Concerning masks in Minneapolis!

MONDAY, APRIL 5, 2021

Concerning Charles Blow's column: Our first observation this afternoon has no bearing on any question arising from the trial of Derek Chauvin.

It's simply based on an observation concerning life in Minneapolis on the day of George Floyd's death. More specifically, it's based on a point of puzzlement. The question we'd ask was this:

On May 25, 2020, was anyone in Minneapolis actually wearing a mask?

We've watched the videotape from inside Cup Foods—the videotape played last week at the trial. No one, employees and customers both, seemed to be wearing a mask.

We've looked at this photo from outside Cup Foods as roughly a dozen observers lingered after the events of the day. (The photo appeared in yesterday's New York Times.) Yes, those people were all outside. Still, no one was wearing a mask. 

As best we can tell, none of the police officers who responded that day were wearing masks. The pandemic had been (officially) underway for almost three months at that point. Is it possible that we're all just living inside some sort of a dream?

That was merely an observation about mask use in Minneapolis in late May of last year. As a second point, we'll suggest that you give some thought to Charles Blow's new column. 

We'll discuss the column tomorrow. We'll also discuss this comment to the column, which comes from a good, decent person who lives somewhere in Our Town:

COMMENT FROM RHODE ISLAND: I have been researching the 18th and 19th century enslavement of Black men, women and children in my small New England town.  As I dig through records to try and find their names and write their biographies, I grapple with the fact there is no record of their births, though many were born here, nor their deaths, whether they died here or at Valley Forge, the Battle of Rhode Island or Yorktown.  Advertisements for runaway slaves tell the story of  young men and women trying to escape from their captors and we rarely know their fates. That disregard for Black lives echoes through the centuries. Start at the beginning, read the history and then you will begin to understand what this country has done to the people kidnapped and brought to this country to build it at the cost of their own lives and generations that followed.

In our view, Blow's column serves as an (unhelpful) attempt to create an enshrinement of traumatization. 

It strikes us as spectacularly unhelpful. People create such enshrinements all over the world. But in our view, a serious newspaper wouldn't necessarily want to keep running such columns.

As for the comment, the commenter refers to the "disregard for Black lives" which "echoes through the centuries." We'll admit that we had an instant reaction to the commenter's current project, a reaction we'll discuss tomorrow. Our reaction involved some thoughts about the interests and the needs of the real and actual children who are actually being born today, out here in the real world.

We think columns like Blow's are spectacularly hackneyed at this point and are spectacularly unhelpful. That doesn't mean that Blow's a bad person. In fact, we're quite sure he isn't.

Go ahead, though—read his column. What would you say has been gained? 

(More on this tomorrow.)


40 comments:

  1. He's emoting. There is a place for expressing emotion. Indeed, that's what poetry is for, although this is prose.

    If you're a poser who believes the only thing worth writing is the operation manual for the nation, you attach no value to the expression of sorrow and angst. If you were a feeling human being, you would understand and accept that not everything published was written to satisfy you.

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    Replies
    1. Very boring, stupid and passive aggressive comment. An appeal to the extremes. Why don't you be precise about your claims, Mr. Noble Feeling and Emotions?

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  2. "We think columns like Blow's are spectacularly hackneyed at this point and are spectacularly unhelpful."

    Meh. If dembots were unhelpful to your liberal-hitlerian cult, dear Bob, then there would've been no dembots.

    And that's all there is to it.

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  3. I suspect too that you won't find too many records of white people there either.

    Also, how many Blacks were in his historical category in that locale? Not too many.

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    Replies
    1. Are you not aware that there are systems for keeping track of white births and deaths that go back centuries?

      https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Rhode_Island_Vital_Records

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  4. Somerby argues for suppression of Blow's account of some of the atrocities of slavery and the period that followed in our history. It is important for everyone to know these things.

    Somerby seems to be saying that Blow is encouraging black people to feel traumatized, and that isn't a good idea. I think he is really reacting to this because it will, and should, make white people feel upset about what was done to preserve white supremacy. White people need to understand their legacy too, not solely black people. When white people were not brought to justice for crimes against black people, that made the whole community complicit, not just the perpetrators of such crimes. Every white person who bought a postcard is complicit in the lynching depicted on it. If this makes Somerby feel bad, good. At least he has the capacity to feel something, hopefully shame, and a determination to stop such abuses. Chauvin is part of a long tradition, especially if you understand the roots of policing in the attempt to retrieve runaway slaves. If you view today's abuses as an attempt to suppress the black segment of our population, you will start to see how such killings look from a different perspective. Blow performs a service when he connects the dots, as he has done in this essay.

    Erasing black people from history by failure to record their births and deaths is similar to Somerby's attempt to erase black people from history by failure to face up to the crimes still being committed against black people.

    Somerby is on the wrong side of this issue. So are the imaginary analysts he creates so that he won't feel so lonely in his bigotry.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you have the birth records of your ancestors from the 18th and 19th century?

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    2. Glaucon: The ancestry of black people was systematically destroyed by the slaveholders. Can you not see how this is different than the case for whites, many of whom can indeed trace their ancestry back to the 18th century and beyond? In fact, Henry Gates, the subject of Somerby’s recent faux-discussion, said this:

      “(Question): “The impact of slavery can make tracing one's ancestry particularly meaningful for African Americans. Why is that?”

      (Gates): “It's important because that knowledge was systematically taken away from us.

      If you need to know one reason why it's important to restore that knowledge, it's because it was important enough for slaveholders to take it away. They wanted to decenter us, to keep us from understanding our roots.”
      (https://www.aarp.org/politics-society/history/info-2020/henry-louis-gates-jr.html)

      This is why Somerby needs to examine Gates in greater detail if he wants to invoke him in his blog.

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    3. The fact is almost no one has their ancestor's records, so to obsess over them is stupid waste of time. Getting people to waste their time on useless trivia is the business model of the our entire profit seeking corporate mass media. It keeping Americans from focusing on the evil corporate plutocracy which owns both parties and robs them blind.

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    4. This letter focuses on Rhode Island. Here are the records availability for Rhode Island. Note that the earliest records are 1630, and there was statewide compliance in record-keeping in 1853. So, yes, it is highly likely that someone can find their ancestors in the 1800s.

      White birth and death records are important for many practical reasons, such as determining inheritance and confirming that someone who claims to be a widower actually is eligible to remarry. People kept these records because of the practical significance in the lifetimes of family members, not to trace their roots, although establishing paternity might be important even long after the fact.

      https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Rhode_Island_Vital_Records

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  5. Has Somerby only now discovered that there are places where people refused to wear masks?

    What does he think has been going on with the complaints about Trump and his failure to encourage mask wearing? What does he think complaints about red state politicization of mask wearing has been about? Why does he think the surges have been happening?

    I cannot believe that Somerby knows nothing at all about the politics of covid! If this is true and he is actually this ignorant, he has no business writing a political blog.

    On the other hand, perhaps he is going to claim that Floyd deserved to die because he wasn't an upstanding citizen. Look, he wasn't wearing a mask when he died (pulled out of a car he was in)!

    The mask mandate in Minneapolis was insituted in July.

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  6. From Blow’s column:
    “The German Coast Uprising of 1811 in Louisiana, one of the largest slave revolts in United States history, ultimately failed, but so intent were the white enslavers to terrorize the remaining enslaved never to repeat the attempt that, as Leon A. Waters wrote for the Zinn Education Project:
    “Some of the leaders were captured, placed on trial and later executed. Their heads were cut off and placed on poles along the river in order to frighten and intimidate the other slaves. This display of heads placed on spikes stretched over 60 miles.”

    Was Somerby aware of this event? How many of his stalwart fans were aware of it? This incident was never taught to me in any public school history class. I would venture to guess that many Americans aren’t aware of this event, nor of the mind-numbing and horrific level of brutality that existed.

    And this is just one example from Blow’s column. There are others.

    What I mean is that the true history of black people in America has been erased, or “cancelled”, to use a right-wing term, and Blow is right to publicize it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are at least 118 public, 4-year or above institutions that offer African-American & Black Studies programs. Plus another 100 or so traditional Black colleges. Plus more than a dozen schools offer PHDs in the field. No one is stopping anyone from learning as much this history as they want.

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    2. It should be taught in Junior High, and High School.

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    3. It's actually a poem. "From Blow's poem ..." you should have written.

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    4. What's so remarkable about slave-owners executing rebel slave leaders after an uprising, dear dembot?

      ...okay, the "placed on trial" bit seems odd. We would imagine rebel leaders being summarily executed.

      But that's a minor curiosity. Otherwise, we fail to see what could impressed your so much. What did you expect a slave-owner would do with the rebel leaders?

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    5. Anon5:44 PM: It should be taught in Junior High, and High School.

      Agreed. And is happening.

      https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2020/08/20/black-history-instruction-gets-new-emphasis-in-many-states

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    6. 'We would imagine rebel leaders being summarily executed.'

      Should we start with the rebel leaders on Jan 6th 2020 :) ?

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    7. It's the New York Times - all the emotional poems that are fit to print for feeling human beings.

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    8. Gloucon: I’m glad if it’s being taught. But then why shouldn’t Blow discuss it too? There are many who know very little about black history.

      And the article you cited was from last year. Ask yourself: why did it take until 2020 for there to be an emphasis on black history? I went to school in the 1970’s, southern state. I never heard about the event Blow described. Do you think maybe Blow has a point?

      And those schools better do some quick teaching before the GOP prevents them from doing so.

      Here are two examples of what they’re trying to do:

      “New bills target the teaching of history”
      https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2021/jan/24/new-bills-target-the-teaching-of-history/?news

      “RI: Another Dumb Bill For Protecting White Folks”
      http://curmudgucation.blogspot.com/2021/04/ri-another-dumb-bill-for-protecting.html

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    9. What you quoted there, dear dembot, is not history.

      What was the background, and what were the immediate reasons for the uprising? How long did it go on? How many people were killed by the rebels and how many rebels were killed? What'd changed in the aftermath? Your bullshit quote tells us nothing.

      What it is, it's what dear Bob calls "enshrinement of traumatization", and what we more precisely identify as liberal-hitlerian hate-mongering, agitating racial grievances.

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    10. "enshrinement of traumatization"

      Like when Obama wore a tan suit?

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    11. Ah. And you much be the one hit in the head by a fire extinguisher on Jan 6th, dear dembot?

      Delete
  7. I strongly endorse Bob's POV. Let's see how Blow's approach would work for my ethnic group. In the Holocaust, gentiles murdered six million Jews. Blow is gentile and I'm Jewish. Does Charles Blow owe me an apology for the Holocaust? Should he pay me reparations?

    Of course, Blow would say he had nothing to do with the Holocaust. I'd respond that I had nothing to do with slavery.

    Blow's approach is divisive and unhelpful.

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    Replies
    1. One more objection to Blow's column: he's focusing on victims rather than the many black people with positive accomplishments. E.g., IMO it would be more helpful to remind black children that David Blackwell was a brilliant mathematician.

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    2. The last time I checked, no black Americans were inquiring about reparations from Germans. Otherwise your analogy is air tight.

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    3. There are reparations being made now, and there were reparations immediately after the defeat of the Nazis to the Jews whose businesses and possessions were stolen. They are still returning art to Jewish families when it is discovered by art dealers or museums.

      I don't see how you figure that Blow is trying to suppress information about the Holocaust. He isn't one of the Holocaust deniers, who truly are trying to erase history about what was done to the Jews and other victims of the Holocaust.

      But Somerby is saying he doesn't think Blow should even be talking about historical events that happened to black people. If Somerby wasn't involved in slavery, he can still condemn what happened to slaves, just as those of us who were not Nazis in the 1940s still condemn what they did and are willing to remember, to honor the dead and to ensure that it never happens again. We should be willing to do the same with regard to slavery in our America.

      Reminding black children about Blackwell and telling them what their ancestors endured are not mutually exclusive. We can do both. David, do you know any black mathematicians besides Blackwell? It would be nice if you occasionally mentioned some of the other eminent black contributors to our nation's history:

      Katherine Johnson, Benjamin Banneker, Elbert Frank Cox, Euphemia Haynes, J. Ernest Wilkins Jr., Marjorie Lee Brown, Dudley Weldon Woodard, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Etta Zuber Falconer, William Schieffelin Claytor, Walter Richard Talbot, Clarence F. Stephens, Kelly Miller, Annie Easley, Albert Turner Bharucha-Reid, Vivienne Malone-Mayes, Charles L. Reason, Abdulalim A. Shabazz, Thyrsa Frazier Svager, Dolores Richard Spikes, Joseph Dennis, Louise Nixon Sutton, Georgia Caldwell Smith, Charles Dwight Lahr, Melba Roy Mouton, Rudy Horne, Angie Turner King, Joseph Alphonso Pierce, to name a few.

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    4. David, you should stop observing Passover if you really believe that Bob has a point here. But it would be called the height of anti-Semitism to make that argument.

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    5. @9:17v- What a terrific list! Thank you so much for posting it! I confess that I was unaware of all these people and their achievements!

      My other excuse for mentioning Blackwell is that I heard him lecture and he knew my wife slightly, due to her work in statistics. Also, according to the Mathematicians of the African Diaspora, Blackwell ranks first (or tied for first) among the greatest black mathematicians. BTW did you get your list from that organization?

      Again, I thank you most effusively for providing the list of black mathematicians.

      Delete
  8. Yeah and why can't Columbus Day just be about great big savings at Target?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Bob still hasn't gotten over people being mean to Hillary Clinton and he expects people of color to get over racism.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Seems to me Bob has gotten all too used to both.

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    2. Seems to me Bob has gotten all too used to both.

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