Were you looking forward to Monday’s solar eclipse — the first full eclipse to hit the United States in decades? You filthy, filthy racist.
That’s at least the take of Brooklyn Law School professor Alice Ristroph, who used a staggering 4,544 words in The Atlantic to explaining why the phenomenon of the moon blocking the sun just wasn’t diverse enough for her tastes.
“On August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will arrive mid-morning on the coast of Oregon,” Ristroph writes. “The moon’s shadow will be about 70 miles wide, and it will race across the country faster than the speed of sound, exiting the eastern seaboard shortly before 3 p.m. local time. It has been dubbed the Great American Eclipse, and along most of its path, there live almost no black people.”
The movements of the firmament are indeed unconcerned with white privilege, although one would imagine Ristroph would be aware of this. To be fair, Ristroph does note that, “(p)resumably, this is not explained by the implicit bias of the solar system. It is a matter of population density, and more specifically geographic variations in population density by race, for which the sun and the moon cannot be held responsible.
“Still, an eclipse chaser is always tempted to believe that the skies are relaying a message,” Ristroph said.
Among some of the problematic exclusions the eclipse will alight upon: Oregon, a blue state which had “a provision in the original state constitution of 1857 that prohibited any ‘free Negro or Mulatto’ from entering and residing in the state”; Wyoming and Idaho, which don’t have many minorities and most of those are “Latino, American Indian, and Alaskan”; rural Illinois, where the KKK used to be very active; Leavenworth, Kansas, where “the percentage of blacks among all federal prisoners is close to 40 percent” (all innocent, of course); Missouri, home of the Missouri Compromise, and the Deep South, which… well, do you really need to ask?
While not a particularly difficult article to understand, the overarching argument Ristroph makes is about as coherent as a Pynchon novel is to a second-grader. (For its medium, it’s also about as long, although nowhere near as well-written.) Nearest I can understand it, it’s basically that the Electoral College and two senators per state is a very, very bad thing that disenfranchises African-Americans and stuff. That doesn’t have an awful lot to do with the sun and moon, but people got tired of hearing liberal whingebags rant about the Senate and Electoral College by last December, so I’m guessing leaning on the eclipse for a news peg was the only way she could get her missive published.
“The shadow of the moon doesn’t care where it falls or who lives below. And in certain respects, the federal government designed in our Constitution doesn’t care where people live, either,” Ristroph says.
That’s a bad thing, to Ristroph, because it gives states certain rights — but “the equal power of states was enshrined at a time when states served white people, and never since have states’ rights been a particularly effective mechanism for racial equality.” Let me here point out that Ristroph teaches in the state of New York but apparently feels that state’s autonomy doesn’t allow it the capacity to be sufficiently liberal on issues of race. I’ll leave that one out there for summary judgement.
“But perhaps the strange path of the eclipse suggests a need for reorganization,” Ristroph concludes. “We have figured out, more or less, how to count every person. We have not yet found a political system in which every person counts equally.”
This, of course, isn’t the point of a large federal republic that has to balance state and federal interests, and Ristroph’s arguments that this is all set up deliberately to disenfranchise African-Americans are weak — when they even exist at all. Nowhere in her screed does it explain why nobody complained the Electoral College was racist when Barack Obama won it twice or how the Senate was racist when Democrats were in control of it. Don’t bother looking for it.
However, it’s refreshing to see someone vociferate 4,500 words on how a solar eclipse proves the Constitution is racist. I look forward to future missives about how the Mitsubishi Eclipse is emblematic of white privilege, how Eclipse Gum proves that Michael Brown was murdered, and how “Total Eclipse of the Heart” demonstrates how Russians hacked our voting machines. Bonnie Tyler? More like Bonishka Tylerova!
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source: Conservative Tribune