As Glenn Greenwald and others have written, this week is a time for checking racial stereotypes. Elsewhere from the Boston Marathon, as this week's Nation intern roundup indicates, world-turning questions abound. What is Africa? Who was (is) Jesus? How human are animals? And what is this journalistic "view from nowhere"?
— Alleen Brown focuses on education.
“New Memo Implicates Michelle Rhee in D.C. Schools Cheating Scandal.” All in with Chris Hayes, April 12, 2013.
Chris Hayes interviews PBS education reporter John Merrow, who broke news that Michelle Rhee received an "open invitation" to investigate suspected DC schools cheating while she was chancellor. The warning came in the form of a memo that said multiple schools likely cheated on standardized test. Unlike Atlanta Superintendent Beverly Hall, Rhee has not been charged with any wrongdoing. Said Merrow, "The difference is that the Atlanta newspaper stayed on the case; that didn't happen in Washington. The state of Georgia stayed on the case, and that did not happen in Washington."
— James Cersonsky focuses on labor and education.
“The View From Somewhere,” by Laurie Penny. Jacobin, March 13, 2013.
The cis white male has, as always, survived the "newest" journalism. As Laurie Penny narrates, journalistic "embeddedness," or extraction, is a deeply sexualized materiality floating through the empty offices of print media and onward to the great liberated beyond of the left.
— Catherine Defontaine focuses on war, security and peace-related issues, African and French politics, peacekeeping and the link between conflicts and natural resources.
“Africa Is a Great Country.” Foreign Policy, April 11, 2013.
In recent years, Africa has become the world’s fastest-growing continent, attracting emerging-market investors. Africa’s 6 percent GDP growth rate has even exceeded that of Asia. However, westerners continue to view Africa either as a dying continent, plagued by wars, famine and diseases, or as a romantic place with its beautiful as well as exotic landscapes and animals. The Swedish photographer Jens Assur wants to change this perception. With his collection of 40 photographs focusing on big African cities, Assur wants to show people “not how ‘Africa is dying’ but rather ‘how Africa lives’.”
— Andrew Epstein focuses on social history, colonialism and indigenous rights.
“One of Us,” by John Jeremiah Sullivan. Lapham’s Quarterly, Spring 2013.
The Nation's next-door neighbors have produced a fascinating meditation on the history of humanity's relationship with animals. This essay is among the best. It begins, "These are stimulating times for anyone interested in questions of animal consciousness." Indeed.
— Luis Feliz focuses on ideas and debates within the left, social movements and culture.
“Stepping on Jesus,” by Stanley Fish. The New York Times, April 15, 2013.
Obedience to religious symbols has been inscribed into social practices and institutions since time immemorial, becoming, in Pierre Bourdieu’s terms, an unquestioned aspect of the “habitus” of everyday life, or in Gramsci’s terms, the common sense assumptions that shape our most deeply held but scarcely obvious convictions. When Deandre Poole, a professor at Florida Atlantic University, challenged his students to write Jesus on a piece of paper and step on it, Poole might have reasoned this a very useful, and gutsy, way to show how beholden people are to ideology. Little did Poole realize that the lot of humanity would rather be duds satisfied than thinkers dissatisfied.
— Elana Leopold focuses on the Middle East, its relations with the US and Islam.
“The Boston bombing produces familiar and revealing reactions,” by Glenn Greenwald. The Guardian, April 16, 2013.
As usual, Glenn Greenwald offers a sensible, thoughtful reaction to this week's bombing at the Boston Marathon. He advises restraint, warning against "the limits of selective empathy, the rush to blame Muslims, and the exploitation of fear," which have all been quick to emerge.
— Alec Luhn focuses on East European and Eurasian affairs, especially issues of good governance, human rights and activism.
“‘Please don’t let it be a Muslim,’” by Wajahat Ali. Salon, April 17, 2013.
Among some publications and pundits, the jury was already out on the Boston Marathon bombings the day of the attack, and the perpetrator was undoubtedly a "jihadi." Regardless of who will be found to have done it, these assumptions discount the real elephant in the room, which is that mass shootings have killed far more Americans in recent years than Muslim-American terrorism (but the Senate nonetheless just cashiered background checks). And if the bomber does turn out to be a Muslim, David Sirota points out in a separate Salon piece, we can expect another overreaching ramp-up of national security measures a la 9/11.
— Leticia Miranda focuses on race, gender, telecommunications and media reform.
“Facebook flexes political muscle with provision in immigration bill,” by Peter Wallsten, Jia Lynn Yang and Craig Timberg. The Washington Post, April 16, 2013.
What happens when tech giants like Facebook get into immigration politics? They get their business interests written in law.
— Brendan O’Connor focuses on media criticism and pop culture.
“This Is A Tragedy—Does It Really Matter Exactly How Many People Died Or What Any Of The Details Are?” The Onion, April 16, 2013.
The Onion pillories the New York Post's atrocious coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing. "How could you even think about accurately reporting a tragedy at a time like this?"
— Anna Simonton focuses on issues of systemic oppression perpetuated by the military and prison industrial complexes.
“Hell Has Come Home,” by Linh Dinh. CounterPunch, April 17, 2013.
The progeny of America's domestic and foreign policies meet on a Greyhound bus.
— Cos Tollerson focuses on Latin American politics and society, and United States imperialism.
“After a High-Profile Rape, Rio Cuts Vans Used by Its Poor,” by David Lavin.The Atlantic, April 16, 2013.
In the lead up to hosting the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, Brazil is attempting to discard its reputation for poverty and violent crime and recast the country as the ultimate tourist destination. While the national government has enacted policies that address the deeply engrained structural inequities in Brazilian society, local attempts to transform negative perceptions about Brazil's cities have relied too heavily on short-term strategies that hide poverty and crime from tourists' gaze without elevating the living standards for the majority of urban residents. Most recently, Rio de Janeiro has responded to the rape of a tourist on a public transportation van (after neglecting to investigate the rape of a Brazilian in the same van) by banning the vehicles from neighborhoods that tourists frequent. Never mind that the vans are the cheapest and most reliable way for the city's working-class residents to travel to service jobs in touristy, affluent areas and to the city's famous beaches. Also forget that the policy does nothing to acknowledge or combat rape culture. It's good PR.
— Sarah Woolf focuses on what’s happening north of the US border.
“RCMP spied on Rita MacNeil, feminists in 1970s.” CTV, August 4, 2008.
Canadian folk singer Rita MacNeil, "Cape Breton's first lady of song," has died at age 68. MacNeil is sometimes thought of as the Maritime provinces's answer to Céline Dion, though MacNeil never found the same level of fame outside Canada. An obituary for MacNeil can be found in The Toronto Star, but in tribute to her career-long focus on women's and working class issues, here is a 2008 article about RCMP surveillance of MacNeil and other feminists in the 1970s.