I may have made a big mistake starting this particular series, because now that I am trying to keep a running inventory of the absurd capitulations taking place every day I’m finding a deluge. What is going on right now is not simply an angry reaction to the death of George Floyd, or a contagion of opportunistic (or organized) rioting. The late Roger Scruton offered the best phrase to describe the mentality we see at the moment: “the culture of repudiation.”
• So “Cops” has been canceled, after 32 seasons on TV, because, as the New York Times tells us, the show was “fear-mongering.” I propose as its replacement a new show called “Campus Cops” that presents enforcement actions by Title IX offices at our colleges.
Even more absurd is the attack—perhaps a joke, but who can tell?—on “Paw Patrol,” a kids show featuring crime fighting pets that I had hitherto overlooked:
The complicated brouhaha started last week, when the official Paw Patrol account tweeted a message in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. “In solidarity of #AmplifyMelanatedVoices we will be muting our content until June 7th to give access for Black voices to be heard so we can continue to listen and further our learning,” the account wrote.
Almost immediately, Twitter users began replying with jokey posts about Chase, the show’s German Shepherd police officer. “Chase is not only a class traitor but a species traitor as well,” wrote one user as part of a graphic that claims “police shoot an average of 25 pet dogs a day.” Others urged Paw Patrol to “get rid of the cop” and “defund Chase,” while others said that the show should be canceled altogether.
If the mob comes for Spongebob Squarepants I’m going to get really angry.
• Not even the Poetry Foundation is spared the purge by the mob:
On Wednesday afternoon, in the midst of historic uprisings over the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and a pandemic that has disproportionately affected African Americans, the Poetry Foundation followed the lead of other cultural institutions around the country and weighed in on the times.
In a four-sentence statement, the organization, which publishes Poetry magazine, wrote that it “[stood] in solidarity with the Black community” and was “committed to engaging in this work to eradicate institutional racism.” How it plans to do so? Like many such platitudes issued in recent weeks, it didn’t say. . .
On Saturday, [Eve] Ewing and 29 other poets — including Nate Marshall, Jamila Woods, Fatimah Asghar, José Olivarez, and Emily Jungmin Yoon — formally responded to the Poetry Foundation’s statement. Their letter called the June 3 statement “worse than the bare minimum” and demanded the “immediate” resignations of President Henry Bienen and board of trustees chair and investment bank executive Willard Bunn, III. . .
As of June 10, Bienen and Bunn have resigned from their positions, according to a new statement from the Poetry Foundation.
I’ll let Thomas Chatterton Williams, a black writer often appearing in the New York Times magazine, to offer a coda on this:
Chaser: Go a little further in this story and you can see what the protestors really want:
If the Poetry Foundation acquiesces to all the letter’s demands, it would do more than shake up the existing leadership and culture. Since acquiring a $200 million gift in 2002 from Ruth Lilly, heiress to the Eli Lilly pharmaceutical company fortune, the Poetry Foundation has rapidly scaled its budget, magazine circulation, education programming, and executive salaries: According to a 2018 IRS filing, Bienen earned $388,165 that fiscal year. To donate or reallocate the $257 million endowment — with the ultimate goal of giving back “every cent to those whose labor amassed those funds,” according to the letter — would represent a radical form of wealth redistribution not typically seen in the multimillion dollar nonprofit world.
Of course, it is not obvious to me how the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly amassed its wealth by exploiting slave labor 175 years ago, but I think I agree with the protestors: board resignations are not enough! If you’re going to submit cowardly to the mob to signal your virtue, you should go all the way and hand over your endowment to them as well. Serves them right.
• Scott has noted that the statue of Columbus at the capitol in St. Paul was toppled, but in Boston, a Columbus statue was beheaded, leaving the job unfinished. Not to worry: the city of Boston has decided to remove the rest of it. Over in London, where protesters have defaced the Churchill stature outside Westminster, Mayor Sadiq Khan has said he will review all monuments in London to make sure they reflect London’s “diversity.” Khan:
When asked if he would consider taking down a statue of Winston Churchill which had the word “racist” sprayed on it during protests last weekend, Mr Khan said: “No – nobody’s perfect, whether it’s Churchill, whether it’s Gandhi, whether it’s Malcolm X.
Maybe Khan didn’t hear that a statue of Gandhi outside the Indian embassy in Washington DC was defaced last week. Like Martin Luther King Jr., I suspect the left now holds Gandhi in contempt. That’s if they actually know much about him. (NB: I like to assign King’s “Letter from the Birmingham Jail” to students precisely for its many conservative elements. It will be banned someday.)
Chaser: Guess what statue in Seattle hasn’t been disturbed? Would you believe it’s this guy (and no, your eyes don’t deceive you—this is not a fishing boat captain):
• Up in Canada, a TV news presenter has been removed from her job with Canadian Broadcasting “for using a word that no one should ever use.” The news story never does tell us what the word was, leaving us guessing:
Wendy Mesley, who was the host of the CBC’s The Weekly with Wendy Mesley, was removed from her position today as an investigation was launched into a word she used while preparing for an episode on Black Lives Matter and how the media covers racism.
According to Canadaland, Mesley apologized to co-workers for her comments, saying that “this is a word that no one like me should ever use. I made a big mistake and promise to change my behaviour.”
Mesley issued a statement on the matter, saying that “In the context of an editorial discussion about current issues regarding race, I used a word that should never be used. It was not aimed at anyone, I was quoting a journalist we were intending to interview on a panel discussion about. coverage of racial inequality.” . . .
The word that Mesley used was not named.
Apparently it is beyond the wits of any Canadian “journalist” to ask what the word was? Maybe a slur for indigenous Inuit people that begins with “E”?
I’ve got at least another 20 absurd and infuriating items like this in my pile, but I’m late for a field trip today out to a remote section of the San Andreas fault, where I’m planing sensors to get ahead of next month’s disaster. So come back tomorrow for more.