not in our stars, but in ourselves
The only thing I like about the high season of capitalism is Krampus, The Nutcracker, and “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis” (preferably performed by Neko Case).
Everything else makes me very grumpy: darker, shorter days; strident sentimentalism; increasingly vulgar consumerism; and the sheer amount of noise. And so.
1. Jeb Lund continues to be my favorite columnist. In case you missed “Donald Trump’s Muslim hatred doesn’t deserve a counter-argument,” please do yourself a favor and check it out. A taste:
Sometimes it’s enough for an idea to merely be stupid, wretched, inhumane and, if we need a fourth for bridge, unconstitutional. Sometimes a refusal to be morally impoverished is reason enough. Sometimes, to paraphrase Groucho Marx, we can point to a meringued trash golem effervescing with sewage ideas like Donald Trump and say: “Whatever it is, I’m against it.”
Something for the psychologists to ponder: if Trump isn’t precisely as stupid as the angry, dumb, pink, bloated masses supporting him, is he instead a sociopath? He seems to be trolling, or – as we wouldn’t hesitate to say if a woman were pulling this shit – attention-whoring. His invective, however, emboldens those angry dummies to act on their barely controlled racism. It has real consequences. For instance: at an unnamed movie theatre in the Boston area (probably the Somerville Theatre, based on sleuthing in the comments section), some white creep emailed the manager to complain that two Muslim women with backpacks weren’t asked to leave a screening of Spotlight. Never mind that white men are the only ones who’ve ever shot up a movie theatre. Anyway, the management clapped back at him, so he’s probably just fuming and vowing never to give them his dirty money ever again – but imagine being those women, knowing that some literal turd of a human was trying to get you thrown out of a theatre while you checked out some Oscar bait. In Lund’s piece, he fights the urge to apologize to a young Muslim mother and her children in the waiting room outside the doctor’s office, because he feels that he – as a white man – somehow owes her. I understand the impulse. One would hope that Trump’s plainspoken racism would harm his reputation, but it doesn’t. He says what plenty of other pieces of shit are thinking. A police union in New Hampshire endorsed him because they like his anti-Muslim ranting (and his promise to make killing a cop a capital offense). I wish these TCOT morons would go form their own country somewhere else, but we’re stuck with them – and I’m scared.
2. The piece is a couple of weeks old now, but David Simon wrote about exactly why it’s crucial not to listen to the Trumps of the world:
And yet every time I begin to listen to someone explain to me the social or political problem of opening our country to this breaking wave of humanity, every time some sonofabitch summons fear or prejudice or uncertainty, I am steadied and restored by my own familial history. Yes, populations are vast, uncontrollable, threatening. Their swell and weight are great enough in our frightened minds to overwhelm systems, or resources. But people are people. Our precious singularity, when at last acknowledged, makes the cowardice of our worst politicians and the fear of those who respond to their rhetoric that much more craven and shameful.
For me, I just have to turn the page of the family photo album and stare at these faces. The people of my blood, the lost branches of my tree — Esther and Solomon, Fanci and Gitel, Leo and little Batia and the others — ordinary mothers and fathers and children who an entire world failed to see as completely and irreplacably human. They, too, were a feared and unwanted wave of chaos and risk, confusion and otherness. And they were butchered on the short end of someone else’s geopolitical equation.
Alas. Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it – and romanticizing the past so that it’s a heroic tale of American exceptionalism is just the same as forgetting. At least that handsome new Canadian PM is doing good things.
3. Related to WWII: there’s a new book about Marlene Dietrich and Leni Riefenstahl – two women born a few months apart in Berlin, who followed along the same path for a while, and then…well, diverged a bit. I’m doing a shit job of keeping up with my reading, but I do think I’d manage to push myself through that one.
4. I love cléo, and I’d love to write for them, but I am so unsure about the quality/originality of any of my writing that I’m really nervous about trying to submit a pitch for their new issue. The theme, ironically, is “Risk.”
5. Bernie Sanders will be better for women (and everyone else) than HRC. In a wonderful little takedown called “My Kind of Misogyny,” Amber A’Lee Frost explains:
Perhaps my own bias is at play here, as I’m notoriously unsympathetic to the plight of the mansplained. But there is some irony in the spectacle of very establishedwriters—the same writers whose cheerleading for Clinton now dominates progressive publications—complaining of “hectoring tones.”
We know that Bernie has more women donors than Hillary, that women make up47.8% of Bernie’s supporters, and that the biggest divide between Bernie’s camp and Hillary’s is age, not gender. Would it be ageist of me to complain of being “Oldsplained,” or perhaps “Established-MiddleClass-splained” by the feminists whose tony “tones” might be a little bit snide? When will the oldgressives cease their hectoring of working-class socialist feminist women?
[…] Obama’s presidency has not yielded much in the way of material gains for black people in America, and it’s hard to imagine what a symbolic feminist victory like a female president would guarantee for all but the most privileged of women. As it stands, I’d no more vote for Hillary than I would for a Margaret Thatcher or a Sarah Palin.
And isn’t that the simpler explanation of left dissent from Team Clinton? It’s not that critics of Hillary are largely misogynist or even that they’re obsessed with political purity. It’s that she’s a proven neoliberal warhawk, a Wall Street sycophant, and a consistent enemy of the poor.
It’s a strange sort of “misogynist” who condemns Clinton for her endorsement of “welfare reform,” which eviscerated a social safety net that primarily benefited women and children. And who are these misogynists who question Clinton’s time on the board of Walmart, a company known for its mass exploitation, particularly of women? What a misogyny that decrees the women of Iraq deserve lives free of American war! There’s a misogyny that advocates for childcare, healthcare, free university parental leave? O brave new world, that has such misogynists in it!
If that’s misogyny, I’d be happy to see more of its kind.
And she’s not even feeling the Bern as hotly as some. She just pays attention to actions instead of speeches.
6. On Sunday, I will be running in a race because there will be unlimited beer at the end. Truly: I would do anything for love.
7. Fargo introduced this song to me, and I’m obsessed.
Do I know what it means? No! Do I love it? Viscerally!