Should George Washington Be Canceled?

George Washington holds such a high status in the American cultural imagination that we often say he couldn’t tell a lie. That said, he was a slave owner. How will we reconcile these conflicting images of our country’s first president? More at Fox News.

On the issue of American slavery, I am an absolutist: enslavers were amoral monsters… No person’s honorifics can erase the horror he or she has inflicted on others.

Washington and Jefferson, who did not die fighting explicitly for a white supremacist state but had a hand in creating one, are more complicated. Their monuments shouldn’t be destroyed, but their myths must be.

George Washington owned slaves, but he also founded a nation dedicated to the idea whose incompatibility with slavery made its eradication inevitable. Defacing or toppling his monuments dishonors the country.

If Trump Loses, Will He Cede Power Peacefully?

With Biden performing well in the polls, many Democrats are letting themselves feel optimistic about Trump losing the election in November. Some Dems, however, think that even if Trump loses, he won’t budge from the White House.

There’s no assurance that Trump will accept the validity of the election results. He’s already described mail-in voting as a plot to steal the election. And he’s trolled critics with the tongue-in-cheek suggestion that, by popular demand, he might stay in office beyond the Constitution’s eight-year limit.

Of course, this may not be a problem. Trump may win. Or he could lose so overwhelmingly that he couldn’t credibly challenge the outcome. And we can’t be certain about whether he’d indeed refuse to accept a narrow defeat. But given his litigious nature and his willingness to distort reality on issues like voter fraud, voting by mail, crowd sizes and the benefits of masks, we can’t pretend it may not happen.

At the outset, it’s worth stating how much supreme irony there is that Trump’s opponents, who spent years pursuing the conspiracy that he was installed into office by Russia, are the ones raising alarms about anybody refusing to accept defeat. But the theory itself is completely absurd — as if Trump is going to be barricading himself behind the Oval Office desk on Inauguration Day.

How Is the Pandemic Exacerbating Antisemitism?

According to researchers at the University of Tel Aviv, the coronavirus pandemic is generating “a unique worldwide wave of antisemitism.” How is it manifesting?

… the authors of the study noted that the anti-Semitism on display was reiterative of existing anti-Jewish tropes throughout the centuries, reflective of “a high level of anxiety and fear in many populations.” “This new type of antisemitism, which partly reiterates classic antisemitic themes, includes conspiracy theories alongside medieval blood libels, now renewed in a 21st century format,” the study reads.

A growing number of Internet users are also sharing more conspiracy theories about the Jewish financier George Soros, blaming him for allegedly creating the coronavirus and accusing him of “staging” Floyd’s killing. The current situation, with millions of people unemployed or otherwise stuck at home with nothing to do but surf the web, “has created a funnel” to extremist organizations…

This antisemitism, according to Porat, has continued unremittingly for several months, and reflects “a high level of anxiety and fear” in many populations. The report found that coronavirus-related antisemitism is strongest in the US and the Middle East – particularly in Iran, Turkey and the Palestinian Authority – but is also prevalent throughout Europe and South America.

Should Pride Events Be Parties or Protests?

Is Pride a time to celebrate the LGBTQ community’s achievements? Or is it a time to protest against injustice? Is Pride a place for corporate sponsored floats? Or is Pride supposed to be anti-establishment?

The two themes that defined Pride from the start – protesting and partying – have long caused tensions within the LGBTQ+ community… LGBTQ+ politics is never simple – it’s as much a process of groups of people coming to realise common struggles and common desires, and creating a shared culture, as it is a simple demand for rights.

Cathy Renna, a NYC Pride spokesperson, countered, “We’re so far past that with these corporations. They know they gotta do better than that. This is not about waving a rainbow flag in June in your window.” The Chipotle merch, for example, benefitted the Trevor Project, which provides services to queer youth. “It’s really easy for Pride to be a target, because Pride is something that everybody has some sense of ownership in,” Renna said…

This year, in the absence of traditional Pride activities, LGBTQ people have the chance to reimagine how their history should be celebrated. What’s more in the spirit of the Stonewall uprisings: standing on the sidewalk behind a crowd-control barrier, clapping for a parade of armed, uniformed cops and corporate affinity groups in rainbow T-shirts? Or marching in solidarity alongside all manner of queer and trans people, with no need to buy a ticket for one’s place in the festivities?

Does Mail-In Voting Benefit One Party?

Republicans say that mail-in voting will corrupt the security of the voting system. Democrats say that mail-in voting will ensure that everyone’s voice is heard. Many Americans, however, believe that beneath these assertions, each of which claims to be purely concerned with the integrity of the electoral system, there is little more than partisan calculations.

As Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi continue their mail-in ballot harvesting push, remember: this isn’t about integrity of our elections. It isn’t about voting safely. It’s about Democrats trying to secure an edge at – and away from – the ballot box.

If Republicans fear that enabling more people to vote will hurt them, they should offer more attractive policies and candidates — and stop trying to suppress the vote, in California and everywhere else.

Without a major investment in ramped-up electoral administration, the system will be totally overwhelmed come November, when voter turnout is expected to be much higher. A delayed count is just the spark irresponsible political leaders stoking the flames of electoral doubt could fan into a dangerous fire of delegitimization.

What’s New and Notable in Books, Music, and Movies?

Here’s the buzz on great new books, music, and movies, including a “mind-bending” look at fungi, a new album from Haim, and an HBO doc about the Golden State Killer:

In his book Entangled Life, scientist Merlin Sheldrake introduces us to vastly underappreciated players in the story of our planet. Fungal species count in the millions—the true number is unknown. And they serve as a platform for, and partner in, almost every aspect of life… Sheldrake’s book is a poetic letter to the associates we never knew we had.

The Jewish Haim sisters are back with a third album of pop rock, titled “Women in Music Pt. III,” and the reviews are glowing… To celebrate the release, the trio is streaming a live concert at 5 p.m. Eastern time from their favorite Los Angeles deli, the famed Canter’s. The sisters had planned to perform at several delis across the country to promote the album; it’s unclear if the coronavirus has nixed that completely.

… true crime can also push the conversation about justice and free survivors of domestic and sexual assault from shame, as “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” helps show. The director, Garbus, used her work to offer survivors the chance to talk about their experiences both at the hands of the Golden State Killer and at the justice system and society at large in the 1970s and ’80s.

Today’s Hot Issues

Should George Washington Be Canceled? If Trump Loses, Will He Cede Power Peacefully? How Is the Pandemic Exacerbating Antisemitism? Should Pride Events Be Parties or Protests? Does Mail-In Voting Benefit One Party? What’s New and Notable in Books, Music, and Movies?