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Links: September 2017

Down the Breitbart Hole

This is a current in American life we’ve not yet fully processed, but history will record a preponderance of today’s right-wing leaders who emerged in the toniest quarters of the nation’s bluest states. Apart from the obvious examples of Andrew Breitbart and Steve Bannon, annealed in Hollywood, you can think of Julia Hahn, who attended Alex’s high school and is now working with Bannon in the White House, and Ben Shapiro, the former Breitbart writer from Los Angeles who founded The Daily Wire — or for that matter, the populist billionaire New Yorker in chief.

I’m aware that what Breitbart is doing when it publishes a writer like Kassam is to co-opt the principle of representation and use his identity as a shield to promote inflammatory ideas. Kassam was hired by Steve Bannon, whose own fixation on Islamic extremism takes a far more apocalyptic context and tone. But I still think it’s worth holding in mind that when writers like Kassam or Hudson decide to write about the community they come from, they expect a certain prerogative to speak their minds without being labeled, as they so often are, traitors to their race.

So you could say that Bannon influenced only a handful of stories each week, but it’s probably more accurate to say that he guided every editorial decision that mattered.

Women are making the best rock music today. Here are the bands that prove it.

A nice roundup of noteworthy female and non-binary musicians making below-the-radar rock music.

Trans Troops Are Definitely Bankrupting Us

Regarding our commander-in-chief’s military priorities.

New A List Apart wants you!

It’s hard to imagine what the web would be without ALA. All people who make the web are encouraged to participate and/or become a member.

Why two spaces after a period isn’t wrong (or, the lies typographers tell about history)

I get pretty nerdy about typography, but this exhaustive takedown of a typographic myth is some next-level nerding.

In sum, the primary rationale behind the shift was probably not aesthetic, since printers had accepted the same conventions for centuries. Instead, it was a move generated by economic concerns. Publishers wanted cheaper books with less whitespace and less time and expertise to typeset, and the technology they developed required simpler and lazier methods of spacing.

Typographers could actually make good use of all those people who still insist on double-spacing. They could use a find-and-replace to turn those double spaces into custom spaces that provide a nice respite after ends of sentences. Whether it’s actually double or 1.5 times or whatever would be a matter of taste, considered with the typeface, leading, etc.

Excerpts from the All-Girl Remake of “Lord of the Flies”

“And another thing,” Jackie said. “Should we have a rule that whoever has the conch gets to speak? You know, so no one gets interrupted?”

“But who,” ventured Simone, “is here to interrupt us?”

The girls looked around. It was true: there was no one.

Simone staggered out of the woods, her hair matted and muddy. She wore a crude garment that she had fashioned out of leaves, and her eyes were wild.

“Simone!” cried Roger. “I love your dress.”

“Thanks!” Simone said, gesturing. “It has pockets!”

America’s Shifting Religious Makeup Could Spell Trouble For Both Parties

This youth and diversity might seem like a gift to the Democratic Party, but it also presents a serious challenge for politicians hoping to present a compelling vision to voters who have a wide range of values and priorities. White Christians, especially white evangelical Protestants, have been a political powerhouse for the Republicans because of their enthusiasm and ideological unity. The religiously unaffiliated, according to the PRRI report, now constitute more than one-quarter of the Democratic base. “It’s really hard to find a message that speaks to someone who’s not religious at all and a devout Catholic or evangelical Protestant,” Cox said. “The danger for Democrats is that they don’t find ways to motivate all of these diverse groups, and those voters just stay home.”

The First White President

The mind seizes trying to imagine a black man extolling the virtues of sexual assault on tape (“When you’re a star, they let you do it”), fending off multiple accusations of such assaults, immersed in multiple lawsuits for allegedly fraudulent business dealings, exhorting his followers to violence, and then strolling into the White House. But that is the point of white supremacy—to ensure that that which all others achieve with maximal effort, white people (particularly white men) achieve with minimal qualification. Barack Obama delivered to black people the hoary message that if they work twice as hard as white people, anything is possible. But Trump’s counter is persuasive: Work half as hard as black people, and even more is possible.

According to Mother Jones, based on preelection polling data, if you tallied the popular vote of only white America to derive 2016 electoral votes, Trump would have defeated Clinton 389 to 81, with the remaining 68 votes either a toss-up or unknown.

“There is a tremendous amount of anger and frustration among working-class whites, particularly where there is an economic downturn,” a researcher told the Los Angeles Times. “These people feel left out; they feel government is not responsive to them.” By this logic, postwar America—with its booming economy and low unemployment—should have been an egalitarian utopia and not the violently segregated country it actually was.

Certainly not every Trump voter is a white supremacist, just as not every white person in the Jim Crow South was a white supremacist. But every Trump voter felt it acceptable to hand the fate of the country over to one.

the white working class functions rhetorically not as a real community of people so much as a tool to quiet the demands of those who want a more inclusive America.

“Identity politics … is largely expressive, not persuasive,” Lilla claims. “Which is why it never wins elections—but can lose them.” That Trump ran and won on identity politics is beyond Lilla’s powers of conception. What appeals to the white working class is ennobled. What appeals to black workers, and all others outside the tribe, is dastardly identitarianism. All politics are identity politics—except the politics of white people, the politics of the bloody heirloom.

any empirical evaluation of the relationship between Trump and the white working class would reveal that one adjective in that phrase is doing more work than the other. In 2016, Trump enjoyed majority or plurality support among every economic branch of whites. It is true that his strongest support among whites came from those making $50,000 to $99,999.

The real problem is that Democrats aren’t the party of white people—working or otherwise. White workers are not divided by the fact of labor from other white demographics; they are divided from all other laborers by the fact of their whiteness.

the politics of race are, themselves, never attributable “just to the politics of race.” The history of slavery is also about the growth of international capitalism; the history of lynching must be seen in light of anxiety over the growing independence of women; the civil-rights movement can’t be disentangled from the Cold War. Thus, to say that the rise of Donald Trump is about more than race is to make an empty statement, one that is small comfort to the people—black, Muslim, immigrant—who live under racism’s boot.

Penn Station: A Citizen’s Guide to an American Tragedy

A detailed indictment of multiple generation’s worth of American infrastructural failures through the lens of one consequential train station. An impressive and infuriating read, but man, I wish it included some maps.

Where hand-carved stone eagles once watched over an acclaimed architectural and engineering triumph, the pigeons of our collective inaction have come home to roost.

travelers who once disembarked into a magnificent space would now follow broken corridors through the basement of a sports complex.

One does not need to be well-versed in domestic security to see how the situation at NYP reflects the national dilemma: we are great at funding military expansion but stingy when it comes to investing in our core societal needs. Some people can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. America can’t have adequate homeland security and take care of its society at the same time.

The EPA Used to Be Uncontroversial, Now It’s Being Gutted

“Who would want to live in a world which is just not quite fatal?”