Sunday, December 19, 2010

White Victimhood Gets Even Nuttier

Even though they have five times as much money as black Americans, and are much more likely than blacks and Hispanics to have jobs, white Americans feel they just can't get a break. They're always finding things to grump about: a Kenyan in the White House, taking the Christ out of an orgy of consumer spending, the death panels that are going to kill old people.....

But now that they've added everything obvious to the list Stuff White People Hate, they're having to dig a little deeper. And they have. A friend recently informed me that they have found a menace to the Master Race lurking in comic books, specifically Marvel and DC Comics, the two outfits that between them produced Batman, Spider-Man, the X-Men and Superman. The contributors to the conservative website the Astute Bloggers are outraged that Batman has recruited a Muslim of Algerian descent to help him fight crime in Paris. Let me just say I didn't know Batman had expanded his operations beyond Gotham City. I guess this is Batman in the age of globalization. What's really weird about this is they're not mad at Batman for expanding his operations to France (doesn't he know he should be focusing all his energies on protecting Americans? I would have expected outrage that he's not on the U.S.-Mexican border stopping illegal immigrants.) No, they're simply pointing out that Batman could have found "a genuine French boy or girl with a real sense of justice."

Since when do white American conservatives talk as if they like the French?

But the real gem in the Week in White Outrage comes from the Council of Conservative Citizens, a group dedicated to preserving the American people's European "composition and character," and opposing "all efforts to deny or weaken the Christian heritage of the United States."*

What are they angry about?

A black Norse god. Yes, you read that right. The 2011 movie Thor is based on a Marvel Comics series that features Norse gods as characters, and in the film one of them is black. Specifically, Heimdall, who will be portrayed by Idris Elba. Not Big Daddy Odin, not everybody's favorite troublemaker Loki, nor the title character, but Heimdall.

I had no idea who the Hell Heimdall was. Apparently he is the guardian of the bridge between Midgard and Asgard.

So...a Christian right group is upset that a minor pagan god of an extinct religion is being depicted as black in a movie.

Considering that in Norse religion the bridge Heimdall guards is a rainbow, they're just lucky he's not black and gay.

*From the CCC's Statement of Principles.

Hat tip to David Harnden-Warwick for some of this information.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Harvard: LGBT Books Covered in Urine "by Accident"

Earlier this week, the Harvard Crimson reported that 36 books on LGBT subjects in Harvard's Lamont Library were found "vandalized with urine." The immediate assumption was that the act was a hate crime.

However, today Harvard College Dean Evelynn [sic] Hammonds announced that the dousing of nearly forty books on gay/transgendered subjects with urine was an accident. The Crimson reported that near the damaged books library staff discovered an empty jar that is believed to have been filled with urine. And yes, there's more:

upon an investigation by HUPD, it was revealed Monday morning that "our own library personnel" had accidentally spilled a bottle, containing what was reported to be urine, that had been found on the shelf, according to Hammonds.

Of course, this raises the question, why was a jar of urine on a library shelf? The Boston Globe has a few ideas.

A friend of mine told me that he knows some people who drink their own urine for health reasons, a practice I was blissfully unaware of until he shared this information.

I pointed out to him that most libraries have zero-tolerance policies for food and drink. I'm sure Lamont Library is no exception.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

More about those Carcinogenic Scanners

In a demo on German television, a scanner detected a man's cell phone but not the bomb parts he had concealed on his person. Even though most of the dialogue is in German, it's readily apparent what's going on:

Meanwhile a molecular biologist has this to say about the scanners and cancer risk.

And did you know that these lovely devices cost over $100K each?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

State Department: We're Sorry about the Whole Sari Thing

Last weekend, Meera Shankar, India's Ambassador to the United States, went to Jackson-Evers International Airport in Mississippi to catch a plane back to Washington, DC. She had just finished a speaking engagement at Mississippi State University. According to witnesses, the ambassador attracted the attention of TSA workers because she was wearing a sari. Since Jackson-Evers doesn't yet have one of those carcinogenic scanners, she was selected to be felt up by a TSA staffer.

In public.

Because you know terrorists haven't yet figured out that white Americans are suspicious of people who look different, so they wear their funny furrin clothes for protection.

And female Indian terrorists who occupy high-level diplomatic posts are such a problem.

And humiliating people makes everything so much better.

After an initial defense of public groping by the TSA, the State Department has apologized.

Here is a link to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger's initial reporting on the story. The comments thread is quite something. Or was. Many of the more colorful ones have been deleted.

Personal favorite: "This Country was fine until other Countries started coming here" [sic]

Somehow I doubt the guy who wrote that was Indian--you know, the other kind?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wikileaks & Misplaced Outrage

For over a week now anyone who isn't a Trappist monk has been subjected to the cries of outrage about WikiLeaks from the Obama Administration and various talking heads. At first I considered most of the Wikileaks "revelations" yawn-inducing (HAMID KARZAI IS CORRUPT?? OH NO!!! REALLY????).

I've come around. And instead of denouncing Julian Assange our government should be grovelling in shame at what's been brought to light and pledging to throw the book at some of the people mentioned in the cables: for example, the American contractors who've been procuring boys to provide sexual services to Afghan policemen. Furthermore, I am glad to see the radical secrecy begun by Bush and continued by Obama dealt a blow.

This whole affair shows just how shallow our commitment is to our supposed values. That soulless wraith Joe Lieberman is demanding the Justice Department determine whether the New York Times can be prosecuted for publishing leaked diplomatic cables (has he heard of the First Amendment?).

This is not to say that Julian Assange is any kind of saint. There's been a lot of nonsense in the past week about "sex by surprise" (which I believed at first), and smearing of the women who first went to Swedish police about Assange. All of which shows that we're still incapable of being grownups in this country. If we like what WikiLeaks is doing, Julian Assange must be a good guy. If we don't, he must be a rapist. Collectively, Americans have a four-year-old's tolerance of complexity.

In any case Nitasha Tiku at New York Magazine has done a good job of clarifying the legal situation.

Meanwhile, folding like a cheap suit in the face of government pressure, Amazon has removed WikiLeaks from their servers. MasterCard and Visa will no longer process WikiLeaks donations.

However, you can still use either credit card to donate to the Ku Klux Klan (Hat tip to techdirt).

Sunday, December 5, 2010

'Tis the Season....

....for air travel. In a couple of weeks I'll be in Logan Airport, trying to decide whether I want to go through a scanner that might (if I fly often enough) contribute to my chances of getting cancer, or getting manhandled by a TSA staffer.

Frankly, I feel safe from being a victim of a terrorist attack, but not because of the invasive and annoying procedures we're subjected to by the Terribly Stupid Administration. I feel safe because of simple probabilities. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 527,483 domestic commercial passenger flights took off in September 2001. Divide by 30. Roughly 17,583 domestic passenger flights took off each day in the month of 9-11. So if even if I had boarded a plane on the very day, my odds would have been 3 out of 17,583 (more or less) of being on one of the hijacked planes.

This is all theater. 9-11 was perfectly preventable with the security measures already in place. Hell, if someone had just investigated Mohammed Atta when he told his flight instructor he was interested in learning to fly a plane but not in how to take off or land one, September 11 might have been just an ordinary day. Furthermore if Wikileaks had been around in 2001, that much-maligned organization might have helped prevent the attacks.

Meanwhile, our safety is in the hands of people who think breast milk could be a terrorist weapon.

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