Thursday, May 15, 2008

What happened to Senator Clinton?

In the Washington Post, Marie Cocco makes the case that Hillary Clinton's campaign has suffered from an unrelenting misogyny. Cocco cites chapter and verse, and it is an ugly story. I had not encountered any of the examples she cites, but they are not particularly obscure, and under the circumstances, Cocco writes with considerable restraint.

Marie Cocco, "Misogyny I Won't Miss," Washington Post, 14 May 2008.

Spies and Patriots

Headline in today's New York Times:

Specter Calls Patriots’ Spying Wider Than Stated

Greg Bishop, New York Times, May 15, 2008

Admit it -- when you first read this, did you wonder, since it was Senator Arlen Specter, whether it referred to American intelligence agencies crossing the line again, or whether he was talking about sports? Actually, yes, he was talking about the New England Patriots. Specter is a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

What should Hillary Clinton say?

The New York Times tells the latest Clinton version of the race card like this:

Clinton told USA Today in an article published Thursday that AP exit polls ''found how Senator Obama's support among working, hardworking Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me.''

''There's a pattern emerging here,'' she said.

Clinton's remarks were widely and quickly taken as the most blatant version of the race card that she has played in a campaign full of winks and nods from Senator Clinton and President Clinton. The remarks were widely criticized in the press and by political leaders. It is hard to read her remarks as anything but a calculated attempt to claim that white working class voters, if they can't have her, will move their support to John McCain. There's no knowing what Hillary Clinton actually believes about race, but is there nothing else that she could say at this point that would be less obviously destructive of both her own reputation and of Barack Obama's chance to win the election in November? Would it not be possible for her to say that though she seems to appeal to one demographic and Obama to another, she has no doubt that white working class Americans would support Senator Obama rather than Senator McCain since it is in their interest to do so, and better for the country? Is that such a hard thing to do?

Why should she in effect give her blessing to fence-sitting working class voters to abandon the Democratic Party if it nominates Barack Obama?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Eric Etheridge, Breach of Peace

Eric Etheridge is the author of Breach of Peace, about the 1961 Freedom Rides. The book includes the mug shots of some of those arrested in the campaign, and interviews with the participants. The book is available at Some of the portraits may be viewed at Eric's blog and web site.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Kent State -- May 4, 1970

Kent State University, May 4, 1970. The Ohio National Guard fired on students, killing four and wounding three, including Jeffrey Miller, pictured here. The students were unarmed and presenting no immediate threat to the Guard, who had were carrying loaded weapons as they initiated clashes with students that day.

See comments at
(Notes on) Politics, Theory, Photography
There is an extended discussion of this photograph and its derivatives in Robert Hariman and John Lucaites, No Caption Needed.
Kent State May 4 Center
May 4 Collection, Kent State University Library
Kent State Shootings at Wikipedia
Kent State / May 4 1970 at tripod
May 4 Archive, J. Gregory Payne

(photograph: John Filo)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Road to Peace

This photograph of a separation wall in Jerusalem, seen from the Palestinian side, presents a multi-layered speculation on graffiti as political and cultural rhetoric. Graffiti are so rooted to the physical object on which they are painted that they always seem to have a local, rooted aura, and often make a territorial claim. This effect can occur even when the physically fixed graffiti move, as when painted on a train. Here the photographer slows the shutter speed, blurring the images of the Palestinians walking and running past, urgently, as if this were a dangerous spot, while fixing the street clutter and the surface texture of the wall, old enough that posters have come and gone, giving the wall a growing permanence that it is the object of the graffiti to protest, deny, and undermine. But even the protest and denial partly have the opposite effect, acknowledging the fact of the wall. The graffiti of a rail line seem to extend past the frame in both directions -- there is a lot we are not seeing.

What is it about? The caption in the New York Times publication of the photograph reads, "Palestinian children ran past a graffiti-scrawled section of Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank town of Aram, just outside Jerusalem. Israel says the barrier is necessary for security, while Palestinians call it part of a land grab." That reminds us of what we have heard about the separation wall, but it does not explain the graffiti.

The graffiti address the spectator in English and French, though it is not clear that tourists are likely to walk past this desolate and seemingly menacing spot, and even if they did, what are they to make of the appeal for a boycott of Veolia, whatever that is? It turns out that Veolia is a company hired to construct a light rail line connecting Israeli settlements in disputed territories to the core of Jerusalem. Such rail lines would presumably make the settlements more permanent. I am in no position to argue the merits of any of that. It is interesting, from a rhetorical point of view, how the graffiti exist to prompt a question ("what is Veolia?") but also seem to presume, or at least hope, that the graffiti will circulate beyond this location -- perhaps by the publication of a photograph in an international newspaper. And then the question "what is Veolia" can be asked, by any reader, of Google.

The appeal in English and French, oddly, speaks to the potential of the image to circulate beyond this spot, but also seems to portray itself, in its rootedness to that wall, as an outcry of the powerless, unable to themselves reach directly to the international audience.

(Photo: Muhammed Muheisen/Associated Press; New York Times, 2 May 2008)