Things I’m Verbing: Flora, fallout and floating birds

I keep following the Chicago Dyke March story because I can’t look away. There is so much evidence I still want to see, and yet so much hatefulness keeps erupting from actors and observers both. In the past week or so, the official CDM Twitter account has reveled in an antisemitic slur it claims it didn’t realize was quite that bad, while the trans Jewish woman who broke the story appears to have been relieved of her reporting duties after harassment from CDM supporters. I want to share a piece by the always-worthwhile David Shraub: “Not Knowing ‘Zio’ Is a Slur Is an Indictment, Not a Defense.”

[T]he implication of their apologia is that not that they are free from racism — far from it. It’s that they grew up in an environment where racism was so normalized that they didn’t even know how to recognize it. Such a situation demands some very hard work of unlearning, of radically questioning one’s own presuppositions and acknowledging that one needs to acquire substantial new information before one can feel confident in one’s ability to relate to the other group in an ethical manner.

[…] I’ve long thought that the heart of oppression as a discursive practice is a perceived entitlement to talk about a group without knowing about the group. The Chicago Dyke March pleads ignorance about Jews and antisemitism, but that ignorance in no way dissipates their belief that they are absolutely entitled to talk about Jews and Jewish institutions however they want and be treated as credible and legitimate entrants to the discussion.

I also really liked this point by Emma Needleman:

As someone who went from anti-Zionist to becoming a Zionist, a big part of what changed me was realizing that the Jewish communities that tended to be the most Zionistic were also the most precarious: working class, less “rooted” in their home countries (former USSR, Latin America, Middle East/North Africa), recent immigrant status, facing political turmoil or rising ant-semitism.

For a little more on that, see the 49-minute documentary The Forgotten Refugees for first-person accounts from some of the nearly 1 million Mizrahi Jews forced from ancient communities in MENA countries after World War II and who now make up more than 50 percent of the Israeli populace. Especially watch this if you believe that Zionism is no more than a manifestation of colonialist white supremacy. I hope it complicates your worldview no matter how you’re coming to it.

Anyway, that’s all still terrible. How’s the rest of the world?

  • For a truly staggering look at how the past never really leaves us, read Lacy Johnson’s monumental investigative piece for Guernica, “The Fallout.” In the idyllic suburbs of St. Louis, no one knew that the reason so many were getting sick was intimately tied to, of all things, the Manhattan Project.
  • For a certain kind of person, it sounds great, doesn’t it? Work remotely from Bali (or wherever!), without interrupting your communal and administrative needs. Jessa Crispin’s “The Unsettled,” for the Outline, examines a utopian vision for globe-trotting future-of-work winners, which, naturally, isn’t so great for the ~exotic getaways that host them.
  • It’s not that I love bread so much that I always need to have it, but baking sourdough bread from starter is proving a fascinating challenge for me (and I definitely have not yet mastered it). Marcus Woo, writing for NPR, looks into the microbiomes of delicious carbs, as scientists try to figure out what makes your local loaf taste so particular. Pair (tragically!) with this Bloomberg piece about the possible imminent extinction of Camembert cheese.
  • Please read Frances Lee’s “Excommunicate Me From the Church of Social Justice.” Think also about Yair Rosenberg’s excellent new term, “cultural McCarthyism.”
  • There’s a gold-plated phonograph record hurtling through space, carrying with it audio demonstrations of our global humanity. One sound on the record is a laugh — but whose? The answer will delight you, and hopefully remind us all that the world can still be good.

Stay brave, friends.

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