Smart people saying smart things (4.25.24)

Smart people saying smart things (4.25.24) April 26, 2024

Raffi Cavoukian, “Raffi’s Guide to Fighting Fascism”

When the stakes are this high, you have to call it as you see it. There was never a person more unfit to be in the highest office of the land. He was a Putin puppet. He still is. He’s a threat, and I think more and more people see him for who he is. And that leads me to think that if the voting public shows up in great numbers that democracy will stand. And that’s our challenge. That’s our duty. Every single person who reads this article, I urge you, I exhort you to vote. Do your duty as a citizen and vote democracy.

Code Switch, “In the news”

One of the tried-and-true tactics in the racism playbook is to relitigate a question that’s been answered ad nauseam. It’s why public figures sometimes think they can get away with posing *daring* questions like, Wasn’t slavery actually kind of beneficial? Or, Could Black people be getting COVID at high rates because they’re kind of unsanitary?  Or, Are Mexican immigrants actually criminals and rapists? (What?? Aren’t we allowed to ask honest questions??)

In regard to the question posed by the essay: We know that systemic racism exists. In law enforcementIn educationIn housingIn healthcareIn hiringIn government and environmental policy. Oh yeah, and in journalism. NPR has reported in depth on every single one of these topics. That reporting existed long before 2020. Anyone who, in good faith, wanted to know if systemic racism was real would have decades of resources to turn to, both within NPR’s archives and in the vast library of human knowledge.

But that’s rarely the point of re-asking the question. The point is to cast doubt where there is none. And it’s not just a tactic used for issues of race. It’s one used by climate change deniers and anti-vaxxers. People who want to pretend that smoking isn’t deadlyElection deniers, too.

And, as I’ve quoted here before, the great Toni Morrison once said that “the very serious function of racism is distraction.”

Rabbi Danya Rutenberg, “The Antisemitism Post”

Constantine’s conversion didn’t just Christianize Europe (though it did that, obviously.) Suddenly, with a Christian Roman Empire, it was even less convenient to have a narrative in which the Roman Empire was responsible for Jesus’ death.

Well, gosh. Who could we blame instead???

This became a Whole Thing for a Long Time. For example, antisemitic Passion Plays — theatrical depictions of the end of the life of, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus — were very popular around Easter, and the Jew-blaming in these dramas would be very effective for fomenting anti-Jewish sentiment — which, coupled with Holy Week liturgy sermons that often did the same, meant that Good Friday, like Christmas, tended to be a big time for pogroms.

Andrea Dworkin, “In Memory of Nicole Brown Simpson”

What no one will face is this: the problem is not with the woman; it is with the perpetrator. She can change every weakness, transform every dependency. She can escape with the bravado of a Jesse James or the subtle skill of a Houdini. But if the husband is committed to violence and she is not, she cannot win her safety or her freedom. The current legal system, victim advocates, counseling cannot keep her safe in the face of his aggression.

Accounts of wife-beating have typically been met with incredulity and disdain, best expressed in the persistent question, “Why doesn’t she leave?” But after two decades of learning about battery, we now know that more battered women are killed after they leave than before.

Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern, “Republican Officials Openly Insult Women Nearly Killed by Abortion Bans”

We are only beginning to understand the extent to which pregnant women are dying and will continue to die due to denials of basic maternal health care, candid medical advice, and adequate treatment. The issue of emergency abortions, though, has already rocketed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed on Friday to decide whether federal law compels hospitals to terminate dangerous pregnancies regardless of state bans. No matter how SCOTUS rules, the fallout is already all around us. The stories of Kate Cox in Texas, devastated would-be mothers in Tennessee, and a horrifying prosecution of a mother who miscarried in Ohio all surface the brutal reality of the post-Dobbs zeitgeist: Any woman who seeks to terminate a pregnancy is wicked, any woman who miscarries is evil, and any woman who—for reasons of failing health, circumstance, or simple bad luck—does not prove to be an adequate incubator deserves whatever she gets. Every unborn fetus is the priority over the pregnant person carrying it and must be carried to term at all costs. So goes the moral calculus of the death-panel judges who now determine how to weigh the competing interests between real, existing human life and a state’s dogmatic fixation with a fetus that, by definition, must be seraphically innocent.

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