Zero Squared #91: Trump, an Insider’s View

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Former NEA Chairman Bill Ivey returns this week and we discuss the unexpected election of Trump. Ivey made the news recently when his March 13th, 2016 email to Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta was published by Wikileaks and he’s returning to in order to give us an insider’s perspective on the election.

Here’s a short excerpt from that infamous email:

We’ve all been quite content to demean government, drop civics and in general conspire to produce an unaware and compliant citizenry. The unawareness remains strong but compliance is obviously fading rapidly.

Thanks goes out to Zero Books Club members and encourage you to join. Zero Books Club member gain access to a second podcast each week. The Inside Zero Books podcast sometimes features a second hour from this podcast, and sometimes features conversations about the left and left publishing with members of the Zero Books editorial team. And the next Inside Zero Books podcast will feature something of a shouting match between myself and a couple of Portland State University philosophy students as we discuss Judith Butler, Edward Said, and the whiteness of philosophy and scientific reason.

In this episode you’ll hear a clip from the @Midnight debate between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders impersonators as well as a jazz version of hail to the chief.

24 Nov 2016, 3:45am
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Zero Squared #90: From 4Chan to the White House?

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Angela Nagle is a writer based in Ireland. Her work has appeared in the Irish Times, the Dublin Review of Books, and the Atlantic. Her article “The New Man of 4Chan” for the Baffler was the basis for a book coming out from Zero Books next year tentatively titled “Kill All Normies: The online culture wars from 4chan to Trump.” We discuss her book and research in this episode.

Thanks goes out to our Zero Books Club members. Now is a good time to support Zero Books and left publishing in general and one way to do it is to sign up to be a Zero Books Club member and receive our weekly Inside Zero Books podcast.

Also featured in this episode is an email from a listener following last week’s interview with Michael Rectenwald, some thoughts on transgender politics and intersectionality, an excerpt from Norman Mailer’s film Maidstone, a quick definition of the word “cuck,” and an instrumental version of the Trololo song.

Zero Squared #89: Deplorables

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NYU professor Michael Rectenwald is the guest this week. Rectenwald was recently at the center of a small controversy at NYU because, after being called out on Facebook for posting a link to an article mocking the need for alternative pronouns for all the various genders, he decided to create an alt-right persona and critique SJWs on twitter. When he announced the results of this “experiment” in an interview for the Washington Square News a slightly larger controversy erupted. His colleagues signed a collective letter criticizing his illogical rhetoric, finishing with the line “the cause of Professor Rectenwald’s guilt is certainly no, in our view, his identity as a cis, white, straight male. The cause of his guilt is the content and structure of his thinking.”
After this Rectenwald took a leave of absence from his University. With a little investigation it appears that he requested this leave of absence, but insinuated that the leave was not voluntary.

His story went somewhat viral. He was interviewed for various publications and penned an opinion piece for the Washington Post with the headline: “Here’s what happened when I challenged the PC campus culture at NYU.” He wrote, “I was strongly encouraged to take a paid leave of absence [and told] that it had nothing to do with my recent media posture. That’s not exactly how I see it.”
However, soon after this was published some of Rectenwald’s private emails were also published, namely a correspondence between NYU Dean Schwarzbach and Rectenwald. This correspondence made it clear that the leave of absence had been granted at Rectenwald’s request. The final email from Schwarzbach concludes.

“For us to be clear on your needs, we require you to state unequivocally and in a direct, unambiguous response whether you still need the leave you requested. I expect that answer—whichever you give—to be henceforth the same in all settings. If you cannot do that, at this point, I think I have no choice but to make a decision based on your public utterances, and the leave you requested—apparently under false pretenses—is withdrawn, and you are expected to meet your classes as assigned.”

I do not know if Rectenwald is now back at NYU and teaching or if his leave was extended, but I do know that all of this went on while the possibility of his promotion was being determined and that he eventually was promoted to the level of full professor.

From the outside, and with the facts that I have so far, it looks to me like Rectenwald pulled this stunt in order to create a context wherein his being passed over for promotion would have negative political consequences for the university. That isn’t a demonstrable fact, and if Rectenwald wants to return to the podcast in order to explain his side of the story more fully I’d be glad to talk to him again.

At the time this was recorded Trump had not been elected and I was very sympathetic to his cause.

I should take a moment to talk about that last fact. The fact that Donald Trump was elected is a game changer. The notion of safe spaces, for instance, has an entirely different connotation now that Stephen Bannon has been selected to be Trump’s chief of staff in the oval office. That said, the need for overcoming racial divides, for creating alliances and struggling together as a people regardless of race is the only way to amass enough political power to effectively fight back.

Rectenwald’s claim that identity politics on the left feeds and strengthens identity politics on the alt-right is worthy of consideration outside the context of Rectenwald’s shenanigans. Standing in solidarity with all the different people who Trump is scapegoating, making sure we protect and defend each other from attack, is necessary. Combating racism is an immediate priority even as we return to the task of changing the economic foundation that generates racism and divides us.

Zero Squared Special: The Election of Trump

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This week’s Zero Books podcast is a conversation between Zero Books publisher Douglas Lain, Tom O’Brien of the Alpha to Omega podcast, and Zero Books reader C Derick Varn. The discussion is about what everyone is discussing–the surprising defeat of Hillary Clinton and the democratic party and the election of reality TV Star and tycoon Donald Trump.

Thanks goes out to our Zero Books Club members. Now is a good time to support Zero Books and left publishing in general and one way to do it is to sign up to be a Zero Books Club member and receive our weekly Inside Zero Books podcast. You can find a link to our membership page in this week’s show notes.

No excerpts or music this week. Just an hour and forty minutes conversation on the ramifications of the election of Trump.