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The Internet Is Exploding: 10 Must-Read Articles This Week 5/16

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The internet was a lot but also very good this week! Highlights: Palestine, @itsmesubhi, Colombia, Magic Actions, intersectional empires, Boudicca, queering colonialism, a thread on diversity, Nicki Minaj, and the CDC’s new guidelines.

 

1. Jewish Currents: Teshuvah: A Jewish Case for Palestinian Refugee Return

Most of what I know about Israeli-occupied Palestine is self-taught. I’ve been thinking about it, and I can’t remember being taught that the country of Israel exists because it colonized Palestine in 1948. This isn’t surprising, as the US gives massive amounts of funding to Israel each year. And I’m not surprised by the misinformation many Americans have about this issue. I’m not surprised that the US doesn’t want to address its own history of colonialism. 

While some who support Israel’s occupation of Palestine try to complicate the fact of colonialism, Peter Beinart explains that “what remains of the case against Palestinian refugee return is a series of historical and legal arguments, peddled by Israeli and American Jewish leaders, about why Palestinians deserved their expulsion and have no right to remedy it now. These arguments are not only unconvincing but deeply ironic, since they ask Palestinians to repudiate the very principles of intergenerational memory and historical restitution that Jews hold sacred. If Palestinians have no right to return to their homeland, neither do we.” Throughout this article, Beinart discredits pervasive misinformation about the creation of Israel and argues that “What the establishment Jewish narrative omits is that the vast majority of Palestinians forced from their homes committed no violence at all. Their presence was intolerable not because they had personally threatened Jews but because they threatened the demography of a Jewish state.”

 

2. Instagram: @itsmesubhi

I’ve followed @itsmesubhi for a few months now, after my roommate recommended the account. I love this account because Subhi has very clear and concise political analyses, in addition to great memes. Since the recent increase of Israeli attacks on Palestinians, I’ve found this account very helpful in explaining and contextualizing what’s actually happening. 

 

3. Americas Quarterly: Colombia’s Crisis Is an Urban Youth Crisis. Old Solutions Won’t Work

Quite honestly, I have yet to find an article that I love that captures the anti-government protests now entering their third week in Colombia, but I’ve continued to follow the crisis. What is currently happening in Colombia “is not the typical crisis that the world is accustomed to seeing in Colombia.” The anti-government protests are “a leaderless movement. It is not associated with a specific name or a visible face. It makes it stronger, but also much harder to understand and respond to. It requires bold actions, a clear message, and the making of new leaderships.” To writer Mauricio Cárdenas, “we are witnessing the dawn of an era in which the youth will be the agents of change. They are telling the traditional politicians that they are ready to replace them in order to make the country more democratic, less corrupt, less unequal. Who will lead this change remains to be seen.”

 

4. n + 1: Magic Actions 

I had a conversation with a friend this week who I hadn’t talked to in a while. At one point, we made the standard pandemic time joke, and I asked, “what year was last year? Are we talking about 2020 or 2019?” It is hard for me to remember the past year. As Tobi Haslett writes in this essay, it has been “long enough for the events to be flattened and foreshortened; long enough for the authorities to paint their account over the true one.” It has been a year marked by the cycle of riots, and uprisings, and protests. Last year was an incomprehensible year, “but certain facts remain; some things can’t be wished away. Too much was born and broken amid the smoke and screams. The least we can do is remember—to try, after the riots, after the speeches, after the backlash and elections, and after this latest (live-streamed) liturgy of American ‘criminal justice,’ to recall what really happened, extracting and reconstructing the whole flabbergasting sequence. Last year something massive came hurtling into view and exploded against the surface of daily life in the US. Many are still struggling to grasp what that thing was: its shape and implications, its sudden scale and bitter limits.” 

Through historic contextualization, Haslett shapes last year’s implications and its “bitter limits.” Throughout, he meditates on the word “riot,” writing that we need not fear that word. In fact it’s vital to insist, over the drone of an amnesiac discourse, that last year’s spate of protest was propelled, made fiercely possible, by massive clashes in the street—not tainted or delegitimized by them, nor assembled from thin air.”

 

5. The Nation: The Age of Intersectional Empire Is Upon Us

So many feelings I’ve had for so long are summed up in this piece by Roberto Lovato. Addressing the CIA’s recent post-woke recruitment video (featuring an agent that declares “I am a woman of color. I am a mom. I am a cisgender millennial who’s been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. I am intersectional”), Lovato addresses how the video is an example of an empire in which “the US state is deploying racial and other identity groups to further imperial domination and control.” Lovato understands the theory and function of an intersectional empire as simultaneously defensive and offensive, as it seems to be premised on the notion that “the more the government looks and feels like the rest of us, the more difficult it is to criticize and attack it. Nowhere is this clearer than in the ‘diversity’ that has reached the very top levels of government in Biden’s cabinet.”

This article gave language to a lot of things that I’ve felt over the past few years and I’m excited to investigate it more. 

 

6. Longreads: Queens of Infamy: Boudicca

One of my friends is obsessed with how the Roman empire ruined the world. That is a bit of an oversimplification, but her working theory aligns with what Anne Thériault writes, that “the foundations of white supremacy were laid in Rome. White supremacy began with imperialism, which is the absorption of peoples and cultures, and dispossession of land from people for resource extraction to the benefit of the empire, which, in part, was learned from the Roman Empire’s systematic use of violence to colonize Europe.” 

In a meandering conversation the other day with my friend about her own emerging theory, she told me an abridged history of Boudicca, which, apart from forgetting some names, lines up with the story outlined by Thériault here. Boudicca was the wife of Prasutagus, who ruled the British tribe Iceni, and ended up ruling after he died, even though she wasn’t named as one of his heirs. Little is known about her apart from “the scraps that Tacitus and Dio left us, and those are the highly biased Roman accounts describing an enemy they considered to be primitive and sub-human.” But we do know that she led a “revolt that literally burned London to the ground,” which at the time was occupied by Rome. 

 

7. Broad Recognition: Queering Colonialism: On Cottagecore & Manifest Destiny

I know a lot of white people that are deeply invested in “queering” everything. Sometimes I understand how they “queer” something, but most of the time I silently think to myself what they are actually seeking to do is make something less white. Of course, this is also wrong. I’ve come to realize that they do simply want to queer something and not make it less white because, whether they know it or not, they still wish to benefit in some way from white supremacy. 

Cottagecore is “an aesthetic centered around the romanticization of a rural and agricultural lifestyle.” It has become increasingly popular over the past year and “proponents of the cottagecore lifestyle have suggested that it would allow them to live off the land, outside of exploitative systems of global capitalism or heteropatriarchy. However, this narrative conveniently excludes those whose land they are on in the first place.” Even with all of these criticisms, “white queer people–specifically white queer women and nonbinary people–still adamantly defend this aesthetic . . . Cottagecore presents a soft, tender juxtaposition to the hypersexualization faced by sapphic women and nonbinary people. In addition, the rural places idealized by cottagecore tend to be more politically conservative, so cottagecore is a way to be queer in rural spaces without the threat of violence or oppression.” Many of these people would also purport to have a liberal politic, but “you cannot give a land acknowledgment one minute and then talk about owning Indigenous land the next.”

 

8. Twitter: Dr. Jonathan C. Hall on Diversity

A friend sent me this thread and I CACKLED while reading. In this thread, Dr. Jonathan C. Hall, director of the Wilderness Geography Lab and an Assistant Professor of Geography at West Virginia University, explained, “How you want DIVERSITY (Blackness) at your university, but…” and listed more than one hundred reasons. One of my personal favorites is the 8th, “always have social events at an Irish Pub.” These are honestly so good. And if you work at a university and don’t understand what he’s talking about then you are the problem. 

 

9. Spotify: Nicki Minaj’s Beam Me Up Scotty

Over the past week, Nicki Minaj began to tease the release of some sort of project. On Thursday the rapper confirmed that she would rerelease Beam Me Up Scotty, an early influential mixtape, on major streaming platforms. The rereleased tape also includes some new songs and collaborations. I’ve yet to closely listen to the tape, but I have noticed many of its songs overlaid a lot of videos and posts on social media. 

 

10. CNN: What to make of the CDC’s new guidelines for vaccinated people? Dr. Wen explains

The CDC announced what feels like a 100 percent reversal on the COVID guidelines stipulating that “that people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 do not need to wear masks or practice physical distancing in virtually all indoor and outdoor settings.” While I’m very excited about this announcement and what it says about the efficacy of the vaccines, it also makes me nervous and apprehensive that the CDC guidelines “don’t distinguish between who’s vaccinated and who’s not” as Dr. Leana Wen describes here. Further, I have family members and friends who have underlying conditions and who have yet to get clearance from their doctors to get vaccinated. According to Dr. Wen, “the unvaccinated are now at higher risk, because previously people around them were masked, and now some others who are unvaccinated may be unmasked and not keeping up with distancing.”

Even though I’m vaccinated, I’m personally not comfortable going unmasked around people outside of my bubble and will have to wear my mask and social distancing as I have been in most settings. 

 

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