TUESDAY, JUNE 12, 2012

Postponement—Who is Theresa El-Amin: No one assembles a panel on race like our long-time friend Marc Steiner, who hosts his eponymous radio program for WEAA, the NPR affiliate at Morgan State University.

For that reason, we’re postponing our account of the way Margaret Mead returned to earth to analyze the cultural patterns of the emerging liberal world.

Without question, Mead’s return constitutes one of the most remarkable episodes in modern intellectual history (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/11/12). We want to tell that story correctly. We think it’s worth waiting a day to do so. Tomorrow, the story continues.

For today, we’ll offer a few thoughts about Steiner’s program, which took us away from our desk for a chunk of time which was very well spent:

Steiner devoted the full two hours to this recent piece from the New York Times, in which Seth Stephens-Davidowitz employed an emerging technology to analyze the effects of race on Candid Obama’s vote total in the 2008 election.

(According to Nexis, the piece appeared on page 12 of the hard-copy Sunday Review section. According to the New York Times site, it only appeared on-line.)

Stephens-Davidowitz turns out to be a delightfully self-effacing Harvard doctoral candidate. With his colleague Anthony McCarthy, Steiner interviewed him for the first 30 minutes. He used his remaining 90 minutes to discuss the gentleman’s findings.

To hear the interview with Stephens-Davidowitz, click here, then click again. To listen to the subsequent panel discussion, follow the same procedure. To read the most recent version of SSD’s actual thesis, just click this.

For ourselves, we recommend the voice of one of our fellow panelists, Theresa El-Amin, who spoke by telephone for the full 90 minutes.

Who is Theresa El-Amin? Her Wikipedia biography is mercilessly brief:
WIKIPEDIA: Theresa El-Amin is an African American civil rights activist, union organizer and member of the National Committee of the Green Party of the United States.

El-Amin became an activist in 1966 with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. She helped found the United States Labor Party in 1996. She worked with the Green Party of Rhode Island in the 1990s. In 1999, she became the founding director of the Southern Anti-Racism Network.
The Duke University Libraries offers a slightly fuller account of El-Amin’s life at this voluminous site, “Inventory of the Theresa El-Amin Papers, 1960s-2010.”

We weren’t familiar with El-Amin as yesterday’s program started. As the program unfolded, we were very much struck by the strength of her voice. We wanted to express some such thought as the program neared its end, but we were still unclear about who we’d been listening to.

After the program went off the air, four white-and-black guys sat around a studio discussing the woman who'd spoken by phone. McCarthy tends to have a very clear sense of the value of other people. He expressed the thought we’d been groping for.

When El-Amin speaks, “you’re really hearing the voice of history,” he said, in admiration. (We'll assume it's OK to repeat that. He captured our own murky thought.)

We’ll do a post on Young Seth’s study by the end of the week. For today, we’ve decided to push Margaret Mead back a day. El-Amin is still quite active in this, her first earthly life. Yesterday, we were very much struck by her strong, clear voice.

How can such insight be brought center stage? That’s one of the questions Mead examined during her time back on Earth.


  1. Does anyone have any understanding of what is going on with this blog anymore?

    1. The old website is offline for some reason (I've tried to contact Somerby and his webmaster about it, but they haven't responded). This is the new blog, where Bob speaks his mind regarding various political and social issues.

    2. The old website IS still there.

      Maybe it wasn't earlier today, I don't know. But MJ's comment doesn't really seem to be about that anyway.

      What MJ is talking about is a complete mystery, far more murky than anything to do with what's going on with this blog "anymore."

    3. I sure don't. I just come here occasionally to gawk at the wreckage.

    4. I love this site and visit more or less daily for its insight and political clarity. I first learned of it a year ago from a link on Digby's "Hullaballoo" (whatever one may think of her, it speaks volumes that Digby continues to link to TDH in it's 'blogroll' despite the occasional withering criticism of her - you'd never find a reference to this site on HuffPo).

    5. I think some of Bob's former fans are distraught because he spends a lot of time criticizing idiocy on the left. As best I can tell, Bob thinks facts and logic are on the progressive side and it upsets him to see liberals behaving almost as badly as conservatives. This in turn upsets some liberals, though in fairness I think one or two also are bothered because they think the quality of Bob's posts is going down.

      That's in answer to the question "what is going on with this blog anymore?" As you might suspect, I tend to agree with what I think Bob is doing, even if I don't always agree with all of his points.

    6. It's not that he criticizes "idiocy on the left." It's just that this blog has turned its focus, obsessively and practically exclusively, on Gail Collins, Maureen Dowd, Rachel Maddow, and various other assorted NY Times columnists and MSNBC hosts.

      His obsession with those three women has reached such a point that it has been quite some time when he has written about "idiocy on the right" at the moment in history in which the right has never been more idiotic -- and that is saying something.

      In fact, he even blames "idiocy on the left" -- and by that, read "Whatever Collins, Dowd and Maddow wrote or said recently" -- for the rise of "idiocy on the right," as if the right were incapable of being idiots all by themselves.

    7. You can't read. No one can help you.

      "Beyond that, we think Romney is a horrible candidate—the worst we’ve ever seen nominated."

      "Candidate Romney has made a string of proposals which are, on their face, just bat-shit insane."

      These are easy to find.

      But then, I can read.

    8. Anonymous at 6:11, I'm distraught (well, bemused would be a better word) because Bob is becoming increasingly incoherent, and no one will help the poor man.

      But then, maybe it's just me. Maybe YOU can tell what in God's name Bob was trying to say in this particular post.

    9. Volt, Digby *finally* took him off her blogroll. I don't blame her. His attacks on her were increasing in frequency and nastiness.

  2. Not surprised by the results and conclusions of Stephens-Davidowitz"s research. Several friends and colleagues from the WV / western PA / eastern OH region have painted anecdotal images of hyphenated white ethnics who dislike whites from other ethnic groups and revile people of color. Racial epithets are uttered nonchalantly, and friends who grew up there in the 80s recount by warned by their parents not to play with black neighbors and classmates.

  3. Bob Somerby on the radio: