Executive Orders, Dystopian Novels, Pussyhats: This Week’s Recommended Reading


Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing excellent content, but also keeping an eye on other great writing from around the web. This may be a predominantly arts/culture-centric website, but given the immediate gravity of U.S. politics, we’ve been focusing this outward-looking post on indispensable political writing, as well the occasional cultural piece. This week, we have a piece on Artnet about the visual potency of the “Pussy Hat,” a closer look about what executive orders can and cannot do, a piece on the “long history of Nazi punching,” and more.

In The Atlantic, Graeme Wood writes in depth about the leaked executive order draft regarding visa bans for people from seven Muslim-majority nations, as well as that draft’s murky rhetoric about refugees:

It commands the State Department to revamp the refugee program to prioritize immigration “on the basis of religious-based persecution,” with the stipulation that the religion be a minority religion in one’s home country. The obvious purpose of this order is to welcome non-Muslims victimized by ISIS in Syria and Iraq, such as the Chaldean Catholics of the Nineveh Plain, or Armenian Orthodox Syrians, or the Yezidis. But I await the first applications from Muslim minorities who allege persecution in their home countries. Would Sunnism qualify as a persecuted minority religion in Shia-dominated Iraq? Could radical Shia claim persecution by the Sunni monarchy of Bahrain? Can Ahmadi Muslims, mistreated by majorities all over the Muslim world, now cut to the front of the immigration line?

For Artnet, Ben Davis wrote about the visual politics of the Women’s March on Washington’s famed Pussy Hat:

Like most truly resonant symbols, it packs a lot into a simple thing. The Pussyhat was elegantly simple, the better to be shared widely; it was obvious in its hot-pink symbolism, the better to serve as a statement; it was witty and unexpected, the better to attract genuine enthusiasm; it was a little outrageous—“Pussyhat” self-consciously claiming the vulgarity associated with Trump’s infamous leaked Access Hollywood tape—the better to represent a bit of the defiance of the moment.

1984 sales skyrocketed on Amazon this week, a clear sign of the type of governance that people are already seeing — and the authoritarian ends they fear. But while Trump may evoke many aspects of the rule of Oceania — particularly in his militarism and simplified exaggerated-adjective-heavy rhetoric — there are a great deal of dissimilarities, particularly that George Orwell was writing about a form of totalitarianism birthed from Soviet communism, as opposed to what we’re seeing now. Josephine Livingstone writes for the New Republic:

But there is no Amazon.com in Nineteen Eighty-Four, because it is not a novel about globalized capital. Not even slightly! Nineteen Eighty-Four does not pastiche a world ravaged by capitalism and ruled by celebrities—the kind of world that could lead to the election of someone like Trump. Instead, it depicts suffering inflicted by state control masquerading as socialism.

For Fusion, Collier Meyerson sought to clear up some of the confusion surrounding the scope and power of executive orders, given just how many Trump seems to be making. She spoke with law professor Stephen Vladeck, who helped describe the nature of the executive order for laypeople:

The short version is: It’s an instruction [for] the people in the executive branch on how to enforce particular laws. In that regard, yes, if the president says, “Dear immigration authorities, stop doing this,” they’re bound to listen to him. [The question] is not whether those kinds of directives [are] binding on the executive branch—they are. There’s no question that they are. The question is, if they then lead to the executive branch taking actions against private people, can they be challenged in court?

Surrounding the new French film, Paris 05:59: Théo & Hugo, which notably begins with a scene of 18 minutes of gay sex, Manuel Betancourt writes for Vice about the potency of explicit displays of queer sexuality:

While there’s much to be said about gains the LGBTQ community has made when it comes to media representation in the past couple of decades, there’s something quite refreshing in the way Paris 05:59: Théo & Hugo demands that its audience deal with full-frontal erections before it offers its more romantic storyline. It’s as if it were making clear the very hypocrisy that still runs through many squirming viewers, perfectly content with a gay storyline so long as it doesn’t shove gay sex, as it were, in their faces.

Wes Enzinna writes for Mother Jones about the Nazi-punching discourse that erupted when white nationalist Richard Spencer was punched in the middle of an interview in Washington during inauguration weekend. The piece examines what anti-fascist activism has looked like historically:

This beef goes back to before World War II, when in Europe, a nascent authoritarian movement inspired by Hitler, Mussolini, and Francisco Franco squared off against a popular front coalition of liberals and radicals. At the Battle of Cable Street, in October 1936, Oswald Mosley brought 2,000 members of his British Union of Fascists to march through London’s Jewish East End neighborhood and 100,000 anti-fascists showed up to oppose them. In the resulting melee, Jews, Irishmen, Communists, anarchists, and socialists beat Mosley’s men with sticks, rocks, and sawed-off chair-legs. Local women dumped their chamber pots out of windows onto the heads of Mosley’s men.