Saturday, July 31, 2010

Case In Point: The Dumbing Down of America

Just imagine an America where we would be able to have intellectual debates like this.

Instead, our mainstream media perpetuates anti-intellectualism. Fox News and cable news generally is a major offender.

Late in that video, Sean Hannity actually seems to use "pseudo-intellectually superior" (someone needs to assist the Chinned One in his sentence formulation) as "the smartest person in the room" as an insult. This is the sort of fluff that feeds into Americans' heads day after day. Is it any wonder Sarah Palin is then so prominent?

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Anti-Semitism: Once Bad, Now OK?

The following story is one that illustrates how Anti-Semitism is becoming increasingly acceptable in political discourse:

Mike Grimm, a G.O.P challenger to Democrat Mike McMahon's Congressional seat, took in over $200,000 in his last filing.

But in an effort to show that Grimm lacks support among voters in the district, which covers Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, the McMahon campaign compiled a list of Jewish donors to Grimm and provided it to The Politicker.

The file, labeled "Grimm Jewish Money Q2," for the second quarter fundraising period, shows a list of over 80 names, a half-dozen of which in fact do hail from Staten Island, and a handful of others that list Brooklyn as home.

"Where is Grimm's money coming from," said Jennifer Nelson, McMahon's campaign spokeman. "There is a lot of Jewish money, a lot of money from people in Florida and Manhattan, retirees."

Sure, Israel is not an innocent actor in MidEast affairs but by tapping into this, politicians, academicians and others are tapping into something much deeper than Israeli-Palestinian relations. The ideology of Mel Gibson and its lookalikes doesn't deserve to have a new bed of support in the United States.

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Joy and Normalcy in Iraq

Who says there isn't uplifting news? In this video, Al Jazeera English provides a much needed glimpse into the profession of those who are bringing joy, entertainment and a fondness for the simpler beasts into the lives of Iraqi citizens.

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Nijab: To Ban or Not to Ban

Dodd at Outside the Beltway has explored the tense issue of France's ban on the nijab, the Islamic face veil:

It’s certainly true, as he says, that many “Muslim women wear the burqa because they are forced to.” And there’s certainly a rational basis for prohibiting them in secured places — that’s no different from not allowing someone to wear sunglasses in one’s driver license picture. But a total ban on wearing them anywhere in public is misguided at best.

I am really of two minds on this issue. I'm weary of bans as Dodd is, but from pretty good exposure to the culture (which is a little too personal to go into right now) I cannot see how a mandate forcing women to show their face is going to marginalize them any further. The nijab does more for marginalization of women than anything any legislature could come up with.

As Muslim populations continue to grow throughout the Western world, this also will not be the last wave of legislation. Either in Europe, Canada or even stateside there will be at some point at least the proposal of legislation as regards female circumcision. Unlike male circumcision, this practice, more cultural than religious, has the purpose of inhibiting the enjoyment of sex for women. Ayaan Hirsi Ali explored this possibility in a recent article for The Daily Beast.

Frankly, the hardline Islamic culture is so overbearing and oppositional to female individuality that, for the mental health of women born into it, there is going to have to be some sort of action so that they can live free, productive lives of their own choosing. Freedom of religion only goes so far when you start to consider fathers and brothers who think they have a religious mandate to completely dominate the lives of their daughters and sisters.

Dodd is very right, however, that the hijab has had considerable cultural evolution. For many women, it has become an accessory that often accentuates their beauty.

If Europeans are going to legislate this issue, they need to be really careful and make sure that they do not overkill. For every teenage girl who will be able to go to middle school and feel like a normal girl as a result of the ban on the nijab, there may be a hardened young male Muslim who has now become certain that there is a Western war on Islam.

This is a really fine line that legislators are walking. It would be worth contemplating if it isn't the nijab that should be banned, but instead compulsive observance of religion by family or other social actors. Even free of facial coverings and living in the supposedly free and enlightened West, many Muslim women are chained to their culture and unable to determine their own lives. The compulsion of practices that go against one's wishes is ultimately what many of us have a problem with, and it's the basis for bans on polygamy in the United States.

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Mel Gibson's Hardline Catholicism Not Far Away From Hardline Islam

In the wake of revealed tapes of Mel Gibson berating his wife, Irshad Manji elaborates on the moral equivalence that many feminists met Mel Gibson's behavior with:

Nearly as revolting, though, is how my some of my feminist friends have been using this story. They’ve effectively told me, “See? Muslim women aren’t the only ones who face heinous male behavior. It’s a global phenomenon.”

Violence against women is, indeed, a global phenomenon. But — and this what many of my fellow feminists don’t own up to — Mel’s aggression is almost universally condemned. The same can’t be said of the “honor crimes” so often experienced by Arab and South Asian women.

It's worth adding that Mel Gibson is not far away in his mental outlook from Muslim fundamentalists. Gibson's anti-Semitic rants after being arrested by a cop, his pathological anti-Semitism that has crossed from confronting Jewish news anchors to his filmmaking (in the form of The Passion of the Christ, wherein Jews appear quite villainous and manipulative of helpless Roman officials) and his apparent belief that "Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world" all could be emanating from the mouth of a radical Islamic cleric of either of the Ahmadinejad or Bin Laden variety (being united in anti-Semitism as they are). In his most maddened state of beardedness, he even looks the part.

Ahmadinejad's father would have been at home at Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Holocaust-denying conference with his absurd hate-filled claims:

"It's all -- maybe not all fiction -- but most of it is," he said, adding that the gas chambers and crematoria at camps like Auschwitz would not have been capable of exterminating so many people.

"Do you know what it takes to get rid of a dead body? To cremate it?" he said. "It takes a litre of petrol and 20 minutes. Now, six million of them? They (the Germans) did not have the gas to do it. That's why they lost the war."

At the core of both Gibsons is, as I said at The Liberty Papers, a traditionalist Catholicism that carries with it prejudices that are thousands of years old. This characteristic makes Gibson an ideological cousin of fundamentalist Islam.

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Rachel Maddow Explores the Roots of Breitbart's Smear Tactics

This is a pretty good deconstruction of the race volatility that Glenn Beck and Andrew Breitbart have been turning the volume up on.

As I write at United Liberty, the Obama administration deserves its share of blame for running from this issue as fast as it can. If presidents are good for anything in this country, it's being able to talk directly to the American people and shape the dynamic. If Obama doesn't take advantage of that one power he is allowed, it's going to be taken instead by the likes of Breitbart.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

More on Ryan J. Murdough

After the NY Daily News article, I became a little curious about this apparent wave of white supremacist Republicans. I started with Ryan Joseph Murdough.

The very presence of this gargoyle, who is running for state senate in New Hampshire as a Republican, is enough to keep anyone with a sense of morality from sleeping at night. He is a moderator at the lovely website "White News Now" and has authored posts such as "Are Jews a Race?...What They Themselves Say!" with quotes from the esteemed scholar David Duke (the same one who convened in Tehran for a Holocaust-denying conference).

The headline in a feature article on him at the Concord Monitor is "Candidate: Keep state's complexion white," with the unsurprising and tragically hilarious adder: "Murdough isn't racist either."

Yes, of course he isn't.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

More Writing On The Wall

In an interview I did with Dan Carlin a good while back, he said, "I think that anytime you get unsettled times (from war, or economic trouble or any combination of stressful societal factors) you provide the opportunity for things to flourish that would otherwise not have a chance to arise. These things could be good or they could be bad."

A New Hampshire man is hoping racist hatred will help get him elected to state office.

Ryan J. Murdough, a 30-year-old who says he works with children with special needs at a youth center, is running for a seat on the State House in New Hampshire's 8th District.

And he's doing it as a Republican.

The self-professed "racist" is also supported by the American Third Position, a hate-spewing organization designed to "represent the political interests of White Americans, because no one else will."

"For far too long white Americans have been told that diversity is something beneficial to their existence," Murdough wrote in a letter to the Concord Monitor.

"New Hampshire residents must seek to preserve their racial identity if we want future generations to have to possibility to live in such a great state," he wrote.

Remember back when the Right criticized the Left for pursuing identity politics and division? I liked those days. Well, now it looks like that has been abandoned for the other ugly extreme.

Honestly, if the above candidate's rhetoric does not scare the shit out of you, perhaps you've lost your pulse.

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Non-Existent Racism Gets Mark Williams Expelled From Tea Party


I'm a little bit confused. I was told by conservative readers that there was no racism in the Tea Parties or in conservatism writ large. I made it all up because I was "hateful" and "consumed by race."

Someone will have to explain this to me, because frankly the actions of the National Tea Party Federation don't compute:

(CNN) -- The National Tea Party Federation, an organization that represents the Tea Party political movement around the country, has expelled conservative commentator Mark Williams and his Tea Party Express because of an inflammatory blog post he wrote, federation spokesman David Webb said Sunday.
"We, in the last 24 hours, have expelled Tea Party Express and Mark Williams from the National Tea Party Federation because of the letter that he wrote," Webb said of the blog post by Williams that satirized a fictional letter from what he called "Colored People" to President Abraham Lincoln.

You know, this is all beginning to seem like more than a few random incidents. Bringing the 1964 Civil Rights Act up for revision, racist screeds in Ron Paul's newsletters, racist screeds by Tea Party leaders - why, someone might actually begin to think that there's some racists out and about! I thought we were in a "post-racial society. Oh well. As the old saying goes - Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

For those still in denial about the Tea Party movement and who don't shoulder along with them inherited white resentment - don't say you weren't warned when you realize that you have been joined up with modern day American ethno-nationalism. The writing is on the wall.

As for the New Black Panthers - I had never even heard of a new outreach of this group until Fox brought them up. I can tell you about the Nation of Islam - the traditionally brought forth black nationalist group. The Nation of Islam, along with affiliates, are recognized as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Wherever it roams in America's urban communities, it tends to be immersed in organized crime (with a vile track record reaching from the murder of Malcolm X to the rapes and gang tortures at Your Black Muslim Bakery in Oakland).

The raising of the New Black Panthers spectre shows a strong weakness in the Tea Party movement that seems to illustrate they know there are very strong signs of racism in their midst and that a distraction is needed. The connection between the NAACP and the New Black Panthers seems laughable for those with any knowledge of civil rights history - the NAACP being a national traditionally centrist group that had even had Barry Goldwater as a member and the Black Panthers traditionally being militant, communitarian and extreme. I can only assume critics think there's a link between the two groups because of shared characteristics, of which you, the reader, are assumed to be smart enough to think of.

Scholarly conservatives, with more knowledge of the actual case against the New Black Panthers, have diminished the importance of the New Black Panthers story:

Abigail Thernstrom, a commission member and a senior fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute, called it "small potatoes" and said conservatives should pursue more important issues against the Obama administration. The case, she pointed out, invokes a narrow and rarely used provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which has been used successfully to prosecute only three times since its passage.

"If you want to criticize [Attorney General] Eric Holder, there are lots of grounds on which to criticize him," she said. "Why waste your breath on this one?"

There's alot of problems within America's minority communities. Many are as homegrown as they are put there by the larger society. Given that, one would have to be in denial to think that Andrew Breitbart, Glenn Beck or Fox News are their champions.

Aside from being champions, the "New Right" led by the like of Beck and Breitbart seem to actually be trying to embrace a form of minority victimhood, a factor of the old radical Left that has been justifiably criticized in the past. In his book Wingnuts, John Avalon rightfully called this new phenomenon "white minority politics." With Beck's cries about "white culture" (whatever that is), claims that the Justice Department has failed "to protect the civil rights of white voters" and embrace of protest groups, it really seems like this new Right is taking the low road toward victimhood politics.

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

On Race, The Tea Parties And Rand Paul, This Is What Must Be Said

Reader mickst3r wrote a comment to Tom Knighton's piece "NAACP claims tea parties are racist:"

An organization for the “advancement of Colored People” is racist by definition. When the law recognizes color, it is impossible to have an equal society.

Michael, by recognizing a difference between depicting Obama as a chimp and Bush as a chimp means, you perpetuate the very racist ideology you claim to condemn.

It seems that you believe that when a group is forcefully separated by a larger group, you expect them to denounce that identity completely. The only way to be fully consistent in this criticism, which isn't without merit on its face, is to live a life in which you yourself have been free of all racial generalizations. Can you say that you have done that?

You are effectively advocating the eradication of history, at least as it is related to this particular case. To be fully consistent, do you seek to eradicate history and its meaning and lessons from other issues as well? Do you believe the world started yesterday?

From personal experience, those that most frequently tout to be "color-blind" and not recognize race are the most prone to such mischaracterization based on pigment. That itself could be a mischaracterization, but for the sake of avoiding hypocrisy and being able to be taken seriously one would have to not be dismissing obvious racism while actively touting colorblindness.

It's also worth adding that the depiction of Bush, Obama or Prince Charles is protected speech but is not by any means valid speech. Such cartoon characterizations are the act of those who cannot argue in the form of literary demonstration.

There is overt racism within the tea party. Here are some quick examples.

Even if the majority of tea partiers are not racist, by not addressing the issue and calling those who bring it up racists themselves, they are at best tolerating this very serious problem. Any cause that does so invalidates itself morally and shows itself to find such moral rejectionists a vital demographic that they are apparently frightened to lose.

It goes beyond simple signs. Whether or not you agree with what Rand Paul said about the 1964 Civil Rights Act, anyone who actually cares about racial harmony in the United States - a vital segment of our country becoming prosperous, free and something to be proud of - has to wonder about his bringing it up for revision forty plus years later while the first black president is in office.

While in Washington D.C., I had lunch with Caleb Brown, the host of the podcast at the Cato Institute and who happened to be from Kentucky. I asked him about Rand Paul and he said, in his own words: "There is alot of racism in Kentucky, and he's running by promising not to work with Obama." Like the other crap that I heard, this made me want to leave Washington D.C. I asked him about it later and he told me, "You just have to visit Lexington, Kentucky. Racism is still alive in America."

While criticizing his primary opponent Trey Grayson for taking money from companies that benefitted from the bailouts, Rand Paul received and accepted donations from the skinhead group Stormfront. Sure, Paul can't help who donates to him but he can help what he accepts.

We apparently live in an Orwellian world where depicting black men as chimps and using the n-word is no longer racist, but the people who call out such things are racists themselves, so I pretty much am expecting to receive comments that Stormfront isn't a racist organization. Oh, and that I am a racist and hateful for thinking that skinheads are racist. It's probably also racist to think that those who accept money from skinhead groups are acting with dubious morality as well.

What if the Tea Party was Black?

If you love freedom, stop being in denial. You're seeing ethno-nationalism resurgent in America. Step away from it and get as far away as you can.

Big ups to Jasiri X for this one.

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Facebook Account Closed, New Projects

This blog has linked for a long time to my account on Facebook.

Given that, I found myself having to delete my account. A rising scent of racial hostility has led me to cut off ties with conservatism and the resulting war spilled over onto my blog as ideologues tried to stuff their lack of nuance down my throat. As personal friends ended up getting involved, I felt really uncomfortable with the whole situation.

For those who accuse me of "being lost" or "being obsessed with race," I will simply say that race was farthest from my mind until it was put there by others. I will admit freely that I have made generalizations and silly jokes (When I worked at a summer camp, I accidentally burned cookies that I was making for the campers and complained that we couldn't give them out because they were "all black." A black co-worker said to me jokingly, "Michael, what do you mean they're all black? Why you gotta bring race into this?" I often remember the trading of generalizations that I made with a friend from the Asian American Journalists Association while I attended a dinner of theirs in 2005. When I told a friend there that my other friends hadn't shown up, he said, "I know what you're thinking. I'm stuck here in Asian Town by myself!" I laughed during both instances.). I have often criticized in conversation and in publication the intolerant, monocultural aspects of Arab, Chinese and Japanese society, and received racist accusations aimed at myself from those who did not understand I was making a much needed sociological critique. I never, ever and never will engage in the sort of nonsense that is propelling the likes of Haley Barbour, Sarah Palin or Rand Paul to power and the sort of demonization of groups that is occurring by people who know nothing about those groups or the people in them.

I would also like to bring up the examples of Christopher Hitchens and Charles Johnson. Despite building up ties with the Right during the Bush years, when the administration, despite very serious failures, faults and mistakes, was taking on Islamic fascism and trying to reach an agreeable consensus on illegal immigration against a left-wing opposition just as fierce as the right-wing one that faces serious men today, Hitchens has spent considerable time demolishing Sarah Palin and ethno-nationalism while Charles Johnson has dedicated Little Green Footballs to exposing the rising tide of hate on the American Right. I'm more than happy to join them and the likes of others who have found moral justice more important than career advancement. If you look on history, these sort of contrarians - Rosa Parks, George Orwell, Leon Trotsky, Oskar Schindler, Malcolm X, the 442nd Infantry Regiment which fought against fascism while the American government held their family in internment camps - who stand up and against former friends for the sake of moral principle are the ones that history remembers. Organization hacks who stick along to get along are the ones who history forgets.

I suggest those with similar doubts look in the mirror and decide what they find more important. India, China, Brazil and many other developing countries are rising up and becoming more and more competitive with the once dominant United States. The Creationist, reactionary tendencies and anti-intellectualism of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement will bring us to an America more closely resembling the feudalistic Middle East that we are in conflict with than a modern, prosperous economy in which success will be possible.

I may or may not start up a page on Facebook in the future. If I do, it will be open only to close personal friends and will not be open to anyone else.

I have new projects slated, including Voice of the Migrant - an online journal co-run by a Rothbardian anarchist friend about those coming to America in pursuit of greater opportunity and working hard as hell to do it. This blog, as always, will remain updated and remain a dutiful proponent of civil liberties, moral justice and sanity against an increasing illiberal, injust and insane world.

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