Best Of The Web
“Driving around the part of Fresno, California, where Shannon Brown spent much of her life feels a bit like entering an alternate, more insular version of America, something out of an earlier time. We passed a white woman holding a baby in a driveway. An older white man worked in his yard. A white woman walked a dog. There didn’t appear to be a single person of color in the area, I said. That’s because there are none, Brown replied.
Brown, 48, is white, with blond hair, pale blue eyes, and milky skin. She wore a checkered black-and-white dress, a silver cross dangling from her neck. Brown had nothing against diversity, she explained. She was just accustomed to living among people who look like her—it’s the way she was raised. When she was growing up, her family discouraged Brown from associating with those people. “They definitely did not like black people. We never had black people over,” Brown said. “My family wasn’t overtly racist,” she said, but they weren’t going to befriend nonwhite people or welcome them into their home. Her family members, like many residents of this part of Fresno, are “polite racists,” Brown said, the kind of people who smile to your face if you’re a minority and call you a racial slur behind your back.
White power organizations are not uncommon in California—the state actually has the most active hate groups in the nation, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center—but Brown’s family disapproved of their criminal behavior, if not their ideology. The racism that Brown grew up with was rooted in the belief, Brown said, that “We’re better than them.” They looked down on minorities but wouldn’t go so far as to use violence against them.
Still, for Brown, neo-Nazis were part of the social fabric of her California. They were her neighbors and acquaintances, people she would see from time to time, maybe even hang out with. One evening in 1996, when Brown was 26, she and a girlfriend from beauty school met up with a couple of guys they knew casually from around town. The four of them gathered at a local diner, and the men handed Brown and her friend blindfolds and invited them to get in their car. They were in the Ku Klux Klan, the men said, and they wanted to take Brown and her friend to a gathering at the secret “klavern,” a local KKK unit where the group held its meetings. This was new for Brown. “What’s a klavern?” she remembered asking. “We didn’t know what any of this stuff was.” But she liked hanging out with the guys, and she was intrigued, so she got in the car.”
JJ Best Of The Web
"With the weakest of hands, an economy not much larger than that of Spain, and a GDP per capita several thousand dollars smaller than Malaysia, he has asserted massive negative influence over the globalized world."
"Scarcely hours after the titanic drubbing Democrats delivered to President Trump's GOP in the 2018 midterm elections, the 2020 presidential campaign began in deeply unwelcome earnest."
"US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital exactly one year ago, breaking with decades of international consensus in the process. What was the historic move and what impact has it had?"
"With a decade’s worth of hits under her belt, Gaga is definitively one of the biggest stars in the world. Rolling Stone dubbed her the “Queen of Pop” in 2011."
"Have the scars of the housing bust turned us away from the American dream of homeownership? Survey data suggest otherwise.... We simply can’t afford to pursue that dream right now.'
"Even as phones and tablets extend their reach into daily life, a bigger screen remains supreme... the average American household watches nearly eight hours of television a day."
"Parties, private jets, and multimillion-dollar paintings: Art Basel Miami is part of a global network of art fairs that have transformed the worldwide art market."
"Dutton Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House, is releasing a series of tiny books that give the act of reading a studied whimsy."
"The presence was so disruptive, she added, that some children had a hard time when their parents left. Others were disappointed that their parents did not come for lunch."
"The kitchen — named after the Hebrew phrase “L’Chaim,” which means, “To Life!” — features a menu of Americanized Jewish food items such as pastrami on rye, potato knish with herb sour cream..."
"Life on the sprawling grasslands precipitated a shift from individualistic ways of living to more cooperative ways. This was the birth of what you might call “social intelligence,” and it changed the way our minds work."
"When you have headlines about “white privilege” and “evil white men,” Jews become the epitome of whiteness—except, of course, for neo-Nazis, who see Jews as hyper-integrationists."