Discover more from The Fifth Column (A Podcast)
Workin’ for the Weekend #65: Kmele’s in Space
Whatcha doin' out there, man?
No, Daddy wasn’t just out getting the milk. Our own beloved Kmele, as you can see above and below, has been productive while stepping out on the kids, coming back from the stratosphere to bring us Dispatches from the cosmos. A regular Carlton Sagan, if you will. (Joke stolen from listener Christopher.) Before we go to the tape, however, a couple of house-cleaning reminders: It’s more fun to be a paying subscriber here than not (and please do note that the Never Fly Coach level has a suggested minimum; real ballers edit that puppy upward). Among the primary perks are access to the Comments, threading privileges in the Chat, and participationability in our monthly Second Sunday recordings, the next iteration of which occurs Nov. 12. LET’S GOOOO!!
The Fifth Column is a super-fun podcast to be a subscriber of, as everyone in the Comments you can’t read will tell you!
* “It often feels like we're awash in bad news + irresolvable conflicts,” King Kmele (as my daughters call him) tweeted Tuesday, ON HIS BIRTHDAY. “[B]ut this is a show about the undeniable miracle of YOUR improbable existence.” Trailer time!
“I'm profoundly grateful to @almaobs's Sean Dougherty (Director) and his entire team. Had a remarkable time visiting them at their facility in Chile's **breathtaking** Atacama Desert,” Kmele continued in his thread. “Special s/o to @brandon_stewart @elmodernisto @bfcarlson David Nassar @dustinoakley @chandlertuttle @agentmule @tracyyfoster and everyone who helped make this series possible.” Here is Episode 1:
* Need more Kmele in your life? Here he is, also on his birthday, in a Brown Political Review interview, making “The Case for Individualism.” Excerpt:
You speak and write extensively about the idea that we should advance beyond self-conceiving based on racial identity. On the one hand, it seems intuitively illogical to feel pride on the basis of skin color or ethnicity, attributes the individual has no control over, as opposed to personal accomplishments. On the other hand, I think about my Jewish identity. I love being Jewish, and I do feel pride on the basis of my Jewishness. Is that a bad thing?
What I advocate for isn’t so much against race but in favor of individualism. With respect to pride, we have to say, “What does it mean to say that I’m proud of being Black, that I’m proud of some immutable characteristic that I happen to have?” I prefer a framework for pride that has to do with things I’ve actually achieved and accomplished. It’s not a matter of heredity. It’s not a matter of biology. It’s a matter of actual, tangible action and active belief.
There is a very understandable inclination toward race pride amongst particular communities in the context of Blackness and Jewishness, for example. There is this history of suffering and narrative about a people collectively. But there is a really obvious reason why it doesn’t make a great deal of sense to invest the superficial characteristics with a sense of pride and esteem. The appropriate relationship to have to one’s racial identity is neutrality.
I think cultivating esteem on the sand of racial identity as an amelioration for past discrimination is a mistake. What they robbed you of was a sense of dignity that was actually rooted in your humanity. This notion of a racial identity was something that was contrived for the purposes of creating these delineations between humans and ascribing to them specific qualities and values. That’s erroneous. If we’re talking about what the world we want to live in ought to look like, is it one where we’re continuing to esteem the taxonomy of human races, or is it one where we can move beyond that and embrace a standard that says, “You have dignity, and you deserve respect on the basis of your being a fully human individual?” I just think the latter is obviously the place where we should want to go.
* There’s this brand spanking new media thing called Civil, co-founded by Fifth Column listener (and OK, he has other interesting items on his C.V.) Ian Allen, who’s aiming to create “a visually thematic news and culture video magazine that prioritizes human connection over division.” They were nice enough to invite me on this week to talk about the kidnapped-poster wars:
* Speaking of Israel, and also making manifest a reference in Episode #428, Comedy Cellar owner Noam Dworman this week convened for his increasingly newsworthy Live From the Table podcast a debate between legendary pro-Palestinian political scientist Norman Finkelstein and Fif’ veteran Eli Lake (#52, #65, #141, #174, Special Dispatch #51, #326, #368, #407, Members Only #184), with Moynihan Flava-Flav’ing in the background.
Israel just made the 45-minute video it showed journalists public. You can find it on:
Hamas-Massacre dot net. I've decided not to watch (seen enough), but I think it's good it exists. Many people (including me) knew Hamas was evil, but we didn't *know it*, kind of pushed it to the back of our minds because it forces you to believe that pure evil exists, something no one wants to do. But now we know.
* Changing the subject, I published a piece at Reason pegged to McKay Coppins’s new Romney: A Reckoning book, under the headline “Mitt Romney, Like So Many NeverTrumpers, Was Hobbled by His Own Grubby Political Ambitions: The Mormon wing of the conservative #Resistance turned out to be just as fallible as the hawks and libertarians.”
* Upcoming events, you ask? Not a True Scotsman alerts us to a Nov. 9 Philly book-signing/discussion starring #425 vet Oren Kessler in support of his Palestine 1936: The Great Revolt and the Roots of the Middle East Conflict. SoHo Forum debate in NYC Nov. 14 features Susan Schneider and Jobst Landgrebe tussling over whether “Artificial intelligence poses a threat to the survival of humanity that must be actively addressed by government.” Also in Gotham is a Nov. 27 screening of the 30-minute Reason documentary Bitcoin, Bathhouses, and the Future of Energy, at which Nick Gillespie (S.D. #72, #379) will lead a discussion with Zach Weissmueller, Alex Gladstein, and Jason Goodman.
* Comment of the Week comes from Matthew Brannigan:
Before today I thought Poundtown was a British discount store.
Walkoff music is the first time my no-good 15-year-old has surprised me with a song from my own era that I not only would have liked, but should have damn well known!