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

We Will Not Stand for Trump | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann | GQ


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Stop talking right now about the threat of climate change. It’s here; it’s happening

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/11/threat-climate-change-hurricane-harvey-irma-droughts?CMP=fb_us

Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, flash fires, droughts: all of them tell us one thing – we need to stand up to the fossil fuel industry and fast

Monday 11 September 2017

For the sake of keeping things manageable, let’s confine the discussion to a single continent and a single week: North America over the last seven days.

In Houston they got down to the hard and unromantic work of recovery from what economists announced was probably the most expensive storm in US history, and which weather analysts confirmed was certainly the greatest rainfall event ever measured in the country – across much of its spread it was a once-in-25,000-years storm, meaning 12 times past the birth of Christ; in isolated spots it was a once-in-500,000-years storm, which means back when we lived in trees. Meanwhile, San Francisco not only beat its all-time high temperature record, it crushed it by 3F, which should be pretty much statistically impossible in a place with 150 years (that’s 55,000 days) of record-keeping.
That same hot weather broke records up and down the west coast, except in those places where a pall of smoke from immense forest fires kept the sun shaded – after a forest fire somehow managed to jump the mighty Columbia river from Oregon into Washington, residents of the Pacific Northwest reported that the ash was falling so thickly from the skies that it reminded them of the day Mount St Helens erupted in 1980.

That same heat, just a little farther inland, was causing a “flash drought” across the country’s wheat belt of North Dakota and Montana – the evaporation from record temperatures had shrivelled grain on the stalk to the point where some farmers weren’t bothering to harvest at all. In the Atlantic, of course, Irma was barrelling across the islands of the Caribbean (“It’s like someone with a lawnmower from the sky has gone over the island,” said one astounded resident of St Maarten). The storm, the first category five to hit Cuba in a hundred years, is currently battering the west coast of Florida after setting a record for the lowest barometric pressure ever measured in the Keys, and could easily break the 10-day-old record for economic catastrophe set by Harvey; it’s definitely changed the psychology of life in Florida for decades to come.

Oh, and while Irma spun, Hurricane Jose followed in its wake as a major hurricane, while in the Gulf of Mexico, Katia spun up into a frightening storm of her own, before crashing into the Mexican mainland almost directly across the peninsula from the spot where the strongest earthquake in 100 years had taken dozens of lives.

Leaving aside the earthquake, every one of these events jibes with what scientists and environmentalists have spent 30 fruitless years telling us to expect from global warming. (There’s actually fairly convincing evidence that climate change is triggering more seismic activity, but there’s no need to egg the pudding.)

That one long screed of news from one continent in one week (which could be written about many other continents and many other weeks – just check out the recent flooding in south Asia for instance) is a precise, pixelated portrait of a heating world. Because we have burned so much oil and gas and coal, we have put huge clouds of CO2 and methane in the air; because the structure of those molecules traps heat the planet has warmed; because the planet has warmed we can get heavier rainfalls, stronger winds, drier forests and fields. It’s not mysterious, not in any way. It’s not a run of bad luck. It’s not Donald Trump (though he’s obviously not helping). It’s not hellfire sent to punish us. It’s physics.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/11/threat-climate-change-hurricane-harvey-irma-droughts?CMP=fb_us

When History’s Losers Write the Story

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/15/sunday-review/civil-war-statues-losers.html

By Sept. 15, 2017

I visited a summer camp in western Russia in July 2015. Its theme was “military patriotism,” and it involved dozens of teenagers lounging around in tents, wrestling, carving wood and making garlands. They were also taking history classes. Joseph Stalin, the Soviet leader who killed millions of Soviet citizens, was remembered fondly.

“Whatever your view of Stalin, you can’t deny that he was a strong leader,” a counselor told me later over steaming bowls of cabbage soup. “Stalin won the war. He made it possible for us to go to space. You can’t just throw out a person like that from history.”

Russia has not faced the darker parts of its past, something I spent a lot of time thinking about as a correspondent there. But my own country has memory problems, too. Take the Civil War. Historians tell us it was fought over slavery. But an entirely different version unspooled last month at an Applebee’s in Delaware.

“It’s too simplified to say the war was over slavery,” said Jeffrey Plummer, head of a local chapter of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans. “That’s what’s been taught in the schools, but there’s more to it.”

Selective memory, it seems, is a global phenomenon. Think of Turkey and its blank spot where the Armenian genocide should be. Or Japan with its squeamishness about its aggression and mass murder in China. It starts as a basic human impulse to take the sting out of defeat or to avoid admitting some atrocity. But it’s also a way to help cope with a difficult present. And like a growth on a tree ring, it can keep the past off-kilter until some future generation is brave enough to right it.

“In most countries you are more likely to get evasion and nationalistic versions of history than tough grappling with the darker parts of your past, and the U.S. is no exception,” said Gary Bass, a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton.

In the United States, the Civil War remains “the most divisive and unresolved experience Americans have ever had,” according to David Blight, a historian at Yale. “The Civil War is like a sleeping dragon. If you poke it hard enough, it will raise its head and breathe fire.”

That is, in part, because the loser was allowed its own interpretation. The South, facing catastrophic loss of life and mass destruction on a European scale, wrote its own history of the war. It cast itself as an underdog overwhelmed by the North’s superior numbers, but whose cause — a noble fight for states’ rights — was just. The North looked the other way. Northern elites were more interested in re-establishing economic ties than in keeping their commitments to blacks’ constitutional rights. The political will to complete Reconstruction died.

“The whole notion of honoring the Confederacy and the sacrifice that your family made became part of what we taught in the schools,” said Charles Dew, a Williams College historian whose book “Apostles of Disunion” describes the white supremacist arguments that underpinned the South’s case for leaving the Union.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Americans Are Confronting an Alarming Question: Are Many of Our Fellow Citizens ‘Nazis’?

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/05/magazine/americans-are-confronting-an-alarming-question-are-many-of-our-fellow-citizens-nazis.html

By


One morning in mid-August, Americans woke up in what felt, to some, like an altered country. The week’s most notable political event had begun with hundreds of Americans carrying torches while chanting “Sieg heil” and “Jews will not replace us.” White supremacist radicals like these had been active and energized throughout the presidential campaign, but much of their energy had been restricted to the internet. The rally in Charlottesville was markedly different. It confronted America with an unlikely question: Was it possible the nation was seeing a burgeoning political faction of ... actual Nazis? People we should actually call Nazis?

“Nazi” is a remarkable example of the very different routes a word can take through the world. In this case, that word is the Latin name “Ignatius.” In Spanish, it followed a noble path: It became Ignacio, and then the nickname Nacho, and then — after a Mexican cook named Ignacio Anaya had a moment of inspiration — it became delicious, beloved nachos. In Bavaria, a much darker transformation took place. Ignatius became the common name Ignatz, or in its abbreviated form, Nazi. In the early 20th century, Bavarian peasants were frequent subjects of German mockery, and “Nazi” became the archetypal name for a comic figure: a bumbling, dimwitted yokel. “Just as Irish jokes always involve a man called Paddy,” the etymologist Mark Forsyth writes in his 2011 book “The Etymologicon,” “so Bavarian jokes always involved a peasant called Nazi.” When Adolf Hitler’s party emerged from Bavaria with a philosophy called “Nationalsozialismus,” two of that word’s syllables were quickly repurposed by Hitler’s cosmopolitan opponents. They started calling the new party Nazis — implying, to the Nazis’ great displeasure, that they were all backward rubes.

That original, taunting meaning of “Nazi” is now long gone, replaced forever by the image of history’s most despised regime. This is precisely why the word has resurfaced in American conversation, aimed at the white supremacist arm of the so-called alt-right: It is perhaps the single most potent condemnation in our language, a word that provides instant moral clarity. Not everyone, though, is entirely comfortable with this new usage. The New Yorker’s Jelani Cobb finds “Nazi” insufficient as a label for American racists, because when we use it, he writes, “we summon the idea of the United States’ moral victories, and military ones” — references that make little sense when we’re talking about American-made moral failures. Lindsey E. Jones, a Ph.D. student of history in Charlottesville, tweeted that a long history of American racism is “conveniently erased” when figures like the white nationalist Richard Spencer are reduced to “Nazis.”

But if “Nazi” isn’t quite the right word for the fringe groups now attempting a takeover of national politics — if it’s sloppy and inexact and papers over just how widespread some of these bigotries are — then “Nazi” will, in a way, have returned to its roots. It began as a broad, imprecise and patronizing slur. Then it became a precise historical classification. (One that, you might argue, “conveniently erased” widespread anti-Semitism throughout Europe and America.) Now we find ourselves arguing over whether it can serve as a general epithet again — a name for a whole assortment of distasteful ideologies. Nearly 80 years after Kristallnacht, we are not exactly sure what a Nazi is, or should be.

'No Fascist USA!': how hardcore punk fuels the Antifa movement


From The Guardian UK: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/sep/09/no-fascist-usa-how-hardcore-punk-fuels-the-antifa-movement

The anti-fascist movement draws on punk’s political awareness and network for activism – and right now may be its most crucial moment

by  
Saturday 9 September 2017 

“No Trump! No KKK! No Fascist USA!” 

When Green Day chanted the repurposed lyrics from Texan punk trailblazers MDC’s 1981 song Born to Die during the 2016 American Music Awards, it gave the burgeoning anti-Trump, anti-fascist movement the slogan it needed – and it would soon appear on placards, T-shirts and be chanted by protesters in their thousands in months to come. 

It was a tiny piece of punk history writ large on American cultural life – but it only gave the merest hint of US hardcore punk’s influence on the current political landscape. 

As political commentators struggle to nail down the exact nature of Antifa’s masked legions, they’ve overlooked one thing: Antifa has been critically influenced by hardcore punk for nearly four decades. 

From the collectivist principles of anarchist punk bands such as Crass and Conflict, the political outrage of groups such as the Dead Kennedys, MDC and Discharge, Antifa draws on decades of protest, self-protection and informal networks under the auspices of a musical movement. 

Mark Bray, author of The Antifa Handbook, says that “in many cases, the North American modern Antifa movement grew up as a way to defend the punk scene from the neo-Nazi skinhead movement, and the founders of the original Anti-Racist Action network in North America were anti-racist skinheads. The fascist/anti-fascist struggle was essentially a fight for control of the punk scene [during the 1980s], and that was true across of much of north America and in parts of Europe in this era.”

“There’s a huge overlap between radical left politics and the punk scene, and there’s a stereotype about dirty anarchists and punks, which is an oversimplification but grounded in a certain amount of truth.” 

Drawing influence from anti-fascist groups in 1930s Germany, the UK-based Anti-Fascist Action formed in the late 70s in reaction the growing popularity of rightwing political parties such as the National Front and the British Movement. They would shut down extreme-right meetings at every opportunity, whether it be a march or a gathering in a room above a pub. Inspired by this, anti-racist skinheads in Minneapolis formed Anti-Racist Action, which soon gained traction in punk scenes across the US. Meanwhile, in New York, a movement called Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice sprung up. 

The term “Antifa” was adopted by German antifascists in the 80s, accompanied by the twin-flag logo, which then spread around Europe, and finally pitched up in the US after being adopted by an anarchist collective in Portland, Oregon. 

Continue reading at: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/sep/09/no-fascist-usa-how-hardcore-punk-fuels-the-antifa-movement

The Media Doesn’t Understand What Trump is Doing | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann


Who Is Weaponizing Religious Liberty?

From People For The American Way:  http://www.pfaw.org/report/who-is-weaponizing-religious-liberty/
It Takes a Right-Wing Village to Turn a Cherished American Principle Into a Destructive Culture-War Weapon

In 2016, for the second year in a row, more than 100 anti-equality bills targeting LGBT people were introduced in state legislatures, many of them described as measures to protect religious liberty. This flood of anti-LGBT and “religious liberty” legislation is not the result of isolated local efforts. It is part of a larger campaign by Religious Right groups to resist and reverse advances toward equality for LGBT Americans by portraying equality as inherently incompatible with religious freedom. That effort began well before the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage equality ruling, but it has kicked into overdrive since.

Religious Right organizations have long equated criticism with persecution, and portrayed legal and political defeats as attacks on Christianity and religious freedom. Efforts to frame opposition to reproductive choice and LGBT equality as religious liberty issues picked up steam with the issuing of the Manhattan Declaration in 2009. This manifesto, co-authored by right-wing Catholic intellectual Robert George, pledged that its signers would refuse to “bend” to “any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family.” 

Since then, Religious Right groups, their allies at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and allied politicians have increasingly framed their opposition to marriage equality, nondiscrimination laws, reproductive choice, and the contraception coverage requirement under the Affordable Care Act as questions of religious liberty.

Included in the recent anti-equality wave are various types of legislation, including state-level Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs), modeled to different degrees on the federal law of the same name; so-called Government Nondiscrimination Acts (GNDAs), which do away with the federal RFRA’s balancing tests to give special legal protection to discrimination based on anti-equality religious beliefs; and anti-LGBT laws that don’t explicitly fly under the religious liberty banner, like bills barring transgender people from using the public bathrooms appropriate for their gender identity.

Some of those bills have been defeated, thanks to mobilization by equality advocates and their allies in progressive, religious, and business communities. Others have been approved by state legislatures but vetoed by governors, including Republican Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia and Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia. Still others have been signed into law, including Mississippi’s “religious liberty” law and North Carolina’s now notorious HB2, a law overturning local nondiscrimination ordinances and banning transgender people from using public restrooms that match their gender identity. Inflammatory rhetoric about transgender people has fed an increasingly ugly climate in which states and localities are literally making it a crime for a transgender person to go to the bathroom.

All of these approaches are being promoted by a network of national Religious Right organizations that oppose legal recognition for the rights of LGBT people. These organizations are part of a larger infrastructure of colleges and law schools, think tanks, media outlets, and advocacy groups that has been built over the last few decades. They work together to promote the false and destructive idea that legal equality for LGBT Americans is incompatible with religious freedom for those who oppose it — just as early civil rights opponents claimed that eliminating enforced racial segregation was an attack on southern white Christians’ religious beliefs.

This network of anti-equality groups is engaged in a high-stakes effort to convince Americans that preserving religious liberty requires giving individuals and corporations the power to disobey laws that promote the common good and protect other constitutional principles like equal treatment under the law.

Together these organizations constitute a powerful cultural and political force that will not disappear after a few losses in the courtroom or at the ballot box. Indeed, in the wake of their marriage equality defeat at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015, they have redoubled their efforts. They are eagerly creating folk heroes out of public officials and business owners who refuse to provide services to same-sex couples. And they are pushing Republican officials to enact legislation at federal as well as state levels that would further weaponize religious liberty, turning it from a shield meant to protect individual religious practice into a sword to be wielded against individuals and groups disfavored by Religious Right leaders.

Continue reading at:  http://www.pfaw.org/report/who-is-weaponizing-religious-liberty/

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Chelsea Manning: The Dystopia We Signed Up for

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/13/opinion/chelsea-manning-big-data-dystopia.html

By Chelsea Manning Sept. 13, 2017

For seven years, I didn’t exist.

While incarcerated, I had no bank statements, no bills, no credit history. In our interconnected world of big data, I appeared to be no different than a deceased person. After I was released, that lack of information about me created a host of problems, from difficulty accessing bank accounts to trouble getting a driver’s license and renting an apartment.

In 2010, the iPhone was only three years old, and many people still didn’t see smartphones as the indispensable digital appendages they are today. Seven years later, virtually everything we do causes us to bleed digital information, putting us at the mercy of invisible algorithms that threaten to consume our freedom.

Information leakage can seem innocuous in some respects. After all, why worry when we have nothing to hide?

We file our taxes. We make phone calls. We send emails. Tax records are used to keep us honest. We agree to broadcast our location so we can check the weather on our smartphones. Records of our calls, texts and physical movements are filed away alongside our billing information. Perhaps that data is analyzed more covertly to make sure that we’re not terrorists — but only in the interest of national security, we’re assured.

Our faces and voices are recorded by surveillance cameras and other internet-connected sensors, some of which we now willingly put inside our homes. Every time we load a news article or page on a social media site, we expose ourselves to tracking code, allowing hundreds of unknown entities to monitor our shopping and online browsing habits. We agree to cryptic terms-of-service agreements that obscure the true nature and scope of these transactions.

According to a 2015 study from the Pew Research Center, 91 percent of American adults believe they’ve lost control over how their personal information is collected and used.

Just how much they’ve lost, however, is more than they likely suspect.

The real power of mass data collection lies in the hand-tailored algorithms capable of sifting, sorting and identifying patterns within the data itself. When enough information is collected over time, governments and corporations can use or abuse those patterns to predict future human behavior. Our data establishes a “pattern of life” from seemingly harmless digital residue like cellphone tower pings, credit card transactions and web browsing histories.

The consequences of our being subjected to constant algorithmic scrutiny are often unclear. For instance, artificial intelligence — Silicon Valley’s catchall term for deepthinking and deep-learning algorithms — is touted by tech companies as a path to the high-tech conveniences of the so-called internet of things. This includes digital home assistants, connected appliances and self-driving cars.

Simultaneously, algorithms are already analyzing social media habits, determining creditworthiness, deciding which job candidates get called in for an interview and judging whether criminal defendants should be released on bail. Other machine-learning systems use automated facial analysis to detect and track emotions, or claim the ability to predict whether someone will become a criminal based only on their facial features.

How Did Trump Remember 9/11? | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann


Fascism, American Style

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/28/opinion/fascism-arpaio-pardon-trump.html

Aug. 28, 2017

As sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., Joe Arpaio engaged in blatant racial discrimination. His officers systematically targeted Latinos, often arresting them on spurious charges and at least sometimes beating them up when they questioned those charges. Read the report from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and prepare to be horrified.

Once Latinos were arrested, bad things happened to them. Many were sent to Tent City, which Arpaio himself proudly called a “concentration camp,” where they lived under brutal conditions, with temperatures inside the tents sometimes rising to 145 degrees.

And when he received court orders to stop these practices, he simply ignored them, which led to his eventual conviction — after decades in office — for contempt of court. But he had friends in high places, indeed in the highest of places. We now know that Donald Trump tried to get the Justice Department to drop the case against Arpaio, a clear case of attempted obstruction of justice. And when that ploy failed, Trump, who had already suggested that Arpaio was “convicted for doing his job,” pardoned him.

By the way, about “doing his job,” it turns out that Arpaio’s officers were too busy rounding up brown-skinned people and investigating President Barack Obama’s birth certificate to do other things, like investigate cases of sexually abused children. Priorities!

Let’s call things by their proper names here. Arpaio is, of course, a white supremacist. But he’s more than that. There’s a word for political regimes that round up members of minority groups and send them to concentration camps, while rejecting the rule of law: What Arpaio brought to Maricopa, and what the president of the United States has just endorsed, was fascism, American style.

So how did we get to this point?

Trump’s motives are easy to understand. For one thing, Arpaio, with his racism and authoritarianism, really is his kind of guy. For another, the pardon is a signal to those who might be tempted to make deals with the special investigator as the Russia probe closes in on the White House: Don’t worry, I’ll protect you.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Trump’s DACA Decision is a Grim Turning Point | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann


Gays and Guns: The Rise of LGBTQ+ Gun Use in America


Kate Millett, Influential Feminist Writer, Is Dead at 82

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/06/obituaries/kate-millett-influential-feminist-writer-is-dead-at-82.html?_r=1

Kate Millett, whose 1970 book, “Sexual Politics,” made her, as one writer put it, “the principal theoretician of the women’s liberation movement,” and who went on to be a leading voice on human rights, mental health issues and more, died on Wednesday in Paris. She was 82.

Her spouse, Sophie Keir, said the cause was cardiac arrest. Living in New York City, they had been going to Paris every year to celebrate their birthdays, she said.

Ms. Millett was in her mid-30s and a generally unknown sculptor when her doctoral dissertation at Columbia University, “Sexual Politics,” was published by Doubleday and Co. Her core premise was that the relationship between the sexes is political, with the definition of politics including, as she once said, “arrangements whereby one group of persons is controlled by another.”

“However muted its appearance may be,” Ms. Millett wrote, “sexual dominion obtains nevertheless as perhaps the most pervasive ideology of our culture and provides its most fundamental concept of power.”

The book became a central work of what is often called second-wave feminism, but being a star of the movement did not come naturally to Ms. Millett.

“Kate achieved great fame and celebrity, but she was never comfortable as a public figure,” Eleanor Pam, another leading feminist, said by email. “She was preternaturally shy. Still, she inspired generations of girls and women who read her words, heard her words and understood her words.”
Katherine Murray Millett was born on Sept. 14, 1934, in St. Paul. As a 1970 profile in The New York Times put it, “after a series of clashes in the local parochial schools over her rapidly dwindling belief in Roman Catholic doctrine,” Ms. Millett enrolled in the University of Minnesota, graduating in 1956, then went to Oxford.

After teaching briefly at the University of North Carolina, she pursued her art career in Japan and then New York, where she took a job at Barnard College teaching English literature. In 1965 she married the Japanese sculptor Fumio Yoshimura, but she rejected many traditional ideas of marriage and eventually came out as a lesbian. (The couple divorced in the 1980s.)

Her autobiographical work “Flying,” published in 1974, told of the dizzying fame “Sexual Politics” had brought and her reaction to it. “Sita,” in 1977, dealt with her sexuality.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A Redneck Reflection on the Past Week

From A Wandering Minister:  http://awanderingminister2.blogspot.com/2017/08/a-redneck-reflection-on-past-week.html

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Ever since the civil rights movement, groups like SNCC and the Black Panthers have been telling white people to look to and take care of their own communities. And, consistently, white, mostly middle class, liberals have marched in the streets, presented themselves as allies of black communities, and signed people up to vote. They are quick to denounce open displays of white supremacy and quick to denounce poor white communities as gun toting, bigoted racists. But they have never been quick to do what they were asked to do: take care of and do the hard work of working in white communities.

I am a redneck. I grew up target shooting with shotguns and rifles, grew up in a majority white rural community—and I grew up reading white power materials and using racial slurs, alongside listening to sermons that said we were all created equal.

I now work very close to where I grew up, as pastor to a very poor, heavily criminalized, majority white community. A lot of the young people I work with have been recruited into white power gangs: everything from the KKK to the Skinheads and Peckerwoods to the newish Thor’s Hammer. They are not the face of the alt-right; most of the folks who gather in places like Charlottesville are middle class armchair racists turned activists who join neo-Nazi, Patriot, and White Nationalist groups for ideological reasons. My kids join white gangs that run drugs, provide protection in prison and on the streets, and give them somewhere to belong.

Because no one answered the call 100 years ago, and again 50 years ago, to organize in white communities, my kids have few alternatives to white power gangs. The left has abandoned white poor communities, time and again, to deepening poverty, to heavy criminalization, to hunger, to police violence—and to the Skinheads.

Young white kids join white power gangs for similar reasons that black and brown kids join black and Latino gangs: for protection, for belonging, for economic survival. Of course, they have an added, deadly commitment to white supremacy. It is especially easy for young people who have grown up in rural, white communities to join white supremacists: the racist structure of our society insure that many of them have not had much contact with people of color. At least, until they are incarcerated.

Kellan Howell interviewed several former neo-Nazis about how to confront the recent public rise of white power protests. They said, in part:

When it comes to engaging with far-right extremists, Meeink and Angela said it's all about making them feel human again.

"Maybe, a simple kind word, a simple act of compassion, and that is not an easy thing to do," King said, adding that her own transformation came after a Jamaican woman in prison asked her to play a game of cribbage…

…Both Meeink and King say that a rough childhood and feelings of isolation and emptiness led them to seek solace with white power groups, but they say people who have had similar experiences can help show those who are currently struggling that they don't have to turn to hatred to find purpose.

My work centers in part around this work. While our ministry reaches a number of native kids who are frequently the target of racial violence (including a young kid who was just killed in a racially motivated vehicular homicide), the majority of people we work with are white. Many of them are, or have been, members of white power gangs. We focus on “making them feel human again.” None of them are, first and foremost, white supremacists. They are young people who have been beaten time and again by the police, who have been jailed from the time they were around 13, who got their first felonies as teenagers and who have never had a stable life since, who run drugs because there is no other economy in town, who have experienced extreme violence and abuse, who have lost their parents and their children to a system that offers them no first chance, much less a second. They are tired. They are brave. They are angry. In jail, they have native friends and Latino friends who have experienced the same thing and sometimes they have each other’s backs.

But they have never had the opportunity to see that, perhaps, they have more in common with poor communities of color than they have with the wealthy and powerful leaders of organizations like the KKK, the Patriots, and other alt-right groups. The white supremacist plan to divide and conquer the poor has worked. Sometimes, anyway.

Continue reading at:  http://awanderingminister2.blogspot.com/2017/08/a-redneck-reflection-on-past-week.html

Liberal elite, it's time to strike a deal with the working class

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/23/liberal-elite-its-time-to-strike-a-deal-with-the-working-class

Coalitions need compromise. But it’s coalitions that win, writes Joan C Williams, the author of White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America

Wednesday 23 August 2017

Abortion rights are central to my identity. As an ambitious teenager, I wanted to have both a vital career and a vibrant intellectual life, and I felt that having a baby at the wrong time would doom me. I went on to a both a full career and motherhood. It all worked out for me, but only because I could control my fertility.

My life has centered around what the sociologist Mary Blair-Loy calls the “norm of work devotion”. Work has provided me with joy, social status, dignity, and financial stability. To me, the image of the stay-at-home mom epitomized oppression and thwarted self-fulfillment. Abortion rights are crucial to the logic of lives like mine, which is why I and about two-thirds of college grads support them.

But only about half of Americans without college degrees do. The logic of their lives is different. They fault white-collar professionals for unhealthy work worship and a failure to understand that “family comes first”. Elites think they are so high and mighty, but it’s we who keep the world in moral order, the working class believes.

The demise of blue-collar jobs means that many families face a daily scramble between two not-very-fulfilling or well-paid jobs, with Mom working one shift and Dad working a different shift, and with each parent caring for the kids while the other is at work.

Tag-team families are under such pressure, and these parents see each other so rarely, that they have three to six times the national divorce rate. In the light of this harsh reality, it’s no wonder they look back with yearning at the breadwinner-homemaker family, supported by the husband’s blue-collar job.

This helps explain why abortion rights look different to those with good jobs and education and those who are struggling. To women like myself, they are the bare minimum of human rights. To working-class women, who often see motherhood, not work, as the key source of social honor, obsession with abortion rights among well-off women is selfish, exemplifying lack of an adequate devotion to family. Seen in this light, opposition to abortion rights becomes, for high-school educated women, a way of claiming social honor.

That’s why research since the 1980s has found class differences in the levels of support for abortion rights. The fight over abortion becomes a fight over what it means to be a good person. That’s why things get ugly really fast. When elites dismiss abortion opponents as mindless misogynists and non-elites dismiss abortion rights advocates as selfish careerists, class conflict becomes acute.

Debates over guns and gun control are similarly visceral, again because identities are at risk. To me, the ready availability of guns is associated with killings among young black men without a future, struggling to find dignity in a society that offers them precious little. Guns mean Sandy Hook and other horrors, and living in a country where mentally unstable kids regularly murder their classmates.

But even as I feel so strongly, I understand how other Americans feel differently. If the abortion debate involves ideals of femininity, guns involve ideals of masculinity. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of women but less than half (43%) of men support stricter guns laws.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/23/liberal-elite-its-time-to-strike-a-deal-with-the-working-class