I set up a ‘Text Club’ back in January. It’s similar to a book club except instead of reading novels, we focus on texts of 5000 words or fewer. I recruited people on a Berlin-focused Facebook group and was delighted with the response. So far, members have come from Algeria, Egypt, Spain, Sweden and, of course, Ireland!
We meet once a month in a lovely café in Schöneberg. The discussions are all the more interesting because the group is so multi-cultural.
In case any of you are interested in following Text Club vicariously, I’ll be posting links to the texts we discuss each month. If you’re Berlin-based and feel like coming along, just send me an e-mail and I’ll fill you in on the details. Here’s May’s selection. Enjoy and do let me know if you have any recommendations of your own! Anything goes, as long as it’s no more than 5000 words!
On Truth and Trumpism – Paul Krugman, The New York Times
Krugman predicts the ways the media will distort the probable race between Clinton and Trump. He says the contest will be portrayed as closer than it is, binary oppositions will be created where none exist and Trump’s supporters will be described as less racist than they really are.
Learning from Legacy – Steve Burrows, DesignIntelligence
Why is the Great Pyramid still standing? How was the construction of the Colosseum planned? Burrows explores what makes a building last and why contemporary architecture has lost its focus on longevity.
Inside the Assassination Complex – Edward Snowden, The Intercept
The most famous whistleblower of his generation describes how governments apply double standards in their response to data leaks. Change, he argues, comes from the bottom, not the top.
The Model American – Lauren Collins, The New Yorker
Who is Melania Trump and what’s behind her quiet life in Trump Tower? According to Collins, the woman who could be America’s next First Lady has the perfect body on which to hang a brand.
On May’s selection: As an American, I think Krugman is exactly right about the media and how it will handle the election, with its incentives to make the race look closer than it is and to project those specific “false equivalences” between Trump and Clinton. My only criticism is that I think Krugman is wrong to write off the tens of millions of Trump supporters as simple racists. I agree with Krugman that Trump is an irresponsible alternative to the clearly qualified Clinton, but I think the conditions that have led so many millions of people to such a desperate choice as Trump are more complicated than simple racism (although I grant that some racists are in the mix). And my liberal brothers and sisters had better attend to those complications or they may end up as out-of-touch and self-destructive as the Republican Party is today.
Thanks so much for weighing in! Working in the media myself, I find these predictions painfully plausible. I’d be really interested in hearing more about the factors driving those tens of millions of people to support Trump.
I can answer your question but not in a sound bite, so “disapprove” this comment if it’s too long. Krugman is partially right. Some Trump supporters are simply racists. But, as an American in a conservative part of the country, I don’t just read about Trump supporters but meet them and talk to them all the time – co-workers, family, friends. I am unambiguously anti-Trump, but these are not all bad people. They really are fed up with politicians of both parties; they really are fed up with political correctness; they find Trump’s brash style and showy disregard for political correctness sufficient grounds for support. And although some of the white working class motivation is racially tinged, most of these people, when you meet them, are not at all white supremacists. They’re working-class people who have worked hard all their lives, are now being crushed by an economy that increasingly favors the rich, are having trouble paying their rent, and all they ever hear in the media is how “privileged” they are – “white privilege,” “male privilege” – it’s divisive language that doesn’t sell well to the suddenly unemployed welder whose family is suffering with no bank account to turn to. And I say that as a liberal who has never voted conservative in my life. Today’s liberal rhetoric unnecessarily alienates a lot of potential allies. So Trump’s rise is partly the Republicans’ own fault, since their talk radio hosts and such have been pandering to the most intolerant, racist, xenophobic part of their constituency, blasting the radio air waves with road-raging, “you-must-hate-those-who-disagree” conservatism 24/7 for 30 years. But liberals, too, have done their part to drive people into the arms of Trump. (See my 1960s vs 1980s liberals: https://shakemyheadhollow.wordpress.com/2013/08/04/1960s-vs-1980s-liberals/.)
A great selection! Wish I could join in.
Aw! Will have to Skype you in sometime 🙂 x
It’s great to hear you started a text club! It’s definitely fun to have a multi cultural group to hear everyone’s ideas:)