Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunday Reading

Ancient History — Digby on our short-term memory loss.

I’ve been struck for some time about the apparent need among a fairly large number of Americans to pretend that racism is ancient history with which we no longer need to be concerned (at least as it pertains to racial minorities.) The fact is that Shirley Sherrod lived during the great cataclysm of the civil rights movement and paid a huge personal price for standing up against the forces that killed her father. But that wasn’t the end of it. She has spent the rest of her life trying to fight other insidious forms of racism like these discriminatory loan practices that continue to this day. I suspect that somebody forgot to send her the memo that the whole thing is over and that she just needs to move on. Indeed, it’s been made crystal clear that the fight isn’t over. (The fact that she was targeted for statements about racial reconciliation is even more galling.)

Far too many people are acting as if this woman wasn’t a living witness to the horrors of Jim Crow and the fallout of 200 years of racist history and instead believe that she’s nursing ancient grievances. Her life is treated as the forgotten detritus on the trash heap of history, as if it’s all over, a museum exhibit.

More below the fold.

Speaking of History — Frank Rich on the leaking of secrets — the Pentagon Papers and Wikileaks.

Most Americans knew or guessed the crux of the Pentagon Papers, too. A full year earlier the Senate had repealed the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin resolution; no one needed a “top secret” smoking gun by 1971 to know that L.B.J. had lied about the Tonkin incident. The papers didn’t change administration war policy because we were already pulling out of Vietnam, however truculently and lethally (the Christmas 1972 bombing campaign, most notoriously). In 1971, the American troop level was some 213,000, down from a peak of 537,000 in 1968. By 1973 we were essentially done.

Unlike Nixon, Obama is still adding troops to his unpopular war. But history is not on his side either in Afghanistan or at home. The latest Gallup poll found that 58 percent of the country favors his announced timeline, with its promise to start withdrawing troops in mid-2011. It’s hard to imagine what could change that equation now.

Bleep Me Up, Scotty — William Shatner boldly goes where he’s never gone before.

Cyberspace is the next final frontier for William Shatner. But he will not tweet.

“I can’t even remember my password,” says Canada’s coolest near-octogenarian and star of the upcoming television series $#*! My Dad Says, based on California writer Justin Halpern’s enormously popular Twitter feed – more brusquely titled Shit My Dad Says – that chronicles the blunt, bleep-worthy utterances of Halpern’s father.

“I have a problem with electronics,” continues Shatner, in Los Angeles for the TV Critics Tour that’s showcasing the American networks’ new fall shows. “I understand the technology, but I could never find the time to spend on sites like Twitter. It’s not my world.”

Perhaps not surprisingly for the man who once commandeered the Starship Enterprise, Shatner surmounted the too-little-time issue by delegating someone to do his tweeting for him: Several months ago, he hired a college student “whose very fingers are the extension of computer keys, and he Twitters for me. He does the mechanics, but I very carefully modulate what I say and have used Twitter to publicize stuff, to have conversations and instigate competition. It’s been an exploration in the immediate language of being short-termed and pithy.”

At 79, Shatner – in person – can still talk up a storm.

Doonesbury — Fictional memoirs.