America was never united — pretending we were papers over real injuries and makes addressing them harder

Image: World Trade Center in the 1970s, Mr.TinDC, Flickr, Creative Commons license

It didn’t take long once the towers had fallen and the Pentagon had been left bleeding from the gaping wound gouged in its side by American Airlines Flight 77.

The embers outside Shanksville billowing from the remains of United Flight 93 had likely not even cooled before we began to hear it from commentators, politicians — from all corners of the nation.

United We Stand.

The slogan was everywhere: on bumper stickers, the lips of pundits, and in letters to the editor of every newspaper in America.

The attacks of September 11 had brought us together, or so we were…


Early indifference to the pain of some is why so many suffer now

Image, Johnny Silvercloud, Shutterstock, Standard license purchased by author

As I write these words, over 630,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19 — a number that marks us as the epicenter of failure on the planet, uniquely awful at responding to one of the most extraordinary public health emergencies in world history.

Years from now, scholars will ask, as will our kids and theirs, how could we have bungled this so badly?

Some will retreat to an easy and politically partisan explanation, insisting it was a failure of leadership on the part of the Trump White House. And they won’t be wrong.

But that answer will…


A CALL TO RESISTANCE

Those who give in to MAGA-rassment enable authoritarianism

Image, GalGun, Shutterstock, standard license, purchased by author

As MAGA mobs storm school board meetings nationwide to protest mask requirements in the face of COVID, or the teaching of anti-racist curriculum, the right has demonstrated its willingness to threaten and intimidate policymakers in pursuit of their goals.

In response, sadly, reports suggest some school board members and other school officials are resigning, unwilling to put up with verbal abuse from unhinged parents and community members calling for their ouster, or in some cases, blatantly threatening violence.

So too, several Republican congresspersons have opted not to seek re-election in the wake of the Party’s devolution into a personality cult…


Complaints about people not taking low-paying jobs are based on bizarre logic and reveal the cruelty of conservatism

Image: Roman Samborskyi, Shutterstock, standard license, purchased by author

To hear some tell it, employers are currently struggling to fill job openings because unemployment insurance and pandemic relief funds have been far too generous. As such, people can make more sitting at home than getting off the couch, putting down the Cool Ranch Doritos, and punching a clock.

This is, of course, bullshit.

When unemployment benefits expanded last year, there was no independent effect on the labor market beyond the pandemic itself. …


Grifting with words is not writing — it’s textual harassment

Photo by Stephanie LeBlanc on Unsplash

I hate sounding like a grumpy old man, but seriously, get off my lawn.

As someone who finds beauty in words and occasionally strings them together in an almost artistic form, seeing people discuss writing as a “great side hustle” makes me want to smash an old-school typewriter over someone’s head.

Sadly, there’s probably someone on Fiverr right now who would let me do that to them for the right price.

And if I hear anyone else confuse writing with “content creation,” as if it were just a wordier alternative to TikTok, I’m going to — well, probably do nothing…


The difference between the presumption of belonging and the burden of representation

Image: ESB Professional, Shutterstock, standard license, purchased by the author

When white people hear the term “white privilege,” we often recoil, assuming we are being accused of having led a charmed life without difficulties — or of being rich and powerful, even though, like most, we have faced periods of financial insecurity. We may even be facing such now.

But no one who talks about the problem of racism and white privilege means it that way — literally, no one.

While there are occupational, income, housing availability, and wealth advantages for white people, relative to folks of color, tied to both multi-generational structures of inequity and ongoing bias, these are…


Those refusing masks and vaccines use false bravado and denial to avoid facing their own mortality

Image: KM-Photography, Shutterstock, standard license, purchased by author

‘FREEDOM OVER FEAR’

It’s a slogan you’ll see on placards at anti-vax and anti-mask rallies, held by those who insist COVID is a hoax or at least exaggerated as to the dangers it poses.

This, despite the fact it has killed at least 650,000 Americans as I write this and hospitalized many more over the past 20 months.

Those who strike this pose of defiance would have us believe they do so out of some courage the rest of us lack. We who mask and vaccinate, they say, are like scared children, afraid of our shadows. …


The only Confederacy we’ve defeated is the one in bronze and granite — the real one might have won the war

Image: Mobilus In Mobili, Flickr, Creative Commons license

First things first: Yes, it’s a good thing whenever any statue to Robert E. Lee comes down.

So too with any memorial for traitors who made war on the U.S. to uphold white supremacy — the thing Alexander Stephens, the Vice-President of the Confederacy, said was the “cornerstone” of their government.

I mean, if the U.S. itself wasn’t racist enough for you, such that you had to make war with it to really maximize the evil, then fuck you and the horse you rode in on, be that horse real or made of bronze.

And you can miss me with…


Their new anti-abortion law proves not only what they think of women, but also that they know fetal life isn’t equal to born life

Image: Marc Nozell, Flickr, Creative Commons License

Texas wants y’all to know it’s pro-life.

Not in the sense of saving folks from COVID by rushing to be the most vaccinated state in America or in the sense that they believe in social distancing or masking in the face of the Delta variant.

And not in the sense of ensuring adequate health care to its children, taking aim at poverty or abolishing capital punishment, or anything like that.

But in the sense that Texas loves fetuses (or is it feti?) more than the rest of you and is prepared to prove it.

So as to demonstrate their natal…


Equating vaccine mandates and mask requirements with tyranny shows us all how privileged and fragile you are

Image: GOP anti-vax mandate protest, NYC, 8/15/21 Ron Adar, Shutterstock, standard license, purchased by author

They say no two snowflakes look alike. But from all appearances at the anti-vax and anti-mask rallies — filled with people convinced that either COVID is a hoax or efforts to mitigate it are one step removed from the gulag — I’m not so sure.

There’s an awful lot of similarity there: overwhelmingly white and with the kind of wide-eyed look so common for those whose marination in conspiracy theories has all but pickled their brains.

For those who’ve been wondering, this is why America can’t have nice things.

Seriously, how fragile must one be to think having to wear…

Tim Wise

Anti-racism educator and author of 9 books, including White Like Me and, most recently, Dispatches from the Race War (City Lights, December 2020)

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