"'The Wrath of Becky'/Rated R for disgusting dialogue and dripping brain matter."
Published: May 25,
2023 | 08:18
I'm reading a movie review in the NYT. I haven't been paying much attention to descriptions of new movies, but this one caught my eye because of its violently angry young female protagonist. It made me think of school shootings. I sometimes wonder what the entertainment business is trying to upload into the mind of Gen Z.
I see from Wikipedia that this movie is a sequel (to "Becky"), it was influenced by "Kill Bill," and it has an 89% critics rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
From the NYT review:
It has been two years since neo-Nazis killed her father.... Now 16, Becky works as a diner waitress... and fantasizes about slicing the throat of a sexist customer.
Neo-Nazis and sexists are deemed good targets of a young woman's anger. And "white supremacists and would-be insurrectionists":
All she needs is an inciting incident, and here, on cue, come the Noble Men, a clump of white supremacists and would-be insurrectionists....
You can see that the reviewer (Jeannette Catsoulis) doesn't approve of this formulaic bullshit.
[Becky] eavesdrops on their racist plans. The subsequent slaughters are inventive... [and] entertaining.... But the movie’s almost jokey treatment of its slobbering incels, combined with Becky’s comic posturings, hemorrhage the tension.
1. "2 Wisconsin Republicans want 14-year-olds to be allowed to serve alcohol in restaurants" (Insider). There's currently a labor shortage, and the bill would only allow the 14-17-year olds to serve alcohol to those who are seated at tables, not those at the bar. Oddly enough, in Wisconsin, underage kids can drink alcohol, even at the bar, if they're with a parent! Anyway, 14-17-year olds already work in restaurants and wait on tables. To let them deliver the drinks to the table would simply enable them to do all the ordinary tasks that are part of the job. What are we afraid of? Child labor? But they're already waiting on the tables. That they might, if entrusted with a small tray of drinks, surreptitiously sip on one? It can't be that we feel a need to protect them from a drinking environment, because they are already working in restaurants. They already see people imbibing. It's not as though we're letting them see an orgy.
2. "Black waiter forced to serve N-word spewing diners decked in Confederate flags: report" (Raw Story). As one server tells it: "A party full of people wearing Confederate flag gear just tried to f---ing come eat in our restaurant. One of our Black servers had to take them.... They’re N-word this, N-word that, while he’s there at the table. They’re not even trying to stop." The black man who waited on the table said that it was a reservation for 11, and he'd started working on the table after only a few had showed up, "including a baby wrapped in a Confederate coat," but he didn't really notice until more arrived. Then, the managers asked if he had "any issues with this table," and he continued until someone addressed him as "boy." He "couldn't return to the table, after which the group demanded the managers force him to return and correct their orders." We're told the "managers tried to defuse the situation," but "he's considering a lawsuit," presumably against his employer. ADDED: Assuming the accuracy of this account, I think the managers ought to have told the customers they had to leave. It shouldn't have depended on the server's declaring an inability to soldier on.
Replying to tweets about the controversy, Musk said it is actually the media that is “racist against whites & Asians.”...
In further tweets Sunday, Musk agreed with a tweet that said “Adams’ comments weren’t good” but there’s “an element of truth” to them, and suggested in a reply that media organizations promote a “false narrative” by giving more coverage to unarmed Black victims of police violence than they do to unarmed White victims of police violence....
Here's the Musk tweet, responding to someone who tweeted that the MSM had concluded that Adams is racist:
The media is racist
Musk then added:
For a *very* long time, US media was racist against non-white people, now they’re racist against whites & Asians.
Same thing happened with elite colleges & high schools in America.
Adams' comments weren't good. But there's an element of truth to this...it's complicated. Mainly we've leaned into identity with predictable results, and power today is complicated. We were on the right path with colorblindness and need to return to it.
I used boldface to identify text that is not in the WaPo article. That is, the WaPo writer does not open up the question whether identity politics is a tragic mistake and colorblindness could be the right answer.
It's hard to say a racist incident never happened, but why was it so easy to say that it did?
Published: September 10,
2022 | 05:23
"Brigham Young University said Friday that it had completed its investigation into accusations of racial heckling and slurs at a volleyball match against Duke University last month and found no evidence to confirm that the behavior took place."
Note the careful language — "no evidence to confirm." They don't and can't say that nothing at all happened. The language in the BYU statement is: "we have not found any evidence to corroborate" ("From our extensive review, we have not found any evidence to corroborate the allegation that fans engaged in racial heckling or uttered racial slurs at the event").
The Duke player’s father, Marvin Richardson, told The New York Times after the game that a slur was repeatedly yelled from the stands as his daughter, Rachel Richardson, was serving and that she feared the “raucous” crowd. He did not immediately respond to requests for comment on B.Y.U.’s findings on Friday.
That link goes to the NYT story from August 27th, which begins:
A Duke University women’s volleyball player who is Black was called a racial slur during a game Friday night in Utah....
Boldface mine. The Times stated it as a fact. Now, the NYT is very precise and says "no evidence to confirm," but when the allegation was made, it wasn't equivalently precise. Was it careless of precision, or did it consciously choose to leave out the "allegedly" before "called"? Why stir up discord, when so often these allegations turn out to be false?
I see the name "Jussie Smollett" is trending on Twitter. It's the easiest snark in response to the BYU story.
Why hasn't the NYT learned — at the very least — to leave itself an out? Is it carelessness? Is it blinded by the perverse hope that racism — which must be simmering everywhere — will burst forth in a vivid incident? Boosting these stories so eagerly, the media is cultivating doubt.
Stop luring young people into tainting their reputation by concocting another one of these poisonous morsels you're so eager to serve to America!
The big mystery about the monument wasn't how it got there, but just who paid to buy the land and put it up. It looks a bit like Stonehenge, but it's not ancient. It went up in 1980, financed by someone who worked through a banker who was sworn to protect his anonymity.
The stones were engraved with 10 principles (in 8 languages), and the first one is blatantly evil, once you penetrate the euphemism "Maintain":
Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
Guide reproduction wisely — improving fitness and diversity.
Unite humanity with a living new language.
Rule passion — faith — tradition — and all things with tempered reason.
Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
Balance personal rights with social duties.
Prize truth — beauty — love — seeking harmony with the infinite.
Be not a cancer on the Earth — Leave room for nature — Leave room for nature
Maybe it's the second one that incited whoever to set off the explosion that caused the damage that led to the destruction of the entire thing. Could it have to do with overturning Roe v. Wade? "Guide reproduction wisely...." How do we "guide" reproduction? It suggests forced abortion but also forced pregnancy and childbirth. Both pro-choicers and pro-lifers could object intensely.
I wonder how strong "safety reasons" need to be before you decide to destroy a monument like that. It was a tourist attraction, but then some of the ideas were bad.
A flat stone in the ground... lists as its sponsors "A small group of Americans who seek the age of reason."... According to [Robert C. Christian, the pseudonym of the man who arranged the payments], this was by design: he once said "The group feels by having our identity remain secret, it will not distract from the monument and its meaning."
I happen to think he was right on the money. If the monument was known to have been erected by a particular group, it would be easy to dismiss it as "Oh, just more of that nonsense from so-and-so."...
From the linked webpage, we are sent to this update, calling attention to this clip from the John Oliver TV show "Last Week Tonight," where "Robert Christian" is said to be Dr. Herbert Kersten:
What John Oliver was reporting was that in 2015, a documentary came out: Dark Clouds Over Elberton: The True Story of the Georgia Guidestones, made by a small group of evangelical Christians intent on revealing what they believed would be some occult truth behind the Guidestones. They tracked down [the banker] Wyatt Martin.
According to a member of the crew who immediately terminated his involvement, the filmmakers tricked Martin, who had always kept his promise to never reveal the man's identity. Martin was quite elderly and was recovering from a recent stroke, and they took advantage to film a return mailing address on an envelope that he clearly did not want to share with them. It led to Herbert Hinzie Kersten (1920-2005), an Iowa doctor — and there was enough other corroborating information to establish that Dr. Kersten was indeed the creator of the Guidestones. The evidence presented in the film truly does leave no room for reasonable doubt.
Kersten had written pressing for population control, and had a reputation in his town for speaking openly about white supremacy — "racist to his fingertips," according to a local historian interviewed in the movie — and had published letters in newspapers praising the views of neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klansman David Duke. Thus, the true motivation for the Guidestones' advocacy of population control is now established as having been a fundamentally racist one, as many have long suspected.
FOOTNOTE: Would you, like Newsweek, say "The Georgia Guidestones... was demolished" or would you prefer "The Georgia Guidestones... were demolished"?
I agree with Newsweek, since "The Georgia Guidestones" is the name of a single monument that just happens to have a title that is written in the plural.
It's like the way you'd say — to grab the first example that pops into my head — "The Last Days of Pompeii"was an 1834 novel that was made into a TV miniseries in 1984:
"In a case that hinged on proving the defendants’ state of mind, prosecutors argued that the men’s prejudice helped explain why they erroneously viewed Arbery, 25, as a potential criminal..."
Published: February 22,
2022 | 10:07
"... when they cut him off in pickup trucks and threatened him with guns in a Georgia neighborhood on Feb. 23, 2020.
The government presented evidence from 20 witnesses, many of whom testified about racially derogatory text messages, social media posts and remarks from the three men in which they disparaged Black people. 'All three defendants told you loud and clear, in their own words, how they feel about African Americans,' prosecutor Tara Lyons told the jury, made up of eight White people, three Black people and one Hispanic person. 'Yes, race, racism, racial discrimination — those can all be very difficult topics to discuss. But the facts of this case are not difficult.'... The McMichaels and Bryan were convicted on state murder charges in November 2021 after a trial in which prosecutors did not make race a central focus of their case....
Under sentencing guidelines, in the absence of a plea deal, the men are expected to serve their sentences in state prison...."
The alum is Fredric March, an actor most people going to school today probably don't remember. Try streaming "The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946). He was important enough to the University of Wisconsin that they put his name on some theater buildings.
He's been attacked for an obvious reason: He belonged to the Ku Klux Klan! But it wasn't that Ku Klux Klan. It was back in 1919/1920 and there was an interfraternity group that called itself the Ku Klux Klan. To think that means something awful is to be historically ignorant, McWhorter explains:
The later 20th century Klan emerged gradually in the wake of the racist film “The Birth of a Nation” in 1915, and only became a national phenomenon starting in 1921. In Wisconsin in 1919, when March was inducted into his group, it was possible to have never heard of the Ku Klux Klan that was later so notorious....
Even Madison’s chancellor, Rebecca Blank, has written that March had “fought the persecution of Hollywood artists, many of them Jewish, in the 1950s by the House Un-American Activities Committee” and that March “took actions later in life to suggest (he) opposed discrimination.”...
So... it was 4 years after "The Birth of a Nation." And "it was possible to have never heard of the Ku Klux Klan"? But why was it called "the Ku Klux Klan"? McWhorter says there's "no evidence" that it's the same Ku Klux Klan. But the name is some evidence, and the lack of any other explanation of the name, and the fact that "The Birth of a Nation" had been out for 4 years are at least some evidence.
I agree with McWhorter that March shouldn't be tarred as a racist for something he did for a year as a young man and that might have been genuinely racist. But the question is whether his name should be used to name the campus theaters. We have a much more important theater-related alum — Lorraine Hansberry. I'd put her name on the theaters. Update the honoring.
Back to McWhorter:
This witch-burning mentality is something most of us less concur with than fear.... The students who got March’s name taken off those buildings made a mistake, as did the administrators who again caved to weakly justified demands, seemingly too scared of being called racists to take a deep breath and engage in reason. The University of Wisconsin must apologize to March and his survivors. His name should be restored to both of the theaters now denuded of his name, including the Madison building, which he in fact helped bring into being and funded the lighting equipment even before the building was named after him.
This must happen in the name of what all involved in this mistake are committed to: social justice — which motivated March throughout his life.
ADDED: As someone who has taught the law school course called Evidence, I rankle at the phrase "no evidence." Evidence is anything that makes a fact of consequence either more likely to be true or less likely to be true. There is clearly some evidence that March affiliated himself with a racist group. It's fine to say there's not enough evidence to justify removing March's name from these buildings, especially when we also have evidence that March was an anti-racist. That's all you need to say.
AND: This isn't a trial of March where his accusers must meet a burden of proof and the question is whether he ought to be convicted of racism. That ought to fail because he has a constitutional right to be a racist. We wouldn't even go to trial. But if it did, there wouldn't be enough evidence to convict him. But the important point here is that the question in issue is whether his name ought to be on campus buildings today. What should the burden of proof be and is it met? That's the way to analyze this controversy.
"When I arrived I was told I should leave political correctness back in the UK, because in Denmark you have the right to say whatever you want, whenever you want and however you want... In Denmark, you can hear the N-word or you can see a Nazi gesture in the name of fun."
Published: July 18,
2021 | 06:47
Said global studies professor Michelle Pace, who moved from Britain to Denmark 15 years ago. She's referring to the way, in Demark, people joke about race and say you don't have a sense of humor if you object. Using that Danish term "hygge" — for a Danish sort of coziness — Pace calls this "hyggeracisme" (that is, cozy racism).
That bit about hyggeracism is a very limited part of an article that is overwhelmingly about Demarks efforts at controlling immigration. Priti Patel is the British home secretary, and she's spoken of fixing Britain's "broken asylum system."
Despite Pace's prompt, the comments at the Times are generally supportive of freedom of speech and restricting immigration.
Your book is a critique of individualism, by which you mean, as you put it, "Our identities are not separate from the white supremacist society in which we are raised, and our patterns of cross-racial engagement are not merely a function of our unique personalities." What is the problem with individualism?
Individualism cuts the person off from the very society that the concept of individualism is valued in. That’s the great irony, right? If we were in a more community-oriented or collective-oriented society, we wouldn’t value being an individual the way that we do. We have been conditioned to see that as the ideal, that every one of us is unique and special and different, and if you don’t know somebody specifically you can’t know anything about them.
She's saying that individualism is not individualistic at all, but something we absorb as part of a group that deludes us into not seeing ourselves as part of the group.