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Smart people saying smart things (7.29)

Smart people saying smart things (7.29) July 29, 2016

Laurie Penny, “I’m With the Banned”

It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t mean it. It doesn’t matter that he’s secretly quite a sweet, vulnerable person who is gracious to those he considers friends. It doesn’t matter that somewhere in the rhinestone-rimmed hamster wheel of his mind is a conscience. It doesn’t matter because the harm he does is real.

He is leading a yammering army of trolls to victory on terms they barely understand. This is how we got to a place where headline speakers at the Republican convention — one of the most significant political events in the national narrative of world’s greatest superpower — are now actively calling for the slaughter and deportation of foreigners, declaring that Hillary Clinton is an agent of Satan, and hearing only cheers from the floor.

They ventriloquize the fear of millions into a scream of fire in the crowded theater of modernity where all the doors are locked, and then they watch the stampede, and they smile for the cameras.

Patrick Blanchfield, “Recoil Operation”

Rifles like the AR-15 offer extremely high velocity coupled with comparatively low recoil. Explosive forward motion is ingeniously harnessed, contained, leveraged. Rounds are sent rushing out and forward, again and again, and “kick” is minimized.

In its perfection of these mechanics, the AR-15 embodies a quintessentially American fantasy for engaging the world: maximum impact, minimum pushback, all bundled up in sleek aesthetics and sold at a hefty profit margin. America’s rifle is thus an overdetermined object: the symbol of the violence we visit on others, and which we thrive on exporting. We are accustomed to standing on one side of it, the right side; we expect to have our finger on the trigger, or to be standing behind the counter and taking a check in return. Only when we imagine being on the wrong end of our own icon, when we envision the AR coming home to America, to do to us what it is has done to others abroad, only then, do we recoil.

Michelle Obama, Remarks by the First Lady at the Democratic National Convention, 2016

Patricia Leary, “Response to Concerned Students Memo”

“Black Lives Matter” is not a statement about white people. If does not exclude white people. It does not accuse white people, unless you are a specific white person who perpetrates, endorses, or ignores violence against black people. If you are one of those people, then somebody had better be saying something to you.

… Unless you speak for the Black Lives Matter movement you have no authority to say what those words mean to the people in it. You certainly have no authority to say (and apparently not even any knowledge of) what it means to me. Your interpretation of something and your reaction to it based on that interpretation are not the same as what something actually means. Things in the world have meanings that exist outside of you.

Binyavanga Wainaina, “How to Write About Africa”

Always use the word ‘Africa’ or ‘Darkness’ or ‘Safari’ in your title. Subtitles may include the words ‘Zanzibar’, ‘Masai’, ‘Zulu’, ‘Zambezi’, ‘Congo’, ‘Nile’, ‘Big’, ‘Sky’, ‘Shadow’, ‘Drum’, ‘Sun’ or ‘Bygone’. Also useful are words such as ‘Guerrillas’, ‘Timeless’, ‘Primordial’ and ‘Tribal’. Note that ‘People’ means Africans who are not black, while ‘The People’ means black Africans. …

 


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