This week, the obit of Jesus, white male pathology, Giorgione, Thelma Golden, RuPaul, crowdsourcing a name, and more.
Vanity Fair asked Sam Roberts, an obituary writer for the New York Times, to write an obituary for Jesus Christ based on the facts of the time. It begins:
Jesus of Nazareth, a Galilean carpenter turned itinerant minister whose appeals to piety and whose repute as a healer had galvanized a growing contingent of believers, died on Friday after being crucified that morning just outside Jerusalem, only days after his followers had welcomed him triumphantly to the city as “the anointed one” and “the Son of David.” He was about 33.
For a man who had lived the first three decades of his life in virtual obscurity, he attracted a remarkable following in only a few years.
Charles Hope reviews the current In the Age of Giorgione exhibition at the Royal Academy:
Vasari’s book established the idea that Giorgione was an outstanding artist, a sort of Venetian counterpart to Leonardo, but Vasari was vague about what was distinctive about his work, beyond indicating that all Venetian painters worked in the idiom of Giovanni Bellini until about 1506, when Giorgione introduced a different and apparently more atmospheric way of painting, in which preliminary drawings played no part. Because he was very famous and because there were no oil paintings on public display, in Venice or elsewhere, that could be unambiguously identified as by Giorgione, over the following centuries more than two hundred pictures were attributed to him, most of which had almost nothing in common; and it is now recognised, for example, that all of those credited to him in the two main books about Italian art published around 1800 were painted years or even decades after his death.
Stephen Marche, a writer I often adore but also detest, has a fascinating piece about the “white man pathology” behind the support for Sanders and Trump. He begins:
You feel your whiteness properly at the American border. Most of the time being white is an absence of problems. The police don’t bother you so you don’t notice the police not bothering you. You get the job so you don’t notice not getting it. Your children are not confused with criminals. I live in downtown Toronto, in one of the most liberal neighborhoods in one of the most open cities in the world, where multiculturalism is the dominant civic value and the inert virtue of tolerance is the most prominent inheritance of the British empire, so if you squint you can pretend the ancient categories are dissipating into a haze of enlightenment and intermarriage.
Not at the border.
My son’s Guyanese-Canadian teacher and the Muslim Milton scholar I went to high school with and the Sikh writer I squabble about Harold Innis with and my Ishmaeli accountant, we can all be good little Torontonians of the middle class, deflecting the differences we have been trained to respect. But in a car in the carbon monoxide-infused queue waiting to enter Detroit, their beings diverge drastically from mine.
I am white. They are not. They are vulnerable. I am not.
Then Trump arrived like white supremacy’s version of Santa Claus with a bag full of gifts. He gave them swagger. He gave them unadulterated machismo — Trump is the most macho presidential contender ever. And Trumpy KKKlaus reminded them that a white man who employs good ol’ fashioned white toughness is unstoppable. And everywhere he looks there’s someone to fight. In Trump’s mind, everything in society is aligned against white men — Washington, Mexico, China, Democrats, Black Lives Matter, everything; it’s a total disaster. So little time, so many asses to kick. Entitlement is a powerful drug and Trump’s a big-time dealer.
The story of the amazing Thelma Golden, the director of the Studio Museum of Harlem:
In the early 1990s, about the time Golden was being mistaken for her assistant, conservative art critic Hilton Kramer called her undereducated and dismissed her career as a vehicle for political correctness. In the early 2000s, when she was the subject of a New Yorker profile that described her hobnobbing with Bill Clinton and a wealthy collector, she was derided by a wholly different camp for being a sellout. Golden was stunned by the criticism. But she has nurtured the same absorbing passion since she was a child, and has proven herself not easily thrown off course.
It’s 2016 and we’re just going to leave this here … pic.twitter.com/Xcmg3ZFvbu
— africasacountry (@africasacountry) March 20, 2016
Glenn Greenwald writes about the Western media’s fixation on Western victims. The dehumanizing of non-Western victims of Western violence is shocking:
U.S. media outlets love to dramatize and endlessly highlight Western victims of violence, while rendering almost completely invisible the victims of their own side’s violence.
Perhaps you think there are good — or at least understandable — reasons to explain this discrepancy in coverage. Maybe you believe humans naturally pay more attention to, and empathize more with, the suffering of those they regard as more similar to them. Or you may want to argue that victims in cities commonly visited by American elites (Paris, Brussels, London, Madrid) are somehow more newsworthy than those in places rarely visited (Mastaba, in Yemen’s northern province of Hajjah). Or perhaps you’re sympathetic to the claim that it’s easier for CNN or NBC News to send on-air correspondents to glittery Western European capitals than to Waziristan or Kunduz. Undoubtedly, many believe that the West’s violence is morally superior because it only kills civilians by accident and not on purpose.
A fantastic interview with RuPaul:
Q: Throughout your career, have you ever felt like you are part of the mainstream?
A: No. You know, I’ve never been on Ellen or David Letterman or The Tonight Show, and there’s a reason for that, which I don’t want to go into, but there’s a reason that I’ve never been thought of as someone who can go on there. Because it makes those hosts feel very, very uncomfortable, especially if we really talked. It would be the opposite of what they’re used to. So am I part of the mainstream? No. People know my name, people know what I look like, but am I invited to the party? No, and there’s a reason for it.
The is a petition on Change.org asking for people to be allowed to carry open firearms at the RNC this summer. Clearly satirical, the petitions cuts to the heart of the GOP’s hypocrisy about the issue of guns. They already have 20K+ signatures:
RECOGNIZE OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO OPEN CARRY FIREARMS AT THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION AT THE QUICKEN LOANS ARENA IN JULY 2016
SUMMARY: In July of 2016, the GOP will host its convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Though Ohio is an open carry state, which allows for the open carry of guns, the hosting venue—the Quicken Loans Arena—strictly forbids the carry of firearms on their premises.
According to the policy on their website, “firearms and other weapons of any kind are strictly forbidden on the premises of Quicken Loans Arena.”
This is a direct affront to the Second Amendment and puts all attendees at risk. As the National Rifle Association has made clear, “gun-free zones” such as the Quicken Loans Arena are “the worst and most dangerous of all lies.” The NRA, our leading defender of gun rights, has also correctly pointed out that “gun free zones… tell every insane killer in America… (the) safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.” (March 4, 2016 and Dec. 21, 2012)
And why has the US forgotten about the country’s first mass-murder killing spree with a gun, which took place on August 13, 1903, when Gilbert Twigg opened fire during a concert in Winfield, Kansas, killing nine and injuring dozens? BuzzFeed News digs into the archives:
By the time it was over — the whole thing took perhaps 20 minutes — six were killed, including the shooter. He died either by his own hand or that of the town’s night watchman George Nichols, a rumor raised hours after the shooting and never fully solved to the town’s satisfaction. Three more died over the next few days. Twenty-five suffered injuries of varying seriousness.
The vocabulary we now have to describe Gilbert Twigg’s actions on August 13, 1903, differs from the way witnesses and reporters described what happened in the hours, days, and weeks thereafter. Words like “maniac” and “demented” and “terrible shock of the tragedy” were the newspapers’ favorites back then, because in 1903 America had little concept of someone plotting, and then carrying out, a mass shooting.
… There is evidence Twigg’s was not the first American massacre — but it was arguably the first of its particular nature. Michael Stone, a forensic psychiatrist who studies mass shootings, references significant massacres in 1857 and 1900. The first, known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre, was a coordinated series of attacks by members of the Utah Territorial Militia upon a group of emigrants from four Arkansas counties. (One hundred and twenty people died, while 17 children under age 7 were spared.) The latter attack, by Robert Charles in New Orleans, stemmed from the false arrest of black men by racist police officers and launched subsequent protests in the city. And still another took place on April 11, 1902, when Will Reynolds, a 35-year-old African-American, killed seven white men, including the sheriff and five deputies, in Tuscumbia, Alabama in retaliation over an old warrant for his arrest.
Yet the Winfield massacre, seemingly indiscriminate in its choice of victims and all but forgotten outside the town, eerily foreshadows subsequent mass shootings so well-known we can name them by city alone.
A British government agency thought it was a good idea to crowdsource the name of a $287 million polar research ship, but what it came up with is not exactly ideal:
Now, the agency is the latest group to see what happens when web users are asked to unleash their creative energy: R.R.S. Boaty McBoatface is a clear front-runner.
People quickly disregarded the more dignified names suggested by the Natural Environment Research Council — Shackleton, Endeavour, Falcon. Instead the contest became the latest in the Internet’s long, storied history to end up with social media users gleefully offering ridiculous names to government-funded projects.
Selfie idiocy (via @Wotamoron):
Selfie moron !!!!! pic.twitter.com/ECcTwrkyBc
— WOT A MORON (@Wotamoron) March 6, 2016