August 19, 2017

Playing the wrong song.

On December 16, 1977, Elvis Costello was on "Saturday Night Live, and he was supposed to play "Less Than Zero." He gets started, then starts waving his hands and saying "Stop! Stop!"...

and "I'm sorry, ladies and gentlemen, there's no reason to do this song here" — it was about some British political situation — and switches to "Radio Radio."

Later, Costello said he got his inspiration from Jimi Hendrix, who was on Lulu's BBC TV show back in January 1969 and supposed to play "Hey Joe." Hendrix starts the song, then stops and says: "We'd like to stop playing this rubbish and dedicate a song to the Cream regardless of what kind of group they might be. I'd like to dedicate this to Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Jack Bruce." Cream had broken up a couple months before.

Jimi then switches to "Sunshine of Your Love" and goes on and on until "We're being pulled off the air":

At the Questionable Artwork Café...


... you can write about anything — this is a café post — but I am inviting you to consider whether this painting is deplorable.(Double click the image to enlarge and see details much more clearly.)

Does it deserve a place of honor or is this something that good citizens should pressure the museum to store in its basement along with other disreputable junk from America's shameful past?

And if these proddings amuse you, encourage me by using The Althouse Amazon Portal.

ADDED: Here's the wall card for that painting (at the Indianapolis Museum of Art):

Not very informative — politically — is it? Why did Thomas Hart Benton lead "Regionalists" and why did these people "favor images of America, especially the rural Midwest"? It's 1942. It's WWII. It's the year FDR relocated Japanese Americans to internment camps. Why so hot to show us the America of the rural Midwest where farmers still plow with a horse? Isn't this the kind of image Hitler would have enjoyed? Hitler too objected to the abstract art of the Modernists. He himself painted rural scenes. For example:
And yet, what a difference between Hitler's rural scene and Benton's. Benton had everything rolling and flowing, pulsating with life. Hitler doesn't even have a person or an animal, and there's no activity in his inanimate things. Hitler's painting looks like a snapshot of a real place — a boring place not even worth photographing. Benton's painting refers to reality, but everything is transformed. He takes the most humble subject and pumps it up into the mythic, heroic, and phantasmagoric.

But who knows? Maybe that's what Hitler meant to do too, and he was too crappy a painter to achieve the intended effect. And more importantly, similarity/difference to Hitler is not a good enough political test, especially for art.

"By identifying sexual desire as a universal drive with endlessly idiosyncratic objects determined by individual experiences and memories..."

"... Freud, more than anyone, not only made it possible to see female desire as a force no less powerful or valid than male desire; he made all the variants of sexual proclivity dance along a shared erotic continuum. In doing so, Freud articulated basic conceptual premises that reduced the sway of experts who attributed diverse sexual urges to hereditary degeneration or criminal pathology. His work has allowed many people to feel less isolated and freakish in their deepest cravings and fears...."

From a NYT book review of "FREUD/The Making of an Illusion." The book is by Frederick Crews, who is extremely hostile to Freud. The review is by George Prochnik, who sees value in Freud, despite all of the bad science and self-deception belabored by Crews.
Crews has been debunking Freud’s scientific pretensions for decades now; and it seems fair to ask what keeps driving him back to stab the corpse again. 
The Oedipus complex?
Now that we’ve effectively expelled Freud from the therapeutic clinic, have we become less neurotic? With that baneful “illusion” gone, and with all our psychopharmaceuticals and empirically grounded cognitive therapy techniques firmly in place, can we assert that we’ve advanced toward some more rational state of mental health than that enjoyed by our forebears in the heyday of analysis? Indeed, with a commander in chief who often seems to act entirely out of the depths of a dark unconscious, we might all do better to read more, not less, of Freud.
Ooh! Trump keeps popping up everywhere. It's like sex in Freud. It/he is everywhere. I'm going to read Freud just because I'd like some reading material where I know Trump won't show up.

Just kidding. What I really mean is that there's some reason we seem to need a big, dominating, larger-that-life male figure to loom over us and mess with our mind.

Prochnik says Trump seems to act entirely out of the depths of a dark unconscious, but maybe the feelings we project onto Trump are arising entirely out of the depths of our dark unconscious.

"Do not waste your time photographing it."

From "Five Things You Must Not Do During Totality At The Solar Eclipse."

But let me offer something for your things-to-do list: If you must take photographs, take photographs of things other than the eclipse. Maybe something about the landscape in the dark or with an approaching moon shadow. And if you're stuck surrounded by people during the eclipse, maybe get something interesting about how human beings behave, such as stupidly wasting their time trying to get their own amateur photograph of the thing that pros will be photographing to death. I'll bet lots of people will try for the selfie "Me With the Total Eclipse of the Sun." Pictures of them posing for themselves with the eclipse framed in the background might be amusing.

Who would spray paint "Tear It Down" on a statue of Joan of Arc in New Orleans?

I'm reading this story at PJ Media  — which misquotes the graffiti in the headline and makes it sound as though the graffiti was on the statue when it's actually on the base. So let's switch to The Times-Picayune (which is linked at PJ Media):
The phrase "Tear it Down" was hastily sprayed in black paint across the base of the golden Joan of Arc statue on Decatur Street in the French Quarter sometime earlier this week. It has since been removed, with only the vaguest traces of the paint remaining.

The "Tear it Down" tag would seem to relate to the debate surrounding the city's ongoing removal of four Confederate monuments. But the statue of Joan of Arc, a 15th-century military leader, martyr and Catholic saint, hasn't been mentioned in the controversy to this point.
Now, wait a minute! This article is from last May, and the PJ Media article went up yesterday and doesn't mention that the defacing of the Joan of Arc monument predated the current uproar over the removal of Civil War monuments. But there was a "Take Em Down NOLA" movement at the time that — as the Times-Picayune tells us — aimed at the local Confederate monuments (and this group denies targeting the Joan).

Anyway, who would spray paint "Tear It Down" on a Joan of Arc monument? Do you leap to assume that some idiot believes that Joan of Arc has to do with the Confederacy? Maybe that's how you have fun. At PJ Media, the author (Tom Knighton) does not assume it was ignorance about Joan of Arc. At the end of his piece he says:
It's also possible that this was the result of someone being intentionally ridiculous. After all, while removing statues of Confederate leaders is the big thing, there are also movements to remove a Thomas Jefferson monument from outside of Columbia University and a Teddy Roosevelt from outside of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. So maybe someone is just trolling these lunatics.
Yes, that theory fits the facts better than the theory that some idiot thought it was a pro-Confederacy statue.

But it could also be anti-Catholic. Speaking of ignorance of American history, it's ignorant not to know that the KKK and other nationalists have been virulently anti-Catholic. Here's a Wikipedia article, "Anti-Catholicism in the United States."

Here's some KKK artwork from 1925:
You see the tear-it-down enthusiasm.

There are people who would want to take down a statue of a Catholic saint. Quite aside from the KKK, what about people who want the strict separation of religion and government? Why is there a religious monument in the public square?

If "the Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over" — as Bannon says — then who is this Trump-minus-Bannon we've got now?

The quote comes from The Weekly Standard:
“The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over,” Bannon said.... “We still have a huge movement, and we will make something of this Trump presidency. But that presidency is over. It’ll be something else. And there’ll be all kinds of fights, and there’ll be good days and bad days, but that presidency is over.”
The "we" in Bannon's quote is a subset of the people who voted for Trump. Clearly, Trump won the Electoral College, which is our system. He won the game according to our rules, but his opponent got more votes and something like 40% of the eligible voters abstained for one reason or another. But even if you look only at the — what is it? — 26% of the people who voted for Trump, only some unknown fraction of that were people who fit Bannon's "we," people who want whatever Trump-minus-Bannon is not.
Among the senior advisers competing with Bannon in trying to shape Trump’s agenda, and his tone, were the president’s daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law, Jared. Bannon pointedly voiced criticism of those in the president’s sphere whom he considered to be globalists, or liberals (or both), and the president himself plainly bristled over the early attention that Bannon got from the press (including a Time magazine cover, which is said to have particularly irked Trump).
Yes, some of the people who voted for Trump want something more moderate, something represented by Jared and Ivanka, the Trump who said things like:
“Ask yourself who is really the friend of women and the L.G.B.T. community, Donald Trump with actions or Hillary Clinton with her words? I will tell you who the better friend is, and someday I believe that will be proven out, big-league.”
The big league is a strange place. You never know what you're getting when you vote for a President. Some people who voted for Trump were saying he didn't really mean those harsher things he said. Voters hear what they want to hear or hear and hope for the best or just loathe both candidates and join the 40% who abstained or pick somebody because they're more afraid the other person. I was in that last category, and while I have never revealed which of the 2 candidates I voted for in spite of disliking both of them — I voted for the one I disliked more! — there's no way I'm in Bannon's "we."

Bannon deserves to feel great pride that he got Trump over the line. He's entitled to think of himself as the without-which-nothing of Trump's presidency. But the intensely excited subset of Trump supporters don't deserve to get everything they want. Trump is the President of all of us, even those who didn't vote or who are not eligible to vote or who voted for Hillary Clinton or Gary Johnson or Jill Stein. The people outside of Bannon's "we" are the vast majority of Americans and include millions of people who voted for Trump and would like to vote for him again in 2020.
“Now, it’s gonna be Trump,” Bannon said. “The path forward on things like economic nationalism and immigration, and his ability to kind of move freely . . . I just think his ability to get anything done—particularly the bigger things, like the wall, the bigger, broader things that we fought for, it’s just gonna be that much harder."...

“I think they’re going to try to moderate him,” he says. “I think he’ll sign a clean debt ceiling, I think you’ll see all this stuff. His natural tendency—and I think you saw it this week on Charlottesville—his actual default position is the position of his base, the position that got him elected. I think you’re going to see a lot of constraints on that. I think it’ll be much more conventional.”
But the vast majority of Americans — 80? 90? 95%? — want something more conventional! Convention is tradition. Trump said "Make America Great Again," invoking the past, tradition, and there is a longing for stability and recognizable values and principles and inclusiveness.
“I feel jacked up,” he says. “Now I’m free. I’ve got my hands back on my weapons. Someone said, ‘it’s Bannon the Barbarian.’ I am definitely going to crush the opposition. There’s no doubt. I built a f***ing machine at Breitbart. And now I’m about to go back, knowing what I know, and we’re about to rev that machine up. And rev it up we will do.”
Great! Get out there where you belong. Speaking freely, speaking directly to us, out there where we can see you and where you don't have your hands on political power.

August 18, 2017

August's autumn.

The colors are beginning to change, I see:


Photographed today, near Lake Mendota.

Feel free to write about anything in the comments.

"The anger and action aimed at the statues are reminiscent of recent controversies over two prominent artworks..."

"... Dana Schutz’s painting 'Open Casket' depicting Emmett Till, the murdered African-American teenager, in the Whitney Biennial, and Sam Durant’s sculpture gallows 'Scaffold,' at the Walker Art Center’s sculpture garden, which was denounced by Native American groups for recalling an act of genocide. Protesters objected to both pieces on racial, ethnic, and historical grounds and called for their removal or destruction. Neither work celebrated the Confederacy or slavery, however, and both were created as art rather than as public memorials like some of the statues now being removed."

Created as art? What does that even mean? They were political and intentionally so.

The passage is from "Trump Aside, Artists and Preservationists Debate the Rush to Topple Statues" (NYT).

Both "Open Casket" and "Scaffold" were discussed on the blog. Here:
But why would the Whitney choose ["Open Casket"] for its vaunted biennial? You could say that the Whitney should want art that challenges us, but this is simply bad. The historical photograph speaks for itself. What did Schutz contribute with her simplified and smeared paint job?
And here:
What were the mental processes of the elite arts people who decided this was a good idea? Now, they have to backtrack, because their mistake was so bad and they want to salvage their reputation. They're dismantling the thing they should never have put up. That's not censorship. That's belated shame.
Also from the NYT article:
[Some] argue that removing a statue from its place of origin diminishes the power of its historical significance. “The meanings and the history that we are able to draw from them in a different site, especially a sort of sanitized site like a museum, are not going to be the same,” said Michele H. Bogart, a professor at Stony Brook University. “That is a historical loss.”
This is an important point: Don't sanitize the history. Some people say the history remains the same when the statue is taken down. They're probably thinking of the history of the Civil War. But there's also the history of putting up monuments.

The statues were put up by white people who wanted to express something, and they are now being taken down because white people are ashamed of what they expressed back then. They want to delete the old evidence and use the deletion as the creation of new evidence — evidence of how kindly white people really are. Why should white people have such an easy time covering up their shame? Removing the statues can be portrayed as a kindness toward black people, but critical race theory teaches us to presume that what white people do they do for themselves.

"Steve is now unchained. Fully unchained."

"He’s going nuclear. You have no idea. This is gonna be really fucking bad."

Comments from 2 different Bannon friends, relayed by Politico.


“First he’s gonna figure things out with Bob and Bekah [Mercer],” said one Bannon ally. “Breitbart’s certainly the likely landing spot.” This ally said that Bannon may also move to a Mercer-funded outside group, or even start a new one.

Another friend of Bannon’s doubted this: “Why would he help them from the outside at this point? Run the outside group and then Jared Kushner takes credit?"...

We can infer that Kanye West, Russell Simmons, and Sean Combs declined to talk to the NYT about Donald Trump.

I'm reading "Circling the Square of President Trump’s Relationship With Race" in today's NYT.

First, let me get this out of the way. What's with "Circling the Square"? The standard expression, referring to an ancient geometry problem, is "squaring the circle." That's a used as a metaphor for something you just can't do. I'm seeing "Circling the Square" as a book title, referring to the Egyptian Revolution, where there were demonstrations in a square — Tahrir Square. The title seems to be a play on the the old expression "squaring the circle." In this NYT article, however, there's no square to form the basis of a play on the old expression. I think it's just a weird mistake.

Now, let's get to the meat of this article. It seems apparent that the NYT set out to find out if there's any evidence that Trump is a racist. Read the article. They found strong evidence that he is absolutely not any sort of a racist. The headline ought to come out and celebrate his excellent record.

The article begins with Kara Young, a "biracial" model who went out with Trump for 2 years and says “I never heard him say a disparaging comment towards any race of people." (Young, like Barack Obama, had one black parent and one white parent.) The only seemingly negative thing the NYT got out of her was that he noticed the high number of black people in the crowd at the U.S. Open when Venus and Serena Williams were playing.

But this is what really struck me:
Beyond dating a biracial woman, [Trump] made outsize efforts to hang out publicly with African-American celebrities: the boxing promoter Don King, the hip-hop impresarios Kanye West, Russell Simmons and Sean Combs, and celebrities as big as Muhammad Ali, James Brown and Michael Jackson.
Kanye West, Russell Simmons, and Sean Combs are all still alive. Do they not take phone calls from the New York Times? I've got to assume they were called and they all refused to talk. I'm going to guess that they all would give a good report but won't speak because they'd be savaged economically if they spoke well of Trump. But they don't have to speak. The inference is so strong that the silence is enough.

But let's see what these men may have said about Trump elsewhere. Here's something from 2 days ago: "Kanye West deletes all tweets defending Trump meeting." The tweets were from last December, and the deletions happened this past Sunday or Monday.

Russell Simmons has an open letter to Trump, published just this afternoon in The Daily News (perhaps in response to his name coming up in the NYT article). He talks about "the Donald I called friend... the Donald I know," who had great relationships with black and Jewish people, and asks "Where is he now? I have to believe he is still in there, somewhere." He implores Trump to change and "begin to feed the light":
The racist, bigoted movements you are feeding now are gaining power by your words, actions and refusal to hold people accountable for the destruction they are causing in your name....

Scripture tells us the Donald I knew — or an even greater Donald — is still there inside you, sleeping. It is time to wake him the f--- up.
As for Sean Combs, it seems that the last relevant thing we've heard from him was back in June, when he said that black people "don’t really give a fuck about Trump, because we're in the same fucked-up position... The tomfoolery that’s going on in D.C., that’s just regular everyday business to black folks."
“We’re turning CNN and all that shit off because we’re trying to get ourselves together,” he said. “That’s what I’m about. I’m like, ‘Turn that shit off, let them deal with all that shit. We gotta start dealing with us.’ So my thing is, I gotta keep showing the dream. I gotta keep magnifying that and keep it focused on that self-love that we need to give our race.”

At the Second-Look Café...


... nobody's naked.

Talk about whatever you like.

Consider using The Althouse Amazon Portal.

It's your way to help Althouse get out and about, taking pictures with peripheries that demand a second look.

I really thought I'd just happened to capture a naked person standing on the street. That would be odd!

"Trump tells aides he has decided to remove Bannon."

According to my TV screen, set to CNN.

ADDED: Here's the NYT article, "Stephen Bannon Out at the White House After Turbulent Run." Excerpt:
Mr. Bannon’s dismissal followed an Aug. 16 interview he initiated with a writer with whom he had never spoken, with the progressive publication The American Prospect. In it, Mr. Bannon mockingly played down the American military threat to North Korea as nonsensical: “Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.”

He also bad-mouthed his colleagues in the Trump administration, vowed to oust a diplomat at the State Department and mocked officials as “wetting themselves” over the consequences of radically changing trade policy. Of the far right, he said, “These guys are a collection of clowns,” and he called it a “fringe element” of “losers.” “We gotta help crush it,” he said in the interview, which people close to Mr. Bannon said he believed was off the record....

"You need violence in order to protect nonviolence. That’s what’s very obviously necessary right now. It’s full-on war, basically."

Said Emily Rose Nauert, "a 20-year-old antifa member who became a symbol of the movement in April when a white nationalist leader punched her in the face during a melee near the University of California, Berkeley," quoted in the NYT in "‘Antifa’ Grows as Left-Wing Faction Set to, Literally, Fight the Far Right."
Antifa adherents — some armed with sticks and masked in bandannas — played a visible role in the running street battles in Charlottesville, but it is impossible to know how many people count themselves as members of the movement. Its followers acknowledge it is secretive, without official leaders and organized into autonomous local cells. It is also only one in a constellation of activist movements that have come together in the past several months to the fight the far right....
That makes me think about that NYT article 2 days ago —  "Alt-Right, Alt-Left, Antifa: A Glossary of Extremist Language" (blogged here) — that relied on the characterizations of Mark Pitcavage, an analyst at the Anti-Defamation League, who deemed “alt-left" "just a made-up epithet" and "antifa" an "old left-wing extremist movement."

The new article today seems to acknowledge the inadequacy of the 2-day-old article. The older article seemed intent on pushing back Donald Trump for talking about the "alt-left" as well as the "alt-right." The term "false equivalence" — which was a big media talking point earlier in the week — appears in the older article. I thought "false equivalence" was being used to say, essentially: When one side is worse than the other side, you're not even allowed to compare them.

There was something false about saying "false equivalence." Strictly speaking, the label applies only when 2 things are said to be the same. It shouldn't work to exclude all comparisons when people are being clear about the similarities and differences.

In the case of Charlottesville, there was no logical fallacy in saying there were 2 opposing factions that arrived on scene ready to rumble as long as you're also clear that the 2 sides were different. One side wanted to exercise its free speech rights to express bad, ugly ideas. The other side wanted to interfere with the exercise of free speech rights and was motivated by hostility to ideas that deserved hostility.

In the new article, there's less concern about stepping on the "false equivalence" talking point. There's a recognition that people like Nauert are headed in a violent direction and are gaining adherents. Maybe acting like they're nothing (or nothing any good people dare speak about) is dangerous. Right after that quote from Nauert, there's this subtle discarding of the "false equivalence" talking point:
Others on the left disagree, saying antifa’s methods harm the fight against right-wing extremism and have allowed Mr. Trump to argue that the two sides are equivalent....
Now, Trump never said "the 2 sides are equivalent." He didn't say "equivalent" and he didn't even say "2 sides." He said "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides." But those who were pushing the "false equivalence" idea needed to rely on the idea that one side is bad and the other is good, and they needed to minimize antifa. Now, the NYT admits the left has a violence problem. Good!

Trump has us studying General Pershing.

"Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!," he tweeted. That was after "The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help. Be tough & strong, we love you!"

That's not making an assertion about what General Pershing did, just telling us to go study something. Is that really enough to get a "Pants on Fire" rating from Politifact?

Politifact merges the new tweet with something Trump said back in February 2016:
"They were having terrorism problems [in the Philippines], just like we do," Trump said, according to a February 2016 account in the Washington Post. "And he caught 50 terrorists who did tremendous damage and killed many people. And he took the 50 terrorists, and he took 50 men and he dipped 50 bullets in pigs’ blood — you heard that, right? He took 50 bullets, and he dipped them in pigs’ blood. And he had his men load his rifles, and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people. And the 50th person, he said: You go back to your people, and you tell them what happened. And for 25 years, there wasn’t a problem. Okay? Twenty-five years, there wasn’t a problem."
Is that story true? How would we know? If it were true, it might be denied, and if it were false, it might be claimed.
The best evidence U.S. troops used pigs as a tactic against Muslims comes from a memoir by Pershing titled My Life Before the World War, 1860-1917, which was republished in 2013 by the University Press of Kentucky. In the memoir, Pershing writes that another commanding officer in the Philippines, Col. Frank West, had in at least one case seen to it that bodies of Muslim insurgents "were publicly buried in the same grave with a dead pig. It was not pleasant to have to take such measures, but the prospect of going to hell instead of heaven sometimes deterred the would-be assassins."

In a footnote, the editor of the 2013 edition, John T. Greenwood, cited a letter about the incident from Maj. Gen. J. Franklin Bell, the commander of the Philippines Division, to Pershing: "Of course there is nothing to be done, but I understand it has long been a custom to bury (insurgents) with pigs when they kill Americans. I think this a good plan, for if anything will discourage the (insurgents) it is the prospect of going to hell instead of to heaven. You can rely on me to stand by you in maintaining this custom. It is the only possible thing we can do to discourage crazy fanatics."

While these writings do provide strong evidence that United States forces used pigs as a tactic against Muslim insurgents, there is no evidence that Pershing himself committed these acts.
The interesting thing is that Trump is choosing to waft this myth right now. That is, he's thinks its a good idea to let radical Muslim terrorists know we might mess with their dead bodies in a way that he (presumably) thinks they think will wreck their afterlife. He might think that threat will influence the terrorists, but not necessarily. He might just think that he had cheeky tweet to entertain his fans and confound his MSM antagonists. It's a new topic: Pershing!

It gets rid of whatever the old topic was.

Purging with Pershing.

But, seriously, the bodies of the enemy dead should not be desecrated.

Remember: "Horror at Fallujah / SAVAGE ATTACK: Bodies dragged through street, hung from bridge 4 U.S. contractors killed in ambush hours after 5 soldiers slain in Iraq."

And the respect the previous administration showed to the body of our arch-enemy bin Laden:
"Traditional procedures for Islamic burial was followed," the May 2 email from Rear Admiral Charles Gaouette reads. "The deceased's body was washed (ablution) then placed in a white sheet. The body was placed in a weighted bag. A military officer read prepared religious remarks, which were translated into Arabic by a native speaker. After the words were complete, the body was placed on a prepared flat board, tipped up, whereupon the deceased's body slid into the sea.''
AND: From 2013: "One of the U.S. Marines who was caught on video urinating on the corpses of suspected Taliban fighters has broken his silence to say that he's not sorry for what he did and he'd do it again."

"These were the same guys that were killing our family, killing our brothers," Sgt. Joseph Chamblin told ABC News affiliate WSOC in his first interview since the 2011 incident. Chamblin said he did regret any repercussions it may have had on the Marines, "but do I regret doing it? Hell no."

"Violence directed at white nationalists only fuels their narrative of victimhood — of a hounded, soon-to-be-minority..."

"... who can’t exercise their rights to free speech without getting pummeled. It also probably helps them recruit. And more broadly, if violence against minorities is what you find repugnant in neo-Nazi rhetoric, then 'you are using the very force you’re trying to overcome'...."

From "How to Make Fun of Nazis," a NYT op-ed by Moises Velasquez-Manoff.

Quite aside from "their narrative of victimhood," there's their desire to be regarded as staunchly masculine and powerful. If you respond with fear and violence, you're reinforcing their self-image and helping them recruit more lost souls and losers.

But humor is hard. It takes some brains. Violence is easy.

ADDED: This post made me think about the courage it took to make fun of the real Nazis, in Germany, in the Nazi era, which was the subject of an August 9th post. Excerpt:
I found this article in Spiegel from 2006 about a book by Rudolph Herzog called "Heil Hitler, The Pig is Dead" (published in English as "Dead Funny: Telling Jokes in Hitler's Germany"). From the article:

"We make the assumption that if people are aware of how urgent and frightening and scary these issues are, then people will automatically translate that into ‘Oh my gosh, what kind of actions can I take?'"

"That’s just simply not the case," says Renee Lertzman, "a psychologist who studies climate-change communication," quoted in The Atlantic in "Constant Anxiety Won't Save the World/Spreading fear and worry about issues you care about on social media can lead to burnout rather than action."

There's also this from Scott Woodruff, "the director of the anxiety and obsessive-compulsive treatment program at the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy":
The anxious mind and the worried mind can manage to bring back topics over and over again. It is possible that people can really spend quite an amount of time every day worrying about world events.... Excessive worry can lead to fatigue, lack of concentration, and muscle tightness. The interesting thing is the fatigue and lack of concentration are the opposite of what people are trying to promote when they’re advocating for vigilance.... [P]eople get overwhelmed. They burn out and short-circuit and turn their backs on the very issues that they care most deeply about.
I'm watching this phenomenon every day on the internet. And I really am vigilant, having blogged daily for 13+ years, with genuine, unbroken concentration. I observe the anxiety of others and how they spread it in social media (and mainstream media), but I experience the opposite of anxiety for some reason. I think I'm often saying calm down, it's not so bad. Why is everybody cranking everybody else up?

One answer is: It's not everybody. It's just everybody on the internet. There are huge numbers of ordinary people who go about their business, working for a living, caring for their loved ones, experiencing real-world pleasures, and doing constructive, concrete things that can be done.

Facebook could be about friends sharing views into their life in the real world. That's why I'm on Facebook. My Facebook feed is currently cluttered with posts expressing alarm about Nazis and slavery. Oh my gosh, what kind of actions can I take? The only "action" required is to express, again and again, just how terribly much you oppose Nazis and slavery. There isn't even any challenging thinking involved. What can you say other than the obvious, that Nazis and slavery are wrong? Well, you can put some serious effort into denouncing people who are not stating the obvious with sufficient intensity or who are not stating the obvious in a statement that does not contain additional statements.

This intense policing of the virtue of others — it's not even virtuous. But that's not where the article in The Atlantic goes. Cautioning against burnout, it recommends more self-care.

August 17, 2017

"The removal of City-owned monuments to confederate soldiers in Forest Hill Cemetery has minimal or no disruption to the cemetery itself."

"There is no disrespect to the dead with the removal of the plaque and stone," said a written statement from Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, after the removal of the memorial. My post on the subject is here, where there's been a discussion under way for a couple hours. In that time, I walked over to Forest Hill and found the Confederate’s Rest section:




I had hoped that perhaps the plaque was not yet gone, because I wanted to read the text. But here's a photograph from William Cronon that shows how it looked. The text is mostly readable. The soldiers (who died as prisoners of war) are called "valiant." We're told they surrendered "after weeks of fighting under extremely difficult conditions" and that they arrived in the prison camp here in Madison "suffering from wounds, malnutrition and various diseases."
Within a few weeks 140 graves were filled, the last resting place for these unsung heroes, far from their homes in Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas.
It's a neutral, informative account except for that word "heroes." They were called "unsung heroes," but to say "unsung heroes" is to sing — however slightly — of their heroism. "Unsung" was thus untrue, and that little bit of singing of heroism was enough to incite the passion for cutting down monuments. Don't call them heroes just because they fought hard and suffered and died!

Who are heroes? "If somebody’s a prisoner, I consider them a war hero." That's what Donald Trump said after he said "He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

My dictionary, the OED, says "A man (or occasionally a woman) distinguished by the performance of courageous or noble actions, esp. in battle; a brave or illustrious warrior, soldier, etc." It doesn't say the man had to fight on your side, but who puts up monuments using the word "heroes" for the courageous fighters on the other side? We know the answer: Our city. We had whatever reason we had to express kind thoughts toward the men who suffered and died in our prison camp. But our city's thoughts are harsher today. To paraphrase Trump: I like people who weren't fighting for slavery. 

Here's an article from last May about veterans honoring the different sites, including Union Rest and Confederate Rest:
“You want to honor the soldiers. It doesn’t matter what side they were on,” said Carol Gannon-Hembel, who accompanied her husband, Alan Hembel, to the ceremony....

At the Confederate Rest service, Alan Zeuner and Dan Bradford, dressed in Confederate regalia, lamented the removal of the flag pole holder in front of the Confederate Rest grave site. Bradford called it a “slap in the face” to Confederate veterans who were repatriated after the war.

“It’s a part of history that is largely ignored,” Bradford said, regarding the role of Confederate soldiers in 19th-century Wisconsin history. “I want to see to it that people see it for what it really is, rather than outright lies.”

Bradford, a member of the 61st Georgia Infantry, has both Union and Confederate ancestors. He said he is a descendant of Union Army General James Shields, who is known for challenging Abraham Lincoln to a duel, prior to his presidency.

“These are just interesting little points of history,” Bradford said....

"There's a cemetery just a few blocks from where I live up here in the north where there is a section full of graves of Confederate soldiers."

"These are well-tended graves in part of a beautiful cemetery. I think these men suffered and died at the place we still call Camp Randall. It's where we play football now, but it was a miserable prison camp. But statues in the public square honoring the other side in a war? Why are we doing that? It's very strange!"

I wrote that in the comments section to a post I put up 2 days ago. I'd said "Why do we have monuments celebrating the losing side, the Americans who took up arms against America? That's rather crazy other than to express respect for the dead."

I really did not think the monument-topplers would go after the cemetery. 

But today I see that Madison Mayor Paul Soglin has ordered the removal of a stone with a plaque memorializing those dead men at the site of their graves:
Soglin said in a statement Thursday that he has directed staff to remove a plaque and a stone at the Confederate Rest section of the cemetery, adding "there should be no place in our country for bigotry, hatred or violence against those who seek to unite our communities and our country."...
A plaque at the Confederate Rest section of the public cemetery describes how the 140 soldiers ended buried in Wisconsin after surrendering in a battle and being taken to Camp Randall. It described them as "valiant Confederate soldiers" and "unsung heroes."
Here's an article from 2014 about that part of the cemetery:
The servicemen, most from Alabama’s 1st Infantry Regiment and others from Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi, died from their injuries or other ailments not long after arriving in Madison by train in April 1862. They were captured at Island No. 10 — a Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River where Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee meet — and held at Camp Randall, a Union army training facility that became a prisoner-of-war camp and military hospital.

Visitors from around the U.S. seeking their forebears have made pilgrimages to the small plot, and some have taken its plight to heart. Alice Whiting Waterman moved to Madison from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1866 to care for the graves. When she died in 1897, she was buried there with “her boys.”
I truly believed that Madisonians were proud of the respect they had shown for so long for those prisoners who died here.

It is awful to preempt public discussion about these graves, to choose go after them in a time of heightened passion. These are graves!

ADDED: Here is the full text of the statement Paul Soglin put up on the City of Madison website an hour ago:

"For one week, every August since 2009, a Maddon-managed team is allowed to show up to the ballpark no more than three hours before first pitch..."

"... and is encouraged to come even later. It’s called American Legion Week, in reference to when Maddon would have a day job and then 'show up at 5 p.m. for a 5:30 game' in American Legion ball. Even more than normal, he wants less work from his players before games this week. There’s actually a fine for showing up earlier than three hours before game time, in the form of a bottle of $100 wine (with receipt).... But ask veterans, and they love it -- though it’s not easy convincing players that less work is better for them... Since 2009, Maddon’s teams are 130-91 in August, not including this season. Since he came to Chicago, the Cubs are 10-1 during American Legion week.... 'This is the time of the year that you really have to fight through,' Maddon said. 'I’m talking post-All-Star break into August, because this is the time when you’re a little bit fatigued. That’s why we’re doing the American Legion Week. If you’re able to maintain at this particular point, here comes September and I promise you our guys will be charged up every day. September provides its own energy.'"

ESPN reports.

With Twitter, you can get your message out.

There's this:

Additional Trump tweets about the statues (without the hijacking GOP swastika image):
...can't change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson - who's next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish! Also...
...the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!