Crikey long reads

Myriam Robin, media reporter

“The white flight of Derek Black” by Eli Saslow in The Washington Post

“White nationalism had bullied its way toward the very center of American politics, and yet, one of the people who knew the ideology best was no longer anywhere near that center. Derek had just turned 27, and instead of leading the movement, he was trying to untangle himself not only from the national moment but also from a life he no longer understood.

“From the very beginning, that life had taken place within the insular world of white nationalism, where there was never any doubt about what whiteness could mean in the United States. Derek had been taught that America was intended as a place for white Europeans and that everyone else would eventually have to leave. He was told to be suspicious of other races, of the U.S. government, of tap water and of pop culture. His parents pulled him out of public school in West Palm Beach at the end of third grade, when they heard his black teacher say the word ‘ain’t.’ By then, Derek was one of only a few white students in a class of mostly Hispanics and Haitians, and his parents decided he would be better off at home.”

Cass Knowlton, editor

“How Trump took hate groups mainstream” by Sarah Posner and David Neiwert in Mother Jones (in partnership with The Investigative Fund)

“Trump ‘may be the last hope for a president who would be good for white people,’ remarked Jared Taylor, who runs a white nationalist website called American Renaissance and once founded a think tank dedicated to ‘scientifically’ proving white superiority. Taylor told us that Trump was the first presidential candidate from a major party ever to earn his support because Trump ‘is talking about policies that would slow the dispossession of whites. That is something that is very important to me and to all racially conscious white people.’

“Trump fever quickly spread: Other extremists new to presidential politics openly endorsed Trump, including Don Black, a former grand dragon of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and founder of the neo-Nazi site Stormfront; Rocky Suhayda, chair of the American Nazi Party; and Rachel Pendergraft, a national organizer for the Knights Party, the successor to David Duke’s Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Richard Spencer, an emerging leader among a new generation of white nationalists known as the ‘alt right,’ declared that Trump ‘loves white people.'”

Sally Whyte, journalist

“The racist and sexist history of keeping birth control side effects secret” by Bethy Squires in Broadly

“Hormonal birth control was pioneered by four people: Activist and sex educator Margaret Sanger, who appealed to the eugenics movement to advocate for birth control, biologist Gregory Pincus, suffragist and millionaire heiress Katherine McCormick, and Catholic physician and gynecologist John Rock. Pincus discovered that animals injected with progestin did not ovulate. But frequent injections weren’t seen as a viable solution, so the push went towards developing an oral contraceptive.

“McCormick funded the development of the pill out of her own pocket. By the 1950s, Rock provided test subjects by giving the pill to his patients in Massachusetts under the guise of a fertility study. He did not inform his patients that the pill was designed to prevent them from getting pregnant. Many women dropped out of the initial Massachusetts study because they couldn’t tolerate the side effects: bloating, potentially fatal blood clots, and mood changes.”

Helen Razer, commentator 

“In the Democratic Echo Chamber, Inconvenient Truths Are Recast as Putin Plots” by Glenn Greenwald in The Intercept

“Once WikiLeaks announced that this second email batch was online, many news organizations (including The Intercept, along with the NYT and AP) began combing through them to find relevant information and then published articles about them. One such story was published by Sputnik, the Russian government’s international outlet similar to RT, which highlighted that [Sidney] Blumenthal email. But the Sputnik story inaccurately attributed the text of the Newsweek article to Blumenthal, thus suggesting that one of Clinton’s closest advisers had expressed criticism of her on Benghazi. Sputnik quickly removed the article once [Kurt] Eichenwald pointed out that the words were his, not Blumenthal’s. Then, in his campaign speech last night, Trump made reference to the Sputnik article (hours after it was published and spread on social media), claiming (obviously inaccurately) that even Blumenthal had criticized Clinton on Benghazi.

“That’s all that happened. There is zero suggestion in the article, let alone evidence, that any WikiLeaks email was doctored: It wasn’t. It was just Sputnik misreporting the email. Once Sputnik realized that its article misattributed the text to Blumenthal, it took it down. It’s not hard to imagine how a rushed, careless Sputnik staffer could glance at that email and fail to realize that Blumenthal was forwarding Eichenwald’s article rather than writing it himself. And while nobody knows how this erroneous Sputnik story made its way to Trump for him to reference in his speech, it’s very easy to imagine how a Trump staffer on a shoddy, inept campaign — which has previously cited InfoWars and white supremacist sites, among others — would have stumbled into a widely shared Sputnik story that had been published hours earlier on the internet and then passed it along to Trump for him to highlight, without realizing the reasons to be skeptical.”

Bernard Keane, political editor

“The Case of O.J. Simpson” by Lorrie Moore in The New York Review of Books

“Martin Luther King and others have said that Sunday in America is the most segregated day of the week, but the O.J. Simpson verdict, acquittal on all charges, came in on a Tuesday. The jury, after having been sequestered for the better part of a year, took only three hours to deliberate. It knew enough and now wanted to go home. Leaning into the jury box, Simpson’s defense attorney Johnny Cochran had closed with a rousing speech that the verdict would be not just about Simpson but would be a vote for racial justice generally. Are you, members of the jury, with the Brothers or with the Man? — as coprosecutor Christopher Darden described it ahead of time in an objection to the defense strategy. Unknown to a lot of the white world, this idea of voting for something larger than O.J. was felt in many places, not just at the lawyers’ tables.”

Dan Wood, subeditor

“I am fully capable of entertaining myself in prison for decades if need be” by Barrett Brown in The Intercept

“[A]fter that first FBI raid I started reading those little guides on life in prison that one finds online and noticed several references to role-playing games. When I got to the jail unit at Federal Correctional Institution Fort Worth shortly after my arrest, then, I immediately started agitating in favor of a campaign of Dungeons and Dragons or whatever was available, to begin ASAP, with the wooden table in the little corner library to be requisitioned for our use. A huge black guy awaiting trial on complicated fraud charges happened to have the basic mechanics memorized; I drafted him to be the dungeon master. Soon enough I’d also managed to recruit a white meth dealer who was familiar enough with the game to help the rest of us create our characters, a large and bovine Hispanic gangland enforcer who wanted to try the game and was at any rate influential enough to help us secure control over the table, and a fey Southern white guy for atmosphere.”

Sophie Benjamin, engagement editor

“Neoliberalism is creating loneliness. That’s what’s wrenching society apart” by George Monbiot in The Guardian

“In Britain, men who have spent their entire lives in quadrangles – at school, at college, at the bar, in parliament – instruct us to stand on our own two feet. The education system becomes more brutally competitive by the year. Employment is a fight to the near-death with a multitude of other desperate people chasing ever fewer jobs. The modern overseers of the poor ascribe individual blame to economic circumstance. Endless competitions on television feed impossible aspirations as real opportunities contract.

“Consumerism fills the social void. But far from curing the disease of isolation, it intensifies social comparison to the point at which, having consumed all else, we start to prey upon ourselves. Social media brings us together and drives us apart, allowing us precisely to quantify our social standing, and to see that other people have more friends and followers than we do.”

Cass Knowlton, editor

“Just the other Saturday at Maplewood’s Memorial Park, I was watching my 5-year-old playing with his friends from day care. The kids have just started kindergarten and are now split up among four schools. Some industrious mom had the idea to get them together again.

“It was a great idea. It was also the moment when I saw the messy birth of my son’s otherness.

“They were playing on one of those spinning things — you know, the one where kids learn about centrifugal force and as a bonus get crazy dizzy. They were having a blast.

“‘Only white people,’ said a little girl.

“I heard it, but I wasn’t quite sure that’s what I heard.”

Peter Fray

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