Boring and Frightening, Both At Once

There's so much news and all of it is relevant.

Boring and Frightening, Both At Once

Lots of other bloggers are writing posts nowadays that are giant listicles for good reason. There's so much news and all of it is relevant. I don't particularly want to cover Alito's insurrectionist flags (he and Thomas need to be removed from SCOTUS promptly and prosecuted; we need to be vocal that judges shouldn't take bribes). I also don't have much to say about Gaza. I do believe Spencer Ackerman is indispensable reading on the topic, though.

I'd rather point you to a few pieces that have me thinking about 1) how a large part of right-wing media lacks shame or any sense of decency 2) how to communicate the pain of losing an institution that has meant a lot to you 3) how boring and frightening the vision of Trump's flunkies is.

Want to be in Right-Wing Media? Don't

I listen to WNYC's On the Media as often as I can. It's great to put on when I need to stop looking at a screen, which is quite a bit nowadays. This interview they shared, "Rightwing Media is Obsessed with the Darien Gap," will stop you dead in your tracks. I learned how right-wing cranks such as Michael Yon and Laura Loomer are going down to Panama ("Silent, upon a peak in Darien") and exploiting some of the poorest, most desperate people on the planet: migrants making the deadly trek to get to the U.S. border. You'll hear from Ken Bensinger how Ayub Ibrahim, who is from Somalia and speaks English, gets tossed all sorts of questions by Loomer (she actually calls it "Loomering") to make him sound like the bad guy for the sake of immigrant panic content.

Conspiracy theories are very useful for people who want to hurt others because they can always pretend they're acting in self-defense. The episode also gets into Yon's particular gripe: he believes in the Great Replacement theory and thinks that basically every nation wants to take over the U.S. from the inside out. He is, for some reason, obsessed with China in particular.

Jeb Lund reports on New College's "Counter-Commencement"

Mr. Lund has a way with words I deeply envy. Look at this paragraph from "Inside New College of Florida's Counter-Commencement." It not only tells the story–New College of Florida (NCF) was a public liberal arts school of some distinction before being taken over by right-wing zealots–but it is glorious:

In 2023, in a doomed bid to seem like a big man, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis replaced six on NCF’s [New College of Florida] board of trustees with the head of a local Christian sports academy and a clutch of out-of-state conservative operatives—including Chris Rufo, colleague to fascists, race scientists, and “debate me!” white supremacists, and uncredited assignment editor of The Atlantic and The New York Times. The stated goal was to make NCF “the Hillsdale of the South”—referencing the fundamentalist college in Michigan that has long been churning out agitprop masquerading as scholarship for the conservative movement—thereby helping to mint a new generation of Republican Hill/Tallahassee staffers and the fecund women who marry them.

"[I]n a doomed bid to seem like a big man" is just devastating given how much DeSantis aspires to sound like a strongman. I went to a graduate school that worshiped people like Chris Rufo and institutions like Hillsdale and can attest to quite a few indulging "agitprop masquerading as scholarship." (For later: there's a lot I learned of value and I need to specify how some reactionary scholars, imho, really do know their stuff.)

Lund summarizes the state of higher ed at this moment very well. I do wish more were said about what the students at New College thought and what the Counter-Commencement was trying to achieve. On that note, I can't recommend Reveal News' "The Culture War Goes To College" enough. You want to hear from the students working at the college newspaper what it's like to love a school and have it torn away from you.

What would a deportation army look like? Trump has said he wants to throw out 15 million people

Radley Balko has an excellent post which takes Trump at his word. I'm still learning to take this advice seriously: "when people tell you who they are, believe them." Perhaps the most important part of his writing isn't the exploration of the massive apparatus putting millions into camps and flying them out requires. I'm terribly partial to this passage debunking the notion that immigration is bad:

(It shouldn’t need saying, but immigrants and their children contribute far more to the economy than they take from it, are less likely to commit crimes than native-born citizens, interracial IQ comparisons are based on a false premise and have few real-world implications, and provided there’s some basic screening at the border, there’s zero evidence that immigrants threaten public health.)

I do recommend reading the whole piece. The scope of the hatred of what might be the incoming administration boggles the mind. There are people who only think power exists to hurt people, and I believe it is a cardinal sin to give those people any hint that power even exists.