Current Affairs

The “Replace Bad Things With Good Things” Roundtable

Bad things! We’re all sick of them. Isn’t it high time they were replaced with good things?

LYTA GOLD (AMUSEMENTS AND MANAGING EDITOR):

Some big news: a minor-league American soccer team has announced it’s going to ditch the National Anthem in favor of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.”

NATHAN J. ROBINSON (EDITOR-IN-CHIEF):

A much better song. “This Land Is Your Land” is really lovely. Hope they do the private property verse though.

GOLD:

Agree. In the spirit of this, though, and in the spirit of tearing down bad monuments and building better ones, I wonder what else we can fix. What other bad things should be replaced with good things?

BRIANNA RENNIX (SENIOR EDITOR):

I wish we could somehow reclaim Sic Semper Tyrannis from the Confederacy. It’s the Virginia state motto and it’s pretty metal, especially when accompanied by the Virginia state seal, which features someone crushing a tyrant underfoot while holding an absolutely enormous dildo.

Pictured: not a dildo.

GOLD:

Hold up, what is the dildo supposed to be?

RENNIX:

Not sure I understand the question.

GOLD:

I’ll rephrase: what’s the official excuse for drawing a dildo? What does the state of Virginia pretend it is instead?

RENNIX:

It’s a sword, if you can believe it.

GOLD:

Ah, the famous blunt-ended knee sword, ribbed for his pleasure.

SPARKY ABRAHAM (FINANCE EDITOR):

Looking past the dildo, let’s talk about the irony of slave masters thinking other people are the tyrants who will get got.

RENNIX:

Here’s a version that has CHAINS BROKEN ON THE GROUND, and yet—

RENNIX:

And here’s another one with chains!!! “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.”

RENNIX:

Dead tyrant in all of these is holding a many-flanged whip and/or a broken chain and yet somehow people were like, “this doesn’t raise literally a single question in the mind of me, a slaveowner.” 

ROBINSON:

I was reading an essay about John C. Calhoun the other day and what was interesting was that his defenses of slavery were kind of Marxist. He believed that all of history was a struggle between a small class of owners and a large class of workers, and he thought the workers would rise up, which is why he thought northern capitalists needed to join with him in defending slavery which was the only way to quell the class struggle. Calhoun wrote:

“It would be well for those interested to reflect whether there now exists, or ever has existed, a wealthy and civilized community in which one portion did not live on the labor of another; and whether the form in which slavery exists in the South is not but one modification of this universal condition…Let those who are interested remember that labor is the only source of wealth, and how small a portion of it, in all old and civilized countries, even the best governed, is left to those by whose labor wealth is created.”

He was also quite possibly the world’s most pedantic man. I found this quote:

Typical of Calhoun at his worst was his assault on the philosophy of the Declaration of Independence, which he read as ‘all men are born free and equal’: [He wrote] “Taking the proposition literally…there is not a word of truth in it. It begins with ‘all men are born,’ which is utterly untrue. Men are not born. Infants are born. They grow to be men…They are not born free. While infants they are incapable of freedom…”

HOW CAN MEN BE BORN FREE, you cannot give birth to a man, you give birth to a BABY, this is LUDICROUS.

GOLD:

Imagine putting the Riddle of the Sphinx to Calhoun. He’d get eaten so fast. Also, kind of amazing to come up with similar ideas to Marx and be like, “I’d better exploit the shit out of people before they kill me.”

ROBINSON:

He anticipated like 5 of Marx’s theories actually, it’s kind of incredible.

RENNIX:

The consilience here between power as viewed by the powerful and the powerless is remarkable, because the powerful are usually so full of shit.

ROBINSON:

This is the same reason I think of the Wall Street Journal as a Marxist newspaper though. They admit that capital exploits labor, they just think it’s good.

ABRAHAM:

It takes a certain variety of immorality or at least extreme amorality to be honest with yourself about what you’re doing when you’re in power. Most people are blinded by their own rationalizations for cruelty.

GOLD:

It can be very scary to admit that basically everyone in power and your entire history and the only reason you enjoy certain comforts is because of centuries of hideous blood-soaked cruelties that are still largely ongoing in many places. A lot easier to freak out with “what do people want to tear down next???? statues of Washington???” and be aggrieved rather than think about it. 

All this is to say: there is a petition to rename Columbus, OH to “Flavortown” and I think they should. Getting back to the original question, what other bad things should we replace with good things?

ABRAHAM:

More things should be named after plants and animals. Why are airports named after imperialists and not birds? Bad look.

GOLD:

Should they be named after bird species or individual heroic birds? Is it Peregrine Falcon Airport or Sharp-eyes The Magnificent Airport?

ABRAHAM:

Por que no los dos?

NICK SLATER (NEWSLETTER EDITOR):

All rectangular doors should be replaced with round ones. Humanity has evolved past the need for right angles. We are not ferrets who require corners to shit in. End the tyranny of quadrilaterals.

RENNIX:

The Bad practice of segregating bathrooms by gender should be replaced with the Better practice of segregating bathrooms according to Desired Bathroom Experience—i.e. do I enjoy the communality and/or slightly subversive thrill of the semi-public restroom, or do I wish to excrete in a soundproofed booth? Needless to say there should also be a special designated family bathroom for people who need to keep an eye on multiple children while shitting.

ALLEGRA SILCOX (BUSINESS MANAGER):

I vote for segmenting the bathrooms a la the Spice Girls: I personally would choose the Posh bathroom but on occasion perhaps check out the Scary bathroom.

GOLD:

Is the Baby bathroom for actual babies or just people who enjoy a bubblegum aesthetic while they pee?

SILCOX:

Up to bathroom owner interpretation.

SLATER:

In the Sporty bathroom you have to perform various athletic Feats before the toilet is lowered from the rafters as confetti falls and ‘We Are the Champions’ blares from a crackly loudspeaker.

a utopian city designed by the current affairs editors. illustration by christopher matthews.
If you have ideas about bad things that should be replaced with good things, please tweet at us: @curaffairs

More In: Editorial Roundtables

Cover of latest issue of print magazine

Announcing Our Newest Issue

Featuring

Spreading Sweetness and Light! Current Affairs takes on hellfire, why teens love socialism, the magic of Motown, and the legacy of Huey Long. Cover art by Aleksandra Waliszewska.

The Latest From Current Affairs