Sunday, March 21, 2021

Clueless, Cruel, or Actively Malign?

I happened upon this Gordon Parks photo in my Twitter feed (from Marc Davenant) today:

It was accompanied by this description:

Segregated Drinking Fountain, Mobile, Alabama, 1956 by Gordon Parks from the series Segregation Story. It didn’t end well for the family he photographed, who were run out of town when the story was published.

The most recent response in the replies was from a Twitter user called Brett Crowhurst, who has 4 followers and who follows 116 others. Both of those are low numbers, particularly the 4... especially for an account that has existed since 2016, making me suspect it's a sock puppet or a bot or there's some kind of malign actor behind it.

Brett replied with this:

Images like this reinforce the importance of history. Highlighting mistakes of the past so we can hopefully prevent them happening again. Hence my concern that removing monuments/statues we find 'uncomfortable' is probably not the best of ideas.

Describing Jim Crow segregation as a "mistake" (which makes it sound like a simple error instead of a system of oppression) is bad enough. But then he goes on try to use the photo to prove that removing "monuments" that "we" — whoever that assumed group is — find uncomfortable is not a good idea.

Because otherwise, all that racism might be forgotten and done again, I guess? As if we don't still live with systemic racism? As if Germany needs monuments to Hitler to make sure they don't become Nazis again, right?

And Gordon Parks' photos are not be being suppressed. It's a false analogy. 

From the little bit that Brett has posted to his Twitter account, I can't tell if he's clueless, cruel, or actively malign, but I'm tending toward clueless. There's nothing else there that's this kind of bad.

It's still not an excuse. There's all sorts of free information around you, Brett. Read up (even read the other comments on this thread about the Parks photo!) before you speak.

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