27 April 2016

Friedman goes to Africa, does his thing, and the results are as bad as expected

This is seriously how an OpEd columnist for the New York Times started his latest piece:
You can learn everything you need to know about the main challenges facing Africa today by talking to just two people in Senegal: the rapper and the weatherman. They’ve never met, but I could imagine them doing an amazing duet one day — words and weather predictions — on the future of Africa.

And the rest of Tom Friedman's column writes itself.  It is as if he dug deep into the deepest tropes about his own writing for this piece. Or maybe he is trolling all of us by using the Friedman OpEd Generator to produce this piece. It does kind of get better, but then Friedman writes this:
Matador is torn between understanding his generation’s need to find work and money to send home and his gut instinct that it is better to be poor in one’s home than a stranger in a strange land — so stay and build Senegal.
Worse yet, this is the third piece in a series titled "Out of Africa." Yes, the same title as the colonialist book made famous by the movie adaptation featuring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep. Go here if you want to read the other pieces, but I think it would be best to save the time.

Better yet, cleanse yourself of Friedman and enjoy this song by South African singer Nakhane Touré.

HT Rachel Strohm for the song

26 April 2016

Mom complains she can't shield her son from slave-owning past of U.S. founders

In a recent story for the American Conservative, Suzanne Sherman describes her recent cross-country trip to visit historic sites related to the founding fathers. She hoped for a trip steeped in political theory and history about the philosophies that shaped the founding of the U.S. What she got was tours of the homes and lessons on the importance of slaves to the lives of these great white men.

She didn't like it.

The docent leading the tour of [Monticello] never missed an opportunity: as we moved from one floor to another, we were instructed to imagine how difficult it was for the “enslaved servants to carry meal trays up and down this narrow stairway.” At every hearth: “imagine enslaved servants having to carry wood up to these fireplaces…” It just went on and on. 
Jefferson’s philosophical and political viewpoints were omitted to leave time for an explanation of how difficult life was for his servants. Not once did the guide omit the adjective “enslaved”—his demeanor was patronizing and condescending to those who made the journey to see Monticello, for anyone vaguely familiar with Thomas Jefferson would know that he owned slaves. 
The point is not that the issue of slavery is unworthy of recognition; it is that slavery is dominating the theme of these places to the detriment of the discussion and sharing of the ideals, philosophies and political goals upon which the American republic was founded. The Montpelier Foundation and The Thomas Jefferson Foundation have lost sight of the ideals these men stood for. Both Jefferson and Madison are buried on their respective properties, and if you go to their places of rest and sit quietly, you can hear them rolling over in their graves.
V.R. Bradley at the Negro Subversive blog has a nice response to all the "issues" raised by Sherman and concludes saying:
This is the history of the American South, which you, not being from this region, might find it convenient to avoid, but which you have no right to expect the nation as a whole to avoid so that you might miss it while starting it square in the face. Moreover, as it is the history of the material foundations of the United States of America, it is the only history you have this side of the Atlantic.