Kareem Reacts to the News: Florida Wants to Kill Its Young?, Trump Brags About His Racism, Frat Boys or Future Rapists of America?, Lindell May Lose His Pillows, "Wakanda Forever" Music
My thoughts on the top--and not so top--stories in this week's political, sports, and pop culture news.
The thing that gets me most upset in the news is people needlessly and cruelly mistreating other people. Sometimes those people are mistreating entire states or even the whole country, sometimes it’s a particular group. I’m hoping that the more we examine this kind of behavior, the better our chances of eliminating it.
Politics: Florida Surgeon General Sets Medicine—and Black People—Back 100 Years
In threat to public health, Florida publishes flawed and unscientific anti-vaccine ‘study’ (LA Times)
Summary: Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo issued “a guidance” on October 7, 2022 recommending against males aged 18-39 receiving the mRNA vaccines for COVID. Ladapo based his recommendation on a study that supposedly showed higher risk of cardiac-related death among males in that age range within 28 days after the vaccination. According to the article, “As numerous qualified professionals have pointed out, however, the study is so sloppy and incoherent that it amounts to a monument of pseudoscience.” Wrote Dr. David Gorski, a surgical oncologist and professor of surgery, “This is the first time that we’ve seen a state government weaponize bad science to spread anti-vaccine disinformation as official policy.”
My Take: Ladapo—I can’t bear to call him “doctor” because he clearly does not embrace the Hippocratic Oath—has long been a hand puppet for Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presidential ambitions. He’s the Black poster boy for photo opportunities to show diversity under a governor and political party who is actively attempting to restrict Black voters, robbing them of their voices and political power.
As such, Ladapo has become a human megaphone for DeSantis’ anti-vaccine policies that helped Florida lose 81,000 lives. Those policies made Florida the 13th worst in the nation in death rate (compared to California, with strict vaccine protocols, which ranked 40th).
To support Ladapo, some people point out that last year, Germany, France, and a few other European countries restricted Moderna’s COVID vaccine for people under 30 over concerns about a very small risk of heart inflammation. But Pfizer was not restricted and that same age group was encouraged to get vaccinated. To put this in perspective, anyone over the age of 12 entering Germany must be vaccinated. Because they aren’t idiots.
Ladapo is Black. He knows this virus has been much more devastating to the Black community than to the White. In part, this is because of vaccine hesitancy based on well-documented bad treatment from the medical community. In one poll, 7 out of 10 Blacks say they’ve been treated unfairly by the medical profession. Part of the reason they have been is because of pseudo-science and biases (White doctors believed Black patients did not feel pain as much as White patients). Ladapo should be helping his community rise so they can be healthier, live longer, and be more successful. Instead, he gives them the same bad science that caused the problem in the first place.
Another major issue here that is more social than medical is that when Black professionals (like Clarence Thomas and Herschel Walker) allow themselves to be used by White politicians, they aren’t just an embarrassment to the Black community, but they are a threat to our well-being. They embrace and promote the stereotypes that African Americans have been fighting against for centuries. In this case, Ladapo’s incompetence and lack of scientific knowledge does damage to the reputations of all the dedicated Black doctors who had to work twice as hard as most Whites to become doctors and to build a practice. He confirms biases in STEM hiring that currently discriminates against Blacks.
The only equality here is that Ladapo’s ambition is just as harmful to the Black community as DeSantis’. Floridians must be pretty defensive about the criticism their state has been getting lately. That criticism isn’t at Floridians but at the Republican politicians who use the state as a base to nurture their personal political ambitions the way a crow feeds off roadkill. It’s not too late to take the state back.
It ain’t easy to be this be this outraged all the time. Takes a lot of reading—and snacks. Do what you need to do.
(Double Article) Politics: Impossible? Trump More of a Racists Than We Thought?
Donald Trump says Mitch McConnell has a 'death wish' and insults his wife, Elaine Chao, after the senator voiced support for the Electoral Count Act reforms (Business Insider)
Summary: After Mitch McConnell voted to keep the government funded and not shutting down, Donald Trump tweeted the following:
Kareem’s Quick Take: The Green New Deal the bill died in 2019 when McConnell led the Senate. Does Trump not know this (which questions his cognitive abilities) or does he assume his followers are too uninformed to know (which questions his contempt for them)?
Trump’s flirtation with the n-word cannot be ignored (Washington Post)
Summary: At a rally in North Carolina, Trump asked the audience, “You know Putin mentioned the n-word. Do you know what the n-word is?” A number of people shouted out the n-word we’re most familiar with. He responded, “No, no, no, it’s the ‘nuclear’ word.” After encouraging an obvious racist response, he didn’t admonish them for using it, just continued with his speech.
My Take: Is anyone surprised? More to the point, does anyone care? Trump’s racism has never been in doubt. He has a long documented history of it in his real estate business and in his casino operations (see “Donald Trump’s Long History of Racism, from the 1970s to 2020”). His niece, Mary Trump, says he used the n-word and White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman says she heard him use the n-word on tape.
What should be surprising—but sadly isn’t—is the lack of Republican outrage. Trump’s capitalization of DEATH WISH is certainly ominous with threatening undertones. Trump is certainly aware that on the January 6 insurrection his followers marched through the Capitol Building looking to hang Mike Pence after Trump criticized him. He knows that some of his crazed groupies have made death threats on other politicians Trump has publicly lambasted. The message is clear: disagree with me and your life is at risk. That message is the end of democracy.
Are Republicans so desperate for votes that they are unwilling to defend democracy by condemning this man? Sen. Rick Scott from Florida (of course) tried to defend Trump in a sad, rambling response in which he first dismisses Trump’s anti-Asian taunt as part of Trump’s good-natured habit of giving people nicknames. Then he just blubbers on about how bad racism is without admitting Trump was racist: “It’s never, ever okay to be a racist. I think you always have to be careful if you’re in the public eye with how you say things. You want to make sure you’re inclusive…I hope no one is racist. I hope no one says anything that’s inappropriate. I’m going to do everything I can.”
Maybe the lack of Republican outrage or even response over the tweet is because it’s anti-Asian and they don’t see the Asian American and Pacific Islander community as significant in the next election. Silence in the face of racism is an endorsement of that racism. We need to prove that we hear their message loud and clear in November.
Kareem’s Quick Take: The Los Angeles City Council fiasco after a tape was released of City Council President Nury Martinez, a Democrat, making racist comments is another example of the arrogance of elected officials thinking they are above being respectful. After public outrage, she has since resigned. The public got it right.
Misogyny: Future Rapists of America Party Down
Miami Frat Shut Down After Vile Chant Is Caught on Video (Daily Beast)
Warning: Watching this video may cause loss of hope for the future of gender respect and equality.
Summary: A University of Miami (Florida, of course) fraternity has been closed down after members were accused of drugging women who attended their parties. Some women reported seeing white powder floating in drinks, others became sick, threw up, or lost consciousness. Following the allegations, the Sigma Phi Epsilon’s National Board of Directors unanimously decided to revoke the charter of the chapter at University of Miami. The above video involves a pre-party chant in which they sing about murdering and raping women as well as digging up a woman’s corpse to have sex with it.
My Take: I don’t want this to be about fraternities. That’s a separate discussion. Rather, this is about a group of college boys (will they ever be men?) who feel no shame in mass rape. In fact, they are joyous in their entitlement to drug, assault, and traumatize women because they are merely vessels, fleshy blow-up dolls. These boys will marry, have children, vote. Will they raise their sons to be like them? Even scarier, how will they raise their daughters?
I couldn’t help but wonder what those boys’ parents felt when they saw the video. I certainly hope that photos of each boy at that party singing and dancing and laughing at the prospect of rape have their photos circulated among every woman at that school and elsewhere. Some of those boys will probably leave that school and enroll elsewhere.
A couple days ago I wrote about the sexual abuse of women in the National Women’s Soccer League, in gymnastics, and in cheerleading. I lamented that this level of systemic abuse is still possible today. A culture that nurtures this kind of open hostility and violence cannot survive. Should not survive.
One way we improve our culture is to never tolerate any form of misogyny, not in “jokes” only funny to the misogynist, not in our art, not in our behavior. Each of us has to call it out whenever we see it—even with family, friends, an co-workers—until no one feels comfortable expressing their misogyny. Sometimes it’s just a matter of gently pointing it out to someone who is clueless. Sometimes it requires more direct speech. In the end, we must make it clear that such thoughts and ideas are unacceptable.
Lawsuits: It’s Looking Hopeful for Justice
Summary: The U.S. Supreme Court is allowing to proceed the $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit brought by voting machine company Dominion against the MyPillow chief executive, Mike Lindell. Lindell is accused of promoting the debunked conspiracy theory that the company’s machines manipulated vote counts in favor of Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. Last year, federal court judge Carl Nichols wrote in his ruling that Dominion “has adequately alleged that Lindell made his claims knowing that they were false or with reckless disregard for the truth” and therefore had grounds to file a defamation lawsuit.
Dominion also accuses Lindell of promoting a defamatory marketing campaign against Dominion “in order to sell more pillows by telling audiences to purchase MyPillow products after making his claims of election fraud and providing promotional codes related to those theories.”
My Take: Today Alex Jones was ordered to pay $965 million to the families of the Sandy Hook shooting victims he defamed (after which he publicly mocked them). That award gave me some hope for the judicial system. So, did this decision to allow the lawsuit against Lindell to proceed. It is my dream that he eventually loses the case and is completely financially wiped out. That should be the punishment for those who use their wealth and fame to undermine democracy for profit while feeding the U.S. Constitution into a shredder to stuff his pillows with.
Election denying is trending among political grifters and the illogical. Politicians who make the claim don’t actually believe it, but they know there are enough voters easily swayed by shiny objects and word candy who will do what they are told come election day. I just wish Lindell could be charged with some jailable offense for his egregious crimes against the country.
Books: A Favorite Mystery Series
Richard Osman is perfectly at ease pretending to be a 78-year-old woman (Washington Post)
Summary: A delightful interview with Ricard Osman about writing the third book in the Thursday Mystery Club series.
My Take: I really hope you don’t skip this section because if you do you will miss out on being introduced to one of the best mystery series around. A few years ago, I accidentally bought The Thursday Murder Club on Audible. I thought it was a different book and when I read the description about a cozy murder in a community of the elderly, I was going to return it. Yes, I’m elderly, but I like my mysteries hard-boiled with hot lead and snappy wisecracks. But I gave a listen anyway.
Immediately, I was drawn in and never wanted to leave. It’s as if the kind and compassionate contestants on The Great British Bake-Off had retired to this community. Oh, there are some hard-boiled characters, like brilliant retired spy Elizabeth and the young Black Constable Donna, but even then there is a humorous civility to everything that is so wickedly charming.
I have since listened to the second book, The Man Who Dies Twice. I was afraid it wouldn’t be as good as the first, but it was even better. And now I have finished the third, The Bullet that Missed. As I listened, I would keep checking how much time was left because I didn’t want it to end.
Each book features a solid mystery or two that is complex and engaging. But the real joy of these books come from the richly developed characters, their witty dialogue, and their touching camaraderie. You’ll want to move in with them.
Music: Wakanda Forever & Bob Marley
Summary: In July, Hollywood Records and Marvel Music released the first three tracks in anticipation of Marvel’s upcoming “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”
My Take: I’ve seen the trailers for Wakanda Forever for months and, while everything in it makes me eager to see the film, my favorite part is the Bob Marley song “No Woman No Cry” sung by Nigerian sensation Tems. Her interpretation of the song is uplifting and hopeful for the future, yet mournful for what we’ve lost.
The idea of Wakanda as a futuristic self-reliant empire ruled by just and compassionate leaders makes me happy. I’ve included Bob Marley’s version below as a gritty contrast to that ideal because we need both in our cultures to acknowledge where we came from as we aspire to where we want to go.
That was a lot. Keep your support coming so I can keep these newsletters coming.