« New York Times: Pravda of the west or The USA Today without color graphics? | Main | Last Minute Hugo Nominations »

March 14, 2017

Comments

The problem with it is that silence can come across as acquiescence in some cases.

You don't have to be silent. Just don't bother showing up at their thing. Hold your own thing the same night, and go to that.

I actually think that would be better than standing outside of their thing and protesting. They love the attention.

Hold your own thing the same night, and go to that.

Like this.

(I will get back to the phrase "from away" some other time.)

Hold your own thing the same night, and go to that.

An event which generates a protest creates all sorts of lovely publicity for your cause. But if you hold an event which draws 10 people, while someone who disagrees with you holds a competing event draws 75? That's just an embarrassment.

The thread has meandered a lot, so I hope this is not too off-thread (I think it is very germane to much we have discussed about fake news, and the part it and its bedfellows have played in the last election, Brexit etc). It is from today's Observer, and is by John Naughton, the Professor (more senior than that indicates in the States, normally denotes head of department) of the public understanding of technology at the Open University. It's interesting to see how the reactions to this issue are developing around the world, I think, and some of you may too.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/19/john-naughton-germany-fine-social-media-sites-facebook-twitter-hate-speech

http://m.motherjones.com/politics/2016/07/tomdispatch-dc-congress-defense-international-arms-business

http://m.motherjones.com/politics/2016/05/obama-international-arms-weapons-deals

If it weren't for the United States defense industry, novakant, war would most certainly be obsolete, amIright?

If you just pick your facts carefully, you can immediately see a simple solution to any of the world's problems. Or is that "simplistic"?

Or is that "simplistic"?

Well, whatever, wj, I'm pretty sure the United States is to blame.

Never say that Mr Trump's people can't innovate.

Most members of President Trump’s Cabinet do not yet have leadership teams in place or even nominees for top deputies. But they do have an influential coterie of senior aides installed by the White House who are charged — above all — with monitoring the secretaries’ loyalty, according to eight officials in and outside the administration.
OK, it looks a lot like a system of political commissars, which the Russians came up with decades ago. But these folks make ignorance a point of pride, so most likely it's a case of independent invention.

Have just read a review in the Observer, which review I don't seem able to link, of a book which sounds extremely good and necessary in these times. It is called "On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the 20th Century", by somebody (a Yale professor) called Timothy Snyder. The excerpts I read seemed excellent, and important.

The description on Amazon reads:

The Founding Fathers tried to protect us from the threat they knew, the tyranny that overcame ancient democracy. Today, our political order faces new threats, not unlike the totalitarianism of the twentieth century. We are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience.

My mind these days seems full of mush, so it's possible somebody has already talked about this book on ObWi and I just don't remember. If so, apologies. If not, maybe some of you will also find it interesting.

https://www.amazon.com/Tyranny-Twenty-Lessons-Twentieth-Century/dp/0804190119

Thanks GftNC. Timothy Snyder is a must read. His abbreviated Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century have been on his facebook page. He has some interviews posted online.

Timothy Snyder and Sarah Kendzior are two of the most important voices of the Trump era.

Thanks sapient, will check out his Facebook page (if a non-Facebooker can do so).

Haven't read it yet, though I caught an interview about it on (?) Slate or the Atlantic.
Snyder is a great historian.

Timothy Snyder article in today's [annoyingly ad-ridden] New York Daily News.

Timothy Snyder and Sarah Kendzior are two of the most important voices of the Trump era.

Well, not quite so fast there....

Not reading the Jacobin. Nope. Not going there. Have fun with that.

On Jacobin's Jeremy Corbyn. No thanks to the left's Putin puppets. No, no, no. This is why the post-WWII era was so complicated.

A somewhat critical review of the 20 lessons here.

Not reading the Jacobin. Nope. Not going there.

The great marketplace of ideas takes another hit.

A somewhat critical review of the 20 lessons here.

The idea that we're immune from a fascist demagogue strikes me as very unwise. Michael Gove resists the comparison with Hitler, but says:

"And, to be fair to Snyder, many of the recommendations he makes on how to maintain the health of a political culture are well-judged. The importance of scrupulosity in the use of language, bravery in standing out against the crowd, energetic participation in civil society and support for a free media all need restating. If more people follow Snyder’s injunctions to read newspapers, avoid falling for contrived online “scandals”, make friends across national boundaries and remember professional ethics then the world will indeed be a better place."

So let's just take Snyder's warnings to heart, and follow his advice. Trump doesn't need to turn out to be Hitler for the advice to be sound. And maybe by taking Snyder's advice, Trump won't turn out to be Hitler. That's the plan.

The great marketplace of ideas takes another hit.

Nice thing about the marketplace: we don't have to shop there.

The idea that we're immune from a fascist demagogue strikes me as very unwise.

Ah, the exhilarating smell of a fresh burning of another straw man....nobody has made that argument, and, yes, the quoted text is sound advice.

Ah, the exhilarating smell of a fresh burning of another straw man....nobody has made that argument, and, yes, the quoted text is sound advice.

Straw man? Maybe it's as simple as: we agree.

Now just how could this happen? Truly a mystery.

The left's Putin's puppets sounds like the left's Saddam's puppets

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/mar/03/10-years-right-invaded-iraq

Btw, I am not commenting on whether Corbyn is an electoral disaster. I assume Cohen isn't making that up.

Thanks for the link, Donald. Cohen raises some points worth considering.

If it weren't for the United States defense industry, novakant, war would most certainly be obsolete, amIright?

this might serve as an example for what I meant by sapient lowering the level of discourse on this blog - Eisenhower is turning in his grave

this might serve as an example for what I meant by sapient lowering the level of discourse on this blog - Eisenhower is turning in his grave

But you can't really argue with it.

while not denying that the US is the greatest evil in the world (we'll let historians decide if it's the worst right now or the worst ever), i feel compelled to point out that we're not the only ones making life miserable for others:

According to a new report, the Syrian government and Russia are using violence to restrict and deny access to medical services in Syria, essentially turning health care into a weapon of war in a clear violation of international human rights law.

According to the “Health workers and the weaponization of health care in Syria” report, published in The Lancet, last year alone, nearly 200 health-care facilities were destroyed in the country. Since fighting began six years ago, more than 800 doctors, nurses and medical staff have been killed. Almost a third of Syrians now live in areas with no health-care workers whatsoever, the report says, while another third live in areas with insufficient care. Nearly half of the country’s hospitals have been damaged.


http://www.ctvnews.ca/world/health-care-in-syria-weaponized-by-gov-t-forces-russian-allies-report-1.3331832

Not reading the Jacobin. Nope. Not going there.

The great marketplace of ideas takes another hit.

I don't have a lot of time, but I (quickly) read the article. From what I can see, it is simply wrong in its counter-assertions.

Snyder demonstrates extremely convincingly in his later book, Black Earth, that the Holocaust was most complete in precisely this states which had previously been destroyed by the Soviets. the data are absolutely compelling, and rebut the Jacobin's argument about the lack of Soviet responsibility.

He is also entirely forensic about Hitler's mad ideology in a way which makes a complete nonsense of most of the Jacobin article's criticisms. He does not equate Nazism and Soviet Stalinism.

cleek-with-a-fake-beard, that sounds like the wet dream of some USians too. Let's see how many hospitals will close (without application of direct violence) and how many will die as a result when Ryan, Trump and accomplices are through with their 'reforms'*.
'Ruinen schaffen ohne Waffen' is not just popular in the 'real existierender Sozialismus' of the late GDR, or so it seems.
[/nasty mood expression, nothing personal against you]

*admittedly they do not (yet) include the licence for ER rooms to reject people that cannot pay in advance. But imo it's just a matter of time before that idea gets revived too.

I spent a lot of time studying about the Holocaust in Uni, but haven't kept up with things, so I don't know if the Jacobin article is correct or not about Snyder, but the summary of the Goldhagen book Hitler's Willing Executioners doesn't seem to be related to the book that I read. It did talk about the responsibility of German culture for the Holocaust, but the idea that it was somehow a way to support the better angels of the American psyche, I didn't see. So I'd be hesitant to accept his conclusions on Snyder.

Snyder demonstrates extremely convincingly in his later book, Black Earth, that the Holocaust was most complete in precisely this states which had previously been destroyed by the Soviets.

Besides Poland, which countries would that be?

I have not read any of Snyder's work, but found (and read) the Jacobin piece merely as a counterpoint to the total and uncritical adulation heaped on that author by Sapient.

As a holder of a history degree myself, any time I see those kinds of sweeping assertions, I get suspicious. cf Walt Rostow and Francis Fukuyama to proffer just two examples.

Thanks.

bobbyp, I'd say the Baltic states and Ukraine. In the former the local anti-semites had already started the works before even the Einsatzgruppen got ready there. And iirc there was an old rabid and violent antisemitic tradition in Ukraine too (from what I hear even today it is still part of the Cossack culture). As far as Poland is concerned, some rogue parts of the Catholic clerus could give some ME propagandists a run for their money and would end up behind bars in most civilized countries (no support from the last few popes at least but those are heretics anyway).

A friend just sent me this, with the comment that the press has a lot to answer for after their decades-long love affair and donation of free publicity for Trump:

http://www.newsday.com/opinion/jimmy-breslin-s-columns-on-donald-trump-1.13288319

I love Corum's Law: "A sucker has to get screwed." Although unfortunately, in this case, the sucker is the US people.

Thanks, Hartmut. But was not the Ukraine a part of the Soviet Union prior to WWII? In what sense does one posit that it had been "previously destroyed by the Soviet Union"?

Oh,well.

this interview does give me some sense of where Snyder is coming from. Very interesting...Hitler as crazed "intellectual".

Another, perhaps more balanced take on Snyder.

bobbyp, there were several short-lived independent Ukrainian states after the end of WW1 (violently nationalistic with strong emphasis on Ukrainisation) that then got concquered (and in the process devastated) by the Red Army. And then there was of course the Holodomor 1931-1933, the hunger genocide executed by the Soviet leadership against the Ukrainian population. Formally Ukraine was a separate Soviet republic, not part of the Russian one but just in union with it (this is still of importance due to the Crimea question. The peninsula got officially moved from the Russian Soviet Republic to the Ukrainian one under the legal fiction that they were separate entities.)

I have to add that I have not read any of Snyder's books and am only responding to the question you posed above. So don't consider my answer to be taking any position on him or his theses.

Besides Poland, which countries would that be?
The Baltic states - Lithuania being the extreme example. The state having been destroyed twice over, the only ones who survived in positions of power were those willing to collaborate with both Soviet and Nazi regimes.
At the other end of the scale, countries like Italy and France - where the continuing state institutions - among them, citizenship - served (however partially and imperfectly) to delay and frustrate the genocidal program.

Read the books; I thoroughly recommend them. As a historian, Snyder is not a political partisan - except maybe from the perspective of totalitarian apologists.

"The Baltic states - Lithuania being the extreme example."

Except there was your use of the word "previously". That is what I am trying to understand.

I would ask you to read the New Yorker piece I cited above...much shorter than the books. :)

I would ask you to read the New Yorker piece I cited above...much shorter than the books. :)

Gopnik says this:

Snyder does not want the Putinists of 2015 to be able to discredit Ukrainian nationalism by pointing to Ukrainian participation in the Holocaust: he wants to make it clear that the Ukrainian nationalists were, in the hackneyed phrase, “victims, too.” But they were victims of a peculiar kind, and one can cheer their emancipation today without looking past their history.

I didn't read the book that Gopnik is reviewing, but Gopnik's failure to mention the Holodomor makes me think that he's not considering very carefully its horrors. bobbyp, you didn't seem to be very familiar with it either, which indicates that maybe it was right for Snyder to point it out.

Snyder upholds the value of institutions as a bulwark against authoritarian atrocities (as he indicates in his current warnings against Trump). He blames Stalin's destruction of institutions as setting the stage for the level of violence. Gopnik addresses this:

“Where Germans obliterated conventional states, or annihilated Soviet institutions that had just destroyed conventional states, they created the abyss where racism and politics pulled together towards nothingness” [quoting Snyder]. But another view would see the obliteration as the auxiliary act and the abyss as the central moral landscape. Politics and procedures obviously enabled the killings; we owe Snyder a debt for his realism about this. But the desire to maim and murder had its roots in a disease of the mind so powerful and passionate that to call it political or procedural hardly seems to capture its nature, or its prevalence.

But he also says this:

Wars make atrocities happen. Americans have still not come to terms with My Lai, a Vietnam atrocity not unlike the acts of the Einsatzgruppen on the Eastern Front, though thankfully more isolated. To engage in political or procedural or even geographic explanations of these histories misses their history.

Honestly, I don't know what point Gopnik is making here - he seems to be saying opposite things. In the case of the Ukraine, that we can't blame their genocide (only a few years prior) for Ukrainian willingness to kill Jews; and then says that we must blame "war" for the atrocity that was My Lai. (Or what is he saying about My Lai? I confess to being completely confused by what he means that "Americans have not come to terms".)

I too have a history B.A., and recognize that no historian has a monopoly on the truth of the past. It's why history is endlessly fascinating. Snyder is a fine historian though, and his warnings are worth heading.

Bobby, 'previously', as in the year before the Nazi occupation:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_occupation_of_the_Baltic_states_(1940)

from GFTNC's link:

Trump's next book, scheduled for publication any day now, has been held up. It is being edited with flea powder.

god bless jimmy breslin.

the old school cats are dropping likr flies. the world's a poorer place for it.

By way, once again, of our old pal Gary Farber on FB: https://www.forbes.com/sites/chrisladd/2017/03/13/unspeakable-realities-block-universal-health-coverage-in-the-us/#59e50718186a

Excerpt:

"[...] Why are economically struggling blue collar voters rejecting a party that offers to expand public safety net programs? The reality is that the bulk of needy white voters are not interested in the public safety net. They want to restore their access to an older safety net, one much more generous, dignified, and stable than the public system – the one most well-employed voters still enjoy.

When it seems like people are voting against their interests, I have probably failed to understand their interests. We cannot begin to understand Election 2016 until we acknowledge the power and reach of socialism for white people.

Americans with good jobs live in a socialist welfare state more generous, cushioned and expensive to the public than any in Europe. Like a European system, we pool our resources to share the burden of catastrophic expenses, but unlike European models, our approach doesn’t cover everyone.

Like most of my neighbors I have a good job in the private sector. Ask my neighbors about the cost of the welfare programs they enjoy and you will be greeted by baffled stares. All that we have is “earned” and we perceive no need for government support. Nevertheless, taxpayers fund our retirement saving, health insurance, primary, secondary, and advanced education, daycare, commuter costs, and even our mortgages at a staggering public cost. Socialism for white people is all-enveloping, benevolent, invisible, and insulated by the nasty, deceptive notion that we have earned our benefits by our own hand."

"Socialism for white people is all-enveloping, benevolent, invisible, and insulated by the nasty, deceptive notion that we have earned our benefits by our own hand"

Those American Socialists are insidious, aren't they?

I think the Holocaust discussion is an important one to have, but, not thinking of anyone in particular, people have to come to their own understanding rather than say X is right, or Y is full of crap. It's similar to gaining an understanding of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Gar Alperovitz book came out and everyone wants to either praise or denigrate Alperovitz. My suggestion is that rather than pick particular facts about these accounts, let's discuss some of the issues and our own understandings.

I'm pretty sympathetic to the accounts of anti-semitism in the countries that have been named, I certainly don't think those countries have come to terms with it. When you have national football teams taking the crests and symbols of these groups that aided in the Holocaust, (like the Ustasha and Croatia), it seems like there is something deeper going on. We tend to view the Holocaust from the view point of urbanized Jewry like Anne Frank and all the scientists and artists that came to the US, but the Holocaust (and I don't want to say the bulk cause I don't know the figures, but certainly a large portion) was also in these unassimilated communities. Our historical knowledge of this is also warped because the liberated camps that we were most familar with (Auschwitz, Chelmo and Treblinka) were in the west, but there were a number that were liberated by the Soviets that are not really part of common knowledge. In addition, Auschwitz and other camps were labor camps, done with the cooperation of German industry, but the eastern camps were extermination camps, designed to efficiently eliminate Jewry and provide room for the Lebensraum.

Anyway, the position I would stake out is that the Holocaust is the defining event of the 20th century. I take a functionalist view of it, which says that there is not one particular motivating factor but the coming together of a lot of trends in Western society.

It's a tough subject to talk about, but an important one I think.

I'd agree with a lot of that, lj.

In the interests of accuracy though, I'd point out that Treblinka was the largest of the extermination camps (a book by one of the very few survivors is probably the most harrowing I've ever read), and Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviets:
https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005131
The reason we know so little of the extermination camps is that the Nazis destroyed them.

One of the strengths of the Snyder book is that is analyses in detail the entirety of the Holocaust, from its genesis in Hitler's lunatic ideology through to the end of the war.

For me, the most notable point of the book is that Snyder demonstrates how little correlation there is between pre-war anti-Semitism in a country, and how complete the Holocaust was - and equally that the ideology did not seem to be important in determining who participated in perpetrating these crimes, and who did not.
Given the right conditions, any society contains those who will participate in atrocities.

Thanks Nigel, I should have checked a little more closely and not relied on memory. I looked at the map at
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extermination_camp
which, amazingly, confirmed my thoughts. A good reason to be always be cautious, especially when talking things of this weight.

I'm probably overstating things, but after googling various things about Synder's work, I realized that I have a view of assimilated European Jewish populations (think Anne Frank), even though I know that many of the Jews in Eastern Europe were unassimilated, and this otherness often led to pograms and outbursts of anti-semitic violence. With my background and my life experiences, I've always been amazed at what a double edged sword assimilation is, in that it holds out the promise of being treated as an equal, but that promise is very rarely realized. Yet the alternative, to maintain one's own culture in the face of the majority culture is often never really an option. But the Jewish communities that Synder is talking about are those who chose not to assimilate, I think. When a group isolates itself, it is a lot easier to whip up the majority against them, which then leads to people saying that if they had just assimilated... So another two books to add to the reading list.

And I keep misspelling snyder...

A Muslim ban by a thousand cuts.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/us-unveils-new-restrictions-on-travelers-from-eight-muslim-majority-countries/2017/03/21/d4efd080-0dcb-11e7-9d5a-a83e627dc120_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_planeban-605a%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.3b215fd553a7

America's internal gestappo is being used to punish political opponents:

http://www.mystatesman.com/news/judge-ice-said-austin-raid-was-payback-for-sanctuary-policy/89zuwPl00UW7F97QZV9D4M/

This review byTimothy Snyder, written last summer, is another informative read, mostly about Ukraine. The review itself is a foreboding.

We can recognize a lot of what happened there in what's happening here. We have to stop it.

Given the right conditions, any society contains those who will participate in atrocities.

I feel that was the point Gopnik was trying to make.

In any event, thanks Nigel for your enlightening comments. To enter the historiography of eastern Europe from WW1 to the end of WW2 is to enter a hornet's nest, and the blood feuds there are as bitter as they are deep.

But there are those who use Snyder's (impressive) scholarship to buttress their anti-Russian animus and overlook or justify the current political actions of revanchist elements in those very same "bloodlands".

Given the right conditions, any society contains those who will participate in atrocities.

Snyder certainly doesn't disagree with that.

But there are those who use Snyder's (impressive) scholarship to buttress their anti-Russian animus and overlook or justify the current political actions of revanchist elements in those very same "bloodlands".

I just reread the NY Review of Books article cited above (and here again for convenience), back to back with listening to Adam Schiff's introduction to yesterday's hearings.

It's time to get real about what's happening to us, with the participation of many of our citizens. Russia is not our friend. Russia is Donald Trump's friend.

HSH,

That was an interesting little essay. That America's version of socialism is tied to class and race should come as no surprise.

there are those who use Snyder's (impressive) scholarship to buttress their anti-Russian animus and overlook or justify the current political actions of revanchist elements in those very same "bloodlands".

It can be hard to keep all of the political categories straight, and I could be wrong about this. But it strikes me that the revanchist in that part of the world is Putin.

To enter the historiography of eastern Europe from WW1 to the end of WW2 is to enter a hornet's nest, and the blood feuds there are as bitter as they are deep.

And, as we saw when Yugoslavia broke up, the Jews were far from the only targets that some folks there were enthusiastic about attacking.

Russell,

It certainly can be hard, but read up on some of the latest political developments in Hungary and Poland for example.

I may be mistaken, but these folks cannot just be lightly written of as pawns of Putin. I don't believe they admire him any more than you do.

Oy vey!

Fewer Americans Would Be Insured With G.O.P. Plan Than With Simple Repeal

liberal japonicus, in Germany the very fact of increasing assimilation of Jews was at the core of the renewed and now racial (not religious) anti-Judaism in the 19th century. For the new anti-semites the true enemy was no longer the 'Kaftan Jew' (easily recognisable and therefore less dangerous) but the Jew that could not be immediately recognized as such (and thus able to undermine everything good and noble without getting noticed). And this is not just conjecture but was explicitly stated by the proponents.

The border protection agents take on drinking the koolaid

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/03/21/u-s-border-agents-made-a-mexican-teen-drink-liquid-meth-his-family-won-1-million-for-his-death/?hpid=hp_hp-more-top-stories_pn-borderagents-3pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.e54be87b7888

Hartmut, great point. At a certain point, successful assimilation becomes proof that the other is a great danger than imagined. America had the 'one drop of blood' rule for determining race and during the Japanese internment, orphans with 1/8 ancestry were sent to a specially constructed orphanage
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manzanar_Children's_Village

I'm sure, if you dig a little into the anti muslim crap, this would come up too

Speaking of carnage....this could be truly massive.

The Aswan dam may go down as Egypt's single greatest mistake of the 20th century.

It would be nice to have a functioning government with a serious deliberative and policy focused governing process so things like the below and a million other issues could be debated and decided upon rationally rather than what passes for that sort of thing now.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/whos-logging-your-face/2017/03/22/47d96142-0e67-11e7-ab07-07d9f521f6b5_story.html?utm_term=.8f0981a579ec

Also, too:

https://www.justsecurity.org/39100/preventing-air-panopticon/

And of course the reason for those articles is that there is Hal hearing today on those issues. Probably even mentioned in the articles that I didn't read all the way through....

From lj's Wikipedia link:

Several children brought to the Village lived with non-Japanese foster families before the war. Because their foster parents were not subject to exclusion from the West Coast, these children were either extracted from their homes after officials learned that they were part or full Japanese, or, influenced by propaganda that promised strict penalties for harboring Japanese, their guardians turned them over to authorities themselves.

Even if you bought into the idea that Japanese Americans could be sympathizers with Japan's interests, how might that work for children living in the United States with non-Japanese-descended foster parents? Would their sympathies be activated by some particular DNA sequence or something?

Good ole fear! It brings out the best and most rational in humans, huh?

Just watched Senator Whitehouse (whoever he is) do an excellent job, in the Gorsuch hearing, of laying out logically, articulately and calmly the corrupting effects of the Citizens United decision, and the three presumptions (as he put it) that SCOTUS relied on when making their decision, all of which he showed had proved faulty. They were a) that there would be transparency to show where the money was coming from, b) that confidence in politics would not be adversely affected and c) my mushy brain cannot now remember what was actually his first of the three - sorry. He wanted Gorsuch to say he would be open to reconsidering the decision, given that these three planks had proved unreliable, to say the least. Gorsuch of course would not exactly say this, he is after all a smooth operator, but it was a telling exchange because of Whitehouse's clarity of exposition (not altogether typical of the Senators, I think).

how might that work for children living in the United States with non-Japanese-descended foster parents? Would their sympathies be activated by some particular DNA sequence or something?

Yup, exactly a matter of DNA. This, after all, a time when the "one drop" rule was used (at least in the South) to decide if someone counted as black. Got one drop of black blood, i.e. a single ancestor anywhere in the family tree, and you're black. Blue eyes, blond hair, and all.

The best commentary on the stupidity of that is in Show Boat. The hero pricks the (legally black) girl's finger and licks off a drop of blood. So he can tell the sheriff that he has at least "one drop of black blood" in him -- meaning that it isn't miscegenation for him and her to be together.

Gotta wonder which bits of our current culture will be regarded with the same amazement at our ridiculousness that we view that.

Ugh, that Washington Post story tells me that there is a business opportunity here, possibly a huge opportunity. Just come up with a methodology for altering the features that facial recognition software checks. Privacy restored!

The DNA and one-drop conversation reminds me of a passage from a novel I read when I was a teenager: Kingsblood Royal, by Sinclair Lewis (not one of his most famous, I guess). The punch line of this paragraph stayed stuck in my mind for all these years:

They were Dr. Brewster’s congregation, enjoying their weekly gossip before the church bell should summon them in: placid and well-shaven men, wearing the kind of Sunday clothes that people do wear on Sunday; Mothers in Zion, nervously thin or comfortably buxom, talking about their sons in the service; supernaturally Sunday-neatened small boys restless in tight shoes and little girls flaunting Sunday splendor; elders with a long good life recorded in their etched faces; voluble babies who had not yet heard that they were Negroes and who assumed that they were babies.

I don't have the book, I'm sure I read a library copy as a kid. But thanks to the internet, it's easily unearthed.

And how quaint it sounds fifty years later....

Gotta wonder which bits of our current culture will be regarded with the same amazement at our ridiculousness that we view that.

The ban on gay people donating blood or organs, I hope.
In the past there was at least a halfway reasonable pretense for that (higher HIV risk at a time when testing was difficult), but the policy is kept up even after that fell away even in some countries with no official legalized homophobia.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad