Friday, September 23, 2011

Essay on Ebonics

Anyone interested in the current status of African American English, or "Ebonics," might enjoy checking out my essay just posted on the American Anthropological Association's online Anthropology News web site.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

State-sponsored murder

According to Amnesty International, the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles has refused to intervene in tomorrow's scheduled execution of Troy Davis, despite the overwhelming evidence that there is more than "reasonable doubt" that he committed the crime he was convicted of.

It's dismaying, but not that surprising.  As a core part of the Old Confederacy, Georgia is (at least) a crypto-fascist state.  State-sponsored murder, otherwise known as "execution," is a way for such states to demonstrate their absolute power over their citizens, including the power to decide whether they live or die.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I didn't write anything for 9/11

Well, I didn't.  I did spend both yesterday and today actively avoiding mention of 9/11 on the TV, so as to be reminded as little as possible of the Tuesday ten years ago when our Marine son, Tommy, stationed at The Pentagon, was out of our reach for nearly the whole day.  I watched Ivan Reitmann's silly science-fiction comedy Evolution (David Duchovny, Julianne Moore, etc.), and I watched the first two parts of Lord of the Rings (the extended version!).  I also managed some of Avatar.  I played banjo. I walked with Tinker the Terrier.  Whatever, anything to avoid what I was sure would be the grotesque "commemoration" of an obscene event (I'm pretty sure I was right).

But inevitably, in checking my usual news and information sources on the web, I did come across several essays that come as close as I could, without doing it myself (which I didn't feel like doing), to expressing the swamp of ideas and feelings I have about 9/11 and its aftermath.  And not just the aftermath, but also the run-up.

The first is an essay by Tom Engelhardt titled Let's Cancel 9/11: Bury the War State's Blank Check at Sea.  One of the salient paragraphs from this essay is this one:

Ask yourself this: ten years into the post-9/11 era, haven't we had enough of ourselves?  If we have any respect for history or humanity or decency left, isn’t it time to rip the Band-Aid off the wound, to remove 9/11 from our collective consciousness?  No more invocations of those attacks to explain otherwise inexplicable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and our oh-so-global war on terror.  No more invocations of 9/11 to keep the Pentagon and the national security state flooded with money.  No more invocations of 9/11 to justify every encroachment on liberty, every new step in the surveillance of Americans, every advance in pat-downs and wand-downs and strip downs that keeps fear high and the homeland security state afloat.
A second essay titled Generation 9/11: History will be embarrassed by us, is by fellow anthropologist Greg Laden, and appeared on his blog The X Blog.  Greg's essay contains this, which spoke nicely to my own thoughts:
And now might be a good point to ask the question, “What has risen from the ashes of the 9/11 attacks?” There was much talk at the time, and since then, and again today, about how great America is, how great Americans are, and how we will move forward and become better and stronger and so on and so forth. But it is just talk. What has happened instead is something entirely different.
And what happened has been a social and political disaster, as Greg points out:
The Tea Party and things like the Tea Party. Strongly held anti-social illogical destructive beliefs with no hope of critical self evaluation, in a large and organized part of the population. It is obvious why this happened in the Republican Party and not the Democratic Party, but people on both sides of the political aisle have contributed. Literalist, libertarian, paranoid, self-centered, easily frightened, reactionary, sub-average in intelligence, deluded in self worth and unmovable in conviction and belief despite all evidence to the contrary.
Moving on.  The last is from one of my favorite online essayists, William Rivers Pitt, who posts at  His essay, called The Children of Aftermath, focuses on the fact that there are children in the 5th grade now who have known no other country, no other world, than the one 9/11 gave us:
All across America, there are classrooms filled with fifth graders who only know the World Trade Center from pictures. They have achieved the final perfection of George Orwell's vision - we have always been at war with Eurasia - because they have never known a world where their country has not been at war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I hope you will read these essays.  Meanwhile, I'm waiting for 9/12/2011.