10 Jul 5 Friyays: July 10
Happy Friday, folks! Here’s some stuff I’ve noticed and have been thinking about this week.
1619 Film Project Announced!
Oprah is working to bring the New York Times Book Review’s incredible project from last year, on the 400th anniversary of the beginning of the slave trade, to the big screen and we could not be more excited. Although we echo calls for stories about Black people to come from other narratives than their enslavement, we are also convinced that – as a culture – we have yet to truly grapple with slavery and therefore this project will hopefully provide a necessary rejoinder.
That Letter in Harper’s
Earlier this week, Harper’s published an open letter, signed by about 150 public thinkers and creators, regarding the toxicity of cancel culture and defending free speech. On the surface, that seems like a fabulous idea, right? Well, until you dig deeper and realize that many of the people signing the letter believe that free speech includes not being held to account for false statements or beliefs which bring harm to other people. Sure, you are absolutely allowed to spread your beliefs that trans women aren’t “real women”, JK Rowling, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t also get to question why you hold those views or ask you to stop spreading them because they cause literal deaths to literal people. We’re both exorcising our free speech – she’s just a powerful person being held to account for the consequences of her words. We don’t duels anymore, but we still believe in accountability, right?
Anyway, there’s a lot of issues with this letter – not the least of which that Vox writer Emily VanDerWerff has spent two days receiving death threats for questioning on particular signatory that also happens to be her colleague – but I particularly liked Jessica Valenti’s explanation, which you can read here.
There are absolutely elements of cancel culture that are problematic – I personally believe that death threats should really never be part of life/discourse – but not nearly as many as there are in the wider culture that allows powerful people to speak their personal truth with impunity, without regard for other human life. Speak what you want, defend it when you must, apologize when you’re wrong, and always be open to learning – because none of us really know what we’re doing.
Really, Dr. Kristen, Another Civil War History? YES.
I’ve been working my way through the first two chapters of Bruce Levine’s The Fall of the House of Dixie this week and I think I’ve sent Dr. Erin about fourteen screenshots. “Did you know this?” “Were you taught this?” “I wasn’t taught this.” Rich in detail, original source quotes, and structured so that it’s a horrifying but enlightening page turner, I can’t recommend this one enough.
Hagia Sophia Update
In something that’s a BIG DEAL that you may not realize is one, the Hagia Sophia may return to being a mosque again. It’s currently a museum – but was originally built as an Orthodox Church before being turned into an Ottoman mosque. In rising tensions in Turkey between Muslims and Christians, this is A THING that the courts declared a decision for one side. The status a a World Heritage Site museum has been largely viewed as a compromise to keep the building in tact and the balance between the two faiths as even as possible. I’ll be watching this one closely and keeping you updated.
And Now, This
That’s it from me this week – please take care of yourselves. Wash your hands, stay home, breathe deep, and remember this too shall pass because that’s what the laws of time and space dictate, but I get we feel far from that.