This “The N Word” segment is produced to make the reactionary white men in the audience see inequality and to discipline women of color.
Same as it ever was.
Both acronyms creep me out. Such a liberal notion that we can correct media representations of social relations and real conditions of existence as “the news”. Liberal org wants to make things fair; conservative org evokes a direction in opposition to the other. Both are ideological, counter-productive, and reactionary. I hate all this if there’s the one we must have the other aspect of our mediated public discourse. It’s the least productive way to cope with a bicameral government.
David Brooks, the conservative conscious of the United States, fears loners. Brooks, as he always does, ignores an important aspect at the core of conservatism: both individualism and people willing to go it alone, go against the grain, are good things for the elites. After all, for Brooks’ routine about conservatism to work, he always caricatures himself as a lone conservative who is willing to reason with unruly liberalism. Such an easy-going disobedience, right?
But you’ll notice something right away that highlights what all the media criticism of Snowden is focused on. Snowden isn’t an elite. He’s acting out of turn and without permission. Thus, he should remember, by which they mean we should remember, when he misbehaves, he’s betraying society and his fellow citizens because they (not Brooks because he paints himself into a conservative liminal-land) must be able to trust the government and its institutions. If we have anything in common with Snowden, it’s that we’re part of the same they.
From what we know so far, Edward Snowden appears to be the ultimate unmediated man. Though obviously terrifically bright, he could not successfully work his way through the institution of high school. Then he failed to navigate his way through community college.
According to The Washington Post, he has not been a regular presence around his mother’s house for years. When a neighbor in Hawaii tried to introduce himself, Snowden cut him off and made it clear he wanted no neighborly relationships. He went to work for Booz Allen Hamilton and the C.I.A., but he has separated himself from them, too.
Though thoughtful, morally engaged and deeply committed to his beliefs, he appears to be a product of one of the more unfortunate trends of the age: the atomization of society, the loosening of social bonds, the apparently growing share of young men in their 20s who are living technological existences in the fuzzy land between their childhood institutions and adult family commitments.
If you live a life unshaped by the mediating institutions of civil society, perhaps it makes sense to see the world a certain way: Life is not embedded in a series of gently gradated authoritative structures: family, neighborhood, religious group, state, nation and world. Instead, it’s just the solitary naked individual and the gigantic and menacing state.
This lens makes you more likely to share the distinct strands of libertarianism that are blossoming in this fragmenting age: the deep suspicion of authority, the strong belief that hierarchies and organizations are suspect, the fervent devotion to transparency, the assumption that individual preference should be supreme. You’re more likely to donate to the Ron Paul for president campaign, as Snowden did.
It’s logical, given this background and mind-set, that Snowden would sacrifice his career to expose data mining procedures of the National Security Agency. Even if he has not been able to point to any specific abuses, he was bound to be horrified by the confidentiality endemic to military and intelligence activities. And, of course, he’s right that the procedures he’s unveiled could lend themselves to abuse in the future.
For society to function well, there have to be basic levels of trust and cooperation, a respect for institutions and deference to common procedures. By deciding to unilaterally leak secret N.S.A. documents, Snowden has betrayed all of these things.
He betrayed honesty and integrity, the foundation of all cooperative activity. He made explicit and implicit oaths to respect the secrecy of the information with which he was entrusted. He betrayed his oaths.
He betrayed his friends. Anybody who worked with him will be suspect. Young people in positions like that will no longer be trusted with responsibility for fear that they will turn into another Snowden.
He betrayed his employers. Booz Allen and the C.I.A. took a high-school dropout and offered him positions with lavish salaries. He is violating the honor codes of all those who enabled him to rise.
He betrayed the cause of open government. Every time there is a leak like this, the powers that be close the circle of trust a little tighter. They limit debate a little more.
He betrayed the privacy of us all. If federal security agencies can’t do vast data sweeps, they will inevitably revert to the older, more intrusive eavesdropping methods.
He betrayed the Constitution. The founders did not create the United States so that some solitary 29-year-old could make unilateral decisions about what should be exposed. Snowden self-indulgently short-circuited the democratic structures of accountability, putting his own preferences above everything else.
Brooks’ criticism of Snowden is an expression of the anxiety individualism creates. Brooks will always insist that we should all do what we can to enjoy the fruits of “the Constitution” and capitalist society. To disturb the social order, in groups or as individuals, is a kind of negativism that we can do without. However, there’s something about Brooks’ anxiety we might overlook. One might imagine that it’s the same anxiety Snowden felt when he decided to become a leaker. Whether Snowden did it for attention or out of a sense of duty to society (the two poles in the binary public discourse has already constructed for this issue) doesn’t matter. Our society interpellates citizens as kinds of individuals. And the oppression individuals feel results from a classed system that rewards the rich, capitalists, inheritors, and employers with the liberty to act as individuals and punishes everybody else for acting as if they were.
I often encouraged students to consider this problem with conservative individualism in capitalist culture. The problem is willfully ignored by elites because it uncovers their engagement with oppression in a manner that permits them to profit from unearned ambition. When individuals, that is members of capitalist society, transgress against the unwritten rules of the social order, they are singled-out as selfish loners who are looking to unethically profit via their transgressions. They should be punished with extreme prejudice. David Brooks’ op-ed illustrates this elitist plea. Edward Snowden has taken something, “a right” we might call it, that wasn’t permitted him.
Jeffrey Toobin highlights what so often happens to people who blow the whistle or leak. “What did the leaker think his employer was doing?” We shouldn’t trust the leaker because he worked for an employer who worked for the government (NSA). Isn’t it nuts to insist employees shouldn’t tell on their employers because didn’t they know what those people were doing when they took the job? There’s an evolving list of employers and community members you can tell on if you choose, you should always tell on, or that you cannot tell on. For example, you can tell on your school, you can tell on your realtor, you can tell on your bank (this is a recent development), and you should tell on your parents and teachers. You shouldn’t tell on the police, the military, and the government. Funny how that works.
What, one wonders, did Snowden think the N.S.A. did? Any marginally attentive citizen, much less N.S.A. employee or contractor, knows that the entire mission of the agency is to intercept electronic communications. Perhaps he thought that the N.S.A. operated only outside the United States; in that case, he hadn’t been paying very close attention. In any event, Snowden decided that he does not “want to live in a society” that intercepts private communications. His latter-day conversion is dubious.
Andrew Sullivan adds precise and concise elitist spin. If the private firms already have this information, then what’s the problem? And then there’s this creepy reiteration of David Brooks’ anxiety about the wrong kind of individuals. There are more Edward Snowden’s out there.
Mulling this over as the facts have come in, I remain underwhelmed. Big Data is a core tool for terror prevention and is less dangerous, it seems to me, than many other counter-terrorist programs (like occupying foreign countries, killing people with drones, etc.). Of course, you may believe that we need to end counter-terrorism altogether, because it is a hyped and over-blown threat. But say that in that case – and make the argument that we will be better off without this kind of data-gathering being allowed, and safer. Or that our freedom is worth a few terror incidents.
I’m sympathetic to the latter point of view (see Imaginationland). But then I’m not the president of a country targeted by such religious mass murderers. But what seems inescapable to me are two related things: this data is out there, and the private sector has it. It’s the first real data of its kind to be seeking computer algorithms, not necessarily content of phone conversations. It works, which is partly how Obama got re-elected. And any system of such surveillance is inherently much easier to expose than ever before. There are more Edward Snowdens out there. And they have real power – just a different and asymmetric kind. In the end, the potential for disruption is as great as the potential for knowledge.
Sullivan wants to add to the list of citizens it’s OK to snitch on.
I’ll leave you with Thomas Friedman’s nonsense about needing surveillance to preserve an open society. Critical thinking at its worst:
Yes, I worry about potential government abuse of privacy from a program designed to prevent another 9/11 - abuse that, so far, does not appear to have happened. But I worry even more about another 9/11. That is, I worry about something that’s already happened once - that was staggeringly costly - and that terrorists aspire to repeat.
I worry about that even more, not because I don’t care about civil liberties, but because what I cherish most about America is our open society, and I believe that if there is one more 9/11 - or worse, an attack involving nuclear material - it could lead to the end of the open society as we know it. If there were another 9/11, I fear that 99 percent of Americans would tell their members of Congress: “Do whatever you need to do to, privacy be damned, just make sure this does not happen again.” That is what I fear most.
That is why I’ll reluctantly, very reluctantly, trade off the government using data mining to look for suspicious patterns in phone numbers called and email addresses - and then have to go to a judge to get a warrant to actually look at the content under guidelines set by Congress - to prevent a day where, out of fear, we give government a license to look at anyone, any email, any phone call, anywhere, anytime.
NOTE: In no way do I agree with American libertarian nonsense that has already begun to appear making an argument that Snowden is a hero of the people. Ron Paul has already suggested that Snowden could become a target of a drone attack. This post is not a cheer for Snowden; it’s a critical look at how US elites are reacting to a leaker.
This is a hilarious attempt at theory by a right wing pundit who implements a discussion of liberal relativism and root causes. Perhaps we should be discussing “root causes” and “liberalism” because both are important and problematic topics for US discourse about almost anything historical and political. But this is a rather glaring miss.
FOXNews’ “The Five” is produced to look like it’s a panel of intellectuals speaking intellectually about American Life. Actually, it’s a lame attempt at the same shtick Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow attempt to pull off on MSNBC. There are no intellectuals on corporate news channels; there is no intellectual discourse. It’s strictly prohibited. Dig the sexism in the video clip, too, as they focus on one woman’s response. You have to watch until the end to see how they end it with a misogynist sneer.
OK, well Marco Rubio has now weighed in on the suggestion that we should stop offering Muslim students Visas. Go figure. After Boston, he’d consider it. This is how conservative capitalist mind works. Something bad happens that gets international recognition and then they decide to think about it, by which they mean to choose the most reactionary and least helpful options out of all possible options to publicly reflect on. Both the panel’s and Rubio’s responses illustrate—it’s without fail ALWAYS the way they think about social problems. It’s as if Rubio woke up and said, “Well, I guess NOW is the time to consider NOT granting VISAs to Muslim students. Makes sense, right?”
Rights or Freedoms*, for right libertarians and conservatives, is always in the negative. The Freedom FROM Muslims, in this case. Or, they’d say, the right to not have those hateful violent people around.
*When conservative say rights, they mean to say “freedoms”. When they use the word “right” they are attending to their bullshit notions about natural law. When they use they word “freedom” they are attending to their bullshit notions about human law. They improperly use the two words interchangeably, conflating the concepts of human and natural laws.
I’m not going to write a super long post about this, but Praise and I have been enjoying The Mindy Project and talking about it. She suggested I write down a couple of things we’re both thinking about this morning during a 30-minute subway ride across town.
It’s very cool to see a new show co-written, co-produced, and created by a woman of color who also stars in the show. I don’t want what I’m writing here to be seen as reducing Mindy Kaling’s work as a contrast to Lena Dunham’s show, Girls, which I’m going to discuss below. Kaling’s program stands on its own for many reasons. I wish Praise would write about her thoughts. I don’t like the idea of speaking for her via the blog, so I’m not going to do it. Much of our conversation and enjoyment is not about what I’m going to write below. On the other hand, what I’m getting at below is important. Contrasting the two shows and their stars offers us a way to see how media appeals to viewers and authenticity.
While riding the subway this morning, we talked about how The Mindy Project is really quite audacious and warm. There is a concern and care about all the characters on the show that we both appreciate. Two things:
I can flesh out the points above a little more, without a doubt. It’s not the simplest thing to write about. One thing is crystal clear. Because so much of hipster consumerism is wrapped up in authenticity and ironic consumption, it’s clear why a young, white woman would be picked to be marketed as The Voice of a Generation rather than a young woman who looks like Mindy Kaling. After spending two days watching the aired episodes for The Mindy Project it’s only too clear that, while Dunham’s talent lies in the market-wise production of her show and much less on her talents as a writer, Kaling’s talents are much more important to her success. Dunham occupies (I choose this verb for a reason) a role—a legacy—that was long-ago constructed for her to fill, a role women of color are traditionally prohibited from accessing because white women fit the demands of its representation with no effort. Kaling, in many ways, is being asked to prove her value on her own. She’ll have to exceed market expectations in a way Dunham never will.
I often wonder why white feminists can’t see appeals to authenticity are traditionally racist appeals.
This is a good summary of half of our conversation. Praise’s appreciation of the show led me to it and her admiration for it is a story I’ll let her tell. I am quite fond of the show, to be honest. I hope it’s picked up for a second season.
recommended reading from public high-school teacher, Jesse Hagopian. follow the link and read the entire letter.
Dear Mr. Bill O’Reilly,
On election night, as it became increasingly clear that Mitt Romney was going to lose the election to Barack Obama, I watched Fox News host Megyn Kelly ask you, “How do you think we got to this point?”You responded by saying,Because it’s a changing country. The demographics are changing. It’s not a traditional America anymore and there are 50 percent of the voting public who want stuff, they want things. And who is going to give them things? President Obama. The white establishment is now the minority. And the voters — many of them — feel that this economic system is stacked against them and they want stuff. You’re going to see a tremendous Hispanic vote for President Obama, overwhelming Black vote for President Obama and women will probably break President Obama’s way. People feel that they are entitled to things. And which candidate between the two is going to give them things?
It is my hope that a great artist takes brush to canvas to capture the contours of your furrowed brow when you uttered the words, “It’s not a traditional America anymore.” It was a look of depraved beauty that made my heart sing. Watching you, Mr. O’Reilly, before a national audience, realize that all of your racist lies and hatred could not change the fact that people of color exist and will not be bowed by your insane denunciations, was an inspiration to me and millions of others.
Yet, on one account, O’Reilly, you are utterly correct: Black people definitely do want “stuff” and “things” as you so eloquently put it. And I am one of them. To very loosely paraphrase the rap crooner of the West Coast, Warren G: I want it all, money, fast public transportation, fully funded public schools, Medicare for all, Social Security, an end to all wars, and every damn thang.
While you are right that Black people do want “stuff” and “things,” your paranoid fears (refracted through the racially outdated retina you use to view the president) that we will receive a cornucopia of benefits from President Obama is merely another thing about the election you incorrectly predicted.
It’s interesting to note that the media has chosen to focus on Celtic manager Neil Lennon pointing and shouting at a couple of his team’s fans, which lasted for about two seconds, and not on the 40 or so self-confessed Rangers supporters who sat among the Dunfermline fans in the away end last night, waving Union Flags and Rangers scarves, and shouting abuse for 90 minutes. Nope, not a word on that, it never happened, but the video of the uppity Fenian bringing it all on himself will be on the BBC website for another month.
Not a big thing, but the latest in a long line. It’s also worth remembering the flak Lenny took in the press for his (pretty reserved) post-match comments after Dougie-Dougie-Gate, whereas the inflammatory comments made by Peter Houston after the same game received no attention. See also Terry Butcher on Saturday, and one of his players who Tweeted that Celtic play with 14 men. Nothing to see here, Declan, move along…
As long as we’re here, well done to the Green Brigade last night. I wonder what Mr. Traynor, Mr. Leckie and Mr. Keevins will have to say about the lack of atmosphere they created, with their completely unobjectionable and non-political chants?
I expect the silence to be deafening.
Please find some way to spend a little time thinking about the horrific flooding in Thailand right now. This is going to a horrible human tragedy. Get online and read a little about it. Find out how to help. Send messages to all your favorite media and ask why they are not telling the story.
(slightly revised and edited at 0750)
Convenience. That’s what I’m reading about in articles published in mainstream and alternative journals and blogs about the Occupy movement(s). The general consensus is that the movement should be more diverse, more focused, more active. I recently read an author chiding the participants of Occupy Wall Street to pay attention to history. The author titled her blog, “Keeping it Real”. No shit. We have a new social movement and it’s hope is for organic and radical transformation of capitalist culture—in other words, vague, optimistic, idealistic, unfocused—and an article in the alternative media admonishes the activists to keep it real. It can’t possibly get more white, middle class and patriarchal than that. Well, on the same site, a blog bragging about “being there” when the Occupation began was published. We already have a cred check going on.
"Pay attention to history" is not what the authors actually mean. The authors mean "Hurry up, already, we want change now." We want demands. We want action. We want it now: each stupid things for a writer to insist for a movement as an observer. After all, showing up and participating would preclude the need to write about the movement from a disctance and as an observer. And then there would be no need to make claims about reality, history, credibility.
I suggest the hipsters step back and realize that they’ll be old by the time anything useful happens. We’re not talking armed insurrection here. Americans will not experience Greece or Egypt or Syria. Know what I mean? We’re talking old-fashioned civil disobedience inspiring slow and determined transformation of public discourse about how we live our lives and about how our government should function. That’s the Occupy movement. It’s an insistence that we talk about how to implement reform. We simply don’t know. We do know we should and are finally acting on it.
I’m an anti-capitalist, so readers will know how I feel about a movement to reform capitalism. But that doesn’t mean I can’t participate and it doesn’t mean that I should dismiss the social action because I want the system it seeks to reform to fall apart. If we were paying attention to history, we’d be ready for a multi-generational effort to radically transform the way we legislate and think about social welfare, shared goods, labor, and the exchange of economic goods and services.
But the stupid writing on Occupy, implementing a consumer’s construction of history and social movements straight out of a conservative civic’s textbook, is already bored with the movements. Fact is, the Occupy protests will dwindle as the weather grows cold and cops begin making mass arrests. At some point, we’re going to see the Occupy movement become something coordinated and more traditionally political. We’ll see a lot of action next year during the election season and the movement will struggle to keep the party’s from coopting it. If it outlasts the election, a year from now, we’ll be able to see what we have. As the movement learns to organize beyond its occupied parks and plazas, it will be able to distribute its grievances and demands in a more efficient manner to more people, but it will not look like it did last week. As the occupiers struggle to reach consensus about movement, it’s ridiculous for writers to insist movement has already occurred.
Nothing wrong with asking people what reforms they seek. To insist a movement develop, organize, educate, distribute, and reform society in three months is unfair and unreasonable. The last successful populist movement in the US worth looking at would be from the late 19th Century. It’s grievances and demands took decades to materialize as useful reforms. If we look at a more recent and smaller, less successful though infamous, populist movement, we could examine socially conservative populism. It’s been most active since the 70s, with roots in the late 50s, and didn’t find political strength until the late 80s and didn’t see real attempts at radical reform until the Contract with America in 1994. That failed. They’re still working at reform, and now they have a GOP who has attempted hundreds of times within the last several years to institute radical reforms.
We need to consider how democracy works: slowly and according to consensus. Without the mortgage crisis and the incredibly unstable economy, let’s admit it, this new movement with its opportunity for the birth of an economic justice movement would not have occurred. The bourgeois media—this includes alternative writers implementing traditional media—needs to lay off the occupiers and do its job, report the news of the events that occur within the movement. The media needs to stop insisting the movements produce results.
The next idiot who writes in exaggerated disgust that the people rioting are “responsible for all of this"—this being the devastation, the disorder, the chaos, the havoc—should be asked if they have ever given two shits about the devastation, the disorder, the chaos, the havoc his or her government daily wages on foreigners, laborers and the poor all over the world.
In this case, the British government and police are responsible for all of this. As are the British citizens who idly observe. As are all of us, really. Riots certainly don’t have anything to do with notions of innocence and guilt. Riots are chaotic expressions without order, as I have explained in prior posts. You can join in, or get the fuck out the way.
Pointing fingers while watching televised images of violence between commercials is absurd.
Anyway, it’s a stupid statement to make. Don’t let people get away with it.
We’re already seeing traditional media attempt to establish an order to the rioting. In other words, attempt to explain that the riots were actually organized. This false and externally constructed order will likely be applied to poor and non-white youths using technology to organize the attacks on police and business.
We should get out ahead of these stories, which are already appearing. I’ve already read about rioters using Twitter & Blackberries to outwit cops.