Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Identity Politics

The Collapse of Artistic Criticism Under Trump

The Trump presidency has been bad for art and the way we evaluate it. Yes, there’s newfound popularity for far right art forms that speak to dark impulses. “Martial industrial” music–often set to images of Nazis marching–is spooky stuff, and in the last few years it’s quietly spread all over YouTube:

But mainstream art critics have mostly ignored the niches of material which are nakedly far right. They prefer to focus on more popular stuff. And here they have done us a number of disservices, aiding the right even as they attempt to resist it.

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How the Democratic Party Can Win the South

Since Donald Trump’s election I have increasingly become interested in how the left engages with white America. The left isn’t getting enough white support. Even with over 90% of the African-American vote, alleged pedophile Roy Moore came absurdly close to winning in Alabama. This can’t just be because white Americans are racist, stupid, or evil. There has to be more to it. In the past I’ve identified many things wrong with our approach–we’re too condescending and patronising toward white voters, and too quick to blame and shame them. We don’t spend enough time talking about and emphasizing programs and policies that help all marginalized people, including poor, working, and middle class whites. But today I want to go further and discuss in detail a new way of looking at the South and at middle America more broadly–one that takes these people and their concerns seriously. If we’re willing to tell a different story about the South, or at least acknowledge a different story, and build that acknowledgement into our policy and rhetoric, I think we can make some gains.

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The Doug Jones Victory Belongs to the People of Alabama, Not Just African-Americans

In the past week there’s been a weird narrative in the media about the Alabama Senate race between Democrat Doug Jones and Republican (and alleged serial mall predator) Roy Moore. The story goes something like this: the bad white southerners were willing to vote for the scummy pedophile theocrat, but then black people showed up and saved America from Roy Moore. It’s built on two key facts–most white Alabamans voted for Moore and the overwhelming majority of black Alabamans voted for Jones:

But this seems like a bizarre and misleading way to interpret the result of this election. Here’s why. Read the rest of this entry »

Everyone Missed the Point of Charlottesville

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been digesting the narratives swirling after the tragic violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. I’ve waited to write about it because I noticed that so many people’s emotions were running so high, even people who usually seem pretty level-headed to me. Nearly all the reactions I’ve seen have left me dissatisfied. This will take a minute to unpack, but I promise you it’s worth it. Read the rest of this entry »

How to Reframe Anti-Discrimination Politics to Overcome Division

A few readers asked a good question about yesterday’s post. The question boils down to something like this:

How can we talk about discrimination–about racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia–if we have to show conspicuous respect for the white working class? Some of them are racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic. How can we deal with them in a way that isn’t appeasement?

The people asking this question believe that we can’t fight discrimination while concurrently respecting the people who practice it. But this isn’t true–we can do both at once. Indeed, by respecting these people we can make our anti-discrimination advocacy more effective. Here’s how.

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