What I’m Reading, September 22, 2015

Nativism: Everywhere the Enemy of Human Rights, Jack Healey, Huffington Post, September 17, 2015

Though we are a nation of immigrants, a segment of the American people has always wanted to walk through the door and then close it behind them, keeping everyone else out. This segment dates back most clearly to the nativist movement that took place in the years leading up to the Civil War. When the nativists have their way, the US stops being a nation united by principles of freedom and justice. We are unfortunately witnessing a resurgence of these politics. An understanding of their history, and the history of their defeat, could help to embolden the contemporary generation.

Only a few decades after the American Revolution, the “bad’ folk were the Irish escaping from the famine and British oppression. Many of the nativists of that time were Protestant, mostly Presbyterian and Lutheran, living in Ohio, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. One of the strangest parts of their story was their flag, which carried the banner “Native Americans Beware of Foreign Influence.” Of course, none of the nativists were American Indians. In fact, Indians were branded as “bad’ folks as well.

“Lean the f*** away from me”: Jessica Williams, “impostor syndrome” and the many ways we serially doubt women, Katie McDonough, Salon, February 18, 2015 Continue reading


What I’m Reading, December 26, 2014

Hip-Hop’s Huge Problem With Iggy Azalea Just Blew Up — And She Completely Deserves It, Tom Barnes, Mic, December 22, 2014

It turns out many people in the hip-hop community feel that Azalea is actively working against black interests because she appropriates traditionally black styles and totally divorces them from their political content. That’s why rapper Tyler, The Creator, A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip and R&B singer Solange Knowles all came to [Azealia] Banks’ defense, thanking her for speaking openly and passionately about the issue of cultural appropriation. Kreayshawn also stepped up to the plate, accusing Azalea of ignoring racism in her home country as well as in America.

But it was New York-raised hip-hop legend Q-Tip who had the most inspiring response — he gave Azalea a full hip-hop history lesson in 40 tweets.


Hip-hop is always political. Q-Tip took the Twitterverse all the way back to hip-hop’s very beginnings. He described the conditions black people were living under in 1970s New York, which hip-hop sought to address. He cited Vietnam, the rampant drug trade in New York’s ghettos and their crumbling school systems. These factors, crippled children’s support structures, “emasculated” their parents and forced children to turn to the streets and gangs for support.

But thankfully, hip-hop was born. With it, youth found a direction, and a way to channel their energies in a positive direction.


It may seem mean, but she completely deserves it. Azalea has been manipulating hip-hop culture for her own gain, and she cares not at all for the broader hip-hop community or the music’s place in our culture.

[Emphasis in original.]

The propagandists have won: What Fox News and the pornography revolution have in common, Janine R. Wedel, Salon, December 21, 2014 Continue reading


What I’m Reading, September 4, 2014

Unreality TV: ‘Weekend Update’ and the landscape of fake news, Brian Phillips, Grantland, August 22, 2014

It would be a mistake, however, to write off “Update” as the less subversive precursor to a more radical age of news satire. In the early years in particular, it wasn’t that “Update” was soft; it was that the target was different. Saturday Night Live first aired a year after Nixon resigned, six months after the fall of Saigon. The old American public reality, I mean the Walter Cronkite, Fit to Print reality, was cracked down the middle but still more or less in place. TV channels were confined to a few stiff buttons on an oversize remote. Newspapers still published late editions. There was no Internet. The structure of American authority had been shown up as fatally flawed, but nothing emerged to replace it. The early “Weekend Update” sketches were less interested in using the power of the news to castigate corruption than in pointing out the fraudulence on which the power of the news was based. They showed Chevy Chase, a mock-up of the oracular newsman, murmuring dirty talk into a telephone, unaware that he was on the air.

Or they showed Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin, in a “Point/Counterpoint” debate, dropping the pretense of civility and saying what they really thought: “Jane, you ignorant slut.” “Dan, you pompous ass.”

Above all, they made the news, that somber institution, look innocuous and foolish, a province of irrelevant weirdos and harmless egomaniacs.


Is it strange that, of all the current-events products currently on television, it’s often Fox News that feels most like a “Weekend Update” bit? Critics are constantly asking why there’s no conservative Daily Show, but there is; it just won’t admit it’s a joke. The structure of Fox News is so deeply and basically comic that it’s impossible not to read it into the tradition of news satire. All those weeping paranoiacs! The fist-shaking curmudgeons! The gun-toting robo-blondes! Like “Weekend Update,” Fox succeeded by taking the elements of a normal news broadcast and exaggerating them to ludicrous proportions. Only instead of Opera Man, it has Angry Immigration Crusader; instead of Mr. Subliminal, it has Jowly Operative Insinuating Things About Hillary Clinton’s Health; instead of Gay Hitler, it has Outmatched Token Liberal; instead of “Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead,” it has Benghazi.

Be sure to read the full article. It has some brilliant Fox News screen captures.

Better Identification of Viking Corpses Reveals: Half of the Warriors Were Female, Stubby the Rocket, Tor.com, September 2, 2014 Continue reading