Alon Preiss: Maskless in Brooklyn, Herman Cain on SNL and the return of Sister Souljah

A few thoughts for the week, mostly politics. Have you heard anything about politics lately?

Herman Cain jokes – it’s too soon

Maskless partisans who die give some people mixed emotions. By not wearing masks, they mostly endanger others, not themselves. Every maskless partisan who dies may have taken down other people with him; and his death may save lives. But it is the death of a human being, often a good human being who was just misguided.

So I think SNL’s dead-Herman-Cain gag last night went too far. It made me sad.

What is a Sister Souljah Moment, really?

A whole month ago, liberal New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie wrote that Donald Trump needs his own “Sister Souljah Moment.”

What he meant was that Trump should condemn violent white supremacists who act in his name, even though they make up a part of his base.

But what was the real Sister Souljah moment? Bouie may be too young to remember it accurately.

In 1992, Bill Clinton was the presidential candidate of a political party, the Democrats, that many whites had turned away from. To help win the election, he wanted to show that the Democrats would not be too beholden to Black Americans, and he needed someone relatively defenseless to criticize.

Sister Souljah is a musician, whose name sounded scary to white people a few decades ago; she is a powerful performer, but she has never been especially popular, and she was not someone with a huge following in 1992. In the early 1990s, she recorded a single, badly selling album (although it was a good album), and also did a lot of good work on community programs. Not someone with a huge audience, not someone who could fight back. An easy target for demagogy.

So Clinton found a not-offensive Sister Souljah quote, took it out of context (she did not call for a day “to kill white people”) and condemned her in a speech that made headlines.

Yes, Trump really ought to condemn white supremacists and neo-Nazis more vocally (good luck with that), but no one should compare that to Clinton’s opportunistic attack on a defenseless Black performer who had done nothing wrong.

It’s slanderous.

Trump May Win. Really

Trump is down in the polls, but voters still give him high marks on the economy, better than Biden. That is, voters – even voters who say they are voting Biden – think that Trump would do better at reviving a post-covid economy.

They are wrong, but that’s what they believe.

How many Biden-leaning voters will pull the switch for Trump when election day comes, out of what they see as their economic interest? (Bret Stephens wrote of one particular jarring example.)

Furthermore, Politico warns that “suppression efforts in the final weeks of the election threaten the voting blocs Democrats need most.”

Trump will not win the popular vote, and he will certainly not win the majority of voters in swing states who want to vote or try to vote. But the combination of economic polling and suppression shenanigans present a real threat to the Dems.

This isn’t over.

An unexpected endorsement

This, from an unlikely source:

“Scientific American has never endorsed a presidential candidate in our 175-year history — until now. The 2020 election is literally a matter of life and death. We urge you to vote for health, science and Joe Biden for President.”

My colleague, Steven S. Drachman, writes: “[There are t]wo things I like about this. First, the endorsement for Joe Biden. Second, no ‘Oxford Comma’ after ‘science’ in the last sentence.”

Drachman doesn’t care for Oxford comma absolutism.

I Will Get to It Soon, I promise

A few weeks ago, I saw an essay on the Times Opinion page entitled “How to Die.”

Well, I have been busy, and I haven’t gotten around to reading it.

I mean, I want to. It looks interesting. I just haven’t found the time.

Let me know if it’s any good.

Demonstrations in Brooklyn

As a Jewish fellow, I am sad to see some of my Orthodox brothers protesting in the street against health precautions as the virus (like a tree!) grows in Brooklyn. I am not a praying man. But this behavior goes against everything I understand about the spirit of Judaism, and this also violates a few explicit precepts of Talmudic law.

Come on, everyone. If you won’t wear a mask for your fellow Jews, then do it for Halacha. We have 11 months till Yom Kippur 5782, let’s start the year on the right foot.


Alon Preiss is the author of In Love With Alice (2017). Available NOW from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or from ANY BOOKSTORE IN ANY TOWN OR CITY IN AMERICA

Design by Steven S. Drachman