Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Top 16 of 2016

I posted less this year than during any year since I began this blog in 2007.  Unsurprisingly, traffic also dropped, but it mainly affected the average -- the numbers for the most-viewed posts were not much lower than normal.  And I'm pleased that several of the most-viewed posts are also among those I think are the best.

In addition to these, I want to recommend some posts that didn't get as many views, but which I think are worth your attention: my post on the Korean movie Sopyonje, which goes on to discuss cultural exclusiveness and (mis)understanding; which relates to this post about hostility to writers imagining other cultures; this one, on Clinton boosters' strange misreading of an Onion satire; my attempt to think about the buzzword "privilege"; this discussion of some contradictions in Chinese notions of masculinity; on the ongoing confusion about safe spaces and trigger warnings; on historical ignorance about gay male fiction; two posts on Pauli Murray, an important African-American lesbian activist and theorist; a detailed discussion of one model of social-construction theory; a follow-up on Buddhist collaboration with warfare and imperialism; more on the Science Wars, this time about a book declaring the supremacy of humanism over science;

16. This Time for Sure: A Kinder, Gentler Bigotry.  The local library just got a copy of the book I mentioned in this post.  I expect I'll write more about it when I've read it.  But since I wrote this I've noticed quite a few more books which take the position I criticized here -- a kinder, gentler bigotry.  It's only a public-relations stance, nothing new.

15. Surely, Comrades, You Do Not Wish Bush Back?  On the doublethink that was so widespread during the presidential campaign.  In other words, dog bites man; nothing to see here, folks, just a reminder of what was going on.

14. First They Came for the Politically Correct  Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic likes to seek out the human side of American bigotry, mostly with regard to antigay sentiments but sometimes, as here, the Trump supporter.  It's not a bad idea in principle, but his results are almost always embarrassing.  In the piece I wrote about here, it was a Trump supporter who projected his own antagonism to people with different politics onto them, and constructed a fantasy about the hatred they felt for him out of his own Political Correctness.  It might not be totally fantasized, since liberals are as a class no more rational than he is.

13. Racism As We Know It Today  This one probably got more views because it appeared in Vagabond Scholar's 2016 Jon Swift Roundup for bloggers, but I'm glad of that because I think it's a good piece.  It's not really news that liberal Democrats are willing to dismantle the New Deal and the other social programs it inspired, but it's been educational to watch how rabidly irrational they've become since Trump's victory in November.  It connects to this earlier piece about the same stereotypes as they were used to support white racism in the 1960s.

12. The Key to the Prison House of Gender Another piece I'm pleased with, though there's so much to say on this topic. (I'm working on another one right now, which I hope to post on January 1.)

11. Every Knee Shall Bend and Every Tongue Confess  Trump Derangement Syndrome kicked in among liberals -- even among those who, like the person I described in this post, would consider themselves farther left than liberals -- almost as soon as he declared his candidacy.  We can see how well it worked.

10. Thanks, Obama!  Almost everybody, his fans and his enemies alike, seems to think that Barack Obama is reluctant to resort to warfare.  This brief post points to the dissonance between Obama fans' vaunted concern about suffering children in Syria and their utter lack of concern about suffering children in Yemen, where American weapons are killing them, with Obama's overt assistance.

9It's All Fun Until Somebody Loses an Eye On the Obama administration's continuing foreign-policy feckless aggression.

8.  Neo-pro, Neo-con  On foreign-policy nostalgia (amnesia turned around) among pundits and political elites across the political spectrum; with a brief account of Eisenhower's disastrous (for Indonesians) interference in Indonesian politics during the 1950s.  Let no one tell you that only the Chinese are obsessed with "face"; Americans just call it by different (though related) names, like "optics."

7Clanging Symbols  On pro footballer Colin Kaepernick's protest against the national anthem, and the confusion about it fostered not only among professional sports pundits but by President Obama.

6.  Unraveling Offense One of the posts I'm proudest of this year, finished after much dithering and procrastination as always.  It follows a thought I've often had, that being offended is not something that can be escaped or suppressed, but an inevitable part of human life.  It's inherent in the social movements that have helped produce so much change in our society.  Instead of fearing either to give or receive it, we should concentrate on how to deal with it constructively.  Never happen, of course.

5. Wait, What? Fairly early in the 2016 primaries, as Trump began to accumulate victories, the corporate media began wondering How This Could Be.  The Guardian, a putatively progressive British newspaper with a following among American liberals, did a big article on supposedly "secret" Trump voters (see 14 above for another example), which I discussed in this post.

4. Mnyeh, Typical  On Israel and stereotyping.

3. When Clown Suits Are Outlawed...  Just a one-liner, inspired by the brief rash of panic over nasty clown sightings in middle America, but apparently a lot of people liked it.

2. Moderation.  Trump Derangement Syndrome wasn't universal this year.  Tariq Ali, whom I quoted in this post, didn't succumb to it, but he was one of the outliers.

1. Reading Reed.  Early in the year, as celebrities began moving like lemmings to another, higher plane, I wrote this post about the rumors of the late Lou Reed's bisexuality.  (Following up this post on the late David Bowie's bisexuality.)  Even in the Age of the Internet, we know less than we might have thought, but it is easier to examine and discredit what Everybody Knows than ever before.  The trouble is that not all that many people seem to care.  One other thing Everybody Knows is that the Internet has made it harder to know what's true and what isn't; I believe the opposite is true, that in reality it's easier than ever to expose error and falsehood, but "knowing" that you can't is evidently comforting to many people.  Though they pretend to lament our "post-truth" culture, they are quite comfortable in it.