Racism Doesn’t Need the Web’s Help to Thrive
In case you’re too lazy to click the link, this article is a response to this Jezebel article that revealed a bunch of racist tweets about Obama.
I’ve also noticed this lazy way writers from Gawker, Jezebel and other similar sites have latched onto this current “social justice” bandwagon with vitriolic articles about racism that serve more to enrage people than to actually educate or create some kind of intelligent discourse. This writer from Good (the same site that fired its whole editorial staff earlier this year) addresses the issue but misses the point a little.
The writer’s argument is that talking about racism and constantly pointing it out is doing more harm than good, but her point tip-toes too close to the ‘ol “racism will go away if we stop talking about it” argument, which is one I don’t agree with. Talking about racism is fine, but like this dude at Thought Catalog said, reasonable debates about racism on the internet are hard to do:
Reasonable discourse rarely happens on the internet, though. Shaming and ridicule are invariably the knee-jerk reaction to insensitivity to oppression, whether conscious or accidental. It depresses me, mostly because it doesn’t seem like the writers and their followers are coming any closer to moving past it. Assume malice. Feel rage. Assume malice. Feel rage. Assume malice. Feel rage. Rather than the causes they’re often so shrill about, I think what bloggers and the readers they exploit probably actually care about is the pleasure-center validation of forming and being a part of a team of faceless others in cyclical agreement with each other. Because it feels good to lose yourself and demand a sacrifice. And it’s good for business.
In other words, there’s nothing “progressive” about poking fun at a couple of 16-year-old racists posting ignorant crap on Twitter. When I think about excellent bloggers who discuss race in thoughtful and intelligent ways, I think of Jay Smooth or Ta-Nehisi Coates, not the pageview-hungry bloggers of Gawker or the “Social Justice Warriors” of ONTD.
Observe the process by which we remove some of the most essential American figures of the last century for having failed to corral their sexual organs in the marital bedroom: Roosevelt, gone. Eisenhower, gone. Kennedy, gone. Lyndon Johnson, gone. Clinton, gone. Martin Luther King Jr., gone. Edward Murrow, gone. Follow the gamboling penis to an arid expanse of sociopolitical wasteland, where many of the greatest visionaries and actors can never tread, a desert in which only the Calvin Coolidges and Richard Nixons remain standing. Anyone who looks at the history of mankind and argues that private sexual fidelity exists in direct proportion to political greatness or moral leadership is either a chump or a liar.
The Wire creator David Simon on the media’s ridiculous reaction to sex scandals. [via Salon]
Murder in America
The Wall Street Journal takes FBI data from 2000 to 2010 to analyze the who, what, where, why, how and when murders take place across America.
All 165,068 in the decade analyzed.
The interactive they’ve created lets users sort and explore “why” a murder occurred (eg., Lover’s Triangle, Gang Killing and a large bucket of “Other”), who was killed and by whom (by race, sex and relationship), what weapon was used (eg., gun, knife, blunt object, etc.), when murders occurred (by year) and where they occurred (by state).
Needless to say, guns top the weapons category. While unlikely, getting pushed or thrown out a window has occurred 35 times.
Most often the relationship between the victim and killer is unknown (in over 70,000 cases). How or why this doesn’t become known goes unexplained but acquaintances accounted for over 27,000 murders, strangers for over 25,000.
In the good to know but it goes against our folk history category: the least likely to commit murder are stepmothers with 57 killings attributed to them in the decade analyzed.
That said, an interesting data set and interactive but view it as a big picture account of murder in America.
Image: Detail, Murder in America, by the Wall Street Journal.
The number of “unknowns” and “other arguments” is unsettling, to say the least.
The United States is the country with the highest rate of civilian gun ownership in the world. (The second highest is Yemen, where the rate is nevertheless only half that of the U.S.) No civilian population is more powerfully armed.
Battleground America: one nation, under the gun | The New Yorker
Both relevant and appalling.
Tonight last night on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart aired a piece with correspondent Samantha Bee about the Occupy Wall Street movement. The show has done only a few pieces about the movement so far, and it appears the show is being extra careful to not root too much for the protesters, lest their ring-wing criticizers accuse them of being biased.
This piece featured Samantha Bee interviewing protesters about the apparent “divide” between the occupiers: the “educated” who hung out on the east side of the park and the bums/veterans/drum enthusiasts who hung out on the west side of the park. The point of the piece was to point out the hypocrisy of the movement (for example, while explaining about the redistribution of wealth, one occupier admitted that he would not share his iPad with the occupiers in the west). But although the segment was funny, it highlighted a growing problem with The Daily Show — the rampant use of false equivalency.
It started during Jon’s anticlimactic “Rally to Restore Sanity,” a bipartisan rally held in D.C. earlier this year whose purpose was getting rid of the “extremism” in American politics and the news media. Stewart preached to his legion of followers that they didn’t have to get angry or emotional when it came to politics; they could be reasonable and rationale. Let’s not use our outdoor voices, let’s sit down and discuss this — like adults.
The problem with Jon’s approach to politics is that it encourages a sort of knowledgeable apathy. Jon is notoriously known for refusing to be a mouthpiece for liberals, which is perfectly understandable, but by doing this he has inadvertently encouraged a kind of intellectual aloofness where people feel they’re too smart to deal with the nonsense in politics on both sides, so they choose to ignore it. They stay at home, don’t vote and feel powerless within the system.
So now, when Jon Stewart and Co. are faced with a rising movement of young liberals who are actually doing something (changing the discourse within the news media), The Daily Show responds with, “Well yeah, but they’re doing it wrong,” which seems awfully hypocritical when you think of their failed rally. Sometimes “true” progress within society isn’t reasonable. Sometimes it takes the loud and, yes, crazy ones to truly get things done. It kind of reminds me of Bill Maher’s excellent “Donnor Party” piece in which he suggests that liberals start a group that’s just as crazy as the Tea Party. That way the “crazy” liberals would show just how reasonable the regular liberals are, balancing everything out.
The Daily Show might want to stick to poking fun at the dumb stuff Republicans say because they haven’t exactly learned how to fairly critique liberals. Liberals aren’t above criticism, but sometimes Jon and his team try a little too hard to appear unbiased, forcing these false equivalencies between the left and right that simply are not there.
The Daily Show
I tried so hard to not write about the royal wedding. I really did. And now by writing about it I too am merely submitting to the very entity I’m about to critique. But watching how the day’s events unfolded in the media today, it became apparent to me that there was something quite unsettling about the whole thing that brought me to a startling conclusion. I think…the media was right.
Read the rest…