He couldn’t even stammer out “states rights”?

It’s always nice to see a racist stunned into silence.

The dope with his jaw dropped is Andy Hallinan, a guy whose sole claim to fame is that he owns a gun shop where he publicly announced his refusal to sell guns to all Muslims, and sells targets with photos of Democrats. Now he has another stupid thing added to his reputation!

Dunning-Krueger, only for racists

Racists don’t know they’re racist, I guess, which is how they can deny racism when it’s right there in their face. Like this cartoon:

That caricature is racist as fuck. It’s not something you can reasonably argue over — there is no debate. It’s done. You can’t draw a black woman that way, in a way that doesn’t even vaguely resemble Serena Williams, except to make a racist point. It looks like something from the 1930s or earlier.

“It had nothing to do with gender or race,” the artist says. Bullshit, says I. He also claims to be completely unaware of the history of racist caricatures, so how was he to know? He’s a cartoonist, that’s how. He’s so completely uninterested in his craft that he never, ever studied cartoons from the past?

Michael Harriot has a few words to say about that.

And not only does Knight’s drawing portray Serena with undertones of classic racial stereotypes, including the apelike stance and oversized pink lips reminiscent of the coon caricature and Sambo cartoons, but he included a pacifier in the drawing, presumably to indicate Serena’s childish actions. You’d never know, from this cartoon, that Naomi Osaka is actually two inches taller than Williams.

It is also revealing that Knight chose to illustrate Osaka as a blonde, fair-skinned damn-near white woman whose complexion is the same as the umpire’s. Unintentional or not, the juxtaposition is clear: Naomi is the quiet, questioning protagonist who, along with the genteel official, is opposed by the brooding behemoth, Serena Williams.

It’s stunning how many people are trying to argue that the cartoon isn’t racist. Damn. Racist is as racist does. It doesn’t have to have the n-word scrawled in sharpie across the cartoon to be racist.

Harriot has a few things to say about American Republicans, too.

  • 52 percent of voters who supported Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election believed blacks are “less evolved” than whites, according to researchers at the Kellog School of Management.
  • In a 2018 YouGov poll, 59 percent of Republicans agreed: “If blacks would only try harder, they would be as well off as whites.”
  • The same YouGov poll revealed that 59 percent of self-identified Republicans believe blacks are treated fairly by the criminal justice system.
  • 70 percent of Republicans agreed that increased diversity hurts whites.
  • Republican-appointed judges give black defendants longer jail sentences, according to a Harvard study released in May.
  • 55 percent of white Republicans agreed “blacks have worse jobs, income and housing than white people” because “most just don’t have the motivation or willpower to pull themselves up out of poverty” according to the Washington Post’s review of data from the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center.
  • Nearly twice as many Republicans than Democrats (42 percent versus 24 percent) believe that blacks are lazier than whites, according to the same NORC poll.

Every single one of those opinions are racist as fuck, too. The white people of America are a mob of racists, and the most racist of us gravitate to the Republican party, where they are welcomed with open arms.

What do Australia and the United States have in common? A history of displacing native peoples and justifying it by the claimed intrinsic superiority of the colonizers. Here’s a good summary from an Australian professor.

As Cheryl Harris wrote in her famous article Whiteness as Property, racial regimes based on the theft of native lands and the enslavement of black people produce an association between the fact of being white and the right of possession. Not only are white people given the legal right to take ownership of stolen land, but whiteness itself becomes property, having intrinsic value as a quality that only white people can possess. At the same time, under slavery, black people become property. The privileges that accrue as a result of being white come to be expected by white people so that any threat to their status or their reputation is perceived as illegitimate, particularly when it comes from the racially subjugated.

Both our countries are still dealing with that ugly history…or more accurately, failing to deal with it.

The movie this week is…BlacKkKlansman

First, though, a little advertisement: starting this weekend, the Morris Theatre is holding the Prairie Light Film Festival, a whole week with a rotating roster of good movies, movies I’ve wanted to see, but had low expectations that they’d ever play in small town rural Minnesota. It’s a small, mostly white and conservative town, and we’ve long had this single screen movie theater that has had to play it safe with their choices if they want to be profitable, and that means we get movies that will appeal to college students or the general community, without a lot of risk-taking. For instance, Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ was the sole movie being shown for about a month a few years ago. Enough said.

So now we’ve got this crazy wild festival coming up, and we’ve got a second screen, so finally the theater can show movies with narrower appeal, like BlacKkKlansman. Once upon a time, I would have estimated the chance of a Spike Lee film being shown in Morris as negligible — not because the theater management wouldn’t have liked to, but because they needed movies with broad appeal to the Morris audience. But now they can, and I am so happy.

BlacKkKlansman is the best movie I’ve seen this year. Right at the top of my list. Great acting, amazing story, strong and relevant theme, beautifully structured. I had no idea how they were going to pull of the central conceit of the story — a black man joins the KKK — but the way it was done, that there were two undercover cops using the same name, and it was the white guy, Adam Driver as Flip Zimmerman, who would appear at Klan meetings, while the black guy, John David Washington as Ron Stallworth, would manage everything over the phone, worked well. It also worked well because it gave both Flip and Ron opportunities to grow in the roles they were playing. Driver was great as a Jew who realizes that this is his battle, too.

But I have to say something about the end of the movie. It was the most powerful gut punch I’ve ever experienced at a movie. So below the fold is a kind of a spoiler — I’m not going to give away any details of the plot, but I am going to say a few things about the structure of the ending.

[Read more…]

Iowans with better food

Rob Tibbetts, father of a young woman who was murdered by a criminal man, spoke out on his appreciation of the Hispanic community.

Speaking Sunday afternoon to more than 1,000 people at a ceremony at his daughter’s former high school, Rob Tibbetts didn’t directly respond to comments by President Donald Trump and others who quickly seized upon the suspect’s citizenship to argue for changes in immigration laws. Rob Tibbetts has not publicly commented on the issue. But in his eulogy, he highlighted how the local Hispanic community had embraced him as he searched for his daughter in recent weeks. While in Iowa for nearly six weeks, Hotel Grinnell put him up for free. During that time, he said he ate at a number of Mexican restaurants, where employees were sensitive and kind. They knew when he needed space or when he needed to joke, he said.

“The Hispanic community are Iowans. They have the same values as Iowans,” he said, including an emphasis on family. “As far as I’m concerned, they’re Iowans with better food.”

Exactly. As the Hispanic community here in Minnesota has grown, we’ve also seen more and more tasty food, so I’m not complaining.

Meanwhile, over in Wingnuttia…

Who is the better human being, Rob Tibbetts or Tomi Lahren?

Trick question. Tomi Lahren is soft white cotton bag filled with cockroaches.

I could have told them this experiment wouldn’t work

When I was in high school, and also part of college, I spent my summers working in a wholesale nursery as a menial laborer. It was all stoop labor — “there’s 10 acres of pots of kinnikinnick, go weed them all” — and of course once you finished it all, you’d start over again because a new crop of weeds was sprouting. So I spent long days in the sun, bent over, scraping popweeds out of containers. It’s not a job I’d wish on anyone, but it’s partly how I paid for college.

Now I’m reading that, in 1965, the US government had a brilliant idea for replacing those darned Mexicans who were doing all that farm labor: pay high school students to do it for minimum wage. Thousands of students took the offer.

He remembers the first day vividly. Work started before dawn, the better to avoid the unforgiving desert sun to come. “The wind is in your hair, and you don’t think it’s bad,” Carter says. “Then you go out in the field, and the first ray of sun comes over the horizon. The first ray. Everyone looked at each other, and said, ‘What did we do?’ The thermometer went up like in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. By 9 a.m., it was 110 degrees.”
Garden gloves that the farmers gave the students to help them harvest lasted only four hours, because the cantaloupe’s fine hairs made grabbing them feel like “picking up sandpaper.” They got paid minimum wage — $1.40 an hour back then — plus 5 cents for every crate filled with about 30 to 36 fruits. Breakfast was “out of the Navy,” Carter says — beans and eggs and bologna sandwiches that literally toasted in the heat, even in the shade.
The University High crew worked six days a week, with Sundays off, and they were not allowed to return home during their stint. The farmers sheltered them in “any kind of defunct housing,” according to Carter — old Army barracks, rooms made from discarded wood, and even buildings used to intern Japanese-Americans during World War II.

I think you can guess what happened. Students quit in droves after only a few days. Others held strikes. The whole program was declared a failure, not just because the kids wouldn’t do it, but because they were pointing out the horrible working conditions and pitiful wages that were inflicted on desperate migrant workers…conditions and wages that still apply.

Clearly, the lesson is that we should hire anybody, migrant or not, and that they should be paid an hourly wage that reflects the value of their labor.

I only stuck with that kind of work because I was desperate, and even then my parents were housing and feeding me so all of the cash could go straight into my college fund.

The well-deserved destruction of Silent Sam

Police stand guard after the confederate statue known as Silent Sam was toppled by protesters on campus at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., Monday, Aug. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Silent Sam was a Confederate war memorial at the University of North Carolina, that was dedicated to the Southern students who went to war for the Confederacy. It got toppled. There are many who are trying to argue the usual crap — it’s erasing history! Good people on both sides! The war was about state’s rights, not slavery! — you know, all the usual noise. So let’s unerase some history and go back to the statue’s unveiling in 1913, and the speech by Julian Carr. Carr was a white supremacist who supported the KKK, made his money with tobacco manufacturing, thought lynchings were a praiseworthy event, and was just generally a terrible human being.

His speech is interminable and overwrought, with much praise for the noble and heroic sons of the South who gave their life, and the dutiful and devout beautiful Southern women who supported them. There are poems in it, and classical allusions. I shall skip over those to the parts that are most discordant today.

The present generation, I am persuaded, scarcely takes note of what the Confederate soldier meant to the welfare of the Anglo Saxon race during the four years immediately succeeding the war, when the facts are, that their courage and steadfastness saved the very life of the Anglo Saxon race in the South – When “the bottom rail was on top” all over the Southern states, and to-day, as a consequence the purest strain of the Anglo Saxon is to be found in the 13 Southern States – Praise God.

Look at him, practicing Identity Politics! I guess the Civil War was actually about propping up the superiority of his narrow branch of white people. But then he gets personal.

I trust I may be pardoned for one allusion, howbeit it is rather personal. One hundred yards from where we stand, less than ninety days perhaps after my return from Appomattox, I horse-whipped a negro wench until her skirts hung in shreds, because upon the streets of this quiet village she had publicly insulted and maligned a Southern lady, and then rushed for protection to these University buildings where was stationed a garrison of 100 Federal soldiers. I performed the pleasing duty in the immediate presence of the entire garrison, and for thirty nights afterwards slept with a double-barrel shot gun under my head.

<jaw dropped>

He said that? He was proud of whipping a woman in public?

OK. Tear it down. Tear ’em all down.

NK Jemisin wins, so the haters gotta hate

NK Jemisin won another Hugo award this year — her third in a row — and she gave a powerful acceptance speech. Read the whole thing, but this was a notable piece.

But this is the year in which I get to smile at all of those naysayers—every single mediocre insecure wannabe who fixes their mouth to suggest that I do not belong on this stage, that people like me cannot possibly have earned such an honor, that when they win it it’s meritocracy but when we win it it’s “identity politics” — I get to smile at those people, and lift a massive, shining, rocket-shaped middle finger in their direction.

Exactly right. The most fervent practitioners of identity politics are the old white guys who feel their entitlements are being challenged.

Here’s another excerpt:

I have gritted my teeth while an established professional writer went on a ten-minute tirade at me—as a proxy for basically all black people—for mentioning underrepresentation in the sciences.

I’m not sure who that was, but I know there’s no shortage of racists ranting about “identity politics”, so the field is wide open on that one. I thought immediately of Vox Day, though, who called her an educated, but ignorant half-savage and has long been whining about all the SJWs in science fiction.

So I had to go look and see how Vox Day was taking this repudiation of his position and the ongoing defeat of his slate of “puppies”. Not well, I’m afraid. He’s plumbing deep wells of dishonesty now. You see, that a group of people he detests are winning all the rewards and recognition means the he thinks he has won — after all, giving an award to a half-savage means the Hugos have now self-destructed and there’s nothing left but a great big crater. And even better, he thinks he has nuked the Hugos for the past three years now.

It’s a thriving crater populated with new and interesting writers, but he’s not going to read any of them anyway.

But what most appalled me is that he quotes the full text of Jemisin’s speech…but removes all of the punctuation and paragraphs, and then sneers mockingly at it. The comments are full of people thinking that Jemisin is illiterate because of that intentional dishonesty, and whining about how women can’t write.

That’s the kind of poison I’d expect of a hack like Vox Day, but what really disappoints me is that he quotes Robert Silverberg.

But in her graceless and vulgar acceptance speech last night, she insisted that she had not won because of ‘identity politics,’ and proceeded to disprove her own point by rehearsing the grievances of her people and describing her latest Hugo as a middle finger aimed at all those who had created those grievances.

He says “her people” and “identity politics”, not noting his own hypocrisy, and bashes her for vulgarity.

You might want to read these reviews of Silverberg’s own book, Up the Line.

Robert Silverberg wrote this libidinous, vulgar carnival ride in 1969 and it was nominated for the Hugo Award. This represents my 25th Silverberg work reviewed and I have come to accept that his lasciviousness makes late era Heinlein look like a boy scout. There is just going to be sex in a Silverberg work, lots of it, and this one has all the sensitivity of a bawdy limerick, reminiscent of Heinlein’s Time Enough for Love and All You Zombies – readers of those books will instantly know what I’m talking about.

Robert Silverberg was clearly a big fan of sex back in the late 1960s, and I’m sure he wasn’t the only one. But in Up the Line, he absolutely revels in it. He doesn’t miss a chance for his (all male) characters to fornicate with women at every possible opportunity both in the future and the past, in dozens of exotic time periods in Byzantium, Constantinople, Rome, etc. The act may be as old as time, but that doesn’t stop Time Courier Judd Elliot from trying to bed his great-great-great grandmother Pulcharia with a lusty enthusiasm and complete disregard for all social taboos that have existed for millenia. Sure, it’s generally a serious no-no in society to screw your ancestors, but when she is as saucy a sex-kitten as Pulcharia, well who can blame Judd? At least that is the irreverent tone this book tries to achieve, billing its main character as the “Tom Jones of Time Travel”.

So when did 83-year-old Silverberg become a hypocritical prissy prude? I’ve read lots of Silverberg, and it’s absurd for him to look at Jemisin’s speech and complain about “graceless and vulgar”. He’s written much more vulgar stuff — and what’s really got him upset is that a black woman was bold and critical.

This is what Nazis get

I guess we don’t need to punch ’em now — there’s a worse fate in store for them. Below is a snippet of a video chat between Jason Kessler, organizer of that fizzle of a White Nationalist march that occurred last weekend, and Patrick Little, who I know nothing about other than the nasty bigotry of his anti-semitism in this clip. Listen in and be revolted at first, and then amused.

So they’re complaining about the Jews when Jason’s dad starts yelling at him to get out of his room. He’s been reduced to living in his parents’ house (in the basement, I hope). Little responds by showing off his boat that he had bought when he used to make good money, and thinks he’ll have to sell off to cover his legal bills.

Poverty isn’t funny, except maybe when racists use their hatred as a shovel to dig themselves deep into a hole.

The plague is spreading!

Who will be the next prime minister of Australia? Fraser Anning or Bob Katter? Anning made an open call to Australian racists, and as we Americans can tell you, that’s politically potent.

Fraser Anning, from the conservative Katter’s Australian Party, called for migration bans on Muslims and others in his maiden Senate speech on Tuesday.

Political opponents denounced his speech as “disgraceful”. Mr Anning said he did not need to apologise.

“Final solution” was a term infamously used by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

In his speech, Mr Anning said “the final solution to the immigration problem is a popular vote”.

On Wednesday, lawmakers across the political divide moved to pass parliamentary motions censuring Mr Anning for his “racist hate speech”, noting in particular his use of the phrase “final solution”, and his “false, misleading and hurtful statements” about Muslim Australians and other immigrant groups.

The Australians, I’m sure, are torn between indignation and amusement that these two flaming nutters and their party have even a remote chance of taking over the government, but we were laughing at Trump ten years ago, too.

The disease is spreading. I know the racism has been there all along, but the plague in this case is that so many awful people now feel emboldened to preach it openly.

The Freedom Budget looks like a fine idea to me

I was watching this video in which Chrisiousity takes apart a lecture by Gad Saad. Saad, as you may know, is one of those regressive types, an adherent of the cult of evolutionary psychology, who is the darling of all those conservative gentlemen who want to believe that traditional values are the best values, scientifically. He’s not exactly someone I think is worth listening to, but Chrisiousity does a fine job of questioning his claims, so that was worthwhile.

I was struck by one thing, though: Saad puts up an abbreviated version of Dartmouth’s Freedom Budget, a plan for increasing diversity and representation at the university, and seems to think it’s a bad thing. I guess this is a distinct difference between us, because I read it and thought it was excellent and aspirational, and would like to see it implemented everywhere. Saad seems to think it’s obvious that it is an evil plan.

Here’s the opening of the Freedom Budget, which clearly lays out the purpose and goals of the plan.

We, the Concerned Asian, Black, Latin@, Native, Undocumented, Queer, and Differently-Abled students at Dartmouth College, seek to eradicate systems of oppression as they affect marginalized communities on this campus. These systems–which include racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, and ableism–are deployed at Dartmouth and beyond as forms of institutional violence. We demand that Dartmouth challenge these systems by redistributing power and resources in a way that is radically equitable. We believe that dialogue and resistance are both legitimate and necessary ways of disturbing the status quo and forcing parties to deal with the roots of the issues.

For our resistance, we have chosen to invoke The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement because Dartmouth claims to celebrate both the man and the movement with month-long programming. Prior to his death, Dr. King had been working with the larger movement to produce a “Freedom Budget.” This Freedom Budget focused on redistributing power and restoring justice for communities who suffered economic oppression at the hands of rich, white power structures. This budget was not a proposal for better interpersonal interactions, but a proposal to transform oppressive structures. Dartmouth epitomizes power being isolated to rich, white males. As such, there is no better place than this campus to campaign for a Freedom Budget that will address the consequences of white male patriarchy today.

Yes. We need to stop shrugging our shoulders, retreating to the excuse that this is just the way it is, and make changes to enable better representation. Really, you can’t just appease white guilt and say “we wish we had more black faculty”…you have to take the next step and actually hire them.

But, as I said, Saad just put up a sample of the demands. This one.

It still looks fine to me.

Establish Japanese Language affinity housing, Korean Language affinity housing, and Hindi-Urdu Language affinity housing.

Saad moans about identity politics here, but this is an issue of practical concern. If you are attracting diverse students with different native languages, help them. Dartmouth apparently already has Chinese and Arabic affinity language housing, this is just asking to do likewise with other cultures. Your services should reflect the student body, and provide support for all of them.

Why does Saad find this controversial?

Ensure that 47% of post-doctoral students are people of color.

Unfortunately, they don’t have a mechanism provided for doing this: post-docs are typically hired by research groups, not directly by the university, so the university does not have much influence here. But the logic is sound: the full document points out that “They should match the student of color population at Dartmouth”, and since post-docs are the next generation of the professoriate, making their population match the undergraduate population offers both better representation now, and will improve representation in the future.

It’s a nice idea. We should be wondering why the students we’re training are not being fairly represented in the next stage of professional development. We should be doing something about it.

Create a professor of color lecture series, bring a professor of color once a month in to expose the Dartmouth community to a wide range of ideas.

Only once a month? This is a trivial request. At large research universities, it’s not uncommon for individual departments to bring in speakers once a week.

Departments that do not have womyn or people of color will be considered in crisis and must take urgent and immediate action to right the injustice.

Saad mindlessly echoes the bias that perpetuates this situation: do we really think we should insist that math and engineering programs that don’t have any women faculty are a problem? YES. There are plenty of women mathematicians and engineers. That there are more men in those fields does not imply an absence of qualified women, and you don’t get to use that as an excuse to amplify the bias. If your department cannot find non-white, non-male candidates for a position, that clearly says there is a crisis…most likely a consequence of implicit bias by current faculty.

Ask staff/faculty to use students’ and employees’ preferred gender pronouns.

This one always provokes indignation from assholes like Saad. He tells an anecdote about a women who suggested that he should ask all the students in his class what pronouns they prefer, and he acted like that was an onerous and ridiculous demand.

It’s not. We routinely ask students to tell us their names, and it’s reasonable to expect us to treat them as individuals and respect who they are. Pronouns aren’t significantly harder (but they are slightly harder, because we often have to overcome years of cultural training, and I sometimes screw up). But if you’re willing to see each student as a unique individual — as you should, as a teacher — this is not too much to ask.

Also, you don’t actually have to go around the room and ask. I’ve found that if I just include the phrase “preferred pronouns: he, him” on my syllabus, students are quite happy to offer their preferences in return.

All male-female checkboxes should be replaced with write-in boxes to make forms, surveys, and applications more inclusive for trans*, two-spirit, agender, gender-noncomforming and genderqueer folks. This should be a campus-wide policy.

Saad construes this as a denial of science, which he avers states that there are only two sexes. This is not true. There are reproductive concerns if we’re trying to breed organisms, but that is totally irrelevant to the classroom, which is a complex sociological construct in itself, with students who have complex and diverse identities which cannot be neatly constrained to two check boxes. Universities should have zero interest in grouping students into breeding pairs. They should have a strong interest in recognizing the unique identities within the student body.

This is also an easy no-brainer. Why insist that all students must conform to one of precisely two patterns? What is your purpose in this?

Enact curricular changes that require all students to interrogate issues of social justice, marginalization and exploitation in depth. Each student should have to take classes that will challenge their understanding of institutionalize injustice around issues of race, class, gender, sexuality, etc. This learning objective should be embedded in all first year seminars.

Saad seems to think this is a demand for indoctrination. It’s the opposite. Notice the language: “interrogate”, “challenge”. This is a statement that a university education should wake people out of complacency and question the status quo. It’s not saying what they should think, but that they should think. I approve of this goal.

At my university, we already have requirements for breadth. Students are expected to take a year of a foreign language, for instance, and I can tell you…we get complaints about that. We require students, even biology majors, to take courses in history and social sciences and literature and all kinds of stuff, and we encourage them to study music and art as well. Universities are not vocational schools where you go to get a certificate in some narrow skill.

As for putting it as a learning objective in all first year seminars, this is also not a big deal. Maybe Saad thinks his classroom is a place for him to pontificate and ramble, but we actually have to put some thought into what we specifically want as outcomes of a course, and we lay out lists of objectives to be met. This is also important for accreditation — the accrediting agencies aren’t going to sit through every lecture in every course. They’re going to ask for evidence that we actually have a well-thought-out curriculum and that we assess our work routinely.

All professors will be required to be trained in not only cultural competency but also the importance of social justice in their day-to-day work.

I understand that some people, like Saad, have a knee-jerk negative response to the words “social justice”, but too bad. If you haven’t thought about the social context of your work, you don’t belong in a university where you have to teach a diverse student body, and not only compel them to memorize a bunch of facts, but learn how the material has context and meaning in their lives.

Of course, Gad Saad is outraged that universities are silencing, he thinks, conservative views, and he goes around lecturing people at other universities about how his kind of voice has been censored. It reminds me of that time David Horowitz spoke at St John’s University, and he ranted and railed about how he was oppressed and not allowed to express his views, and how those social justice types would never allow his opinions to be heard, and in the Q&A, one student raised his hand to mention that his entire class was in attendance — his entire class of women’s studies people studying peaceful strategies for the world.

I will just note that Gad Saad is employed as a university professor and gets far more respect and invitations to speak elsewhere than he deserves, given the deplorable quality of his arguments.