Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Because We Can

I'm a big proponent of D.C. statehood, in part because I'm a local but mostly as part of a larger commitment to ensuring that all American citizens on American territory have the same democratic and self-governance rights as any one else. Washington's unique position, unfortunately, makes it a particularly tempting target for meddling congresscritters who have objections to how the city's denizens want to run their own affairs. The latest skirmish in this never-ending debate is over marijuana, where a contingent of Republicans wants to block a recent decriminalization law passed in the District:
The situation leaves Republicans in an awkward position — not only contradicting their long-standing philosophical views that the federal government shouldn't meddle in local affairs....
Hey, hey, Politico. This is a serious issue. No need for mockery.

That being said, it is incredible that these GOPers feel no need to even play lip-service to the ideal. Here's Maryland Rep. Andy Harris:
“That’s the way the Constitution was written,” Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) said in an interview Wednesday. “If they don’t like that oversight, move outside of the federal district to one of the 50 states that is not covered by the jurisdiction of Congress as a whole.”
Haha! Being able to control local politics is a privilege for other people. Way to show 'em, Andy! Who else is adopting the "because we can!" line?
“They may have a say, but not the complete say,” argued Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), who sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee, referring to voters in D.C.
Conservative Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, the House majority whip, said this when asked about reining in D.C. pot laws: “It’s a constitutional responsibility.”

“Washington, D.C. has a lot to offer,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). “Recreational marijuana shouldn't be one of them.”

“Congress oversees the D.C. spending, and that was an item that we felt was appropriate,” said Rogers, whose Eastern Kentucky district has had its own problems with prescription drug abuse over the years.

Asked about interfering on a matter enacted by a huge majority of voters, Rogers said: “I’ll refer to my previous answer.”
To be sure, other congressional Republicans (e.g., Rand Paul, Dana Rohrabacher) The thing about principles is that they aren't worth much if you only adhere to them when you have to. If you actually believe in them, then you follow them even when given the option not. For example, I don't refrain from murdering folks because there are laws forbidding it -- I actually genuinely believe in the principle that murder is wrong. As for Andy Harris, well, I wouldn't plan a trip to Yellowstone with him is all I'm saying.

UPDATE: DC residents have begun flooding Rep. Harris' phones. And while some of them are complaining about the marijuana business, others have just accepted Rep. Harris' stewardship and want him to fix other things. You know, trash, parking tickets -- the sort of local issues that apparently can't be left to folks not living in one of the 50 states. I have to say, this is by far my favorite mode of DC political protest.

A Deeply Rooted Response

One of my current projects involves exploring the "race card" response to claims of racial injustice. A large part of why that interests me is because it seems to the retort of choice when faced with any -- and I mean any -- allegation that racism might be an issue. Consider the conservative response to President Obama's statement that "deeply rooted" in America. That's a statement that seems banal, bordering on trivial. It doesn't call any specific person racist. It doesn't attack his political opponents as racist. It just acknowledges, in a vague, general way, that racism is significant problem in America and it won't be solved in a day.

And a good portion of the right went ballistic.

"Playing the race card more overtly than ever before" screams Breitbart.

"How many ways can he insult Americans?" demands the American Thinker.

"So much for that post racial America promise," sneers Gateway Pundit, linking to a speech where the President, um, promised no such thing.

In theory, the "race card" complaint should be reserved for situations where a claim of racism is so patently incredible that the only reason one could bring it up is as a distraction. I'm skeptical that, even on those terms, the "race card" response is ever appropriate because I'm skeptical of our pre-discursive intuitions regarding what sorts of racism claims strike as credible or not. But this response illustrates that the issue is not with particular claims, it's with there being a claim at all. Folks like Breitbart complain about the "race card" almost as a matter of reflex; it's the response of first resort no matter what type of claim is being made here. If it can deployed in as innocuous a case as the one at hand -- a general, even platitudinous acknowledgment of the ongoing power of racism -- there's no circumstance where it won't be deployed.

Monday, December 08, 2014


On Twitter, "Independent Journalist" Rania Khalek mocks a Jewish college student as "paranoid" for fretting about "tropes about Jewish privilege and domination." After all, who could object to innocent graffiti alleging that "Jewish men run the CIA", or Marx's identification of capitalists as "inwardly circumcised Jews", or the claim that "All Jews run Wall Street. They take over all of the banks. It pisses me off." The real problem, Khalek says, is that we don't discuss the ways in which Jews enjoy "Jewish privilege" (apparently something distinct from the privilege some Jews may enjoy as White, male, heterosexual, etc.).

So to oblige her, I've trying to promote a #JewishPrivilege hashtag (the associated photos are not my own, though they do make wonderful illustrations). Entries include:

* "People think I can summon tsunamis w/my mind #JewishPrivilege"

* "I have the #JewishPrivilege of being only the *2nd* most common victim (per capita) of hate crimes in the US."

* "I have the #JewishPrivilege of being blamed for any global calamity. Seriously: ANY calamity."

* "My mere presence can make even the most committed leftist forget what 'intersectionality' is. #JewishPrivilege"

* "Maybe my #JewishPrivilege is the ability to tirelessly explain the 'buffer theory' of anti-Semitism."

Feel free to add in your own contributions of all the reasons why being a Jew in the world is the cat's meow.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Things People Blame the Jews For: Volume I REDUX!

The very first entry in the "Things People Blame the Jews For" series was the Fukushima disaster. If I recall correctly, the original entrant suggested that Jews had sabotaged the nuclear power plant. But Richard Koshimizu has stepped up -- his claim is that Jews caused the tsunami itself. A right-wing Japanese newspaper issued an apology for advertising these books in its pages.

How, I wonder, were we even supposed to be able to set off a tsunami. I mean, while it is true that the Elders are holding Aquaman in an undisclosed location, it is for his own safety. It is libel, sir, to say we'd ever use his powers for evil.