Lots of good stuff going on in the blogosphere/news media lately, and since I’m feeling far too lazy to write a real post, check it out:
1. From a bird and a bottle, and incisive look at the War on Drugs as it relates to the War on Terror. In order to make more young people eligible to go fight in Iraq, the Marine Corps and the Army are granting more criminal waivers to recruits. Given that most of these waivers are for drug-related offenses, it’s an interesting strategy — many young people who are convicted of drug-related crimes lack access to education in prison, are barred from voting in several states, and are ineligible for federal student aid. In other words, they have limited access to higher education, by extension limited access to well-paying jobs, and no political power to change that. But they do have access to a fine job, completely with benefits and good pay, in the U.S. armed forces. We take a hard line on drugs — unless taking that hard line begins to handicap Republican goals, instead of accomplishing the traditional ends of filling their pockets, maintaining their political power and enabling the prison industrial complex. We support our troops — so long as they’re economically coerced into the job.
2. Chris Clarke does a wonderful job of taking on the John Aravosis/Native American blog dust-up. I hope that this time around, Aravosis is paying attention to his progressive detractors. I don’t understand why it’s so difficult to grasp how the Indian Mascot thing is offensive, no matter how supposedly tasteful the mascot’s dress and performance is. Chris makes the apt comparison to minstrel shows, which were justified as respectful nods to black culture. I’ll further point out that minstrel shows were part of a multi-pronged attempt to justify slavery (and then segregation) by portraying the Jim Crow character as a happy half-wit, part of the greater slave family of the Mammy happily serving her master, the gentle Uncle, the lazy Sambo who had to be kept in line, the wide-eyed pickaninnies (who were always getting eaten by tigers and alligators), and so on. Contrasted with the images of Zip Coon (the free black man trying to imitate white culture) and the scary black brutes who wreaked havoc and regressed to savagery without the benevolent guidance of whites, Jim Crow served as part of a wider strategy to justify racial oppression. The use of Native peoples as mascots does the same thing — it positions the Native, untamed by civilized whites, as an aggressive, war-like, threatening character. A mascot. Whose purpose has traditionally been to strike fear into the hearts of the team’s opponents, in addition to representing the institution itself. Mascots are scary animals, objects, and… “Indians.” And occasionally representatives of long-dead cultures which have been mythologized for their strength in war (i.e., th Spartans). The image of the savage war-mongering Indian has been long used in this country to justify ethnic genocide, cultural marginalization and ongoing oppression of Native peoples. Using that image for a sports team is unconscionable.
3. I hesitate to touch on anything which might re-flame the Great Blowjob Wars of 2006, but Twisty has a post up which, despite its requisite reference to funk-filled bratwurst (you can’t say she’s not funny), points out the pathetic role that sex plays in female identity. Married women in the UK are being told that the blow job may save their marriage — because it’s a quick way to please your husband without actually having to take your clothes off! The blow job, then, is “valuable” for time-starved and over-worked women. And of course, the men love it! What could be better than having a full-time wife who takes care of the kids, cleans the house, works outside of the home, and gets you off without even for a second thinking about her own desires, needs or pleasures?
4. Amanda and Melissa tell their stories. Jesus’ General responds (and here and here) to the Christian love that so many of Bill Donahue’s followers showed to the feminist bloggers. Lindsay also has thoughts.
5. Jon Swift is right — being friends with black people is hard! I’m glad Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck are willing to just come out and say it. I mean, one minute you think that your one black friend is totally cool, and then you tell him what you like about him — that his hair is so neat to touch, that he’s so much more articulate than those other black folks you know, that he’s remarkably clean, that you totally get him because you’re Irish and that’s a minority too — he gets all uppity and doesn’t want to “chill” with you anymore. Apparently there are some white people out there who are still able to have black friends — how do they do it?!
6. A radical conversion to Christianity. Proving again that progressive politics and religion do not have to be at odds, and at the same time that some people who profess to dislike Christianity the most aren’t necessarily coming from a place of blind bigotry:
My social circle was shocked when I first shyly broached the subject of church. An activist lawyer I knew sputtered. “Are you kidding?” he said. He launched a litany of complaints about the church that I’d come to hear over and over: It was the most reactionary force in the world, anti-Semitic, misogynist, homophobic … the Vatican … the Crusades … Jerry Falwell … child-molesting priests … Ralph Reed … I’d hated, during the 1980s, being expected to defend left movements or revolutionary parties, even when they were screwed up. I had no interest in defending another more fabulously corrupt institution. “It’s not about the church,” I said. “It’s about — ”
“Good deeds?” the lawyer asked incredulously. My desire for religion just didn’t make sense to him. He worked harder than anyone I’d ever met, spending fourteen hours a day defending Haitian refugees and Muslim political detainees and the victims of war and empire. He’d listened to prisoners at Guantánamo sob as they described Christian jailers destroying the Koran; he had represented a Nicaraguan woman raped by evangelical soldiers who sang hymns as they took turns with her on a dirt floor. Whatever faith drove him forward in his vocation, it had nothing to do with the Almighty God so readily invoked at prayer breakfasts in Washington.
Read the whole thing. It’s lovely, nuanced and brave.
7. In the Washington Post, Robin Givhan points out that “curvy” women are more acceptable when they’re women of color. She blows it at the end, though, when she writes that “Roundness is more accepted of black women because they are more accepting of their own curves.” I would argue that roundness is more accepted of black women because they’re already an exoticized “other” whose bodies have long been used in the service of white men, as a counter to the dainty, frail, servile and thin white women who are supposed to be the cultural ideal. Older, bigger women of color are the care-takers (nannies, mammies), and younger, curvier women of color are the temptresses and oversexed sluts. Black woman can be curvier because the assumption is that they aren’t as attractive (at least for permanent partnering) or as “classy” as white women, and don’t have to play by the same rules — and so their bodies can be co-opted and hypersexualized in ways which would be indecent for white women.
But yeah, sure, it’s all because women of color love themselves more.
Finally, not exactly social-justice-related by worth a read nonetheless, are the winners of Dahlia Lithwick’s “write like a right-wing blow-hard” contest. Is that our very own commenter Uccellina who scored an honorable mention?