Smart people saying smart things (10.31.17)

Rebecca Traister, “Our National Narratives Are Still Being Shaped by Lecherous, Powerful Men”

The men who have had the power to abuse women’s bodies and psyches throughout their careers are in many cases also the ones in charge of our political and cultural stories. …

They are also the men with the most power to determine what messages get sent about politicians to a country that then chooses between those politicians in elections. Mark Halperin co-authored Game Change, the soapy account of the 2008 election (excerpted in this magazine), which featured all kinds of history-making candidates who were not powerful white men. Halperin’s view of Hillary Clinton in particular was two-dimensional: Through his lens, she was a grasping and scandal-plagued woman; her exaggerated misdeeds and the intense feelings she engendered were all part of propelling his profitable narrative forward. His coverage of Trump, meanwhile, in this last campaign cycle, was notably soft, even admiring: Halperin once argued that the sexual-assault claims leveled at Trump would only help the now-president’s brand.

Sarah Gailey, “This Future Looks Familiar: Watching Blade Runner in 2017″

There is a whole class of slaves. It is illegal for them to escape slavery. The cops are supposed to murder the slaves if they escape, because there is a risk that they will start to think they’re people. But the cops know that the slaves are not people, so it’s okay to murder them. The greatest danger, the thing the cops are supposed to prevent, is that the slaves will try to assimilate into the society that relies on their labor.

Assimilation is designed to be impossible. There are tests. Impossible tests with impossible questions and impossible answers.

Carlos Maza, “How Southern socialites rewrote Civil War history”

Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address

One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the causeof the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

Angel Underhill, “As a Biracial Woman and Former Evangelical, Trump’s Racism Is All Too Familiar”

Ultimately, the thread of racism running through my time there put me over the edge. Indeed, in the years that followed the experience with my ex’s family, I racked up more than a few racially charged confrontations with white Christian friends and acquaintances from the church. There were comments about darker black skin looking like an ape’s; there was an email I received warning me that Barack Obama was not a citizen. All these moments left me with a nagging skepticism about the efficacy of racial reconciliation as a ministry in the church. Did the white evangelicals who subscribed to it in theory really want to help? Did they really want justice? Maybe a better question is were they able to see something in themselves that needed to change to bring any of this to fruition? Or were they in denial?

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