“Those Burning Crosses Are Symbols of Evangelicalism”

Those burning crosses are symbols of evangelicalism.

Source: ‎Exvangelical: White Evangelical Racism with Dr. Anthea Butler on Apple Podcasts

I’m not here to fix evangelicals. That’s the job of those who still find value in it. My purpose in writing was to hold up the historical mirror to the movement, and show them who they really are.

Source: I’m Not Here to Fix Evangelicals, But to Show Them Who They Are: An Interview With the Author of ‘White Evangelical Racism’ | Religion Dispatches

Dr. Butler brings the hard truth about evangelicalism in her book and on the Exvangelical podcast.

White Evangelical Racism tells a concise history of the evangelical movement and-here is the hard part-the racist and racial elements that imbue its beliefs, practices, and social and political activism. It is racism that binds and blinds many white American evangelicals to the vilification of Muslims, Latinos, and African Americans. It is racism that impels many evangelicals to oppose immigration and turn a blind eye to children in cages at the border. It is racism that fuels evangelical Islamophobia. It was evangelical acceptance of biblically sanctioned racism that motivated believers to separate and sell families during slavery and to march with the Klan. Racist evangelicals shielded cross burners, protected church burners, and participated in lynchings. Racism is a feature, not a bug, of American evangelicalism.

“To a great extent, the evangelical church in America supported the status quo. It supported slavery; it supported segregation; it preached against any attempt of the black man to stand on his own two feet.” These words, uttered in 1970 by Tom Skinner-the son of a Black preacher and a former gang member turned evangelist-still ring true today.

Evangelicals’ support for current-day policies that seem draconian and unchristian is linked inescapably to a foundational history that we will uncover in this book. American history chronicles evangelical support for and participation in racist structures in America. Skinner got it right.

Source: White Evangelical Racism | Anthea Butler | University of North Carolina Press

Why did you choose the subtitle The Politics of Morality in America?

The subtitle is about the thesis of the book: simply put, morality isn’t a religious issue for evangelicals, but a political tool they hide behind that allows them to obscure the racist and sexist pronouncements and laws they often back and promulgate. From the ways in which white women were put on a pedestal by white men in the Reconstruction and Redemption era, to the lifting up of the “family” as a way to disparage Black families as not being “moral” if there wasn’t a two-parent household, evangelical moral issues about sex, family and money have never been applied stringently to themselves or their leadership the same way they’ve applied it to other religions or ethnic groups.

One of the book’s theses is that evangelicals’ unwavering Trump support cost them a lot. But has it? What would you say to someone who suggests that their reputation with the general public hardly matters, given both the short political memory of white Americans and that the Electoral College, Senate representation, filibuster, gerrymandering, and voter suppression grant them disproportionate power anyway?

It may not matter to evangelicals that their reputations are shattered—after all they are used to saying that they’re persecuted. It fits their narrative. It does matter that the news media and voters keep believing that they actually care about moral issues. They care about power. And many of them are in power, so that is a concern for all sorts of policy issues, especially for reproductive and sexual rights.

It matters that the media and voters understand that moral issues are a tool for wielding power, and for obfuscating evangelicals’ need for access to it. It may be that they have power because of patriarchy and whiteness, but the pendulum swings, always. While their ascension has seemed to be a steep, uphill climb, I think the jig, as they say, is up.

One more note. There isn’t much about Trump in this book, for one particular reason: evangelicals didn’t become this because of Trump. Trump was simply the apotheosis of who they have been for a long time. He was close to the pinnacle of all they could want in a leader. He was just a bit too crass for the more refined evangelicals.

Source: I’m Not Here to Fix Evangelicals, But to Show Them Who They Are: An Interview With the Author of ‘White Evangelical Racism’ | Religion Dispatches

On the Atlanta spa killer:

The terrorists, the sheriff, and the church are all working together.

Source: ‎Exvangelical: White Evangelical Racism with Dr. Anthea Butler on Apple Podcasts

Spot on.

Democratizing Text: Multiplicities, Bicycles for the Mind, and Neurological Pluralism

David Sparks commented on my piece on contextual computing with these thoughtful words on democratizing text.

There is a movement afoot to democratize text and hyperlinking on the web, in apps, and across our computers. For the longest time we’ve been spinning our wheels using computer data (particularly words) as digital approximations of the printed words that came before them. That needs to change. Using hyperlinking and contextual computing, we take the written word (and the underlying paradigm about how we work on a computer) from one dimension and convert it to three dimensions.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this myself and I truly believe dynamic, bi-directional linking across files and apps can dramatically improve the way we use our computers and develop our days. It is the way for computers to truly serve the role as “bicycles for the mind“.

Source: The Growing Movement for Hyperlinking and Contextual Computing – MacSparky

I really like the invocation of “bicycles for the mind”. I want a future of text that enables accessibility, positive niche construction, and differentiated instruction in service to neurological pluralism. “Bicycles for the mind” is useful framing to get us there.

ANI launched its online list, ANI-L, in 1994. Like a specialized ecological niche, ANI-L had acted as an incubator for Autistic culture, accelerating its evolution. In 1996, a computer programmer in the Netherlands named Martijn Dekker set up a list called Independent Living on the Autism Spectrum, or InLv. People with dyslexia, ADHD, dyscalculia, and a myriad of other conditions (christened “cousins” in the early days of ANI) were also welcome to join the list. InLv was another nutrient-rich tide pool that accelerated the evolution of autistic culture. The collective ethos of InLv, said writer and list member Harvey Blume in the New York Times in 1997, was “neurological pluralism.” He was the first mainstream journalist to pick up on the significance of online communities for people with neurological differences. “The impact of the Internet on autistics,” Blume predicted, “may one day be compared in magnitude to the spread of sign language among the deaf.”

Source: The neurodiversity movement: Autism is a minority group. NeuroTribes excerpt.

“Writing is the path to power for those born without power.” We’ve seen that in neurodiversity, disability, and other self-advocacy communities. That’s a big reason why “Multiplicities are an intention: We build the best collaboration, the deepest learning, when we expand the opportunities for complex vision.”

Writing is too important because, though forms and structures will differ, writing is the path to power for those born without power. This importance lies not in how to write a “five‐paragraph essay” or a “compare and contrast” book review but in the capability to clearly communicate visions both personal and collaborative. Whether the work is a tweet that generates action when that is needed, or a text message to an employer, or the ability to convince others in the political realm, or the expression of one’s identity in a form that evokes empathy in those without similar experience, “communicating” “well” is a social leveler of supreme importance.

In both cases, methodology become less important than process. Our students read on paper, or through audio books, or through text‐to‐speech, or by watching video, or by seeing theater – or by observing their world. They write with pens, keyboards large and small, touchscreens, or by dictating to their phones or computers, or by recording audio, or by making videos, or by writing plays or creating art, or playing music. We do not limit the work by attacking those with disabilities or even inabilities – or even other preferences, because that robs children of both important influences and of their individual voices. Multiplicities are an intention: We build the best collaboration, the deepest learning, when we expand the opportunities for complex vision.

Thus we begin by moving the teaching of writing from the training of a specific skill set toward an interpersonal art form that flows from students and builds communities. Then, through the reimagining of teaching places into “learning spaces,” we craft “studios” where all the technologies of school – time, space, tools, pedagogies – liberate and inspire rather than deliver and test. Then, using those recrafted technologies, we allow communication learning to flow.

Source: Socol, Ira. Timeless Learning: How Imagination, Observation, and Zero-Based Thinking Change Schools (Kindle Locations 3725-3739). Wiley. Kindle Edition.

Written communication is the great social equalizer.” Our future of text must respect pluralism and multiplicities. “Digital approximations of the printed words that came before them” often compromise that future. So much of what I see from school is inaccessible in some way. Page-based word processors dominate education while many who write for a living or a hobby are using portable, accessible, and increasingly ubiquitous Markdown, a now 16-year-old technology.

At the 2013 Computers & Writing conference, we (Derek & Tim) started talking about the broad Markdown affinity space: Podcasts, blogs, self-published books, and social media conversations. We were particularly interested in the absence of these conversations within our field. How could a nearly ten-years-old writing technology continue to grow in professional and enthusiast spaces but also be largely absent among those who teach and research writing?

Source: Writing Workflows | Introduction

“Methodology become less important than process.” The answer is not to prescribe Markdown but to support multiplicities, process, and flow. That’s part of the magic of Markdown and plain text and hyperlinks.

I spend a lot of time in text editors. Almost everything I write starts in my favorite text editor. A text editor is my thinking space. It is a place for moving around blocks and tinkering with parts. It is a place to explore my mind and write it the way I want it to read. Iteration and ideation happen in my editor. My notes are not just a record of my thinking process, they are my thinking process. Text editors are extensions of mind that facilitate thinking.

All of this happens in beautiful, wonderful plain text.

Source: Writing in Education and Plain Text Flow

What Sparks and many other proponents of distraction-free applications or Markdown syntax are pointing toward is the importance of workflows that “regulate thought and affect and channel attention and action” (Prior & Shipka 2003, 228). They are pointing to workflows that produce (and are produced by) mental states that support writers in whatever activity they seek to accomplish. For these writers, designing a workflow means crafting a digital environment responsive to physical conditions that supports and helps bring about concentration, focus, creativity, and many other states. Any tour through writing advice from the past one hundred years or so will cover some of the same ground: writers who have morning rituals, who use particular (physical) tools, who depend on specific brands of notebooks for incubation and invention. What we want to point to with these case studies is, first, the benefit of attending more carefully to the role of digital tools and environments and, second, the inseparability of these workflows for writing activity. Workflows aren’t activities that simply precede writing, make writing easier, or make it more enjoyable. Workflows may involve those aspects, but we are suggesting something broader and more foundational: workflows, as we define them here, are what writing activity is made of.

Source: Writing Workflows | Chapter 3

Just Sayin’

Design for real life.

Design for pluralism.

Solve for the infinity.

Foreground complexity as the baseline.

Multiplicities are an intention: We build the best collaboration, the deepest learning, when we expand the opportunities for complex vision.


Design is tested at the edges.

Compassion is not coddling.


Human cognitive diversity exists for a reason; our differences are the genius – and the conscience – of our species.

To face the challenges of the future, we’ll need the problem-solving abilities of different types of minds working together.

Neurodiversity may be every bit as crucial for the human race as biodiversity is for life in general.

Difference is not our deficit; it’s our operating system.

Diversity is strength. Difference is a teacher. Fear difference, you learn nothing.


The right to learn differently should be a universal human right that’s not mediated by diagnosis.

Written communication is the great social equalizer.

To not presume competence is to assume that some individuals cannot learn, develop, or participate in the world. Presuming competence is nothing less than a Hippocratic oath for educators.

Noncompliance is a social skill.

Laziness does not exist.

It’s not about behavior.

If a person’s behavior doesn’t make sense to you, it is because you are missing a part of their context.

Design learning where there is no option for oppression.


There is no path to equity that does not involve a direct confrontation with inequity.

Inequities are primarily power and privilege problems.

You cannot counter structural inequality with good will. You have to structure equality.

We are all accountable to the urgent work of building a more just, more equitable world.


By focusing on the parts of the system that are most complex and where the people living it are the most vulnerable we understand the system best.

When we make things for people at their worst, they’ll work that much better when people are at their best.

Everything we do publicly can be made more inclusive and uplifting with intersectionality, and everything we do can become exclusionary and oppressive without it.

When we build things – we must think of the things our life doesn’t necessitate. Because someones life does.

A mismatched interaction between a person and their environment is a function of design. Change the environment, not the body.


Putting care—not just care work, but care—at the center of our economy, our politics, is to orient ourselves around our interdependence.

Care is an organizational structure needed to keep our nation running. It’s, by definition, infrastructure.

Care work makes all other work possible.


Fix injustice, not kids.

Free, life-changing, and available to everyone.

Provide freedom to those who deal with a world that’s built to be hostile toward them.


Nothing about us without us.

We exist as friction.


Embracing pluralism is good citizenship. Democracy demands equal accommodation.

Default to open.


Do not be the oppressor.

People suffer, and when they do, it’s for a reason.