instruct the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations to take action, let alone authorize a military operation, said Sen. Ensign. The Senate Resolution simply does not authorize or endorse the use of force. 
You can watch a video of the resolution passing in the Senate here. It took less than one minute. And according to National Review, not only were there not many Senators in the chamber, the resolution was changed at the last moment unbeknownst to most Senators to include the language asking the UN to consider the possible imposition of a no-fly zone. 
Comparing Bush on Iraq and Obama on Libya is revealing. From Obama, Libya and the authorization conflict - politics | NBC News:
At the urging of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and others, Bush did, in the end, seek a vote by Congress to authorize his attack on Iraq and he got that authorization in October 2002. In the case of Libya, President Barack Obama has consulted with congressional leaders, but sought no authorization for his military operation against Col. Moammar Gadhafi's regime.
ETA: How Obama Ignored Congress, and Misled America, on War in Libya - The Atlantic 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Queen's English, looking classy, and Marx's insight on ruling ideas

“The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas.” –Karl Marx, The German Ideology

This is a truth so simple that it's often missed: the ruled get their guidelines from the rulers. "Proper English" is "The Queen's English", not "The Gardener's English". Ideal clothes and manners are "classy" or "high class", not "common" or "working class". The most praised art is the art valued by the elite, the most popular religion is the religion of the elite, the food considered best is the food of the elite. Often, the words we have for the things considered best come from the ruling class—English-speakers eat "beef" instead of "cow" because the English peasants took care of cows, but as soon as meat from those cows was placed on the tables of their Norman rulers, it became "boeuf".

Yeah, nothing new here. Just wanted to rant a little this morning. Though you could consider this an intro to my previous post about neoliberalism; it was inspired by the quote at the beginning of Credentialism and Corruption: Neoliberalism as Lived Experience.

ETA: The title of this post nagged at me, so I googled and found that "insight on" is very common, but it should properly be "insight into". It is good to know what the elite expects so you can decide if you want to give it to them.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

And if your police violence movement ignores American Indian lives, it definitely isn't about police violence

Who Are Police Killing? — Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice: "The racial group most likely to be killed by law enforcement is Native Americans, followed by African Americans, Latinos, Whites, and Asian Americans."

The subtitle for Native Americans Get Shot By Cops at an Astonishing Rate  is "So why aren’t you hearing about it?" The answer is that the American Indian population is both small and rural, so it's ignored by both the media and by #BlackLivesMatter. I'm not the only one to notice this: Native Lives Matter Goes Beyond Police Brutality | Al Jazeera America says, "Racial conflicts between Natives and non-Natives in the United States predate that of blacks and whites. Yet the Black-White binary remains emblematic of the discourse on race relations."

A few names from Native Lives Matter campaign takes off in South Dakota that should be as famous as any other victim of police abuse:
Allen Locke, a 30 year old Lakota sun dancer, was fatally shot by a white policeman while standing in a doorway holding a steak knife. His wife says he made no threatening moves.

In Oklahoma, two officers were given their department’s medal of honor after they killed 18-year-old, unarmed Mah-hi-vist Goodblanket, a Cheyenne-Arapahoe. Incensed protesters compared this to the disgusting award of Congressional Medals of Honor to 20 soldiers who massacred nearly 300 Native men, women and children at Wounded Knee in 1890.

There are scores of other Indian victims of police seldom mentioned in the media: Christina Tahhahwah was tasered to death in an Oklahoma jail last year; Corey Kanosh, a Paiute, killed in Utah in 2012; Clint John shot in the head while on the ground in a parking lot in New Mexico; Lakota Daniel Tiger killed at a routine traffic stop, Myles Rough Surface, Robert Villa ... the list is long.

One 2010 case which did get national attention was in Seattle, Wash. First Nation woodcarver John T. Williams was gunned down while crossing the street with a block of wood and a closed pocketknife. Video of this blatant murder went viral. The officer was never charged, but resigned. Repeated outraged demonstrations forced the city to settle with Williams’ family.
For mroe examples, and more about some of the previous examples: Native Lives Matter, Too - The New York Times

Should you think Native crime is primarily a Native problem, Native Lives Matter notes, "Native Americans are more likely to be victims of violent crimes perpetrated by non-Native people than any other group."

Relevant links:

Native Lives Matter (@NLMcoalition) | Twitter

Native Lives Matter | Facebook

Previously: If your movement against police violence ignores a 6-year-old killed by the police because he's of the wrong race, your movement is not about police violence

ETA: When I criticize #BlackLivesMatter for ignoring other populations, someone invariably asks why different groups shouldn't focus on their own concerns. The answer is ancient: divided we fall, united we stand. Martin Luther King near the end of his life said, "In the treatment of poverty nationally, one fact stands out: there are twice as many white poor as Negro poor in the United States. Therefore I will not dwell on the experiences of poverty that derive from racial discrimination, but will discuss the poverty that affects white and Negro alike." The same numbers and the same logic applies to police abuse: who gains from ignoring the numerically greater white victims or the statistically greater Native victims?

Monday, April 11, 2016

If your movement against police violence ignores a 6-year-old killed by the police because he's of the wrong race, your movement is not about police violence

I missed this story from 2015: Jeremy David Mardis: 6-year-old is the year's youngest US police shooting victim. According to Shooting of Jeremy Mardis:
For unclear reasons, Greenhouse and Stafford allegedly fired 18 rounds of ammunition into Few's vehicle[3] at approximately 9:30 p.m.[8] Few was struck twice, in the head and chest,[3] despite reportedly having his hands in the air, according to police body-camera footage.[9][10] Mardis was hit by five bullets, also struck in the head and chest, and is believed to have died instantly, according to the coroner for Avoyelles Parish.[3]
Here's why #BlackLivesMatter cannot rally behind him:

It's the same reason they can't rally behind Hispanic victims, or even American Indians, the group that's most likely to be victims of police violence.


Relevant: If You Run, You're Done: Why Cops Go Berserk When People Run From Them | Alternet

ETA: Inside small-town Louisiana feud that led to a 6-year-old boy’s police killing - The Washington Post

Continued: And if your police violence movement ignores American Indian lives, it definitely isn't about police violence

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Boots Riley explains why class trumps race, plus some "place not race" links

From Black culture isn't the problem - systemic inequality is | Boots Riley:
When black neighborhoods are compared with white neighborhoods of similar income levels, you see similar rates of crime. The fallacy of comparing white neighborhoods with black neighborhoods is in lumping together together wealthy and upper-middle-class neighborhoods (categories that not many black folks are in) with middle- and low-income ones. But that’s not how the world works. Poor white people in Memphis aren’t kicking it with rich ones in Bel Air.
To illustrate his point, he linked to Extremely Disadvantaged Neighborhoods and Urban Crime.


In Climbing Income Ladder, Location Matters - "Regions with larger black populations had lower upward-mobility rates. But the researchers’ analysis suggested that this was not primarily because of their race. Both white and black residents of Atlanta have low upward mobility, for instance."

Equality of Opportunity: "We find that every year of exposure to a better environment improves a child’s chances of success, both in a national quasi-experimental study of five million families and in a re-analysis of the Moving to Opportunity Experiment."

Thursday, April 7, 2016

the inherent classism of kyriarchy and subaltern theory

This is a followup to a post from 2013, kyriarchy: redundant word of the day. At the time, I quoted Fiorenza:
The theoretical adequacy of patriarchy has been challenged because, for instance, black men do not have control over white wo/men and some women (slave/mistresses) have power over subaltern women and men (slaves)."
But I completely failed to pay attention to the implications of that use of "subaltern."

And I didn't poke hard at a statement by Lisa at Accepting Kyriarchy, Not Apologies:
When you talk about power assertion of a White woman over a Brown man, that's kyriarchy. When you talk about a Black man dominating a Brown womyn, that's kyriarchy. It's about the human tendency for everyone trying to take the role of lord/master within a pyramid. At it best heights, studying kyriarchy displays that it's more than just rich, white Christian men at the tip top and, personally, they're not the ones I find most dangerous. There's a helluva lot more people a few levels down the pyramid who are more interested in keeping their place in the structure than to turning the pyramid upside down.
What finally struck me is what's hidden by the use of "subaltern". Here's the first definition that appears when you google it:

noun: subaltern; plural noun: subalterns
  1. 1.
    an officer in the British army below the rank of captain, especially a second lieutenant.
adjective: subaltern
  1. 1.
    of lower status.
    "the private tutor was a recognized subaltern part of the bourgeois family"

The word comes from Latin roots that mean "below every other", yet these examples are not society's lowest. The second lieutenant is above the soldiers and non-commissioned officers; the tutor is above the servants.

"Subaltern" was popularized in Subaltern Studies, which used it to discuss imperialism—the metaphor seems to be that the imperialists are the hegemony (or major power), and those who serve the hegemony are the subalterns (or minor officers). That makes sense if you remember how the British Raj was administered: British officers were superior to Indian officers. Race and gender and culture were enormous factors in the ranking of privilege in the Empire.

But the theory only recognizes hegemons and subalterns. Where are the people who must obey both?

The answer is they're irrelevant. Kyriarchy theory is about creating a different pyramid—in Lisa's term, a pyramid turned upside down. To kyriarchy feminists, brown women are currently the lowest form of subaltern and white men, the highest form of hegemon, so their examples of kyriarchy don't include black women who have power over white men, even though every bourgeois black woman in the US must have had a white male waiter bring her brunch at some point in her life.

Historically, subalterns have always longed to join the hegemony. The common soldiers and civilians? They're simply too common to matter in the new hegemony that the subalterns desire.

Recommended: How Does the Subaltern Speak? is an interview with Vivek Chibber which has many insightful bits like
...changes in universities over the last thirty years or so, in which they’re no longer ivory towers like they used to be. They’re mass institutions, and these institutions have been opened up to groups that, historically, were kept outside: racial minorities, women, immigrants from developing countries. These are all people who experience various kinds of oppression, but not necessarily class exploitation. So there is, as it were, a mass base for what we might call oppression studies, which is a kind of radicalism — and it’s important, and it’s real. However, it’s not a base that’s very interested in questions of class struggle or class formation, the kinds of things that Marxists used to talk about.

Complementing this has been the trajectory of the intelligentsia. The generation of ’68 didn’t become mainstream as it aged. Some wanted to keep its moral and ethical commitments to radicalism. But like everyone else, it too steered away from class-oriented radicalism. So you had a movement from the bottom, which was a kind of demand for theories focusing on oppression, and a movement on top, which was among professors offering to supply theories focusing on oppression. What made them converge wasn’t just a focus on oppression, but the excision of class oppression and class exploitation from the story. And postcolonial theory, because of its own excision of capitalism and class — because it downplays the dynamics of exploitation — is a very healthy fit.
Possibly of interest: Life Inc. - China leads list of world's richest women

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Today's police victim whose "white privilege" did not help her: Melissa Boarts

From Parents: We sought help for daughter but officers shot her - The Greeneville Sun:
Boarts' mother, Terry Boarts, said she called 911 Sunday after her daughter left home and headed east toward Auburn on Interstate 85. She said her daughter had been diagnosed a bipolar manic depressive and was threatening to cut her wrists with a knife.

Police followed Boarts for several miles as she left the interstate and eventually pulled over on a road in Macon County, where she was killed. Macon County Coroner Hal Bentley said Boarts died from a single gunshot wound.

Boarts was white. The officers involved in the shooting have not been identified and their races were not immediately known.

McPhillips, the Boarts family's attorney, said they plan to pursue legal action.

"We just think it was so unnecessary," McPhillips said. "She had a pocket knife on her, and she's only 5 feet 4, maybe 130 pounds against these big old husky law enforcement officers. They could have Tased her or used a stick or something. They didn't need to shoot her."
Relevant: Half of people shot by police are mentally ill, investigation finds - Salon 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The solution defines the problem—an observation about ideological wingwalkers

Yesterday Emma and I met a few friends at a bar, and "the personal is political" came up briefly. Several of us dislike it—my take is it rejects the idea that politics is an attempt to find what's best for the polis, the community, and instead says self-interest is all that matters.

One friend, a capitalist feminist, defended the saying and, as an example, claimed the disproportionate number of positive female role models on television is a political issue. I suspect our other friends saw that the conversation could go no place good from there and changed the subject before I could ask the next questions:

If the problem is political, what political solution do you suggest? What laws would you pass to address sexism on television? Would you enforce gender quotas for characters? For the writing staff? Both? How would you use the political process to solve this social problem?

I first noticed the disconnection between claims about problems and solutions with anti-racists who insist certain problems are racial while proposing solutions that have little or nothing to do with race. My favorite example is #BlackLivesMatters' support for Campaign Zero, a 10-point program that I agree with, which has almost nothing to do with race because its creators realize, I suspect, that the problems of police abuse have more to do with our militarized police and the way our society treats poor people in general than it does with the ways racist cops treat black people.

And then I thought about how advances in science often come with attempts to make them compatible with religion. Naturalist William Paley came very close to understanding evolution before Darwin, but Paley's faith made him fit his observations into a theological context.

I can't remember who told me that in relationships, humans are wingwalkers—like performers on airplanes who walk out on the wings, we don't let go with one hand until we're sure the other hand has a firm grip. Humans are wingwalkers with ideas, too. We come up with a theory that something is racial or sexual or religious or political, and then we find a solution that works, and we cling to the idea that our assumption about the problem is still true even when the solution has no connection to our assessment of the problem.

Friday, April 1, 2016

For anyone who doesn't think the Log Cabin Republicans ended DADT

I got caught up in a  Facebook discussion with a fervent neoliberal about Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Since this subject may come up again, here's an edited version of what I noted:

From Log Cabin Republicans v. United States:
On September 9, 2010, Phillips ruled that the ban is unconstitutional. On October 12, Phillips issued an injunction banning the military from enforcing the policy. She subsequently denied the government's request for a stay of the injunction, and the government then took their request to the Ninth Circuit, which granted a stay. On November 12, the United States Supreme Court denied an application by the Log Cabin Republicans to vacate the stay. The Ninth Circuit vacated the stay on July 6, 2011, and ordered an end to enforcement of DADT. On September 29, 2011, the Ninth Circuit issued a per curiam opinion that the legislative repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" had rendered the case moot.
The legislative repeal happened because the Log Cabin Republicans kept fighting and winning. The government knew it had lost. For more on the legislative repeal, you only have to go to Don't ask, don't tell :
Legislation to repeal DADT was enacted in December 2010, specifying that the policy would remain in place until the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certified that repeal would not harm military readiness, followed by a 60-day waiting period. A July 6, 2011, ruling from a federal appeals court barred further enforcement of the U.S. military's ban on openly gay service members. President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen sent that certification to Congress on July 22, 2011, which set the end of DADT to September 20, 2011.
Interesting factoid:
On October 19, 2010, military recruiters were told they could accept openly gay applicants. On October 20, 2010, Lt. Daniel Choi, an openly gay man honorably discharged under DADT, re-enlisted in the U.S. Army.
The legislation formally ending DADT happened after the Log Cabin Republicans won their case and it was clear they would continue to win. It happened after Choi re-enlisted. Nearly two months later, in mid-December of 2010, the legislature acknowledged that DADT could not continue with the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010.

The argument that Congress deserves credit for ending DADT is like claiming wars are won by the losers who acknowledge defeat. This fact is undeniable: the Log Cabin Republicans defeated DADT, and the government acknowledged it had been defeated.

And, frankly, many people in the government were glad DADT had been defeated. It was an embarrassment to the US for as long as it existed. Bill Clinton had campaigned on ending gay discrimination in the military, but once elected, he lacked the courage to do what Truman had done by ending a military double-standard with an executive order (see Executive Order 9981).