In this episode, I discuss the anti-lockdown protests and opposition to ongoing quarantining in the face of COVID-19. Rather than focusing on the extremist gun nuts, anti-vaxxers, and conspiracy loons behind some of this activity, I focus on the more reasonable fears of average, everyday folks, simply worried about the economy and their ability to support their families. But as I explain, however reasonable their fears may be, the assumption that we must choose our money/jobs or our lives/health is false. It is a position into which people have been placed only because right-wing ideology and policymakers resist the kinds of government support for families and workers that other nations provide as a matter of course. We could be doing the same things as nations like Denmark, for instance -- paying their people significant sums to stay home until the danger passes -- but our cultish devotion to the so-called free market and limited safety nets makes that unthinkable. And yet, using two thought experiments, I show that we WOULD do those larger state interventions IF the victims of COVID-19 were disproportionately white, affluent, healthy, and in the prime of their lives. Similarly, we would take that route if the virus had a much greater ability to spread or was as deadly as say, a chemical weapons attack. The fact that we could go the direction of a huge government support effort, but aren't doing that currently, proves that we value some lives more than others and that we value our ideology far more than the lives we're sure to lose if social distancing measures are lifted.
May 7, 2020
In this episode, I explore the importance of gratitude and humility, in terms of how we think of our own place and the place of others in the economy (especially in this moment of quarantine), and also as political organizing tools. As we enter the home stretch for the 2020 election, activists in both the Biden camp and Sanders camp have been quick to deploy guilt and shame to motivate those in the opposite camp. For Biden supporters, it's shaming those Bernie die-hards who say they will refuse to vote for Biden in November, by insisting they will be responsible if Trump wins a second term. For the Berners its shaming supporters of literally any other Democrat for "not caring if people die because they can't afford insulin," or not caring about the climate crisis or student debt. In neither case is this approach intellectually honest, strategically wise, or ethical. Instead, as I explain in this episode, we should utilize gratitude for those who could be our allies in the struggle for a more just society. And we should deploy humility when it comes to our own awareness--since, after all, whatever we know (or think we know) is the result of what we've been taught and the insights to which we've been exposed. We haven't the right, ethically, to be smug about how woke we are, when our own awareness may be fairly recent and is largely the result of others helping us come to whatever insights we've managed to stitch together.
Apr 15, 2020
1 hr 3 min
Episode 59 - Facts Don't Care About Your Feelings, But Decent People Do: The Dangerous Emotional Detachment of the Right
In this episode, I examine the right's new favorite mantra -- "facts don't care about your feelings" -- and what it says about modern conservatism's deeply stunted emotional core. Looking at the political, philosophical and psychological underpinnings of this notion, that "reason and logic" are a) conservative, and b) in opposition to feelings and emotion (which are "liberal") I note the absurdity of such arguments, and also their fundamentally dehumanizing and dangerous logic. Fact is: 1) What the right considers facts often aren't; 2) Conservatives are some of the biggest snowflakes on the planet; 3) Reason and emotion are NOT opposed to one another; rather they are complimentary and both critical to making us fully human; 4) In fact, only by caring about feelings and emotions (our own and those of others) can we fully make logic and rationality function as it should, and persuade anyone of the facts we seek to share with them; and, 5) Psychologically speaking, to embrace detached indifference to people's emotions and feelings is to embrace sociopathy. It is to suggest that the nurturing of an anti-social personality is a morally compelling life goal. It is not. It is a sickness. And apparently, that sociopathy is a hallmark of the modern conservative mind: something to be resisted and defeated for the good of us all.
Nov 27, 2019
On this episode, taped live at the 2019 National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education, Tim and his guests discuss the need for solidarity between Jews and Muslims in the face of growing white nationalism, fueled by deep-seated anti-Semitism as well as Islamophobia. As synagogues and mosques around the world come under attack from terrorists intent on sowing hatred, the importance of Jews and Muslims seeing themselves as allies to one another becomes ever more important. Islam and Judaism have both been intensely racialized by white supremacists in ways that “other” them both and necessitate greater solidarity between the two. But how do we build such solidarity, especially with so much division and misunderstanding concerning the ongoing Israel/Palestine conflict? How can we navigate that issue to produce greater understanding and a shared commitment to justice for all? We’ll also discuss how whiteness intersects with Judaism in America, and how Islam and Judaism both sometimes operate with an undercurrent of anti-blackness in this country. My guests for this panel were Dr. Amer Ahmed, Dr. Lisa Albrecht and Kahled Al-Hakim, whose bios and work are explored in greter detail on the program
Nov 1, 2019
1 hr 20 min
In this episode, taped live at the 2019 National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education, Tim and his panelists discuss the way in which Asian Americans have long been viewed by some as a "model minority," and how that framing papers over ongoing racism against all persons of color, incuding Asian folks. Particular attention is given to the way in which this trope has been deployed by reactionary attorneys who brought the recent lawsuit against Harvard for its affirmative action programs. By pointing to higher average test scores for Asian students, the lawsuit claims more qualified Asian Americans are being discriminated against in elite college admissions to make way for black and Latino students with lower test scores. This argument rests on any number of false assumptions, but is a cynical and effective way to divide people of color by pitting them against one another, rather than engaging all such students in a fight for greater equity and access. Tim's guests for this panel -- who are introduced in the panel itself -- were Dr. Helen Zia, Dr. David Pilgrim, Dr. Mary Danico and Dr. Nolan Cabrera.
Oct 14, 2019
1 hr 27 min
In this episode, taped live at the 2019 National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education (NCORE), Tim and his panel discuss the rise of overt racist and white nationalist organizing in America, and especially on college campuses. With groups like Identity Europa actively recruiting college students, and with young people especially susceptible to right-wing radicalization via internet-based hate forums, it will be important for colleges—as places of learning and as spaces ostensibly committed to pluralism and equity—to devise strategies for responding to the upsurge of racist, Islamophobic, xenophobic and anti-Semitic activity. Panelists will explore the causes for resurgent white nationalism, controversies regarding free speech/hate speech as they pertain to this new threat, and various institutional responses that colleges and universities will need to explore in order to meet the challenge. Panelists include: Scot Nakagawa, Lindsey Schubiner, Rahuldeep Gill and Tim Wise
Jul 30, 2019
1 hr 24 min
In this episode, Tim speaks with Daryle Lamont Jenkins, founder of One People's Project and a leading figure in the American antifa (anti-fascist) movement. With so much misinformation about antifa in mainstream corporate media, Tim and Daryle take the opportunity to discuss what antifa is and what it isn't; to discuss various tactics of antifa, from releasing the personal information of white supremacists to confronting Nazis in the streets. Do these tactics help or hurt the cause? Are there limits to the tactics? And what is the goal of antifa? Additionally Wise and Jenkins discuss why ignoring fascists doesn't work, the overlap between extreme and mainstream right-wing figures and movements, and why there are even people of color and Jews in neo-fascist and white supremacist movements nowadays. An important and enlightening discussion in the age of Trumpism
Jun 25, 2019
1 hr 9 min
Episode 54 - Redemption & Restoration for the Formerly Incarcerated: A Conversation with Bettie Kirkland of Project Return
On this episode, Tim speaks with Bettie Kirkland of Project Return: a Nashville-based non-profit that has been working for forty years to help formerly incarcerated persons find jobs, and most recently housing, despite the oftentimes substantial barriers they face to both. Tim and Bettie discuss Project Return’s efforts over the years, how their work can help break down persistent stereotypes about the formerly incarcerated, and why a model of redemption and restoration is so much more logical than a model of punitiveness and shame—the latter of which, sadly, too often predominates in the criminal justice system. They also reflect on the recently passed First Steps Act—the criminal justice reform bill signed by President Trump—and how activists can hopefully use its passage as adrenaline for further reforms, rather than allowing it to become anesthesia, lulling us into a false sense of security that the problems of the justice system have been solved with one piece of rather limited legislation.
May 14, 2019
In this episode, Tim speaks with Dr. Jonathan Metzl, a professor of sociology and psychiatry at Vanderbilt University, and the author of the new book, Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland. In his groundbreaking volume, Metzl sets out to explore and answer the question: why do working class and struggling white Americans so often seem to vote against their own interests? Electing politicians who vote against public health care initiatives (like Obamacare) from which they themselves would benefit? Or politicians who vote for fewer restrictions on gun availability even as white gun suicide rates skyrocket? Or politicians who vote to cut funding from education budgets upon which they themselves depend? Wise and Metzl discuss the latter’s explosive findings from months of research in Tennessee, Kansas and Missouri—findings that illuminate how white fear (of black criminals, of “wasting” tax dollars on people of color, and of squandered resources in “urban” school districts) lead many whites to support right-wing policies that only make their own lives less livable. As one white man in Metzl’s study, who was dying of an untreated illness but couldn’t afford health care, put it: he would rather die than go on Obamacare, because he doesn’t support tax dollars going to welfare recipients and “illegals.” That man, who indeed has since died, is perhaps the best (but hardly the only) example of how white racial resentment harms not only its intended targets, but ultimately can destroy whites as well. A powerful and illuminating conversation about a critical topic, this episode of Speak Out With Tim Wise will force us to ask the critical question: can we build a movement for justice in a nation where whites are so blinded by racial resentments and anxieties as to not even care for their own well-being, to say nothing of the well being of others? And if we are to build such a movement, what will it take to overcome the politics of resentment so aptly chronicled in Metzl’s research?
Apr 2, 2019
On this episode, Tim discusses CNN’s firing of contributor Marc Lamont Hill (a former guest on the show), for comments he made in favor of full equality and justice for the Palestinian people. Hill’s words, misinterpreted as a call for violence against Israeli Jews, have demonstrated not only the intellectual dishonesty of some of Israel’s most militant defenders, but also the limits of open inquiry and dialogue around the pressing issue of Middle East peace. In this reflection on Hill’s firing, Wise examines the way his own critique of Zionism has resulted in professional pushback and attacks over the years, and explores the way in which the conflation of anti-Zionist thought with anti-Semitism is not only rooted in ignorance but actually results in greater danger for Jews around the world. Unless and until we can separate Zionism as a political movement from Judaism as an ethnic/cultural and religious community, not only will Jews themselves/ourselves be unwilling to sufficiently criticize Israel, but anti-Semites will conflate the two in a way that ultimately, and ironically, makes Jews less safe. In short, the silencing of pro-Palestinian narratives is not only bad for Palestinians, but when done so as to “protect” the interests of Jews, actually makes everyone including Jews, worse off.
Dec 4, 2018