Footnote to “Letter from South America”

Bullshit Ahead warning in style of warning roa...

Bullshit Ahead warning in style of warning road sign (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The world is awash in bullshit. Politicians are unconstrained by facts. Science is conducted by press release. So-called higher education often rewards bullshit over analytic thought. Startup culture has elevated bullshit to high art. Advertisers wink conspiratorially and invite us to join them in seeing through all the bullshit, then take advantage of our lowered guard to bombard us with second-order bullshit. The majority of administrative activity, whether in private business or the public sphere, often seems to be little more than a sophisticated exercise in the combinatorial reassembly of bullshit.

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3 thoughts on “Footnote to “Letter from South America”

  1. From “The Washington Post”:

    with Breanne Deppisch

    THE BIG IDEA: The Republican National Committee declared in 2013 that racism was over.

    More precisely, under the leadership of incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and press secretary Sean Spicer, the organization celebrated “Rosa Parks’ bold stand and her role in ending racism.”

    Racism, of course, never “ended.” After Democrats hammered them for this, the party tweeted a clarification
    : Parks played a role “in fighting to end racism.” But the original tweet has never been deleted:

    Trump has often used racially-charged rhetoric, and his ill-informed attacks on beloved
    civil rights icon John Lewis this weekend underscored how unserious he is about redemption. But the incoming president is also surrounded by people who have, at times, been tone-deaf and tin-eared when race relations come up, raising questions about who will keep his darkest instincts in check.

    Stephen Bannon, who will be the president’s chief strategist, has proudly called Breitbart “the platform for the alt-right.
    ” Under his leadership, that website ran stories with headlines like, “Hoist it high and proud: The Confederate flag proclaims a glorious heritage” and “6 reasons Pamela Geller’s Muhammad cartoon contest is no different from Selma.”

    A former colleague, Julia Jones, says that in their years making movies together, Bannon occasionally talked about the genetic superiority of some people and once mused about the desirability of limiting the vote to property owners. “I said, ‘That would exclude a lot of African-Americans,’” Jones recalled recently to the New York Times. “He said, ‘Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.’ I said, ‘But what about Wendy?’ (Bannon’s executive assistant). He said, ‘She’s different. She’s family.’”

    Jeff Sessions claims that he was only joking when, as a U.S attorney in Alabama, he said he thought the KKK was OK until he learned they smoked pot. His nomination for a judgeship was rejected three decades ago by a Republican-controlled Judiciary committee, because of other racially-insensitive comments
    (which he denies making) and his role in prosecuting a flimsy voter fraud case against black civil rights activists. Now he’s poised to win confirmation as attorney general.

    Mike Pence said this fall that anyone who points out that there is still “systemic racism” in law enforcement is using the “rhetoric of division.” Amidst rioting in Charlotte, he declared: “We ought to set aside this talk, this talk about institutional racism and institutional bias.”

    On “Fox News Sunday” yesterday, Chris Wallace asked the vice president-elect how Trump could possibly accuse Lewis of being “all talk, talk, talk” and “no action,” as he did in one of his tweets: “Can he really say that about the man who got his head cracked open walking across the Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on Bloody Sunday?” Pence replied, “I think Donald Trump has the right to defend himself.”

    — Every member of Trump’s high command is hyper-sensitive to any suggestion that they are racially insensitive. The president-elect told The Post last June that he is “the least racist person you’ve ever encountered.” Bannon says he has “zero tolerance for “racial and anti-Semitic” views. The autopsy that Priebus commissioned after Mitt Romney’s loss in 2012 included 10 recommendations for improving outreach. “The Republican Party must be committed to building a lasting relationship within the African American community year-round, based on mutual respect and with a spirit of caring,” the report said.

    Spicer said this morning on NBC that the president-elect will meet this afternoon with Martin Luther King III at Trump Tower. The spokesman said they’ll “have a conversation about voting, about bringing more people into the system, the legacy of Dr. King and how we can continue to pursue that under a Trump administration.” Trump also promises to invest heavily in infrastructure projects that benefit heavily African-American areas.

    On Friday, our first black president will be replaced by someone who spent years trying to delegitimize him by suggesting (with no evidence) that he might have been born in Africa. Every day of the transition has brought fresh reminders that racism is thriving in America. Recall these six WaPo stories from just the past week:

    * Dash cam video shows police tackling and beating a black Northwestern doctoral student who they suspected of stealing a car. The problem: It was his vehicle.

    * A federal investigation into the Chicago police found that the department routinely uses excessive force and violates the constitutional rights of residents, particularly those who are black and Latino. (Read the scathing 164-page report by the Justice Department.)

    * A school board member in small-town Arkansas, who wore a blackface costume, refused to resign. Instead, he received an award for being “outstanding.” People from the community wore T-shirts that said “I stand with Ted.”

    * “A Dairy Queen owner unleashed a racist tirade against a customer” (and her young children).

    * Police in Rockville, Maryland, are investigating after a note containing Nazi imagery was left on a car belonging to a Jewish couple who had recently displayed a “Black Lives Matter” banner.

    * A white supremacist petition that circulated at Anne Arundel High School in Maryland described African Americans as a “scourge,” said they “invented” rape, stealing and basketball, and spoke of “the supreme White race.” The petition was labeled Kool Kids Klan — its three K’s underlined in a thinly veiled reference to the Ku Klux Klan.


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