Starting tomorrow: SELF-INVOLVEMENT AND TOWN!

MONDAY, JUNE 14, 2021

For whom could this task be hard?: Rebecca Onion writes about historical topics for the routinely ridiculous news org, Slate.

Onion's work isn't routinely ridiculous; we're not sure we've ever seen her present any such work at all. That said, we were struck by the link that was offered this weekend, at the top of Slate's front page, to her latest report.

Over the weekend, it was the featured report on Slate's front page. The link to the report said this:

Understanding the Pain of Slavery Is Impossible. But a Cotton Sack Can Bring Us Closer.

Included was a photograph of a cotton sack with some writing on it. Apparently, that cotton sack could bring us closer to understanding the pain of slavery.

The text of that front-page link struck us as a bit strange, and so we greedily clicked. Below, you see the start of Onion's report, fuller headline included:

Understanding the Horror of Slavery Is Impossible. But a Simple Cotton Sack Can Bring Us Closer.

Perhaps you saw this object on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History in the past few years—if you did, you won’t have forgotten it. It’s a cotton sack, much mended, with a hundred-year-old stitched notation: “ ‘My great grandmother Rose/ mother of Ashley gave her this sack when/ she was sold at age 9 in South Carolina/ it held a tattered dress 3 handfulls of/ pecans a braid of Roses hair. Told her/ It be filled with my Love always/ She never saw her again/ Ashley is my grandmother’—Ruth Middleton/ 1921.”

This object, known as “Ashley’s Sack,” is the subject of historian Tiya Miles’ new book, All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake. All That She Carried is a master class in the use of context in historical writing...

"Understanding the horror of slavery is impossible," the headline weirdly said. 

There followed a discussion with Professor Miles about her latest book, which we haven't fully read. For today—for right now—let's focus on that headline. 

"Understanding the horror of slavery is impossible," the headline weirdly said.  Our question to you would be this:

For whom is it difficult, let alone impossible, to "understand the horror of slavery?" For what contemporary person would this task be hard in any way at all?

For whom will this task be hard at all, let alone "impossible?" What exactly could such a proclamation actually mean in the end?

Is it really hard for people today to imagine, understand or describe the horror of human enslavement? The horror of such enslavement as it was practiced earlier in our nation's history?

For whom would that be hard at all, let alone impossible/ Also, what could such a peculiar statement possibly mean?

If you read the conversation between Onion and Miles, you may start to get a sense of what that odd statement means, or at least is intended to mean. For now, let's focus on the second part of that headline—the part of the headline which says that the cotton sack in that photograph "can [at least] bring us closer" to some such understanding.

The second part of that headline seems to imply that we are somehow tasked with developing as complete an understanding of that question as we possibly can. We'll never fully understand, but we should continue to try.

We find that sentiment silly, on the borderline of appalling, for the following reason:

Onion's interview was featured on Slate's front page all say Sunday and right through to Monday morning. The day before, the front page of the New York Times featured a news report from West Point, Mississippi, a city with 11,000 residents and one public high school.

The news report concerned an unfortunate local dispute about an unfortunate question—who should have been valedictorian and salutatorian of the graduating class at West Point High School this year?

Due to a bureaucratic bungle or two, the high school ended up naming two co-valedictorians and two co-salutatorians. Because "race" was involved, or at least may have seemed to be involved, this unfortunate local dispute was placed on the Times' front page.

Stephanie Saul did the news report. Headline included, the news report started like this:

SAUL (6/12/21): Two Black Students Won School Honors. Then Came the Calls for a Recount.

At first, it seemed a joyous occasion. There was an audible gasp in the room, then boisterous cheering and applause when the announcement was made: Ikeria Washington and Layla Temple had been named 2021 valedictorian and salutatorian for West Point High School.

The president of the local N.A.A.C.P. in West Point, Miss., Anner Cunningham, smiled as the two young women, both standout students, were photographed. “It was a beautiful and proud moment to witness two young, Black ladies standing side by side given such honors,” Ms. Cunningham said.

Two black kids had won top honors, and this seemed to be surprising. Saul never explained, never tried to explain, why such a thing would have been surprising—would have produced an audible gasp—at a high school whose student population is 81 percent black.

(Saul didn't provide that statistic. Curious, we looked it up.)

As Saul continued, she discussed the unfortunate dispute which had broken out concerning rank in class. Because race seemed to be involved, it went to the front page of the Times, where Our Town's greatest newspaper encourages subscribers to admire their own self-evident virtue.

Slate was recommending the same type of self-involvement.  Or so it may have seemed to us.

Saul's report included a striking photograph of Ikeria Washington, one of West Point High's co-valedictorians. As anyone can see from that beautiful photograph, Ikeria Washington seems like a very impressive young woman. 

That said, we're sure the school is full of good, decent kids, including a lot of good, decent kids who aren't top superstar students. That said, why should it have been surprising to think that Washington had come out on top at West Point High this year? 

Why did that produce an audible gasp? Stephanie Saul didn't ask.

Here in Our Town, we're currently deeply invested in discussions concerning "race." Over the weekend, one such discussion was posted at Slate, another in the New York Times, with about three hundred more in the Washington Post, where the highly tribal posing and posturing continues this morning.

Our self-involvement as we stage these discussions is perhaps our dominant trait. Do we care about the actual needs of children being born today (or going to high school)? Or  do we mainly care about our own performances of virtue and our own moral greatness?

Race was everywhere in Our Town's major papers this weekend. We're performing our virtue around the clock now as we pretend to make up for massive amounts of lost time.

Race was everywhere in our newspapers. But so was the borderline bad faith, and the extremely limited judgment, which tend to dominate our treatment of such issues here in our self-impressed town. Our Town's basic instincts on such matters strike us as less than thoroughly helpful.

We'll hopskotch around on these topics this week. We may even tell you what our initial group of fifth-graders angrily said after they watched the film, The Forgotten Village, in the spring of 1970. 

We may even revisit what was said about the sacred dead of the gulag. "They perish. They cannot be brought back." Or so Yevtushenko said.

Our Town's discussions of race are drenched in limited judgment and in something resembling bad faith. On the brighter side, anthropologists insist that self-referential behavior of this type is very much bred in the bone.

We're wired for such limited judgment, these top major experts all say.

"Understanding the horror of slavery is impossible?" On what planet could such an odd statement even begin to make sense? On what planet would that task even begin to be hard?

Tomorrow: As described in Roll, Jordan, Roll


29 comments:

  1. What, really, there is a dembot named "Rebecca Onion"? Lol.

    Tsk. Yes, understanding dembot dumb-fuckery is impossible.

    Thanks for the laughs, dear Bob, and, as always, for documenting the atrocities.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Whites don't want kids learning about how we've historically treated minorities, because whites will soon be a minority.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No worries, blacks will have defunded all the cops so there won't be anyone to recapture the runaway white slaves.

      Delete
    2. We shouldn't de-fund the police until the majority of police want us to.
      Here in Missouri, Governor Parsons is doing his part by making guns easier for the people to carry.

      Delete
    3. LOTTO, lottery,jackpot.
      Hello all my viewers, I am very happy for sharing this great testimonies,The best thing that has ever happened in my life is how I win the lottery euro million mega jackpot. I am a Woman who believe that one day I will win the lottery. finally my dreams came through when I email believelovespelltemple@gmail.com and tell him I need the lottery numbers. I have spend so much money on ticket just to make sure I win. But I never know that winning was so easy until the day I meant the spell caster online which so many people has talked about that he is very great in casting lottery spell, . so I decide to give it a try.I contacted this great Dr Believe and he did a spell and he gave me the winning lottery numbers. But believe me when the draws were out I was among winners. I win 30,000 million Dollar. Dr Believe truly you are the best, all thanks to you forever

















      LOTTO, lottery,jackpot.
      Hello all my viewers, I am very happy for sharing this great testimonies,The best thing that has ever happened in my life is how I win the lottery euro million mega jackpot. I am a Woman who believe that one day I will win the lottery. finally my dreams came through when I email believelovespelltemple@gmail.com and tell him I need the lottery numbers. I have spend so much money on ticket just to make sure I win. But I never know that winning was so easy until the day I meant the spell caster online which so many people has talked about that he is very great in casting lottery spell, . so I decide to give it a try.I contacted this great Dr Believe and he did a spell and he gave me the winning lottery numbers. But believe me when the draws were out I was among winners. I win 30,000 million Dollar. Dr Believe truly you are the best, all thanks to you forever

      Delete
  3. Why doesn’t Somerby tell us the rest of the story? He leaves it hanging, implying that Onion is biased, and doesn’t mention that this is a reverse discrimination complaint.

    And before that, Somerby says we do not need to understand what slavery was like — just leave it at horrible.

    Empathy is a guide that tells us how to behave. Some people do prefer not to experience negative affect. Why would anyone want to watch a sad movie, they ask. These people have also been shown to be less likely to help someone in need. We ask people to “understand” what slavery was like for the slaves in order to humanize black people, elicit empathy and make it less likely someone will mistreat them. These are apparently goals Somerby has little sympathy for.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "We ask people to “understand” what slavery was like for the slaves in order to humanize black people, elicit empathy and make it less likely someone will mistreat them."

      That's biased against Right-wingers.

      Delete
    2. Another misreading.

      Delete
  4. Like most Americans, I await orders from the masters of the corporate-owned mass media to tell what to think and what to feel. Whatever they up end deciding tell me about slavery and any other issue they decide to demagogue, I’ll parrot it repeatedly, and hate whoever they tell me to hate. That’s the system we live under. Taught from an early age to be minions to the super-rich, it’s our duty to follow their agenda and parrot their thoughts. Thank you for your service.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You need not be passive about what you learn.

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    3. It used to be like that, dear Gloucon, but nowadays there is something new. It's called the 'world-wide-web'.

      It allows you to familiarize yourself with a wide spectrum of views from all over the world, as well as from your next-door neighbors.

      And this is why your liberal establishment masters are panicking, spewing hatred, and demanding total censorship.

      Wait, I've seen something about it recently.
      Here:
      https://taibbi.substack.com/p/congratulations-elitists-liberals-6ec
      ...and then this video here:
      https://taibbi.substack.com/p/interview-on-rising-on-elite-politics

      Delete
    4. Taibbi.
      LOL.

      Delete
    5. No Mao, I trust the Murdoch family to comb the web for what is important and put it on Fox. I trust One America News, Breitbart and Trump's stubby fingers to do that for me. I trust these billionaires to cherry-pick the important stuff. Just like I trust the fundamentalist preachers to cherry-pick the important parts of the Bible for me. You're betraying the GOP cause Mao by telling people to check things out for themselves. Just wait till GOP Troll-Central hears about this!

      Delete
    6. Jeez. What's with a word-salad, dear Gloucon? And weren't you the biggest fan of the Bible, just yesterday? Tsk. So sad.

      Delete
  5. "Our self-involvement as we stage these discussions is perhaps our dominant trait. Do we care about the actual needs of children being born today (or going to high school)? Or do we mainly care about our own performances of virtue and our own moral greatness?"

    Well put. The show must go one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Or do we mainly care about our own performances of virtue and our own moral greatness?"

      Bob has made his choice.
      The Republican Party is dismantling our democratic republic before our eyes, but Somerby wants to stay above it all.

      Delete
  6. "Do we care about the actual needs of children being born today (or going to high school)? Or do we mainly care about our own performances of virtue and our own moral greatness?"

    This was answered when nothing was done about the gun problem, after a roomful of First Graders were slaughtered.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wait, didn't GOP politicians propose that each first grader would be offered the right to carry and target practice training?

      Delete
    2. The GOP are horrible human beings, who should be ignored by polite society.

      Delete
  7. “Is it really hard for people today to imagine, understand or describe the horror of human enslavement? The horror of such enslavement as it was practiced earlier in our nation's history?

    For whom would that be hard at all, let alone impossible”

    Umm...Donald J Trump, sociopath (TM, TDH)?

    This is Somerby at his densest.

    Go up to a survivor of a natural disaster, or of the Holocaust, or a brutal attack, and tell them you “understand” what they went through. How can anyone really understand unless they had experienced it first-hand? One can attempt to empathize, but never truly know the experience. It is presumptuous to pretend otherwise.

    No one alive today was a slave in the Old South, so no, no one can really know what it was like. If anyone cared to ask former slaves years ago what it was like, perhaps that is preserved in books somewhere, if anyone cared to know.

    And that is the reason we read and study history. How else can we know what it was really like? Learning about that cotton sack that Somerby mocks is part of the process by which everyone attempts to understand what the lives of slaves were like. That is why we watch Eyes on the Prize or 12 Years a Slave, as difficult as that was to watch. Think how much more difficult it must have been to experience that.

    And if we’re all as empathetic as Somerby pretends, why study history at all, except to learn names and dates? We need to hear and see the stories of real people, otherwise I’m not sure most of us would have a clue about the lives of others. The more we learn about others’ experiences, the more we can empathize.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "How can anyone really understand unless they had experienced it first-hand?"

      Easily, dear mh.

      To tell you the truth, we can even understand phony drama-queen liberals, but only occasionally.

      Delete
    2. Those interviews with slaves after slavery are preserved in the Library of Congress and have also been published in book form:

      https://www.loc.gov/collections/slave-narratives-from-the-federal-writers-project-1936-to-1938/about-this-collection/

      Delete
    3. Most libraries of any size have slave narratives, the bigger bookstores too. But do we really believe that Sara Onion and the Slate staffers spend their time reading and discussing them?

      Delete
  8. Here is some more info (from The Root) that Somerby did not tell us:

    "The Times also noted that some were concerned that the Berry family’s history in West Point may have been a deciding factor in giving Emma Berry the retroactive honor–as she is a descendant of the co-founder of what used to be West Point’s largest employer, Bryan Foods...

    "Emma Berry’s father told the Times that “the family name, the Bryan name, never came into play.”

    Whether or not this issue was a matter of race or a matter of following rules will likely be disputed until the end of time itself, but two things are unassailable:

    1. The optics don’t look good. It’s understandable for any parent to defend the academic integrity of their children, and it’s not uncommon for there to be disputes after valedictorians are named. But due to Mississippi’s long history with segregation (which still happens in some schools within the state) and other educational equity issues, it’s easy to see why it looks like these two white families are upset solely because their kids were bested by two Black students.

    2. The school district didn’t handle this situation well at all. Washington and Temple’s parents told the Times that they were not informed of the district’s decision ahead of graduation. In fact, Temple’s mother first learned of the decision after Berry’s mother posted a picture of her daughter and Borgioli on social media, which made the rounds.

    “They had no intention of telling us,” Lanika Temple, Layla’s mother, said. “They were just going to have us show up at graduation. If it was truly a mistake, you contact the students and the family. They didn’t have enough respect to tell us. I feel it was underhanded.”

    “I didn’t even get a courtesy call,” Ms. Washington said.

    It also did not help that the district allowed for two unrecorded grades of Berry’s to be added to her record after the deadline had passed, which the West Point branch of the NAACP told the Times isn’t a courtesy offered to all students.

    West Point Superintendent McDonald apologized during the school’s graduation ceremony.

    “Bottom line, school board, I apologize,” Mr. McDonald told the assembly. “You charged me with doing what I really believe is right by your students despite race, color, socioeconomic, whatever. God knows when I make a decision for kids, my heart is for kids and doing the right thing. So I ask you, please, for tonight, let’s make our graduates feel special.”

    The Washington and Temple families are considering a lawsuit, the Times reports."

    ---------------------

    Somerby likes to put his thumbs on the scale by leaving out details that are important to a story, to tilt it his direction. This is dirty pool. That doesn't stop him from complaining when he thinks others are doing the same thing. Like everyone else in the world, Somerby has an agenda that is worth considering whenever you read his so-called media analysis.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.baltimoresun.com/news/nation-world/ct-aud-nw-nyt-black-students-school-honors-recount-20210611-lskvibnirzf3vc2o2gavshxpu4-story.html%3foutputType=amp

      According to this, the black students’ performances were weight via a QPA system that gives credit for having taken advanced classes and the white students grades were based solely upon GPA.

      The addition of the grades for one white student was granted because it was a mistake by the guidance counselor to not have entered the scores. The addition of the grades did not effect the outcome.

      The other things you mentioned about Mississippi’s racial history and the school not calling the other parents are the usual special pleadings that are the true “thumb on the scales”.

      Delete
    2. And you apparently think it was OK for Somerby to manipulate the information he provided like this.

      Delete
    3. I think this may be the poster paragraph for information manipulation:

      “But due to Mississippi’s long history with segregation (which still happens in some schools within the state) and other educational equity issues, it’s easy to see why it looks like these two white families are upset solely because their kids were bested by two Black students.”

      But there’s also the fact that the NYT seems to have thought this was a definitive avouchment of the facts:

      “It also did not help that the district allowed for two unrecorded grades of Berry’s to be added to her record after the deadline had passed, which the West Point branch of the NAACP told the Times isn’t a courtesy offered to all students.”

      Frankly, if the NYT piece reported the info that the auditing of grade points had found the student counselor’s recording error and that it didn’t effect the outcome of the GPA vs QPA points anyway, why the heck didn’t you mention that?

      Delete
  9. DR EMU WHO HELP PEOPLE IN ANY TYPE OF LOTTERY NUMBERS
    It is a very hard situation when playing the lottery and never won, or keep winning low fund not up to 100 bucks, i have been a victim of such a tough life, the biggest fund i have ever won was 100 bucks, and i have been playing lottery for almost 12 years now, things suddenly change the moment i came across a secret online, a testimony of a spell caster called dr emu, who help people in any type of lottery numbers, i was not easily convinced, but i decided to give try, now i am a proud lottery winner with the help of dr emu, i won $1,000.0000.00 and i am making this known to every one out there who have been trying all day to win the lottery, believe me this is the only way to win the lottery.

    Dr Emu can also help you fix this issues

    (1)Ex back.
    (2)Herbal cure & Spiritual healing.
    (3)You want to be promoted in your office.
    (4)Pregnancy spell.
    (5)Win a court case.

    Contact him on email Emutemple@gmail.com
    What's app +2347012841542
    Website Https://emutemple.wordpress.com/
    Https://web.facebook.com/Emu-Temple-104891335203341

    ReplyDelete