Required Reading

In the LA Review of Books, Fady Joudah writes about a poem rejected by the New Yorker:

Had The New Yorker accepted “Remove,” would I have written this essay? In the first place, the odds were stacked against their acceptance. When it comes to Palestine and Palestinian voices, The New Yorker, as a major American magazine of record, follows similar patterns as those of other publications. There are certain clarities that, when articulated by a Palestinian in America, are difficult to swallow in places that disseminate knowledge in the United States. The question above also presumes the need to obey the hand that feeds. The tokenization of Palestinians is not necessarily a new American phenomenon vis-à-vis minorities. In fact, tokenization is considered a step forward on the road to inclusion of suppressed voices. The point here is larger than The New Yorker and me. It addresses an immense history of curtailing and snuffing Palestine in English — through a “disciplinary communications apparatus” that “exists in the West both for overlooking most of the basic things that might present Israel in a bad light, and for punishing those who try to tell the truth” (Edward Said). In the best-case scenario, it is mostly non-Palestinians and, indeed, non-Arab or Muslim Americans, who utter clarities on the Palestinian question, even if Palestinians arrive at those same thoughts in the cradle. This essay has been writing itself way before a poem was rejected or another hellfire singed Palestinian souls.

Fareh Nayeri writes about the art Napoleon stole and why some of it went back:

He pilfered about 600 paintings and sculptures from Italy alone, she noted, adding that he sought to “link himself to these works of genius” and justify their plunder by invoking “the aims of the Enlightenment.”

Once Napoleon was defeated in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, his adversaries hastened to give back the Louvre’s looted treasures. It was “truly doleful to look at now,” wrote the British miniature painter Andrew Robertson at the time: “full of dust, ropes, triangles and pulleys.”

Roughly half of the Italian paintings that Napoleon had taken were returned, Saltzman said. The other half stayed in France, including “The Wedding Feast at Cana.”

Why weren’t the others returned? Many were scattered in museums around the country, and French officials resisted giving them back. Each formerly occupied state had to put in a separate request for the return of their artworks, which made the process even more complicated, Saltzman said.

This year’s list of 11 most endangered historic places, recently announced by National Trust for Historic Preservation, is devoted entirely to sites linked to the histories of people of color, including:

…Trujillo Adobe in Riverside, built in 1862 and connected to the story of migration and settlement in inland California.

Other sites recognized this year by the privately funded nonprofit preservation organization include the Georgia B. Williams Nursing Home in Georgia where Beatrice Borders, a Black midwife, persevered through Jim Crow-era racism to deliver more than 6,000 babies; the Oljato Trading Post in Utah, a shop and social hub for Navajo communities built in 1921; Black-owned farm properties that served as overnight campsites for civil rights demonstrators marching in Alabama from Selma to Montgomery in 1965; and the Summit Tunnels 6 & 7 and Summit Camp Site in Truckee, Calif., which tell the story of Chinese workers who built the Transcontinental Railroad through the Sierra Nevada from 1865 to 1867.

A Propublica investigation has revealed that the richest Americans are paying very little income tax or avoid it all together:

Many Americans live paycheck to paycheck, amassing little wealth and paying the federal government a percentage of their income that rises if they earn more. In recent years, the median American household earned about $70,000 annually and paid 14% in federal taxes. The highest income tax rate, 37%, kicked in this year, for couples, on earnings above $628,300.

The confidential tax records obtained by ProPublica show that the ultrarich effectively sidestep this system.

America’s billionaires avail themselves of tax-avoidance strategies beyond the reach of ordinary people. Their wealth derives from the skyrocketing value of their assets, like stock and property. Those gains are not defined by U.S. laws as taxable income unless and until the billionaires sell.

Moya Bailey, the inventor of the term misogynoir, explains the meaning and origin of the term on The Allusionist podcast.The tyranny of time? Joe Zadeh writes:

“European global expansion in commerce, transport and communication was paralleled by, and premised upon, control over the manner in which societies abroad related to time,” the Australian historian Giordano Nanni wrote in his book, “The Colonization of Time.” “The project to incorporate the globe within a matrix of hours, minutes and seconds demands recognition as one of the most significant manifestations of Europe’s universalizing will.” In short, if the East India Company was the physical embodiment of British colonialism overseas, GMT was the metaphysical embodiment.

The Western separation of clock time from the rhythms of nature helped imperialists establish superiority over other cultures. When British colonizers swept into southeastern Australia in search of gold, they depicted the timekeeping practices of the indigenous societies they encountered as irregular and unpredictable in contrast to the rational and linear nature of the clock. This was despite the fact that indigenous societies in the region had advanced forms of timekeeping based on the moon, stars, rains, the blossoming of certain trees and shrubs and the flowing of tides, which they used to determine the availability of food and resources, distance and calendar dates.

In 1970, five gay American activists took a six-week road trip in an attempt to help out the Black Panther Party. Writing for Harpers Bazaar, Hugh Ryan reports:

Joel: We went from Fayetteville, [North Carolina], to New Orleans, to Dallas, to Boulder, Colorado, to Iona, Minnesota. We would contact Gay Liberation in each area, and they’d invite us to speak about what we were doing. 

Living a revolutionary life, to me, is always questioning, always questioning myself, and questioning other people about what it is they know. It was a way of living. It was just … who we were. There was no thrill in wanting to have a revolution. Who wants to go through that? Unless you have to. 

But I wasn’t scared or anything like that. I never felt scared—well, no, the only time I was scared was in Dallas, when we got arrested.

Some Chinese intellectuals are being called traitors for taking part in a Japanese government-affiliated exchange programme:

The programme was started in 2008 to improve exchanges between the two countries, with 196 Chinese intellectuals having been sponsored as of 2019, the ministry said.

However, participants have been criticised by some people online, after the visits recently came to their attention. Among these were He Bing, a professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, writers Jiang Fangzhou and Xiong Peiyun, and journalist Duan Hongqing.

“[Jiang] got the money from the Japanese government and tried to flatter Japan – traitor,” one Weibo user wrote.

The right-wing angry towards Critical Race Theory continues to rage (Florida just banned it) and now the Washoe County School District in Nevada even suggested body cams for teachers to prove they aren’t teaching it in schools:

A conservative group even suggested outfitting teachers with body cameras to ensure they aren’t indoctrinating children with such lessons.

“You guys have a serious problem with activist teachers pushing politics in the classroom, and there’s no place for it, especially for our fifth graders,” Karen England, Nevada Family Alliance executive director, told Washoe County School District trustees Tuesday.

District officials there and in Carson City, where a similar debate is playing out, say critical race theory is not part of their plans.

The answers to this are fun to read:

My two oldest kids (8 and 6) ask me to tell them an “interesting fact” every night at bedtime. Having now exhausted my own supply of memorized trivia as well as several random lists on the internet, I’m taking suggestions below…

— McKay Coppins (@mckaycoppins) June 9, 2021

Awww:

Dogs always make everything better…for everybody. pic.twitter.com/Rxu4X5bq9G

— Laughs 4 All (@Laughs_4_All) June 11, 2021

Required Reading is published every Saturday, and it is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.

This week, a drawing by Leonardo goes to auction, the art Napoleon stole, sites of POC history in the US, defining misogynoir, the tyranny of time, and more.Read MoreArt, Required Reading, WeekendHyperallergicRead More

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