Anjuli on racism

Someone pointed me to a post by Anjuli Pandavar, right here on FTB, in which she discusses people of color being racist towards White people. I am deeply unsympathetic to this post. So this is a critique.

The case of Linda Sarsour

Anjuli’s comments were prompted by Linda Sarsour. In 2011, Sarsour made a tweet towards two pro-Israel activists, saying, “I wish I could take their vaginas away – they don’t deserve to be women.” This is problematic in two ways: a) it’s identifying women with their vaginas, and b) it wrongly treats womanhood as something that must be earned.

But wait, back up. Who the heck is Linda Sarsour? Why are we talking about a tweet she made in 2011?

Linda Sarsour is best known as a co-chair of the Women’s March. We are hearing about her because the right has recently become interested in sliming her (e.g.). Some apparently think discrediting this one person will discredit the Women’s March. This is a bit silly because the Women’s March had 440-500k people and was clearly not the work of any single person. But anyways.

[Read more…]

Random Charlottesville stuff

I am not a news reporter, and I am assuming readers are already familiar with the general course of events.

You may have heard that Donald Trump failed to condemn Nazis in his speech on Saturday. I saw on Last Week Tonight that it was worse than that.

Reporters were actively shouting at him to make a statement condemning White supremacists. He goes to the podium as if to respond, but then says something unrelated.

[Read more…]

Call-out culture: a meta-meta-commentary

A couple years ago, I made this linkspam on call-out culture. “Call-out culture” refers to a pattern in social justice activist spaces of jumping on, and piling upon other activists who are perceived to have made a mistake. It’s an issue when it turns into bullying, or when it just scares people away from communities that they need.

This is a really difficult problem to address, and to be honest, I think I am uniquely unsuited to address it. I don’t have personal experience calling people out, or being called out, or at least not in any way that meaningfully impacted me. I am not a very anxious person, and it is very difficult to scare me or burn me out. My interest in this topic is purely based on compassion, and an interest in the meta. So for several years, I’ve wanted to say something, but couldn’t figure out what to say.

After thinking about it a lot, here’s what I want to say: Most articles on call-out culture are bad. That’s right, I collected a bunch of links in a linkspam, and I think most of those links are bad. I mean, they’re good. But they’re also bad, especially after reading several of them. They often fail to say anything novel or meaningful. And the bottom line is that they’re not having the impact they need to have.

The coopter threat

Just the other day, I read a new article that seemed to epitomize the “call-out culture article”: Righteous Callings: Being a Good Leftist, Orthodoxy, and the Social Justice Crisis of Faith. It’s by Kai Cheng, a former writer at Everyday Feminism. And it follows a particular structure. First, the author establishes “insider status”, making it clear that she is a certified social justice activist critiquing her own culture. Then a list of grievances. And in the conclusion, a rebuke of those who would coopt this criticism to reject social justice entirely.

[Read more…]

Linkspam: August 10th, 2017

Sexual Harassment Is Pervasive and Under-Reported in Gay Bars – I found this link via a Facebook thread, where a bunch of gay/bi men were arguing that it was ridiculous that anyone would ever complain about sexual assault.  They ask, if you don’t want people to grab your ass/dick unasked, why would you even go to a gay bar or club?  This is absolutely infuriating.  This is the sort of thing that makes me think RAINN et al. are completely underestimating rates of sexual violence.

On the Corner: Intersectionality and the Existence of Privilege – Crip Dyke responded to my article criticizing the “privilege” framework.  She disagrees with my conclusion about “privilege” (which is fine!) but thinks that there’s something to be said about the limitations of “intersectionality”.  My response is in her comment section.  I should also link to this one: Every Other Trans Person is Wrong, which is disagreeing with me re: gender and sex language.

University of Oxford – Why am I linking to a random Facebook post by the University of Oxford?  Notice all the comments about the Philippines!  Somebody from the University of Oxford published a study looking at government funded trolls.  Among other things, they found that President Duterte of the Philippines spent $200,000 on trolls.  A bunch of people went to the University of Oxford’s page to attack this study, and it’s hilariously unconvincing.

A reminder to all the Americans out there: Duterte is not like Trump.  Duterte has much higher approval ratings, and has already put the Southern Philippines under martial law.  The martial law was supposed to be 60 days long, but was recently extended to the end of the year–in conflict with the Philippine constitution.

[Read more…]

On being partially vegetarian

Content note: This is just a personal account of how I became partially vegetarian. I won’t say much to defend this decision, although I’ll talk about some of the reasons I did it.

A couple years ago, I decided to eat less meat. First I decided that at restaurants where decent vegetarian options were offered, I would prioritize those. Then I switched out deli sandwich meat for meat substitutes. As for all the dinners I cook for myself, I tried making most of them vegetarian.

I would not say that I am 99% vegetarian, or even 95% vegetarian. It’s really more like 50-75%. At time of writing, the last time I ate meat was… yesterday. There are lots of reasons I might eat meat. Sometimes the vegetarian options at a restaurant are absent or unappealing. Or I’m at a social gathering where the food has meat in it. Or I’m cooking for my boyfriend, who happens to like meat a lot. Or he’s cooking for me. Or I’m just cooking a dish that I haven’t figured out how to make vegetarian yet.

[Read more…]

Can we dispose of the four horsemen?

A comic panel showing the four horsemen on horses. Dawkins: We held a calm, rational debate and came to the consensus that we should initiate doomsday!! For we are the four horsemen of the atheist apocalypse! The world as you know it ends this day!

Source: Virus Comix. This is from circa 2008, and you can judge for yourself how well it has aged.

“The Four Horsemen of Atheism” is first and foremost, a marketing term. The term was coined almost exactly a decade ago, in 2007, in order for the horsemen to sell recordings of themselves.  From there, the term had runaway success.

It appears that the reason that Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, and Hitchens were chosen (instead of other well-known atheists) is that they were all best-selling authors of atheist books in 2007. It also arose from media coverage, such as the famous 2006 Wired article, which coined the term “New Atheists”, and interviewed Dawkins, Dennett, and Harris. (Hitchens hadn’t published his book until 2007.)

But for me, it was never the books which were important, it was the blogs. I started reading Pharyngula in late 2006. I only ever read one of the books, and I read it in 2008 and didn’t care for it. To me, it has always seemed odd how much we venerate book authors. There are other media outside of books, after all! What about bloggers, journalists, youtubers, podcasters, and artists? Or for that matter, any more recent authors?

[Read more…]