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Disunion

[ 64 ] June 10, 2015 |

civil-war-lincoln-pinkerton

Sadly, the New York Times Disunion series has come to an end. I was hoping it would continue into Reconstruction, as the union was not exactly reunited immediately when the war ended and in many ways Reconstruction is as important as the Civil War for understanding modern America.

Of course, the series was really at its peak in late 2010 and early 2011 as the paper chronicled the daily events of the union falling apart. Naturally enough, there weren’t enough stories and authors to really keep up at that pace for the next four years, but consistently solid articles continued to be published, many of which I have linked to here.

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Pelosi and the TPP

[ 21 ] June 10, 2015 |

It’s becoming increasingly clear that fast track for the Trans-Pacific Partnership is going to pass and it’s going to include the Trade Adjustment Assistance as a sop to American workers. That Nancy Pelosi is working hard to round up Democratic votes in the House to support Obama’s agenda here provides more evidence for this outcome.

The Historical Roots of McKinney

[ 79 ] June 9, 2015 |

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A scene from the Chicago Race Riot of 1919, which started when whites stoned a young black man to death for swimming in white-only waters in Lake Michigan

Historian Victoria Wolcott:

“When pools have been opened on a nonsegregated basis,” noted one legal scholar in 1954, “either under legal compulsion or by voluntary action, disturbances have resulted more frequently than in any other instances of desegregation.” Whites threw nails at the bottom of pools, poured bleach on black bathers, or simply beat them up. In the late 1940s there were major swimming pool riots in St. Louis, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.

And despite civil rights statutes in many states the law did not come to African Americans’ aid. In Charlotte, North Carolina, for example, the chairman of the Charlotte Park and Recreation Commission in 1960 admitted that “all people have a right under law to use all public facilitates including swimming pools.” But he went on to point out that “of all public facilities, swimming pools put the tolerance of the white people to the test.” His conclusion was predictable: “Public order is more important than rights of Negroes to use public facilities and any admission of Negroes must be within the bounds of the willingness of white people to observe order or the ability of police to enforce it.” In practice black swimmers were not admitted to pools if the managers felt “disorder will result.” Disorder and order defined accessibility, not the law.

Only after decades of persistent activism did these barriers begin to fall. But instead of whites and blacks swimming and playing together recreational facilities in American cities have been defunded and apartheid continues to mark the recreational landscape. By the 1970s the virulent racism so common earlier in the century had been replaced by a colorblind discourse suggesting that choices about where to live, work, and play were individual decisions separate from the legacy of racism. But there are moments when one hears the direct echo of those earlier struggles. In 2009, for example, the owner of a private swim club in Philadelphia excluded black children attending a Philadelphia day care center, saying they would change the “complexion” of the club. And now in a wealthy subdivision outside of Dallas police target black teenagers and some in the surrounding community make it clear they – the black children – are not welcome.

Pools have long been fraught with racial tension, as have other swimming sites such as lakes and rivers, which led to the Chicago Race Riot of 1919. Why access to water specifically creates such anxiety over race, I’m not really sure.

This is Hell

[ 0 ] June 9, 2015 |

Rana-Plaza

I was on This is Hell! with Chuck Mertz on Saturday discussing Out of Sight. You can listen to it here. The interview was a solid 40 minutes which gave us time to talk about a lot of different issues.

Republican Lunch

[ 29 ] June 9, 2015 |

1963-Bonanza

Above: How Jim Risch transports his Rocky Mountain oysters

What do Republican senators eat for lunch? Have you been dying to know this question? Well, lucky for you, the New York Times is on it! Does Dan Coats like pie? Oh yes! Does Jim Risch like to serve bull testicles to Susan Collins? You know he does and that it’s a really funny joke among Republican staffers!

Sad to say that this is actually improvement on the paper wondering if Hillary is going to appeal to the right kind of real American voters.

GOP Brilliance

[ 50 ] June 9, 2015 |

Boy, I wonder where these health care subsidies come from? Republican Jesus no doubt.

Idiocy Upon Idiocy

[ 103 ] June 8, 2015 |

Of course Ron Fournier would weigh in on the New York Times “the proper way for Democrats to win the presidency is to appeal to conservative white voters in Arkansas and West Virginia” article by not only saying that it was a good article but by saying that there’s a “right” way to win and a “wrong” way to win and of course appealing to your base, i.e., people who aren’t white, is the “wrong” way to win. He writes, “My problem with this approach is that it works only until Election Day, when a polarizing, opportunistic candidate assumes the presidency with no standing to convert campaign promises into results.”

Right, because if Hillary can somehow appeal to those Arkansas voters and 1996 comes back into existence in 2016, the Republicans will totally lower their guard. We all know how accommodating those Republicans were to Bill Clinton in his 2nd term after all. I mean really, what impeachment? I don’t remember that. I only remember a bipartisan love fest that would make David Broder hard from the grave.

What Should My Next TV Show Be?

[ 373 ] June 8, 2015 |

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Above: The greatest television character in the medium’s history

I have a conundrum. I need a new TV show to watch. Now, I’m pretty behind on the TV revolution. Because of my commitment to film, I tend to go through TV shows slowly. Basically, I’ve watched the entire series or am caught up currently on Mad Men, Deadwood, The Wire, Better Call Saul, and Breaking Bad. I watched the first season of The Sopranos (finally) last summer and then set it aside to finish Breaking Bad and rewatch Deadwood, i.e., the greatest show in television history. I just finished Deadwood. So what to do next?

I ask because I am really torn on trying to watch Game of Thrones. Here’s the thing–I have an inherent dislike for anything revolving around fantasy or science fiction. Those genres of storytelling I find usually pretty uninteresting since I find the present and past more than interesting enough and generally more plausible in terms of storytelling. Even the science fiction I do like–Tarkovsky’s Solaris for instance, is not exactly the norm for the genre.

So I was initially inclined against it. But on the other hand, I like anything that is really well done. So I could watch Game of Thrones if it’s really that good. And I was leaning in that direction, despite not caring for the genre. But reading what people are saying about this season, it’s like there’s an abusive relationship between the show and its fans, with a lot of people recoiling in horror but continuing to watch (or not). I don’t mind violence on the screen. I do have a very limited, like pretty close to zero, tolerance to depictions of sexual violence. Especially if they are more than a one-time event.

So given all this, should I watch Game of Thrones, if for nothing else so I can understand what everyone is talking about? Or should I go back and finish The Sopranos? Or finally check out Boardwalk Empire, Treme, or another of the HBO dramas I haven’t seen? Or Orange is the New Black? I was really inclined toward Justified, but it’s not on Netflix and it’s hard to justify subscribing to yet another service.

I’m teaching as this comes up. I hope for 200 comments by the time I get home at 10.

….I also watched True Detective, which I thought was pretty good.

….Given that we are basically a Game of Thrones blog, I find it interesting that no one has really given a full-throated defense of the show telling me I must watch.

Minimum Wage in California

[ 23 ] June 8, 2015 |

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Really glad to see California move toward a $13 hour minimum wage tied to inflation. It’s not nearly high enough, especially for a state as expensive as California. The minimum wage should be around $20. But it certainly beats the $9 that it is now. The California House seems more conservative than the Senate and it’s not yet clear if Jerry Brown supports this, although I have trouble thinking he won’t if it passes the House.

If I Reference Hiroshima in an E-Mail to a Student, It’s Because I Want to Nuke Their House

[ 71 ] June 8, 2015 |

riotscene

Above: A clearly relevant threat to 21st century higher education administrators.

The administration war on faculty has reached a new low at Oakton Community College in Illinois.

Oakton Community College (OCC) is insisting that a one-sentence “May Day” email referencing the Haymarket Riot sent by a faculty member to several colleagues constituted a “true threat” to the college president.

Lawyers for the Chicago-area college argue that the email, which noted that May Day (May 1) is a traditional time for workers to remember the riot, threatened violence. Last month, OCC demanded that the now former faculty member “cease and desist” from similar communications in the future or face potential legal action.

May Day is celebrated every year on May 1 by the international labor movement to commemorate the fight for workers’ rights. The celebration is historically associated with the 1886 Haymarket Riot in Chicago.

“Merely noting to one’s colleagues that May Day is a time when workers ‘remember’ the Haymarket Riot does not constitute a ‘true threat,’” said Ari Cohn, a Senior Program Officer and lawyer with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). “The United States Department of the Interior has designated the Haymarket Martyrs’ Monument a National Historic Landmark. If remembering the Haymarket Riot is a ‘true threat,’ the monument itself would be illegal.”

On May 1, Chester Kulis sent an email to OCC colleagues that read, “Have a happy MAY DAY when workers across the world celebrate their struggle for union rights and remember the Haymarket riot in Chicago.” The email, titled “May Day – The Antidote to the Peg Lee Gala,” was written in response to a reception hosted by OCC in celebration of the retirement of college president Margaret B. Lee.

This makes right-wing claims that I was calling for Wayne LaPierre’s assassination seem relatively cogent. How a mention of a labor action over a century ago is an actual call for violence against a person today is completely unknowable because it’s not. If he had said, “I would like to bomb the administration building like the anarchists threw that bomb at the police in 1886 and kill them all” I guess you’d have a case. This is just stupidity. Actually, it’s more than that. It’s part of the larger academic crackdown on left-leaning professors protesting the corporate university. University presidents and boards of trustees see themselves as corporate heads and want the ability to dispose of any employee for any reason, including talking back to power.

Why McKinney Happened

[ 141 ] June 8, 2015 |

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The nation is once again focused on police brutality today thanks to the violent attack by a cop on black swimmers in the Dallas suburb of McKinney, Texas. Once again, the video capability of cameras has brought the routine police brutality people of color face in the United States into our sight. But it’s also worth noting why the cops were called to the scene anyway–the racist whites of McKinney.

Neighbors are defending police who chased black teenagers at gunpoint and tackled a girl wearing a bikini after breaking up a party at a community pool over the weekend in McKinney, Texas.

But one homeowner and her daughter say those neighbors confronted some teens when they went outside and began taunting them and their guests with racial slurs before starting a fight.

Tatiana Rose, who lives in the Craig Ranch neighborhood and hosted the party with her siblings, said a woman and man who live in the neighborhood showed up and called their friends “black f*ckers” and told them to return to their Section 8 housing.

The 19-year-old Rose said most of her friends who attended the party live in Craig Ranch — which sits along a golf course.

Rose said one of her younger brother’s friends — a white girl named Grace Stone — scolded the neighbors and told them it wasn’t right to use racial slurs.

“So then they started verbally abusing her, saying that she needs to do better for herself, cursing at her, and I’m saying, no that’s wrong – she’s 14, you should not say things like that to a 14-year-old,” Rose said.

She said the woman, who she identified as Kate, told her to go back to her government-assisted housing and smacked her in the face when she stuck up for the younger girl, and she said another woman also attacked her.

Police brutality isn’t just a police problem. It’s also a symptom of this nation’s endemic racism that reinforces white supremacy each and every day.

Women’s Suffrage and White Supremacy

[ 33 ] June 7, 2015 |

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Frances Willard

This is from last year, but I just saw it so I am going to post about it anyway. Mallory Ortberg really presented the unfortunate issue of suffrage activists using white supremacy to press their case in the most effective way possible. Although given that it’s The Toast, Freddie DeBoer probably thinks it’s another example of feminists doing it wrong. Anyway:

Suffragette: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, 1815-1902 (Social activist, abolitionist, author)
Hooray: “The best protection any woman can have is courage.”
Wait, What: “What will we and our daughters suffer if these degraded black men are allowed to have the rights that would make them even worse than our Saxon fathers?”

Suffragette: Laura Clay, 1849-1940 (Founder of Kentucky’s first suffrage group)
Hooray: “Religious intolerance just now is abroad in the land. It is an evil passion of the heart which dies hard…This campaign is a call to every true American of whatever party to stand firmly for the principle of religious freedom.”
Wait, What: “The white men, reinforced by the educated white women, could ‘snow under’ the Negro vote in every State, and the white race would maintain its supremacy without corrupting or intimidating the Negroes.”

Suffragette: Frances Willard, 1839-1898 (Feminist lecturer, founder of the National Council of Women, anti-child abuse activist)
Hooray: “Politics is the place for woman.”
Wait, What: “Alien illiterates rule our cities today; the saloon is their palace, and the toddy stick their scepter. The colored race multiplies like the locusts of Egypt.”

Suffragette: Carrie Chapman Catt, 1859-1947 (Founder of the League of Women Voters)
Hooray: “”There is one thing mightier than kings and armies”–aye, than Congresses and political parties–“the power of an idea when its time has come to move.” The time for woman suffrage has come. The woman’s hour has struck. If parties prefer to postpone action longer and thus do battle with this idea, they challenge the inevitable. The idea will not perish; the party which opposes it may. Every delay, every trick, every political dishonesty from now on will antagonize the women of the land more and more, and when the party or parties which have so delayed woman suffrage finally let it come, their sincerity will be doubted and their appeal to the new voters will be met with suspicion.”
Wait, What: “White supremacy will be strengthened, not weakened, by women’s suffrage.”

All of this is pretty well known to historians, but really isn’t stressed that much in public conceptions of the suffrage movement. It’s not unknown, but it needs to be more known. Expressing it in this way, cheering for feminists of the past and then being horrified by the same feminists, is well done.

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