Friday, September 15, 2017

Friday Links

  • In reaction to Betsy DeVos rescinding the "Dear Colleague" letter, 29 US Senators have signed a letter condemning this action. The Constitution still isn't popular.
  • Ross Douthat has a decent reaction to Ta-Nehisi Coates' essay about race's role in the 2016 Presidential election, accusing Coates of attacking a straw man (emboldening mine):
    Certainly there are many Americans whose beliefs fit Coates’ description, who regard Trump’s racial vision as basically benign if occasionally insensitive, who think he’s an unjust victim of the liberal media’s race card, and so forth. These Americans are Trump supporters, for the most part, plus a smattering of left-wing gadflies and other contrarians. But Coates is very clearly not arguing with Fox-watching Trump supporters in his essay: His piece quotes and critiques anti-Trump conservatives and Democrats and liberals, not Sean Hannity or his epigones, and his examples of the supposed “race is incidental” consensus are figures like Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, Mark Lilla and my colleague Nick Kristof, Charles Murray and Anthony Bourdain. His great complaint is not that Trump backers deny their own racist impulses, in other words, but that the “collective” of Trump opponents barely acknowledge the role of race and racism in his rise.
    Douthat repeats the same error that marred Coates' essay, namely, its refusal to look at anything resembling polling data, but it still represents a step up from that "caricature" in that it seeks to understand individuals who might have voted for Trump for reasons wholly (or even mostly) divided from racism or sexism.
  • One potentially underreported cause of anti-Clinton sentiment: military voters (or people with family members in the military). Glenn Greenwald sets out a case (not as strong as he thinks) for a significant stream of such people making a difference in November:
    A study published earlier this year by Boston University political science professor Douglas Kriner and Minnesota Law School’s Francis Shen makes the case quite compellingly.

    Titled “Battlefield Casualties and Ballot Box Defeat: Did the Bush-Obama Wars Cost Clinton the White House?,” the paper rests on the premise that these wars have exclusively burdened a small but politically important group of voters — military families — and that “in the 2016 election Trump was speaking to this forgotten part of America.” Particularly in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan — three states that Clinton lost — “there is a significant and meaningful relationship between a community’s rate of military sacrifice and its support for Trump.” Examining the data, the paper concludes that “inequalities in wartime sacrifice might have tipped the election.”
  • Why does Hillary Clinton think comparisons to Cersei Lannister is a good idea?
  • Anita Sarkeesian's censorious tendencies perhaps have a limit.  
  • Amber Tamblyn apparently has a long-ago beef with actor James Woods, who tried to pick her up as a teenager. She writes an open letter to Woods (who disputed the charges on Twitter) in the pages of Teen Vogue, and wishes for a world in which women's charges would just stick regardless of corroborating evidence or testimony:
    The saddest part of this story doesn't even concern me but concerns the universal woman's story. The nation's harmful narrative of disbelieving women first, above all else. Asking them to first corroborate or first give proof or first make sure we're not misremembering or first consider the consequences of speaking out or first let men give their side or first just let your sanity come last.
    Because false accusations never happen? Because memory is selective and frequently faulty? This coming from a political magazine in heels is par for the course, but it points at a dystopia.
  • Update 2017-09-16: Okay, so no longer Friday, but too lazy to open a new post. Here's Jason D. Hill in Commentary responding to Ta-Nehisi Coates' recent essay:
    In the 32 years I have lived in this great country, I have never once actively fought racism. I have simply used my own example as evidence of its utter stupidity and moved forward with absolute metaphysical confidence, knowing that the ability of other people to name or label me has no power over my self-esteem, my mind, my judgment, and—above all—my capacity to liberate myself through my own efforts.

    On this matter, you have done your son—to whom you address your book—an injustice. You write: “The fact of history is that black people have not—probably no people ever have—liberated themselves strictly by their own efforts. In every great change in the lives of African Americans we see the hands of events that were beyond our individual control, events that were not unalloyed goods.”

    I do not believe you intended to mislead your son, but in imparting this credo, you have potentially paralyzed him, unless he reappraises your philosophy and rejects it. In your misreading of America, you’ve communicated precisely why many blacks in this country have been alienated from their own agency and emancipatory capabilities. The most beleaguered people on the planet, the Jews, who have faced persecution since their birth as a people, are a living refutation of your claim. ...

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