Multi-media Weekend Round-up: The Holly and the Ivy and the Gunsmoke edition

Well, friends, la famille Historiann has had a very good year and we have a lot to be grateful for, the first thing being that none of us was injured or killed by firearms.  I hope that all of you are happy and safe too, and that if you’re traveling, the winter snows blanketing the Rockies to the midwest aren’t causing you too much trouble or grief.  (We are envious–there were breathless reports of snowsnowsnow!!! coming last Wednesday, but here in Potterville, we got nuthin’ but a little dusting that blew away before noon.)

If you have a few spare (or sleepless) moments over the weekend, here’s a round-up of recent news and views that I thought you might find interesting:

  • Thank you, Jeffrey Toobin, for reminding us what a revanchist creep Robert Bork (1927-2012) actually was.  I was growing tired of reading all of the sanitized obituaries and the commentaries by so-called “liberals” who had deep, deep regrets about the way Bork was treated in his confirmation hearing.  You’d think a big, tough conservative guy like Bork would be glad to stand up for his pro-segregation, anti-Civil Rights, antifeminist writings and judicial record, wouldn’t you, and take whatever licking he got as a proud conservative?  According to Toobin, no recent SCOTUS nominee in recent years has so richly deserved a borking as Bork.
  • Paging Tenured Radical:  how ’bout a book club on Bork’s Slouching Towards Gomorrah (1996), like we did with Terry Castle’s The Professor?  It would be good for your history of modern conservativism courses, and fun for me.
  • Fiscal Cliff Notes:  Rutgers University historian Jennifer Mittlestadt writes that although many liberals may be rooting for the military spending cuts that will go into effect if we fall off the “fiscal cliff,” we need to look at the details hidden in the proposal:  “Folded into the current military spending cuts is a neoliberal agenda to privatize and outsource the retirement and health care benefits of military personnel and their families. Americans may consider these proposals of minimal concern, and of interest only to military personnel, veterans, and their families. But their implications reach far wider: they are part of a comprehensive neoliberal plan to privatize virtually all government social welfare programs and entitlements.”
  • Deconstructing white manhood:  Bloggers Werner Herzog’s Bear and MPG (“Unofficial thoughts about discrimination, racial sight, and race”) have some interesting contributions to make to a problem that Respectable Negro Chauncey DeVega has tried to highlight this week, too, given the demography of mass-murderers like Adam Lanza.  MPG writes in his latest post about a recent Pew survey on attitudes towards gun ownership and gun control, “It is telling that white maleness – when marked as “crazy” or “wounded” or “unwell” – doesn’t focus on revenge killings as catharsis, but on the spectacular slaughter of innocents.  It is equally telling that your garden-variety married white man – marked as “sane” and “normal” – believes that his “personal safety” and “liberty” is dependent on the purchase of a faux black phallus.  Critic June Stephenson once suggested that “men are not cost effective,” but just as often, one might add, they don’t even work properly.”  Werner Herzog’s Bear offers a refresher course on the 1990s and the domestic terrorist groups who were not only left alone but aggressively protected by the Republican congress of the mid-1990s because they were run by white, Christianist men., and notes that “[f]or gun control advocacy to be effective, it will mean confronting this very powerful and volatile [faction] in American political life.”
  • Speaking of Chauncey, he made me an honorary Respectable Negro this week by inviting me to participate in a podcast about the historical roots of the connection between white masculinity and gun ownership in North America, modern mass-murders, and blogging the intellectual life.  It should be up sometime next week–I’ll let you know when.  In the meantime, Chauncey calls Wayne LaPierre a crackhead!
  • Tired of the violence, cruelty, and exploitation of our modern world?  Take a trip back in time to appreciate the violence, cruelty, and exploitation of the colonial world through my lecture on American History TV on C-SPAN3, and also learn all about colonial women’s underwear!  (You can click that link to stream it on your computer if you don’t get C-SPAN3.)  It airs at 8 p EST/6 p. MST, and again tonight at 12 midnight/10 p. and Sunday at 1 p./11 a.  No matter how bad it gets here, you’ll find no refuge in history.

So, it looks like it’s onward and upward, friends.  Or shall I take a page from the recent election and say simply, FORWARD? 

20 thoughts on “Multi-media Weekend Round-up: The Holly and the Ivy and the Gunsmoke edition

  1. We got a total of about three dozen stray white flakes today during the couple of hours I was out and about this morning, so it looks like another greyish urban eastern holiday. Hopefully you can dodge the storms but still get the snow, which is actually quite possible. As for Bork, if he was in it for the “rich intellectual feast,” he could have that in a law school, or as a putative public intellectual, probably with better wages and benefits. I’m still just as glad that his hands were off of a whole bunch of 5-4 votes over the past two-and-a-half decades.

    Bless us one and all…


  2. Jeffrey Toobin reflects quite accurately my views on Bork and for that matter the beautification of other racists, oppressors, thieves, etc. The attempts to violate the promises given to military people by changing the post-service benefits are in the open for everyone to see. It’s unclear to me why the term neoliberal was either invented or used by Jennifer Mittlestadt. It’s high robbery on a large scale where anything that doesn’t yet belong to the rich should made theirs ASAP. By the way, Obama is a major architect of the robbery plan. His both winning election days will live in infamy if he is not stopped.

    Deconstructing white manhood is beyond me. Most of it I don’t understand and I never needed a gun/rifle to feel fine and comfy in my skin. “Men are not cost effective.” According to what measure? Money, good life, lovers, mass murderers? To be polite, to say that is highly irresponsible.


  3. Thanks! I sounded better than I remembered. I also remember feeling like I didn’t give my students as many opportunities to ask questions and make contributions as I ordinarily do, probably because of camera-nerves. But it looked OK–I was able to watch without cringing!

    In any case: I’m glad it wasn’t shot in High-Def.


  4. repeating from the other post:

    I got home in time to catch the latter half of your lecture live streaming and watched it with one of the eight year olds who lives here. He pointed out that most of your students were women and that women asked all of the questions. I asked if he wanted me to enquire about that and he replied: no. I will try to catch the first half on the repeat airing.

    After the lecture my young companion and I talked about what kinds of regularizing or classifying clothing we know about. It came down to school uniforms, which we think could have positive and negative attributes. The positive was economic ambiguity among students and the negative was power hierarchy in the classroom and school.


  5. Thanks, ex-pat!

    Truffula, you can catch the first half of the lecture in about 12 minutes if you’re still online or near a TV. I can’t believe your 8-y.o. watched (and wasn’t apparently bored)!


  6. I went fucken apoplectic when that fucken NBC teevee news douchewadde anchor fucke (what the fucken fucke is that smarmy fake-tan asshole’s name? Brian Wilson or something?) took the angle on Bork’s death that was all about how “left wing partisans” prevented him from being confirmed to the SCOTUS, and never said a single goddamn motherfucken word about what a fucken sicke fucke extremist far-right-wing shittebagge the motherfucker was.


  7. Thanks for the props, Historiann.

    A book club reading of Bork would be very fruitful, I think. I had a buddy back in college who read _Slouching_ when it came out in an attempt to try to understand the political opposition, as distasteful as he found it. We both agreed at the time that Bork at least had a brain in his head, unlike the American Family Association types, which is what made him so dangerous. The fact that such a nakedly public opponent of women’s rights and racial equality is still considered the “victim” in the “Borking” affair still amazes to me.


  8. This particular 8 year old also wanted to go watch the movie Lincoln, even after we said the content would be mostly talking, lots of talking. Both he and his brother stayed engaged through the entire movie, only growing restless during the last 15 minutes or so. The acting was certainly central to that but they know the outlines of the story and are in general interested in US presidential comparative analysis. (I did buy them an age appropriate book about Frederick Douglass after we saw the movie.)


  9. Truffula probably has two outstanding 8 year olds! (Twins.) I have not seen Lincoln; I rarely see historical movies because all I can see is what they’re distorting or leaving out, and I truly dislike Steven Speilberg’s emotionally manipulative filmmaking.

    Your children might also be interested in Harriet Jacobs. I found an abridged and illustrated version of her narrative, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, on Amazon by Bob Carruthers. There is also a fictionalized version of her narrative by Mary E. Lyons called Letters from a Slave Girl, for children grades 5-9. Her narrative sheds light on the experience of childhood in slavery both from her experience and that of her own children, whom she sees grow up while she is hiding in an attic, even concealed from them, for something like 7 years. It’s a heartbreaking part of her story, and although aimed to invoke sentimental motherhood of white ladies in the 1850s, it always gets me too, 160 years on.

    A word of warning: Jacobs’s narrative implies attempts at sexual coercion and before making her escape, she assents to a liason with a white man (the father of her children). Depending on their sophistication and your personal comfort level, this may be OK for them, or not, but you might want to read ahead if you have concerns about explaining this stuff to them. (I don’t think Truffula will have an issue with this, it’s just a word to the wise.)


  10. Thanks for the reading ideas, Historiann. You are right that we don’t sensor much around here. The guys are pretty good about knowing their own limits and taking us at our word about what is appropriate. We’ll see how long that lasts.

    I know what you mean about popularizations in your subject area.


  11. It’s NOT always a White Guy who goes on these murder rampages….I don’t know why everyone seems to think that when these things happens…There have been plenty of Asian rampage killers (including the guy with the highest number of deaths at Virginia Tech) and their have also been a few African Americans (Omar Thornton, Beltway Snipers etc) to..

    It’s not an exclusive “White male” thing….It’s more than that.

    More like a Male thing than a “White male” thing….Plus it’s not like African Americans are any less likely to murder someone with a gun…Look at Chicago, Baltimore, DC etc….Black on Black violence.


  12. As for why these attacks occur…Evolutionary psychology can explain it…. Men have a much higher reproductive variance than women do (ie some Men have LOTS of kids while others have none…where as women are more in the center) so men are playing with much higher stakes in the reproductive game…and there are ALOT more male “losers” in the mating dance….Thats why men take more risks and commit more crime…To increase their potential status to a mate (women select men mainly on status) and that means alot of low status men get left out entirely of both sex in general and reproduction….For a small percentage of these guys (usually guys who also have an underlying mental issue) they will get angry and decide to take it out on others….Unfortunately as social animals we will always have these sexually and reproductively disadvantaged or isolated males….and a discussion on “male masculinity” (which by the way despite what Feminists say…..the more masculine you are the better you do with women as every study indicates) will do nothing to change that…..Their is sadly an evolutionary explanation behind these attacks and we can’t do much but not be in the wrong place at the wrong time…Sad but thats the reality.


  13. Sorry, Really: evo-psych looks just like bullcrap to me.

    And there is no question in my mind that whiteness is a huge part of American gun culture and some of the most notable incidents of gun violence in history, in spite of the occasional non-white mass-murderer.


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