VOTE FOR THEM!Check out this powerful new video from poet Carlos Andrés Gómez and the guys at Semicolon. If this doesn’t get you fired up about registering to vote, we’re not sure what will!
Lest we forget — let’s not get too carried away this election season. Our problems are bigger than Republicans vs Democrats.
Earlier this week, David Brooks, in the Times, worried that we don’t build enough impressive monuments, ones that properly project the power of the leader in the manner of Jefferson’s memorial, or Lincoln’s. Brooks thought that big statues might help with what he called America’s “followership problem.” This does not, as one might guess, consist of Americans blindly going along, in awe of the shiny and the rich, without thinking for themselves; quite the opposite. Brooks argues that we don’t defer enough, that we question “just authority” much too much, and aren’t sufficiently “grateful” for the leadership of élites. This seems exactly wrong—the sort of logic that gets you looped up with vampires.
Could this movie teach Americans something about history and democracy?
You may not have heard of it, but the West African country of Mauritania has what is probably one of the most vibrant and active protest movements in the world today. Protests drawing tens of thousands of people (out of a total population of just three million) take place almost weekly in the capital Nouakchott, with many smaller protests happening on a daily basis around the vast country. The protests are overwhelmingly nonviolent — even in the face of frequent violent suppression — and have been going on since February 2011.
It would be comfortable to file these protests as another part of the Arab Spring: Mauritania is on the southern reaches of the Saharan Arab belt, and large-scale protests here started with the self-immolation and subsequent death of Yacoub Ould Dahoud, an action mirroring the suicide of Mohamed Bouazizi, which set off the revolt in Tunisia. As in other Arab countries that experienced large-scale protests, Mauritania is governed by an autocratic regime whose leader, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, originally came to power through a coup d’état.
But while these similarities exist and the pro-democracy protests in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world surely have been a source of great inspiration for local activists, Mauritania merits a second look.
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— bell hooks “All About Love” (via namanthia)
I. Love. Ed Norton.
I think that every generation is called in different ways to a higher purpose and is forced to realize that the Great Challenge of an era will identify itself; we don’t get to choose it. My grandparent’s generation certainly had other plans when they rose and faced the great battles against fascism and totalitarianism; my parents’ generation sacrificed care-free youth to carry the torch of civil rights and social equality.
I’m 42 years old. I have little doubt that the legacy of my generation and likely the next will hinge on how we responded to the revelation that we were altering the natural systems of this planet in ways that could not sustain our civilization. The geo-political realities of our moment and all of our domestic social arguments are going to seem like minor squabbles to future generations facing the massive destabilizations that we’re queuing up for them with our heedless degradation of the global environment. Whether our great-great grandchildren look at us as wise or as latter-day Nero’s, fiddling while the planet burned, is a fate that’s going to be decided by what we do in the second Century of the environmental movement.
If you want something done right, DO IT YOURSELF!
In case you missed it, the Vatican has come down hard on nuns for being too focused on issues of social justice instead of toeing the political line on birth control and homosexuality. This isn’t the best article written on the issue, but this line, I thought was very telling. “the Bishops, who are the Church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals.” The Bishops are authentic, not nuns. The men, not women. The people in control, the top of the hierarchy, not the everyday people, the democratically engaged people, the people living in the real world. That line, to me, says it all about the difference between the establishment and the people.
Melissa Harris-Perry delivers an eloquent and insightful discussion on race and public space in America.
Trayvon Martin was not innocent. He was guilty of being black in presumably restricted public space. For decades, Jim Crow laws made this crime statutory. They codified the spaces into which black bodies could not pass without encountering legal punishment. They made public blackness a punishable offense. The 1964 Civil Rights Act removed the legal barriers but not the social sanctions and potentially violent consequences of this “crime.” George Zimmerman’s slaying of Trayvon Martin—and the subsequent campaign to smear Martin—is the latest and most jarring reminder that it is often impossible for a black body to be innocent.
Read the full article here…