Month: April 2019

Banned from Facebook

I write this in response to inquiries about my 29-day suspension from Facebook, determined, as far as I can tell, by algorithmic authority rather than human intervention. I can’t post, I can’t message, I can’t comment.  All I can do is hit “Like.”  It’s frustrating, especially since I have to ask friends, who have more pressing matters on their minds, to post what I’m writing at FB, where it gets more play than at P/L. Here’s what happened. A dim-witted law professor accused me of racism because I called John Brown, the purest of abolitionists, a terrorist.  I responded in kind, calling him “a holy fool” and “a fucking moron,” citing the authority of no less than Frederick Douglass and W E. B. Du Bois—Douglass declined to join Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry in 1859, thinking that it was a dangerous fool’s errand, and Du Bois, in his biography of Brown, characterized him as a man obsessed, a man who had given up on politics.  (John Stauffer’s more recent book on these subjects verifies their judgments even as it praises Brown’s fierce devotion to the abolition of slavery.) The professor complained, or somebody did, and that was that. Now then.  The dim-witted law professor kept saying that slavery is terrorism, and therefore opposition to slavery can’t be.  By calling Brown a terrorist, he suggested, I was siding with slavery, and that choice...

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These Streets

  I walk these streets thinking of you, as always, I remember what never happened, I’m pitched forward in time, nostalgic  For the moments still unplanned.   You’re with me as I’m walking, as always, You remind me of things that never were, You’re somewhere behind me, speaking  Of events that won’t occur.    I love you for this ability, as always, You commemorate what’s come undone, Don’t be discouraged, you’re thinking Of the catastrophe to...

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Used Cars by David-Matthew Barnes

Installment 44 evokes landscapes of isolation and secrecy: queer kids driving under the radar, forced outside of the lines.  David-Matthew Barnes makes every word and line matter, conjuring rich life worlds with his concise simplicity. *** Used Cars Once we were kicked out of our shared room in the boarding house, we slept in a car for a month. We panhandled at gas stations, scraping together a first month’s rent and deposit. Not knowing about things like credit checks, applications, family trips. We saw the children of the people who gave us change, scared by our sorrow and what they also might become, if disowned. We taught so many to behave, silently. We learned how to keep warm and find love in words. We got to know parking lots well. Some were safer than others. Some were killing grounds for the queer kids like us. This was before we were cool. This was before we were legal. This was when we only had backseats, each other. It was so easy to pretend we never existed because nobody asked our names. Yes, some of us would be dead within five years, while the rest of us never spoke again. *** Photo © Matthew Friedman...

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“The Birds, and the Stars, and the Chimney Sweeps”: Revisiting the Anti-Capitalist Moral World of “Mary Poppins” in Light of its New Sequel

In December 2018 I strolled into an evening showing of a movie I had formerly committed to avoid as seriously as I do tailgates or seafood restaurants: Mary Poppins Returns, a film which, even before I say anything else, I think everyone can agree never actually needed to be made. I did, I think it’s worth saying, ultimately choose to go see it of my own free will, and by myself. But I did not go because I wanted to experience magic or wonder or “remember what it was like to be a kid again” (which is often the...

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Moderation My Ass

A friend sent me a link to The Upshot from April 9 NYT, a poll-driven analysis by Nate Cohn and Kevin Quealy of the “silent majority” in the Democratic Party—that is, the stalwarts who aren’t on social media and are unlikely to call themselves progressive or even liberal.  The title is the takeaway: “The Democratic Electorate on Twitter Is Not the Actual Democratic Electorate.”  Yes, the party has moved left, well, duh, but!  Those moderates out there, Joe Biden included, are the base, the rock on which this church must be rebuilt.  I don’t think so.   Here’s what I wrote to her about the piece:   Thanks for this, it’s utterly fascinating, especially in revealing the “vital center” bias of journalists. The so-called progressive wing of the party “clamors” for a Green New Deal—notice, it does not advocate or propose, it “clamors” like children do—while most Democrats identify as moderates or conservatives . . . and yet 48% of “Twitter Democrats” think that political correctness is a problem.  These are anomalous results that need explanation.  Why would progressives be worried about political correctness? And if the pollster doesn’t dig deeper than the broad categories (liberal, moderate, conservative, blah, blah), the survey itself is fatally compromised.  For example, people who identify as conservatives consistently (since the late 1960s) say we should be spending more on health and education.  Right now strong...

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