A Lady (First Mistake) Historian (Second) Wrote About Pirates (Third). Guess What Came Next, Guess, Guess.
Dr. Jamie Goodall is a historian at the US Army Center of Military History, and a pretty highly regarded expert on pirates. Last year she published the book Pirates of the Chesapeake Bay: From the Colonial Era to the Oyster Wars, which astute readers will gather is also about pirates. So it's not surprising the Washington Post would have her write a piece for its "Made by History" feature last Friday, prior to the big weekend sportsball game in which one of the two teams not featuring puppies was named the "Tampa Bay Buccaneers."
Goodall reflected on the odd popular image of pirates in American popular imagination, and for the Florida coast in particular. Tampa even has a city festival commemorating the pirate José Gaspar, who may or may not have actually existed. Along the way, Goodall briefly notes the history of the city's NFL franchise and how its original pirate logo was meant to be "a 'classy' pirate — a cross between Robin Hood, Errol Flynn, the musketeer D'Artagnan and pirate Jean Lafitte," not a scruffy blackguard who might call to mind looting and pillaging. (She either missed or chose not to take the chance to point out that in 2015, the Outsports blog proclaimed that 1975-1997 pirate the "gayest logo in NFL history.")
But oh dear, Goodall then had to go and talk about her expertise, musing that maybe there's something odd about celebrating a bunch of nautical murderers and thieves as romantic heroes, and before you could say "Ted Yoho and a bottle of rum," the word was out: A crazy Marxist historian lady was trying to cancel pirates, the Tampa Bay f'ball team, and sports fans, and just look how that crazy leftist was trying to do political correctness to the Super Bowl!
Let's note that most of the piece isn't even directed at the ugly history of piracy; if anything, Goodall devotes far more space to the many different stories, none supported by historical documentation, about Tampa Bay's beloved and possibly fictional pirate hero José Gaspar. Nonetheless, a few paragraphs do touch on what awful people pirates were, and the Post gave the piece the headline "The Buccaneers embody Tampa's love of pirates. Is that a problem?"
Most of the online ire has been aimed at this paragraph, which mentions slavery and indigenous people, and is therefore anti-American propaganda:
Yet, while this celebration of piracy seems like innocent fun and pride in a local culture, there is danger in romanticizing ruthless cutthroats who created a crisis in world trade when they captured and plundered thousands of ships on Atlantic trade routes between the Americas, Africa and Great Britain. Why? Because it takes these murderous thieves who did terrible things — like locking women and children in a burning church — and makes them a symbol of freedom and adventure, erasing their wicked deeds from historical memory. These were men (and women) who willingly participated in murder, torture and the brutal enslavement of Africans and Indigenous peoples.
It's not that Goodall is factually incorrect about piracy. But she talks about crimes against Black and Indigenous people, plus women, and that can only mean one thing: She's a crazy ranting liberal who wants you to feel bad about things you like, just because some people in history suffered, and isn't she a killjoy? Wingnuts decided that Goodall was out to make the team change its name (she never says anything of the sort) and that, even worse, she was calling them bad people for liking football.
Soon the full culture war backlash was on, because why do liberals have to suck the fun out of everything? Perpetually aggrieved Daily Wire griper-man Matt Walsh mocked the very idea that a team mascot could mean anything:
And right on schedule came the twitter trolls, the threats (yes, including rape threats, because a woman said things on the internet), and Goodall's decision to temporarily lock her Twitter account to shut out some of the noise. And of course, the accusations of horrible hypocrisy: How dare Goodall tell people they're not allowed to romanticize pirates when she herself has a tattoo of a sexy lady pirate, huh? It's a pretty good gotcha! except for the part where she never said no one's allowed to romanticize pirates, she just thinks it's a phenomenon we might want to think about. Fellow pirate historian Scarlet Ingstad pointed out that folks who study pirate history often enjoy joking about the romanticized image of pirates, even while detailing the truth of the "horrors they inflicted." But context and subtlety aren't allowed in a good culture wars skirmish.
Goodall's chief crime appears to have been writing about historical context at all in connection to football, in a year in which the Washington DC football team finally dropped its racist mascot, and the Kansas City team, the other one in the Super Bowl, is being pressured to do the same, as Goodall notes. And why did she even have to accurately note that pirates enslaved Black people, especially in a year when they keep insisting their lives matter?
We learn many things from rightwing culture warriors, who insist it's wrong to condemn slavery based on "modern" morality (as if no one at the time objected, particularly the enslaved). But apparently pointing out that piracy was condemned in its own time — Goodall notes that Cotton Mather called pirates "Common Enemies of Mankind" — is also some kind of revisionist cancel culture too.
Donald Trump's reactionary bloviations about academic history being a sinister plot to make children hate America have definitely taken root, and here are its fruits: a historian getting threats for having suggested pirates make some pretty strange romantic heroes, given their actual history.
Not that any of the wingnuts noticed, but Goodall actually closed her essay with a compelling historical argument for why pirates might have come to be seen as romantic figures [emphasis added]:
Perhaps time has dulled us to the atrocities committed by these 17th and 18th century outlaws. Or perhaps it's the fact that if pirates of the Golden Age were bloodthirsty, so too were the nations who opposed them. They willingly and purposefully massacred millions of African and Indigenous peoples in the name of colonization. Pirates, then, are seen as romantic heroes — the underdogs fighting the establishment — whom historian Marcus Rediker refers to as proto-democratic, egalitarian and multicultural.
If you ask us, that's a convincing argument, and an answer to her earlier question. The problem is that she asked it at all, setting off what's become a predictable, even inevitable rightwing backlash. We're sure Tucker Carlson will eventually find time to get angry at Goodall, too. Especially if Trump's impeachment trial keeps making Trump look bad.
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COVID-19 still exists.
The 55th Super Bowl is tonight. The grossly named Kansas City Chiefs will play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Companies will sell you products during breaks from all that thrilling football. Uptight people will complain about something that happens during the halftime show. The world seems almost normal again, but don’t be fooled! We’re still wrestling with the COVID-19 pandemic — metaphorically because you shouldn’t touch anyone right now.
The Super Bowl, or the "Big Game" if you're in advertising and don't want to get sued, will take place at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The Buccaneers will have a home field advantage, but that’s just a coincidence. The NFL awarded Super Bowl 55 to Tampa in 2017, back when we still left the house.
Last year, 62,417 attended the Super Bowl at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. Today’s “Big Game” will have attendance capped at roughly 25,000 live (for now) fans. This includes 7,500 vaccinated front-line healthcare workers, who the NFL kindly invited as guests. (Vaccinated people can still contract and spread COVID-19.) This is close to 40 percent of the stadium’s capacity of 65,890.
Hey @GovParsonMO – how about a friendly @SuperBowl wager? You know I’m going with the @Buccaneers! #GoBucs https://t.co/7Tz4FPujhy— Ron DeSantis (@Ron DeSantis)1612561121.0
I've eaten at Frenchy’s in Clearwater, Florida, and I agree with Governor Ron DeSantis that the restaurant has some of the best seafood in the state. He’d make a decent Yelp! reviewer, but he’s a lousy governor, whose COVID-19 response has been a disaster. He declared in December that he won’t impose any more mask mandates or lockdowns because they just don’t work (they do, in fact, work).
"The lie of the lockdown was that if you just locked down, then you can beat the virus,” [DeSantis] said. "Then why are people having to lockdown two or three times then?”
Because, Governor Einstein, the United States never had a full, hardcore lockdown. The one-term loser started pushing for the country to “reopen” in April, and since then, most COVID-19 “rules” were merely “suggestions” that idiots mostly ignored.
Shannon Palus at Slate wrote:
The "rules" also vary a lot by geographical location. Coronavirus is surging nationally, but indoor dining—which involves, by necessity, taking your mask off and moving your mouth such that it produces aerosols, which are what spreads the coronavirus—is banned in just a few places, like Seattle, California, Michigan, and maybe, soon, New York. In some states, indoor gatherings are capped at 10 people, or there's a recommended cap of a couple households, but in others, there are simply no restrictions. In many places, the restrictions there are make no sense—the government of Minnesota has, for some reason, banned outdoor gatherings of any sort, but wedding venues and churches are still allowed to open their doors to as many as 250 people. The difference in policies doesn't even correlate with where cases are highest: Leadership in South Dakota, for example, refused to establish so much as a mask mandatewhile cases there were the highest in the nation. Often, it doesn't align with what the science says about transmission, like New York allowing restaurants to remain open while schools close.
It’s all a big, hot mess, which is how most travel guides describe Florida. The state has at least 1.7 million reported COVID-19 cases — almost 10 percent of its population — and 27,456 Floridians have died. The death toll’s daily average was 171 people over the past seven days. Meanwhile, this is what a grocery store in Naples, Florida, looked like last week.
Naples has a mask mandate but the owner of Oakes Farms Seed to Table Market found a way around public health measures. Customers were greeted with this sign before entering.
"Those in our lovely government have ordered all persons entering indoor facilities to wear a mask. If you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a mask, you are exempt from this order. Due to HIPAA and the 4th Amendment we cannot legally ask you about your medical condition," it reads.
"Therefore, if we see you without a mask, we will assume you have a medical condition and we will welcome you inside to support our business.”
Visit Tampa Bay spent $7 million in CARES Act funds to promote tourism in a COVID-19 petri dish. The campaign highlighted "outdoor activities, open spaces and reduced crowds at area amenities,” where no one bothers to wear a mask or social distance. Mayor Jane Castor is looking forward to the crush of “Big Game”-related tourism.
"Of course, you have to have a concern: We're in the midst of a pandemic, there's no denying that, and it's a virus that is easily transferable," Ms. Castor said of the Super Bowl. "But on the other hand, it can be easily managed if people take the simple steps of wearing masks and separating when possible."
Tampa has a mask mandate, but the governor bans enforcement of mandate violations. It’s like the scene in Pulp Fiction when Vincent Vega explained Amsterdam’s casual approach to drug enforcement. COVID-19 digs it the most.
Bars will be open, and “separating when possible” seems unrealistic under the conditions. However, Super Bowl parties at home are even bigger superspreader threat. A reported 25 percent of Americans plan to attend gatherings with people outside their household, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t recommend. Among diehard sports fans, that number increases to 40 percent.
Meanwhile, Broadway remains closed and New York’s theatre district is devastated. But nothing must stop the “Big Game."
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Reckon he'd find a way.
Move over, perennial Senate's Dumbest Republican title-holder Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, and back the fuck off, Tennessee's twin MENSA wizards Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty.
Tommy Tuberville, the senator from Auburn, is in town, and he'd like to tell you why he can't comment on all this Marjorie Taylor Greene hullaballoo:
"I haven't even looked at what all she's done," he told the CNN producer Ted Barrett. "I'd have to hold back a statement on that. Travel in this weather it's been a little rough looking at any news or whatever."
Oh, hard same. Can't tell you how many times we've been unable to Wonkette entirely because of all this snow. Or rain. Or whatever weather there is. "Can't look at the news today, Rebecca, on account of this righteous gullywasher we're havin'," that's a thing we say to the Editrix on most days.
We are going to charitably assume Tuberville is just dumb as dogshit in springtime and therefore unable to think on his feet like other elected Republicans do when they're asked about things like Donald Trump's tweets (you know, back in the day when he was permitted to use Twitter) or Marjorie Taylor Greene thinking 9/11 is fake and school shootings are fake and Jewish Space Lasers are real and Democratic elected officials should be executed.
Otherwise we'd have to take him literally that he's unable to read the news when there's a storm outside. That sounds like some sort of medical condition a licensed veterinarian would need to look at. Does he get all anxious because of a drop in air pressure? Does coach need a ThunderShirt?
Of course, ever since Tuberville was elected, it's been clear there's a desolate windstorm in the man's brain, and little else. Just after the Capitol riots, Tuberville, who voted like a little reliable Trump fluffer to overthrow democracy on January 6, and who hobnobbed with the prime inciters of the terrorist attack the night before at the Trump hotel, thought maybe we could just postpone the inauguration. Why not just have a "swearing in" on the 20th of January, and wait a while for the "inauguration"? The 20th Amendment to the US Constitution disagrees.
But that one's sort of open to interpretation, and the senator's office says he was just worried about COVID. It's OK, he's said far dumber shit.
Like the time he extolled the bravery of his Daddy, who fought in World War II, "liberating Paris from socialism and communism." He also has said his Daddy "fought 76 years ago in Europe to free Europe of socialism." Apparently it wasn't just Paris.
Or that time he thought the three branches of the US government are the "House, the Senate and Executive." Just prior to that, in the same interview, he claimed "our government wasn't set up for one group to have all three of branches of government." You know, the House and the Senate and the Executive. Those three branches. Which weren't set up that way.
Or that time Tuberville, the senator from Alabama, attempted to explain what the Voting Rights Act is:
"The thing about the Voting Rights Act is, you know, there's a lot of different things you can look at it as. Who is it going to help? What direction do we need to go with it? I think it's important that everything we do we keep secure. We keep an eye on it. It's run by our government," Tuberville said, according to the recording from a rotary club meeting.
No, we are not fucking shitting you. About any of this.
Watch your back, Ron Johnson, because here comes Coach Senator Tubby, gon' steal that Dumbest Republican football right outta your hand! And probably throw it into Vanderbilt's endzone somehow!
Bless this man's heart, OPEN THREAD.
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