I don’t need to know what Tablet is

It’s some online magazine, but I don’t need to ever read it. They just came up with something they call The Sinai Awards, given to the 36 people who have made the world freer for the rest of us, and the list of award recipients will make you gag a little bit.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali • Masih Alinejad • Marc Andreessen • Julian Assange • Olivier Assayas • Nayib Bukele • Ted Cruz • George Deek • John Fetterman • Stephen Friend • Michel Houellebecq • Coleman Hughes • Jon Huntsman • Martin Kulldorff & Jay Bhattacharya • Mark Laita • Bernard-Henri Lévy • Conor McGregor • Douglas Murray • Elon Musk • Anonymous UPenn Student • J.K. Rowling • Christopher Rufo • Salman Rushdie • Natan Sharansky • Michael Solomonov • Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik • Thomas Sowell • Amar’e Stoudemire • Nadine Strossen • Quentin Tarantino • Ritchie Torres • Tu Youyou • Michael Walzer • Bari Weiss • Ruth Wisse

I don’t know half of them, but given the company they keep, I’d rather not know more.

Oh, it’s Eurovision season?

We don’t get as much of the noise about Eurovision here in the benighted Americas, but every once in a while something trickles into our media. I’m liking the Irish entry, “Doomsday Blue,” partly because it’s aggressively weird, partly because I think it’s catchy, partly because it’s satanic, and partly because it has pissed off conservatives.

Even delicate little Tommy Robinson has fallen onto his fainting couch.

Also, I partly like it for its politics.

The performance is definitely provocative, and combined with Thug’s non-binary LGBTQ+ identity, it makes them the perfect target for right-wingers.

But at no point has it seemed to occur to conservatives that their outrage might be the point of the performance—even after Thug themself called the uproar “quite iconic” and said it’s “p*ssing off all the right people.”

Thug calls themself a “rebel witch” who’s been “conjuring Ouija Pop since 1993,” and “Doomsday Blue” uses the phrase “avada kedavra,” popularized in the “Harry Potter” series by outspoken transphobe JK Rowling.

Thug called it a form of “wordplay,” a sort of reclaiming of the word from Rowling’s TERF-y hands, and has also used their performances to call for trans rights and a “ceasefire” in the ongoing genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.

Definitely satanic.

I missed the whole Eurovision thing this year, and just learned that Doomsday Blue came in 6th, while the winner was this song by Nemo, another nonbinary artist.

Nice voice, but I liked Bambie Thug better.

The new state flag is official

Today is the official changeover day for the Minnesota state flag. I like it!

I especially like it because I just learned what the meaning of the original design — that cluttered, ugly illustration of farmers and Indians — was intended to be an illustration of Manifest Destiny.

Minnesota Legislature adopted that flag and seal in 1893.

A poem written by the wife of one of the artists who painted the seal said it was a representation of Manifest Destiny. intended to be an allegory of oncoming progress and civilization, and the removal of native people from the landscape.

“For the artists who created the seal, this is intended to be an allegory of oncoming progress and civilization, and the removal of Native people from the landscape,” said Minnesota Historical Society Director of Research William Convery.

If I’d known that, I would have been much more irate about it. This changeover has a similar significance to the destruction of confederate flags and monuments to rebel generals.

Banality and bigotry

Well, well, well. Richard Dawkins declared himself a “cultural Christian” on Easter, which is no surprise and no big deal. He has been saying how much he likes Christmas and church bells for years, so this is absolutely nothing new. I could say that I’m a “cultural Christian,” too, being brought up in a functionally Christian country with Christian traditions and a Christian history, but I’m defined more by my atheism, and my rejection of many of those beliefs. It’s meaningless and trivial to say that we have all been shaped by our environment…although, of course, many Christian believers think that this is a huge deal and are acting as if Dawkins has renounced his unbelief.

He has not. What he then goes on to do, though, is to declare his bigotry, and that is what I find disturbing.

He likes hymns and cathedrals and parish churches — fine, uncontroversial, kind of boring, actually. But then he resents the idea that people would celebrate Ramadan instead of Christmas. Why? They both seem like nice holidays, that some people follow a different set of customs shouldn’t be a problem. Then he goes on to say that Christianity is “a fundamentally decent religion, in a way that Islam is not.”

How so? Because Islam is hostile to women and gays. He goes on to talk about how the Koran has a low regard for women.

Jesus. It’s true, but has this “cultural Christian” read the Bible? I don’t see any difference. The interviewer tries to bring up the record of actual practicing Christians, and he dismisses that as only those weird American protestants, as if jolly old England has no gay baiting, no murders of young women, and as if JK Rowling were just an open-minded, beneficent patron of the arts. Many American Christians are virulent homophobes who treat women as chattel, but his equally nasty culturally English Christianity has people and organizations that are just as awful.

70% of women teachers in the UK face misogyny. The British empire left a legacy of homophobia. The UK is so transphobic that some people are fleeing. Cultural Christianity does not seem to have made Great Britain a kinder, gentler place, but Dawkins must have some particularly rosy glasses that he wears at home, and takes off when he looks at any other country.

Dawkins has come out as sympathetic to Christianity, but only because it justifies his bigotry. At least he’s being open and honest about both biases.

Demographically Entitled Idiots

I’m at a university thoroughly steeped in the idea of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and I tell you — it doesn’t do the harm the opponents claim, and it helps our students who aren’t white men. It is truly a win:win. I am not hurt by efforts to even the playing field and appreciate that we can create an environment that benefits everyone. There are, of course, some loud assholes who play the victim card — like Chris Rufo, Jerry Coyne, Bret Weinstein, Heather Heying, Steven Pinker, Jonathan Haidt, etc., all the pretentious bigots of the intellectual dark web — but honestly? They can’t demonstrate harm. They whine. At heart, they’re just entitled twits and racists who want to roll back the clock to a day when they were able to belittle and discriminate.

So I welcome this new interpretation of the acronym “DEI”: Demographically Entitled Idiots. I too oppose Demographically Entitled Idiots, and wholeheartedly support the ideals of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

By the way, my university also embraces the indigenous culture that lived on this land before us. It doesn’t mean we abandon science, as some of the fear-mongers want to complain. It means we respect the people, their history, and their culture, and honor them in our ceremonies and our teaching. That is all and that is everything.

The kids are still all right

Cry harder, murderer

A crybaby made an appearance at the University of Memphis, in a talk sponsored by Turning Point USA, that despicable organization. A good-sized group of students showed up, not to cheer Kyle Rittenhouse on, but to roast him. Kyle couldn’t take it — it was all just questions and booing — and he turned tail and ran.

Kyle Rittenhouse, who became a darling of the right after shooting three protesters in 2020, hightailed it off a stage at the University of Memphis on Wednesday night as a crowd of demonstrators booed him.

Video from the event showed several protesters in black T-shirts in attendance. One of them stood up and questioned Rittenhouse about Charlie Kirk, the far-right conservative activist whose youth organization, Turning Point U.S.A., sponsored Rittenhouse’s appearance.

They grilled him on his good buddy, Charlie Kirk, pointing out that he was a racist, and like the dumbest straight man in the universe, Rittenhouse asked him to elaborate, and even said that he was going to “dialogue” about it.

When the protester alleged that Kirk has “said a lot of racist things,” Rittenhouse immediately grew defensive.

“Like what? What racist things has Charlie Kirk said?” he fired back from the podium. “We’re gonna have a bit of a dialogue of what racist things Charlie Kirk said.”

The protester was unfazed.

“He says that we shouldn’t celebrate Juneteenth, we shouldn’t celebrate Martin Luther King Day—we should be working those days. He called Ketanji Brown Jackson an affirmative action hire, he said all this nonsense about George Floyd, and he said he’d be scared if a Black pilot was on a plane. Does that not seem racist?”

“I don’t know anything about that,” Rittenhouse said, prompting jeers from the room.

Why propose a dialogue on a subject you know nothing about? It did not go well for him — although the dialogue turned out to be very brief.

“I’m not gonna comment on that,” Rittenhouse answered, as the room once again erupted in boos. Rittenhouse waited on stage for a beat, but stormed off after he was approached by one of the event’s organizers. He did not look back or make any other comments as he left the stage.

The boos turned to cheers as he walked off.

Yes! That’s how all these scumbags should be treated at every event — make them cower behind nice safe audiences, dreading the appearance of a single naysayer.

Hans Kristian Graebener no longer has to hide in the shadows

He must be so relieved to have been doxxed — now he can be his true self in public. He can go speak at conferences for his people, appear on television in documentaries, proudly march in parades.

Graebener is the creator of Stonetoss, the webcomic that tries to find the “cute” in “nazi”, while failing to notice that those two words share no letters in common. He does all these short “comics” with the same frequent punchlines: trans people end up killing themselves, gay people end up bathing in feces, Jews are behind everything and are scheming to sacrifice Xian babies. When they aren’t obvious, they’re so loaded with impenetrable bizarre references to neo-Nazi shit they’re incomprehensible, but racists and haters and Nazis love them anyway. You can even buy an adorable little plush toy of the main character. He’s also been peddling NFTs, still, endlessly trying to grift his way to riches and glory, and now he can do it in his own charmingly German name.

Graebener is an IT guy working (so far!) in Spring, Texas. He’s single, girls! He’s been known to desperately advertise his availability, but doesn’t seem to have landed a long-term relationship. I can’t imagine what a pleasant person he must be in person.

No, really, I can’t imagine it.

I can imagine that he’s the kind of guy who has a porn addiction. Too bad he lives in Texas, now that PornHub has blocked the whole state.

He’ll be OK, though. I’m sure he’ll have the support of Elon Musk, a guy who loves to promote racism.

Garrison also talks to Dr. Sasha Gusev, a statistical geneticist and associate professor at Harvard Medical School, who points out that because this racism is seemingly backed by scientific fact, people often lack the language to call out its problematic nature.

“There’s a kind of fusion between old-school gutter racism that everyone can recognize and this new-school Silicon Valley, data-driven analysis. And I think that this is very confusing to people,” said Gusev. “They don’t know what to do with it. They say, ‘Hey, there’s this thing that I recognize as ugly, and then there’s somebody posting a hundred charts that seem to support it.’”

Musk can do the hundred charts, while Graebener brings the ugly.

The face has gotten smoother, but it’s the same rot underneath

The Dixiecrat governor of Mississippi, Ross Barnett, said this in 1962, back when I was an innocent 5 year old who thought all people were good and kind.

There is no case in history where the Caucasian race has survived social integration. We will not drink from the cup of genocide.

I first learned about this yesterday, in this video about segregation in sports. It would be so nice to roll back in time to my blissful ignorance as a child.

I had no idea we white people were so frail. Of course, he was laboring under the fallacious belief that miscegenation was evil and that the one-drop rule was valid. There’s a curious racist game they play, where the children of a white person and a black person are 100% black, rather than 50% white, and under those counterfactual rules, white people will rapidly go extinct if mixed race marriages are permitted. It’s a weird mindset that calls having children “genocide”.

But this was in 1962! Surely we have grown past this nonsense here in the 21st century. No, we haven’t. This belief is the major guiding principle of the Republican party. Nowadays they tend to avoid the blatant stuff; instead, they whisper about the “great replacement theory”, which is built on the same fundamental ignorance about biology and meiosis and inherited traits, and is therefore fallacious and doesn’t deserve the dignity of being called a “theory”.

Or they draft some brain-washed Christian hick to use her fundie baby voice to whitewash their hatred of immigrants with Jesus and patriotism. It’s all the same thing. America hasn’t changed its core since the civil rights movement made a valiant effort to call these people to account — this is still a deeply racist country.

The infection has been festering for decades, and is ready to erupt again under the banner of Donald Trump. In the name of decency and basic human dignity, we have to sweep every vestige of the Republican party out of power.

Somehow, though, I doubt that Sydney Sweeney has any socialist sympathies

I have no idea who Sydney Sweeney is. She is apparently a hot new Hollywood star who has been working hard, appearing in a bunch of movies I haven’t seen, and good for her — but I think all celebrities get more attention and money than they actually deserve.

In an informative twist, though, I learned from this article that there are tiers of celebrity, and that Sweeney is near the bottom because she isn’t a nepo baby. Despite having a $3 million house and being pursued by paparazzi, she’s on a treadmill where she must work non-stop (at being fabulous and fashionable, which is of course much nicer than having to grind non-stop at factory) or her whole world will come crashing down.

The whole of American society, at this moment, is a layer of various anxieties and resentments without any sincerely shared values pinning it all in place. Some of those resentments are more deserved than others; the millennial generation stands to inherit a whopping $68 trillion from the Boomer generation. What is being coined The Great Wealth Transfer is already beginning. Sweeney’s peers, who are mostly the children of very rich people, are going to become even richer by doing nothing. Millions of millennials are going to become very rich by doing nothing. Among the many benefits of this will be that they can post only when they want to. They will be able to take jobs they care about instead of ones they need.

But Sweeney isn’t one of those people. She comes from a family that could not afford to financially support her at all when she finished school. She will not have the luxury of relaxing as her inheritance pours in. Everyone deserves to be able to take six months off to have a baby. Everyone. The fact that Sydney Sweeney cannot is a reminder that the reason American workers do not have paid family leave is also the reason each generation has more nepotism babies than the last. We do not tax rich people enough and they do not pay their fair share; the fact of that, over decades, has intruded upon and warped every aspect of American life. Sweeney has to work, like everyone else, and has to do so for whatever she can get, and she has to do it knowing that what reaches her was the absolute minimum figure that people who are paid much more than her had determined that she would be willing to take. She’s not alone.

I wouldn’t feel sorry for Sweeney, but she does demonstrate that wealth inequality permeates every level of American society, and that always the ones on top are the people loaded with inherited wealth that they never had to work for. Tax the rich! Tax them a lot!

Moms For Liberty gets high profile interview, falls flat on face

I’d rather see less of bigots on TV, but if they have to brought on stage, it should be to expose them. Like this:

Two of the founders of the group, Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich, sat for an interview with reporter Scott Pelley and had a difficult time answering pretty simple and direct questions.

“We love teachers. My children have had the best teachers. I’ve had the greatest teachers that have influenced and impact me. But there are rogue teachers in America’s classrooms right now,” Descovich told Pelley. Justice added, “Parents send their children to school to be educated, not indoctrinated into ideology.”

Pelley asked, “What ideology are they being indoctrinated into?” Whether something short-circuited inside Descovich’s brain is hard to say, but after taking a breath and swallowing, she slowly answered, “Let’s just say … children in America cannot read.” Huh?

Pelley repeatedly pointed out that the two were being “evasive,” and when Justice attempted to pivot to a handful of books with sexual content that may be inappropriate for certain age groups, his report was quick to point out that “Most people wouldn’t want them in a lower school. But in a tactic of outrage politics, Moms for Liberty takes a kernel of truth and concludes: These examples are not rare mistakes, but a plot to sexualize children.”

The pair of buffoons also claimed that Moms for Liberty was not anti-gay, which is transparently absurd. Pelley showed them tweets where they are accusing teachers of being “groomers,” which prompted them to quickly shuffle their papers and change topics.

You know, we might be in trouble someday if these right-wingers ever acquired any intelligent spokespersons. I guess intelligent people don’t fall for their lies, though.

By the way, they mad.