Here’s what to read left and right
We live in a partisan age and our information habits can strengthen our own perspectives. See this as an effort to broaden our collective vision with trials beyond the range of our typical selections.
FROM THE LEFT
From “GOP turns January 6 insurgency into new lost cause,” through Nathalie Baptiste in Mother Jones.
Background, from the author: The rewriting of history has officially begun.
The excerpt: The rewriting of history is a staple of American mythology. Across the country, you can find people who sincerely believe that slavery was not that bad, the The civil war was fought over the rights of states and that, had he not been murdered by a racist, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have been republican today. American exceptionalism demands that the particularly ugly parts of our past be recast into rosier scenarios. And now, just months after the uprising on Capitol Hill, the Republican Party has laid the groundwork for repeating that grand tradition, creating its own version of the Lost Cause narrative of the Civil War.
From “Prisoners and the pandemic», By Tana Ganeva in Rolling Stone.
Background, from the author: Elderly prisoners are arguably the population most vulnerable to the ravages of Covid, but efforts to release them through humanitarian release or house arrest have at best ceased.
The excerpt: The rate of recidivism among the elderly is extremely low – as low as three percent, according to a study – and the cost of their care in prison is much higher than the risk that they pose a danger for the society. “There is no point other than revenge by keeping the elderly in prison until imminent death,” said Jose Saldana, director of the Free the Elderly from Prison (RAPP) advocacy group. himself served a 38-year prison sentence and was released in 2018 at the age of 66.
From “Conservatives love coal miners – until they strike,” through Jacob Morrison in Jacobin Magazine.
Background, from the author: The right has worked hard in recent years to present itself as the defenders of the besieged coal miners. But over a thousand miners are currently on strike in Alabama and we haven’t heard from Conservative leaders about that. Weird.
The excerpt: If the same talking heads on the right who spend hours moaning about Mr Potato Head a few weeks ago decided to rally around the strikers, many members of the conservative base would join them. But these conservative talking heads will never do it, because it threatens their class interests and those of the bosses for whom they transport water.
OF THE RIGHT
From “Conventional wisdom on UFOs is changingBy Jim Geraghty in the National Review.
Background, from the author: Conventional wisdom about UFOs – not necessarily aliens, but the existence of flying objects that authorities cannot identify – is evolving rapidly; it is as if you can feel the ground moving under your feet.
The excerpt: Human beings are messy, divided, sometimes mean. We are capable of great deeds and great mercy, but also of atrocities and cruelty. Collectively, a group of people somewhere on Earth is waging wars for land, resources, cultural differences, and faith for all of human existence. Our societies are improving – gradually – but human nature has not changed much, if at all. We exhibit short-term thinking, bad self-defeating habits, impulsive decision-making, greed, arrogance, stubborn denial of troublesome facts, and we lie to ourselves and others. An alien civilization capable of developing the technology to travel between star systems – and to create a stealthy surveillance vessel! – probably solved many of these problems a long time ago. We must be like unruly toddlers to them. Maybe we are better watched from a safe distance.
From “The Battle for Critical Race Theory in the BurbsBy Matt Purple in American Conservative.
The context, from the author: Loudoun County, Va., Becomes ground zero in the fight against enlightenment, with lies, blacklists and rampant authoritarianism.
The excerpt: The first thing the good people at Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) would like you to know is that they don’t teach Critical Race Theory. To be sure, their staff could speak in critical race theory gibberish – post a “Global equity plan”, adopting Ibram Kendi’s Manichean dichotomy between “racism” and “anti-racism”, chatting about “white privilege”. They could be spilling millions of dollars in “equity training” and awakened consulting firms. They could have distributed a graph who lists “perfectionism” and “individualism” as symptoms of “white supremacist culture”. But none of this constitutes a critical theory of race. Why? Because they don’t call it critical race theory.
From “Discovering Columbus: Heroes and History in the Ideological Age,” through Robert royal in the Claremont Review of Books.
Context, from the author: It is now taken for granted that the whole history of Western exploration and expansion is nothing more than a history of exploitation, imperialism and “white” supremacy. Any attempt to disentangle the good and the bad present in the discovery of the Americas, as in all that is human, amounts to finding excuses for genocide and racism.
The Excerpt: It is very difficult to escape the web of human evils that have existed throughout history. American author Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote a very influential book in 2015 on the history of racism and white supremacy, Between the world and me, in the form of a sort of message to his son, Samori. The son was named after a late 19th-century African ruler, Samori Ture, a devout Muslim who fought French colonialism in West Africa – but who also captured and sold black slaves, in the secular African tradition, to finance the building of its empire. To remember such things is not to excuse Europeans or Christians who should have behaved better then and still should do so now. But this is to get a clearer picture of who we have been as a species, rather than fictional representations of purely good and purely bad actors who have displaced the truth.