Magdi Semrau Profile picture
I write about politics, culture, & science for Bylines in @PostOpinions, @ForeignPolicy, @Slate, @damemagazine, @Alternet. She/her
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Sep 29 5 tweets 2 min read
I feel like I just read a review of an ostensibly brilliant analysis of my high school bully.
"Early on, he realized that calling her ugly upset her. Others laughed as he called her ugly. So he started calling her ugly more often. Therein lay his genius."… Image Trump is a Venn of the purest forms of narcissistic personality disorder, racism, misogyny, & all other bigotries. He's also a little bit stupid--but a genius at being a bully! That's it. That's all you need to understand him.
Sep 27 6 tweets 1 min read
I feel like, during the Afghanistan withdrawal, frantic, decontextualized, & sometimes inaccurate reporting was justified on the grounds that the public deserved to know information in real time. This is jarring when contrasted to justifications for sitting on information. Journalism in a democracy serves the primary function of informing the public about what is true. And, unlike historians, journalists must attempt to inform the public about the truth in real time.
Sep 26 4 tweets 2 min read
The only empirical reason to care about birthrates is that a lopsided population will hinder social safety net funding. A fix to this is allowing families to immigrate. Unless of course you're concerned about birthrates for some non-empirical reason, such, as I dunno, racism Many factors have contributed to lower birth rates, some good (women's economic freedom) & some bad (it's expensive to have children; weak social support). Given conservatives don't care about ameliorating the bad variable, one can only assume they're ranting about the good one
Sep 26 4 tweets 2 min read
The Fair is in town! ImageImageImageImage My friend, who grew up here: "You know about the carnies? The guys who run the rides?"
Me: (distracted; doing dishes): "Yeah, sure, I know about carnies. . ."
My friend, all casual: "So this one time a carnie slit my dad's friend throat because he thought. . ."
Me: "WAIT WHAT" Image
Sep 23 5 tweets 2 min read
What is your definition of social liberalism and why do you think this ideology correlates with "non marriage?" "Liberalism" has varying definitions w/in domains fields of study. These definitions shift even more w/in public & colloquial discourse. So I ran through a fairly exhaustive list of possible meanings of "social liberalism" & not a one of them makes a lick of sense in this context Image
Sep 13 4 tweets 1 min read
I'm thinking a lot about the anti-"woke" and anti-pronoun warriors and I just want to ask: why are you so personally invested in taking away another human being's identity? I'm more irritated w/ left & moderate pundits on this point than conservatives. While the latter group is more terrifying, moderate pundits endorsed their view: parsing LGBTQ people's identities was a worthwhile *mainstream* pursuit worthy of Op-Eds in hallowed publications
Sep 13 8 tweets 2 min read
Racism & sexism permeate our societal structures & our minds have been consistently shown to exhibit bias, even in the absence of overt bigotry. It is therefore not empirically unsound to hypothesize that when a white man has been disrespectful to a Black woman, it is due to bias Folks who call out sexism + racism are often treated as acting emotively, not empirically. How can they *know* the motivation? The reality is that sexism + racism are not abberent phenomena. The existence of such bias has been proven. It exists in all of us, to some extent.
Sep 8 4 tweets 2 min read
It's like the GOP created a Mitt Romney distillate then added a splash of Trumpism & some woo-woo juice & out popped this guy Oz is just a remarkably bad candidate, especially for Pennsylvania. He seems like a jerk, so, even if he turns off some swing voters, he'll still fire up the base, right? One small problem: he's not ~just~ a jerk, he's an *elitist* jerk. The base doesn't like him.
Sep 2 4 tweets 1 min read
I'd take the "fascism" debate more seriously if pundits had not spent 2015-2019 debating whether or not Trump was ~actually racist~ without ever telling us what conclusion they'd reached before they dropped the conversation entirely Do y'all remember the halcyon days of "Trump said Baltimore is a rat-infested city & Mexicans are rapists: Was it racist or simply ~racially-tinged~?"

It was just week after week of "Trump said a racist thing" followed by "But. . How do we PROVE the racism?" on an endless loop.
Aug 30 5 tweets 2 min read
Imagine saying that this happened in 2002 Pour one out for our conservative brethren as we reflect on how cruelly they were excluded from positions of power & increasingly relegated to the dark margins of society in 2002, a year during which liberal ideology reigned supreme
Aug 29 4 tweets 2 min read
Obama spent part of the election convincing the American public that he was indeed born in the US despite the fact that he is a ~Black Man~, but maybe y'all are right & none of this was as cruel or antidemocratic as observing that "binders full of women" was a goofy thing to say Image "Republicans became rAdicAlizEd because people were mean to Mitt Romney in 2012 😭"

Republicans in 2010: ImageImage
Aug 29 6 tweets 1 min read
How much of the breathless coverage on "semi-fascism" offered a working definition of fascism? A check-list between the some of core features of fascism compared w/ a check-list of some of the core features of Trumpism may have proved ~semi~ informative. We have at least the following in common:
-a coup attempt+an ongoing new coup attempt!
-political violence, not just against political opponents/officials/etc, but health agencies, doctors, flight attendants, etc
-ideological commitment to white supremacy+other systemic bigotry
Aug 28 7 tweets 2 min read
I don't know how you go from "I'm going to spend 8 months saying Biden wont do anything progressive b/c he cares too much about bipartisanship" to "Actually I was the greatest advocate for that 100% partisan progressive policy Biden pushed 8 months ago" yet somehow it's happening Some people read this tweet as saying I was critical of all progressives, including those in Congress. I understand that misreading. I made the mistake of making certain conversational assumptions about my audience. I welcome that good faith point
Aug 27 4 tweets 2 min read
Biden has said he will pass a comprehensive right to abortion w/o the filibuster. BuildBackBetter had funding for doulas, paid leave, & repro justice more broadly, esp. for Black women. That bill failed, but Biden succeeded in passing subsections (Protecting Moms who Served) We can either say "Biden isn't progressive on repro rights" or we can look at legislation he's actually tried to pass. Do we want these policies to become reality or not? What brings us closer to making them reality? Advocating for them or claiming they don't exist & Biden's bad?
Aug 27 8 tweets 2 min read
Last year, Biden tried to pass the largest expansion of the social safety net since the Great Society. He did not ask for Republican help. Progressives didn't really advocate for the bill. The bill failed. Then Biden got moderate Democrats on board w/ a smaller bill. If there are any real political lessons to be learned:
-Biden has always been trying to go *as progressive as possible*. That's what BBB was
-Maybe some progressives can't be relied upon to advocate for progressive policies (BBB)
-In a 50/50 Senate, moderates have to be centered
Aug 24 4 tweets 2 min read
Masking will not harm your child's language/literacy unless they have an underlying disability that can be exacerbated by obstruction of specific auditory or visual cues. Parents of disabled children should be made aware of these issues; inaccurate fear-mongering is unwelcome Neurotypical children w/ no sensory issues (e.g. hearing loss) will likely compensate for any issue caused by masking in public. Children w/ sensory processing issues (ASD;ADHD;dyslexia) & children w/ sensory impairment (hearing) may be specifically hindered by masking in school
Aug 24 4 tweets 1 min read
I am a little bit puzzled by the number of people who claim to be stifled by student loan repayments that are too great for their income, but simultaneously say that IBR reforms won't change their circumstances. It almost makes me doubt the claimed financial hardship. This isn't to say one has to agree w/ the policy. One can certainly argue it doesn't do enough. Nor does it mean I believe people w/ debt aren't in hardship. I do. It's just that I have debt, have done IBR,& watched as my debt grew. I've had the hardship. This policy will help me
Aug 24 7 tweets 2 min read
Democrats just passed a massive "Kitchen table" bill & now Biden's approval is up, generic ballots are up, & the party is over-performing in special elections. It's also simply not true that Democrats are only focussing on "kitchen table issues," as traditionally defined. The "kitchen table" vs. "social justice/saving democracy" dichotomy is also a false one. It's more of a conversation between online pundits about what Dems *should* do than a description of what Dems are *actually* doing.

Most Dems are running on both.
Aug 23 4 tweets 1 min read
Many on this website are more concerned w/ signaling something about their identity and deep moral righteousness than they are w/ attempting to persuade people of their POV. This renders quite a few intra-left debates not only useless, but actually counter-productive We should welcome intra-left debate, but if the functional purpose of the "debate" is to posture/dunk/signal-your-identity, then the "debate" will only serve to more deeply entrench your interlocutor's views, as well as your own. The "debate" might even make you both more radical
Aug 15 5 tweets 2 min read
For the past year, the left/liberal commentariat has been split btwn those who claimed Pelosi, Garland, et al are doing nothing/don't care about justice & those who claimed justice takes time, particularly in this political environment. One group was wrong & the other was right. Neither group really had hard evidence to prove their hypotheses before this point. No one really knew what was going on (or not going on) behind the scenes. That said, it's relevant to understand whether the group that was correct had better reasoning underlying their hypotheses
Aug 15 4 tweets 1 min read
Dark Brandon became viral b/c partisan Dems just experienced a slew of good press after a year of "Biden's-so-worthless" vibes, despite Biden accomplishing quite a bit. The meme works b/c Biden is an 80 year old man w/ an affable grandpa aura who says things like, "Listen, Jack" That's literally all there is to it. We don't need anymore deep cultural analyses of this particular meme. I'll add that "Biden is secretly a badass" has been an internet theme since late 2019/2020 when he continued to crush the primaries despite being terminally ~offline~