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Roll over Ludwig van Beethoven: Slate writer says referring to “traditional white male composers” by only their surnames is racist and sexist

Schroeder Piano.png

Don’t say “Beethoven’s birthday.”

Say: “Ludwig van Beethoven’s birthday.” Or else.

Or else you’ll be perpetrating “centuries of systematic prejudice, exclusion, sexism, and racism” in the world of classical music, says Slate culture writer (and University of Massachusetts-Amherst music-theory assistant professor) Chris White, in an article titled “Beethoven Has a First Name.”

White writes:

There will be a time when we’ll go to concerts again. We will buy our tickets, shuffle shoulder to shoulder down the aisle, and find our seats. The lights will dim, and the conductor will walk onto the stage to introduce the program. They might talk about Beethoven, Schumann, and Bartók. And they might talk about Alma Mahler, Florence Price, Henry Burleigh, and Caroline Shaw. Many of us, used to the conventions of classical performance, will hardly notice the difference: “traditional” white male composers being introduced with only surnames, full names for everyone else, especially women and composers of color….

For instance, coverage of an early October livestream by the Louisville Orchestra praised the ensemble’s performance of a “Beethoven” symphony, and the debut of a composition memorializing Breonna Taylor by “Davóne Tines” and “Igee Dieudonné.”

You might respond that maybe that’s because “Tines” and “Dieudonné” don’t quite have the same recognition resonance as “Beethoven.” But you’d be wrong:

It’s time we paid attention to the inequity inherent in how we talk about composers, and it’s time for the divided naming convention to change….

For a lot of intersecting reasons, music critics, academics, consumers, and performers in the mid-19th through early 20th centuries thought about music history as the story of a few great men producing great works of art. (Of course, this tactic is very common in how we tell our histories in many domains.) Tied up in the respect and ubiquity afforded to these men is the mononym, or a single word sufficing for a person’s whole name. These canonized demigods became so ensconced in elite musical society’s collective consciousness that only one word was needed to evoke their awesome specter. Mouthfuls of full names became truncated to terse sets of universally recognized syllables: Mozart. Beethoven. Bach.

On the one hand, then, initiatives toward diversity and inclusion are placing new names on concert programs, syllabi, and research papers, names that might not have been there 10 or 20 years ago—or even last year. But these names are appearing next to those that have been drilled deep into our brains by the forces of the inherited canon. This collision between increasing diversity and the mononyms of music history has created a hierarchical system that, whether or not you find it useful, can now only be seen as outdated and harmful.

Mononyms. We must get rid of mononyms.

Going forward, we need to “fullname” all composers when we write, talk, and teach about music. If mononyms linguistically place composers in a canonical pantheon, fullnaming never places them there to begin with. When we say, “Tonight, you’ll be hearing symphonies by Johannes Brahms and Edmond Dédé,” we’re linguistically treating both composers as being equally worthy of attention. And while fullnaming might seem like a small act in the face of centuries of harm and injustice, by adopting a stance of referential egalitarianism, fullnaming at least does no more harm.

And while we’re at it, let’s get cracking on Madonna Louise Ciccone, Sean John Combs, and Adele Laurie Blue Adkins.

Mononyms are racist and sexist. Fullnamers of the world, unite!

Posted by Charlotte Allen

Me for the L.A. Times: Amy Coney Barrett means Catholics rule at the U.S. Supreme Court

Judge Amy Coney Barrett President Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court of the United States poses for a photo...

Photo: Leigh Vogel-Pool/Getty Images.

From my latest for the Los Angeles Times:

How a showstopping Catholic majority took over an erstwhile Protestant institution has to do with the confluence of two trends: the coming of age of Catholics as lawyers and judges just as mainline Protestantism has gone into decline, and the recent politicization of religion, in which Christians, including Catholics, have increasingly aligned their theological and moral beliefs with one side or other of the red-blue divide….

[S]tarting in the 1960s, large numbers of Protestants drifted away from their churches, and the mainline denominations began losing their membership, their self-confidence and their prestige. The Episcopal Church, once America’s most socially prominent, has lost almost half of the 3.4 million members it had during the 1960s. Catholic parishes emptied out as well, but with less cultural power to begin with, Catholicism’s decline didn’t register in the same way. You might say mainline Protestant hegemony simply vanished from the American scene, its adherents replaced by evangelicals and the unchurched.

Around the same time, American Christianity as a whole became entangled with the partisan political divide, said James Patterson, an associate professor of politics at Ave Maria University in Florida whose research investigates the role popular religious leaders have played in secular politics. In the past, generally conservative figures such as the Rev. Billy Graham and Catholic Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, along with generally liberal figures such as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., avoided tying themselves too closely to political parties and their stratagems.

“The church refused to take sides,” said Patterson, in order to maintain its independence from secular control.

That changed, said Patterson, when the evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Sr. placed his Moral Majority starkly behind the Republican Party and its 1980 presidential candidate, Ronald Reagan. Antiabortion politicking (and later “religious liberty”) was the marquee justification for evangelicals’ and Catholics’ overt move to the partisan right.

The alignment is understandable. As the Democratic Party — once a Big Tent stronghold for the working classes, including generations of Catholic immigrants — moves ever closer to an absolutist pro-choice position, it has become officially hostile to those who view abortion as a serious evil. The last Democrat for Life in Congress, Dan Lipinski of Illinois, a Catholic, lost a primary challenge this year to a progressive, Marie Newman.

“The Democrats,” Patterson said, “could be competing for the vote of religiously conservative Catholics, but they don’t, and the Republicans take them for granted.”….

Read the whole thing here.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

Has the Atlantic gone GOP? “Revenge of the Wine Moms” article paints suburban Resistance ladies as pink T-shirted ditzes honking their horns at Trump supporters’ lawn signs

Cool Cleveland interview with Susan Polakoff Shaw - YouTube

Image: YouTube

And I thought the Atlantic was a liberal magazine! So when I clicked onto an article titled “Revenge of the Wine Moms: How Anti-Trump Women Are Ushering In a New Era of Political Activism,” I thought I was in for some serious stuff: suburban ladies putting down their glasses of Chardonnay, hiring sitters for the kids, and flying to Washington to hurl Molotov cocktails at the White House.

Instead what I got, from Atlantic writer Elaine Godfrey (who surely must be a Republican plant), was this profile (surely tongue-in-cheek) of 61-year-old sports publicist Susan Polakoff Shaw (see photo above) of Cleveland’s gentrified Westside, who founded a group called the GrassRoots Resistance, or GRR, “an onomatopoeic representation of their feelings toward the president.”

Here’s how Godfrey describes foundress Shaw:

She laughs loudly and swears often. Her strawberry-blond curls are piled on the top of her head, like Ms. Frizzle, and she wears jean jackets, chunky jewelry, and blue plastic-framed glasses, like the kooky aunt you wish you had.

Shaw is a Democrat:

Like any good Democrat, she voted in general elections, and she sometimes wrote checks to Planned Parenthood and NARAL. But she never volunteered to knock on doors or lick envelopes for Hillary Clinton, let alone for any local candidates. She’d never once attended a local Democratic Party function—hell, she wasn’t entirely sure what a “ward club” did. She was, in other words, exactly like a lot of other Democrats. And like a lot of other Democrats, Trump’s victory took her completely by surprise. The day after his win, she gathered with a few friends to mourn. We “just started bawling and drinking wine,” Shaw told me. One woman announced to the group: “I feel like I’ve been asleep.” Actually, they all felt that way.

Ah, the tears of Nov. 9, 2016:

They decided to start meeting regularly, but they didn’t want it to just be a “white suburban book club,” Shaw told me. They are women of action; they wanted to do something. Things came together quickly after “The Indivisible Guide” [subtitle: “A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda”]—a handbook for grassroots activism—was released in December 2016. The women began meeting on the second Monday of every month, first at members’ homes, and later at a local coffee shop owned by a member.

A few more words about Shaw, from her Polakoff Communications website:

In November 2016, Susan and her  female rabble-rouser friends formed GRR (Grass Roots Resistance) on Cleveland’s westside. Susan presides over the group of 100 women who in 2019  hosted “Sex Ed Trivia: Are You Smarter Than An Ohio Lawmaker Edition,”  raising $8,000 for the Ohio Center for Sex Education. In 2017, they set an event fundraising record, collecting almost $15,000 at “Party with a Purpose” to benefit Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio. Susan is a member of the League of Women Voters and CWDC (Cuyahoga Women’s Democratic Caucus) and Red, Wine and Blue.

In 2020, she joined the board of directors of Preterm, a women’s health clinic in Cleveland.

As you might guess from Preterm’s name, its primary “health” service for women is abortion.

Also, Shaw is married to longtime Cleveland sportswriter Bud Shaw. They seem to have no children, however, so although Susan Shaw is definitely a wine-drinker, she is apparently not a mom.

But back to GRR GrassRoots Resistance, whose uniform (see the photos at the Atlantic site) is a pink T-shirt that says “GRR GrassRoots Resistance”:

By January 2017, GRR had settled on a few targets for their activism. Their anger was national, but their action would be local, the thinking went. The women, who were mostly white and ranged in age from 35 to 65, studied up on the inner workings of the Cleveland city council and the Ohio legislature and on the quotidian operations of state-level campaigns. They subscribed to state-politics newsletters, figured out who their state representatives were, and began researching those lawmakers’ past votes.

So they were doing something else besides rooting for abortion and dreaming up sex-ed trivia. Right now they seem (from a photo) to be manning a flier table for Monique Smith, a Democrat running to upset Republican Dave Greenspan in the Ohio House of Representatives.

Godfrey writes:

Curious about the durability of their activism, I began attending GRR meetings in June, three months after the pandemic had forced the group to move their gatherings to Zoom. Every other Monday, all summer, I sat at my desk in Washington, D.C., and watched as 30 to 35 regular attendees logged on from their kitchens and living rooms in suburban Cleveland (“Georgene, you’re still on mute!”). The members would spend the first 30 minutes of each meeting chitchatting: cracking jokes about the usual firehose of news and scandal erupting from the White House; showing off their new Resistance-themed face masks (But Her Emails! one read); and execrating whoever stole the Biden sign from Susan Streitel’s yard—again!

But all is not wine and Resistance-theme face masks for this group:

Last week, with just three weeks to go until the November election, Shaw and two dozen other women—some from GRR, some not—gathered in a parking lot in the northwest suburb of Bay Village. Armed with markers and sheets of cardboard, they decorated their cars with BYE DON signs and discussed their planned driving route through BIDEN 2020 face masks. It felt like the climax of a heist movie whose central characters are a band of exasperated, middle-aged women.

By late afternoon, the group hit the road in a caravan of 16 vehicles and sped across Highway 90 toward the city’s downtown. On the way, they honked loudly at the home of a man with a JOE DEMENTIA sign in his yard. Then they drove, one after another, by the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections’ drop box on Euclid Avenue and cast their ballots for Joe Biden. “Oh my god, here it is!” Shaw shrieked happily as she reached out her window and shoved her envelope through the slot.

So what do you think? Isn’t there an awfully good chance that Atlantic writer Godfrey is actually a GOP stealth plant charged with portraying middle-aged suburban ladies as ineffectual ditzes with so much time on their hands that they can spend an afternoon riding around in a car caravan and honking their horns at Trump supporters’ lawn signs? “Revenge of the Wine Moms” indeed.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

Daily Beast says: “Porn Stars Are Terrified of Amy Coney Barrett.” Want to bet Jeffrey Toobin is the most terrified porn star of all?

Siri Dahl

Photo: Inamorata/inamorataphoto.com

The Daily Beast gives the definitive reason why she shouldn’t be confirmed:

[I]f Trump nominee Amy Coney Barrett becomes the next Supreme Court justice, the future of the commercial sex industry could be in grave danger…

[A]s the Senate hearings to confirm Amy Coney Barrett draw to a close, her seemingly inevitable spot on the bench has sparked panic among the sex-worker community.

Mmm.

“If she’s confirmed, it could be catastrophic for the adult industry if and when any First Amendment-related cases reach the Supreme Court,” argues adult actress Siri Dahl. “Instead of supporting equal free speech for all Americans, she seems to support privileged free speech for religious Americans. There’s no way that will be good for the porn industry….

It’s especially scary to me as a sex worker who also happens to have a uterus,” says Dahl. “I’d like the government to stay away from my sex organs and my personal health decisions!”…

Oookay.

“The adult industry is founded on bodily autonomy and freedom of expression, freedoms that religious extremist Barrett will happily erode or remove. She will even be considering First Amendment cases that could outlaw porn. While she claims to be for freedom and liberty, it’s clear she will happily regulate the bedroom on- and off-screen,” warns adult actress and former Penthouse Pet Mary Moody.

More:

“I suspect that from what we know of her religious beliefs, that any anti-porn cases that come before the court will stand a good chance of winning for the religious right agenda. This goes hand-in-hand with reproductive, women’s, and civil rights protections under the 14th Amendment,” says Angie Rowntree, founder of Sssh.com, the web’s first porn-for-women feminist site. “Considering that Supreme Court seats are ‘for life’ her religious/conservative agenda will push the U.S. back to 1960 for a generation in some societal and legal aspects….”

And I can tell you who’s probably the most terrified of all the porn stars: Jeffrey Toobin.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

Mazie Hirono? Kamala Harris? Chris Coons? Who was the most annoying Dem grandstander at the Amy Coney Barrett hearings?

Mazie Hirono, senator for Hawaii, asked Barrett if she had ever sexually assaulted anyone

Photo: U.K. Daily Mail

Contest time! Who was the most annoying case of Senate Dem grandstanding at the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings?

  1. Sen. Mazie “Look! I Laid a Perjury Trap!” Hirono (D-Hawaii):

Hirono quoted Chief Justice John Roberts, who in 2017 acknowledged that the judiciary ‘is not immune’ from the problem of sexual misconduct. 

She then asked: ‘Since you became a legal adult, have you ever made unwanted requests for sexual favors, or committed any physical or verbal harassment or assault of a sexual nature?’

2. Sen. Amy “Quid Pro Trump Quo” Klobuchar (D-Minnesota):

Klobuchar focused a line of questioning around the Affordable Care Act Wednesday afternoon, like Democratic California Sen Kamala Harris did Tuesday evening, pressing Barrett on whether Barrett knew when she was nominated that one of Trump’s campaign promises was to repeal Obamacare.

“As I said before, I’m aware that the president opposes the Affordable Care Act,” Barrett responded.

“Well, I know you are aware now,” Klobuchar said. “But were you aware back then? When you were nominated?”

“Senator Klobuchar, I think that the Republicans have kind of made that clear, it’s just been part of the book, public discourse,” the Supreme Court nominee responded.

“Is the answer yes, then,” Klobuchar pressed Barrett….

3. Sen. Dianne “Dogma Within You” Feinstein (D-California):

Democratic California Sen. Dianne Feinstein reportedly got caught on a hot mic making a comment about Supreme Court Justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s religion….

“She’s been pro-life for a long time. So I suspect with her, it is deeply personal and comes with her religion,” Feinstein reportedly said.

4. Sen. Kamala “Me? Questionable Analogy?” Harris (also D-California):

“Do you accept that COVID-19 is infectious?” Harris asked.

“Yes,” Barrett replied. “It’s an obvious fact, yes.”

“Do you accept that smoking causes cancer?” Harris continued.

“I’m not sure where exactly you’re going with this but… Sen. Harris yes every package of cigarettes warns that smoking causes cancer,” the judge said.

“Do you believe that climate change is happening and is threatening the air we breathe and the water we drink?” Harris asked.

5. Sen. Chris “Did I Tell You I’m Not Gonna Vote For Her?” Coons (D-Delaware): 

The Delaware Democrat was speaking Wednesday, the third day of Barrett’s confirmation hearings. He asked whether she recognized that if she were confirmed, there would be a balance shift on the court that could have “profound” implications.

Coons referred to an interview Barrett gave in which where she spoke of a balance shift should Merrick Garland have been confirmed to the high court….

Barrett told Coons she was referring to the fact that Garland was not an originalist, as [Antonin] Scalia was. Coons noted that Barrett, an originalist who claims Scalia as her mentor, would replace [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg, who did not hold originalist views. That would shift the court’s 5-4 conservative majority to 6-3.

Coons said he would not vote to confirm her.

6. Sen. Patrick “I Care About Obamacare” Leahy (D-Vermont):

“So I’m not suggesting that you’re callous or indifferent to the consequences if the Affordable Care Act is overturned, you know that these are real cases and I think you’re a sympathetic person,” said Leahy. “But I do believe that the President selected you because he wanted somebody with your philosophy, and he had a reason for it.”

Kinda hard to choose, isn’t it? But you get only one vote.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

I’m still here

Image: Ohio State University

Posted by Charlotte Allen

Me for the DC Examiner: How a wife-pimping con man and a feminist professor who wanted to reinvent Christian history pushed the obviously forged “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife”

Photo: Wikipedia

From my latest for the Washington Examiner:

On September 18, 2012, in Rome, 58-year-old Karen L. King, a senior Harvard Divinity School professor specializing in early Christian history, disclosed to a conference of Coptic scholars, experts in ancient Egyptian Christian texts, that an undisclosed person had given her access to a scrap of papyrus stating in Coptic, “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife.’” The fragment, which King said dated to the fourth century A.D., was tiny, the size of a business card, bearing only eight lines of crude, truncated script, plus a few scattered words on its reverse side. But King had given it a grandiose name: “The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife.” It was a bombshell revelation, giving credence to Dan Brown’s best-selling 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code, whose plot involved a Jesus married to Mary Magdalene. The media duly poured out rivers of speculation over what this discovery could mean for the future of Christianity.

King’s disclosure had been carefully timed and orchestrated by King and Harvard’s publicity machine, which granted reporters exclusive interviews with her before the conference, so that news stories were breaking even as she spoke. One of those reporters was Ariel Sabar, writing a magazine piece for the Smithsonian Institution, which in addition had a television documentary about the papyrus ready for release….

Within days, however, scholars knowledgeable about Coptic texts and Coptic scripts and grammar had looked at online images of the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife and deemed it a forgery, a pastiche of phrases copied from the Gospel of Thomas, a well-known collection of sayings attributed to Jesus by Gnostics, heterodox Christians who flourished in Egypt and elsewhere from the second through the fourth centuries….

 Around this time Sabar, whose 2012 article in the Smithsonian magazine had mostly channeled King, embarked on some genuine investigative reporting that enabled him to find out who the owner (and thus the likely forger) of the papyrus was. The result was a dazzling piece of shoe-leather journalism, which appeared first in a 2016 article in the Atlantic and now, in deliciously greater detail, in Sabar’s new book, Veritas: A Con Man, A Harvard Professor, and the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife.

[I]t was Sabar who tracked down Walter Fritz, a 50-something Bavarian immigrant living near Sarasota..,and got him to talk.

Fritz proved to be quite the character. He mingled bits of truth and falsehood (mostly the latter) to Sabar after admitting he owned the papyrus while denying he had forged it. He disclosed that he had studied Coptic (after lying about that to King) as a student at — guess where — the Free University, which he left without a degree after being accused of stealing a professor’s idea in a published paper. His career after that, pieced together by Sabar in numerous interviews in Germany and elsewhere, included heading the Stasi Museum in Berlin after reunification, until his abrupt departure when some Nazi memorabilia went missing, and then talking himself into partnership with Laukamp, whose business he allegedly drove into the ground. In Florida, he ran an online business selling dubious ancient items as well as an internet pornography operation featuring his wife having sex with various men.

The wife-pimping, schlock art-hawking Fritz was an obvious mountebank, but Sabar saves his most damning assessment for King. Although she had a doctorate in religious history from Brown University and knew Coptic, she had no expertise in the technicalities of Coptic scripts and manuscripts. But she refused to let scholars who did have that expertise examine the papyrus, ignoring the warnings of colleagues and a peer-review process for the Harvard Theological Review in which two out of three reviewers expressed doubts about the papyrus’s legitimacy. She steered testing of the papyrus to scientists with whom she had personal associations, tried to bar journalists from interviewing outsiders, and sought to block a critical response by another Coptologist to her Harvard Theological Review article. Worst of all, in Sabar’s estimation, she made no effort to investigate the scrap’s provenance. “Somewhere in her heart, it seemed, King knew that the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife was dead the moment anyone outside her influence looked too closely at it,” Sabar writes….

Read the whole thing here.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

“Biden Beauty”: Hideous hoodies, $20 makeup sponges, “anonymous [fashion] industry” sponsors–boon to Joe’s campaign or just a grift?

biden beauty

Photo: Biden Beauty

Want to spend $46 for a grossly unflattering electric-blue hoodie that says “Biden” on the front?

How about this (also in Dem blue) makeup sponge for just $20.20?

Welcome to Biden Beauty, the merch website that promises to make you look just as good as Joe does–for a price.

Who cares that the #1 top makeup sponge listed on Rank & Style retails for only $5?

Because:

BIDEN Beauty’s goal is to inspire Gen Z to Boomers to get out the vote. Inspired by Joe Biden’s own natural beauty, the brand hopes to show Americans that you are beautiful, powerful – and vital. BIDEN Beauty hopes to spread the message that American is and always has been beautiful, but to maintain this message, America needs to vote, and vote blue.

According to People magazine:

Biden Beauty — backed by an anonymous group of beauty industry insiders — launched Wednesday with a variety of products created to support Biden and Harris. The brand is not affiliated with the Biden/Harris campaign, though Fashionista reports that the duo have given their stamp of approval.

There’s also this, among Biden Beauty’s FAQs:

Are you affiliated with the Biden Campaign?
No, we are just proud to support the Biden / Harris campaign, and 100% of the proceeds from our sales will be donated to the Biden Victory Fund. No malarkey!

Nonetheless some people on Twitter seem to be wondering exactly where buyers’ Biden Beauty dollars go. And it turns out that they go to a outfit called Very Good Light, an online men’s-beauty products publication that, according to Harper’s Bazaar, is “all about championing underrepresented voices and redefining masculinity.” Typical guy-written article title: “(Skincare) Virgin Diaries: I Used Cleanser For the First Time Ever and It Changed My Life.”

Very Good Light’s editor-in-chief, David Yi, who looks in his photos as though he uses a lot of men’s beauty products (he is also a frequent contributor to Elle), seems to be active in Korean-Americans for Biden.

So we have to assume that at least some of your purchase price when you buy one of those ugly blue hoodies or an overpriced makeup sponge will end up in the campaign coffers of America’s bluest presidential campaign–at least we think.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

Annals of Would You Want This Woman As YOUR Lawyer? “I am a 40-something attorney and mother” who got so freaked out when RBG died that I became a Satanist

The bronze monument was unveiled by the Satanic Temple in Detroit on July 25, 2015

Photo: Matt Anderson/Time

I am a 40-something attorney and mother who lives in a quiet neighborhood with a yard and a garage full of scooters and soccer balls. I often walk with my children to get ice cream and spend weekends hiking through a national park. I am not the type of person who would normally consider becoming a Satanist, but these are not normal times…

When Justice [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg died, I knew immediately that action was needed on a scale we have not seen before. Our democracy has become so fragile that the loss of one of the last guardians of common sense and decency in government less than two months before a pivotal election has put our civil and reproductive rights in danger like never before. And, so, I have turned to Satanism.

Oh.

But it seems that Satanism, like Christianity, has a lot of denominations that often don’t agree with one another on fine points of doctrine.

Attorney Smith takes pains to assure us, for example, that she doesn’t truck with the Church of Satan. That Satanic branch got started in San Francisco in 1966. Its credo is as follows:

[W]e are the first above-ground organization in history openly dedicated to the acceptance of Man’s true nature—that of a carnal beast, living in a cosmos that is indifferent to our existence.

Ms. Smith, as a mom, probably doesn’t like the idea of a “carnal beast” hanging around her children. She’s also a feminist with a strong interest in “reproductive rights”–so referring to the human race as “Man” probably grates on her nerves.

So she’s joined the much nicer Satanic Temple, founded in 2013. Its tenets are as follows:

The mission of The Satanic Temple is to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense, oppose injustice, and undertake noble pursuits.

Now that’s better! Ms. Smith writes:

Just like other faiths, the Satanic Temple has a code that their members believe in deeply and use to guide their lives. These Seven Fundamental Tenets include that “one should strive to act with compassion and empathy toward all creatures in accordance with reason,” that “the struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions,” and that “one’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.”

Reading through the Seven Tenets, I was struck by how closely they aligned with the unwritten code I had used to try to guide my own life for several years. I realized, happily, that these were my people and that I had been a Satanist for several years without even knowing it.

Still, outsiders who can’t figure out exactly what makes Catholics, Lutherans and Methodists different from one another might have trouble discerning the dime’s worth of difference between the Church of Satan and the Satanic Temple.

Both faiths use pentangles–five-pointed stars–and images of Baphomet, a goat-headed sub-devil–as their chief religious symbols. Members of the Church of Satan like to get dressed up in black robes and wear animal heads, whereas the Satanic Temple people go in more for giant bronze statues of Baphomet (see above). Frankly, Baphomet, with his huge horns and cloven feet, looks kind of scary to me–but the statues show him as a friend of little children, so he must be OK.

Still, I wonder if Ms. Smith considered this (from Wikipedia) when she signed up for the Temple:

In July 2013, The Satanic Temple held a “Pink Mass” over the grave of Catherine Johnston, the mother of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps.[28…The Pink Mass was officiated by [Satanic Temple founder Lucien] Greaves and consisted of two gay men kissing over Johnston’s grave while Greaves touched the tombstone with his genitals and chanted an incantation intended to change the deceased’s sexual orientation.[30][31] A misdemeanor charge was issued against Greaves and he was told that if he returned to Lauderdale County, Mississippi (where Johnston’s grave is located), he would be arrested.[31]

Does soccer mom Smith really want to have her kids exposed to that?

I don’t know if I’d want Jamie Smith to be my lawyer.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

Me for Quillette: How woke academia ate up fake-black scholar Jessica Krug’s postmodernist flimflam and barrio hot mama classroom attire

Photo: Duke University Press

Krug’s book is no exception to the Duke Press norm of inscrutable jargon that skeptics might prefer to call pure mush. Its theme is Kisama, an arid region of present-day Angola (it’s a wildlife preserve today) that, according to Krug, was a center of “resistance” to Portuguese colonizers and slave traders over the centuries, inspiring “global iterations of the Kisama meme” as “maroons”—fugitive slaves—in the New World engaged in their own periodic “violence” against “state power.” Krug paints Kisama as a kind of anti-state collectivist utopia that sent its “widely circulating” meme of resistance on a “remarkable odyssey” across the Atlantic. Her biggest problem is that, as she admits, “neither oral nor written records” in Africa or anywhere else provide any evidence that this occurred—beyond the fact that many Latin-American slaves were of Angolan origin, some of them apparently from Kisama. Another problem is Krug’s inability or unwillingness to write chronologically straightforward history. In order to find a coherent account of what actually happened with the slave trade in 16th and 17th century Angola you need to consult Wikipedia.

So Krug pads her book: chapters are given murky but fashionably prolix titles such as “Social Dismemberment, Social (Re)membering: Obeah Idioms, Kromanti Identities, and the Trans-Atlantic Politics of Memory, c. 1675-Present.” Postmodernist buzzwords and buzz-phrases abound: “praxis,” “bodies,” “imbrication,” “subjectivities,” “masculinities,” “reputational geographies,” “subaltern,” “interrogation,” “coloniality,” “discursive mobilization,” “gendered topographies of labor.” In order to make sense out of the book’s maps, you have to turn them upside-down or sideways, because Krug believes that conventional north-oriented cartography is unacceptably Eurocentric, reinforcing “the relationships of power that brought millions of Africans across the ocean in chains.” Sentences go on and on. A sample: “If the fundamental unit of being is not the liberal subject—the atomic individual with rights and obligations ensured by the legal apparatus of state—but rather a collective self, fashioned through the instrumental deployment of historical memory and rituo-political choreography, then, unsurprisingly, biography must function differently.”

In what is surely the book’s daffiest footnote, Krug decides that the 17th century warrior-queen Njinga (a national heroine to many present-day Angolans), who called herself a “king” when she led her troops into battle, was transgender—so Krug refers to her by the pronouns “they” and “them.” Other presumed genderqueers with unpronounceable ethnic designations pop up here and there: the “palenquerxs” and the “Palmarinxs.” The book concludes with a rambling peroration against “neoliberalism” “transnational capital,” and law-enforcement brutality in locations ranging from today’s Angola to Krug’s own South Bronx “block,” together with perhaps predictable laments over the deaths of Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro….

Krug matched the academic caricature she had created with a Latina sartorial caricature that was just as heavy-handed, showing up to teach her classes at GWU wearing tight cheetah-print pants, a crop top, shoulder-grazing hoop earrings, and a nose ring, according to an interview one of her students gave the Cut. In a photo on her official web page for GWU (since removed), she wears a low-cut, bust-exposing purple dress that looks more suitable for a night on the town than a morning in the classroom. Again, few on campus seemed to find her appearance odd or out of place during the eight years she taught there. Her look—barrio hot mama—apparently fit a preconceived image of ethnic authenticity among members of the professorial class. It was as though, if you came from West Virginia and taught Appalachian culture, you had to dress out of People of Walmart.

Read the whole thing here.
Posted by Charlotte Allen