American divisions and the ties that bind
In 1996, researchers disinterred remains from a Savannah, Georgia monument dedicated to the Polish-born Revolutionary War Hero, Casimir Pulaski. Their goal was settle a long-standing dispute over the location of Pulaski's final resting place. Were the remains his? Or had he been buried at sea? The investigation proved inconclusive, because the recovered skeleton appeared to have been female. Now, a new comparison of skeletal collections by researchers at Georgia Southern University suggests that the recovered skeleton really had belonged to Pulaski, and that Pulaski had been, unknown to previous historians, intersex.
The President's recent anti-immigrant warning that "our country is full" is, of course, absurd. The population in much of the country is, in fact, declining, and could use a little immigration to shore up local communities. But, as Tom Baxter notes at the Saporta Report, those particular communities that may be especially receptive to Trump's message:
That may be because these places losing population fastest are where the cultural membrane which connects people to each other has been stretched thinnest. In “Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse,” the conservative writer Timothy P. Carney argues that closing churches are a stronger indicator of the alienation which fired Trump’s earliest supporters than closing factories.
Although Trump did well among conservative churchgoers, Carney found that his strongest support came from those who don’t go to church as much as they used to. Those who see an entire way of life slipping away from them and are losing touch the cultural institutions which have sustained them are unlikely to see economic promise in an unfamiliar face.
One way to understand the resurgence of racist themes in modern-day politics, according to this very lucid post at Facing South, is as the delayed triumph of efforts to instill Lost Cause mythology in generations of students via elementary and secondary curricula in Southern schools. One smart thing the post does is start with numbers (a staple of FS posts), specifically the 69,706,756 students enrolled in Southern schools during the 80 years between Reconstruction and implementation of the Civil Rights Act. Trying to wrap your head around that many students taught the apologia of Confederacy as historical fact gives you a foothold on understanding how its biases could permeate large sections of society.
The subject matter of the short story "Blue Morphos in the Garden" is death and difference within a family, themes Lis Mitchell teases out with a magical realist conceit: Instead of corpses, the bodies of deceased Karner's transform into keepsakes for their loved ones.