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Dispatches From the Culture Wars – February 13, 2024

Breakthroughs and roadblocks

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib takes a selfie. Credit, Jim West / Alamy Stock Photo
  1. How the Election Could Go
  2. Tracy Chapman Never Went Away
  3. San Francisco: The Town That Tech Ate
  4. The Stop Cop City Movement Busted but Unbeaten
  5. Anti-Abortion Rights Agenda
  6. Breaking the Texas Book Ban
  7. Feds Break From Rearming Israel Policy
  8. Privatizing Public Schools
  9. The Right Has a New Use for Antisemitism
  10. Rashida Taps into Pro-Palestine Sentiment


How the Election Could Go

By Michael Podhorzer

We already know all we need to know ahead of Election Day: The outcome will be determined by narrow margins in six battleground states – the three northern states that once constituted the “Blue Wall” (Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin), and three more diverse states (Arizona, Georgia and Nevada). Democrats have won there only when voters were fully aware that the alternative was MAGA. 

Tracy Chapman Never Went Away

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By Alex Abad-Santos

From interpretations about how the “Fast Car” lyrics that cite living in poverty and alcoholism are actually hopeful, to explanations of how upward mobility was actually possible when it was written in 1988, to soliloquies about how Chapman is actually an unknown figure — it seems that no one online can be normal about this song.

San Francisco: The Town That Tech Ate

By Rebecca Solnit
London Review of Books

Though the city has survived a series of local and national recessions in recent decades, San Francisco is said to be in a ‘doom loop’ because so much office space and so many shops have been abandoned since the pandemic. The city remains the densely urban place it always was, but the way people inhabit it is increasingly suburban, looking to avoid strangers and surprises.

Stop Cop City Movement Busted But Unbeaten

By Michael K. Logan
The Conversation

A protest was launched nearly three years ago against the clearing of about 300 acres of woodlands near Atlanta to construct a proposed police and firefighter training center that critics fear would lead to greater “police militirization.” “Forest defenders” rallied to “Cop City” to block construction workers by sitting in trees, setting fires and damaging construction vehicles. Repression followed.

Anti-Abortion Rights Agenda

By Tara Murtha and Jenifer McKenna

The theme for this year’s annual March for Life and the companion legislation anti-abortion lawmakers advanced in Congress featured a different message. Anti-abortion strategists are not eager to remind the public of their plans to criminalize all abortion, or of the consequences.

Breaking the Texas Book Ban

By Jessica Corbett
Common Dreams

Texas bookstores, national trade associations, and other critics of book bans celebrated after a panel from an ultraconservative U.S. appeals court affirmed a decision to temporarily block part of a new state law intended to restrict what's allowed in public school libraries.

Feds Break From Rearming Israel Policy

By Eric Katz
Government Executive

Feds United for Peace, a group that says it represents employees at more than two-dozen agencies, implored federal workers to take leave on Jan. 16 as a form of opposition to the U.S. government’s resolute support of Israel in the face of tens of thousands of civilian deaths in Gaza. 

Privatizing Public Schools

By Roberto R. Aspholm

In 2013, a movement of working-class New Jerseyans halted Cory Booker’s plans to privatize Newark public schools. A new book shows how a group of neoliberals co-opted this victory, securing consent for school charterization under the banner of anti-racism.

The Right Has a New Use for Antisemitism

By Arvind Dilawar

On January 31, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed House Bill 30, codifying the definition of antisemitism, as formulated by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), into state law. Pro-Palestinian activists fear it may open them up to prosecution, and even hate crimes charges, simply for organizing against the ongoing Israeli genocide in Gaza or occupation of Palestine in general.

Rashida Taps into Pro-Palestine Sentiment

By Oren Schweitzer

Michigan Congress member Rashida Tlaib just announced a whopping $3.7 million fundraising haul for the last quarter of 2023, after being censured by Congress for her support of Palestine. Her fundraising success shows pro-Palestine politics can go head-to-head with the Israel lobby.