Tuesday, October 17, 2017

We Legitimize the ‘So-Called’ Confederacy With Our Vocabulary, and That’s a Problem

From Smithsonian:  https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/we-legitimize-so-called-confederacy-vocabulary-thats-problem-180964830/

Tearing down monuments is only the beginning to understanding the false narrative of Jim Crow


By Christopher Wilson
Smithsonian.com
September 12, 2017

As the debate escalates over how we publicly remember the Civil War following the tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia, the passionate and contentious disputes have centered on symbols like monuments, street names and flags. According to a study by the Southern Poverty Law Center, at least 1,503 symbols to the Confederacy are displayed in public spaces, mostly in the South and the Border States, but even in decidedly Yankee locales like Massachusetts. Most of these monuments sprang from the Lost Cause tradition that developed in the wake of the war, during the establishment of white supremacist Jim Crow laws around 1900, and as a response to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Those artifacts are not the only way we legitimize and honor the deadly and racist 19th-century rebellion against the United States. Much of the language used in reference to the Civil War glorifies the rebel cause.

The language we turn to in describing the war, from speaking of compromise and plantations, to characterizing the struggle as the North versus the South, or referring to Robert E. Lee as a General, can lend legitimacy to the violent, hateful and treasonous southern rebellion that tore the nation apart from 1861 to 1865; and from which we still have not recovered. Why do we often describe the struggle as between two equal entities? Why have we shown acceptance of the military rank given by an illegitimate rebellion and unrecognized political entity? In recent years, historians in academia and in the public sphere have been considering these issues.

Historian Michael Landis suggests professional scholars should seek to change the language we use in interpreting and teaching history. He agrees with people like legal scholar Paul Finkelman and historian Edward Baptist when they suggest the Compromise of 1850 be more accurately referred to as an Appeasement. The latter word precisely reflects the sway that Southern slaveholders held in the bargain. Landis goes on to suggest that we call plantations what they really were—slave labor camps; and drop the use of the term, “the Union.” A common usage in the 19th century to be sure, but now we only use “the Union” in reference to the Civil War and on the day of the State of the Union address. A better way to speak of the nation during the war, he argues, is to use its name, the United States.
In the same way, we could change the way we refer to secessionist states. When we talk of the Union versus the Confederacy, or especially when we present the strife as the North versus the South, we set up a parallel dichotomy in which the United States is cast as equal to the Confederate States of America. But was the Confederacy really a nation and should we refer to it as such?

The language we turn to in describing the war, from speaking of compromise and plantations, to characterizing the struggle as the North versus the South, or referring to Robert E. Lee as a General, can lend legitimacy to the violent, hateful and treasonous southern rebellion that tore the nation apart from 1861 to 1865; and from which we still have not recovered. Why do we often describe the struggle as between two equal entities? Why have we shown acceptance of the military rank given by an illegitimate rebellion and unrecognized political entity? In recent years, historians in academia and in the public sphere have been considering these issues.

Historian Michael Landis suggests professional scholars should seek to change the language we use in interpreting and teaching history. He agrees with people like legal scholar Paul Finkelman and historian Edward Baptist when they suggest the Compromise of 1850 be more accurately referred to as an Appeasement. The latter word precisely reflects the sway that Southern slaveholders held in the bargain. Landis goes on to suggest that we call plantations what they really were—slave labor camps; and drop the use of the term, “the Union.” A common usage in the 19th century to be sure, but now we only use “the Union” in reference to the Civil War and on the day of the State of the Union address. A better way to speak of the nation during the war, he argues, is to use its name, the United States.

In the same way, we could change the way we refer to secessionist states. When we talk of the Union versus the Confederacy, or especially when we present the strife as the North versus the South, we set up a parallel dichotomy in which the United States is cast as equal to the Confederate States of America. But was the Confederacy really a nation and should we refer to it as such?

Continue reading at:  https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/we-legitimize-so-called-confederacy-vocabulary-thats-problem-180964830/

White supremacists fly into white-hot rage at news some Vikings may have been Muslim

From Raw Story: https://www.rawstory.com/2017/10/white-supremacists-fly-into-white-hot-rage-at-news-some-vikings-may-have-been-muslim/

13 Oct 2017

On Friday, word of an Uppsala University study suggesting that some ancient Vikings were Muslim converts went rocketing around the Internet and hit Twitter like a bomb.

Uppsala researchers found Vikings buried in Sweden with cloth inscribed with the word “Allah,” the Muslim word for “God,” suggesting that as they roamed the world, Vikings encountered adherents to Islam and perhaps some of them converted.

Vikings are one of white supremacists’ most favorite things, embodying the “racial purity” and ferocity in war that thousands of 4chan keyboard warriors aspire to. Nazi websites like The Daily Stormer regularly truck in Viking imagery and Norse myth when appealing to disaffected whites, so the news that some Vikings could be Muslim was bound to hit some racists pretty hard.

Indeed, reactions on Twitter broke down into two categories, gleefully cackling liberals and dubious, skeptical people with “Deplorable” in their screen name or tiny U.S. flags next to their avatars.

The conservative consensus on the news was that Vikings might have plundered some Muslim fabrics to take back home, but that Vikings would never, ever, ever worship those brown people’s God, what are you thinking?

Continue reading at:  https://www.rawstory.com/2017/10/white-supremacists-fly-into-white-hot-rage-at-news-some-vikings-may-have-been-muslim/

Margaret Atwood: Rise of Trump Brings Echoes of 1930s Europe

From Common Dreams:  https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/10/14/margaret-atwood-rise-trump-brings-echoes-1930s-europe

Author made remarks ahead of receiving award for "political intuition and clairvoyance when it comes to dangerous underlying trends and currents."

 

Andrea Germanos, staff writer
Saturday, October 14, 2017

Noted author Margaret Atwood said Saturday that "it's a moment of turmoil everywhere" and that the election of Donald Trump has brought echoes of 1930s Europe.

"It feels the closest to the 1930s of anything that we have had since that time," she aid from Frankfurt, where she will receive Sunday this year's Peace Prize of the German Book Trade.

"People in Europe saw the United States as a beacon of democracy, freedom, openness, and they did not want to believe that anything like that could ever happen there," she said.

"But now, she continued, "times have changed, and, unfortunately it becomes more possible to think in those terms."

The head of the German Book Trade, Heinrich Riethmueller, said the 77-year-old Canadian was receiving the accolade for "political intuition and clairvoyance when it comes to dangerous underlying trends and currents."

Indeed, the television adaptation her 1985 dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale, a show that recently captured eight Emmys, was dubbed by Rolling Stone as "TV's Most Chilling Trump-Era Series."
"It's always been timely," said the star's show, Elisabeth Moss, of the work. "It's just that now there are actual things happening with women's reproductive rights in our own country that make me feel like this book is bleeding over into reality."

Atwood is also being awarded this month a lifetime achievement award by PEN Center USA. She will be introduced at the event by Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, who said, "It's fitting that the author of The Handmaid's Tale is being honored at a time when women's rights are under attack like never before."

Hightower: The Next Wave of the Tech Revolution Will Wipe Out Millions of Jobs—Maybe Even Yours

From Alternet:  https://www.alternet.org/labor/robots-taking-over-jobs

It sounds like science fiction, but automation is closer than you think.

By Jim Hightower October 12, 2017

Industrial automatons have been on the march for years, devouring the middle-class job opportunities of factory workers. But this time is different.

If you think your family's future is safe because you don't rely on factory work, think again. Rapid advances in AI have already turned yesterday's science fiction into today's brave new "creative destruction"—the constant churn of economic and cultural innovations that destroy existing ways of doing things. A network of inventors and investors, hundreds of university engineering and math departments, thousands of government-funded research projects, countless freelance innovators and the entire corporate establishment are "re-inventing" practically every workplace by displacing humans with "more efficient" AI robots.

This mass-scale deployment of robots has already ushered in a whole new world of work. It's a CEO's capitalist paradise, where the workforce doesn't call in sick or take vacations, can't file lawsuits, doesn't organize unions, and is cheap.

As a result, robots are rapidly climbing the pay ladder into white-collar and professional positions that millions of college-educated, middle-class employees have wrongly considered safe, including:

Doctoring

Robots have long served as surgical assistants, but today's robotic sawbones can be the primary slicer-dicers, operating with more precision than humans. Robots are now performing millions of surgeries every year. Moreover, advanced doc-bots increasingly diagnose and choose treatments based on their ability to digest thousands of scientific articles, medical reports, patient records, etc. In 2012, Vinod Khosla, billionaire co-founder of Sun Microsystems, noted: "Much of what physicians do ... can be done better by sensors, passive and active data collections, and analytics." His stunning conclusion was that computers will eventually replace 80 percent of what doctors now do.

Delivering the goods

While online retail giants have already eliminated hundreds of thousands of sales clerks by radically restructuring how consumers make purchases, AI systems are poised to gobble up the jobs transporting those products. The first big targets are America's truckers, who number 1.8 million and have some of the few remaining, decent-paying jobs not requiring college degrees. Engineers at Google, Uber, et al. are rolling out prototypes for driver-less trucks that can crisscross the country without rest breaks, sleep, or days off.

Amazon

This corporate behemoth's focus on workplace "efficiency" has made it the poster-child job disrupter in the retail economy, maximizing robots to displace as many humans as possible, as soon as possible. Their massive warehouses are already buzzing hives of robots plucking millions of products from miles of shelves to fill online orders. More are coming. While Amazon staged a PR show in August around its nationwide "Job Day" event to hire 50,000 human workers, it has been expanding its current swarm of full-time robots. In 2012, it bought an artificial intelligence developer, now named Amazon Robotics, to breed its own line of androids, and by August had added another 55,000 of these creatures to its 100,000-strong warehouse workbot-force. Amazon is also pushing regulators to let it replace delivery workers with drones and is testing a chain of "Amazon Go" convenience stores "staffed" almost entirely by AI systems. And it just swallowed Whole Foods grocery chain, loudly promising lower prices but whispering the method: replacing clerks, stockers, et al. with robots.

Continue reading at:  https://www.alternet.org/labor/robots-taking-over-jobs

Donald Trump is F*cking Crazy | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann


Vietnam antiwar movement had a bigger voice than portrayed in PBS documentary

From The San Francisco Chronicle:  http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Vietnam-antiwar-movement-had-a-bigger-voice-than-12250664.php

By Steve Ladd October 3, 2017

The PBS series “The Vietnam War” presents a devastating history of the war, showing it to be ill-conceived and a major human tragedy for both America and Indochina. It clearly validates that the peace movement was right to oppose the war and call for the withdrawal of American troops and air power.

But, despite that, in its 18 hours, the series falls seriously short in how it portrays the peace movement. While segments do present some major antiwar events, the series misses its full scope, significant impact, and lessons for today. In the last episode of the series, the producers chose to include two antiwar voices who both apologize for their actions and the movement, rather than take credit for turning the public against the war.

I was part of that historic movement, starting in 1968 as a freshman at UC Berkeley. My opposition to the war led me to file for conscientious objector status when I registered for the draft at 18.

When draft resistance leader David Harris and others spoke at UC Berkeley in 1969, I was challenged to take a further step: refuse to cooperate with the Selective Service System in an act of outright resistance. He and others were traveling and speaking around the country to build support for a mass draft resistance movement that would make it harder to continue fighting an unjust and unnecessary war.

Harris already had refused to be inducted and was facing several years in federal prison.
It wasn’t an easy decision for me, considering the possibility of prison.

But I returned my draft card because contributing to the growing draft resistance movement was a powerful way to help end the ongoing slaughter in Vietnam.

The draft resistance movement grew. Nearly 200,000 young men were cited for draft violations, 25,000 sent to trial, and 4,000 sent to serve an average of two years in federal prison. Eventually, the scale of draft resistance made it harder for President Richard Nixon to escalate troop levels. He ended draft calls in 1972.

The courage of draft resisters also inspired Daniel Ellsberg to risk life in prison and release what became known as the Pentagon Papers, revealing the secrets and lies of the war, another critical factor in turning the public against it.

Despite the significant impact of draft resistance, there is nothing about it in the PBS series. Instead, the series features two men who evaded the draft by going to Canada. But draft resisters were not draft evaders. Resisters publicly refused to be drafted and were willing to face the consequences. The series falls short in several other ways to portray accurately the multifaceted peace movement, including how grassroots lobbying in the early 1970s led to Congress finally cutting off war funding in 1973.

Continue reading at:  http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Vietnam-antiwar-movement-had-a-bigger-voice-than-12250664.php

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Monday, October 9, 2017

Anti-fa

From Ad Busters:  http://www.adbusters.org/article/anti-fa/

There’s a new kid on the block, and they’ve come out swinging. Anti-fa, or anti-fascist, groups have exploded around the country to fight back against growing fascism and nazism. Anti-fa doesn’t hold back. As the frontline of the new Left, they are willing to fight violence with violence, and have no qualms with shutting down nazis wherever they appear.

For years the black bloc was the only voice of radicalism distinguishing between violence and reactive self-defence. We may now be witnessing something special, as a new generation of activists coalesces around anti-fascism. Anti-fa members do not fall into the trap of political-correctness like so many liberals, but, instead, tell it like it is, and are not afraid to act on their beliefs. They don’t lean on the government for support, choosing to subvert the violent police-state to defend the most vulnerable.

So Lefties, listen up! Over the last forty years, the Left has failed to take bold action to support radical voices. Anti-fa has stepped in to fill the void, but has been met with criticism and dissent. Rather than bashing anti-fa, let’s push further.

Anti-fa is a bright spot on a dark political landscape. But dare I say: the Left is dead if their only radical faction is reactive by nature. Anti-fa coalesces around alt-right rallies, and waits for fascists to appear before shutting them down. But is it possible to build a constructive global coalition on the left beyond anti-fa? How about smashing the global hierarchy, and building a new world from the bottom-up?

“Resist! Resist! Resist!” is the only chant we hear echoing through the streets, directed towards Trump Tower and the White House. How about: “Dream! Dream! Dream!”

Sutrisno

What Does a Leader of the Vietnam Anti-War Movement Think About Ken Burns’s Documentary?

I lived through it and experienced it differently.  I was in SDS.  I was an anti-war hippie.  I lived with a Marine who deserted and busted him out when he was arrested.  There was a classic Kurosawa movie titled Roshomon that  had several witnesses all describe the rape of a woman, all the witnesses experienced the event differently. Who you were and what you did during that war creates the reality of events for you.

In retrospect though even the harshest hawks need to ask themselves if the deaths of all those people were necessary to produce a developing nation well know for their cheap clothes production and cheap if some what dubiously healthy farmed shrimp.

From The Nation:  https://www.thenation.com/article/what-does-one-of-the-leaders-of-the-vietnam-anti-war-movement-think-about-ken-burnss-documentary/

According to Todd Gitlin, the film is an extraordinary portrayal of the people who lived through the war—both Americans and Vietnamese.

The Roots of Trump’s Prejudice | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Liberal Redneck - Take a Knee, Y'all


Ken Burns' New Vietnam War Series Teaches a Flawed, Misleading Lesson

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/burns-wrong-lessons

The new film distorts what scholars, veterans and antiwar activists alike know about the war and its aftermath.

By Jerry Lembcke Public Books September 19, 2017

When Karl Marlantes takes the screen during the new PBS film series The Vietnam War, he says coming home was nearly as traumatic as the war itself. Later, he describes being assaulted by protesters at the airport, invoking the image of spat-on Vietnam veterans, an image that Los Angeles Times editorial writer Michael McGough said in 2012 was based on a myth. An edifying myth, McGough called it, but still a myth.

With The Vietnam War, Ken Burns and Lynn Novick have created a film that rehashes some old, tired tropes. In doing so, they distort what soldiers, veterans, and antiwar activists alike know about the war and its aftermath, especially inside the United States.

In their May 29 New York Times op-ed advertisement for the series, Burns and Novick give a lofty rationale for their film. Succumbing to another cliché, they claim it is about healing. But the discourse of healing misleads as much as it informs, presupposing a prewar America that was a seamless unity, where everyone got along. As sociologist Keith Beattie showed in his 1998 book The Scar That Binds: American Culture and the Vietnam War, that America was mythical. The real one was already torn by racism and McCarthyism, and frayed by modern technology. Domestic class conflict and racial and gender anxieties, too, continued right through the war, as the historian Milton Bates pointed out in his 1996 book The Wars We Took to Vietnam.

That fractured America was complicit in its going to war, not simply a passive victim of it. Burns and Novick intentionally exclude scholars like Beattie and Bates, however. “No historians or other expert talking heads” mar their film, they told the Times’s reviewer Jennifer Schuessler. “Instead,” Schuessler reports matter-of-factly, their “79 onscreen interviews give the ground-up view of the war from the mostly ordinary people who lived through it.”

Ground-up views are susceptible, especially after 40 years, to the very myths they are supposed to belie. Memories that are 40 years old are too influenced by movies, novels, newspapers, and television—or those dreaded historians—to count for documentation. Lawyers, judges, and courts concluded years ago that eyewitness accounts of crimes that are only hours old are unreliable—so, 40 years? Or 50? In the hands of filmmakers, however, such accounts are too easily and too often used as a veneer to manage viewer perceptions.1 Here Burns and Novick offer false equivalences, or “balance” in journalistic parlance. In promoting healing instead of the search for truth, The Vietnam War offers misleading comforts.

The contradictions of The Vietnam War pile up from the start. Its creators might claim a ground-up view—and the film does give us lot of grunt-level footage, like Marines in rice paddies and GIs jumping out of helicopters—but the prevailing interpretations of these scenes come from elites. Some of these notables would be better cast into confessional booths than onto PBS screens, too. For example, John Negroponte, a prominent interpreter in the film, used diplomatic appointments as cover for covert activities over a half-century of US-engineered (or –attempted) regime-change operations.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/burns-wrong-lessons

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