I’ve been thinking for a while about how certain tech moguls who believe they’re on the cutting edge of human “progress” have absolutely retrograde ideas when it comes to gender (and race, for that matter). One aspect of this phenomenon is the “pronatalist” movement, embraced by billionaires and other wealthy weirdos who are trying to have as many babies as possible in an effort to repopulate the human race with their superior genes. Politicians like JD Vance — backed by Thiel — have openly called for a return to extremely traditional gender roles. Meanwhile, the tradwife movement is booming on TikTok.
I recently read an article about Kroger’s lucrative data business, which noted that the company had collected “35+ petabytes of first-party customer data.” This is 66 percent larger than the Library of Congress’s entire digital collection. The data is sold to third-party brands and advertisers seeking highly detailed information on customer behavior. Kroger has admitted that facial recognition cameras are also used in “select locations.” Albertsons has also been known to use facial recognition technology, along with many other major retailers. What they are doing with this biometric information remains unclear. We do know that using them for security can lead to false positives exacerbated by built-in biases (an NYU student famously sued Apple a few years ago for wrongly identifying him as a thief).
March of 2003 was a terrible time to be politically aware in the US. To anyone paying close attention to the Bush administration and the neocons’ agenda (spelled out by the Project for the New American Century), it was obvious from the beginning that the invasion of Iraq was a war of choice that had nothing to do with 9/11. It was also obvious that the Bush-Cheney-Rove White House was not exactly trustworthy, and should not have been given the benefit of the doubt. But in those days, much of American media fell into lockstep behind them, not wanting to be seen as unpatriotic in a time of WAR!
The term “culture wars” is used by many well-meaning people, including many progressive writers and activists I admire. It’s a convenient way to refer to a number of issues. But in this current political moment, I think it’s a highly misleading euphemism. What we are experiencing in America right now is an asymmetrical attack on basic freedoms — a fascist movement that thrives on targeting certain groups, erasing history, and spreading dangerous falsehoods through a vast media apparatus. To call this a “culture war” is to legitimize the contemporary GOP and its extremist counterparts as a coherent and authentic “culture” worthy of respect. This is a misuse of the concept of culture, creating a false equivalence between marginalized groups and those who would harm or eliminate them in a quest for ever more power.
This is about the right’s race-baiting response to the East Palestine train disaster, which you can read more about here. It’s clear that one party was trying to prevent such disasters, and the other was doing the industry’s bidding without concern for human health or safety. The narrative being put forth on the right, however, is that because East Palestine residents are mostly white and conservative, they have been “forgotten” by the Biden administration, unlike the “favored” (read Black) populations of Detroit and other cities that supposedly garner more sympathy. Given the high levels of environmental pollution many minority communities are exposed to, this assertion is asinine. It’s also incredibly dangerous.