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Pop Goes The Political Culture Week of May 21

Pop Goes The Political Culture Week of May 21

By Rebekah Kuschmider, MPU co-host

It’s been a revealing week in American politics. The Justice Department has revealed information to the White House. The Wall Street Journal revealed emails from Roger Stone to Julian Assange. And Harvey Weinstein probably revealed a lot of bodily cavities when he turned himself in to law enforcement and they booked him on sexual assault charges.

The MPU crew is studying all these revelations (except the Weinstein cavity search stuff. Ew.) and we’ll bring you our take on it in a few days. For now, here’s all the news thats not fit to ‘cast!

The Star Spangled Blunder: Today the NFL decided that the issue of players kneeling during the national anthem required final and decisive action. They declared that all players on the sidelines must stand for the anthem but players are not required to be on the sidelines during the anthem.

I have questions.

Can there be cameras in the locker room filming the players there during the anthem? Can the players livestream themselves on social media at that time? Can players take a knee at other moments, like during the coin flip?

And is anyone else  troubled by the notion of really, really wealthy white people dictating what men of color are or aren’t allowed to do with their bodies? Particularly when the bodies of men of color are so political just by the fact of their very existence?

A post shared by colin kaepernick (@kaepernick7) on

Not to mention the way the owners are fine with players committing assault off the field but are folding like a house of cards over outrage over a peaceful gesture.

I love watching the sport of football but the business of football is making more uncomfortable with each passing year. The dangers to the players on the field, the behavior of certain players off the field, the racist name of the Washington team going unchallenged, and this kerfuffle over a silent gesture one man initiated is all souring me on the league as a whole.

Learn Her Name, See Her Face: If you visit the National Portrait Gallery in DC this summer, take a moment to visit one of the pioneers of modern medicine. She never went to medical school, she never studied science, but she has saved countless lives for over a century and is only now being recognized.

Henrietta Lacks is a woman from Baltimore who died in 1951 of cervical cancer. Unbeknownst to her or her family, cells from a biopsy taken of her cancer became immortal. The line of endlessly replicating cells serves as a basis for much of medical research. Generations of scientists have tested new treatments on HeLa cells as part of standard research protocols.

A post shared by National Portrait Gallery (@smithsoniannpg) on

But hardly anyone even knew her name until journalist Rebecca Skloot wrote The Immortal Life If Henrietta Lacks in 2011.

The book was an unlikely best-seller and shined a light on issues of consent in medicine, as well as recognizing an unsung heroine of modern medicine.

Now a portrait of Mrs. Lacks will be on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery until November 4. It seems fitting that she should have a place among the faces of the greatest Americans in history. We all owe her so much.

Tweet Louder, Bro: A judge ruled that Trump cannot block people on Twitter because it subverts the guaranteed right of the people to petition the government for redress of grievances. Trump uses Twitter as a venue for communication with the public; he’s not allowed to cut parts of the public off just because they, for example, called him Fuckface von Clownstick in 2013. Blocking people for that, or any reason, denies them access to petition him for redress of grievances  and he can’t do it any more.

I talked about that very First Amendment issue right after the election so I feel awfully smart. Fuckface von Clownstick should appoint me to the bench.

Next Stop, DC:  The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have made indelible marks on our culture in the wake of the shooting that took the lives of 17 of their classmates. The young people have impressed the world with their articulate and organized approach to advocating for changes to US gun laws. On social media, on television, and on the streets of DC in March, these students have breathed new life and new hope into a gun violence prevention movement that was floundering in despair.

A post shared by Emma González (@emmawise18) on

Now, they are being invited to take their skills to the Hill. House Democrats are working to extend an invitation to Parkland students to come intern in Congressional offices and learn, up close and personal, what lawmaking looks like.

Hill internships are not glamorous, mind you. It’s a lot of answering phone and copying briefing materials. But interns get to work with legislators and their staff, learning about different issue areas, and how to effect change through legislation and advocacy. They also get access to a lot of receptions where there’s free food, which doesn’t make up for the fact that internships are unpaid but is still a nice perk.

I hope some of the students are able to come to DC this summer. The Hill could use their spirit.

There will be lots more to to discuss when we record our next episode. Meanwhile, enjoy the long weekend, everyone!

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