Genocide

I understand ‘genocide’ to mean the attempt to erase a people, that is, to create an appearance that the subject people do not exist either within a particular territory or universally. This certainly applied to Nazi treatment of the Jews in the Holocaust. It applies now to Israeli treatment of Palestinians—Israel even insists on calling the latter ‘Arabs’ in an effort to erase even their identity. And it applies to Chinese treatment of Uyghurs.
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On patriotism

In his defense of an authoritarian system of social organization, Gerhard Lenski noted, correctly I fear, that human altruism diminishes with social distance. Thus, we are much more likely to give up our own lives to protect, in descending order, our families, our friends, our comrades, our communities, and our countries.[1]

When we ask someone if s/he would sacrifice her or his own life to save five others, for example, they would likely answer most honestly if they first asked who those others are. Read more

  1. [1]Gerhard Lenski, Power and Privilege: A Theory of Social Stratification (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966).

Endorsing a giant meteor strike in 2020

See update for August 22, 2020, at end of post


It’s been a hell of a year so far, it isn’t even half over yet, and on top of all that, it is an election year, in which a delusional raging narcissist-in-chief[1] faces an ostensible challenge from the neoliberal (so-called “Democratic”) party, which demonstrates its own relative lack of interest in actually winning with an astonishingly weak presumptive nominee.[2] Against a pandemic, white supremacist protests against the lockdown meant to limit the contagion, a recession, and anti-racism protests, all crises which Donald Trump has at least exacerbated, and for which we ought therefore to have some considerable interest in removing him, the election does indeed seem minor.

It’s even more minor than it seems.
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  1. [1]Narcissistic rage is described in George Simon, “Understanding and Dealing with Narcissistic Rage,” Counselling Resource, July 24, 2017, https://counsellingresource.com/features/2017/07/24/understanding-narcissistic-rage/
  2. [2]David Benfell, “It’s still a smoke-filled room,” Not Housebroken, December 6, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/06/its-still-a-smoke-filled-room/; David Benfell, “How the neoliberal (usually known as Democratic) party may well lose in 2020,” Not Housebroken, December 7, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/07/how-the-neoliberal-usually-known-as-democratic-party-may-well-lose-in-2020/; David Benfell, “The whiteness of impeachment,” Not Housebroken, February 25, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/15/the-whiteness-of-impeachment/; David Benfell, “Joe Biden and justice delayed,” Not Housebroken, March 3, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/03/joe-biden-and-justice-delayed/

Donald Trump’s humiliation: A million expected for a 19,000-seat venue; less than 6,200 show up

See update for June 21, 2020, at end of post.


Referring to our delusional raging narcissist-in-chief and his ill-advised rally in Tulsa,[1] Stormy Daniels tweets,

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  1. [1]Eugene Daniels, “Trump campaign blames protesters for disappointing turnout at Tulsa rally,” Politico, June 20, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/06/20/trump-rally-tulsa-coronavirus-reset-2020-campaign-330248; Oliver Milman, “Trump campaign asks supporters to sign coronavirus waiver ahead of rally,” Guardian, June 12, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/12/trump-rally-supporters-sign-coronavirus-waiver

Be careful what you ask for

Jason Okundaye argues for abolishing ‘whiteness’ as a category.[1] So um, first, ‘abolition’ in an earlier context referred to abolishing prisons.[2] Second, in the present context, it refers to the possibility of abolishing the police[3] and/or criminal injustice systems (I support the abolition of all of the above,[4] and Okundaye does not even actually mention them[5]), but: Read more

  1. [1]Jason Okundaye, “Abolish Whiteness,” London Review of Books, June 16, 2020, https://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2020/june/abolish-whiteness
  2. [2]Angela Y. Davis, Abolition Democracy (New York: Seven Stories, 2005).
  3. [3]Zak Cheney-Rice, “Why Police Abolition Is a Useful Framework — Even for Skeptics,” New York, June 15, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/06/police-abolitionist-lessons-for-america.html
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Defunding the police is, at best, a baby’s first step,” Not Housebroken, June 15, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/06/15/defunding-the-police-is-at-best-a-babys-first-step/
  5. [5]Jason Okundaye, “Abolish Whiteness,” London Review of Books, June 16, 2020, https://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2020/june/abolish-whiteness

Defunding the police is, at best, a baby’s first step

See update for June 20, 2020, at end of post


On June 13, 2020, I praised[1] Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto’s support for a measure that would enable the police to back off from many social problems.[2] The proposal sounds like it falls, at a minimal level, under the rubric of the “defund the police” movement, which Amanda Arnold explains in The Cut[3] and Zak Cheney-Rice explains in New York.[4] And it’s a good idea within the realm of politics as the art of the possible. Read more

  1. [1]David Benfell, “Kente cloth was the wrong cloth to wear,” Irregular Bullshit, June 13, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/06/13/kente-cloth-was-the-wrong-cloth-to-wear/
  2. [2]Andy Sheehan, “Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto Proposes Creation Of New Office That Would ‘Allow Public Safety To Step Back’ And Get People Longer-Term Help,” KDKA, June 12, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/12/pittsburgh-office-of-community-health-and-safety/
  3. [3]Amanda Arnold, “What Exactly Does It Mean to Defund the Police?” Cut, June 12, 2020, https://www.thecut.com/2020/06/what-does-defund-the-police-mean-the-phrase-explained.html
  4. [4]Zak Cheney-Rice, “Why Police Abolition Is a Useful Framework — Even for Skeptics,” New York, June 15, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/06/police-abolitionist-lessons-for-america.html

They should have ‘simply worn red’

200608142551-01-house-democrats-kneel-0608-exlarge-169
Fig. 1. Photograph via CNN, June 8, 2020, fair use. The photographer is not identified.[1]

Those congressional leaders (figure 1) should simply have worn red. And Nana Efua Mumford uses the word to describe what Congressional leaders did with those stoles when they kneeled[2] that I suspected applied: appropriation.[3] Read more

  1. [1]Alicia Lee, “Congressional Democrats criticized for wearing Kente cloth at event honoring George Floyd,” CNN, June 8, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/08/politics/democrats-criticized-kente-cloth-trnd/index.html
  2. [2]Nana Efua Mumford, “Democratic leaders’ kneeling was fine. The kente cloth was not,” Washington Post, June 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/06/11/educate-yourself-before-you-wear-kente/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “On kente cloth and appropriation,” Irregular Bullshit, June 9, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/06/09/on-kente-cloth-and-appropriation/

How many times must it be explained that the Civil War was about the preservation of slavery?

I shouldn’t have to say this but even people calling themselves historians cling to this bullshit. From the Washington Post in a story on a movement to remove statues honoring Confederate heroes:[1] Read more

  1. [1]Marc Fisher, “Confederate statues: In 2020, a renewed battle in America’s enduring Civil War,” Washington Post, June 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2020/06/11/confederate-statues-attacked-protesters-george-floyd/

Dead cat bounce

I have some doubts about yesterday’s unemployment report which unexpectedly showed the headline unemployment rate dropping.[1] Doubts, in fact, that make me suspect what some might call a “dead cat bounce.”
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  1. [1]Eric Levitz, “Why the Shockingly Good Jobs Report Might Be Bad News,” New York, June 5, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/06/unemployment-jobs-report-congress-bls.html; Eli Rosenberg, “Unemployment rate drops to 13 percent, as the economy picked up jobs as states reopened,” Washington Post, June 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/06/05/may-2020-jobs-report/

Tipping point

Some will look at unemployment, smack their foreheads and declare, “No Wonder!” This, they will say, of course, is the cause of so much current unrest. And as it appears to be receding,[1] perhaps even inspiring the V-shaped recovery that the Trump administration appears to be relying on,[2] perhaps we can relax about that unrest.
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  1. [1]Eli Rosenberg, “Unemployment rate drops to 13 percent, as the economy picked up jobs as states reopened,” Washington Post, June 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/06/05/may-2020-jobs-report/
  2. [2]David Blanchflower, “Pandemic Economics: ‘Much Worse, Very Quickly,” New York Review of Books, March 26, 2020, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2020/03/26/pandemic-economics-much-worse-very-quickly/