Read The Damn Play

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As many of you have heard by now, there’s been quite the kerfuffle about this year’s Shakespeare in the Park production of ‘Julius Caesar’; specifically, its use of a Donald Trump lookalike in the role of Julius Caesar. The backlash is coming almost exclusively from the right, and the play, along with Kathy Griffin’s photo shoot, are being held up as evidence to support the narrative that liberals are bullying and threatening anyone who doesn’t agree with them, so they’re the REAL Nazis!

This is, of course, nonsense.

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Stop Being Quirky

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I was walking my dog Max a little while ago, because he’s a good boy when he’s not eating everything in sight. I got to a crosswalk, and as I waited for the light to change I saw a girl walking down the street, dressed in that “retro ‘90s” style.You know what I’m talking about: mid-level socks with frilly tops, tennis shoes from some weird-ass, extinct brand like Avia or Etonic, purple nylon windbreaker with an elastic bottom that makes that swshh-swshh-swshh sound when you walk, hair in a scrunchie. The retro ‘90s fashion trend is as bizarre as the one we just finished with the ‘80s, but without any of the charm.

Anyway, there she was, dressed like she was about to go play with a Skip-It in the park. I took notice, but I’ve seen enough people dressed like this that it’s not a particularly strange occurrence. What was strange was how she was walking: she had her arms straight out from her sides like she was about to engage in some light calisthenics. In fact, she wasn’t even walking; she was strolling. Ambling, even; in fact, I daresay she was meandering.

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What is Bill Maher’s Purpose?

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In the age of the 24-hour news cycle, political and cultural commentators are a dime a dozen. There is no shortage of people willing to go on TV to offer their take on society, just as there’s a mountain of thinkpieces about What This All Means available on every corner of the internet. Everybody has an opinion, and now more than ever, they have the means to communicate it to the world.

Commentary has become an industry unto itself, which makes Bill Maher’s career all the more impressive. There are very few straightforward political or cultural commentators who enjoy as prolific and influential a career as Maher has since breaking out in 1993 with Politically Incorrect (and later Real Time With Bill Maher); moreover, there are few comedians who have managed to remain culturally relevant for as long as Maher. And when you combine the two groups, Bill Maher is in a class by himself.

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The Typo

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First things first: Trump meant to type “coverage” — it’s pretty clear based on the context of the rest of the sentence. The reason Twitter lit up for more than 24 hours was not because people genuinely didn’t understand what Trump was trying to say; rather, they were ridiculing him for:

1) Making the typo;

2) Actually tweeting the typo, and;

3) Leaving the typo up for more than an hour.

It was dumb, and Trump was roundly mocked for it, but honestly, in the grand scheme of things, this doesn’t even rate in the top 100 dumbest things Trump has done in…hell, in the past year alone. You would think this would be obvious to any observer, regardless of their political leanings. And in a normal universe, Trump supporters would laugh it off and go on with their lives, and the internet – as it always does – would eventually move on.

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Stay Gone, Sean Hannity

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It was reported yesterday that Fox News host Sean Hannity is taking an unexpected vacation amidst mounting backlash from his advertisers for his embrace of the bizarre and moronic conspiracy theory surrounding the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich. For those unfamiliar with the case, Rich was murdered in an apparent botched robbery last July; the internet, of course, wasn’t satisfied with the official explanation for his death. And since Seth Rich was a DNC staffer, conspiracy theorists — with their Rain Man-esque compulsion to make everything, no matter how small, fit into a larger and more sinister picture — decided his death was no mere coincidence.

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Actually, Contrarianism Is Bad

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I recently came across an article by Katy Waldman on Slate titled “Against Retweeting Trump’s Old Tweets.” In it, Waldman makes a case that the popular practice of retweeting Donald Trump’s old tweets whenever his current actions contradict his previously-stated positions is, in fact, a Bad Thing To Do. The title alone was enough to spark my annoyance: someone deemed it worthwhile to sit down and compose a 1,200-word finger-wag about the perils of holding the President accountable for his past comments, as though this practice — which consists of finding an old Trump tweet and tapping twice on your phone in the hope that an internet stranger will find it humorous enough to like it, retweet it, or (dare to dream) follow you­ — will doom our society and therefore must be contained.

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The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Racism

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First-person essays have been around as long as the craft of writing itself, and they’ve enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years. It’s easy to see why: from an editorial standpoint, first-person narratives offer a potentially unique take on a particular topic, and the outlet that runs them is able to offer a perspective that none of their competitors have. From a more cynical business-side view, since these essays are typically the work of freelancers or unpaid contributors, the outlet risks very little in terms of money or exposure while potentially reaping the benefits if the piece goes viral.

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The Unbearable Whiteness of Being

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I woke up this morning to a text from my fiancée. It was a link to an article titled “The Unbearable Whiteness of Being,” written by John Vercher for Cognoscenti. I felt a pang of recognition; you see, I’d written an essay by the same title over a year ago. I’d shopped it around to various outlets, but didn’t receive any responses. I wasn’t surprised by the lack of interest; it is (necessarily) long, and I doubt there’s much of a market for first-person essays about biracial people who identify as black but present as white.

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Dear Hillary: Please Go Away

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Leading up to the election last November, I was all-in on Hillary Clinton. This was due in equal measure to her impressive résumé as a career public servant, her capabilities as a politician, and her vision for America’s future. It also helped that, unlike a lot of people my age, I never fully bought into the notion that Bernie Sanders was a better candidate, even though Bernie’s views are far more closely aligned with my own than Hillary’s were. Many of Bernie’s proposals sounded wonderful, but they also demonstrated either a) an overabundance of wishful thinking, or b) a lack of pragmatism, neither of which are typically qualities I look for in a President. Sure, free college for everyone sounds wonderful, but with a Republican-majority Congress – one that doesn’t even see fit to allocate any money to keep people, y’know, alive – it’s a pipe dream. And while Hillary’s proposals were derided for not thinking big enough, in all likelihood, she had much higher odds of passing some of her more moderate legislation than Bernie would have if he were elected.

But it didn’t matter. She lost anyway.

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The Problem With Lindsey Graham

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Like his colleague John McCain, Senator Lindsey Graham has established a reputation as a “maverick” politician, a gimlet-eyed straight shooter who isn’t afraid to cross swords with those in his own party when his conscience demands he do so. In this regard, he’s seen as a breath of fresh air in an increasingly divided political environment; partisan hacks like Trey Gowdy and Jason Chaffetz will contort themselves in any manner of ways to defend clearly indefensible positions and justify their party’s actions, even if it means offering themselves up on the altar of public scorn. But Graham would never do that – he has too much respect for the office and for the sacred duty of his role as an elected official to represent all his constituents, not just the ones who voted for him to ever engage in such behavior. It is this perceived fortitude that has helped drive the narrative that Lindsey Graham is above the fray.

The only problem is, it’s not true.

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