There is nothing selfish about wanting to live - it’s the most simple, instinctive, human desire there is. Still, most of us - men and women - feel we would lay down our lives for our children; there’s an instinct in that, too.
But there is something about the spectacle of anti-abortion advocates celebrating women who die trying to save their unborn babies that feels a bit too gleeful - they’re shockingly unabashed in their pushing the idea that the lives of adult women aren’t nearly as important as their ability to bring children into the world.
Every few months, a story will come out about a pregnant woman who ignores medical advice or refuses treatment so that her fetus won’t be harmed - like 34-year-old Kathy Taylor of Utah, who died last month after forgoing treatment for melanoma while she was pregnant with her sixth child. (Sadly, her son Luke was born prematurely and died as well.) Or Karisa Bugal from Colorado, also 34 years old, who decided to take on a riskier C-section late last year in order to save her child’s life, even though it ultimately caused her own death.
In 1900, in his “Address to the Nations of the World” at the first Pan-African Conference, in London, W. E. B. Du Bois proclaimed that the “problem of the twentieth century” was “the problem of the color-line, the question as to how far differences of race—which show themselves chiefly in the color of the skin and the texture of the hair—will hereafter be made the basis of denying to over half the world the right of sharing to their utmost ability the opportunities and privileges of modern civilization.”
Even though he accepted the concept of race, however, Du Bois was a passionate critic of racism. He included anti-Semitism under that rubric, and after a visit to Nazi Germany in 1936, he wrote frankly in The Pittsburgh Courier, a leading black newspaper, that the Nazis’ “campaign of race prejudice … surpasses in vindictive cruelty and public insult anything I have ever seen; and I have seen much.” The European homeland had not been in his mind when he gave his speech on the color line, but the Holocaust certainly fit his thesis—as would many of the centuries’ genocides, from the German campaign against the Hereros in Namibia in 1904 to the Hutu massacre of the Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994. Race might not necessarily have been the problem of the century—there were other contenders for the title—but its centrality would be hard to deny.
Violence and murder were not, of course, the only problems that Du Bois associated with the color line. Civic and economic inequality between races—whether produced by government policy, private discrimination, or complex interactions between the two—were pervasive when he spoke and remained so long after the conference was forgotten.
In recent years, some philosophers and biologists have sought to reintroduce the concept of race as biological using the techniques of cladistics, a method of classification that combines genetics with broader genealogical criteria in order to identify groups of people with shared biological heritages. But this work does not undermine the basic claim that the boundaries of the social groups called “races” have been drawn based on social, rather than biological, criteria; regardless, biology does not generate its own political or moral significance. Socially constructed groups can differ statistically in biological characteristics from one another (as rural whites in the United States differ in some health measures from urban whites), but that is not a reason to suppose that these differences are caused by different group biologies. And even if statistical differences between groups exist, that does not necessarily provide a rationale for treating individuals within those groups differently. So, as Du Bois was one of the first to argue, when questions arise about the salience of race in political life, it is usually not a good idea to bring biology into the discussion.
But at this point, the price of trying to move beyond ethnoracial identities is worth paying, not only for moral reasons but also for the sake of intellectual hygiene. It would allow us to live and work together more harmoniously and productively, in offices, neighborhoods, towns, states, and nations. Why, after all, should we tie our fates to groups whose existence seems always to involve misunderstandings about the facts of human difference? Why rely on imaginary natural commonalities rather than build cohesion through intentional communities? Wouldn’t it be better to organize our solidarities around citizenship and the shared commitments that bind political society?
Still, given the psychological difficulty of avoiding essentialism and the evident continuing power of ethnoracial identities, it would take a massive and focused effort of education, in schools and in public culture, to move into a postracial world. The dream of a world beyond race, unfortunately, is likely to be long deferred
Many thanks to CuriousLurker for bringing this to my attention. I would strongly suggest that anyone interested in the subject matter give this a full reading. I think it’s worth the time.
More: Race In The Modern World
During my career, I’ve worked in the Land of Oz. Not literally, of course, but as a metaphor for environments where diversity was given more than lip service. There were multiple drivers for placing high value on diversity; a pragmatic driver was the need for advanced skill sets.
Why do I call that environment the Land of Oz? Because not only did I have the opportunity to work with and get to know people from many cultural and religious backgrounds, I also got to work with them in an environment where racism, sexism, sexual harassment, etc. were not tolerated.
As many coworkers became true friends, I began my real education to the ways of people. I was exposed to how my friends were treated when not at work and was frankly shocked. It wasn’t that I was particularly naive. I knew racism, sexism, religious discrimination, etc. existed but I really had no real clue how it affected the everyday lives of others. At this point you’ve probably guessed I’m white and male.
After 9/11, my sister started being harassed because of her last name (her husbands father was of ME descent). My niece, a 3rd generation US citizen, had her $600 boots cut up by the TSA before she could board a flight (she made the trip in just socks). And when I asked several Muslim friends, they confided instances of discrimination, hate speech, outright threats and even vandalism. I was helping one friend replace a floor when his wife returned from the grocery store, upset by harassment she’d received. And I finally began to understand the emotional baggage that my friends and coworkers had to try to dismiss when they entered the Land of Oz and the reality they had to face when they left. The effects had suddenly become personal. I now regret my acceptance of the status quo until it became so personal. I do try to learn from my mistakes though.
So I arranged a visit to a local mosque for a large group of my coworkers. Folks at the mosque were delighted to have us visit and thrilled that people were actually making an effort to educate themselves instead of accepting the misinformation in much of the media.
During the visit, a shopper in the bookstore noticed us, inquired as to why we were there and then proceeded to gift us all with copies of a book about Islam, purchased on the spot. I was struck not only by the spontaneous generosity but by his expression which I struggle to describe. This was not an attempt to proselytize. Rather, it seemed motivated by a spark of hope. Hope to be seen as a person. Hope that education could help reduce bigotry. Hope that the daily pain might one day diminish. Hope to be viewed as just a fellow citizen.
It made me angry. Not for the gift, but angry that good people can’t be treated as equals, no matter the gender, no matter the color of skin, no matter the religion, sexuality or appearance.
As I noted before, I’m not naive. I don’t think there are any simple solutions to the issues. Frankly, I’m cynical enough to understand humans will always find creative ways to separate into tribes and find others less human. This is a trait that may be as close to an instinct as humans have.
But to those who are affected by discrimination or abuse, for whatever reason, please know that some people are working toward getting you to the Land of Oz as well. And working to get all our families there.
Why did I join LGF? The Wizard Lizard created an Oz!
Because change is hard, humans are stubborn and America is exceptional.
Virtually every country on earth aside from the United States measures temperature in Celsius. This makes sense; Celsius is a reasonable scale that assigns freezing and boiling points of water with round numbers, zero and 100. In Fahrenheit, those are, incomprehensibly, 32 and 212.
This isn’t just an aesthetic issue. America’s stubborn unwillingness to get rid of Fahrenheit temperatures is part of its generally dumb refusal to change over to the metric system, which has real-world consequences. One conversion error between US and metric measurements sent a $125 million NASA probe to its fiery death in Mars’ atmosphere.
Why does the United States have such an antiquated system of measurement? You can blame two of history’s all-time greatest villains: British colonialism and Congress.
“Motorists rebelled at the idea of highway signs in kilometers, weather watchers blanched at the notion of reading a forecast in Celsius, and consumers balked at the prospect of buying poultry by the kilogram,” Jason Zengerle writes in Mother Jones. Organized labor fought it as well, according to Zengerle, so workers wouldn’t have to retrain to learn the new measures.
The bizarre measurements commonly used in the US, including Fahrenheit, are bad for its scientific establishment, its kids, and probably its businesses.
Susannah Locke lays out the case for Celsius and the rest of the metric system very persuasively, but here’s a brief recap. The simpler metric scales make basic calculations easier and thus less error-prone. American companies incur extra costs by producing two sets of products, one for the US and one for the metric using world.
American parents and caregivers are more likely to screw up conversion rates when they give out medicine, sending some children, who are more susceptible to overdoses, to the hospital. Further, American students have to be trained on two sets of measurements, making basic science education even more difficult.
Republicans have called President Obama the “food stamp president” because enrollment in the program has increased 70% since he took office. Despite the past Republican successes in labeling food stamps as a black program, whites make up the largest share of food stamp recipients at 40%, followed by blacks at 26% and Latinos at 10%. Last year, Owsley, Kentucky was identified as the food stamp capital of the country, a 99% white and 95% Republican community. Moreover, the shaming and criminalization of Americans on food stamps obscures the fact that there is a hunger crisis in America, the land of plenty, and millions really need food stamps to survive.
Conservatives will have you believe these are lazy black people, welfare cheats and drug abusers who are dependent on out-of-control, wasteful government programs, and buy cigarettes and alcohol with their SNAP benefits card. But when the GOP is no longer able to rely on race-baiting and racial stereotypes to attack food stamps and other antipoverty programs, what do they have left? We are left wondering what Republicans would do to address the problem of massive poverty and hunger in America. The myth must end now.
Excellent and thought-provoking article today in the NYTimes about the lynch mob mentality that has set in on social media. It tracks what happens to someone who says something stupid on social media, and then gets drawn & quartered for it.
The writer goes back to the colonial era, back when the stocks & whipping were still common, to see how & we moved away from these forms of punishment (although apparently Delaware was still whipping people until 1972? WTF Delaware? Was the Christian Grey the f’in governor there or what?).
The movement against public shaming had gained momentum in 1787, when Benjamin Rush, a physician in Philadelphia and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, wrote a paper calling for its demise — the stocks, the pillory, the whipping post, the lot. “Ignominy is universally acknowledged to be a worse punishment than death,” he wrote. “It would seem strange that ignominy should ever have been adopted as a milder punishment than death, did we not know that the human mind seldom arrives at truth upon any subject till it has first reached the extremity of error.”
There’s a line between calling someone to account for something they say deliberately, with malice aforethought. And then there’s destroying someone for saying something stupid, making a bad joke. Most of the time in these here parts, we’re pretty firmly on the side of cutting someone a break, not flying off the handle, not setting out to deliberately cause an unsuspecting bystander pain.
But we can very easily tip over onto the other side. Please keep that in mind as we skewer the malevolent RWNJs. Not everybody deserves painful public immolation for being stupid.
Today’s the last day those greeting card shelves aren’t bare, and if you are going to do something creative or more memorable instead, then you are running out of time to put it together.
Take a hint from someone who's been married 32 yrs. When your wife says "just a card" for Valentine's day, she doesn't mean just a card.
The Census estimates that approximately 18,508,926 people in the U.S. population are black males, of all ages. In 2013, 1,437,363 were in college, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Prisoner Statistics Program reports that in that same year, 526,000 were in state or federal prisons, and, as of mid-year 2013, 219,660 were in local jails, making for a total of about 745,000 behind bars. The millions of black men not included in those numbers, of course, have already finished college, already served a prison sentence, have a life trajectory that does not involve college or prison, or are too young for either to apply.
Brooke Axtell Interview: Meet the Domestic Abuse Survivor Who Performed With Katy Perry at the Grammys
“Authentic love does not devour another human being.”
The first time Brooke Axtell met Katy Perry was three days ago, when they rehearsed for the Grammys. Tonight, they’ll take the stage together, as Perry sings her ballad “By the Grace of God” and Axtell reads a written-word piece she penned specifically for the occasion. So who is Brooke Axtell?
Axtell is an Austin-based writer, activist, and performance artist. She’s also director of communications for Allies Against Slavery, a nonprofit that fights human trafficking. Axtell herself was trafficked by her nanny when she was seven years old, she says. And this experience made her more vulnerable to experiencing domestic violence later in life, she explains—a major risk factor for entering abusive relationships is sexual abuse before the age of 18. As an adult, she was involved in an abusive relationship that helped spur her toward activism. Now, at age 34, she’s used to speaking in front of crowds. But until tonight, she’s never performed for a live audience of more than a thousand people.
Burning Man sells out?
I have never been to Burning Man and I’m sure I’ll never go. I’m not a fan of big crowds or desert heat. But I can certainly appreciate the spirit of it. Unfortunately, money (as usual) seems to have corrupted the thing as it always does:
For his 50th birthday, Jim Tananbaum, chief executive officer of Foresite Capital, threw himself an extravagant party at Burning Man, the annual sybaritic arts festival and all-hours rave that attracts 60,000-plus to the Black Rock Desert in Nevada over the week before Labor Day. Tananbaum’s bash went so well, he decided to host an even more elaborate one the following year. In 2014 he’d invite up to 120 people to join him at a camp that would make the Burning Man experience feel something like staying at a pop-up W Hotel. To fund his grand venture, he’d charge $16,500 per head.
Tananbaum, a contemporary art collector who resembles the actor Bob Saget, grew up on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and graduated from Yale and Harvard, where he earned both an M.D. and an MBA. After years of starting, selling, and investing in health-care companies, he founded Foresite in 2011. A private venture capital firm with $650 million under management, San Francisco-based Foresite specializes in the health-care and pharmaceutical industries.