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?