The Present Age Weekly Recap: February 18, 2022
Adele, COVID-19, LGBTQ rights, and cancel culture.
Welcome to the weekly recap. In this post, I’ll be linking to my work from the week, sharing some stories from others I thought were interesting, and providing a few casual thoughts on [gestures at everything]. If you’d like to receive this weekly email ONLY, please go to your account page and under “Email notifications” uncheck every box except “TPA Weekly Recap.” If you don’t want to receive the weekly recap, leave all boxes except “TPA Weekly Recap” checked.1
A three-newsletter week
On Monday, I wrote about my general frustration with the “open everything”/“let it rip” genre of COVID-19 coverage.
On Tuesday, I posted transcript of a chat I had on the Politics + Media 101 show. We discussed “cancel culture", Spotify, Joe Rogan, and more. I had a lot of fun doing it, and I think it turned out pretty great.
And then on Wednesday, I wrote about why right-wing media rushed to make it seem as though there was some sort of “trans backlash” to Adele saying she was proud to be a woman. There was no backlash.
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Posts from others that I want to draw attention to:
Over at his Popular Info Substack, Judd Legum has a great piece about corporations that claim to support LGBTQ rights… while also donating to the politicians behind the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which would make it illegal for teachers to facilitate any sort of discussion that has to do with LGBTQ people. (A common defense of the bill is that “kids shouldn’t be learning about gay sex during school, anyway!” but that is a purposeful misrepresentation of what this bill would do.)
And still on that topic, the great Melissa Gira Grant has an article over at The New Republic about the Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBTQ (as well as anti-abortion and anti-secularism). She writes, “So far in 2022, more than a dozen states have introduced anti-trans bills, which if passed would work step by step to exclude trans people from the public sphere. ADF calls all these ‘generational wins.’”
It’s a great piece, and I highly recommend that you click through to read it.
And finally, Ed Yong has another great COVID-19 piece for The Atlantic. This article addresses something that many of the “Open everything!” type of pieces gloss over: immunocompromised people. “Of course we should protect immunocompromised people!” is nothing more than a “to be sure” type of phrase in many of those articles designed to make the authors sound less ghoulish than they are. Yong actually took the time to talk to immunocompromised individuals. This is a story we haven’t heard nearly enough during the pandemic, and I’m happy to see Yong’s piece getting the attention it deserves.
In the past, immunocompromised people lived with their higher risk of infection, but COVID represents a new threat that, for many, has further jeopardized their ability to be part of the world. From the very start of the pandemic, some commentators have floated the idea “that we can protect the vulnerable and everyone else can go on with their lives,” Seth Trueger, who is on immunosuppressants for an autoimmune complication of cancer, told me. “How’s that supposed to work?” He is an emergency doctor at Northwestern Medicine; he can neither work from home nor protect himself by avoiding public spaces. “How am I supposed to provide for my family or live my life if there’s a pandemic raging?” he said. Contrary to popular misconceptions, most immunocompromised people are neither visibly sick nor secluded. “I know very few people who are immunocompromised and get to live in a bubble,” says Maggie Levantovskaya, a writer and literature professor who has lupus, an autoimmune disorder that can cause debilitating inflammation across the entire body.
And finally, Meredith Shiner has a personal essay over at Jezebel about being a new mom in a pandemic. She brilliantly articulates the frustration and anger she feels. By the end of it, you’ll feel that, too.