For the most of you who don't know who Ari Roth is, it's difficult to convey how shocking this is. Five years ago, Ari Roth was forced out of Theater J for making them produce works that took the Palestinian point of view into account. Now he's being thrown out of the new theater company he formed for not producing work that only takes the Palestinian view into account. Maybe it's jingoism or parochial provincialism, but I will always believe that while Jews are self-evidently no more morally reliable than anybody else, the continual Jewish centrality to world history makes Jewish issues a particularly reliable canary in the coal mine, so no matter how obviously horrible the American right is and how clearly they are the current imminent threat, the speed with which the far left has gone mainstream is bad news for the country, and especially bad news for Jews. We will all eventually pay a price for it, but Jews particularly.
Thursday, November 19, 2020
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
For years I've been telling anybody enabling enough of me to listen to my ranting that we have to be restrained with Republicans. Not because they're reasonable and democratic, but because they're not, and there's no such thing as taking on a cult of millions casually. Non-partisan groups have now certified this as the safest election in modern American history (and I was WRONG about that), so now a good three-quarters of Trump voters deny the election's legitimacy. This is, quite literally, the red line. You don't make a 'federal case' out of people doing anything less than not recognizing a government's legitimacy, because what it takes to reel a party that unwieldy back in is world-historic. We've tried politics, and politics hasn't worked. War is the extension of politics by other means. We don't know yet what 'war' means in this case, but now, we're at war.
Monday, November 16, 2020
Sunday, November 15, 2020
I know I've said this before, but as annoyed and terrified as I am of facebook, I truly loathe twitter, everything about it, and I loathe it much more than I hate facebook. It's not that facebook isn't evil, I mean, come on, but on facebook, at least there's room for expansion and thought for people who want to use it, and even if it gets heated, there's at least a social contract to prevent it from going code:red on every disagreement among people who go anywhere from loving each other to at very least kindasorta tolerating each other out of some constrictions of the social contract. The danger of facebook is its confirmation bias, and the confirmation bias is only possible because facebook can in fact generate a sense of community, but on twitter, the whole point is simplicity and concision. You can't get to know the poster except through the brightest primary colors, and because you can't get to know them, the postings only encourage opposition. On facebook you can make friends, on twitter, you only find allies. People say that facebook is terrible because of how it's run, but that, in fact, is the whole point of why it's better than twitter. On facebook, there's no crackdowns, and if there were, it would at least be a better format than this. On twitter, there's always crackdowns, and it's still that terrible!
Hot Take from Middle of the Night:
Friday, November 13, 2020
So.... as an artist who did try (and fail) to become a political journalist or scientist, the problem with artists becoming active politically is that so many artists know absolutely nothing about politics, and that's clear every time they open their mouths. There isn't a single statistic they can cite (let alone a wrong one), and if you talk to them about concepts from various political thinkers, they don't have the faintest grasp of what you're talking about or why it's important. I've spent my thirties in the world of the arts, and after having talked to hundreds of artists over these years, it's pretty clear that very few of them have done any political reading at all aside from the fashionable book du jour that predigests the world for them in a way that they can take as a theology, and whose concepts they entirely forget about two months later. Generally speaking, the arts are about believing in illusions, and people in the arts are better than anybody at believing in illusions, once upon a time that illusion was god, now it's various forms of progressive social justice, and from the point of view of actionable reality, there's very little difference between them because so many of the concepts involve invisible structural forces that are impossible to prove. So as artists, it's fine if you have neither the time, desire, nor capacity to make a study of important political questions, but if you don't, don't make political art, because art in which you misunderstand the materials you're working with is, almost by definition, bad art, and if the art is dependent on you understanding the political situation, you better damn well make sure you understand it thoroughly.
Thursday, November 12, 2020
We all have meltdowns over the course of a lifetime that are infinitely regrettable, and we'd like to take back because the object of scorn was thoroughly undeserving and just at the receiving end of meshuggos that has everything to do with us and nothing to do with them. That's how we're trained to see it, and that's obviously how we should be trained. That's well over 90% of them.
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Even after all this, we're still in denial about the extent of the rot. If, as this poll says, 8 in 10 Trump supporters are contesting the election's legitimacy, then that's not a statistic over which you can re-establish any kind of legitimacy. There's no lowering the temperature anymore. Democracy depends upon the consent of the governed, and if you don't have it, you're either in a dictatorship or you're at war, because there is no fighting against authoritarianism without authoritarian means, there is no fighting a war without fighting a war. Whether or not you personally hate Republicans or don't want to talk to them, it doesn't matter now, this is so much more important than personal grudges. Republicans are the enemy. Period. It may be an unfortunate development, but Republicans would be the first to tell you: war is war, and when you're at war, you give no quarter. So no matter whether Biden says or even believes otherwise, war means the age of demonization is only just beginning, and you never treat the enemy by half-measures. If they fight this dirty, we now have to too. Whatever country you thought you were in, whatever norms you thought we could re-establish, that's all over. All options are on the table because the other side has put all options on the table for more than five years. Really and truly at this point, the future depends on Democratic leaders who are willing to exercise extraordinary, authoritarian, wartime emergency powers of the type that Lincoln and FDR did: if we get the White House, then there may be no choice at certain points but to rule by executive order, countermand the Supreme Court, arrest certain members of congress, and occasionally impose martial law and suspend writ of habeas corpus, warrantless wire tapping and rendition without trial. The truth still is that Republicans were always right that some of that is always justified in the name of preventing terrorism, but now, Republicans are the potential terrorists: there are 300 million guns that can be used on any streetcorner with just a simple squeeze of a trigger. So unfortunately, we have to suspect them as terrorists without any compunction or regret, and still, as Lincoln and FDR did, use all these powers with the end goal of putting democracy back in place. Because all this is exactly what Trump and Republicans would do if they felt compelled to. When we were still in the Obama era and there was at least some small chance of reconciliation, I was against anything even remotely resembling this, because the price tag of what any of this means is so unbelievably steep, but Trump even attempting to take the Presidency with clear illegitimacy, that's the redline from which you can't come back. You can't treat this as a joke or kindergarten taunts, because even if it's meant that way (and I doubt it), the precedent is so incredibly tactile for whomever comes next. So all that worry about caution and prudence is over now. War is war, and if Trump manages to hold on to power, well then..... ....... ...... .....
Tom Perez has done as well as anybody could in a job that must be a living hell, but it is time to build the coalition of the future. Whomever replaces Biden has to have a capacity not just past Biden, but past Obama. We need someone with an FDR, Lincoln level capacity for leadership, who can literally take the extraordinary expanded powers of an imperial presidency on herself and resist the temptation to use it for any reason other than altruistically. God bless Vice-President elect Harris, she just hasn't given any indication that she has that level of leadership in her. And I'm sure many of us will disagree on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but she's a dogmatic socialist ideologue. I would not trust her with even a normal presidency. But Stacey Abrams has now come within a hair's breath of flipping Georgia. Whatever 'it' is, the potential shown by Lincoln and FDR, Mandela, Ben-Gurion, Nehru, that is what Stacey Abrams is beginning to show, and any policy disagreement any of us may have along the way may turn out to be minor compared to the ability to hold a world together through the conflict of a century.
Monday, November 9, 2020
Hot Take of the Afternoon: There is one way in which Republicans are absolutely right - it takes an antisocial ideology to understand antisocial people, and some people are just that misanthropic. For some people, the more out of our way the rest of us go in being supportive and charitable, the more some beneficiaries are going to absolutely loathe and resent the rest of us for it, because any form of generosity at all reminds them of their failures. Some people simply resent the very need for people to be generous to them, and just like so many libertarians, they believe that any kind of commitment to anyone but themselves is a surrender of pride and independence, which is of course self-fulfilling and also indicative that they care more about nursing their hatreds than they do alleviating the burdens of their lives.