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Category Archives: Political Correctness
Posted: January 27, 2020 at 12:05 am
"The Age of Entitlement: America Since the Sixties," Simon & Schuster, by Christopher Caldwell
This is a sweeping but insightful examination into every social, political and legal decision, movement and trend that leaves us where we are today in a polarized nation.
Author Christopher Caldwell traces the origins of today's deep discords to President John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963. Grief that shrouded the nation after Kennedy's assassination, Caldwell writes, "gave a tremendous impetus to changes already under way." Lyndon B. Johnson, who was sworn into office after Kennedy's death, was able to push through far more ambitious civil rights legislation in 1964 than Kennedy would have been able to do. Most significantly, in the author's telling, the Civil Rights Act, and social movements that followed, were accelerated and empowered more through court decisions and government agencies than decisions by elected officials.
Although the Civil Rights Act was designed principally to ban employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin, Caldwell presents a persuasive case that it provided the legal, social and cultural guidepost for advancing almost every movement since gay rights, immigration, affirmative action, fundamentalist Christianity, leveraged buyouts, political correctness, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and much more.
The citizen's band radio craze, leveraged buyouts and political correctness Caldwell fits all these topics and more into an engaging, questioning book that proceeds at almost dizzying speed. A reader feels like he has but a moment to think when Caldwell writes that "to establish new liberties is to extinguish others" before speeding off to the next topic. "Entitlement" is a fascinating read that could ignite 1,000 conversations.
Ironically, it's hard to imagine Congress passing anything today remotely as revolutionary as the Civil Rights Act. Giving our sharpening political, social and economic divisions, Congress has trouble reaching a consensus on anything. The transformational legislation that was finally to give us all an equal chance at everything ended up herding us into warring tribes agreeing on nothing.
Caldwell's analysis of our Vietnam legacy is particularly masterful but the book brims with brisk evaluations of how a confident nation became an argumentative, fragmented one.
Civil rights divided the country by region, Caldwell writes; Vietnam did the same by class.
Perhaps because he was writing as his book's natural finale crashed into the arena Donald Trump's election Caldwell is less sure-footed in a grand conclusion. What does all this mean? Where are we? Where do we go to reconnect with our better angels?
Those answers await us still.
No question though that this is a significant rendering of how America evolved since the "me generation" asserted itself in the 1960s. Caldwell offers the best analysis and theory yet as to how we perhaps unwittingly arrived at a place where we would elect a president bent on unraveling our institutions, assumptions and beliefs about ourselves and where we no longer even start with a set of accepted facts about anything.
See the original post here:
Posted: at 12:05 am
Joe Rogan on The Joe Rogan Experience(via YouTube)
Joe Rogan hosts one of the most successful podcasts in the country. On it, he talks about his passions for comedy and mixed martial arts, and about conspiracy theories. He also talks about male self-improvement and self-experimentation. Working out, doing drugs, fasting, meditation, sensory deprivation, etc., etc. Hes the kind of guy in Hollywood who will debate religion with Milo Yiannopolis in one episode, talk comedy with Dave Foley in the next, and then hell schedule Edward Snowden to come on.
He also recently gave a Roganesque endorsement for Bernie Sanders. And progressives are mad about it.
Why? Because Joe Rogan, like other comedians, rails against political correctness. He also makes jokes about transgenderism, opposes the participation of trans women in womens sports, and has entertained and ventured the usual arguments about bone density, lung capacity, and strength when arguing for the unfairness of this practice.
Personally, I think progressives are nuts to reject endorsements for the most progressive candidate in history from generally centrist and enormously popular media figures. I would bet anything that Rogans audience is full of the Obama-Trump voters across the industrial Midwest and north.
But, maybe I dont think like a progressive. Perhaps rejections like this reflect a serene confidence that progressives dont need political power to continue consolidating culture-war wins. Four more years of President Trump just means a few more executive orders to overturn. Meanwhile, taking a hard line encourages corporations, universities, and entertainment to enforce the newer cultural norms.
Posted: at 12:05 am
My time as a Westfield Town Councilman has now passed. It was a privilege to serve Westfield in this role these past 12 years. And I am humbled more than you will ever know by your overwhelming support and trust to place me in office way back in 2008 and then honoring me by re-electing for two more terms.
There are far too many individuals that I would personally like to thank, but here I would like to thank my very special wife Lori and my incredible kids, Christopher and Carli, for their support of me in this role these past many years. Lori and I have been in town since 1994 and I know you will agree, we were so fortunate to live and bring up our kids here.
As you have heard me say many times before, when towns across the land have a vision for their town, that vision is Westfield. Westfield will remain that vision if town leadership, like during my tenure, continue to put the town first and foremost and more importantly keep political correctness and partisan politics at the doorstep.
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We need to look no further than Washington DC, where political correctness and partisan politics are rampant, to see that a swamp is no foundation for a good government.Again, I thank you all and I look forward to seeing you around town.
Most Sincerely,Frank ArenaWestfield, NJ
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Posted: at 12:05 am
A Florida Parents Bill of Rights bill was overwhelmingly endorsed by the House Education Committee Thursday, securing its first advance of the 2020 session.
But the measures adoption is uncertain, with an array of education, LBGTQ and healthcare groups marshaling to oppose a bill they say would impose arch-conservative values in schools.
House Bill 1059, filed by Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, breezed through the House Education Committee in a 15-2 vote.
It comes down to philosophy: Do parents know best or does government know best? chair Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R-Eustis, summarized. The bill does not go to extremes it protects rights of parents, involves them in education to see what their children are learning, but does not supersede what school boards are doing.
The bill moves onto the House Health & Human Services and Judiciary committees.
Grall filed the same bill last year. It passed the Education Committee, 17-0, and Health & Human Services Committee, 12-4, before dying in the Judiciary Committee.
This year, the bill has a Senate companion, Senate Bill 1634, filed by Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland. It awaits hearings before the Senate Education, Judiciary and Rules committees.
Grall and Stargel also sponsored the parental consent abortion bills already advanced onto chamber floors.
HB 1059 would encode in state statute parental rights to direct the education and care of a child; direct the upbringing and moral or religious training of a minor child; enroll a child in whatever schools they choose; and review all school, medical records, among other provisions.
Proponents said the bill is needed for parents in dealing with school boards.
There are so many programs being introduced into school districts that parents are not aware of, that are extremely upsetting to parents, said Bev Kilmer, CEO of the Freedom Speaks Coalition.
Kilmer said very inappropriate sex education is being taught to preK-5 children, including gender identity in which students are told they may not be what they appear to be and that they were assigned a gender identity.
Alicia Vernon of Florida Citizens Alliance said special interests and bureaucrats are running the school system with very alarming objectives to replace God with government and replace the 10 Commandments with political correctness.
Although few opponents spoke, Planned Parenthood, Human Rights Watch, Florida NOW, the Florida League of Women Voters, Equality Florida and others have filed objections and are certain to lobby against it.
What supporters are really against is acknowledging gay people exist, acknowledging trans people exist, that trans kids exist, Florida NOW Legislative Director Melina Rayna Svanhild Farley-Barratt said.
Rep. Delores Hogan Johnson, D-Fort Pierce, called the measure a wake-up call for schools boards, but wondered if it is too broad.
Rep. Susan Valds, D-Tampa, said the bill is well-intended but steps over boundaries.
School boards have ways and policies to address these issues, she said. It feels like were doing school board work here.
Grall said it is necessary to ensure in state statute an accessible way for parents to understand their rights. Right now, the bureaucracy wears them down through layers of closed doors, unanswered phone calls, not getting the right answer.
Valds joined Orlando Democrat Rep. Bruce Antone in casting the dissenting votes. The panels four other Democrats approved the measure.
I am real passionate about this. I dont want the government telling me how to raise my children, Rep. Kim Daniels, D-Jacksonville, said.
I think you have a wonderful bill, said Rep. Dr. James Bush III, D-Opa Locka. I will be with your bill today, with your bill tomorrow and with it next year if thats what it takes.
Posted: at 12:05 am
On Friday evening, former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly was the featured guest on HBOs Real Time with Bill Maher.
During the segment, Kelly and host Bill Maher covered multiple topics, including sexual harassment at Fox, how the media is broken, honesty in reporting, and cancel culture.
Regarding the movie Bombshell, which depicted the alleged sexual harassment faced by female Fox News employees under late CEO Roger Ailes, Kelly said the she sees the film as a force for good because it helps shine a light on how its done, and how women who may not be that well connected like herself and Gretchen Carlson, faced the same issue.
Maher interjected: You had that in common. You both had to twirl for Roger Ailes.
Kelly explained that the twirl, as well as worse things that happened to her, arent necessarily about the acts themselves, but about being demeaned and controlled.
Maher moved on to media, asking Kelly what she means when she says that the media is broken.
You know its true, right? The media is so messed up. Its disheartening to me, and Ive felt this way for a long time not just since Trump. And I know Trumps rhetoric is too strong enemy of the people and all that, and I know why he says it. There [are] still amazing journalists out there doing great work, but the media is completely biased.
At this point, Maher tried to claim that the media isnt really politically biased because Fox News exists, to which Kelly noted that the reason Fox grew in popularity was because it was the singular outlet that represented the other side of the coin.
Maher then claimed that the media is truly biased toward money and conflict because thats what sells. He then cited the alleged disappointment he saw in the media when the recent Second Amendment rally in Virginia turned out to be peaceful.
Thats what I think the media bias is, more than politics, Maher said.
Kelly shot back, saying that even though she believes that there was a liberal slant in the media prior to President Trump, it has developed into something much greater since he took office:
Take CNN he came in there and said, CNN is completely biased to the left, theyre lefties, theyre completely against me, and my take on it was in the beginning, he was wrong. CNN wasnt that way. I used to watch CNN all the time when I was at Fox. When I was getting ready for the Kelly File, Id have on CNN, and Id watch a lot of their shows, and I liked a lot of the anchors over there.
However, suggested Kelly, CNN has now become the thing Trump said they were, and are indistinguishable from MSNBC.
Maher pushed back, saying its very hard to cover a guy like Trump who does awful things. Kelly agreed, but then Maher added that such coverage would make anchors or networks look left-wing.
Kelly disagreed, telling Maher that one can remain journalistically non-biased even in the face of a difficult president:
I totally disagree with you. When I was doing The Kelly File at primetime 9 p.m. on Fox News, he was attacking me for nine months straight, right? Saying outrageous things. It took everything in me to go out on the set night after night and not make it personal, and not have a vendetta against him, and not be overly harsh on him because of what he was doing to me and my family but I did it. Its doable. You just have to remember, its not about you! Its about the audience and the truth.
Later in the segment, the two spoke about political correctness and cancel culture.
I was angry for you, honestly, Maher said of NBC firing Kelly after her comments about blackface. Because this cancel culture its so funny, when they do polls, they find like 80% to 90% of the people in this county hate this s***.
Maher asked: Who are these perfect people who have never made any mistake?
I mean, my own take on it is, the countrys going through something right now, you know? Marginalized groups are rising up and trying to find positions at the table, equal positions, and thats a good thing. The difference is in approach. How do we do it? And I understand this fight because as a woman and somebody whos, you know, been in the position I was in that we talked about, I have also felt marginalized at times, and like I dont have an equal footing, but the question is, do we do it with grace and humanity and understanding that people make mistakes and that were all imperfect and were gonna screw up and kindness and an understanding that were all only here for a limited time and we cant expect a perfect score?
Whats galling is that the people who hate bullying are always bullying, Maher said. If you even talk about this, itll only make it worse. Thats bullying. The people who love diversity, except of opinion. Theres only one true opinion.
Kelly noted that the Right has been saying the same thing about ideological diversity, to which Maher said that the Right engages in the snowflakery as well.
Speaking of the woke group, Maher stated: Theyre gross because all they care about is getting a scalp on the wall. They dont care if youre really a racist, which youre not. They dont care about a million things and they always want to find the worst version of what any person is.
Kelly agreed, adding that the way it used to be was younger generations taught older generations to see the world in a new way instead of having the older generations cancelled because they didnt immediately agree or start talking about the issues in the way they wanted.
We have to get back to talking to each other so theres buy-in, so people feel heard, and we allow for disagreement, respectful, kindness, Kelly concluded.
Posted: at 12:05 am
An acquaintance recently emailed me, in a sense of bewilderment after following the national news for the past few weeks, and his questions prompted me to write these down. With his permission I present some of them, edited for clarity and PG-13 audiences.
He hopes that when Trump is re-elected to a second term that the liars in the national mainstream media will be fully exposed, and how things work (i.e. the coordination between the national mainstream media and the Democrat Party) will be revealed to the American public.
I raise the point that a faction of the Democrat Party has wrested control of much of the national mainstream media and academia over a long period of time, and has no willingness to allow exposure of their dishonesty.
He posits, How is it that they are so coordinated with each other that they often utter the same exact talking point phrase du jour.
They do this because they are lazy, and invested in propagating the lies that keep them in power. Another more worldly friend suggested to me that for those who espouse such virtue-signaling tripe as collective salvation the secular humanist placebo to supplant Christian teachings for them to admit that they know what they say is bunk would collapse their entire worldview, as happened finally in the old Soviet Union.
How protected do they think they (the national mainstream media liars) are that they seemingly feel nothing is wrong with such brazen coordination in pushing biased narratives? Who is protecting and directing them? Likely the answer to the second answers the first, and it probably is some of both it is the party and the media CEOs. Examine the record of CNN and MSNBC as quick samples.
How can they always line up on the same wrong side of stories? And yes, they double down when called out for their inaccuracy or bias. Even when fighting among themselves to wit, CNNs reporter asks Sen. Bernie Sanders if he told Sen. Elizabeth Warren (some years ago, in a private conversation) that a woman cannot win the presidency? He answers, No I never said that.
The CNN reporter then turns to Sen. Warren and in a perfect example of bias and dishonesty, asks her, Sen. Warren, what did you think when Sen. Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?
The CNN journalist was perfectly comfortable using the loaded question format of So when did you stop beating your wife? on old Bernie Sanders, by ignoring his answer and changing it to pose the opposite as fact to Sen. Warren. Brazen doesnt even come close to describing this.
It must be understood that there are very wealthy people and organizations, both here and abroad, who revel in creating this sort of societal chaos. Some for supposedly idealistic rationales, though the overarching attitude is we know better, you will agree to let us run everything or well shame you, publicly defame you, antagonize your businesses or organizations , all with the treacle glaze of some save-the-country/savethe-planet as justification.
No, it isnt a conspiracy theory, just look at the things we have endured in this country in the past few years all because one faction has come to believe they are somehow morally superior or socially justified in refusing to accept that they lost an election, and continue to lose the support of many Americans. They openly use the term by any means necessary to reverse the results of 2016.
What do you call it when in a representative republic one political faction determines that they will refuse to acknowledge they have lost an election, and acts to undermine the duly elected candidate and party? Is it a civil society or not?
What do you call it when the same faction begins to push for the destruction of the entire voting system in order to win all elections in the future? For reference see the Democrats push to eliminate the Electoral College, force ranked choice voting into the states, eliminate voter ID laws which prevent voter fraud, allow illegal aliens to vote, and yes, even have 16-year-olds to vote.
What do you call it when a Bernie Sanders field worker advocates openly for gulags to re-educate Trump voters? This does not sound like acceptance of a representative republic to me; it reflects a desire for totalitarian control and abusive punishment.
Listening to the ignorance of this fellow in the recently revealed video is truly stunning his stupidity is remarkable, describing how gulags under Stalin really werent that bad . . . they got paid a living wage and had conjugal visits . . .. He probably thinks Solzhenitsyn is vodka. A millennial of course, and frankly I have no tolerance for ignorance of any age group, but in particular these self-righteous snowflakes.
What do you call it when another Bernie Sanders campaign worker attempts to assassinate Republican senators and congressmen at a baseball game? Is this tolerance and diversity, or an attempt to start a civil war?
What do you call it when the same party organizes and funds a campaign of smears and framing of opposition campaign officials in order to manipulate the willingly corrupt FBI and Justice Department into illegally eavesdropping on their, and other, communications? Is this a minor mistake by underlings?
What do you call it when the national mainstream media covers for the same partys involvement in numerous fraudulent stories about the president for three plus years?
When there is a blackout, looters loot. In 2019 weve had a national mainstream media controlled blackout on the truth, and the country is being looted our treasury, our sovereignty, our identity, our history all under the threat of being forever erased by propagandists and their protective force field of political correctness.
Freedom of the press is crucial to Americas existence, but it should not be interpreted as freedom from scrutiny. When the scrutinizers become mere stenographers (i.e. the national mainstream media and the Democrat Party) then it is high time to upend this system and examine who is controlling the narratives. Full disclosure. I was a Democrat voter for 30 years.
Another View is a weekly column written collaboratively by Dale Landrith of Camden, Ken Frederic of Bristol, Paul Ackerman of Martinsville, Jan Dolcater of Rockport and Ralph Doc Wallace of Rockport.
Posted: at 12:05 am
Prime Minister Narendra Modi did a Sherlock Holmes on December 15, saying what kind of CAA protesters are indulging in arson can be told by their clothes ( yeh aag lagaane vaale kaun hain, woh unke kapdon se hi pata chal jaata hai). Sir Arthur Conan Doyle never allowed Dr Watson to solve any mystery before Holmes did (though the understudy does a lot of work in The Hound of Baskervilles), but a Dr Watson in the BJP tried to outdo his master. Last week, BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya made a breakthrough in identifying illegal migrants: He said he knew some of the workers at his place were from Bangladesh as they were seen eating poha!
But Modis and Vijayvargiyas statements are more problematic not for being politically incorrect (I am not a fan of political correctness), but because they are wrong and expose inherent bigotry. In both, these comments were a glaring anti-Muslim connotation. Professors of Hindutva nursing such a sentiment surprises none, but one expected at least Modi to be adept at masking it. If the clothes statement was crass, the food remark was ridiculous.
Theres no denying that regions and religions have their typical food habits, but to make a judgment based on what one eats can go horribly wrong. Heres what Juhea Kim wrote in Peaceful Dumpling (which promotes veganism):
Any kind of superficial judgment of others is based on our need to feel superior. An ethical eater doesnt equal to an ethical person No one likes to be judgedand some days it will be you.
The second point is particularly interesting. Hitler was a vegetarian in his final years and he wasnt the only vegetarian who presided over massacres. Today, someone rolling a Malabar parotta around beef roast in Kerala could well be from the Hindi heartland (many of them who constitute a major workforce there have made the southern state their second home, the local food their daily diet). Kim says one of her mentors, who she calls the most conscientious person I know, is not an ethical eater. But although he eats a traditional American diet, he is still the first person I think of when I need a moral role model, she writes.
Many great men have been at the receiving end of sartorial judgments. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was denied entry into the Library of Asiatic Society in Calcutta in 1874 because he was wearing a dhoti.
V R Krishna Iyer, one of the most respected jurists India has seen, had a similar experience at the Presidency Club in Chennai sometime in the 1980s. If those ignominious incidents were a result of Indians upholding remnants of the British philistine that bred class distinction, the present-day Holmeses, and Watsons embody community-and-caste-based malice that gnaws at the roots of Indias diversity.
If people start judging each other by what they wear, everyone in white shirt-dhoti (or kurta-pajama in the north) today would be considered a corrupt politician. Thankfully, it is not so.
The poha-hating BJP general secretary can, however, take heart that an American neurologist-psychiatrist called Alan Hirsch has done some research linking food habits with personalities (he had to wind up his Sensa crystals which he claimed would make people slimmer even if they eat junk food sprinkled with the crystals). One of his studies on ice-cream flavours, sponsored by who else Baskin Robbins, claimed to have found vanilla eaters to be impulsive idealists, those who preferred mint choc chips frugal, cautious and argumentative, and chocolate flavour lovers dramatic, lively and charming.
Whats your scoop, Dr Watson?
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.
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Posted: at 12:05 am
Posted: Jan 26, 2020 12:01 AM
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
Steve Mnuchin cant seem to move away from a huge economic misconception that I wrote about two years ago called Living in an Economic Twilight Zone. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week, Mnuchin said the White House has started work on the second round of tax cuts even as the budget deficit continues to grow. It would appear that he still believes in this misguided premise that we can grow our way out of $23 trillion worth of debt.
Mathematically speaking, that has not been the case since our national debt was more than $9 trillion at the end of2007. Then, a president came in who was too busy apologizing for American exceptionalism and had no idea how to create an environment for growth. He believed in demonizing profits, regulating small and large businesses, taxing corporate America and increasing public assistance to record levels as the poverty rate grew larger every day. That administration believed that these actions, along with spending and expanding the size of government, was a plan for Americas growth and prosperity.
A strong economy is a great thing. I dont believe its ever been better in my lifetime than it is under this administration. But we cannotand will nothave sustainable growth, prosperity and economic stability without a strong, detailed, steadfast and unwavering plan to downsize the federal government and cut spending. We are living today in a perfect economic storm. It almost seems impossible for this storm to do anything but continue to circle around and grow in strength. The likelihood of the storm going out to sea and dissipating seems unlikely.
At the same time, we have one of the strongest presidents weve ever had; hes a businessman, not a politiciana president who knows how to get things done and a president whose decision-making is not based on political correctness. Perhaps the most important thing is that we have a president who is willing to make hard decisions for the future of America, its people and its economy. We have never had a greater opportunity to make changes that can begin to peck away at our national debt. But it would appear as though President Trump is surrounding himself with people that believe that growth is the answer to everything and will solve the debt problem for future generations.
We will never be able to cut national debt without growth in our GDP and growth in our economic environment. It is literally impossible to do without growth. It is also unattainable to reduce national debt without cutting spending and reducing the size of our government.
With the Trump administration, there is a great opportunity to heal Americas debt problem. We have a man in office who is willing to do whats necessary for the good of the American people and who prioritizes growth in our free-market economy. We may never see this perfect storm of growth with the opportunity to cut government again in our lifetime. Cut the size of government, and we will cut the size of our debt as our growth continues. For the storm to be truly perfect, it needs us to do both.
Abraham Lincoln espoused smaller government, individual responsibility and freedom for all. Lincoln established one of the principles upon which the Republican Party was founded when he said, Lets have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.
If we dont start in the next five years, it will be impossible to reduce deficits. Lets get back to Abraham Lincolns ideals and keep government small. Lets seize the opportunity to grow and strengthen the financial base like never before, to take advantage of this moment and begin completing the circle of Americas future prosperity.
Dan Celia is president and CEO of Financial Issues Stewardship Ministries, Inc., and host of the nationally syndicated radio and television program Financial Issues, heard daily on more than 660 stations across the country and reaching millions of households on several TV networks, includingFISM.TV. Visitwww.financialissues.org.
Posted: at 12:05 am
The novel initially received a great deal of positive press. It sparked a bidding war that ended in a 7-figure deal, garnered a movie deal with Clint Eastwood, was called "extraordinary" by Stephen King, and was picked by Oprah for her book club, guaranteeing its bestseller status.
Then the controversy erupted.
American Dirt tells the story of two Mexican migrants, a mother named Lydia and her child Luca, attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. It was written by a woman named Jeanine Cummins, who identified as white until very recently (she has a Puerto Rican grandmother).
Many reviewers have panned Cummins' book for its lack of empathy, its reliance on stereotypes and trauma, and its apolitical stance that seems intent on "humanizing" migrants but that fails to implicate America or its government.
"The book is riddled with gross misrepresentations of its subjects," writes David Schmidt for the Blue Nib. "Mexico is depicted as a one-dimensional nation, irredeemably corrupt and violent, while the United States of American Dirt is a fantasy land: a country free of gun violence, hate groups and organized crime. While the book ostensibly pushes a progressive message, it drives home a very Trumpist myth: 'crime and violence are Mexican problems.' If English-speaking readers assume that this novel accurately depicts the realities of Mexico and migration, it will only further the cause of disinformation and prejudice."
In addition to the criticism, the debate inspired a Twitter thread about "writing my Latino novel" that lampoons stereotypes about Latinx culture. It's also brought up serious points about the predominantly white state of the media and publishing industry and about who gets to tell what stories.
By most accounts, Cummins' narrative fails to responsibly represent its characters. Realistically, though, many people will see the criticism of American Dirt and will be filled with rage about how political correctness is infringing on freedom of speech. This is missing a deeper point (and no one is saying you can't keep working on your novel about a woman's sexual liberation, Mike).
The question isn't necessarily whether writers should be able to write about what they don't know (they should). The question is: Who gets to decide what voices get to speak? Is it really freedom of speech when certain voices are always louder than others?
American Dirt is, ultimately, the project of people whose voices have always been the loudest. It's the product of a whole lot of white literary establishment power, and ultimately it's a finely crystallized symbol of the colonialist mindset that is alive and well in the literary world.
"I'm of the persuasion that fiction necessarily, even rather beautifully, requires imagining an 'other' of some kind," writes Parul Sehgal in The New York Times. "As the novelist Hari Kunzru has argued, imagining ourselves into other lives and other subjectives is an act of ethical urgency. The caveat is to do this work of representation responsibly, and well."
According to Myriam Gurba, whose excellent review was one of the first searing takedowns of the book, Cummins' novel does the following:
"1. Appropriating genius works by people of color
2. Slapping a coat of mayonesa on them to make palatable to taste buds estados-unidenses and
3. Repackaging them for mass racially 'colorblind' consumption.
Rather than look us in the eye, many gabachos prefer to look down their noses at us. Rather than face that we are their moral and intellectual equals, they happily pity us. Pity is what inspires their sweet tooth for Mexican pain, a craving many of them hide."
The problem is not only that Jeanine Cummins felt she had the right to tell this storyit's that she told it insensitively, in a way that misrepresents the uniqueness of every migrant experience and instead crushes it into a stereotype and reshapes it for a white audience's eyes. If writing fiction requires a sort of alchemical synthesis of empathy, nuance, and razor-sharp awareness, then Cummins seems to lack all of these things.
Still, it's likely the book would not have been so heavily panned had it not received such extensive praise and hype. "While I have nothing against Jeanine's (or anyone else's) writing a book about the plight of Mexican women and immigrants (especially if they do their homework and don't exoticize our culture), I am deeply bothered that this non-#OwnVoices novel has been anointed the book about the issue for 2020," writes David Bowles for Medium.
The ache and frustration in Latinx critics' responses lies not only in its content, but in the larger cultural context into which it was released. "At a time when Mexico and the Mexican American community are reviled in this country as they haven't been in decades, to elevate this inauthentic book written by someone outside our community is to slap our collective face," Bowles concludes.
"The heart of the problem is that American Dirt is not really a story of Mexican migrants at all. It is the story of American entitlement, one that never questions the brute injustice of geography of birth determining opportunities in life. American Dirt is an accurate depiction of what Americans demand Mexicans and other brown people suffer to be allowed into the country," writes Rafia Zakaria for CNN.
If you look at the state of the publishing industry, it's easy to see why American Dirt slipped through the cracks. "According to the trade magazine Publishers Weekly, white people made up 84 percent of publishing's workforce in 2019. Publishing is staffed almost entirely by white people and in large part, that fact can be explained by publishing's punishingly low entry-level salaries," writes Constance Grady for Vox. "Such salaries mean that the kind of people who work in publishing tend to be the kind of people who can afford to work in publishing As a result, publishing is predominantly staffed with well-meaning white people who, when looking for a book about the stories of people of color, can find themselves drawn toward one addressed specifically to white people."
Meanwhile, people of color attempting to break into the industry often have difficulty if they don't fit into the white publishing industry's expectations of them. "We fight in newsrooms, boardrooms, studio meetings, book proposals, and other spaces where white editors hungry for all of our pain and none of our nuance serve as gatekeepers," writes Alex Zargoza for Vice. "If we do break through, we then have to battle editors who want us to create trauma p-rn for white readers to clutch their chest to and lament the savagery of the countries we came from are. We lose out on anything near a seven-figure deal, effectively punished for not wanting to do what Cummins did, which was treat ourselves like the pitiful emblems of pain liberal whites see us as, or bloodthirsty barbarians Donald Trump has made us out to be."
For all the doubts she expressed about writing the novel, Jeanine Cummins' statements following the controversy haven't helped her case. She's not exactly a sympathetic figure (she just earned a million dollars from a book, after all, and received a flood of glowing reviews early on). In the epigraph she wrote about her immigrant husband, Cummins writes about her fear that her husband will be deported. She fails to mention that he's an Irish immigrant, and instead essentially equates his struggles with those of the people she's trying to write about. She's even been banning critical tweets on Twitter, apparently, which is ridiculous.
Instead of shutting down this discussion and trying to paint herself as anyone but an outsider looking in, Cummins should be embracing the critiques. She should, for example, take one for the team and shut down the forthcoming movie deal, which would undeniably win an Oscar, if it were made.
She probably won't do that, though, because it's likely Jeanine Cummins still believes she is helping a cause. She also probably cares about what's going on at the U.S.-Mexico border, whichto her creditis more than the half of America that voted for Trump can say. She also apparently spent five years doing research, though it clearly wasn't enough, considering all the errors in her book.
Cummins also probably figured that, as a well-connected writer, she had a better shot at getting her book in the hands of millionswhich was true, and this speaks more to the issues in the publishing and media industries than to the author herself.
Still, the conversation shouldn't get lost in criticizing Cummins or the book. This can, instead, be a valuable teaching moment, one that should be used as an opportunity for the literary world to learn and change. Without confronting the systemic racism embedded in the media and publishing industries, change will never happen. We have to learn to differentiate between a writer's freedom to write about anything they choose and a writer's (and the literary establishment's) decision to put forth damaging content under the guise of social justice or "resistance" literature.
The publishing company (Flatiron) and agencies that made American Dirt into such a success probably felt they were also working in support of a good cause. But the hurt that the book has caused many Latinx (and many non-white) readers and writers should be a lesson for anyone trying to write about things that are unfamiliar to them, or to anyone deciding whether to promote a book, especially a book by a white writer about a sensitive, very nuanced and political issue that's playing out in real time and that's already being written about by people who are actually experiencing it.
In general, the publishing industry needs to ask itself a lot of questions based on this feedback. These questions could include: Has the book been read and vetted by people who actually lived the experience it describes? Has the author of this book done justice to the nuance of the issue? Does the book play into stereotypes? Does it fetishize trauma? Why is this story being told? Is it helping the issue? Why is the author telling this story? And is there anyone who would be even a little bit offended that a symbol of division and painsuch as, say, barbed wire reminiscent of a certain bordermight be used as a centerpiece at a book release party?
American Dirt, Sehgal concludes in her delightfully scathing review, "is determinedly apolitical. The deep roots of these forced migrations are never interrogated; the American reader can read without fear of uncomfortable self-reproach. It asks only for us to accept that 'these people are people,' while giving us the saintly to root for and the barbarous to deploreand then congratulating us for caring."
White sympathy can be dangerous. In truth, a great deal of the migration flows currently stemming from Central America were created by American drug wars and violence that ensued from American-sponsored coups and violence. If American citizens are so desperate to do something for migrants, then it needs to start with uplifting their voices and compensating them for their work on their terms, whatever those terms may benot telling stories that attempt to "humanize" someone but that actually further reinforce preexisting stereotypes and spread misinformation.
American colonialism has long operated in the tradition of invading and entering another country on the basis of a deluded idea that the Others need to be "saved" and that the invasion is for their own good; and charitable nonprofits often fall into the same trap, air-dropping resources instead of working with communities, thus creating cycles of dependence and collapse. Clearly, entering someone else's territory (or invading their story) is not always an optimal strategy.
Colonization has long been an accepted practice in literature, too; remember that Memoirs of a Geisha was written by a white man named Arthur, and The Help was written by a white womanwhich received similar criticism for its treatment of Black characters, and which was, ironically, published by the same person who published American Dirt.
The question of whether it's possible to write about "the other" through a postcolonial lens is a labyrinthine, almost unanswerable one, but we don't even have to go down that winding road now. Instead, maybe well-meaning allies can start by practicing solidarity and deepening interpersonal relationships with people impacted by issues at hand, by supporting on-the-ground organizations like Cosecha and RAICES (or any of the names on this list), by understanding that there isto say the absolute leastno one "migrant" or "Latinx" "experience," and by asking questions, and then shutting up and listening for once.
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Posted: January 25, 2020 at 2:19 pm
Wendy Williams allegedly ripped a pretty decent fart on live TV. She was in the middle of talking about political correctness when the accident happened. Williams has been in the news quite a bit over the past few weeks and recently had to publicly apologize to Joaquin Phoenix and individuals with a cleft palate after she said she found the actor to be "oddly attractive" and then talked about the scar over the actor's lip.
During a new segment on her show Friday, Wendy Williams was discussing the Odell Beckham butt-slapping incident, which has also been making headlines. While talking, she seems to take a pause when a totally audible fart can be heard. She then acts as if nothing happened and continues her talk on political correctness. Social media has not been able to get enough of the rather loud fart and the look on Williams' face when she allegedly lets it rip.
Lapel microphones are used on talk shows and The Wendy Williams Show is no different. While it's not confirmed, it is believed that the mic in question is uni-directional, which means it's only supposed to pick up audio from one direction. In this case, just like all talk shows, the goal is to hear the person's voice as loud and clear as possible. For Williams to rip a fart and have it picked up on an uni-directional microphone is quite a feat, which means that it had to have been pretty loud with a decent amount of force behind it.
Farts are pure comedic gold in most circles, so it would have been refreshing to see Wendy Williams have a good laugh while addressing it. Accidents happen and it's not like she defecated in her dress in front of a live studio audience, along with the folks watching and listening at home. Farts happen, it's just natural for the body to relieve some gas from time to time. Maybe she had a bad breakfast burrito or bad creamer in her coffee before the segment. There's a lot of different variables to take into account here.
Some believe that the live television flatulence was karma for Wendy Williams' comments on the cleft palate. Over 63,000 people have signed a petition to get her fired after the 55-year old talk show host pulled her lip up with her finger to mock the condition. Many are not excepting her apology to Joker star Joaquin Phoenix and individuals with a cleft palate. It should be noted that Phoenix's scar is not a cleft palate. Instead it's a scar that he has had since birth. Regardless, Williams is still on the air and surprising her audience with all kinds of audio goodness. You can check out the video of Wendy Williams allegedly ripping a big juicy fart on live TV below, thanks to the Pop Hub Twitter account. The awesome fart in question pops up at the 18-second mark.