Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

  • The Strength Of Street Knowledge

    Below is the most damning clip from the Cramer\Stewart face-off. Stewart is obviously a genius, and he had Cramer's number. Still, something about it all didn't sit quite right with me. Stewart rightly attacked CNBC for not doing their job, and then he attacked Cramer for "throwing plastic cows through his legs." But I couldn't stop wondering the sort of nation takes its most crucial advice from a guy who throws cows through his legs?

    In all of this, I find myself unsatisfied by the critique. For me, the investigation always begins at home--Who are we? Why is there a market for foolishness? I don't know much about the financial world. I come to this equipped solely with the weaponry I was deeded by the streets of Baltimore, and in the home of Cheryl Waters and Paul Coates. The shield in that arsenal, is the intuitive sense that no one gives you a house for nothing, that you don't base your future on advice from the dude who cameos on Arrested Development. Nothing special there. I think we all have access to the shield of Street Knowledge, and yet in these times, we seem to have put our faith, not in our innate sense, but in the worst sort of clownery.

    I like Jon Stewart. I thought he did a good thing yesterday. But I left that interview unsatisfied. I left it wondering about the animal in us I know who Jim Cramer is. I know what wracks him. But what about us? Who are we in all this? Why are CNBC ratings still soaring? What madness has led us to hand off our shields and put our future in the hands of shaman and faith-healers?

  • The Base Ain't Racist Kid, They Only Hate You

    Anybody ready to start taking bets?

    On Thursday, several religious right officials and anti-abortion advocates criticized Steele for telling the magazine that he "absolutely" thought abortion was "an individual choice," to be decided at the state level.

    Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee: "Comments attributed to Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele are very troubling and despite his clarification today the party stands to lose many of its members and a great deal of its support in the trenches of grassroots politics."

    Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition: "I'm a little surprised that Michael Steele, being the leader of the Republican Party, is at odds with the pro-life platform, the platform that conservative put in place... If this is his viewpoint, he has made it be known. I'm just surprised that the leader of the party is at odds with the pro-life platform."

    Evangelical leader Lou Engle: "Steele's argument that abortion is a matter of "individual choice" is extremely disappointing, especially in light of past statements in which he promised to protect and defend human life. "Steele's remarks to GQ indicate that he may be confused about "choice" and the "law." The law is supposed to protect human life, not permit the taking of it. And, it can never be a "choice" for an individual to take a life."

    Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council: "I read the article last night so I am familiar not only with his comments about the life issue but also about the efforts to redefine marriage and 'mucking' up the Constitution. I expressed my concerns to the chairman earlier this week about previous statements that were very similar in nature. He assured me as chairman his views did not matter and that he would be upholding and promoting the Party platform, which is very clear on these issues. It is very difficult to reconcile the GQ interview with the chairman's pledge."

  • Stewart vs. Cramer (pre-fight buzz)

    This is actually pretty interesting. One thing I've noticed, is from what I've seen, there are a some people (Scarborough) more pissed-off at Stewart, than Cramer is himself. I haven't watched his show enough to pass judgment. I have a visceral distrust of (borderline prejudice against) people who yell, and make a crazy show of themselves. I think people have a right to be wrong, but I generally dislike those who are wrong and take no responibility. I don't know where Cramer fits into that. I don't know if he's Santelli. I haven't watched enough of his show. I just think Jon Stewart is funny.

  • Virtual Weaksauce

    Some fool is claiming to hold a patent on all virtual gaming worlds:

    Worlds.com claims to hold a patent for the idea of virtual worlds that dates back to 1995 and that could quite literally apply to every 3-D online world currently in existence. In fact, Worlds.com has already taken one MMOG heavyweight to court: Korea-based NCsoft, the company behind games like Lineage and Guild Wars. And while legal expert Ben Buranske, contacted by Business Insider, says the wealth of "prior art" will make the case tough to prove, World.com's court of choice, the Eastern District of Texas, is notorious for handing heavy damage awards to plaintiffs in cases like this. Nintendo was recently ordered to pay $21 million in damages after a jury in the district found the company had violated 12 patents relating to its controllers held by a small Texas company called Anascape.

    "Being a foreign defendant in Texas is not a pleasant thing," a lawyer familiar with the NCsoft case said. "The juries are, many would say, biased towards American plaintiffs and have a propensity to offer high damages. Some defendants might view them as an unfriendly jury and it might make the defendant more likely to settle." That could be bad news for companies like Blizzard and Linden Lab, which Kidrin says he is "absolutely" going to sue if his suit against NCsoft is successful.

    Ugh. Talk about a hustle...

  • The End Of The Michael Steele Era

    Here's the chairmen on abortion:

    How much of your pro-life stance, for you, is informed not just by your Catholic faith but by the fact that you were adopted?
    Oh, a lot. Absolutely. I see the power of life in that--I mean, and the power of choice! The thing to keep in mind about it... Uh, you know, I think as a country we get off on these misguided conversations that throw around terms that really misrepresent truth.

    Explain that.
    The choice issue cuts two ways. You can choose life, or you can choose abortion. You know, my mother chose life. So, you know, I think the power of the argument of choice boils down to stating a case for one or the other.

    Are you saying you think women have the right to choose abortion?
    Yeah. I mean, again, I think that's an individual choice.

    You do?
    Yeah. Absolutely.

    Are you saying you don't want to overturn Roe v. Wade?
    I think Roe v. Wade--as a legal matter, Roe v. Wade was a wrongly decided matter.

    Okay, but if you overturn Roe v. Wade, how do women have the choice you just said they should have?
    The states should make that choice. That's what the choice is. The individual choice rests in the states. Let them decide.

    I think that about does it. I don't know when, but I can't see Republicans letting this sideshow continue. It's fascinating. I've been reading about Steele for years, but I still have no idea why he's a Republican. I've yet to get any sense of deep conviction from him. Colin Powell, I got. Condie Rice, I got. I even get Clarence Thomas. But what I get from Steele feels almost like a hustle.

  • Ross Douthat...

    ...is going to work for the New York Times as a columnist. Ross and I fight under different flags. But I expect he'll be at the Times, what he always was here--a swordsman of great caliber and greater honor. Here's to him. The roster won't be the same once he's gone.

  • They Shot Tupac And Biggie...

    Folks I'm headed to the Georgia chasing a story I've wanted to do for years, now. All I can say about it is, is that if it comes through a certain sector of the commenters on this blog are gonna lose it. Here's hoping it all works out. Consequently, blogging will be light today. Black Star is gonna have to hold it down for me.

  • Stewart vs. Scarborough

    Below is video of Jim Cramer defending himself against Jon Stewart's slam last week. I've got no problem with that. But Scarborough piles on by claiming Stewart is no longer "speaking truth to power" and then saying, "he's an ideologue and when George W. Bush was president, he spoke truth to power. Now that Barack Obama's president, suddenly nothing's funny about attacking the president."

    Right. Which would explain this clip. Or this clip. Or this clip. Or this clip. Scarborough goes on to bizarrely criticize Stewart for not having transcripts that can be put up on YouTube (?!?!?). But, in fact, The Daily Show has some of the deepest archives on the net right now. If you want to see Stewart attacking The Surge, as Scarborough apparently would like to, all you need to do is go to Comedy Central's own site and search the archives, and watch the entire episode.

    Look, Stewart isn't impartial, and no one who's seen their show would think that he isn't were. But arguing that they're somehow ignoring Obama is demonstrably false.

  • A Really Stupid Idea

    Awhile back commenter and blogger KevDog, asked me to compile a list of essential hip-hop records, for non-hip-hop fans looking to expand. I've resisted doing this, mostly because these sorts of lists always end with some dude whose tattoed "THUG LIFE" on his chest insisting that Tupac is the most slept-on artist of all time. Or some other dude whose pissed that Divine Styler wasn't on the list. The partisans and the extremist tend to love his sort of thing, and somehow they always manage to take over the conversation.

    Anyway, I'm going to venture forth and offer a highly biased, incredibly subjective list of records that are my favorites, and that, I think, display the genius of hip-hop. I encourage people to disagree. I also encourage people to create their own lists. Maybe at the end, we can come up with some sort of highly biased, unauthorative, unofficial master-list. But please, people who stand stand on the trains loudly reciting hip-hop lyrics should not comment here. If you think you may begin your list with "I love hip-hop more than my own Moms, son!!" then nuff respect, kid. But if it's all the same to you, I'd ask that you sit this one out.

    Anyway here it goes, in no particular order.

    1.) Outkast--Aquemeni
    2.) A Tribe Called Quest--Midnight Marauders The Low End Theory
    3.) EPMD--Unfinished Business
    4.) Ice Cube--Death Certificate
    5.) Jay-Z--The Blueprint
    6.) Nas-Illmatic
    7.) Raekwon--Only Built 4 Cuban Linx
    8.) The Fugees--The Score
    9.) Gza-Liquid Swords
    10.) Public Enemy--It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back
    11.) De La Soul--3 Feet High And Rising
    12.) Gang Starr--Full Clip
    13.) The Roots--Illadelph Halflife
    14.) Mobb Deep--The Infamous

    There's a lot wrong with that list--it's rooted in the early to mid-90s, there aren't any women on there, and its skewed to the East Coast. But beyond that it ignores some truly great feats of MCing. We'll save that for another day, though.

    UPDATE: Couple changes, I had the wrong Tribe album as someone mentioned. Also added The Roots--Illadelph Halflife. And yeah Mobb Deep, also. Just forgot those.

  • Wunderkind

    I saw the video of 14-year old Johnathan Krohn at CPAC, last week. I thought about posting it, and didn't, because I wasn't sure what I wanted to say was defensible. I'm a strong believer in social skills, and in children being children. I'm not a fan of, "child-preachers," "pageants" for five-year olds, or intense basketball camps designed to make six-year olds go pro. But as I thought about it, I decided that that's me. Those are my values. And what did I know of the kid? Maybe he actually had a gift, and his parents were just letting him live the dream.

    But I do think Matt raises a pretty good point:

    I really struggle to understand why this particular gimmick appeals to conservatives. What does it accomplish to put a 14 year-old front and center at CPAC? What's the message it's supposed to send? That the conservative message is childish? That the right's talking points can be easily mastered by a 14 year-old? That the CPAC audience doesn't care about the knowledge-base of the speakers there, they just want to hear certain ritual beats repeated? I wouldn't want to claim that liberals are so high-minded as to be above all that, but I'm hard-pressed to think of an example of liberals trying to flaunt disdain for knowledge and expertise.

    And then there is this: When you're young, and you come into some political consciousness, self-assurance, intellectual arrogance, and prejudice come easy. When I got conscious, I would have told you that the Egyptians invented airplanes, black people never had slaves, and that the cold made white people acquisitive by nature. And I would have told you this publicly, in front of a crowd of people. And I'd have slapped you with a Chancellor Williams tome if you dared to disagree. Thankfully, I had parents who protected me from myself. But more importantly, I had people around me who valued reading, listening and life experience over talking, writing and publishing. The dispensation of knowledge must be grounded by the acquisition of knowledge

    If you're a conservative and you care about this kid, you don't give him a public forum. You give him your card, and you take his e-mails. You give him a list of books that he needs to read. Then when you see him, you quiz him on those books. You tell him that you're glad he showed the initiative to write and publish himself, but his thesis is actually banal. That if he's going to play in the big leagues, he should expect to get hit and prepare himself thusly. You warn him away from sideshows, and teach him to pride hearing over being heard. You teach him that these are his weapons and his shield in the great war of ideas.

    Of course if you did all that, you'd risk turning him into liberal. But that's the chance you take, and that's what a person confident in their ideas does. They don't urge their pupils to turn away from the challenge of foreign ides, but to embrace it, to attack it, relishing the possibilities of how they could ultimately come out. Conservatives should encourage the kid to take himself seriously. Challenge him, and make sure he understands that conservative ideology isn't so rudimentary that a 14-year old could master it.

  • Translating World Of Warcraft

    Today we had a lot of comments like this:

    All well and good for the black world, but can we get a translator for the World of Warcraft?

    Are you non-WoW people really interested? With WoW/NFL/Comic book posts, I mostly assume that they're only for the hardcore. Is there, like, a 67-year old black grandmother in Mississippi trying to figure this stuff out? All jokes aside, I'll explain if you guys are interested...


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Cryotherapy's Dubious Appeal

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Confessions of Moms Around the World

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How Do Trees Know When It's Spring?

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