“I’m Smiling Because I Want to Lift Up the Legacy of Derrick Bell”

“Trolling my own blog”, because fighting lies with truth is important. And if you don’t want to take my word, know in advance that Rachel Maddow approved this message…

Via LGF; hat tip to commentor Gnomedad

(Also, Professor Bell did know LeGuin’s short story “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas”.)

Professor Derrick Bell, Walking Away from Omelas

As a sci-fi storyteller, the late Professor Derrick Bell made an excellent social theorist. And my pasty-white pink-collar self is not exactly qualified to discuss the philosophical merits of critical race theory and its applications at Ivy League law schools. But Professor Bell had many fans among us white-bread feminists in the 1970s/1980s, and some of us were sad that he wasn’t more widely memorialized last year just because Steve Jobs was sucking up all the available media attention. Now we’ve been given the chance — required to make a proper response — to the farcical Breitbartling BigNothing.Com “reveal” that Professor Bell and the man who is now President Obama once participated in the same rally for racial and feminist equality. Here’s a comment from David Swerdlick’s post at The Root on how “Breitbart’s Site Got Barack and Bell Wrong“:

I’m not surprised that Obama hugged Derrick Bell. So many people responded that way to him. If a sweeter man walked the earth, I don’t know about him. Yes, he was “controversial,” unafraid to take unpopular stands, but he walked the talk, leaving behind several lucrative jobs on principle. And he extended a helping hand to so many students of color and whites as well. Women in particular. Breitbart wouldn’t have dared attempt to smear Obama with his association with Professor Bell while Bell was alive. I can assure you Breitbart’s memorial will not be a fraction as well attended as the one held for Bell at Riverside Church. This man was beloved, and it makes me really angry to read the innuendos about his character.

Even those of us who never met the man loved him, because he actually listened to women, which at the time and in his milieu was practically unheard of. There were plenty of male feminists around, but too many of them specialized in “Let me explain to you ladies what you don’t understand about your own experience” or “Thank Gaia that I have been chosen to save you poor oppressed women from your own lack of enlightenment; now shut up while I tell you how to act”.

But Derrick Bell was a cynic in the ancient classical tradition. He knew that racism (and sexism) is not a decorative embellishment that could easily be cut away from the fabric of American life; it is a thread woven into that fabric, warp to the weft of our picture of the Shining City on A Hill. He did not expect the public habit, conscious and otherwise, of valuing ‘whiteness’ over ‘all other colors’ (and men, especially straight men, over all other genders and gender preferences), to be extinguished in his lifetime, or probably his grandchildren’s. And yet he still felt himself required to combat racism and sexism, not just by making his life’s work teaching and encouraging younger generations, but by literally putting his professorial role at risk by demonstrating that he held his values more important than his career. Although he never threatened to burn anything down, his stubborn refusal to understand ‘how things are done’ gave him a reputation among the Intellectual Elite as a “firebrand”… because what was the use of acquiring valuable academic creditionals if it didn’t teach one how to rationalize self-protection at the expense of social justice?
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The Seventy Percent Solution

That excellent American Prospect article that Cole references below got me thinking about just how Republicans plan to get what they’re going to need to win, something like 70% of the male vote in November.  It’s a ridiculous, unattainable bar to get that kind of percentage voting for any of the Clown Car Kids.  The plan has to be to get as many of them as possible to vote against President Obama and the Democrats, then.   As I mentioned Wednesday over at ABL’s place:

It will not be long now until we descend past 2008′s nadir of Obama Waffles and 2010′s witch doctor with a bone through the nose and hit actual use of ni-CLANG. It’s only March, people. We’ll get there by Memorial Day at this rate.

I still believe that, which is why the millisecond Romney wraps this tragedy of a primary season up (yes, still convinced Romney will prevail) the sewage will flow like nothing you’ve ever seen before.  And Romney and the SuperPACs will have one goal in mind: to basically get every voting-eligible white male into a booth and cast a vote against President Obama, the Democrats, and anyone who isn’t a voting-eligible white male.

2008 was nothing compared to what’s coming once R-money’s Pretty Hate Machine is fully operational.  The side effect of how soul-destroyingly horrid the attacks will be is to try to depress everyone else into not voting at all.  Only by lowering the turnout to the worst levels ever seen in modern election history will Romney be able to win.  It’s the only shot he’s got, and everyone knows it at this point.

All he has to do is draw a near-permanent chalk outline around the sprawled body politic.  Not taking anything for granted myself, not with Citizens United in play.  Neither should you.  We need to get out there.

Invisible Children At the Heart of Darkness: Social Media, Its Uses & Abuses

So, the #StopKony Invisible Children YouTube video has gone sufficiently viral to attract the attention of even the infotainment television shows, because SO MANY celebrities!!:

… In the film, Mr. Russell explains the social media strategy, which includes getting people to enlist celebrities on Twitter, including Oprah Winfrey and others with large followings, to help get out the word about the film and Mr. Kony. The group also specifically asked people who viewed the film to share it with their personal networks on social media platforms so that “Kony’s name is everywhere.”… Soon, celebrities from the film and music worlds, including Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Diddy, Alec Baldwin and Olivia Wilde were joining in and posting links to the film on Facebook and Twitter. Many did so at the urging of their fans. And the hashtags #kony2012 #stopkony began to trend worldwide on Twitter….

Surely we can all agree (with Kim Kardashian and Justin Beiber, not to mention the International Criminal Court)that Joseph Kony is a bad, bad man. The problem is, what “we” should do next. “We” — the U.S. government — has 100 military advisors in the area, and the Invisible Children producers say there should be more American Special Ops sharing better weapons with the Ugandan Army, even though Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army is mostly located in DRC or South Sudan these days. (Those of us who remember Vietnam, or even Iraq, have an immediate aversion to any political argument that starts “It’s just a handful of advisors, some overstock weapons, and nobody in that part of the world pays attention to national borders anyways”.) The Ugandan Army has a reputation for “politically motivated abuses” of its own. Also, the “billions of barrels of oil reserves” discovered in Uganda in the last few years have raised understandable suspicions about Westerners’ sudden interest in redeeming the country from itself.

But that’s why the Internet Is Awesome: It gives reporters the chance, not just to document the mechanics of “How the Koney Video Went Viral” or to explain its techniques, however cutting-edge:

…[T]he real pipeline to big numbers was the Kony 2012 website, which features “The Culturemakers,” a slick, visual chart of twenty celebrities, including Oprah, Justin Bieber, Jay-Z, Angelina Jolie, Bill Gates, Bono, and more. “When they speak, the world listens,” the website says. And to encourage them to speak, clicking on any of the celebs’ photos automatically crafts a tweet directed at the Culturemaker, complete with the Kony 2012 web address and two related hashtags. The interface is easy, it’s quick — messaging all twenty celebs would take less than two minutes — and most importantly, it allows anyone to feel like they’re making a difference.

It’s that an organization committed to genuine reporting — the Guardian, in this case — can institute an ongoing live-blog pulling together information from all over the world as it becomes available:

This Tumblr page is collecting criticism of the project and this blog sums up a lot of the questions.
This morning, Invisible Children issued a detailed response to the criticism here.
We want, with your help, to investigate this further. Our principle approach is to attempt to gather views from Uganda about whether this film is the right way to go about campaigning on the issue. I’m going to be working with John Vidal, our environment editor, who has travelled extensively in the region and is on the phone now to his contacts there.
Do you have any relevant information? Get in touch below the line, tweet #pollycurtis or email me at polly.curtis@guardian.co.uk…

I know just enough about the history of Central Africa to understand how much I don’t know. I’m grateful to live at a time in a place where better informed people (including those with much more at stake) are accessible with a few mouse-clicks.

(Footnote: Am I the only one here old enough to remember “buying pagan babies“? The annual campaigns were scheduled for Lent, when SAD and the failure to keep one’s personal New Years resolutions presumably conspired with religious guilt to remind all good parochial-school attendees of our obligations to the wider community. At our school, for every five dollars donated — an enormous commitment for a kid from a blue-collar family in the 1960s, so mostly each class pooled our sticky quarters and wrinkled singles — we got a beautiful certificate and the nominal right to choose a new baptismal name for “our” little orphan. I’m sure the donor foundation did just as much to alleviate Third-World suffering as the Komen Foundation does to cure breast cancer. Invisible Children’s glossy video brought back my memory of those certificates for the first time in decades, but that probably says more about my cynicism than it does about the video itself. )

And now for something completely different

Yes, as you all know, I love slagging conservatives.  The concept that being decent in their personal relations somehow mitigates the damage they do to the rest of the world is bullshit.

Not abusing your spouse and children is the floor for reasonable behavior, not the fucking goal.  So yeah, I enjoy a little schadenfreude when one of them rages himself into an early grave with the assistance of booze and cocaine.  I get a little happydance going when one of them, having lost the ability to see his dick, not only steps on it, but grinds it into the ground over and over and over again.  That’s just the kind of guy I am.  And when a couple of c-listers try to come by and play the sadface troll in order to pick up some extra credit from the wingnut welfare circuit, I enjoy slapping them around a bit too.

But there has to be more to life than all that, fun as it is.  We don’t want to end up like those fools, now do we?

So I pet my dog.  She makes me a better person.

This is an open thread.