The life of Bright Sheng comes full circle!

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2021

The way we look to The Lesser Breed: Bright Sheng is an American composer. The record shows he was born long ago, though perhaps not so far away:

Bright Sheng was born in Shanghai, China on December 6, 1955. His mother had been his first piano teacher, having started learning at the age of four. When the Cultural Revolution began, his home's piano was taken away by the Red Guards. Sheng went back to playing a year later, using his school's since he didn't have one at home. Shortly thereafter, he decided to play piano for the rest of his life, although he didn't believe that he could become a musician since his family had no history of music.

Sheng was sent to Qinghai Province, China, which used to be a part of Tibet, and stayed there for seven years. He became a performer, playing the piano and percussion to not only perform, but to study and collect folk music. He also began to compose his own music.

[...]

After the end of the Cultural Revolution, he got admitted into the Shanghai Conservatory of Music where he learned both Chinese classical and traditional music. There, Sheng earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in music composition.

Sheng left China in 1982 and joined his family in the United States, where he had to re-learn different elements of music to adjust to the Western style of music. In New York, he attended Queens College to earn his Master of Arts degree in 1984 and Columbia University to earn his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 1993...

Today, Sheng is an American citizen, but he grew up in China. He grew up many miles away—during the Cultural Revolution, no less. 

In some ways, he grew up in a vastly different culture. In some ways, it's all the same.

We mention Cheng because of the featured editorial in today's Washington Post. Also, because the recent episode in question helps explain The Way We Looks to The Others—to the famously lesser breed.

The recent episode also helps explains why it's so hard for Democrats to get elected to the Senate and the House. Also, why it's so hard for liberals and progressives—at the present time, for President Biden—to get progressive policies passed.

What happened during the recent episode in question? At the start of their editorial, the editors offer this capsule account, headline included:

A blackface ‘Othello’ and the broken debate over cancel culture

Is it okay for a professor to show his students a movie involving blackface? This complicated question is roiling the University of Michigan—and as is often the case in campus speech debates, the answers from all quarters are too simple.

Composer and educator Bright Sheng began his fall composition seminar by playing the 1965 film of Shakespeare’s “Othello” starring Laurence Olivier in thickly applied dark face paint. What followed was unsurprising to those familiar with the racist history of minstrel entertainment, as well as the present-day tendency toward so-called wokeness in higher education: Upset students complained, including to the composition department. Eventually, though Mr. Sheng had delivered two apologies, the university announced that the professor would no longer teach the class to ensure a “positive learning environment.” A fellow faculty member described the screening as “a racist act, regardless of the professor’s intentions.”

The incident has inspired a fervor among two opposing camps that fits neatly into a national argument. One group believes this is an example of a discourse-destroying cancel culture that poses an existential threat to American academia; the other believes it is an example instead of the marginalized finally empowered to challenge an oppressive institution with a habit of ignoring minority perspectives.

The editorial continues from there. 

For the record, why has Sheng "delivered two apologies" instead of the usual one? The answer is simple. The answer comes from the pile of behaviors sometimes described as "human, all too human." 

Inevitably, Sheng had to issue the second apology to apologize for the shortcomings quickly denounced in the first! In such ways, the history of this child of Cultural Revolution has possibly come full circle.

Sheng is 65 years old. He was born and raised in a different country, in what was (on balance) a vastly different culture from our own.

In the recent episode, he showed a film to his class in which an actor performed in blackface. Apparently, he didn't realize how some students and some assistant, associate and adjunct professors were going to feel about this.

(This may not be totally shocking, given his personal background. This didn't seem to occur, or to matter, to our tribe's outraged savants.)

In the opinion of the Post, the incident has produced a fervor in which "the answers from all quarters are too simple." It has also created a dispute in which pro-Trump forces—in the state of Michigan, let's say—will almost surely be picking up votes.

(Though also, perhaps, in the state of Virginia. Could such a thing matter there?)

Have the forces demanding submission from Sheng really behaved in a way which is "too simple," thereby contributing to "a broken debate?" We'll suggest that you read this news report from The Michigan Daily, in which much of our tribe's progressive reaction is spectacularly lacking in what was once called perspective and nuance, or at least so it seems to us.

Or at least so it seems to us! There is no ultimate way to assess the behaviors involved in this matter, but of one thing there can be little doubt:

These numerous incidents help explain The Way We Look to The Others—to the admittedly lesser breed. Also, these incidents help explain why Biden can't get anything passed, and why he has only 48 votes in the United State Senate, even after four years of The Crazy from Trump.

We had planned to write today about Eric Levitz's heroic act of courtesy and self-restraint at New York magazine's Intelligencer site. In this lengthy essay, Levitz fact-checked an ugly, deeply unintelligent piece in The Nation—and he did so without passing judgment on its author's morals or motives.

The piece in question was truly ugly; it was also flatly stupid. (Full disclosure—the headline on the Levitz piece describes the essay in The Nation as having engaged in a "smear.")

The piece in The Nation does supply an anthropology lesson, or at least disconsolate major scholars have despondently said that it does.

It shows that members of one group of humans will behave exactly like members of other groups of humans when they finally become sufficiently privileged, spoiled, entitled. In the end, we human beings are all just alike, these despairing top experts have said

Levitz was heroic in his restraint. Of the essay at The Nation, we'll only say this:

It helps explain why liberals and progressives are increasingly unable to win seats in the Congress. Also, it helps explain why liberals and progressives are unable to win our nation's political debates. 

It helps explain The Way We Look to Others. In fairness, it may feel good going down.

Back to the Michigan campus:

Our newspapers have been full of such episodes from the finest schools, endlessly including Yale Law. The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but our massively self-impressed tribe can match The Others dumbness for dumbness, though it will often be holders of advanced degrees who engineer our self-defeats.

Our tribe forced Sheng to apologize twice. Every time he agrees to do so, a Trump voter earns his wings!


110 comments:

  1. "He was born and raised in a different country, in what was (on balance) a vastly different culture from our own."

    Oh dear. Your shitty liberal virtue-signaling rituals are nowhere near culture, dear Bob. You're in a cult, remember?

    The American culture is fine. Ordinary American don't care about any of this 'blackface' nonsense, or any other woke bullshit.

    Once again, dear Bob: don't assume, don't pretend that Others are just like you and your comrades. They are not. They are, by and large, perfectly normal humyn beings.

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    1. The comedian Norm Macdonald said the term "cis male" was used as 'a way of marginalizing a normal person'.

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    2. Poor guy. From the second he said something that wasn’t “I suck” he didn’t stand a chance.

      ‘Intention does not matter’. Chilling.

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    3. Fortunately death has a way of marginalizing sad fools like Norm Macdonald.

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    4. If Macdonald didn't like feeling marginalized, he shouldn't have done it to other people.

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    5. Perhaps he didn't particularly like dembots trying to marginalize normal people, dear dembot.

      Marginalizing idiot-wokies could still be perfectly fine by him. Even praiseworthy.

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    6. At least Macdonad didn't try to overthrow the government, because black people's votes counted in an election, like Republican Congresspeople did.
      BTW, lock 'em up!

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  2. Those college kids are bullies who are spoiled as hell. They have no idea of the privileged position they occupy. No idea of history.

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    1. Sheng comes from a wealthy family, and despite the dubious story that his piano was taken away and he was sent somewhere, he has lived an extremely privileged life; whereas U of M students tend to be middle to lower class with dim prospects at best in our late stage capitalistic economy. But is it true they have no idea of history? They do not know about chattel slavery? Jim Crow? Redlining? Right wing tribalism? Sure, buddy.

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    2. The college kids are not spoiled, they’re indoctrinated. They’re fanatics. Their need for a safe space isn’t about cordiality or even about the freedom to be yourself, as the term would have meant if it had been around in the ‘80s. It’s about utter control over what is said and by extension what is thought.

      These cultural revolutionists will scream at you over a joke while the thing that thrills THEM down to their leggings is a tribunal-cum-lynching. They can mobilize for that in a matter of hours and won’t rest until someone’s career is swaying in the wind.

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    3. History has a way of biting those in the wrong in the rear side.

      Those on the right are so sore from being bitten, they have taken to rabid rants while claiming mind-reading abilities!

      Why are they so sensitive? Most likely a result of cyclically generational child abuse, with no ability to resolve it.

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    4. Yes, I stand by what I said. They know about those things and use them as a way to justify their privileged bullying. Jim Crow is a hammer and anything they don't like is a nail. You have no knowledge of world history if you think watching a Lawrence Olivier movie is unsafe.

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    5. Anonymouse 2:11pm, good job with the show and tell.

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    6. Cecilia, you almost wonder if they contradict themselves on purpose.

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    7. Being dogmatic is a key feature to those on the right; even when their position is demonstrably wrong and ridiculous to the point of being risible, and likely made in bad faith or for amusement.

      They want to unironically cancel those that fight for justice, because at an early age they themselves were tragically denied justice.

      What we need is a massive increase in mental health infrastructure to break this chain of unresolved child abuse.

      The movie in and of itself is not especially harmful, it is the uncritical promotion of its racism within a hierarchical setting devoid of historical context.

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    8. The movie's uncritical promotion of its racism within a hierarchical setting devoid of historical context is unsafe?

      Do you know how stupid you sound?

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    9. The right often make assertions without feeling the need to backup their claims or provide evidence, this is largely a function of unresolved child trauma which has been shown to indicate impediments to critical thinking and rational reasoning, often threats are seen where none exist, and the Dunning-Kruger effect is a common consequence.

      The right will often pose rhetorical questions with breathtaking levels of lack of self awareness. It's funny for a second but mostly it's just sad.

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    10. It almost makes you long for the days when Somerby wanted a national discussion on Trump’s mental health so all the anonymices were righteously outraged at the suggestion of off-the-cuff diagnosing.

      *Almost* makes you long…actually this is more entertaining.

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    11. The faux righteous indignation put on display by the right is, as is typical of righteousness, borne from guilt, but it is a sad, misguided guilt, as children suffering trauma are not guilty, but indeed, are victims.

      We are given here a view of the right, basically in it's natural habitat. When triggered they jump into action, accusing others of what they see in the mirror. Anthropologically it is interesting, but in practical terms it screams for help, screams of long neglected injuries handed down through the generations.

      Trump is an apt example, abandoned at an early age by his domineering father, proceeded by Trump engaging in a host perverse behavior, including but not limited to: bullying smaller children and those less privileged, racist land-lording, multiple business failures, bailouts via cons, spousal rape, rape of a teenager, racist attempt to falsely criminalize, over 30 accusers of sexual assault, cow-towing to authoritarian figures, on and on, eventually trying to subvert American laws, institutions, and norms, for his own personal enrichment.

      Each flailing attempt by these right wingers to "own" reveals more sadness in these dark souls, an endless spelunking.

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    12. Get real, Anonymouse 5:04pm, unlike Trump, many regular conservatives do rigorous work. They don’t have the time or sexual energy to engage in endless spelunking.

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    13. Like Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene? Or Jim Banks or Ted Cruz? Or Devin Nunes, not to mention the various crooks and grifters?

      All the righteous Republicans left the party when it nominated Trump.

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    14. Anonymouse 6:29pm, Republicans are always discovered to be righteous when they retire.

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    15. More of them should do so, right away.

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    16. No argument there from me.

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    17. While the Right loves to cancel and ban every slight to their sensitivities, and they love to vice signal, and they love to own, they also love to wallow in victim-hood, but in this case the professor is still employed, he was merely removed from teaching that course for that session, and furthermore he felt terrible about what happened and apologized for his actions.




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    18. Right, Anonymouse 9:47am, he just had his class withdrawn, had a write-up in the local paper, and in the WP, had to apologize twice, and then got this shot:

      “After hearing that Sheng stopped teaching the seminars, the graduate student told The Daily they thought it was “the bare minimum” and wished more was done.

      “I feel like the thing that we all actually needed (was) a true and honest and genuine understanding that he did something wrong, not just (him) trying to defend himself,” the graduate student said. “I feel like there’s still a lack of trust there because none of us think he is actually sorry.”

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    19. it wasn't his class, he was assigned to teach it and now someone else is teaching it - boohoo; he felt terrible, realized his error, and apologized. accept his apology and let him get on with his life, stop weaponizing his mistake for your own agenda.

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    20. The class went on hiatus for awhile until they got someone else to continue.

      His story was a matter of local and later national news.

      He had to apologize for showing a movie from 1965 and that still wasn’t enough.

      He had to yet again apologize for that apology. Even then it was put out in one of the articles that none of the students found that he “felt terrible” as you describe it, on the contrary, they found him insincere.

      I understand how you love to mete out this sort of punishment and then say it was all good and as wholesome as a Disney cartoon…he didn’t die… conservatives are worse…Squirrel!….but that’s just because you’re hot to move on to your next object lesson.

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    21. You still haven't explained what the film had to do with the content of his class.

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    22. It is not logically incumbent upon to explain why the students were shown this movie. That has nothing to do with their response to the film or with my opinion on what happened with this man.

      However, the play was rendered into an opera by Verdi. If they were studing literature put to music…-as in opera, it would make sense to familiarize them with the story.

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    23. It makes a big difference why the film was being shown because that may have contributed to the students' complaints. Yes, there is an opera version of Othello. There are many films of that opera that could have been shown without using the Olivier film of the play (without music).

      This is an interesting overview of race in opera:

      https://www.npr.org/sections/deceptivecadence/2015/09/21/442279816/farewell-to-blackfaced-otellos-at-the-met

      Quite a few professors believe that using a class period to show a film that students could watch outside of class is a misuse of student time. Excerpts yes, followed by discussion, but not entire films. That is what unprepared or lazy teachers do, no matter how valuable the film. Assign it as homework. University libraries have reserve Dvd players and copies of films for that purpose, assuming the students couldn't stream it. And that isn't how you become familiar with the plot of an opera.

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    24. Sio now we’ve moved from it being suspect that he showed the movie to a music class, to it being suspect that it was THAT Othello.

      Could it possibly be that he showed that version because it featured an actor who is arguably one of best of all time?

      Could it be that he may have seen that movie in the theater when he was age ten (or eleven) and loved it and so chose it for that reason?

      Could it possibly something other than Sheng intentionally trying to offend his students?

      Let’s hope NOT…right?…

      You other comments about his teaching techniques have nothing to do with why Sheng got into trouble.

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    25. No movement, it has always seemed odd that a music teacher was showing that film, which is not about music at all. I asked why. You suggested it was to learn the plot of the opera. That led to my statement about the various opera films that could be shown.

      It would be odd to show a movie with Laurence Olivier in a music class and it would be odd for someone with a doctorate in music to be teaching drama or literature or some other subject. That aspect of this story hasn't made much sense to me. You don't have any answer for it, but that doesn't stop you from manufacturing them.

      Students tuitiom winds up making their classes cost anywhere from several hundred to several thousand per lecture or seminar meeting. That is too expensive to waste on personal indulgences such as showing films you loved as a child.

      No one thought that Sheng was intentionally trying to offend his students, but his lack of consideration that race matters. My other comments have a great deal to do with why Sheng got into trouble. When students like their teacher, they are not so quick to complain. They will bring the matter up in office hours or during discussion or at the end of class, and a competent teacher can defuse the situation and prevent it from becoming a major problem.

      In my entire teaching career, I have never had a student complain about any racist, sexist or insensitive statement. I have dealt with students who object to animal experimentation, I've had trans students in my classes, I've had minority students in both my classes and in my lab. It isn't difficult to avoid these kinds of problems if you understand the students' concerns and are sympathetic to the need to eliminate racism, sexism and various other forms of intolerance in our society.

      I am absolutely certain that Somerby shouldn't go anywhere near today's college classrooms with his attitudes and inability to understand modern issues.

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    26. "I am absolutely certain that Somerby shouldn't go anywhere near today's college classrooms with his attitudes and inability to understand modern issues."

      May we suggest that perhaps dear Bob's understanding of "modern issues" is that woke idiots shouldn't go anywhere near today's college classrooms?

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    27. You can blame that fact on their dictatorial and doctrinal instructors, who have placed rigid ideological parameters around their cognition and can no longer reason themselves out of a paper bag.

      Poor Sheng survived the Cultural Revolution in China, where totalitarians purged academia to install their fellow authoritarians. Sheng has come full circle indeed.

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    28. Cecelia,
      In the words of the good folks from the Heartland of America the Left is trying to cancel, "Fuck Your Feelings".

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    29. You are consistent, Anonymouse 9:14am.

      That’s the same sentiment anonymices hold for facts.

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    30. If we stick with only discussing racist ideology, the Right can be consistent too.
      It's all the talk about freedom, liberty, small government, etc where they contradict themselves at least three times in a two-minute conversation.

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  3. Where is the media criticism in this post?

    Here is a clue: “The incident has inspired a fervor among two opposing camps that fits neatly into a national argument.”

    The use of passive voice (“has inspired”) and the notion that the incident “fits into” a national argument remove any discussion of the means by which this and similar “incidents” “fit into” a “national argument.” Did the incident fit itself into a national argument? Is there really a “national argument?” Are there really “two opposing camps?”

    Somerby dislikes what happened to Sheng and wants to portray it as the tribalism of liberals, rather than individual reactions to a specific incident. He is welcome to attack what happened, but he is furthering the idea that there are “two opposing camps” who see such incidents merely as fodder for political strife, and whose reactions are dictated by “tribalism” rather than sincere concern by individuals.

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    1. Really, is it that you cannot read?

      "We mention Cheng because of the featured editorial in today's Washington Post. Also, because the recent episode in question helps explain The Way We Looks to The Others—to the famously lesser breed"

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    2. Can you read, “12:11”?

      These numerous incidents help explain The Way We Look to The Others”

      Somerby isn’t critical of the editorial, nor does he analyze it. He isn’t saying that the Post is promoting a mistaken view of liberals. It is the incidents themselves, such as what happened to Sheng, that he takes issue with.

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    3. That's fair. He is referring directly to the incident. You're right. He is referring to the conduct of the professor showing the film and the reaction of the students and press and portraying it as part of tribal liberal conduct that is viewed by others negatively.

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    4. "Has inspired" is active. The passive would be "has been inspired."

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  4. "Sheng is 65 years old. He was born and raised in a different country, in what was (on balance) a vastly different culture from our own."

    Sheng came to the US in 1982, which means he has been here for 39 years. That is enough time to learn to follow politics and cultural issues, especially if you teach in a university.

    A week or so ago I went to see Hamilton in Los Angeles. The revolutionary founding fathers were all played by black performers. The person playing George Washington was trained in Shakespearean acting in Great Britain. If black roles had been played by black actors in 1965 and Laurence Olivier were breaking that tradition, no one would have a problem with the film today. But the fact that black roles were traditionally played by white actors in black face, even when the plot revolved around racial issues (as in Saratoga Trunk, for example), arises from racism and that is why the film should not have been shown without some introduction acknowledging that.

    As a college professor, I think Sheng should have known better and brought this on himself. I don't think the students are entitled or wrong to be upset. Sheng could have easily turned the discussuon into a productive exploration of such issues, as any competent professor would. Somerby may admire Sheng's musical abilities, but he seems to have sucked as a professor.

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    1. That's one way to look at it. A lot of people agree.

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    2. Another way to look at is: so what that Laurence Olivier played the role of Othello in the movie version of the play, and put on black face to look like a moor, big deal.

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    3. Yes, as long as you are not personally affected, why worry about others.

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    4. That’s not the half of it, Anonymouse 5:06pm. The writer of Othello cast men in all the female roles.

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    5. AC/MA, so what would be a legitimate answer in 1965 if there had been any black actors playing Othello in that time period. There weren't, and that is the "what" at the heart of this complaint. Olivier may have given a great performance, but the fact is that black actors never got the chance to play that role, confined as they were to playing gangsters, porters, and shambling comedy relief and pretty much nothing else. That's why movies such as Raisin in the Sun were breakthroughs.

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    6. Every person in that classroom understands the difference between 1965 and now.

      Just as women understands how it was that in 1960 June Cleaver seemed to be Ward’s oldest child.

      It’s absolutely ridiculous to suggest that people of this age needed to prepared or shielded from the reality of Olivier in black face in 1965.

      It’s absurd that this man had to step down from anything in order to account for hysterics based upon historical realities.

      Stop it. Stop indulging this because it suits your political agenda.

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    7. Kids don't and that is who are being taught in college classrooms. Kids with no sense of the past or perspective on today. You have to point things out to them and explain things that were obvious in the past.

      For example, today's college students not only missed the time when women wore stockings and won't know what a garter belt is, but they also missed the era of panty hose. Today women don't wear hosiery at all.

      I recently moved and the young women who packed my stuff labeled the boxes with my vinyl albums "big CDs" because they didn't know what a record was.

      I thought when I first read Othello that it was odd for a Moor to be in an English play, and then I thought that it was very odd to see Othello played by Olivier. That was in 1965. You seem to think that racism was accepted as normal in some past golden age, but slaves always knew they were being mistreated and black people yearned for freedom, just as those with a capacity for empathy knew they needed to abolish the slave trade.

      It was not OK for Olivier to play Othello in 1965 and it is not now either. Sheng had to step down because he couldn't control his class. Have you taken a moment to wonder what that 1965 film had to do with a music class?

      Basic decency is not just my "political agenda" but it should be how all people threat each other. You, of course, lack empathy and don't understand why it is not OK to treat people badly.

      Sheng is retirement age. He can retire and watch Olivier on his pension.

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    8. “Sheng is retirement age. He can retire and watch Olivier on his pension.”

      I have enough empathy to understand how your blasé and blithe suggestion on how this man goes out is punishment that does not fit the crime.

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    9. 5:47

      casting men in females roles is not equivalent to blackface, this kind of false equivalency fallacy is itself a form of racism - you are just saying "oh hush you whiny black people"

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    10. Why is that racist to say hush you whiny black people if the black people are whining and privileged and entitled and using race to bully others?

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    11. And why do you think you can speak for black people?

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    12. im not speaking for black people, a meaningless phrase considering the context, and you are just saying "how dare a black person speak out, sit down, shut up, and eat your watermelon"

      for a laugh lets just pretend you are not joking, black people have been oppressed by white people and white people's laws and systems and institutions for hundreds of years, in doing so Whites have created a society where the power is so imbalanced, the things you suggest can not occur, and your suggestion is remarkably racist. i suggest you put that shovel away, you've dug your hole pretty deep

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    13. Everyone is racist with you. I'm not saying sit down and eat your watermelon. That's idiotic. I'm just saying if a black person is being privileged and bullying, it's not racist to call them out on it. All you know is the race card. It's so idiotic and boring.

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    14. You're an idiotic simpleton.

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    15. Stop trying to speak for all black people. The truth is, they hate you.

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    16. And your simplistic race baiting ends up inflaming racial tensions. You're a total intellectual mess.

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    17. These are college students. They aren’t slaves and they are not the victims of segregation and it’s not still 1965 or any of the other garbage you so diligently throw around at the rest of us, including at the people of your own tribe.

      God help academics who find themselves on the other side of the rainbow. Their peers have all the generosity and camaraderie of cannibals.

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    18. Anonymouse 10:08pm, my comment about Shakespeare and men playing women in his day was meant to highlight irony, so of course that’s going to fly right over your head, but it’s interesting that you’d find that dynamic “not the same” as black face.

      Evidently, you’ve never seen Shakespeare In Love [flippant remark].

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    19. Shakespeare in love is fiction by Tom Stoppard. It isn't history.

      Women did not act in plays for the same reason they didn't participate in lots of jobs, sexism. The existence of sexism doesn't justify racism in Othello, where a black man could have played the role in 1965, especially given that racism didn't exist in Shakespeare's time but the concept of race was invented to justify the slave trade (which came much later).

      Your idea of "irony" is offensive. Go back to your conservative websites where they will appreciate your little jokes.

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    20. Anonymouse 11:57am, when you argue with a little joke, it shows you didn’t ascertain that it was a joke… or a flippant remark or anything subtler than a pie in your face.

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    21. I find your "little jokes" offensive. Calling them "irony" doesn't improve their stench. You can comfort yourself by thinking I misunderstood you, but I get you fine and I dislike the things you says here.

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    22. You don’t have to like anyone’s jokes, it’s your attempts to launch arguments against quips that causes you to sound tone deaf and clueless.

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    23. Jokes reveal attitudes. Yours are warped.

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    24. Anonymouse 11:19pm, you couldn’t discern a quip from a poem or a legal affidavit.

      You scrutinize all for political heterodoxy.

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    25. No, I don't find you funny. You are engaging in what Chris Hayes calls "vice signaling":

      "Sadly, the truth is that this is a feature not a bug for the average right winger. In fact, it not even that. It is the fundamental reason they love these people so much. Sticking it to the libs or really anyone, as crudely as possible is their only organizing principle. Being a mean, nasty bully is second nature to them now and they don’t even see what they are doing.

      I think what amazes me the most is the fact that so many of them call themselves Christians."

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    26. Look at how you’re describing your political contrarians and look at how Anonymices engage in this childishness in nearly every post and even accuse the blogger of being one of the people they disdain so.

      Now go buy a mirror.

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  5. Here is the supposed thrust and theme of the current iteration of TDH:

    "It has also created a dispute in which pro-Trump forces—in the state of Michigan, let's say—will almost surely be picking up votes."

    This is supposition without evidence, and the assertion is completely without merit. There is no such thing as a persuadable "Trump voter". The "camps" in America were baked in long ago, electoral politics is mostly about motivation - getting the vote out, and almost nothing to do with persuasion.

    Even though progressive policies have broad public support, politics is ruled by corporatists that employ very clever marketing (racism being one of the most effective, reference Lee Atwater), thus "Trump voters" are already at near peak motivation. The right has used identity politics for decades and now the left has that tool as well (the difference being the right uses it to oppress, the left uses it to liberate), and those on the right can not stand it, they are losing their minds.

    But Somerby is just clowning anyway with this garbage notion, in reality he is just on a vanity trip. Watching him get ripped apart daily in his own comments is interesting, but also kind of sad. Not that anybody is crying.



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    1. Guess you never heard about the Obama-Trump voters.

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    2. Guess you never heard of disagreeing without sarcasm and fantasy. You have little credibility. Change your diaper.

      Delete
  6. Bob obsesses about "The Way We Looks to The Others."

    Funny how nobody on the Trump-Q-Anon-Glen Beck-Paula White-GOP side never, ever asks that question. How can there be a persuadable voter among the 81,268,924 "Demon-rat" Biden voters? They all failed to see the greatness of the Orange-King, anointed by God. The Trump/GOP cult remains unembarrassed by, and instead boldly glorifies, an endless list of irrational people and ideas:

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jan/27/satanic-pregnancies-trump-spiritual-adviser-paula-white-outlandish-acts

    ReplyDelete
  7. Is it okay for a professor to show his students a movie involving blackface?

    Yes, but it exposes a lack of judgment and knowledge of history.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Students are consumers because they pay tuition. When a professor misuses the time they have paid big bucks for, it right that they complain. An unprepared of self-indulgent professor sometimes veers off into describing their personal life, reminiscing about their past, giving opinions about basketball teams. It is not OK to do that either, and some student is highly likely to make a fuss about it.

      In general, students don't complain when they like the professor and feel like they are learning something valuable. When Sheng or someone like him becomes the focus of a dispute like this, it suggests that his students weren't happy with him in the first place.

      Somerby says that this is happening all over the place, but these incidents seem pretty few and far between based on their media visibility. I think he is exaggerating.

      Delete
    2. FDR, I suppose the lack of judgment inherent in expecting college students to watch old movies and not expect the proprieties of 2021, works out for best in 2021.

      We are in an era when a human sacrifice must regularly be offered up to some woke goddess or another.

      Delete
    3. We are in an age when we are demanding that all people be treated like human beings. Like it or move to China.

      Delete
    4. We are also in an era where a liberal complaining about something is a sacrifice to “wokeness”, but a conservative complaint is viewed as “reasonable”, even if it is a sacrifice to conservative orthodoxy, aka Trump must be worshipped at all costs. Liz Cheney says hi.

      Delete
    5. We can start by treating all people like adults when they are adults.

      Delete
    6. mh, the fact that you view classroom dynamics as rightly being comparable to congress IS the problem.

      Delete
    7. Every year they circulate a list of the things that today's college kids have never experienced. That is done so that college professors will know what they need to explain and what is within the experience of their students.

      Just because students are "adults" doesn't mean they know who June Cleaver is.

      Delete
    8. I didn’t say students of this era watched Nick At Night.

      They certainly knew what black face is and they certainly knew it’s historic context.

      Delete
    9. ....which is why they rightfully complained, and the still-employed professor rightfully apologized.

      they say someday a conservative won't exclusively make bad faith arguments, eh, I won't hold my breath.

      Delete
    10. No, bad faith is pretending you’ve been emotionally traumatized and are “unsafe” by seeing an old movie with someone in black face.

      Bad faith is your intellectual blackmail that we all must buy that bullshit or else be labeled a racist.

      Delete
    11. So you are saying you object to HOW the students are complaining, not WHAT they are complaining about? Somehow I doubt that.

      Delete
    12. As soon as the Right cares about something other than racism, I'll stop calling them "racists".

      Delete
    13. 11:51,
      Forget it. Jake. It's Bad Faith Argument Town.

      Delete
    14. Anonymouse 11:51am, how would I know “how” they’re complaining?

      Delete
    15. This is what you said, Cecelia:

      "No, bad faith is pretending you’ve been emotionally traumatized and are “unsafe” by seeing an old movie with someone in black face."

      Delete
    16. That they feel emotionally traumatized and unsafe is why they object to being exposed to a movie that featured the proprieties of 56 years ago.

      “How” the students are complaining is - with doe-eyed sincerity?… infused with righteous indignation?… trembling with libidinous yearning?..

      okay, not that last one.

      Delete
  8. The idea that actors should only portray characters of the same ethnicity and gender is ugly racism and bigotry IMO. And, it's completely alien to the idea of theatre, namely that the performers portray characters who are not themselves.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The idea that a black actor cannot portray a black character is ugly racism and bigotry, IMO. When white people play black characters, it is because black ones are not permitted to play major parts, even ones depicting black people.

      Meanwhile, David, you don't seem to understand that the practice of casting is nearly entirely about stereotyping people based on their looks. Watch the first 20 minutes of Tootsie for an example of what actors go through in terms of being stereotyped by casting agents.

      We are talking about situations where black people fully "look the part" and yet are not permitted to play those roles, as happened in 1965 and is still occurring in today's films. And that's why a fuss is being made about it.

      Delete
    2. Anon 8:07 Is it correct that black actors today are sometimes prohibited from playing black characters? I know it was true decades ago, for both blacks and Asians.. But, can you provide examples where that's happening today?

      Delete
    3. yes people of color are still not cast in roles that are people of color. google would have told you in 5 sec

      also the issue is not that actors should only portray....bla bla bla zzzzzzzzz o my god what a stooopid strawman

      the issue is that actors should not engage in racism while portraying characters

      maybe Birth of a Nation is your jam, who would be surprised

      Delete
    4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitewashing_in_film

      The most recent example in the list is from 2022 (Bullet Train). Controversial examples were Hunger Games and Ghost in the Shell (Scarlet Johansson).

      Delete
  9. Somerby says these cancel culture incidents keep happening, but this is the actual stuff that keeps appearing in the news:

    "Criminal charges have been filed against Pierce County, Wa. Sheriff Ed Troyer, months after he lied about a Black newspaper carrier threatening to kill him as he made deliveries in Troyer’s neighborhood in Tacoma.

    According to The Seattle Times, prosecutors announced Tuesday that Troyer has been charged with one count of false reporting and one count of making a false or misleading statement to a civil servant.

    As The Root previously covered, Troyer told an emergency dispatcher on Jan. 27 that Sedrick Altheimer threatened to kill him and blocked in his vehicle. Troyer later recanted this statement when Tacoma police questioned him, saying Altheimer never threatened him.

    Altheimer told the Times in March that Troyer followed him in his unmarked SUV as he made stops on the route. He said Troyer didn’t identify himself as a law enforcement official when he asked why he was being followed. Altheimer said Troyer accused him of being a porch pirate (despite the fact he followed him on multiple stops and most likely saw Altheimer clearly doing his job)."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is Jussie Smollett up to his old tricks? How disappointing.

      Delete
    2. Mao,
      Thanks for letting us all know the Establishment hates Jussie Smollet.

      Delete
    3. Both cancel culture incidents and racial incidents are rare but we have vested interests with an agenda who are obsessed with tracking and publicizing these rare events. Yet violent crimes totaled 1,200,000 nationwide in 2019 and similar numbers every occur every year affect far more people.

      Delete
    4. Is cancel culture really rare?
      For example, we've never had a professed atheist on the Supreme Court.
      230 years doesn't make it sound "rare".

      Delete
    5. Racial incidents are not rare. They are everyday events for everyone who is black in our culture.

      Delete
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    ReplyDelete
  11. What's horribly racist in the first place, is this WHITE SUPREMACY play where Colored Person general murders a womyn.

    How many more vulnerable yutes must be traumatized before this WHITE SUPREMACIST abomination is banished?

    ReplyDelete
  12. As usual, Somerby accomplishes nothing but throwing shade on an already muddled debate. And he's so intoxicated with his own cleverness he fails to realize he's neglected to make any coherent point at all. Just another day at the Daily Howler.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Bob’s assumption that this controversy will help the Trump camp may be correct, but it strikes me as a big leap.
    At the heart of this lies the lumping of crude minstrel traditions in with Shakespearian traditions of star actors (white) playing one of the bards juiciest leads, who is a black character.
    If you think Oliver’s skill is an important historical matter or not, this is lazy, knee jerk liberalism.

    ReplyDelete
  14. My writer cousin Lizzy, who Bob wrote about a few months ago, is something over 50% white, and less than 50% black. Her looks and name do not identify her as black, so it would be easy for her to identify as white. (I wish she simply identified herself as a person.) Anyhow, she chooses to identify herself as black. Morally, I think this means that she identifies with the lower class black community. However, she also gains from identifying herself as black. The New York Times .calls on her to write book reviews of books by black authors. (I think Lizzie's reviews are so terrific that the Times should use her reviews, regardless of race, but that's not how things work.)

    For someone of my age, it's incredible that someone with the choice of race would choose black. In the bad old days of just a few decades ago, blacks were excluded from a host of opportunities. However, in today's world. blacks are not excluded. On the contrary, they get special preferences for many opportunities. This situation shows how false the idea of supposed "white privilege" is in today's world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "However, in today's world. blacks are not excluded. "

      If you say so, it must be true, right child?

      Delete
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