Smart people saying smart things (9.21.23)

Smart people saying smart things (9.21.23) September 21, 2023

Moira Donegan, “Republicans in Ohio are about to vote … to curtail the power of voting”

Maybe it’s appropriate that Republicans have made the anti-abortion crusade the focus of so much of their anti-democracy efforts. Abortion bans, after all, are substantively anti-democratic. They are unpopular, yes, imposed by the unelected supreme court. But more importantly they are an insult to citizenship, depriving half of Americans the ability to live their lives with freedom, dignity, bodily integrity and self-determination – preconditions to any meaningful, equal status as citizens. It makes sense that Republicans would embark on sneaky, procedural efforts to undermine abortion in pursuit of this same project. They don’t want to allow women to live as full, equal citizens. But really, they don’t especially want that for anyone else, either.

Erna Kim Hackett, “Why I Stopped Talking About Racial Reconciliation and Started Talking About White Supremacy”

Secondly, white Christianity suffers from a bad case of Disney Princess theology. As each individual reads Scripture, they see themselves as the princess in every story. They are Esther, never Xerxes or Haman. They are Peter, but never Judas. They are the woman anointing Jesus, never the Pharisees. They are the Jews escaping slavery, never Egypt. For citizens of the most powerful country in the world, who enslaved both Native and Black people, to see itself as Israel and not Egypt when studying Scripture is a perfect example of Disney princess theology. And it means that as people in power, they have no lens for locating themselves rightly in Scripture or society — and it has made them blind and utterly ill-equipped to engage issues of power and injustice. It is some very weak Bible work.

Francis J. Grimke, 1898 sermon, (quoted here)

Another discouraging circumstance is to be found in the fact that the pulpits of the land are silent on these great wrongs. The ministers fear to offend those to whom they minister. We hear a great deal from their pulpits about suppressing the liquor traffic, about gambling, about Sabbath desecration, and about the suffering Armenians, and about polygamy in Utah when that question was up, and the Louisiana lottery. They are eloquent in their appeals to wipe out these great wrongs, but when it comes to Southern brutality, to the killing of Negroes and despoiling them of their civil and political rights, they are, to borrow an expression from Isaiah, “dumb dogs that cannot bark.”

Elizabeth Stice, “Disney people vs. Shakespeare people”

People who love Disney consider the original works canonical, but actual canons have to be held more lightly. We get to keep having Shakespeare hundreds of years after his death precisely because his works can be adapted. If they were impossible to stage differently, they’d be too dated. They wouldn’t get to be the basis of new movies all the time. Ovid keeps hanging around because he’s infinitely adaptable. Ovid’s stories have even outlasted most of the public’s awareness of him.

Maggie Tokuda-Hall, “Refusing to Censor Myself”

We know full well that our invitation to the stage is conditional. We were brought up there in response to the public demand for diverse books. But we’ll get the hook as quickly as the backlash becomes more vocal. Publishing, our dubious ally. Publishers want our suffering, smoothed down and made safe and palatable for the white readership they prioritize. And if that readership refuses to acknowledge the existence of transgender people, Blackness, or racism, then. Well.

Kevin M. Levin, “James Longstreet, the Lost Cause, and the Original ‘Cancel Culture'”

More importantly, these arguments, pointing to an organized community devoted to wiping the public landscape clean of Confederate monuments, assumes that the individuals and organizations originally responsible for them enjoyed some sort of privileged access to the past and that the values that they hoped to memorialize ought to be accepted and embraced forever.

What we fail to acknowledge, however, is that the individuals and organizations responsible for our nation’s Confederate monument landscape engaged in their own version of “cancel culture.” Confederate veterans, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and other organizations made their own decisions as to who would be remembered and who would hopefully be forgotten.

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