Today’s links will be a little more politically-oriented than usual. To make these lists, I basically save open tabs of articles, posts, etc. that I find interesting/engaging/thought-provoking and then later go back and organize them in a way that I think would make sense to read them (this takes the longest). Right now, there’s a lot of crazy things that fall in the political realm, so a lot of people write stuff about them, which I then read and post here.
On that note, I’d like to direct people to a few podcasts I subscribe to that I think do a good job of highlighting nuance and complexity. Consequently, most of their episodes are also long–often over an hour. Two hosts are relatively progressive Christians, one is a rationalist atheist, and one I don’t know what their philosophical/worldview background is.
- Depolarize! Podcast (Dan Koch)
- Asian America Podcast (Ken Fong)
- Waking Up (Sam Harris)
- With Friends Like These (Ana Marie Cox)
Finally, on the headings “The Left” and “The Right”, I’d like to again bring up the notion of the political spectrum not conceptualized linearly, but instead as a circle, where the traditional left and right exist at the west and east points of the compass, traditional moderates reside at the north pole, and extreme left and right are not opposites of each other but in fact bend towards each other at the south pole.
And now, to the regular business.
Meet the Bipes: Lizards With Only Two Legs (Kelsey Kennedy, Atlas Obscura, 17 August 2017): It’s like God cursed the serpent but forgot that it had a younger brother. Watch the video.
No one could describe the color ‘blue’ until modern times (Kevin Loria, Business Insider, 27 February 2017): I remember reading the Odyssey in 9th grade and wondering exactly how deep and stormy the ocean had to be to be “wine-dark”.
Why Trump Is Threatening the Wrong Republican Senator on Health Care (Russell Berman, The Atlantic, 27 July 2017): Lisa Murkowski has long been one of my favorite senators, along with moderate Republican colleagues such as Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe (until she retired in light of excessive partisanship; she now runs an organization dedicated to compromise and bipartisanship) and, since I moved to Missouri, moderate Democrat Claire McCaskill. If only Drumpf could get the lesson that being a bully doesn’t get you far in life. Or, you know, if he’d learnt that when he was in grade school when he ought.
The Limits of Bullying (Adam Serwer, The Atlantic, 28 July 2017): Also on Drump’s “do not bully” list is John McCain. The man is a f-ing veteran, former POW, and now a cancer patient. I think he knows a thing or two about taking a stand. On a more serious note: “While repeal supporters’ bullying might have solidified opposition to the bill, this time, Democrats’ comity almost certainly bought them goodwill among the Republicans they needed to flip. Eventually, people get sick of being bullied. Maybe not most of the time, maybe even not much of the time. But every once in a while, going high instead of going low pays off.”
Sally Yates and Condoleezza Rice are do-right women in a do-wrong world (Kathleen Parker, 9 May 2017, The Washington Post): They say we need a strong man of courage and character to stand up to Drumpf and co.? That man is Sally Yates who effectively fired herself and in the process rid the cabinet of a blackmailed mole. That man is Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski who said no to bullying and said that their constiuents’ healthcare was more than just political Monopoly money. That man is Condoleezza Rice who experienced–like none of the talking heads–Jim Crowe firsthand and now speaks against the resurgence of the values that bred that injustice.
Senators on hot mic: Trump is ‘crazy,’ ‘I’m worried’ (Philip Bump, The Washington Post, 25 July 2017): Not very serious, but this is golden. Also, yay bipartisanship! “‘Did you see the one who challenged me to a duel?’ [Susan] Collins asks. ‘I know,’ [Jack] Reed replies. ‘Trust me. Do you know why he challenged you to a duel? ‘Cause you could beat the s— out of him.'”
Women and Men
To Men I Love, About Men Who Scare Me (Laura Munoz, Be Yourself, 15 February 2016): “Decent male humans, this is not your fault, but it also does not have nothing to do with you. If a woman is frosty or standoffish or doesn’t laugh at your joke, consider the notion that maybe she is not an uptight, humorless bitch, but rather has had experiences that are outside your realm of understanding, and have adversely colored her perception of the world.” This is why it’s not that “#notallmen” is wrong, persay, it’s just besides the point.
A Bizarre Case at USC Shows How Broken Title IX Enforcement Is Right Now (Jesse Singal, New York Magazine, 4 August 2017): And now we present Exhibit #1 on why nuance is really really important. “It is important that anyone making an accusation of sexual assault or harassment be taken seriously and have their rights protected, and there have been an endless number of nightmare situations, both on-campus and off-, in which victims haven’t gotten the justice they deserved. But what’s going on with Title IX at the moment clearly isn’t working, and it shouldn’t take an example as crazy as USC forcing one of its students to be a victim to make people realize that.”
A Reformed White Nationalist Speaks Out On Charlottesville (Janaya Williams & Stacey Vanek Smith, NPR, 13 August 2017): “I think ultimately people become extremists not necessarily because of the ideology. I think that the ideology is simply a vehicle to be violent. I believe that people become radicalized, or extremist, because they’re searching for three very fundamental human needs: identity, community and a sense of purpose… But what happens is, because there are so many marginalized young people, so many disenfranchised young people today with not a lot to believe in, with not a lot of hope, they tend to search for very simple black-and-white answers.”
The alt-right is drunk on bad readings of Nietzsche. The Nazis were too (Sean Illing, Vox, 17 August 2017): “Nietzsche accepted that Christianity was central to the development of Western civilization, but his whole philosophy was focused on convincing people that the West had to move beyond Christianity. When Nietzsche famously declared that ‘God is dead,’ he meant that science and reason had progressed to the point where we could no longer justify belief in God, and that meant that we could no longer justify the values rooted in that belief. So his point was that we had to reckon with a world in which there is no foundation for our highest values. The alt-right skipped this part of Nietzsche’s philosophy. They’re tickled by the ‘death of God’ thesis but ignore the implications.”
The Hoods Are Off (Matt Thompson, The Atlantic, 12 August 2017): “…where open racism was less acceptable, the hood offered a useful disguise. We could be anywhere, the uniform warned. We could be your neighbors. But the images we saw in Charlottesville today and yesterday convey an entirely different sort of threat. They draw their menace not from what is there—mostly, young white men in polos and T-shirts goofily brandishing tiki torches—but from what isn’t: the masks, the hoods, the secrecy that could at least imply a sort of shame. We used to whisper these thoughts, the new white supremacists suggest. But now we can say them out loud. The ‘Unite the Right’ rally wasn’t intended to be a Klan rally at all. It was a pride march.” As my best friend has said, “There are racists everywhere, always. It’s just a matter of how socially acceptable it is to be open about it, and how much you care about acceptability.”
When Does a Fringe Movement Stop Being Fringe? (Vann R. Newkirk III, The Atlantic, 12 August 2017): “…even the most feared white supremacists in the lore of Jim Crow were just regular white men, transformed from lives as politicians, mechanics, farmers, and layabouts by the sheer power of ideology. And often, their movements were considered ‘fringe’ and marginal—until they weren’t.”
The Rise of the Violent Left (Peter Beinart, TheAtlantic, September 2017): “Revulsion, fear, and rage are understandable. But one thing is clear. The people preventing Republicans from safely assembling on the streets of Portland may consider themselves fierce opponents of the authoritarianism growing on the American right. In truth, however, they are its unlikeliest allies.”
Are Campus Activists Too Dogmatic? (Victor Tan Chen, The Atlantic, 30 July 2017): “At the core of the issue is a troubling tendency, on both the left and right, that goes well beyond college campuses: a consuming obsession with sin. Given the right’s religious base, it’s not all that surprising that conservatives focus on moral transgressions—whether they violate God’s divine law, America’s founding ideals of liberty, ’50s-style norms of sexual behavior and good housekeeping, or other codes of conduct. But the left can be prudish and judgmental about the evils it holds in special contempt, too. On college campuses in particular, activists often take an almost religious approach to politics, rooted in a belief—sometimes stated, sometimes implied—in the irredeemable sin of America and its mainstream”
These Campus Inquisitions Must Stop (Frank Bruni, The New York Times, 3 June 2017): “Racism pervades our country. Students who have roiled college campuses from coast to coast have that exactly right. But we’re never going to make the progress that we need to if they hurl the word “racist” as reflexively and indiscriminately as some of them do, in a frenzy of righteousness aimed at gagging speakers and strangling debate. That’s a mechanism for shaming, not a strategy for change. It mesmerizes all. It converts none.”
Real liberals wouldn’t be so defensive about UW minimum-wage research (Danny Westneat, The Seattle Times, 28 June 2017): “Compromise? Oh the humanity!”
How Charlottesville Looks From Berlin (Maggie Penman, NPR, 16 August 2017): “To equate Robert E. Lee with Hitler would be lazy, and bad history. Hitler’s name is invoked too casually, and too often. But since the white supremacists protesting the removal of Lee’s statue in Charlottesville brandished swastikas, and openly made the Nazi salute, the connection to 1930s Germany was invited by the marchers themselves…Often the argument for preserving Confederate statues and allowing Confederate flags is that we should not forget our history. In Germany, Nazi buildings are extremely hard to come by — nearly all have been destroyed. Yet Germany certainly has not forgotten anything: There’s just a recognition that remembering and memorializing are two different things.”
Why I Changed My Mind About Confederate Monuments (Kevin M. Levin, The Atlantic, 19 August 2017): “Can you look into that young girl’s eyes and convince her that Robert E. Lee is there to encourage her? Do you think she will feel inspired and hopeful by that story? Do these monuments help her see a future with limitless potential? Have you ever thought that if her potential is limited, yours and mine are, too?”
The Church and Culture
How Will the Church Reckon With Charlottesville? (Emma Green, The Atlantic, 13 August 2017): Let’s be straight: silence is complicity, even if you don’t intend it that way. A pastor at the church I went to the Sunday after Charlottesville said something that convicted me but also, perhaps strangely, gave me hope: The white supremacy and racism and bigotry we saw in Charlottesville lives in all of us. It’s not just a thing for hood-wearing goons in the 1950s in the deep south or our racist great uncle Bob who lives in a cabin in the woods or crazy skinheads with guns and tattoos or even just tiki torch-burning, polo shirt-wearing preppy white bois. Though perhaps not manifest as explicitly or violently, the hatred that seeds racism and supremacy lives in all of our hearts because we are all subjects of the fall. And there can be no true reconciliation except through Christ the Redeemer, and this is why the Church is alone most truly equipped to facilitate healing and repentance and forgiveness. For those to whom much is given, much shall be required.
After Charlottesville, will white pastors finally take racism seriously? (Jemar Tisby, The Washington Post, 12 August 2017): “I know that term — white supremacy — is unpopular. It tends to shut down conversation because folks think it only refers to racists who wear hoods and burn crosses. They think it’s too harsh to apply to them, the people they know, or the church. But let’s call it what it is. We can’t change the white supremacist status quo unless we name it and confront it.”
Same-Sex Relationships, God, and the Search for Truth (Karen R. Keen, Interpreting Scripture, 17 July 2017): This is a series of five (long!) posts on LGBT issues and Scripture/the Church. There are dozens of books that look at this issue, some better than others (I would personally recommend Torn by Justin Lee and God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines for a Side A perspective, and Spiritual Friendship and Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill for a Side B perspective). I appreciated this series of posts because it is accessible, relevant to the moment (eg, as a culture we’re beyond debating whether you can “change” orientation), honest, ethical, thorough, practical , and most of all, compassionate. Of all the posts that I reference here, this is probably the one (well, set) I would most strongly recommend reading.
IAAF World Championships
Emma Coburn leads shocking U.S. steeplechase one-two (video) (Nick Zaccardi, NBC Sports, 11 August 2017): I watched this race again and again when the world seemed like it was falling apart; this made everything seem a little less bad. Couldn’t be happier for these two.
Karsten Warholm wins 400m Hurdles Men Final IAAF World Champs London 2017 (Simple Sports, YouTube, 9 August 2017) and WCH 2017 London – Karsten Warholm NOR 400 Metres hurdles Gold (IAAF Athletics, YouTube, 10 August 2017): His face has already been made into a thousand memes, but in case you missed it, Karsten Warholm’s reaction to winning the 400m hurdles is golden. Also, the hat he wore during his post-race interview is almost as good as what he said in response to the interviewer’s question about his future running: “Hopefully more, but you never know. Tomorrow I could get run over by the bus, and I can’t compete anymore, so I just need to enjoy this and train hard. So you never know what you’re going to get next.”
Rose Chelimo wins women’s marathon world title (Rachel Lutz, NBC Sports, 6 2017): Chelimo won (over Edna Kiplagat!) but the point of this is that Amy Hastings Cragg ran an incredible last few kilometers for a bronze medal.