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Archive for June, 2014

The case for reparations: a narrative bibliography

Friday, June 27th, 2014

“As I’ve said before, the idea of reparations precedes this month’s cover of The Atlantic, and the work around it—among scholars, activists, and writers—has been ongoing, even if the interest of the broader world is fickle. Following up on the autopsy of an idea, I thought I’d give some larger sense of how something like this came to be. My hope is to give people who are interested some entrée into further reading, and also to credit the antecedents to my own thinking. Perhaps most importantly, I wish to return to one of the original features of blogging—the documentation of public thinking. I would suggest that more writers, more academics, and more journalists do this, and do so honestly. It have come to believe that arguing with the self is as important as arguing with the broader world.”

How the CIA secretly published Dr Zhivago

Friday, June 27th, 2014

Boris Pasternak’s famous novel Doctor Zhivago remained unpublished in the USSR until 1988, because of its implicit criticism of the Soviet system. But for the same reason, the CIA wanted Soviets to read the book, and arranged the first-ever publication in Russian.

The Case For Tammany Hall Being On The Right Side Of History

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Historian Terry Golway has written a colorful history of Tammany Hall, which takes a more sympathetic view of the organization than many historians. He says the Tammany machine, while often corrupt, gave impoverished immigrants critically needed social services and a road to assimilation. According to Golway, Tammany was responsible for progressive state legislation that foreshadowed the New Deal. He writes that some of Tammany’s harshest critics, including cartoonist Thomas Nast, openly exhibited a raw anti-Irish and anti-Catholic prejudice.

Machine Made

In this interview, Golway tells Fresh Air‘s Dave Davies, “What I’m trying to do in this book is present this other side of Tammany Hall. … Every history of Tammany Hall is told as a true-crime novel, and what I’m trying to suggest is that there’s this other side. I’m arguing, yes, the benefits that Tammany Hall brought to New York and to the United States [do] outweigh the corruption with which it is associated. I’m simply trying to complicate that story… Tammany Hall was there for the poor immigrant who was otherwise friendless in New York.”

Golway is the director of the Kean University Center for History, Politics and Policy. His book is called Machine Made: Tammany Hall and the Creation of Modern American Politics.

“Soviet Russia and the Negro”– An Essay by Claude McKay

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

“The average Europeans who read the newspapers, the popular books and journals, and go to see the average play and a Mary Pickford movie, are very dense about the problem of the Negro; and they are the most important section of the general public that the Negro propagandists would reach. For them the tragedy of the American Negro ended with “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and Emancipation. And since then they have been aware only of the comedy–the Negro minstrel and vaudevillian, the boxer, the black mammy and butler of the cinematograph, the caricatures of the romances and the lynched savage who has violated a beautiful white girl.”

McKay’s essay in Crisis December 1923

How China’s millennials talk about Tiananmen Square

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Twenty-five years after June 4, 1989, even China’s educated youth have only a foggy understanding of the incident, and they’re skittish about discussing it openly. Textbooks don’t mention the violence that left hundreds, maybe thousands, dead in the streets of Beijing. The Chinese Internet has been scrubbed of all but the official accounts. (The first result on the search engine Baidu is a short article from People’s Daily concluding that the incident “taught the party and the people a useful lesson.”) The Chinese government has arrested dozens of people in recent weeks for planning or participating in events related to the anniversary, and police have warned foreign journalists not to cover the story. Still, most young Chinese people I approached were willing to talkas long as they could remain anonymous.

Red Guard Reunion: he class of 1967 still can’t criticize the icon

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

How had the class of 1967—a group of young people who came of age just as the Cultural Revolution was approaching its height—come to grips with their own role in this dark chapter in modern Chinese history?

Ending 50 Years of Silence About Mississippi’s Freedom Summer

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Whatever the psychological underpinning, individuals black and white are examining the anachronistic puzzle of the mid-century mindset. Confronting the thought process of that time matters. That’s the point: to understand the people and culture to which we were hazy witnesses. Whether the adults spoke a word about the struggle or not—most especially if no words were uttered in the tense, dissolving assumptions of our childhoods—we absorbed the atmosphere. Our communities’ parameters contoured our hearts and heads.

The Left-Right Political Spectrum Is Bogus

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

The arrangement of positions along the left-right axis—progressive to reactionary, or conservative to liberal, communist to fascist, socialist to capitalist, or Democrat to Republican—is conceptually confused, ideologically tendentious, and historically contingent. And any position anywhere along it is infested by contradictions.


Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

In a letter published in the Nigerian Vanguard, Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello has called the father, General Olusegun Obasanjo, a liar and a “narcissistic megalomaniac.”  Attempts to force and pressure her to deny writing the letter failed, as she confirmed that she wrote the letter and meant every word she wrote.  Specifically on the third-term issue that Obasanjo continues to deny having initiated, the daughter wrote as follows: