SF/F Saturday: Women Can Be Doctors Too

Well, this is long-overdue and welcome news:The BBC has cast Jodie Whittaker as the new lead of Doctor Who, making her the thirteenth actor to step into the role of the titular time traveler. Although the Doctor has had many female and non-white companions as he roams the universe, until now the show has flinched from taking the ultimate leap. It's a bold move by the showrunners that deserves to be applauded, not least for the potential it brings to tell new and different kinds of … [Read more...]

The Online Atheist Community: Still Terrible

I haven't written much about the regressive elements within the atheist community in a while, but that doesn't mean they've gone away. On the contrary, they're still around and they're just as loud and repulsive as ever.We got an unfortunate reminder of that when the Atheist Foundation of Australia announced that Clementine Ford, a feminist writer and speaker, had accepted an invitation to their 2018 Global Atheist Convention. The Facebook page where they made the announcement was promptly … [Read more...]

The Pro-Slavery History of the Southern Baptists

Last week, the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention was thrown into chaos by a proposal to condemn racism and the alt-right. This CNN article has a good timeline of how it played out: The debate began when Rev. Dwight McKissic, a black pastor from Arlington, Texas, called on Southern Baptists to formally condemn the movement's "retrograde ideologies, xenophobic biases, and racial bigotries" and re-affirm its opposition to racism in the aftermath of a presidential election that saw … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: Remembering Seneca Village

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 7Although Ayn Rand's philosophy wasn't fully developed in The Fountainhead compared to where it was in Atlas Shrugged, there are some things that are consistent across her books. One of them is this: The heroes know they're the heroes, and the villains know they're the villains.This isn't how it really works. The idea that Bad People are aware they're Bad is a trope that only exists in fiction. Other than in rare and exceptional cases, everyone acts … [Read more...]

Cleansing the Stain of the Confederacy

Last month, the city of New Orleans began removing four public monuments to the Confederacy. The monuments, which date back to the 19th century, include statues of Confederate leaders Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard, and Jefferson Davis. Possibly the most shocking of the four is a memorial to the post-Civil-War Battle of Liberty Place, when a white supremacist group called the Crescent City White League staged an insurrection against the city's integrated police force and government. They … [Read more...]

Book Review: Hidden Figures

Summary: We need all the brainpower we can get.Even in the darkest days of prejudice, when women and minorities were most oppressed and their talents denigrated, they've always been there, making crucial contributions to human progress. The only question is whether their achievements are preserved in the historical record, or whether they're shunted into the background so that white men can get all the glory. Margot Lee Shetterly's Hidden Figures, about the black women of NASA who helped … [Read more...]

Fear of Female Friendship

Since these are the beliefs now running our country, there's renewed interest in Mike Pence's rule that he'll never be alone with any woman who isn't his wife. Supposedly this is called the Billy Graham rule, after the famous evangelist who lived by a similar precept, as a hedge against temptation. (Yes, this man willingly chose to work for President Grab-Her-By-The-Pussy. Christian hypocrisy knows no bounds.)Several pundits noted that it would be impossible for a woman to have a career in … [Read more...]

Evangelicalism Returns to Its White Supremacist Roots

Since the election, my post on the white supremacist roots of evangelical Christianity has been getting a lot of hits, and no wonder. In retrospect, it was the key to understanding the transformation that this election cycle has wrought in the country.And that change is continuing, as argued in an article by Sarah Posner with an unsurpassable title, Amazing Disgrace. Posner traces the resurgence of what she calls "alt-right Christianity" - the marriage of convenience between white … [Read more...]

Science Is For Everyone

In the years to come, science will be under threat in America as never before. Every branch of science that makes conservatives unhappy, from evolution to climate change, is on the chopping block. Birth control and abortion will be assaulted with religious pseudoscience. Federal agencies from NASA to the EPA to the National Park Service will be silenced by executive fiat, forbidden to speak facts that don't align with the reigning worldview. And, of course, an indiscriminate immigrant ban is … [Read more...]

Why America Needs Identity Politics

The debate about what lessons American progressives need to take from the 2016 election is just beginning. One of the first shots in that war was fired this month in an editorial by Mark Lilla, "The End of Identity Liberalism", that implores us to stop thinking or talking about race and gender so much. It leaves a lot to criticize:In recent years American liberalism has slipped into a kind of moral panic about racial, gender and sexual identity that has distorted liberalism's message and … [Read more...]