Not a joke: Atlantic article notes that eclipse path moves over many white areas, uses path of totality to indict America for racism

UPDATE: There are now over 500 comments on Ristroph’s piece, virtually all of them critical, and some quite funny. I actually feel sorry for the poor woman, but maybe she doesn’t read comments. Here are a few I selected quickly.

_____________________

The present ideological climate in America is such that almost anything can serve as a reason to hammer on America’s racist past and the racism that our country still harbors. That’s fine when we’re discussing Confederate statues or white supremacy, but today’s eclipse? Granted, at least Atlantic author Alice Ristroph, a white professor at Brooklyn Law School, didn’t say that the laws of physics were racist, moving the shadow of today’s eclipse over mostly white areas of the U.S., but she uses that fact to emphasize the whiteness of the areas traversed by the shadow, and to rehash things that we already know. Her lesson (see below) is that the eclipse itself gives poignant reminders of America’s racism.

Click on the screenshot to see the article:

The piece is so contrived, so ridiculous, that at first I thought it was a joke.  But it wasn’t. As a writer friend of mind noted:

I am just as shocked, dismayed, and wearied by the idiocy of this piece as you.  It seems like some sort of sick, virtue-signaling satire, but it’s not.  The author is a law professor!  She’s supposed to teach her students how to think straight!

First, here the New York Times‘s map of the full and 75% totality shadow. As you see, the shadow passes over much of the South.

Now I don’t want to enact the emotional labor to provide a full dissection of this piece, but it pretty much dissects itself when quoted. Yes, I think racism is evil, but I’m weary of people using things like eclipses to point out once again how evil we white people are and how complicit in racial injustice. A straight article about the topic with a genuine hook would have been better, but Ristroph more or less has to force the astronomical facts to fit her ideology. I’ll give some quotes (indented) to show how the article indicts itself:

It has been dubbed the Great American Eclipse, and along most of its path, there live almost no black people.

Presumably [JAC: ??], 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. At a moment of deep disagreement about the nation’s best path forward, here comes a giant round shadow, drawing a line either to cut the country in two or to unite it as one.

At this point my kishkes began tying themselves in knots. But wait! There’s more! Here’s where she comes very close to blaming the eclipse for giving white people the best view of totality:

Oregon, where this begins, is almost entirely white. The 10 percent or so of state residents who do not identify as white are predominantly Latino, American Indian, Alaskan, or Asian. There are very few black Oregonians, and this is not an accident. The land that is now Oregon was not, of course, always inhabited by white people, but as a U.S. territory and then a state, Oregon sought to get and stay white. Among several formal efforts at racial exclusion was a provision in the original state constitution of 1857 that prohibited any “free Negro or Mulatto” from entering and residing in the state.

But wait! There’s still more:

From Oregon, the Great American Eclipse will travel through Idaho and Wyoming. (It will catch a tiny unpopulated piece of Montana, too.) Percentage-wise, Idaho and Wyoming are even whiter than Oregon. And as in Oregon, but even more so, the few non-white residents of Idaho and Wyoming are not black—they are mostly Latino, American Indian, and Alaskan.

She shoehorns in a lot of stuff taken from history books, but, sadly, the tedious piece goes on as the eclipse moves East:

After Wyoming, the eclipse will go through Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri. This is America’s heartland, and also, literally, the land of compromise. When Missouri sought statehood in 1819, the United States consisted of 22 states, equally divided between those that permitted slavery and those that did not. Missouri’s request to enter as a slave-holding state threatened to upset the balance, but a kind of unity was preserved with the Missouri Compromise. The deal allowed Missouri its slaves but drew a line across the nation, east-west to the Pacific Ocean, and mandated that slavery would be illegal in all other territories north of the line. Nebraska and Kansas, bordering Missouri to the west and lying just north of the compromise line, were thus to remain slavery-free. But the Missouri Compromise was repealed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which allowed the (white) people of those territories to decide for themselves whether to have slavery.

Had enough? But wait—there’s still more! With all that you get this free juicer disquisition on how the path of totality unfairly goes through white areas:

The total eclipse will be visible from Lincoln, Nebraska, the state’s capital, which reports a black population of 3.8 percent. The city of Omaha has a greater black population, about 14 percent. It is home to many of the refugees from Africa and elsewhere that Nebraska has welcomed in recent years, many of whom now work in slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants. But Omaha is about 50 miles northeast of the path of totality.

More?

From Kansas, the eclipse goes to Missouri, still mostly bypassing black people, though now much more improbably. About a third of Kansas City, Missouri, is black, but most of the city lies just south of the path of totality. To get the full show, eclipse chasers should go north to St. Joseph, almost 90 percent white and about 6 percent black, the place where Jesse James died and where Marshall Mathers, a.k.a. Eminem, was born.

. . . Moving east, the eclipse will pass part of St. Louis, whose overall population is nearly half black. But the black residents are concentrated in the northern half of the metropolitan area, and the total eclipse crosses only the southern half. Eight miles north of the path of totality is Ferguson, where Officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown three summers ago.

When the eclipse finally hits the South, Ristroph sees its path as highlighting racism all the more:

Former slave-holding states are still the home to most of America’s black population. In Kentucky, Tennessee, and eventually South Carolina, the eclipse will finally pass over black Americans. Even here, though, the path of totality seems to mark the legacy of slavery and the persistence of segregation more than any form of inclusion.

The problem here is Ristroph’s confirmation bias: there is no place in America where the path of total could pass where she couldn’t draw a lesson about racism. If that’s the case, then what’s the point of her article? It’s just a poorly conceived conceit for her to flaunt her virtue by indicting the rest of us.  And so, mercifully close to the piece’s end, we get this:

But after Tennessee, the shadow regains some speed and travels over white people only again for a while. It catches the northeast corner of Georgia and the western tip of North Carolina. Though both these states have substantial black populations, both also include overwhelmingly white rural areas, and it is those areas that lie in the path of totality. Rabun County, 1 percent black at the 2010 census, is the best place in Georgia to see the eclipse. Also in the path of totality are Habersham (3.4 percent black), Union (0.5 percent), and White (1.7 percent) counties.

. . . After Georgia, the eclipse will pass over a small piece of western North Carolina. The black population of these barely populated counties hovers around 1 percent, falling as low as 0.2 percent in Graham. The path of totality will narrowly miss Tryon, the birthplace of Nina Simone. In 1963, after learning of a bombing of a black church that killed four girls, Simone shut herself in a room and wrote “Mississippi Goddam” in less than an hour.

Had enough? I’ll spare you all but the end of the piece.

There are two possible conclusions: either God (or physical law) is racist, or that Ristroph is straining hernia-hard to use her metaphor. The latter is clearly the case, but in Ristroph’s last paragraph she lapses into full-on purple prose, working herself into a lather of righteousness and perhaps angling for a New Yorker article—but the New Yorker has far better writing than this:

And then the shadow goes to sea, still indifferent to the Earth below, indifferent to the little creatures here, indifferent to these people indifferent to their own histories. Or perhaps we are not indifferent, but just no more capable than butterflies and bees of seeing the long path and of deciding to change it. The Great American Eclipse illuminates, or darkens, a land still segregated, a land still in search of equality, a land of people still trying to dominate each other. When the lovely glow of a backlight fades, history is relentless, just one damn fact after another, one damning fact after another. America is a nation with debts that no honest man can pay. It is too much to ask that these debts simply be forgiven. But perhaps the strange path of the eclipse suggests a need for reorganization. We have figured out, more or less, how to count every person. [She’s referring to the census.] We have not yet found a political system in which every person counts equally.

I’m sure Dr. Ristroph’s feelings are sincere and admirable, but she has to find a better way to work against bigotry than use the eclipse as a metaphor. It’s labored to the point of being amusing which sort of undercuts her purpose. And I’m mystified that a respectable publication like the Atlantic would publish something like this. I guess it shows that in modern journalism, there’s no vehicle too bizarre to convey your anger about injustice.

82 Comments

  1. Doug
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    What a racist eclipse! I’ll bet it’s a Trump supporter!

    • Posted August 21, 2017 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      And I thought the eclipse was mean to be a protest *against* Trump!

    • BJ
      Posted August 23, 2017 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      Moon to sun: “You’re fired!”

  2. Jonathan Dore
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Probably the best way to think of this is as a sermon: a folksy little homily that, like countless sermon-writers for the past five centuries, have strained to make what they have to say sound relevant by tacking it on to a current event that can, in some way, be made a metaphor for some aspect of their chosen subject. Their interest in the event itself, as a rule, is of course zero.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted August 21, 2017 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

      I think that sums it up quite well.

      cr

      (I’ve just noted that the Equator passes through lands inhabited mostly by very dark people. I’m sure there’s some deep lesson to be drawn from that, when I figure out what it is).

      cr

  3. Larry Smith
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Good gravy!

    But, is it fair to draw a parallel between the eclipse and the current administration? As I wrote in an email to friends about a suggested solar eclipse playlist (“Paint it Black” and “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding),” for example), I started out tongue-in-cheek with the following:

    “On Monday, August 21, 2017, a great darkness will descend upon the United States and cut a wide swath across our great nation from coast to coast. The last time this happened was back on January 20.”

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted August 21, 2017 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      How about, “God, if you’re there and you want us to impeach Trump, how about giving us a sign, like, say, blotting out the sun for a few moments?” That’ll give the evangelicals something to think about.

    • BJ
      Posted August 23, 2017 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      Let’s see, in the theme of a “Oh-no-it’s-Trump-it-actually-happened” mix, how about:

      Elected — Alice Cooper

      Black Friday or The Royal Scam — Steely Dan

      Road to Nowhere or The Democratic Circus — Talking Heads

      In Every Dream Home a Heartache — Roxy Music

      I’ve Had Enough — The Who

      Lawyers, Guns and Money — Warren Zevon

      A Farewell to Kings — Rush

      OK, I could go on and on with this, so let’s just end with

      Oh! Sweet Nothin’, by The Velvet Underground, or I’ll list anothe 100 songs!

  4. Posted August 21, 2017 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Maybe it’s just that Mason and Dixon knew that there would be a full eclipse in 2017, worked out what the path would be and decided to follow that particular line when pushing out west?

    🙂

  5. Historian
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    The Atlantic article is a reprint from where it was originally posted, the liberal journal Democracy. This journal usually has very serious articles dealing with policy, which makes it only more disappointing that it would publish this nonsense. Most of the comments at the Democracy site mocks the article.

    http://democracyjournal.org/arguments/blackout/

  6. Kevin
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Superstition is strong with the sun. Fear and lack of education.

    The percentage of people who are going to look at the eclipse today and think upon it as some kind of dark transcendent message is about equal to the percentage of horror films in theaters.

    • Posted August 21, 2017 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      So, your guess is about… 85%?

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted August 21, 2017 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      There are people who think this is some kind of message from God re the return of Jesus etc. There was a serious item about it on Fox News a few days ago – they had a theologian on to reassure people the rapture wasn’t about to happen!

      • Gordon
        Posted August 21, 2017 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

        Good thing too otherwise all those post-rapture look after the pets contracts that atheists entered into would become activated – and dog walking can be difficult with a little satan pushing a pitchfork into your bum.

  7. Jeff Rankin
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Everything must be viewed through the lens of identity politics and victimhood, I guess.

    What a world people like the author must live in, where things like the eclipse (an opportunity for learning and fun) serve only to remind them of how awful the world was, and presumably still is.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted August 21, 2017 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      Well said.

    • Craw
      Posted August 21, 2017 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

      She probably doesn’t see quite all the world as unworthy. I bet she thinks highly of the part of it in the mirror.

  8. Taz
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    It’s not that bad – for a High School creative writing assignment.

    • nay
      Posted August 21, 2017 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      Agree. However, I was thinking college level, given the lack of misspellings, word choice and grammatical errors (although, there may have been some; I didn’t read the whole thing). The assignment would be to write a 10-page essay using metaphor to illustrate the points of your argument. This might even garner an “A” since she used the path of the eclipse throughout and without misspellings, etc. “Ah, we will ne’er forget thee, thou Golden College Days.”

  9. Ken Phelps
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    So there *is* such a thing as being educated beyond one’s intelligence.

  10. Historian
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Let us not forget that some right-wing evangelicals view the eclipse as an act of Satan and a call for sinners to repent.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2017/08/19/bryan-fischer-thinks-the-solar-eclipse-is-a-sign-from-satan/

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/christian-radio-host-eclipse-satan_us_599a5db2e4b01f6e801f5141?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

    • veroxitatis
      Posted August 21, 2017 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      This Fischer idiot witters on about the eclipse being a sign from God and entreats us to fight the darkness and return to the embrace of the Founders. Someone should remind him that the last occasion when there was a total eclipse which passed over only the land which now forms the USA was in 1776. So what pray was God using darkness as a sign of in that interesting year!

  11. Tom
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    I must remember about slave owning States next time an eclipse passes over regions of sub Saharan Africa and I hope Dr Ristroph does by writing a more relevant article.

  12. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    At this point my kishkes began tying themselves in knots.

    This tune was a minor hit in my hometown, though it didn’t get much airplay on the R&B stations I listened to. Doesn’t have a great beat; can’t dance to it.

  13. Posted August 21, 2017 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Would there have been an eclipse if Clinton had won?

    We may never know.

    Astronomy – how does it work?

  14. DiscoveredJoys
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    So… the sunlight continuing to fall on ‘black areas’ outside the line of the eclipse is an example of white racism? Someone should check their privilege – it seems to be plugged in upside down.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted August 21, 2017 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      She also mentioned Eminem’s real name. Is that a form of deadnaming??!! 😀

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted August 21, 2017 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      I just saw a map online showing that it was a carefully crafted course that didn’t allow Trump to view a totality from any of his properties. Sounds like “fake sun-moon collusion news” to me

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted August 21, 2017 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, for sure. Keeping ’em black. Something to do with melanin, dont’cha know.

      cr

  15. RPGNo1
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Methinks, the good law professor needs some lessons in astronomy. And some other natural sciences, too.

    What a hair-raising nonsense to link an entirely natural phenomenon with racism.

  16. busterggi
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Of course the eclipse is racist – the dark side of the moon doesn’t get to see it does it?

    • Christopher
      Posted August 21, 2017 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

      Exactly!

      I’ve encountered this type of bent over backwards feebleminded racism-mining before. I once had a professor who claimed that trash Ave were racist because many are black, thus equating blackness with trash. I suppose that the fact that my family used white bags meant something racist too; perhaps we felt our trash was too good for black. There’s just no pleasing those that are determined to be offended.

      • Christopher
        Posted August 21, 2017 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

        Damn typo, not trash Ave, trash bags!

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted August 21, 2017 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

      Depends what you mean by ‘dark side’. During the eclipse, the ‘dark side’ is of course the light side.

      But then, there is no dark side of the moon really. Matter of fact it’s all dark.

      cr

      • Posted August 22, 2017 at 7:51 am | Permalink

        And everything under the sun is in tune…

        I’ve had that in my head for days.

  17. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Well, I bit the bullet and read the sweating professor’s piece. I must say, my withers remain unwrung. The sun don’t stop shining on the same dog’s ass every day.

    • Filippo
      Posted August 22, 2017 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

      ” . . . my withers remain unwrung . . . .”

      Christopher Hitchens’s response to William F. Buckley on “Firing Line” in 1984.

  18. E.A. Blair
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    The Boston Globe ran a map showing that 95% pf the counties in the path of totality voted for Trump. Coincidence or mere unrelated fact?

    • Posted August 21, 2017 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      Meh. Draw a transect from coast to coast along any line and you’d likely find the same thing. Blue counties are mostly urban counties (and these mostly on the coasts) and they are islands separated by seas of red counties.

  19. Posted August 21, 2017 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Next issue: what goat entrails tell us about online harassment.

    • Tom
      Posted August 21, 2017 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      OMG how did you find out!

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted August 21, 2017 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      I use d*g entrails – I call it the “Doggie Augie”.

      • Tom
        Posted August 21, 2017 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

        That is a terrible joke.

      • DiscoveredJoys
        Posted August 21, 2017 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

        Prediction through studying holes drilled in wooden planks – augery.

        • Filippo
          Posted August 22, 2017 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

          To “bore the big augur” (to put on airs, to make a big deal of oneself or something, to be in great anticipation of something excellent heading ones way) is a saying I heard growing up in Appalachia. Re: an inauguration.

  20. Randy schenck
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    That was g*dawful.

  21. Martin Levin
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    I takem a contrary view — that the eclipse is explicitly anti-racist nbecause it ‘blacks out” the white areas over which it passes. Poor prof is utterly wrong-footed here.

  22. E.A. Blair
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    A solar eclipse is a lot like sex – tremendous anticipation of an earthshaking event and it’s all over in a few minutes.

    • Posted August 21, 2017 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      I weep for you.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted August 21, 2017 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

        I weep for his partner!

        • Randy schenck
          Posted August 21, 2017 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

          I think maybe too much anticipation? I did not see any climax in the eclipse?

          • Filippo
            Posted August 22, 2017 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

            Yes, but we heard a lot of whoopin’ and hollerin.’ Maybe it was a faked sonic climax.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 21, 2017 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

        None of that For Whom the Bell Tolls did-thee-feel-the-earth-move stuff for you, huh?

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted August 21, 2017 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

          Asking Mr. Orwell’s reverse alter-ego.

    • Perluigi Ballabeni
      Posted August 21, 2017 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      Proust wrote wonderful pages about tremendous anticipations of events that then turned out to be rather disappointing. Often the anticipation is what counts.

      • Craw
        Posted August 21, 2017 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

        I looked forward to reading Proust.

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted August 21, 2017 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      When a climax and an anti-climax meet it is a near-apocalyptic nuclear event.

      You inspire me to write a Star Trek novel in which they create a new form of faster-than-light travel, powered by a climax-anti-climax drive.

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted August 21, 2017 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      “I’m really getting the hang of this sex thing. I’ve got it down to under two minutes”.

  23. Carey
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    She takes care to point out that many non-whites in the path of the eclipse are Latino, Native American,or Asian. They don’t seem to count as much as black people although they are still more worthy to see the eclipse than whites.

  24. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Never mind drawing arbitrary lines. Random spots and surfaces would do to base the Atlantic article since US is on average majority “white” by US census definitions [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_and_ethnicity_in_the_United_States ].

    So clickbait basis, presumably because the article idea was too weak to generate interest by itself. (Not an uninteresting topic mind, an uninteresting writing.)

  25. Christopher
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    So the June 21, 2001 eclipse, with its path of totality crossing Southern Africa (yet avoiding white South Africa), how does that fit into this solar-racist paradigm?

  26. E.A. Blair
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Okay, since you all seem to have a problem with cynical humor, how about, “A solar eclipse is a lot like sex – fundies think it’s a tool of Satan.”

    • Taz
      Posted August 21, 2017 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      Your original joke would have been fine if you’d specified “teenage sex”.

  27. Mary Drake
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Come on guys, I didn’t think it was THAT bad. (Full disclosure: I didn’t read the whole article, only the parts that Jerry chose). I mean, it was kind of interesting, being reminded of the racial layout of the US. I mean…OK, it was silly, but…Oh well, to use an expression that I have always hated, but which comes in handy now – “just saying”.

  28. Flaffer
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Ummm, the totality passes just south of St. Louis where there are many African-Americans living; more then 50% of the cities population and the largest city in the totality path.

    • Flaffer
      Posted August 21, 2017 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      I missed the paragraph about STL. Still Ferguson is a northern suburb. There are large populations of African-Americans south of Ferguson, though yes, there is a large population which is almost all African-American in the area known as north St. Louis.

  29. Norbert Francis
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    First I laughed, out loud – thank you Jerry.
    Then I wanted to cry (almost) thinking about what is happening to us.
    What saved my day was recalling, all of a sudden, the form letter from The Atlantic rejecting a proposal for a submission I had sent them some months ago. Another journal ended up liking the idea and then accepted it.
    Not a joke. What is happening to us?

  30. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    I would like to say this is an elliptical discourse on the eclipse. It is however too clearly written for that.

    I not big on using the Bible to prove anything, but I could not help but think of
    “For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:45

    • Tom
      Posted August 21, 2017 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      “But lo, when it doth rain the unjust man stealeth the just man’s umbrella”

  31. Posted August 21, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    What’s disheartening is that the regressive left seems to have no idea that this kind of PC nonsense helped to elect Trump. Nor do they seem to realize that having to go to such extremes to maintain their image as champions of the oppressed raises the question of whether the groups they champion are oppressed at all. Instead of “Love not hate,” they might as well adopt the slogan “Self-righteousness Rules!” or even “Keep Racism Alive!”

  32. Posted August 21, 2017 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    It’s been my experience that if I want to maintain the fiction that my fellow humans are decent people it pays to skip on-line open comments, even those on an article from a “shrieking hive of retardation”. This one is no exception. Comments are uniformly negative – the author and the Atlantic deserves all the sneering and ridicule they are getting, though it’s not nearly as much of a horror show as some comment sections I’ve made the mistake of reading. As is so often the case, one has to wade through oceans of garbage to find the rare comment worth reading.

  33. Charles Sawicki
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    It’s disturbing that the Atlantic categorized this piece under science! It’s clear that Dr. Ristroph put quite a lot of effort into production of this idiotic piece of drivel relating an eclipse to racism. Her PhD. is in political theory. Maybe it should have been political theory of Intersectionality. Next time, she can reveal to us how exposure of dark skinned people to more UV radiation and higher temperatures in much of Africa relates to racism. I can’t wait!

  34. Posted August 21, 2017 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    “…the Great American Eclipse” indeed,
    going by that piece.

  35. jeffery
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    Another, to use an old saying, “tissue of horsecrap”: perhaps we should have some mass protests against the sun and moon! Anne Lotz, Billy Graham’s daughter, said a while back that the eclipse “could be” God sending us a “signal”- yes, Anne, we’re being sent a signal, all right- that, every once in a while, the moon passes in front of the sun!

  36. Posted August 21, 2017 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    Reprinting from someone who commented on my share of this story/graphic:

    “Actually, since the eclipse is going from coast to coast in the US and no other countries, it is God’s gift to us for electing Trump.”

  37. Posted August 22, 2017 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    I have not read the article, but Snopes says: Did a Law Professor Claim the 2017 Solar Eclipse is ‘Racist’? False.

    At no point does Ristroph use the word “racist”, and she explicitly makes the (blindingly obvious) point that the eclipse itself does not harbor any racial prejudice:

    “It has been dubbed the Great American Eclipse, and along most of its path, there live almost no black people. Presumably, 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.”

    The Daily Caller and Conservative Tribune’s misguided interpretations of Ristroph’s essay suggest a fundamental misunderstanding of it.

    http://www.snopes.com/eclipse-racist/

    • fizziks
      Posted August 22, 2017 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      Unfortunately this misleading Snopes example is typical of the depths that the once-reliable Snopes has sunk to. Nowadays they ‘debunk’ something that is actually real by debunking an extreme interpretation of it that almost nobody is claiming.

      Did Jerry, or anyone serious, actually accuse that author of claiming that “the moon is racist” or harbors racial prejudice. No, of course not.

      What people have rightly pointed out, rather, is that this author using the path of an eclipse, which is purely determined by orbital mechanics of celestial bodies and by no societal conditions whatsoever, to riff supposed on racism in America, is typical of the pointless, stupid, divisive, shallow, identity politics clickbait that is currently infecting the world of journalism and worst of all once-credible publications such as The Atlantic.

  38. Michael Watts
    Posted August 22, 2017 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Actually it’s worse than Dr. Ristroph thinks. In seven years the US will see another total eclipse, except than in 2024 the path of totality will cross from southwest to northeast.

    Thus drawing a giant confederate flag across the US!

    • Filippo
      Posted August 22, 2017 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

      Dr. Ristroph, knowing that the next U.S. solar eclipse will occur in 2024 (assuming she can trust what a SCIENTIST says!), should go ahead and give us her learned perspective on that eclipse (assuming that various ethnic population concentrations remain basically unchanged during the next seven years).

  39. Posted August 22, 2017 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    “This is the dumbest Atlantic article Ive ever read”

    Atlantic: “Hold my beer”

    https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/08/sexism-in-the-stars/496037/


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