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Mean Transgirls: Whoever let J.K. Rowling sign that Harper’s “cancel culture” letter is going right into our Burn Book as soon as we find out

Photo: Getty Images/ Free Beacon

Mean Girls, the movie (2004):

Cady soon learns about the “Burn Book”, a scrapbook the Plastics have made that is filled with rumors, secrets, and insults about other girls and some teachers at school. Using the book, Janis devises a plan to get back at Regina but Cady is reluctant, thinking Regina is a good friend.

Mean Transgirls, the remake (2020):

Author and trans activist Jennifer Finney Boylan also expressed regret for having signed the letter.

“I did not know who else had signed that letter,” Boylan tweeted. “I thought I was endorsing a well meaning, if vague, message against internet shaming. I did know Chomsky, Steinem, and Atwood were in, and I thought, good company. The consequences are mine to bear. I am so sorry.”

Boylan’s tweet may have alluded to the inclusion of “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling, who has faced backlash in recent weeks for remarks defending the concept of biological sex, which critics say were transphobic.

Mean Girls, the movie (2004):

Regina finds out about Cady’s crush on Aaron and jealously steals him back at a Halloween party by kissing him in front of Cady. This spurs Cady to fully commit to Janis’ plan to cut off Regina’s “resources”: involving breaking Regina and Aaron up, tricking Regina into eating “Swedish nutrition bars” that actually make her gain weight, and turning Regina’s fellow Plastics against her. In the process, Cady unwittingly remakes herself in Regina’s image, becoming spiteful and superficial, and abandons Janis and Damian.

Mean Transgirls, the remake (2020):

Another signer, Vox journalist Matthew Yglesias, was publically shamed by one of his colleagues for including himself among the others on the open letter.

“As a trans woman who very much values her position at Vox and the support the publication has given her through the emotional and physical turmoil of transition, I was deeply saddened to see Matt Yglesias’s signature on the Harper’s Weekly letter,” Vox critic at large Emily VanDerWerff began her letter to the editors that she shared on Twitter. “Matt is, of course, entitled to his own opinion, and I know he is a more nuanced thinker than signing the letter would suggest. He has never been anything but kind to me and has often supported my work publicly, all of which I am extremely grateful for.”

“But the letter, signed as it is by several prominent anti-trans voices and containing as many dog whistles towards anti-trans positions as it does, ideally would not have been signed by anybody at Vox, much less one of the most prominent people at our publication.”

Mean Girls, the movie (2004):

When Regina is finally made aware of Cady’s treachery, she retaliates by spreading the contents of the Burn Book all over the school, quickly inciting massive socially motivated brawls throughout the halls.

Mean Transgirls, the remake (2020):

Others at Vox voiced their support for VanDerWerff. Katelyn Burns, a political reporter at the site, said she took issue with many of the signatories’ “anti-trans” stances and argued the letter’s text was aimed at transgender critics.

“The sheer number of signatories who have waded into the transgender debate on the anti-trans side is astounding. I read many of the references to specific gripes in the letter’s text as specifically directed at trans critics,” she wrote.

Vox engagement editor Nisha Chittal wrote that the letter was from “a bunch of mostly white people with platforms at prestigious media outlets complaining that minorities are silencing them.”

Posted by Charlotte Allen

Me in Just the News: “White Jesus” critics ought to take some art-history lessons in how the Jews of his time portrayed themselves

Dura-Europos Synagogue
Image: Getty (Jewish Museum New York)

The Bible doesn’t reveal Jesus’ skin color, but what we do know is that he came to earth as a Jew born in the Middle East.

“Jews have always been considered white under the U.S. Census Bureau standards,” says Charlotte Allen, author of the book, “The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus.” “Suddenly there’s kind of a movement among radical leftists to say that all these people are not white.”

There aren’t any portraits of Jesus or even any extant color images of first century Jews. However, clues have emerged, including the excavation of the third-century Dura-Europos Synagogue in modern Syria, which unearthed biblically-themed murals showing what the congregation’s Jewish ancestors must have looked like.

“Those people have light-tanned skin just as Mediterranean people do today,” Allen says. “We can, I think, safely infer that Jews of the first century probably have the same kind of complexion, a sort of general Mediterranean complexion that until very recently just would have been classified as white in the way that Italians and Greeks are classified as white.”…

Critics of removing white Jesus statues and portraits see the movement as a proxy for a larger assault on Western Civilization and Christianity itself.

“It really has to do with ideology more than actual skin color,” says Allen. “It is an effort to remove Jesus from Christianity as we know it and to create a different kind of Jesus who basically is a Marxist, anarchist revolutionary who wanted to overthrow the existing order.”

Read Just the News reporter David Brody’s story here.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

My employer spelled my name wrong TWICE–and that’s racist! My name is “Tahlea Aualiitia”

How learning to sew is helping me beat my fast fashion habit - ABC ...
Photo: Australian Broadcasting Corporation

American showman P T Barnum once famously said: “I don’t give a damn what you say about me as long as you spell my name right.”

My name is Tahlea (or Tali) Aualiitia and as someone who — through unsolicited commentary — has always been told how “different” and “difficult” my name is, this quote has always resonated with me.

In fact, the last person I had to correct for the misspelling of my name was someone from my own employer, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

I was invited to join a panel on representation in pop culture by the ABC News Channel earlier this month, and because the name super (the strap with my name at the bottom of the screen) was added during production, I wasn’t aware my name was spelled incorrectly until after the interview had finished and I was informed by my family and friends.

It gets worse:

But while it was the first time I had done a TV interview, it wasn’t the first time I had seen my name spelled wrong in the media.

Just a month ago, my name was spelled incorrectly by a producer in my own department, the Asia Pacific Newsroom.

Mmm–twice! Time to take action on Twitter:

I got mad last week at Erin Molan for not doing the work when it comes to Polynesian names so, it’s only fair I do the same with my own employer.

This is not how you spell my surname.

It’s our jobs in the media to get these very important things right.

But it’s not our “jobs” in the media to get grammar right.

It’s no coincidence I’m speaking up about this during the latest wave of the Black Lives Matter movement.

It’s hard to explain what racism feels like to someone who has never experienced it.

And it super-feels like racism when someone forgets one of the two “i”‘s next to each other in your last name.

This is why getting our names right matters. If we’re not being cared for at a base level, then what hope do we have in tackling the bigger, more complex race issues at hand?…


And finally, to all the people with “different” names — names that have been laughed at, names people have refused to learn, names people rename for their own ease — correct the people who misspell them.

Yes! Especially if they do it TWICE!

Posted by Charlotte Allen

Me for the Washington Examiner: Gone With the Wind may be headed for the memory hole–but ironically, it’s actually the Great American Novel

Gone with the Wind

Photo: Loew’s Inc./Variety


From my latest for the Washington Examiner:

The irony of all this is that Margaret Mitchell had actually succeeded in producing that obsession of American writers: the Great American Novel. That phrase — “Great American Novel” — had been coined in 1868, in an essay for the Nation by John William DeForest, himself a prolific author. DeForest longed for a kind of fiction that would be essentially grounded in realism and would capture the spirit of “this eager and laborious people, which takes so many newspapers, builds so many railroads, does the most business on a given capital, wages the biggest war in proportion to its population, believes in the physically impossible and does some of it.” In Europe a slew of novelists had set their protagonists’ struggles against a complex backdrop of larger historical events and social tableaux: Stendhal, Honore de Balzac, William Thackeray, Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy. By contrast, McForest argued, American novelists gave their fiction a narrower scope.

DeForest’s essay prefigured Tom Wolfe’s 1989 manifesto for Harper’s, “Stalking the Billion-Footed Beast.” There, Wolfe bemoaned the absence (besides his own recently published Bonfire of the Vanities) of the “big novel” in America, the novel set in multiple social milieus analogous to those of Balzac’s Paris or Dickens’s London. Instead, Wolfe lamented that the American intelligentsia — the professors and the literary critics — decried realistic fiction as “bourgeois” or “middlebrow,” unsuited to the contradictions of capitalism and the ambiguities of the human psyche.

Gone With the Wind is exactly the sort of big novel that DeForest and Wolfe called for. This may not be evident to people who only know the movie, which pares the plot down to the romantic intrigues of its four main characters: the bewitching, morally ruthless Scarlett O’Hara (Leigh); the darkly handsome speculator Rhett Butler (Gable) who sees right through her; the cultivated planter Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard), who is Scarlett’s love-obsession; and sweet, saintly Melanie (Olivia de Havilland), whom Ashley marries instead of Scarlett. In the background looms the black slave Mammy (Hattie McDaniel), Scarlett’s beloved childhood nanny who loyally sticks with her mistress even after emancipation, and who is the subject of much criticism today as an unrealistic stereotype.

But the novel Gone With the Wind has a much larger scope. Mitchell used War and Peace, Tolstoy’s epic about the Napoleonic wars, as her literary model, and her novel is meticulous in its depiction of the Civil War and Reconstruction. It follows the South’s military fortunes and misfortunes through Gettysburg and beyond, carefully tracing Sherman’s scorched-earth march through Georgia in 1864 and the Confederacy’s ignominious, bloody defeats along the home front. She created dozens of characters representing every social stratum, each vividly sketched as an individual: the rowdy Tarleton twins, flighty Aunt Pittypat, fancy-house madam Belle Watling, Scarlett’s mismatched parents and her two sisters, her three husbands (Rhett is the third), her children, and the elaborate social hierarchy of her neighbors in north Georgia. Mitchell also included slave characters with distinctive personalities and a hierarchy of their own. Like War and Peace, Gone With the Wind is a novel about families: which ones survive and which ones don’t.

Nor, contrary to critics’ charges, did Mitchell sentimentalize the Old South. It was the movie, not the book, that limned the plantation system with romantic gauze: “the land of Cavaliers and Cotton fields…where Gallantry took its last bow,” as the opening titles recite. Mitchell was under no such illusions. In the novel, Clayton County, Georgia, where the O’Haras and the Wilkses raise their cotton, is rough upcountry, pine forest until just yesterday. Scarlett’s Irish-born father, Gerald O’Hara, is a raw newcomer who only arrived to set up his plantation in the 1830s or so. The “old” families who form the local aristocracy got there only a generation before he did. One elderly woman remembers when Clayton County was Indian territory.

Furthermore, Mitchell makes it clear that the Confederacy was a doomed enterprise from the start; the bravado of the Tarleton twins (“you don’t suppose any of us would stay in college with a war going on”) ends with both their names on the killed list at Gettysburg. The South had almost no industrial infrastructure to manufacture supplies and armaments and no navy to protect its ports so it could continue to export cotton, nearly its only source of cash. Most Southerners didn’t seem to realize that slavery, as an economic system, was moribund by the 1860s. Mitchell titled her book Gone With the Wind because the society she wrote about was already gone with the wind in April 1861, when the novel opens, right after the firing on Fort Sumter. And while Mitchell, like most white Southerners, was no fan of Reconstruction, she had little sympathy for the Lost Cause nostalgia that infects Ashley, Melanie, and others who seem unable to move beyond the defeat that destroyed their way of life….

In 1936, the same year that Gone With the Wind was published, William Faulkner published his own Civil War novel, Absalom, Absalom! There were striking similarities between the two books, mainly their profound skepticism toward the mythic qualities with which sentimental Southerners imbued their antebellum past. Both excelled in beautiful, evocative writing. But Faulkner crafted a highbrow piece of “literary” fiction, as Tom Wolfe would describe it, replete with such Joycean conventions as multiple narrators, hallucinatory sequences, and levels of interiority that cry out for deciphering in an English-class term paper. Mitchell opted for an epic realist novel. Absalom, Absalom! sold 6,000 copies in its first year. Gone With the Wind sold 1.7 million.

Read the whole thing here.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

Me for Catholic Arts Today: Mexican-American essayist Richard Rodriguez doesn’t want to be a “Latinx”

Richard Rodriguez on Catholic Imagination: “We Are No Longer a Mystery to Ourselves”

Charlotte Allen: But why do you think that given the fact that you did have nuns as teachers, who saw that as their vocation, and that nuns can be teachers now, and are, and they fill all sorts of roles, why do they have to be priests? The kinds of power that women have are the kinds of power that women have had over you. That they are the nurses, they’re wives. Heterosexual men can’t live without women. They crave them.

They think their lives are nothing without them. So women exercise a huge amount of power in the heterosexual world that they seem to be unaware of, for some ideological reason.

Richard Rodriguez: To some degree, that’s true. But I think women now are raising families without men. Almost half the families in America are being raised by women in the absence of men. I think the weakness is clearly in the male. The male has grown so weak and unable to raise his own daughters and sons. That’s the shocking truth of the future we’re facing: Boys and girls don’t know what a strong man is….

I support the right of women to be paid equally with any man for the same job. And I support the right of women to seek a place on any athletic team or corporate board. But it disappoints me to hear girls and women downplay sexual difference. I go to many schools where students refuse pronouns that are sexual and refer instead to themselves collectively as “they” or “we”? Many Hispanics these days are determined to challenge the Spanish language by no longer referring to “Latino” or “Latina.” The would neuter themselves, calling themselves “Latinx.”

Well, I am too old to be a Latinx.   I am not an X! And I love the Spanish language. I love the whimsy of the Spanish language. But a woman would say, “Well, the sun in Spanish is el [sol], and the moon in Spanish is la, la luna.” And I’d say, “That’s nice. Because you can look at the moon at night and you won’t be blinded, but the sun is both nourishing but also blinding. It’s a wonderful whimsy of the Spanish language that the world has gender to it. That the lake has gender, that the forest has gender, that we could give nature that kind of personality.”

Read the whole thing here.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

Shaun King: Jesus actually had a Covid-19 Quarantine hairstyle and a “Who stole my Fentanyl?” expression on his face

US Civil Right Activist Shaun King: White Jesus Statues Should Be Destroyed As It Represents  ‘Form Of White Supremacy’ 

Image: Popular Mechanics

Just as Victoria’s Secret now features scary models, anti-racism activist Shaun King thinks we should get behind scary Jesus:

Experts have long since said this is likely the most accurate depiction of Jesus.

Right. “Experts” think Jesus had a Covid-19 Quarantine hairstyle and a “Who stole my Fentanyl?” expression on his face.

Instead of saying, “I am the resurrection and the life,” Jesus said, “Where’s all that noise coming from–my head hurts.”

So no wonder King is riled up that someone hasn’t smashed the Pietà yet.

If you were an “expert,” you’d be riled up, too “at the the statues of the white European they claim is Jesus.” Also his “European mother.”

I don’t know how non-“European” King’s preferred depiction of Jesus is (he looks kind of Italian to me), but I do where King got him: Popular Mechanics. Yeah, the magazine that explains how to take down a statue.

Back in 2002 Popular Mechanics ran an article about some British anthropologists who analyzed some ancient skulls dug up near Jerusalem and used the information to make a digital reconstruction of, if, well, not Jesus exactly, a “representative Semite” of his time.

From an analysis of skeletal remains, archeologists had firmly established that the average build of a Semite male at the time of Jesus was 5 ft. 1 in., with an average weight of about 110 pounds. Since Jesus worked outdoors as a carpenter until he was about 30 years old, it is reasonable to assume he was more muscular and physically fit than westernized portraits suggest. His face was probably weather-beaten, which would have made him appear older, as well.

So the real Jesus–or at least the average “Semite male”–was a homely-looking peanut. At least they didn’t make him a fat slob from dining with all those tax collectors and prostitutes as religion professor Bruce Chilton did.

What would we do without British anthropologists?

At any rate, some of the more cynical among us have wondered whether King, who was the subject of a May 25 article in the Daily Beast describing  millions of missing dollars raised from celebrities to fund some of King’s anti-racist projects, was simply trying to deflect public attention away from the fraud insinuations. (King is now in martyrdom mode claiming to be the victim of hundreds of death threats.) Some have even wondered whether King, who is markedly paler than the Jesus depicted above and has a “European”-origin white mother, is actually half-black, as he claims to be.

But as Jesus said, “No man knoweth the Son, but the Father.”

Posted by Charlotte Allen

Tired of the burning, looting, smashed windows, and toppled statues? You need a talking-to from Vice about what a racist you are

Riots will delay the recovery — and dishonor George Floyd's memory
Photo: Getty Images
Having fraught conversations with your kinda (or definitely) racist loved ones will likely not be fun—bearing a burden isn’t enjoyable, by definition—but it’s good, important work, and a very worthy undertaking.
For example:
If your relatives are wringing their hands over the fate of that poor “small business” CVS and you don’t know what to say, I strongly recommend reading Vicky Osterweil’s 2014 essay “In Defense of Looting” in The New Republic. It corrects the myth that peaceful protest is the only way to successfully fight for civil rights, and explains the connection between property, anti-looting discourse, and white supremacy.
That’ll set ’em straight!
There are sort of two different paths you can take during these conversations. One is the, “Most people aren’t destroying property—the majority of Black protestors are peaceful/outside agitators are the problem” path, and the other is, “Honestly, who gives a f[–]k if Black people are destroying property?” I, personally, think the latter is the move, because I’d like us to move away from respectability politics and the idea that just being compliant will save Black people.
I like that idea, too! Why further the notion that most black people are respectable?
You know your relatives best. What are their values? What do they care about the most? For example, if they are Christian, it might make sense to talk about this through a lens of their faith, and the way Jesus believed in standing up for the vulnerable.
Jesus really went in for smashing store windows and grabbing wide-screen TVs.
As much as you might want to say, “Wow, you are incredibly racist,” in these moments, that is not necessarily going to get you the results you want. If you’re genuinely trying to affect change, go with something like, “Yikes, that’s an incredibly racist thing to say”—and then explain the wider context of why that is—over, “You’re racist.” That said, I also don’t think you should be afraid to use the word “racist” when people are… being f[–]king racist!
If all else fails, call your mom a hater:
You might say, “Please don’t talk to me like that,” or, “Don’t use that word” if the person you are talking to is being really nasty—you can add, “If you continue to talk about this in racist terms, I’m not going to discuss this with you further.” You might also say something like, “I’m really disappointed that you are so unwilling to reconsider your stance on this, and, to be honest, I can’t imagine bringing [my kids/friends/Black partner] around you when you have so much hate in your heart. I really hope you’ll rethink what you’re saying here.” This isn’t “let’s agree to disagree”—this is, “I think differently of you because of your views/behavior, and so now here are some natural consequences.”
Yeah, tell her you’re cutting her off because she didn’t like seeing that statue of George Washington coming down.
Arguing with people about race and racism is exhausting, but you should be willing to do it longer and go harder than a Black person could or would. That means not tapping out after 15 minutes or saying, “What even is the POINT?” because you tried once and it didn’t go well. If I can do this, trust that you can, too.
Don’t you wish everyone could be like Vice‘s Rachel Miller?
Posted by Charlotte Allen

Math quiz: How many “non-male,” “non-white,” homeless, disabled LGBTQ Asians with “incarceration experience” will be on the CHAZ “Conflict Resolution Advisory Council”?

How to be a best-selling feminist poet: Hate men, write 160 poems about how much you hate men, and cheer on the George Floyd riots: “burn it down,” “f–k property,” “f–k cops”

olivia gatwood (@oliviagatwood) | Twitter
Photo: Twitter

I hate men.

            I can’t abide ’em even now and then.

–Cole Porter, “I Hate Men,” Kiss Me, Kate, winner of the Tony Award for best Broadway musical, 1949

            bitch face is home

            bitch face is cutting off the ladder

            willing to burn in the apartment

            if it means he can’t get in.

–Olivia Gatwood, “Ode to My Bitch Face,” Life of the Party, Dial Press, Random House, 2019

A few days into the nationwide spree of looting, vandalism, and arson that accompanied protests over the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, Olivia Gatwood, a 28-year-old poet with a verified Twitter account and 32,000 followers, tweeted this: “burn it down. f–k property. f–k cops.”….

It turns out that Gatwood got her blue checkmark because she is one popular poet, at least for her overwhelmingly female audience. She is a regular on the campus-tour circuit and on YouTube, where her dramatic readings of her poems have drawn millions of views (the all-time favorite, “Ode to My Bitch Face,” alone has been seen more than 1 million times). By her account she has been a finalist, if not quite a winner, in poetry slams, competitions in which poets shout out the most dazzling and/or shocking verses in front of live audiences. Indeed, Gatwood’s “f–k property. f–k cops” tweet, with its bardic mix of anaphora and outrageousness, had all the earmarks of the slam poet at work. In addition, she has a 2019 book, Life of the Party, published by the Dial Press, a division of the prestigious Penguin Random House — quite a coup for a woman whose only previous poetic print publication was a skinny, obscurely published chapbook. A back-flap photo reveals that she looks a poet, too: a brunette bouffant, a sleeve tattoo, and a melancholy air of being much put-upon….

It’s an odd book, so odd that I started to wonder if it wasn’t an elaborate and slyly humorous sendup….Every male in Gatwood’s life seems to be a serial rapist: “men whose names I know—men I loved and trusted—who violated my body, the bodies of my friends, the bodies of their daughters, and, I’m certain, the bodies of countless women I do not know.”

Here she is in “Ode to My Bitch Face”: “just trying to dance at the party / then someone asks you to smile / and the blood begins to riot / smile, and you chisel away at your own jaw.” Yikes! And in “Addendum to No Baptism,” in which the child Olivia injures herself on a backyard slide and “the next-door neighbor / hovered his splayed fingers / above my newborn wound.” Some of the poems describing the degradations that the men in Gatwood’s life have reportedly visited on her are obscenely graphic and cannot be quoted here. But what are we supposed to make of the neighbor who threatens to shoot his daughter’s dog in the mouth, or the other neighbor who laughs too hard at a joke about a blonde being hit by a train? Or the fact that Gatwood devotes three separate poems to making a role model out of Aileen Wuornos, the Florida prostitute executed for murdering seven of her johns? Call me dismissive, but I finally started regarding Life of the Party as 21st-century update of “I Hate Men,” the witty spoof on misandry that Cole Porter wrote for his 1940s musical, Kiss Me, Kate.

Read the whole thing here.
Posted by Charlotte Allen

Who said studying ancient history wasn’t practical? Egyptologist explains to George Floyd rioters how to pull down an obelisk

Birmingham, Alabama, Dr. Sarah Parcak, Bham Now BOLD Speaker Series, Cahaba Brewery, GlobalXplorer

Photo: Bham Now


Tired of working out your grief over George Floyd’s death by burning cars and smashing store windows? Why not take on something big?

University of Alabama-Birmingham Egyptology professor and celebrity “space archaeologist” Sarah H. Parcak has a suggestion: Pull down an obelisk.

Here’s her May 31 Twitter tweet:

PSA For ANYONE who might be interested in how to pull down an obelisk* safely from an Egyptologist who never ever in a million years thought this advice might come in handy
*might be masquerading as a racist monument I dunno
Not only that, but the lengthy thread that follows gives you precise instructions from Parcak on exactly how to do it.
The key to pulling one down is letting gravity work 4 you. Chances are good the obelisk extends into the ground a bit, so you want to get CHAINS NOT ROPE (it’s 2020 AD not BC let metal work for you) extended tightly around the top (below pointy bit) and 1/3 down forming circles
For every 10 ft of monument, you’ll need 40+ people. So, say, a 20 ft tall monument, probably 60 people. You want strong rope attached to the chain—rope easier to hold onto versus chain. EVERYONE NEEDS TO BE WEARING GLOVES FOR SAFETY (there is a lot of safety first)
You have two groups, one on one side, one opposite, for the rope beneath the pointy bit and the rope 1/3 down. You will need to PULL TOGETHER BACK AND FORTH. You want to create a rocking motion back and forth to ease the obelisk from its back.

and good riddance to any obelisks pretending to be ancient Egyptian obelisks when they are in fact celebrating racism and white nationalism

There might be one just like this in downtown Birmingham! What a coincidence. Can someone please show this thread to the folks there.
OK because this is twitter I need to clarify: PLEASE DO NOT PULL DOWN ACTUAL ANCIENT EGYPTIAN OBELISKS that was not the point of this thread.
Oh. Cleopatra’s Needle says thanks.
Posted by Charlotte Allen