On Race and Sexual Violence in the Works of Alan Moore
Let’s get something out of the way upfront: I don’t think Alan Moore is a racist, homophobe or misogynist. But some of his works — particularly League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Neonomicon — have issues. Although it might seem silly to go after Moore when there are much worse offenders both in comics and other media (not to mention actual rapists), Moore’s work is a good case study of how even the most well intentioned, progressive writers can screw-up matters of race, gender and sexuality. And because he is perhaps the most highly regarded writer in comics, there’s a trickle down effect from his work. Moore refuses to listen to his critics, but maybe other writers can learn from his mistakes.
Last week Pádraig Ó Méalóid published an interview with Alan Moore in which he asked a few questions about sexual assault in his comics in general and specifically about his inclusion of Golliwog in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier.
Moore’s response is long and vitriolic, and misses the point entirely.
I can understand why Moore is so bothered by accusations of racism and sexism. He’s an old hippie who has put more consideration to identity politics and representation into his work than most comic writers of his or any other generation. He’s taken other creators to task for their sexism and homophobia. But even though he’s written some strong women and minority characters, he can and does get it wrong sometimes, and his reaction here is disappointing — not least of all because of the rhetorical style he employs.
Geeks for Monarchy: The Rise of the Neoreactionaries
My latest column for TechCrunch looks at one of the weirdest political subcultures on the web:
Many of us yearn for a return to one golden age or another. But there’s a community of bloggers taking the idea to an extreme: they want to turn the dial way back to the days before the French Revolution.
Neoreactionaries believe that while technology and capitalism have advanced humanity over the past couple centuries, democracy has actually done more harm than good. They propose a return to old-fashioned gender roles, social order and monarchy.
You may have seen them crop-up on tech hangouts like Hacker News and Less Wrong, having cryptic conversations about “Moldbug” and “the Cathedral.” And though neoreactionaries aren’t exactly rampant in the tech industry, PayPal founder Peter Thiel has voiced similar ideas, and Pax Dickinson, the former CTO of Business Insider, says he’s been influenced by neoreactionary thought. It may be a small, minority world view, but it’s one that I think shines some light on the psyche of contemporary tech culture.
Full Story: TechCrunch: Geeks for Monarchy: The Rise of the Neoreactionaries
Previously: Nick Land – An Experiment in Inhumanism
The Trial That Gave Vodou A Bad Name
Mike Dash on the “affaire de Bizoton”:
What all this means, I think, is that vodou became a fault line running through the very heart of Haitian society after 1804. For most citizens, and especially for the rural blacks who had borne the brunt both of slavery and the struggle for independence, it became a potent symbol of old dignities and new freedoms: a religion that, as Dubois notes, helped “carve out a place where the enslaved could temporarily escape the order that saw them only as chattel property” during colonial times, and went on to “create communities of trust that stretched between the different plantations and into the towns.” For the local elite, who tended to be of mixed race and were often French-educated, though, vodou was holding Haiti back. It was alien and frightening to those who did not understand it; it was associated with slave rebellion; and (after Soulouque’s rise), it was also the faith of the most brutal and backward of the country’s rulers.
These considerations combined to help make Haiti a pariah state throughout the 19th century. Dessalines and his successor, Henry Christophe—who had every reason to fear that the United States, France, Britain and Spain would overthrow their revolution and re-enslave the population, given the chance—tried to isolate the country, but even after economic necessity forced them to reopen the trade in sugar and coffee, the self-governing black republic of Haiti remained a dangerous abomination in the eyes of every white state involved in the slave trade. Like Soviet Russia in the 1920s, it was feared to be almost literally “infectious”: liable to inflame other blacks with the desire for liberty. Geffrard was not the only Haitian leader to look for ways to prove that his was a nation much like the great powers—Christian, and governed by the rule of law.
Full Story: The Trial That Gave Vodou A Bad Name
Writing While Black
David Brothers writes:
What Alex is referring to here is something I’m going to call “writing while black,” because I honestly don’t know if there’s a proper term for it yet. In short, there’s a tendency for a certain subset of comics fans to view books written by black writers with a suspicious eye. The motivations of the writers come into question. Sometimes that suspicion manifests itself as viewing a book as a “black book” instead of a regular old comic book. Other times, it’s a kind of defensive, twisted white guilt, like when fans declared that Black Panther and Storm were only getting married because they’re black, and how offensive that is. (They didn’t. It’s not.) And other times, it’s just straight up racism, of course.
The specific thing that Alex is getting at, though, are the times when fans look at a book written by a black writer that feature a black character winning at something (or even being present, which I suppose is a type of win in and of itself) and go, “Hmmm… I dunno about all this. This seems pretty anti-white/preachy/political/angry/etc.” The accusations tend to reveal more about the complainer than the complained, in my experience. Nine times out of ten, it isn’t what they say it is.
Full Story: Comics Alliance: I’m David: Writing While Black and ‘One-Punch Man’
(via Ian MacEwan)
“I Am So Goth, I Was Born Black”
Nadya writes at Coilhouse about the growing number of multicultural goth fashion blogs:
While there’s still never been a black model on the cover of Gothic Beauty Magazine (in fact, having looked the past twelve years of covers up close, it’s clear that even models with brown eyes appear to be a rarity among the blue- and green-eyed cover ladies), and while most spooky fashion designers still prefer white models for their branding, a host of blogs dedicated to multicultural dark fashion are bringing greater visibility to the people that these venues ignore. Just on Tumblr, there’s Darque & Lovely, DarkSKIN (subtitled “I was so goth, I was born black”), and Black Sheep Goths. On Facebook, groups such as Black/African American Goths foster lively discussion.
Full Story: Coilhouse: “I am so goth, I was born black”
Quinn Norton writes:
For many years when I walked into a room I instantly counted the women. It told me a lot about what to expect from that room. One day, having lost my best friend over racial politics out of my control, I began to count people of color. That too was for safety, for understanding how my views would be taken. That too told me a lot I needed to know about the room. But it also hinted to me about a whole realm of experience I wasn’t having. [...]
Full Story: Quinn Says: Count
Meet the Happiest Man on Earth: Alvin Wong
The New York Times asked Gallup to come up with a statistical composite for the happiest person in America, based on the characteristics that most closely correlated with happiness in 2010. Men, for example, tend to be happier than women, older people are happier than middle-aged people, and so on.
Gallup’s answer: he’s a tall, Asian-American, observant Jew who is at least 65 and married, has children, lives in Hawaii, runs his own business and has a household income of more than $120,000 a year. A few phone calls later and …
Meet Alvin Wong.
New York Times: Discovered: The Happiest Man in America
The article ends abruptly.
Racism? In My Tea Party? It’s More Likely Than You Think
The NAACP has released a report on racism in the Tea Party movement. From a press release:
Based on exhaustive research, a new report “Tea Party Nationalism: A Critical Examination of the Tea Party Movement and the Size Scope and Focus of it National Factions,” demonstrates that despite Tea Party claims that its solely concerned with budget deficits, taxes and the power of the federal government, Tea Party membership and actions are permeated with radical views about race, national identity and other so-called social issues.
What’s in it:
*The report’s website, teapartynationalism.com identifies and maps Tea Party membership, provides an interactive map, and breaks down membership of different factions state-by-state, town-by-town;
*Analyzing the work of the party factions, demonstrating how racism, bigotry and the dismantling the birthright citizenship provision of the 14th amendment dominate their agendas, far outweighing fiscal policy concerns. (can we move this up)
*Demonstrating the lack of influence of the widely-quoted and fiscally-oriented FreedomWorks faction, which is run by Dick Armey and has the second-smallest membership of the groups.
*Listing all Congressional members who are part of the Tea Party caucus, as well as those in support sponsoring of a law aimed at birthright citizenship that aims to would challenge the 14th amendment;
*Documents the long history of connections and interactions among various Tea Party factions and their connections to right-wing fringe groups such as Stormfront, David Duke and others, which are essential to understand the character of this movement;
*Showing leaders of five of the six factions subscribe to the “birther” theory that President Obama is not a natural born American
Tea Party Nationalism
I haven’t had time to read the report yet, only the press release, so I can’t speak to how convincing the data is. But they make some very interesting claims that surprise even me.
The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease
Jonathan Metzl, author of The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease, interviewed in Psychology Today:
By the mid- to late-1960s, however, schizophrenia was a diagnosis disproportionately applied to the hospital’s growing population of African American men from urban Detroit. Perhaps the most shocking evidence I uncovered was that hospital charts “diagnosed” these men in part because of their symptoms, but also because of their connections to the civil rights movement. Many of the men were sent to Ionia after convictions for crimes that ranged from armed robbery to participation in civil-rights protests, to property destruction during periods of civil unrest, such as the Detroit riots of 1968. Charts stressed how hallucinations and delusions rendered these men as threats not only to other patients, but also to clinicians, ward attendants, and to society itself. You’d see comments like Paranoid against his doctors and the police. Or, Would be a danger to society were he not in an institution.
Psychology Today: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease
John Robb interview by Chris Arkenberg at Boing Boing
How big of a domestic threat is there from the narco-insurgency in Mexico and the growing power of Latin American gangs in America?
Very big. A threat that dwarfs anything we face in Afghanistan (a useless money pit of a war). It’s not a threat that can be solved by conventional military means, since the problem is that Mexico is a hollow state. Unlike a failed state like Somalia (utter chaos), a hollow state still retains the facade of a nation (borders, bureaucracy, etc.). However, a hollow state doesn’t exert any meaningful control over the countryside. It’s not only that the state can’t do it militarily, they don’t have anything they can offer people. So, instead, control is ceded to local groups that can provide basic levels of opt-in security, minimal services, and jobs via new connections to the global economy – think in terms of La Familia in Michoacana.
The real danger to the US is that not only will these groups expand into the US (they already have), it is that these groups will accelerate the development of similar homegrown groups in the US as our middle class evaporates.
Boing Boing: John Robb interview: Open Source Warfare & Resilience
My comment, left there:
Robb’s work continues to influence my own thinking. However, I would like to see him answer the criticism presented here: http://reason.com/archives/2008/02/18/open-source-warfare
(If he hasn’t already)
A thought: will legislation (such as that in Arizona) and anti-Latin sentiment lead to alienation that drives the process Robb’s talking about in the US?
To expand a bit: I’m not sure whether Robb’s dire prognosis for North and Latin America is exaggerated or not, but it’s not hard to imagine escalated violence between Latin “gangs” and white “militias” if Latin people are excluded from mainstream culture while the power and influence of Latin drug cartels is increases.