Smart people saying smart things (4.9.19)

Smart people saying smart things (4.9.19) April 9, 2019

Susan Silk and Barry Goldman, “How not to say the wrong thing”

Here are the rules. The person in the center ring can say anything she wants to anyone, anywhere. She can kvetch and complain and whine and moan and curse the heavens and say, “Life is unfair” and “Why me?” That’s the one payoff for being in the center ring.

Everyone else can say those things too, but only to people in larger rings.

When you are talking to a person in a ring smaller than yours, someone closer to the center of the crisis, the goal is to help. Listening is often more helpful than talking. But if you’re going to open your mouth, ask yourself if what you are about to say is likely to provide comfort and support. If it isn’t, don’t say it.

John Oliver, Last Week Tonight, “Mobile Homes”

Adam Serwer, “White Nationalism’s Deep American Roots”

His thesis found eager converts among the American elite, thanks in no small part to his extensive social connections. The New York Times and The Nation were among the many media outlets that echoed Grant’s reasoning. Teddy Roosevelt, by then out of office, told Grant in 1916 that his book showed “fine fearlessness in assailing the popular and mischievous sentimentalities and attractive and corroding falsehoods which few men dare assail.” In a major speech in Alabama in 1921, President Warren Harding publicly praised one of Grant’s disciples, Lothrop Stoddard, whose book The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy offered similar warnings about the destruction of white society by invading dusky hordes. There is “a fundamental, eternal, inescapable difference” between the races, Harding told his audience. “Racial amalgamation there cannot be.”

Harding’s vice president and successor, Calvin Coolidge, found Grant’s thesis equally compelling. “There are racial considerations too grave to be brushed aside for any sentimental reasons. Biological laws tell us that certain divergent people will not mix or blend,” Coolidge wrote in a 1921 article in Good Housekeeping.

Imani Perry, “Voter suppression carries slavery’s three-fifths clause into the present”

The news cycle has moved past Georgia. That’s partially because the problem of voter suppression tends to be reduced to partisan interest. Democrats want their votes. Once the election is done, the matter is done until the next season. But that is a distorting lens. It bends toward treating Black people as mere constituents of the Democratic party, rather than participants in a democratic order. Although the immediate crisis fades after an election, the question remains: has the spirit of the three-fifths clause been chased away, or does it continue to shape American life?

Kyle Whitmire, “Serious as sin: What white evangelicals need to hear from their pastors”

I grew up going to a conservative Southern Baptist Church, but one of the most important lessons about my religion, I had to leave that church to learn: Racism is a sin.

I’m not here to evangelize, but as young Christians, we were taught that the most important commandment was to love our neighbors and even our enemies. But never in my youth did I hear a pastor say something that should have been plainly evident: Racism is probably the most pervasive violation of Jesus’ most important commandment.


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