Ignoramia, “Bad Memories,” A Look at John McWhorter, Artist Nehemiah R. Edwards, More McWhorter, Justices “Unblinded,” U.S. and Treaties, Some U.S. Progress, Little Known, Misc.

Welcome to this week’s “zine,” the second-to-the last

by Mark M

Ignoramia: Mark M’s Compendium of Confusion (2000, 2011, 2022)

To dumbasses
Every(w)here.

Acknowledgment

Thanks to Michaelis who thought of a number of these.

If a little knowledge is dangerous, is still less even more dangerous?

Dillinger – didn’t he die fighting the Nazis?

I always get Muhammad Ali mixed up with Cassius Clay.

I always get Martin Luther King mixed up with MLK.

Einstein – wasn’t he the first woman on the moon?

Van Gogh – didn’t he have a vast collection of Ken dolls?

Methuselah – didn’t he just die?

Oliver Hardy – wasn’t he that one Supreme Court Justice?

George Bush – wasn’t he from Hollywood?

Edison – didn’t he have really bad BO?

I always get Winston Churchill mixed up with my local grocer.

I always get Utopia mixed up with heaven on earth.

Greenland – that’s near the equator, isn’t it?

Didn’t Gilligan’s Island finally end when Gilligan got Ginger pregnant?

Did Dean Martin ever have a day without moonshine?

Wasn’t JFK a famous virgin?

Wasn’t his brother always trying to fix him up?

Isn’t Ray Charles the father of Prince Charles?

Green Acres – that was a show about golf, right?

Lost in Space – that was a show about Apollo 13, wasn’t it?

Isn’t Roger Waters the son of Muddy Waters?

Didn’t the Beatles break up when Mick Jagger got Yoko pregnant?

Archie Bunker – wasn’t he the dad on Father Knows Best?

AIDS – isn’t that what you get when you die?

Steven Hawking – he’s as sharp as a needle in a haystack!

These people are related, right?

Scott Joplin Janis Joplin

Little Richard Cliff Richard

Jim Morrison Van Morrison

Judy Collins Phil Collins

Brian Jones, Tom Jones, Davy Jones, Grace Jones, Shirley Jones, George Jones (and many more) – all one, big, happy family, hey?

I know my hands like the back of my head!

Some people blow their nose in spite of their face.

Boring people are like having a thorn by my side.

———=———

“Bad Memories” — as differing memories on the part of two persons.

Around 20 years ago, when many of my chapbooks were then part of the Racine Public Library’s circulating collection, I was contacted by a very intelligent Walden High School student (who really liked as teachers, Jerrold Belland, Tom Rutkowski, and Tom Coe) who saw and read the chapbooks which had my e-mail address in them.

We spent a few hours together on a Saturday afternoon back then, I remember being joined by a female friend of hers when we got a bite to eat, but ended up losing contact until relatively recently. Somewhere along the lines we must have become Facebook friends, however.

A few months back, WUWM’s Lake Effect show did a portion of a show on the then current Milwaukee Pfister Hotel Artist in Residence, and, looking that person up on-line to see what his work looked like, I found that a previous AiR was this long-ago Walden student.

I contacted her and we got together a few months back, and she cannot at all recall that Saturday afternoon together, and I cannot at all recall what she recalls: that she and a male friend of hers came to my house and I showed them my lap steel guitar and apparently quite inexpertly demonstrated playing it. We mutually do not at all remember what the other does. I found that rather stunning.

(Very-busy she was not interested enough that I profile her in a WiR post or in contributing some guest writing, so that didn’t happen, and I try not to twist arms. So I’m leaving her name out in this recounting of our “bad memories.”)

As a big fan of Jane Roberts’ “Seth,” this passage comes to mind, for what it’s worth (woo-woo food for thought):

“Your [Jane’s husband’s] parents literally did not share the same reality at all. This is not as unusual as you think. They met and related in a place between each of their realities. It was not that they disagreed with each other’s interpretation of events. The events were different.”

–Seth/Jane Roberts, The ‘Unknown’ Reality, Vol. 1, p.19.

And, for memories that are not so radically divergent:

“Because you focus upon the similarities in experience, and play down the variances, then the oftentimes greater dissimilarities in so-called experience escape you completely. You take it for granted that memory is faulty if you do not agree with another person on the events that happened at a certain place and time — say those in a recently experienced historical past. You take it for granted that interpretations of events change, but that certain definite events occurred that are beyond alteration. Instead, the events themselves are not nearly that concrete. You accept one probable event. Someone else may experience instead a version of that event, which then becomes that individual’s felt reality.”

–Seth/Jane Roberts, The ‘Unknown’ Reality, Vol. 2, Session 729, January 13, 1975

———=———

Issues concerning race are clearly quite fraught, so with a certain trepidation, I would like to take a look at what I think are the interesting ideas of black writer and linguist John McWhorter whose latest book is called Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America.

I first learned of him in an article in the fairly liberal magazine Washington Monthly earlier this year.

While I don’t think he comes from the depths of, say, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (McWhorter’s Wikipedia entry says he self-describes “as ‘a cranky liberal Democrat‘”), his views on race likely earn him the descriptor “self-hater” by those in some quarters and that he is perhaps “not black enough” in other quarters.

The WM article states:

‘McWhorter identifies three waves of antiracism in the United States. The first two waves were the fight against slavery in the 19th century and legalized segregation in the 1960s. Both waves were essential and righteous—their aim was for Black people to be treated equal to whites—and we are better for them. But today’s third wave, he writes, is an attempt to divide people based on race in exactly the way the first and second waves taught us not to. Rather than striving for equality and emphasizing our common humanity like the first and second waves, third-wave antiracism requires us to “divide people into racial classes” in the name of “acknowledging ‘power.’” …

‘The parallels McWhorter draws between the Elect’s third-wave antiracism and Christianity are staggering. White privilege, he writes, is the Elect version of original sin—a stain white people are born with and must ceaselessly acknowledge but can never be absolved of. The Elect’s clergy are Ibram X. Kendi, Robin DiAngelo, and Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose texts constitute a “triple-testament tome.” Judgment day is “the great day when America ‘owns up to’ or ‘comes to terms with’ racism and finally fixes it.” Social media mobs are the Elect’s effort to ban heretics.

‘Just like many religious texts, the Elect have what McWhorter calls a “Catechism of Contradictions”: a “collection of tenets that, stated clearly and placed in simple oppositions, translate into nothing whatsoever.” For example, McWhorter observes that white people must “strive eternally to understand the experiences of black people” while accepting that they can, in fact, never understand and are racist if they think they do….

‘The Elect are hostile to people with differing opinions because, like all fundamentalists, they do not view their beliefs as opinions. The Elect think they already know the truth, and are proselytizing to the unconverted. Elect ideology dictates that, above all else, “one’s central duty is to battle racism and the racist.”

‘The Elect’s gospel has caught on rapidly in spite of obvious contradictions and flaws, which McWhorter attributes, in part, to the same attractions held by any religion—a sense of belonging and easy explanations for what ails us (racism) and the cure (eradicating racism). But it’s also a product of fear. White people who disagree with the Elect risk being publicly tarred as racists or white supremacists, a charge McWhorter calls “all but equivalent to being called a pedophile.” Black dissenters like McWhorter himself will be accused of self-hatred or shame. It’s enough to scare a great many into silence.’

From the chapter in his book called “What’s Wrong with It Being a Religion? It Hurts Black People”: “Electism calls for everyone who isn’t white to found their sense of self on not being white and knowing that whites don’t quite ‘get’ me. Electism forbids us non-whites from being individual selves, out of an idea that white racism is so onerous that our self-definition must be fashioned against it…” (emphasis in original, also below)

“Here is where wokeness takes us back to the balkanized and artificial racial categorizations we all thought we wanted to get past. Yet ask why we are no longer supposed to get past them and the Elect–wait for it–suspect you of white supremacy. All of the Enlightenment’s focus on individualism, all of modernism’s permission for people to be themselves rather than live bound to preset classifications, falls to pieces before this idea that to be anything but white requires obsession with the fact that you are not white, and diminished by their possibly not seeing you in your totality.

“…Under the Elect, blackness becomes what you aren’t–i.e., seen fully by whites–as opposed to what you are. It is what someone does to you, rather than what you like to do. And all of this is thought of as advanced rather than backward thought….”

McWhorter writes of how NYT food writer Alison Roman was Twitter-mobbed for passingly criticizing two people for commercialism:

“Linguist and writer John McWhorter cites Roman’s treatment in his book Woke Racism, where he argues there is a segment of the public that deems any statement by white individuals regarding people of colour as an expression of privilege. He continues that Roman’s words bore no relation to the accusations of racism made against her.” (from AR’s Wikipedia entry)

In his book, he notes that the two people AR passingly criticized, Chrissy Teigen and Marie Kondo, both of whom are of Asian descent, are “very wealthy, very successful, and vastly better known than her….

“Roman, now typical of such cases [in his book, he cites some others –Mark], ate crow with an apologetic statement… Tiegen even said that she did not think Roman deserved to be sanctioned. But no matter–a kind of fury, passed off as being ‘antiracist,’ now has a supreme power in our public moral evaluations…”

His Wikipedia entry quotes him: “One might ask just how a people can be poised for making change when they have been taught that pretty much anything they say or think is racist and thus antithetical to the good.”

In contrast, in Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote of the police and firefighters who died running into the burning buildings in an heroic effort to save all the people still in the buildings, “They were not human to me. Black, white, or whatever, they were menaces of nature; they were the fire, the comet, the storm, which could — with no justification — shatter my body.”

Firefighters go about shattering the bodies of black people without justification? McWhorter reports that “the white punditocracy at most tsk-tsked him for it.”

One thing McWhorter urges to help make progress is to end the “war on drugs” — good idea!

I don’t know what he thinks of reparations, but I support same.

If it would take only 3% of the U.S. military spending to end starvation on earth, a drop in the bucket, another few drops should go a long way to make reparations, and for Native Americans as well.

Reparations and not the enrichment of killer-corporations, Raytheon, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, et al.

And the U.S. never conducted a truth and reconciliation commission like South Africa and other nations did. What is the hold up?

Speaking of proto-op art, I don’t even think red, white and blue go well together. I like this U.S. flag variation a lot better:


———=———

Nehemiah R. Edwards (aka NEMOGREATER) is a Milwaukee-based artist who has had work shown at Mahogany Gallery in Racine.


Several pieces of his show a white and a black figure with horns on the white figure along with it having a blue (I presume, cold) heart; the black figure has a halo and a red heart.

Are the horns supposed to remind one of the Nation of Islam teaching Muhammad Ali that ‘The white man is the devil’?

I don’t know, but, ignoring that, I do like his “primitive” style.

———=———

Back to John McWhorter, another of his books is Words on the Move: Why English Won’t & Can’t Sit Still Like Literally. The basic point of the book is that there is ultimately no use in insisting on correctness as what is currently seen as irregular, poor grammar, mispronunciation, or whatever often becomes widely accepted. For instance, the subtitle of the book points to the word “literally” nowadays widely used in a figurative sense as opposed to an original meaning of by the letter. And word meanings will rather drastically change over time, such as “silly” once meaning blessed. I caught the author on some NPR show talking about this book and, despite the inevitable and ongoing changes in the language he writes about, he admitted to being personally irritated with some current irregular usages in English. He mentioned that Jonathan Swift was bothered by people dropping pronouncing the -ed part of verbs; e.g., (pronounced) oppos-ed, pop-ped, etc.

I, too, find some “new-isms” objectionable. For instance, I never embraced the current casual use of the word “awesome.”

But Merriam-Webster says I can just go and ef myself:

‘Many object to the use of awesome to describe something (such as a sandwich) that does not literally elicit feelings of awe. Yet the same people who insist that awesome should be used only of weighty subjects (Niagara Falls, man landing on the moon) will happily use the word awful in reference to something (such as a mess) that falls distinctly short of being “full of awe.” This weakened sense was once considered improper – in fact, complaints about it persisted through the early decades of the 20th century.

‘The change in meaning that awesome is undergoing may be more recent than that of awful, but both words are treading the same path. For evidence that such change is normal, we need look no further than awe, which originally meant “terror” and now carries the weaker sense “wonder.”’

———=———

To weaken antitrust laws, justices let themselves be “unblinded” by schmooze:

‘Another very effective strategy was to influence judges in order to change the way they interpreted antitrust laws. Beginning in the late 1970s, large corporations funded public and private think tanks, which in turn arranged for judges to go on all-expenses-paid junkets. These were typically held at resorts in warm weather states, where the judges could play golf. While
there, they would also attend seminars presented by Chicago School economists suggesting that
mergers and acquisitions would increase efficiency and should not be opposed unless there was clear evidence of harm to consumers. This was a dramatic change from the intent of legislation noted above, and most prominently advocated by University of Chicago graduate Robert Bork, who was a law professor at Yale. By the early 1990s, an estimated two-thirds of all federal judges had participated in at least one of these programs, which was affiliated with George Mason University. A judge even stated in this program’s promotional literature that “as a result of my better understanding of marginal costs, I have recently set aside a $15 million antitrust verdict.”

‘Despite strong criticism from nonprofit organizations and unflattering media coverage, such as an ABC News television report in 2001, these judicial junkets have continued. In addition, a small number of economists with Chicago School perspectives frequently serve as expert witnesses for corporations seeking approval for mergers and acquisitions. They may charge more than $1,000 an
hour to develop complicated mathematical models that optimistically predict competition
will not be harmed by these ownership changes, although no one checks later to see if these forecasts turned out to be accurate. Ruling against the plaintiffs in antitrust suits is increasingly the norm, and while the laws still technically exist, they have essentially been repealed by judicial interpretation.’

———=———

The U.S. and treaties:

U.N. Report: U.S. fails to implement terms of treaty on eliminating racial discrimination.

Of the United Nations’ 18 major human rights treaties, the United States is party to 5, fewer than any other nation on earth, except Bhutan (4), and tied with Malaysia, Myanmar, and South Sudan, a country torn by warfare since its creation in 2011. The United States is, for instance, the only nation on earth that has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

More here.

This is interesting:

Since 1976, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights has required of its parties that “Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.” But not a single nation on Earth has complied with that. The prisons have never been emptied out to make room for the media executives. In fact, whistleblowers are imprisoned for revealing war lies. 

———=———

Some progress in the U.S.:

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has commuted the sentences of all 17 people on death row in the state. The move has sparked strong pushback from Republicans.

The death penalty does not even have any special deterrent effect. Obviously there is no remedy for a person executed in error. Restorative justice is the way.

But at the federal level:

‘The fact we still have a federal death penalty is in large measure the fault of Bill Clinton and Joe Biden’s draconian “Counter-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.”’

From Biden’s 2020 pres campaign:

“Eliminate the death penalty.”

Biden can address the cruelty of capital punishment by granting clemency to everyone on federal death row, effectively ending the death penalty with the stroke of a pen. Quick! Get him one.

———=———

I learned of a little-known story recently covered on NPR’s Fresh Air with certain parallels to the January 6 insurrection about an ultra-right pro-Nazi movement that plotted to overthrow the U.S. government by force in the lead-up to World War II. These groups worked with an agent from Hitler’s government named George Viereck. He also colluded with over 20 sitting members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to launder and spread Nazi propaganda, often at taxpayers’ expense (for instance, through the franking mailing privilege members of Congress have).

There was a report compiling evidence for all this that, in Rachel Maddow’s words, then president “Harry Truman said, this report will never see the light of day. This is not a report that will be made to the American people. This will not be given to the court. This will — this is over. This is done. This cannot come out.”

There was a very chaotic trial that ended with the death, in his sleep, of the inexperienced judge; this made it essentially a mistrial.

In Maddow’s words, “They allowed the mistrial to be the end of the story.”

At least the Congressional colluders, in Maddow’s words, “were voted out as soon as they came back up before the voters, either voted out in primaries or voted out in general elections…”

———=———

Misc.:

Excerpt from the hilarious Lee Camp excoriation of the latest Pentagon failed audit:

“When I say they ‘failed’ their audit, I don’t mean they put a 9 instead of a 7 on one of the balance sheets, causing two soldiers to get accidentally left in Antarctica freezing their asses off. I mean, they really failed their audit…. They can’t account for over half their assets! This is the largest murder machine on the planet – nearly a trillion dollars spent every year – and they don’t know where half their shit is?! How is this not criminal?

One report described it this way: ‘What they found were several new weaknesses in how DOD accounted for its assets, which include nearly 2.9 million military personnel; equipment and weapons including 19,700 aircraft and more than 290 ships; and physical items including buildings, roads and fences on 4,860 sites worldwide.’ Again, let me translate: ‘Weaknesses in how DOD accounts for assets’ means they literally don’t know where a lot of this stuff is. And by ‘this stuff’ I mean equipment, weapons, aircraft, ships and yes, even buildings! How do you idiots lose buildings?! 

“’Well, sir, it was just here a minute ago. It was about 7 stories high, had windows and doors and the whole thing. …Do you happen to have a copy somewhere you can use instead?'”

But throwing money at the “Defense” problem is never questioned by those in government who get big campaign donations from sources who don’t want them to question such.

Meanwhile, the most recent one-term, apparently conscience-less, ex-president issued an executive order late in his term creating a new class of federal employee called “Schedule F.” Staffers moved to that class would be stripped of crucial job protections, making it easier for a president to fire them for disobeying unlawful orders. This would politicize the civil service and enable an administration to escape accountability.

“The idea of Schedule F was not born out of regular debates about federal hiring processes, the size of the civil service, etc. But it was really a response to career civil servants who refused to obey unlawful orders.”

–Joe Spielberger, Policy Counsel, in GovExec Daily

Congress is able do something about this. So can Biden: “At any time, the president may revoke, modify or make exceptions from any executive order, whether the order was made by the current president or a predecessor.”

Maxi-forgiveness or cold political calculation? Former Vice President Mike Pence doesn’t think Donald Trump should be indicted for his Jan. 6 activities.

Former Rep. Denver Riggleman‘s Twitter take: “…Quite a leap from ‘Bad advice from lawyers’ to ‘Hang Mike Pence.’ This is just pathetic.”

Ken Levy on Twitter: “Translation: ‘I want to be President, I need MAGA voters, and despite the stern religious image I project. I have no principles.'”

Riggleman is a Republican who didn’t win a second term because he didn’t toe the MAGA/Trump line. He is the only member of the Republican party to speak on the House of Representatives floor against QAnon. He was part of the investigation into Jan 6 and has written The Breach: The Untold Story of the Investigation into January 6th. He has left the Republican party. He writes, “[But] I feel like the GOP has left me.” In his farewell address to the House, he said that “people are more important than party” and that “pandering is a political sickness.”

In his book, he quotes a text from Sean Hannity to Mark Meadows bemoaning the thought of Biden becoming president:

“…[Biden] will be controlled by a very radical left-wing element…”

I guess when one is very radically right wing, Joe “Nothing would fundamentally change” Biden is seen as beyond the pale.

———=———

For Racine, WI, US(A), according to Weather Underground:

Tomorrow [solstice] will be 0 minutes 4 seconds shorter.

Tomorrow [Dec 22, 2022] will be 0 minutes 0 seconds longer. (The added length must be less than 0.5 second! So it rounds down to 0.)

Sunset is 4:21 pm, 3 minutes later than about a week and a half ago, pre-solstice, where, for a few days, it was at its earliest at 4:18 pm. I have no idea why that happens. Nonetheless, happy shortest days of the year.

The End.

Next week, last post (subject to change): Thank you and Farewell, Jeanne Denney Reprise, Cover Tunes, Further Selections from Observations and Thinkings, Vol. wxyz

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