ljlee: (reading)
Book cover with Klan hood photoshopped over Little Tree's FaceTo left: A more honest cover, brought to you by terrible photoshopping.

I remember leafing through a copy of The Education of Little Tree at a friend's home many years ago. The book had been published in Korea under the title 내 영혼이 따뜻했던 날들 (The Days when My Soul Was Warm), and was a bestseller here as it was in the U.S. I read through a bit where the protagonist's grandfather taught him that predators hunt the old, weak and sick leaving the strong ones to breed. So evidently natural selection was a part of Cherokees spirituality? How nice. I put the book back and didn't give it much thought.

I was reminded of this brief exposure when I read The Real Education of Little Tree, about the life and career of author Asa "Ace" Carter. Carter worked as a speechwriter for George Wallace, who would go on to become the infamous segregationist governor of Alabama. A staunch segregationist himself, Carter formed a white citizens council (these were widely seen as respectable segregationist alternatives to the Klan) and his signature appears on the articles of incorporation of the Original Ku Klux Klan of the Confederacy, though he denied Klan membership. Even fellow segregationists considered him too radical and sinister in his open calls for violence, however. Wallace never hired him directly but instead paid him through intermediaries, and the white citizens council eventually drove him out. Yes, Carter was too virulently racist for George Wallace.

It only gets better from there )

Asa Carter's views are not irrelevant or incidental to Little Tree. Rather, his violent racism is central to the entire work. Carter might have been a con man and a bastard, but he was one smart con man and bastard: He knew what was required to hold up the system of white supremacy, and he knew its logic. He knew that mainstream white society would not seek out or listen to the actual Cherokees who would realize in an instant that the book was bunk.

Above all, like any successful author (or con man) Carter knew what his audience wanted to hear, and that a book that condescends to and erases American Indians to score cheap emotional points was exactly right for the public's palate. He got that right, so much so that people still defend and celebrate this book decades after the hoax was revealed. Is it any wonder, when the book reflects so much of what America is?
ljlee: why not? (conch)
Discussions of abuse, trauma, and mental illness follow.

I read an article about human trafficking in Texas a couple days back when a section on the mental health issues of trafficked sex workers caught my eye. The first condition mentioned was dissociative identity disorder (DID), which makes sense because prostitutes as a group suffer high rates of child sexual abuse and incest (85% and 70% respectively in the study cited). This kind of severe and repeated abuse in childhood is a leading cause of DID, so it makes sense that prostitutes would have high instances of DID. I'm not only talking about pre-prostitution trauma, either. As stated in the linked rapeis.org page the average age of entry into prostitution is 13, meaning many sex workers are still children.

Child abuse, rape and more below the fold )
ljlee: cover to Apocalypse World (apocalypseworld)
I read a Guernica article called La Milonguera which was about the author's experience living in Buenos Aires and rooming with a milonguera, female tango dancer whom the author gave the pseudonym Romina.

I found the piece itself sort of boring and pointless, to be honest. At places it captured the atmosphere of the city's tango scene in interesting ways, and the way Romina lost her tango career to an accident was genuinely sad. From there, though, it was just one thing after another without any clear point or context and lost steam toward the end.


So try as I might to view Christopher's comment in the best light, I still find his white-knight complex about Romina disturbing. This probably has roots in my own background: My father's sincere and overwhelming desire to protect me from all harm, well into adolescence and now adulthood, all too often led to verbal and emotional abuse when I wouldn't comply with his demands and, in his eyes, endangered myself. The need to protect someone who isn't in need of it, the urge to see someone who is fully capable as being helpless--those are all too often code for a need to control the person, and I know not to trust the offer of such "protection."
ljlee: (reading)
I'm reading this long piece on the Second World War. Somewhere around where the author lovingly describes the portrayal of the weather in the 1943 production of Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, Wagner's non-Viking opera, I started to suspect the essay has ranged far beyond the Longform tagline that sold me ("An essay . . . on how and why we forget war"). Still, these war minutiae are so entertaining I don't really care where it's going.

It's certainly a piece that rewards patience. At one point author Lee Sandlin discusses Wagner's artistic intent for Der Ring des Nibelungen and then goes on for 10,059 words about the Battle of Midway, military bureaucracy, Bob Dole, an allied campaign in Tuscany, the conditions of U.S. marines in Okinawa, and Hitler's love of architecture before swinging back to Wagner and contrasting his understanding of Der Ring with Hitler's.

And when it came to Hitler's understanding of his favorite opera, especially in contrast to its creator's, I was struck by a most creepily unwelcome feeling: Familiarity. I think his line of thinking would be familiar to anyone who's run around geek and fandom circles--you know the type, the person who disregards what a work is about to talk about its external trappings as though those are the point--and, far more troublingly, map those points to the real world.

In which I discuss Hitler and other racists, in case the title didn't clue you in )

The settings and cool powers of genre fiction are fascinating and seductive, I know. I've spent many an hour lost in the world of Middle-Earth and later Harry Potter. In the end, though, the true power of these fantastical elements comes not from being cool and sparkly but from the resilience and morality of the stories they tell. Take away the struggles with power and loss from LotR and you're left with a silly elves-and-goblins story, one with unfortunate racial implications at that. (Arguably Professor Tolkien brought the BNP's accolades on himself, at least in part.) Take out the struggle between good and evil from Harry Potter and you have a bunch of kids waving wooden sticks around. The real magic in these stories is in the humanity of the tales told, not in the supernatural feats performed in the pages. Forget that and--well, it won't make you Hitler, at least in of itself. But you could be missing the depths of your favorite stories, and if there's one thing a dedicated fan can't stand it's missing out.
ljlee: (candle)
Continuing from Part 1, here are longform articles I enjoyed that deal with cognitive disabilities including autism, schizophrenia, fetal alcohol syndrome, Asperger's syndrome, PTSD, and bipolar disorder.

Articles on Children with Cognitive Disabilities )

Articles on Adults with Cognitive Disabilities )

I don't know about you, but I found these stories on cognitive disability several magnitudes more depressing than the ones about physical disability, maybe because there's still so much confusion and misunderstanding, and correspondingly fewer resources, for cognitive disabilities. As a bonus here's a collection of articles on autism, which I haven't read yet but plan to.

Next in Part 3 I'll introduce articles about social issues surrounding disability, including the justice system and the welfare state. Since those are pretty sobering I'll close on a higher note with several articles on disability in sports.
ljlee: (Default)
Much like music, disability issues are something I grew interested partly due to my friends, most notably attackfish, vmuzic, and chordatesrock. As with so many other subjects, Longform for me is the intellectual equivalent of dipping my toes--I'm not at the stage where I'm working on a specific project and dive into books, articles, and everything else I can get my hands on, but when a longform article comes up that is relevant to the subject I'll save it and read it.

Apropos of joining the [community profile] disability list here are some articles I enjoyed, starting with physical disabilities, continuing into cognitive disabilities, and ending with social issues:

Congenital Physical Disabilities )

Acquired Physical Disabilities )

So those are the articles on physical disabilities I've read and enjoyed. Comments and additional resources are very welcome, of course. The next part of this post will link to and comment on articles that deal with cognitive disabilities.


ljlee: (Default)
L.J. Lee

June 2016

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