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October 2, 2014

patriotic education

So I was reading this profile on one of the putative leaders of the democracy movement currently sitting in the streets of Hong Kong, a kid named Joshua Wong, seventeen years young, when a paragraph clicked something in my head:
Mr. Wong, who is just shy of his 18th birthday, when he will gain the right to drink alcohol, is a veteran of theatrical protest politics. While in high school, at age 14, he and a classmate formed a youth group, Scholarism, to fight the "patriotic education" plan proposed by Beijing's handpicked leader in Hong Kong, Leung Chun-ying.

Fighting the patriotic education...  That is reminding me of something.  Oh wait, that's right, it reminds me of this:

Hundreds of Colorado high school students have walked out of class in the past two weeks to protest proposed changes to the Advanced Placement history curriculum.

The firestorm of protest was sparked by a resolution in August from Jefferson County school board member Julie Williams. When she heard that conservatives across the country were upset about the new AP history curriculum, she proposed a committee to review the district's courses.

The resolution stated that AP history classes should promote "patriotism and ... the benefits of the free-enterprise system" and should not "encourage or condone civil disorder."

See now, it would be possible to infer from the correlation of the two facts that the type of conservatives who like to load up the school board so that they can manipulate the information taught to students have a lot more in common with the People's Republic of China than they do with the Hong Kong protesters.

But it would probably hurt feelings to do so.  We'll leave it for a meaner day.

But damn, kids are getting it done these days.  When I was their age, I was much more concerned with Monty Python than I was protesting.

Posted by mrbrent at 2:31 PM

October 1, 2014

literary rubbernecking

I guess I'm supposed to be caring about the Secret Service and its incompetence and get all yelly and mad like I'm in a House subcommittee, but i just can't muster it.  (Though the context of the outrage is a bit... confusing, as people who hate the president rush to condemn those that endanger the president, or something like that?)

No, instead, for the past five or six days, I have been obsessed with the comings and goings of a very very minor literary contretemps involving a certain frustrated book critic and his public crack up, which consisted of a slow motion campaign of misogyny and harassment with a big heaping of self-pity on the side.  Honestly.  Hours spent hunting down Twitter feeds and piecing together narratives.

It's a big sticky mess.  To get the gist of it, read my pal Elon Green's take on it in the Toast.

A morbid thing to be fascinated with, to be sure, but I had my slight dealings with Public Crack Up as well and let's just say that nothing about it makes me surprised by recent events.

Okay, enough with the rubbernecking already.  Let's hope for the ultimate well-being of all parties involved and go back to being jerks to public figures.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:14 AM

September 29, 2014

rental people

Okay let's jump on this meme before it becomes recognized shorthand.

I recall back in August during the initial conflagration of Ferguson, MO, that a number of parties opined that non-whites in Ferguson were not as good citizens because they "rented" and therefor moved around a lot. : At the time, I thought to myself, "Wut?"

And in an article this morning on the racial disparities between populations and government, there is this:

The chief operating officer of Conyers, David Spann, a veteran city employee who is white, said that many of the city's minority newcomers have, like Ms. Francis, found homes in a local rental market that has exploded in part because of the foreclosure crisis. The city's homeownership rate is 38 percent, compared with a 66 percent rate for Georgia as a whole. "When you have rental people, this is nothing against them, but they're not as involved in the community," Mr. Spann said.

I don't know if there's an awful lot to unpack here.  Seemingly, the act of renting one's residence instead of being one of the fortunate who own their residence is the last refuge of the dog-whistles since the really offensive dog-whistles have been partially exposed as just plain racist.  Lazy, criminal, welfare mom, fast food employee, I'm sure I'm missing a few.  Basically, the racists are self-aware enough to know that they can't say what they're thinking out loud and have to couch the language in some metaphor plausible enough that the racists start to believe it themselves.

So now it's the "rental people" coming into formerly respectable neighborhoods, eating fried chicken/tortillas, playing boom boxes and generally lowering property values in general.  We see what you did there.

And accordingly, it is our job to argue back with THAT'S JUST RACIST enough until the racists realize that they can't get away with blaming renters anymore and then move onto, I dunno, people who listen to radio stations with HOT in their station IDs.

And besides, I know a lot of you homeowners, and all but one or two of you are not as much owning as you are renting your home from the bank.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:18 AM