Civil Rights

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The Voting Rights Act at 55

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 07/08/2020 - 12:51am in

The fight to vote continues. Continue reading

The post The Voting Rights Act at 55 appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Susan Smith: Roses and Blood

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 29/07/2020 - 4:29am in

When the horse-drawn wagon carrying the body of Rep. John Lewis began to make its way up the Edmund Pettus Bridge, it felt like there was a stirring of the ancestors, those in that “great cloud of witnesses” whose spirits are ever with us and who were with a young John Lewis the day police officers nearly killed him for daring to march across the bridge as part of the work to get black people the right to vote. Continue reading

The post Susan Smith: Roses and Blood appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

In Other News: Bat Boy Runs For School Board 

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 21/07/2020 - 4:35am in

Farewell Local News McClatchy, one of the largest and oldest newspaper publishers in the country, will be bought out of bankruptcy by Chatham Asset Management, a hedge fund. McClatchy owns 30 papers including the Sacramento Bee, the Miami Herald and … Continue reading

The post In Other News: Bat Boy Runs For School Board  appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Representative John Lewis, a Hero for Our Time

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 19/07/2020 - 1:23am in

John Lewis and Kamala Harris (lmiddle at the 55th anniversary of the Selma march. (Photo credit: Office of Kamala Harris/Wikimedia...

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John Lewis (1940-2020)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 18/07/2020 - 9:47pm in

John Lewis, whom we filmed in 2016, was nearly beaten to death in Selma, Alabama in 1965, so that all Americans could vote. He made history. What will WE make? And when?

Cancel Culture Just is the Market-Place of Ideas

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 15/07/2020 - 8:17pm in

1. Free expression is probably at an all-time high right now, at least in the West. There is a huge variety of different venues for your writing, there’s a whole new world podcasts for speeches, and an ever-increasing supply of video outlets. The availability of these platforms and publishers doesn’t guarantee you an audience, but that’s not what free expression means.
2. Related to that, some of the technologies that have enabled easy speech have made counter-speech extraordinarily easy as well.
3. There are a lot more people who are not you than there are people who are you, and so easy counter-speech means that it’s entirely possible to get inundated with unpleasantness.
4. Because of (2 and 3), people are often careful about what they say, and may feel burdened by this.
5. It is hard to get (1) without (2). The ability to broadcast to others means that they can broadcast back.
6. (4) may hit socially well-positioned people, but it hits vulnerable people far more.--Ryan Muldoon "Free Expression and Evolving Standards" @Radical Classical Liberals

By 'cancel culture' I mean the organized efforts to silence others (e.g., their invitations rescinded, and their honorary doctorates denied, moved to assignments with other duties, etc.) without recourse to violence and state authority (that would be censorship).* I have defined it like this to be permissive to efforts that would also be classified as civil disobedience. In this sense cancel culture just is the marketplace of ideas at work. The currency in this market is approval/disapproval (or credit/discredit in the old sense). There is, thus, nothing especially new in cancel culture, although thanks to social media the mechanisms by which it operates are more virtual than ever before. Obviously, for some this is a reason to reject markets; these are the very people that still pine for Betamax.

That is, cancel culture is a disorderly market. It is very much at odds with a picture of democracy that emphasizes reasoned (and civil) debate. And so on a certain (deliberative) conception of democracy cancel culture is problematic as a mechanism of public opinion formation and preparing of collective action. This is why (they treat it as a virtue not a bug) deliberative democrats spend so much time on the pre-conditions of deliberative spaces. 

But cancel culture is one of the ways in which otherwise dispersed and often disorganized individuals can make the more powerful take notice of their views. Sometimes it is very intimidating. I have been on the receiving end of such efforts, and it is no fun (especially when you realize the folk filling your inbox are affiliated with neonazis).  And there is no doubt that cancel culture can shade into threats of violence or misfire at targets who are in no sense worthy of public opprobrium (just unlucky). 

The previous two paragraphs elide a distinction; marxists (see William Clare Roberts) view cancel culture as crowds in action whereas the critics (e.g., Dan Crenshaw, who is one of the more thoughtful Republicans in the House) use 'mob'. I prefer to see cancel culture (and here I am indebted to Tyler Cowen) as a thin association--sometimes there is coordination, mostly -- in the headline grabbing cases -- it seems to be individuals who come together to express their indignation. If the association is durable, we start (recall) calling it a faction or a party.+ (I return to this below.)

So far I have given a broadly Millian interpretation of cancel culture. He thought (recall here and here) that public opinion was needed to check the abuses of the powerful. But the price for that is, as he worried, the danger of conformism (policed by "vituperative" speech). And, there is no doubt that the cumulative effects of cancel culture, like all widely used preference aggregation mechanisms, may be conformism (yes, VHS displaced Betamax). So, while cancel culture is a possibly effective means in breaking up a cozy cartel, it may lead to a homogeneous landscape.

Now, one may think that indignation is the problem here. Indignation seems inimical to liberal political life. Yet, as Adam Smith reminds us, such sense of "sympathetic indignation" is at the root of justice. In its institutions this sense is sublimated and through the rules of evidence and reason redirected to proper ends. (Recall this post on Srinivasan and the aptness of anger.) But this pushes the problem back because such sympathetic indignation may well be corrupted, and is often corrupted, by other commitments and interests. So, perhaps, on balance, and this is my own inclination, liberals should be weary of anything that encourages the crowd? 

This is too easy because such indignation may well be at the root of political life. As Spinoza puts it in his Political Treatise: "men are led...more by passion than reason, it follows, that a multitude comes together, and wishes to be guided, as it were, by one mind, not at the suggestion of reason, but of some common passion...or the desire of avenging some common hurt." (6.1)  Somewhat surprisingly, as Chantal Jaquet has noted, this very desire is at the root of political authority  "the right of the commonwealth is determined by the common power of the multitude" and it is ground in the "desire to avenge some common hurt." (3.9) Political life is a kind of sublimation and domestication of this subsisting indignation. The effect of righteousness is social peace.

What is noticeable in nearly all the critics of cancel culture is that they refuse to engage with the grounds of indignation. Tactically, one understands this move because it helps ferment polarization (and so opportunities for profit) and cement group identity. Morally it is a mistake because one fails to heed the call of justice. Strategically, it is a worse mistake because one, thereby, misses the causal forces that shape the changing directions of the tectonic plates, which are the sediments of and constraints on the marketplace of ideas, of political life.

In December 2015 (look at that date!) I noted that Trump's rise to power within the Republican party was clearly an effect of the sense of indignation in that tribe and a loss of faith in its elites. I tend to view cancel culture in American public life as doing something similar to the intellectual opinion leaders of our time. Since our for profit public culture and media feed on indignation, we should expect a turbulent time ahead.**  The market giveth and taketh away, and it dances to the tune of fortune.**  

 

*I recognize that the meaning of 'violence' is shifting; but I can't cover all bases here. 

+At that point the comparison with a market may break down, and cancel culture becomes more like a union.

**I thank Nick Cowen for discussion, who should be mobbed for my mistakes.

 

Bill T. Jones Talks With Bill Moyers about Race and Revolution, George Floyd and A Cabin Boy Named Pip

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 12/07/2020 - 7:16am in

Bill Moyers talks with Bill T. Jones, the artistic giant who revolutionized modern dance. The son of migrant farm workers in the South – the 10th of 12 children – Jones grew up to win two Tony Awards, receive the National Medal of Art and a MacArthur Genius Fellowship and to be honored by the Kennedy Center. Continue reading

The post Bill T. Jones Talks With Bill Moyers about Race and Revolution, George Floyd and A Cabin Boy Named Pip appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

On “Taking a Knee”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 10/07/2020 - 12:52am in

In response to the breathtaking, turning-point events of the past several weeks, Archives for Research into Archetypal Symbolism has produced a special video exploring and amplifying the symbolism of "Taking a Knee." Continue reading

The post On “Taking a Knee” appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Texas Democrats Plan to Create a Voter Registration Army – Via Zoom

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 09/07/2020 - 1:42am in

The effort comes as voter registration efforts, both in Texas and around the US have effectively stalled just months before the presidential election. Continue reading

The post Texas Democrats Plan to Create a Voter Registration Army – Via Zoom appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

More on the Collapse of David Starkey’s Career after Racist Slavery Comments

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 04/07/2020 - 9:17pm in

Yesterday I put up two pieces on the outrage at David Starkey’s dismissive comments about Blacks and slavery in his interview on the Reasoned YouTube channel with Darren Grimes. Starkey was asked if slavery was a genocide. He replied that it wasn’t, as otherwise ‘there would be so many damn Blacks in Britain and Africa, would there?’ The outrage against this display of racism has been so strong, that many organisations are severing their connections with TV’s former favourite expert on the Tudors. Starkey resigned from the Mary Rose Museum, Dan Snow’s History Hit channel said that they hadn’t made any original films with him, and were removing one featuring him that they had acquired from a third party. And Fitzwilliam College at Cambridge University stated that they were reconsidering his honorary fellowship. This all came from Zelo Street.

But Mike also put up a piece about the controversy which added further details about the devastating effect Starkey’s comment is having on his career. His publishers, HarperCollins and Hodder & Stoughton, have condemned his comments and stated that they will not be publishing any more of his books. HarperCollins have also said that they are examining his backlist in the light of his remarks. He had signed a three-book deal with publisher. One had already been published, while two were forthcoming. One of these, the second part of a biography of Henry VIII was due to come out this September. These books have now gone.

Fitzwilliam College didn’t wait til next week before considering what to do about him. They contacted Starkey, and have announced that the Master has accepted Starkey’s resignation with immediate effect.

Canterbury Christchurch University also announced that they were terminating his position as visiting lecturer, declaring that his comments were unacceptable and went against the values of the university and its community.

Mike has put up a series of tweets attacking Starkey for his comments from some of the left-wing peeps on Twitter. This includes some of the descendants of the victims of slavery and the genocide of the indigenous peoples of the West Indies. One of those was from Kerry-Ann Mendoza, the might woman behind The Canary. She commented “I’m descended from the indigenous people of the Caribbean: the Kalinago. You’ve likely not heard of us. We were virtually annihilated during the first waves of slavery, which is when the Slavers moved on to importing Black Africans to the Caribbean. So f*** you, David.”

I think the Kalinago are the Caribs, one of the many Indian peoples of the West Indies before the Spanish conquest, along with the Arawaks and the Taino. The latter two peoples were completely wiped out, although I think some Arawaks still survive in South America. After they were conquered, the Amerindians were worked to death under the most brutal conditions mining gold for the Spanish conquerors. The Caribs put up very tough resistance, and it was a long time before they were forced off their ancestral lands. They fought both the Spanish and us, when we entered the Caribbean to conquer territory from the Spanish. We initially claimed that we were intervening on their behalf, but turned against them as soon as it proved useful.

Nevertheless the Caribs survived. Those in the West Indies are called ‘Black Caribs’ as they intermarried with escaped slaves. They have their own reservation. A few years ago there was a documentary following them as they made contact with the other Caribs in South America, rediscovering their language and ancestral skills and culture. Another documentary series on Channel 4, I believe, on the lost civilizations of the Caribbean revealed that genetic analysis of the present day population of one of the islands of the Spanish Caribbean showed that the people were also partly descended from the indigenous peoples. This was a surprise, as it was believed that the Amerindians there had been completely exterminated and had not intermarried with the European settlers. But they had, and now some of their descendants are trying to recreate the heritage, including the religion, of their indigenous ancestors.

The people’s of the ancient Caribbean had an advanced culture. Like the Maya and other peoples on the South American mainland, they played a ball game and built courts for it. One people also left behind stone balls carved with petroglyphs, designs and symbols which to my eyes look somewhat like the glyph writing of the Maya. These people and their culture, however, are now extinct, and so the meaning of these monuments is lost.

Apart from the outrage Starkey’s comments about genocide and slavery produced, others were also angry at what he had said about Black Lives Matter. He had compared them to a rich entitled lady shopping at Harrods, claiming that they ‘usually have lots of money and big cars’. Aaron Bastani, who produced a short video tearing apart Starkey’s claim that slavery wasn’t genocide because Blacks survived, and his stance that the British empire was benign, commented on this remark of Starkey’s ‘These morons have been allowed to set the political agenda in this country because they have been elevated by the media. Millionaires that help billionaires.’ Absolutely.

Others were also understandable furious that while other organisations were dropping Starkey, he still seemed to be acceptable to the Beeb. One of these was Jackie Walker, the Black Jewish activist smeared as an anti-Semite. Jackie’s mother was a Black American civil rights activist, and she is an expert on slavery and Caribbean history. She commented “Just let what he’s saying sink in, then ask how come the BBC/media allow this man to comment on history.” Tom London rhetorically asked if the Beeb had done any soul-searching after Jeremy Corbyn had complained about David Starkey’s comments about the ethnicity of the rioters in 2011. Starkey had appeared on Question Time and declared that they were all Black. When it was pointed out to him that they were also White, he refused to change his views, because ‘they had become Black’ by taking over Black culture. There are White youths who imitate Black gangster culture, but you obviously can’t blame it all for the riots. Starkey’s comments could have come from the racist right, which has been blaming Black music for corrupting Whites ever since the 1920s and the invention of Jazz. Craig Murray remarked that the Beeb has known Starkey was racist for at least nine years, but it has never stopped them inviting him on to spread his poison. Simon Maginn called on the Beeb to condemn his comments about ‘so many damn Blacks’ and will refuse to give him any further airtime and remove him from iplayer. Anything less would be racist.

Meanwhile, Grimes seems to have emerged unscathed, despite the fact that he was responsible for the video. He made a kind of apology yesterday, stating that he should have questioned Starkey’s comments, but claiming that the interviewer isn’t responsible for what the interviewee says. But Lewis Parker commented “You didn’t just interview a racist. You interviewed him, nodded your head in agreement, edited the video, posted the video, and then promoted it. Also, the video is still up on your YouTube channel. What a sad sad excuse.”

Starkey’s career is thus sinking fast, thanks to his bigoted comments. It remains to be seen whether he will still be a welcome guest at the Beeb. Unfortunately, given the Corporation’s overtly Tory stance, my guess is that he will.

But odiously Grimes has so far escaped any kind of real punishment for his part in this debacle. And I’ve no doubt that he, and other ignorant and malign extreme right-wing pundits like him will still somehow be feted as real journalists with valuable, insightful opinions in the future.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2020/07/03/racist-historian-dropped-by-publisher-and-university-after-shocking-interview-remarks/

 

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