The online left is a very, very strange place. It’s full of people who are all urgently certain of how right they are and how wrong everyone else is. It’s loud and hostile, with minor ideological differences turning into over-dramatic schisms in bizarrely little time. Vast slices of it are chronically, toxically vigilant, waiting with unwholesome eagerness to be the one who gets to turn on or cast out someone else for a misstep. Dial all of that up to 11, and you get the tankies.
For those who don’t know, “tankies” are devotees of the strand of leftist thinking usually called Marxism-Leninism, the philosophy of Josef Stalin rather than the eponymous Marx and Lenin. An extension of this idea, Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, incorporates thoughts from Mao Zedong. They get the name “tankie” from their penchant for defending the less defensible actions of the Soviet Union and similar governments throughout history, in particular the mechanized (hence “tankie”) invasion of Hungary during its anti-communist revolt in 1956. In the modern era, long arguments about specific events from 70 years ago are far less salient than their modern corollaries. Tankies are, these days, characterized by their full-throated defenses of modern China and North Korea, which become more and more uncomfortable the clearer it becomes that some rather nefarious things are happening in those countries.
Here’s where I come in.
Continue reading “My Time Among the Tankies”
What matters more: that the other side is wrong, or that they’re hypocrites?
Continue reading “Et Tu, Quoque?”
Emma González gives me hope.
I cannot often say that about my people. I am by turns disappointed in each half of my heritage, but it is my Cuban half that inspires the most sadness. And when I watch Emma González, I feel that unfamiliar rise in my heart, and know that my people will be better than we have been.
Continue reading “Emma González for Our Glory”
It’s that time of year again, when humankind holds back the darkest night of the year with expansive meals and festive lights well across the northern hemisphere. And what better festive meal on the darkest night than the pitch darkness made manifest that is the average Republican?
I know, I know—Republicans are notoriously tricky to cook, since most of them are toxic enough that no plants ever grow again on the ground where they have trod barefoot and gutting them for consumption typically requires a full hazmat contingent. But there are some tips and trick that an enterprising culinary wizard can employ to make their Republican meals safe, easy, and even fun. Let’s begin.
Continue reading “How to Cook and Eat your Favorite Republicans”
There are two comments that are rarely far off when self-proclaimed allies encounter anti-queer politicians.
“I bet he’s secretly queer.”
“I hope he ends up with a queer kid.”
Naïve, ironic, and insensitive in the trademark way of ignorant would-be allies, these comments rankle deeply. Much has been written about how the first of the two effectively assigns all responsibility for society-wide anti-queerness on queer people and absolves from same the straight people who invented and perpetrate it, so today’s topic is the other one.
Continue reading “We Are Not Ironic Comeuppance”
[CN for PTSD and associated traumas, attempted suicide. Abundant spoilers for an anime from 1995.]
Rewatching old favorites is always a fraught endeavor. Often, what one enjoyed in one’s youth is riddled with bigotry one didn’t yet have the tools or sensibilities to recognize, and rewatching replaces the nostalgic glow of the past with foul reality. This is what I braced for when rewatching Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, one of the shows that first introduced me to Japanese animation. Instead, I received a curiously philosophical examination of war, peace, extremism, and what all of these things can do to young people trapped in the middle.
Continue reading “Treize Khushrenada You Beautiful Asshole: Gundam Wing in the Age of Fascism”
There’s a very odd thing that sometimes happens in conversations. Some people think certain conversations shouldn’t take place at all, and resort to a variety of circumlocutions and thought-terminating clichés to try to shut it down. Perhaps the oddest of this is invoking the fictional “right to an opinion.”
A fairly subtle deception lies at the heart of this refrain, which merits teasing apart.
Continue reading “Do You Think Me a Mind Controller?”
I am a long, long way from Florida right now, and I quite expect to remain so long-term. I’m in a field where half of the positions are unambiguously terrible and the other half assume that one can migrate thousands of miles every few years for the privilege of working in them. The luxury my parents enjoyed of being able to pick a place based on such prosaic concerns as “family” or “weather” has been systematically denied to young academics in general and my generation in particular, and that means that, even if I wanted to live in a place with Florida’s farce of a political scene, I will likely never have that privilege. If South Florida is even still above ground by then.
Continue reading “I Am an Atheist and I Voted”
So it’s National Coming Out Day.
I’m not gay. I occasionally contemplate sexual encounters that, if I’m honest about them, pull me a little back from the far end of the Kinsey scale, but not far enough that I’m comfortable calling myself bisexual. Finding out that someone I’m attracted to is trans* would not change my attraction to them, so I suppose I could also call myself pansexual to a degree. That’s nothing compared to the statements so many of my friends have made today. Hopefully it’s small enough that the family members I have who have tried to encourage my gay relatives into reparative therapy think better of starting that fight with me.
But if it’s permissible here to extend the “coming out” concept to my own experiences, then I’ve spent a lot of my life coming out.
Continue reading “So Yesterday was National Coming Out Day”
Every family’s path is a story. One does not have to reach far into the generations to find that their history and the world’s are deeply intertwined. We are all children of history.
And my ancestors are the Cold War.
My father’s Cuba was less than a century removed from the pivot point where it decided not to become part of the United States. The freshly independent colony styled its flag after the American flag and built undreamed-of wealth through its rich, mountainous soil and glorious climate. It did so with a permissive business environment that let a whole new upper class grow itself out of the island’s natural resources while subjecting yet larger numbers of people to the kind of privation that only laissez-faire, libertarian economics can create. My father’s family ascended through the social ranks in this developing society, as they tell it, through business acumen, quintessentially Cuban inventiveness, and a sprinkling of luck, beginning a story that could not have been more American if José Martí had failed to convince Cubans of their island’s distinctiveness.
My father was born in 1957, 59 years after Cuba’s independence from Spain was realized and with Fidel Castro’s revolutionary warpath through the island already beginning. By the time he escaped the island eleven years later, the Gonzalez family’s holdings had been expropriated, Cuba was a Soviet satellite, and my grandfather had already been imprisoned for taking out that insult on the Communists during the 1961 American attack.
Dad got his American start as a child refugee fleeing a Communist government that stole everything his family had built. He spoke no English, was accompanied only by his ailing mother, and would not see his father again until years later, in a story I do not yet fully understand. He landed in New Jersey, long one of the United States’s receiving grounds for those who could no longer live in their original homelands and one of the country’s most vibrantly multicultural regions.
I will never fault him for the irrepressible, fiery drive that propelled him through school, taught him English, kept him working multiple jobs to help support his sick family, and got him into college-preparatory programs without a great deal of the aid that a modern student in similar straits would have received. I will never fault him for the well-honed social intuition and work ethic that helped him rise, against his own desires, through the ranks of grocery-store management when his mother’s medical needs prevented him from continuing with school. I will never fault him for the financial genius that got him into flipping houses in the 1970s and 1980s. I will never fault him for the sheer willpower that kept him working full-time and renovating houses for sale the rest of the time, while Mom was doing the same, for over 15 years. I will never fault him for the accumulated, experiential wisdom that enabled him to sell most of his investment properties and enter a loan-sharking semi-retirement at age 50 while putting three kids through university with no student loan debt.
I would not be an American if I did any less than beam with pride at my parent’s story. It’s something that Horatio Alger might have written—the classic American tale of starting with nothing and ending with everything.
Continue reading “Rude Sustenance”