Things I’m Verbing: Abrahamic problems, skyscraper farms and fake hillbilly pride

You don’t often hear exhortations to read the comments, but Anne Helen Petersen is right: Hillbilly Elegy writer J.D. Vance is awfully proud of himself for moving to Columbus, Ohio, an incredibly wealthy town home to some of the nation’s biggest corporations and one of its largest state universities. It’s a bit hilarious to read, having grown up in Ohio’s poorest county. I was a privileged faculty brat, but I had to drive two hours to a decent mall and the airport just like everyone else. Live in Lancaster or Gloucester for a while and get back to us, friend.

  • Honestly, I want to put these links where no one can miss them. “It’s Time for Intersectionality to Include the Jews,” and if that makes you angry, think about why. Benjamin Gladstone’s op-ed takes the view that Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour claims there can be no overlap between feminism and Zionism; I urge you again to read David Schraub’s argument that that’s not actually clear. Related, please see the Nib asking five Jewish artists to take on Holocaust imagery in contemporary politics, particularly Leela Corman’s contribution.
  • If you want a really terrifying article about religion, see the New Republic’s “Amazing Disgrace: How Donald Trump Hijacked the Religious Right.” It’s less about Trump’s maneuvering (Republicans have been boosting their numbers with the evangelical Right for decades) than the roots of right-wing American evangelism in Southern nationalism and racism, and how the two are becoming married again.
  • Iranian-American writer Porochista Khakpour writes about the Persian New Year, and why this Nowruz is different. Pair with the Chicago Sun-Times’ report on MENA-Americans having second thoughts on the new census option for which they fought so hard.
  • I will always read stories about weird urban farming, whether it’s in abandoned shipping crates or hydroponic fish tanks in a garage. The New Food Economy has an interesting piece on the futurism of vertical farming, and why it won’t bring us to a techno utopia.
  • Oof, I’m sorry, this is all hard stuff. Luckily, the world still has Jenny Slate and Chris Evans, who are no longer a couple, but Slate makes me wish they were in this wonderful profile in Vulture. And of course, she’s the focus of the article, not him or her relationship; Jenny Slate is a literal piece of sunshine and I hope her life is brilliant.

Stay brave, friends.


Things I’m Verbing: Syncretism, solidarity and straight lines

Lots of antisemitism around social media right now, with many people outraged that “no one is talking about this” and “why isn’t this screaming from every headline?” It’s… exhausting to watch. I feel immensely conflicted about it, as someone who has cared and shouted about antisemitism for a long time. My first reaction is Where have you all been? It took bomb threats and grave desecration to bring you in on this? I feel overexposed, especially when I know how hypocritical and toxic conversations about antisemitism can be.

I am trying to let down my guard and not feel suspicious that this is simply an under-mined source of outrage and clicks. At the same time, I’m moved and relieved by how quickly other communities have come to our aid. You can’t understate the trauma of seeing tombstones knocked over — there is a straight line from that act to the Holocaust. It is really, really not weird that Jews and Muslims would get along and support each other, but it is gratifying to see that we truly have each others’ backs, in action and in word.

Folks who have been in this position, do you have any advice for dealing with these feelings? I’d really appreciate any links in the comments or on Twitter.

  • If you’re looking for some Jews not taking this shit lying down, I urge you to read the absolutely delightful and excellently titled “So a Nazi Walks Into an Iron Bar,” about Meyer Lansky, Jewish gangsters and 1930s-style direct action.
  • There’s always plenty to say about the Oscars, but Imran Siddiquee, writing for BuzzFeed, has a point we shouldn’t lose sight of: “What Will It Take for Dev Patel to Be a Leading Man?
  • Only ’80s and ’90s kids will understand this, &c &c &c: “The Melancholy of Don Bluth,” a look at what set films like All Dogs Go to Heaven, An American Tail and The Secret of NIMH apart from all the rest.
  • From Racked, do not miss Laura Turner’s “What Do We Do With the Clothing of Grief?” The dress I wore to my mom’s funeral still hangs in my closet. I haven’t worn it again, but I don’t know if I can give it up.
  • For just some lovely reflection on religion and identity, from Ravishly, take a look at “Finding My Rebel Catholicism in Mexico City” by Michelle Threadgould.

I have another personal essay up at Screwball Heroine, about the weird composite imaginary man I want to find and fall in love with: “To all my future husbands.”

Stay brave, friends.

Things I’m Verbing: Flagging runners, religious wars and animals that might save the day

I’ve run half-marathons before. I know the saying about elections (or whatever) is “it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” but I also know that right now, three and a half weeks before Election Day, I’m exhausted. My feet hurt in muscles I didn’t even know I had, my laces were too tight all along, I didn’t grab enough energy gels at the halfway-mark table and instead of running, I’m basically just hurling my thighs forward in the hopes that I won’t fall down. I’m so tired of this poisonous national tantrum.

  • Exhibit A: My favorite under-discussed outrage of the second debate last weekend was Donald Trump’s obsession with name-dropping known Hebrews who are Bad Men. Good thing he’s not repurposing language from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion… oh, oh he is? That’s cool.
  • Speaking of under-discussed outrages, has anyone else noticed that UNESCO just passed a resolution denying a Jewish connection to the Temple Mount? This happened the day after Judaism’s holiest day, regarding Judaism’s holiest site, by the way. Not that Jews don’t have their own internal discussions about the nature of their Judaism going on, but this seems fairly egregious. Who’s mad?
  • Speaking of theology, remember that Wheaton College professor who wore hijab as an act of solidarity and everyone freaked out? The New York Times followed up with her, and produced a fascinating look at the subtleties of the professor’s worldview and arguments.
  • What if we talked about something safe and uncontroversial? Like, oh, sex — and virginity, and women’s pleasure. Sara Petersen, writing for Bust, talks about “the other virginity,” and why it all matters. As long as we’re discussing rape culture as a nation, we ought to ensure that we’re promoting not just an absence of violence, but the presence of agency.
  • Oh my goodness, I’m exhausted again. Joy is still possible in the world, right? It is, and we can have it. Take @EelectricMiguel, a Twitter account belonging to an electric eel at the Tennessee Aquarium — it tweets every time the eel zaps its tank. Or how about this dog? I’m literally looking at a cartoon. If that’s not doing the trick, meet Bullet: “House-trained bison with ‘great personality’ finds a new home.”

And of course, up top, “Bald Eagle Gets Trapped in Car, Becomes Perfect Symbol for America in 2016” (Gizmodo).