Last week there has been a twitter argument centered around Assata Shakur, a black feminist who was convicted of the murder of a state trooper, escaped prison, and now has political asylum in Cuba. The Women’s March tweeted a happy birthday message to Assata on July 16th.
Jake Tapper, generally liked by the moderate left, responded to the tweet.
Assata Shakur is a bit of a flash point for the “alt-right.” This tweet was seen as legitimizing arguments of white supremacists. The Women’s March responded with a series of 20 tweets explaining who Assata is and why they support her. COINTELPRO, or the counter intelligence program of the FBI, became a talking point and some other journalists entered the discussion.
The Politically Reactive podcast with W. Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu was in an interesting situation. On July 13th they aired an interview with Linda Sarsour, the most well known of the Women’s March organizers, and the following week were scheduled to air an interview with Jake Tapper. The podcasters reached out to both after the twitter argument but did not hear back. They thought it would be inappropriate to simply air the second interview and instead made an episode “Hold Up, Wait a Minute: Twitter Feuds & Threat Models” featuring Prof. Jessie Daniels of Hunter College and CUNY College and cyber security expert Nicholas Weaver.
The topic of hipster racism has been talked about in the past but now seems particularly appropriate to revisit. Hipster racism is when “hipsters” think making racist comments is ironic, edgy, or a way to semantically diffuse weighty terminology. Despite whatever cultural context or obfuscation, the statements/actions/objects are still racist.
image from Vice
In 1979, Lester Bangs wrote “The White Noise Supremacists,” confronting racism in counterculture, as well as his own use of the n word. Colorlines revisited the piece in 2012, pointing to the continuing problem in hipster culture.
Five years later, there is now a newly labeled hipster neo-nazi subculture, the “alt right.” Even the use of “alt” or alternative is a buzzword in subcultural circles. Like larger hipster culture there is associated clothing, language, and haircuts. Recently, Fred Perry felt the need to distance himself from the alt right because his polo shirts are quite popular with neo nazi groups like the Proud Boys.
To end on a happier note…
This clip from The Weekly addresses the islamophobia driving the controversy over Vegemite being certified halal in Australia. Being certified halal means no changes to the product itself, only that the product would be open to a larger market. But Australian Conservative senator Cory Bernardi has started a senate inquiry, claiming that making Vegemite halal might fund terrorism and lead to higher prices, both of which are untrue.