Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Short Posts 8/7/19. Toni Morrison, RIP, On Paul Krugman's Column And What Online Chatter Matters

1.  Toni Morrison, a Nobel laureate in literature, died on Monday at the age of 88.  Her books are an indispensable part of the American literary canon and should be read by everyone.

But Morrison's most intended audience wasn't "everyone" or "white American majority."  She wrote about the experiences of black people and, in particular, about the experiences of black women, and she wrote to them.  To her people.

By doing that she made the American literary canon greater and more truthful.

2.  Paul Krugman has published a very strongly worded opinion piece on the Republican Party and its relationship to right-wing domestic white terrorism.

I might not frame my own opinions quite so strongly, but I do agree with Krugman on the essential dilemma of the Republican Party.  Quoting my earlier self:*

The way I understand the inner workings of the Republican Party is that it is the party of the owners (the capitalists, if you like), and ultimately what its policies will do is transfer more power to those who already own a lot of financial power. 
Because a very unequal country in terms of income and wealth distributions cannot provide enough votes for the "party-of-the-owners," the Republicans in those inside circles had to invent a different carrot (or whip) to get votes from those whose actual interests are not served by the Republican economic policies. 

That carrot was the search for hind-brain motives:  

The fear of The Other, the anger at those who are perceived as now getting a larger share of the crumbs falling off the dining tables of the rich:  The minorities, the uppity women, the immigrants and migrants. 

To that was added the promise of the opium of the people:  Right-wing, patriarchal religious beliefs would be supported so that the crumbs would fall to the right people, and so that the rest of the status pyramids would stay the same as they have always been.
 By going that route the Republican politicians are now riding a tiger (those hind-brain emotions they encouraged, and it's hard to get off its back without being eaten.   So the riders must hang on even when the tiger goes berserk.

3.   It's possible that I have overdosed on Twitter, or that I'm a prim and curmudgeony goddess** who also believes herself to be holier than thou, but I still think that the Neil deGrasse Tyson tweet debacle should not have been written up in places like the New York Times

So the guy said something stupid and callous at the wrong time.  There are millions of other stupid and callous tweets taking place right now, and in most cases they are best ignored, the way people used to ignore the street corner ranters and ravers.***

Our energy, attention and resources are limited, and we should focus them on what matters most in politics.


*  More on how the immigration crisis is used for that purpose in this post.

** Or one who suffers from serious burnout.  Vacation, here I come!

*** I don't mean to imply that Tyson is one of those people, just that we don't actually have to have a national debate about everything that someone says online.  

And yeah, I suffer from the "someone was wrong online" syndrome myself, and have to restrain myself from correcting false statistics and biased data.  But still.

Note that the earlier publicity deGrasse Tyson got when he was accused of sexual misconduct was proper.  This time, not so much.