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 pieces analyzing the images of and social responses to celebrity pregnancy, a piece tracking the confirmation status of each of Trump’s cabinet members, various writings on the white supremacist terrorist attack at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City last Sunday, and more.
We can start out lightly, with the one cultural thing that was able to distract any mass of people from the country’s deteriorating democracy and oppressive policies (though it didn’t fully distract): Beyoncé’s floridly Instagrammed pregnancy. The Atlantic writer Spencer Kornhaber spoke with Renee Cramer, author of Pregnant With the Stars: Watching and Wanting the Celebrity Baby Bump, which mines the ways celebrity pregnancies are perceived. Cramer offered her thoughts on the social dynamic of these particular photos, as well as those of many other celebrities:
Jay Z and Beyoncé…have privatized these images and made fans feel part of the family circle that gets to see them, rather than selling them—or worse, having the paparazzi grab them. It disrupts this narrative we have of the media being in control of outing celebrities when they’re pregnant, and it really refocuses on her choice to say “yes, I am [pregnant].” Just like her choice to discuss her miscarriage in 2013. These are private moments that are selectively curated, much in the way that all social-media users do, but to maintain an image of control.
Pitchfork, meanwhile, published an art-historical take on the Instagram photos.
Also from The Atlantic, here’s a “Trump Cabinet Tracker” — handily elucidating the confirmation status of each billionaire and/or bigoted and/or inexperienced cabinet member at this particularly odd time, where a Vice President may have to brake a tie to confirm an appointee. (Which is one reason you should call your Republican senators — if you have Republican senators — to voice your objection to Betsy DeVos’ confirmation, which will be voted on early next week; and, though he’s more likely to be appointed, it’s still worthwhile — for all these reasons — to voice opposition to Jeff Sessions’ appointment to head the Department of Justice.)
Media coverage of hate crimes and terrorist attacks — like that committed by a radical white supremacist at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City last Sunday — often gives attention to the murderers, and fails to honor and mourn the victims. If you’re going to read about the attack, make sure to read about who the people whose life it cut short were. The Globe and Mail has published a piece devoted to Azzeddine Soufiane, Abdelkrim Hassane, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Khaled Belkacem, Boubaker Thabti, the six worshippers killed in cold blood at their mosque.
Meanwhile, Vice looked inside the cultural centre itself in a piece published on Wednesday, reporting on what members of the community who lost friends in the shooting were saying:
Two days after a deadly attack that left six people dead, the Centre Culturel Islamique de Quebec opened its doors to media to show “all Canadians what happened.” “We want to show these images to stop the contribution to the hate, to stop the contribution to the Islamophobia,” said Mohamed Labidi, former president of the mosque.
And the Trump administration — via Sean Spicer — initially tried to instrumentalize the attack when it first happened as validation for Trump’s Islamophobic policies, before it was proven that a white person was the perpetrator. After that, Trump made no formal statements about it. As Eric Levitz notes in New York Magazine, Trump only seems to acknowledge acts of terrorism when they’ll advance his white supremacist agenda. Levitz flips the script on right wing complaints of liberal political correctness, saying:
We can’t allow conservatives to make the Pentagon their safe space. We cannot ignore the reality of evil to protect their tender illusions. We must say the words “radical racist terrorism.” We cannot afford to be so politically correct anymore.
Another author, Alexandra Petri, has likewise flipped the script on Republicans, underscoring the hypocrisy of complaints about Democrats’ opposition to Trump’s Supreme Court pick. From a refreshingly caustic piece in The Washington Post:
But how can we in good conscience allow the appointment of a new justice to the nation’s highest court when we have not yet had the results of a democratic election? “I believe that awaiting the result of a democratic election, rather than having a nomination fight in this partisan election-year environment, will give the nominee more legitimacy and better preserve the Court’s credibility as an institution,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), once, and I agree with him. We should nominate someone once we have the results of a democratic election, and not a second before.