Category Archives: Bigotry

Never forget

There is historical precedent for beating back Nazis in the streets.

The Battle of Cable Street

Some of the Unite The Right Nazis are “fine people”

At least that’s what Trump said today in a press conference where he reverted to what we must now accept he is: a Nazi sympathizer. That’s not hyperbole. What other conclusion can be drawn from his bizarre behavior today?

Watch this shocking, frightening video and make up your own mind whether the Nazi marchers are “fine people.”

All of this Nazi marching takes on a more sinister tone if you realize, as much as you might not have wanted to believe it before, that an office that once represented as the leader of the free world because of World War II is now held by a guy who, in effect, smears the memories of all who died in World War II.

Nazis march in American streets in 2017.

Giving the mentally ill a green light toward violence

This is the headline over a story in Al-Jazeera:

I don’t want to seem too reductive, since the answers to that question are complicated underneath any seemingly simple answers.

But the short answers as they relate to the Portland stabbing incident seem IMHO to be:

  1. Jeremy Christian, the confessed prime suspect in the Portland incident, is clearly not a well person mentally. That does not excuse what he did. But people like him used to be forced to wander the streets and scream their paranoid nonsense to nobody in particular. Now they have their dangerous views reinforced by InfoWars and Fox News.
  2. The election of Donald Trump has, despite how anyone might feel about why he might or might not have been the best candidate, has unleashed a torrent of uncivil behavior in America. Trump is, whatever his strengths or weaknesses, a man who shows people that being rude and, well, basically immature in public is a strength. If the President can do it, why not the rest of us?

Jerk-y behavior has always been with us. It’s just been given a public platform by the current resident of the White House. That is pretty much unprecedented in our presidents, from whom both sides once expected at least a minimum level of maturity and public restraint. 

Not any longer. 

If you’re mentally ill and you already have InfoWars telling you that “they” (whomever “they”might be in your worldview) are coming to get your guns. give your job to immigrants, and take away your free speech, you’re already primed for uncivil behavior in public.

Now, for the first time, throw in a president for whom saying and doing whatever he wants, regardless of the circumstances, is a virtue and not a flaw, why in the world would anyone think that the Jeremy Christians of the world would not be more likely to act on their crazy impulses?

I’m not the first person to point any of this out. But I do think all of this needs to be repeated and stressed every time one of these incidents happens. 

Words and actions have consequences, especially for those who are already battling mental illness and/or alcoholism and drug abuse.

If those of us who are not mentally ill are screaming at one another in public, why should the mentally ill feel any need to restrain themselves at all?

“Free speech or die”: Portland stabbing suspect yells in court.

 

Blue Lives Matter, mostly when those blue lives are white people

A retired NY corrections officer who is simply shopping for groceries in a supermarket is mistaken by a posse of white officers for another black man who was suspected of shoplifting:

A retired Nassau County corrections officer claims he was beaten by officers in a case of mistaken identity.

Ronald Lanier said he was shopping in the Western Beef Supermarket in Mineola on Nov. 30 when he was tackled, handcuffed and beaten by officers with the Garden City Police Department.

“I’ve never been cursed, physically abused, beaten and treated like a slave as I was two days ago,” Lanier said, breaking down as he described how he landed in handcuffs and in a hospital. “For somebody to grab me by the neck in the supermarket, and I’m telling you, ‘I’m one of you,’ and you disrespect it — it was like you’re just another black dude.”

“They cursed at him, they abused him verbally, they then start to beat him,” his attorney, Fred Brewington, told 1010 WINS. “He was taking blows with his hands cuffed behind him as he laid face down.”

[snip]

“I’m tired of hearing officers constantly talking about we have to retrain. We don’t have to retrain, we got to let them be held accountable for their actions,” Lanier said. “Imagine if I had my gun at that time. It could have went either way.”

“We are hoping Garden City Police Department will come forward with respect, identifying their officers, disciplining their officers,” said Dennis Jones, with the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

The Garden City Police Department declined to share its side of the story with CBS2, but provided context, saying they were chasing a fleeing shoplifting suspect who abandoned a getaway car on the railroad tracks and fled into the supermarket, Carolyn Gusoff reported.

Brewington said his client spent 20 minutes inside a squad car before he was let go without receiving an apology.

“The sergeant, without any apology or any other way of making it clear that they were acknowledging the mistake that they had made, just said cut him loose,” Brewington said.

You can read the rest here.

I have no issues with highlighting the fact that blue lives matter. Cops have a tough and dangerous job and at times their motives are questioned afterward in situations where they reasonably thought they were in mortal danger.

But acknowledging that truth demands that we acknowledge another reality: many cops are racist and arrest, beat and kill black men not because they think their lives are in danger — this was a shoplifting suspect they were allegedly pursuing this time — but rather because the culture of law enforcement is rife with racism.

Photo: Newsday. Ronald Lanier gives a tearful press conference regarding his being beaten by a gang of white officers.
Photo: Newsday. Ronald Lanier gives a tearful press conference regarding his being beaten by a gang of white officers.

 

First comes internet access, then comes hatred for difference?

monksprotestmuslims

This article is from Buzzfeed, which notes the new access this one closed-off country now has for the internet. And how that access has fueled bigotry that was not as prevalent before.

Americans are not the only ones who use the ‘net to live in an information bubble full of tirades which reinforce nationalism and tribalism.

The internet brought Donald Trump to Myanmar. Or, at least that’s how Shar Ya Wai first remembers hearing about the Republican president-elect. “One day, nobody knew him. Then, everyone did. That’s what the internet is. It takes people who say crazy things and makes them famous,” the 19-year-old student said.

Like most people in this country of 50 million, which only recently opened up to the outside world, Shar Ya Wai is new to the internet. And on this day, she had walked purposefully into a phone shop in central Yangon to buy her first smartphone, a simple model by China’s Huawei that is popular among her friends. “Today I’ll buy this phone,” she said. “I guess I’ll find out how crazy [the internet] really is.”

It’s not that she’d never seen the internet before. She’d tried to stalk ex-boyfriends through a friend’s Facebook page and caught glimpses of the latest Thai pop bands on her uncle’s old tablet, which he bought secondhand a year ago. But her forays into the internet have been brief and largely left her perplexed. Here was a public space where everyone seemed to have so much to say, but it was disorganized, bombastic, overwhelming. It felt like the polar opposite of the quiet, sheltered life she’d lived until recently.

“My father is a measured person. He speaks carefully and always wanted us to speak carefully too,” she said, smoothing down her waist-length black hair, betraying her nerves. “I’m more energetic, like my mom. We speak a lot more, but it is nothing like what I see on the internet.”

Source: This Is What Happens When Millions Of People Suddenly Get The Internet – BuzzFeed News

What Liberal Academics Don’t Get (via The Chronicle of Higher Education)

I don’t care much for the poorly educated — and by “educated” I don’t mean secondary education. I know a lot of ignoramuses with degrees and more than my share of self-taught renaissance people with no degree but all the wisdom one needs to be a caring and well-informed American.

“Poorly educated” in my world means someone with a willful ignorance of facts at hand. It’s partially borne of living in the fact-free bubble of America’s right-wing movement as much as it’s about a lack of formal education.  There are plenty of self-serving right-wingers on the economics faculties at Harvard and the University of Chicago.,

Trump voters — and not a few of us on the other side — seem to be unable to live by this dictum: What’s most important is knowing what you don’t know more than what you do know. 

But there were enough of those people to get Donald Trump elected and give me a few days of deep despondency over the future of this country.

And yet, as more time passes since that election, simply marveling at the stupidity of half the voters has seemed increasingly insufficient and nihilistic. Too simple. Too childish.

Yes, a lot of his voters are racists, sexist and homophobic. But I’ve also wondered how many of them are not any of those things overtly, but rather were just easy marks for a con man real estate developer playing the pied piper of resentment?

Are racism, sexism and homophobia the primary motivators of the vast majority of Trump supporters, or do they go along with that for other reasons — or just plainly choose to ignore those things in favor of a candidate whom they think spoke to their needs on other issues?

I had a middle-aged black woman in my car today, sweet as can be, and she brought up the election. I assumed she was for Hillary and against Trump. And she was, but only so far. “I can’t stand the racists, but I get why Trump people are mad at where this country is going, she said. “I’m mad, too. And I think a lot of them just wanted to overturn the system.”

Teasing all this out would be impossible without putting a great many of those supporters through a battery of well-designed tests.

So we are left to guess. And this piece from the The Chronicle of Higher Education takes a decent stab at it.

It’s hard to talk about this stuff and not feel the pain of bigotry if you’ve experienced it. These debates can never not be filtered through that. Nor should they be.

The first time I read this piece I thought,  “You’re expecting us to meet bigots halfway!”

Then I read it again with a more open mind. I still disagree with some of it, at least how it’s worded. Yet some of what is said here makes sense:

After winning the Nevada Republican caucuses, Trump said, “I love the poorly educated.” We laughed and made fun. But poorly educated whites were listening. And they vote, too.

For decades those people have felt ignored and belittled. During the campaign they heard a great deal about the concerns of African-Americans, gay and transgendered people, immigrants, refugees. For us, those concerns are part and parcel of a necessary compassion; they dovetail with our sense of being American. For many white voters in the other America, though, stuck in dead-end jobs and low-rent neighborhoods, those comments make them want to say, “But what about me?”

The educated elite — professors, artists, journalists, “expert” commentators — can judge the emotions behind that question as stupid and unfair, even brand them as racist or homophobic. But those feelings of exclusion are very real and not unfounded. As the saying goes, and as last week’s depressing election result clearly demonstrates, we have ignored them at our peril.

I don’t want to spend the next four years in an ideological war with half the electorate. That feels like we’re all puppets with Fox News and the radical Right as our puppeteers, keeping the entire country on edge so that none of us can focus on the truly important issues. Surely there is some common ground that we must try for with those people on the other side who are not unreformed bigots.

We should still call out bigotry in all its forms when it rears its ugly head, which it is likely to do many times (even more than usual) over the next four years. We should still work very hard to ameliorate the damage a Trump administration can do, including working our asses off on the mid-term elections. 

However, as much as I laughed along with everyone else at the pitiful spelling and horrific grammar of many Trump supporters, I feel less proud of it in retrospect.

It’s easy to make fun of someone who doesn’t know the difference between “your” and “you’re,” but if you are a coal miner who barely feeds his family and is watching your future die while politicians seems not to care much — and much of the Left seems to care less than the elected officials about income inequality — the niceties of spelling and grammar are not very high on your list of priorities.

Are spelling and grammar yardsticks by which we decide someone is a good person, worthy of respect?

After all, my side –the progressive side — is supposed to be the side with all the education and, for lack of a better term in mind now, the “adulthood” to see our way past raw emotions and ad hominem attacks.

If we don’t try to break the impasse with at least some of these people — the ones who can be reached with good will, compassion and/or some semblance of reason — nobody else will. And they will be ripe for the picking the next time someone even worse than Trump comes along.

I find it hard to believe with all the marketing talent in this country that we can’t do more with that than get people to, as we do now, buy cars based on nothing more than feelings and self-image. Where are the people who will show us how to market a progressive agenda to a population that sorely needs one yet rejects it more than anyone else?

We need to learn how to talk to that part of America. I don’t have the answer on how to do that. But I hope somebody does.

Source: What Liberal Academics Don’t Get – The Chronicle of Higher Education

Yes, it's a funny sign for this issue particularly. But which seems the better course of action? Endless laughter at this person's expense? Or trying to find some agreement somewhere with them and starting from there?
Yes, it’s a funny sign for this issue particularly. But which seems the better course of action? Endless laughter at this person’s expense? Or trying to find some agreement somewhere with them and starting from there?

Study shows pattern of racial discrimination by Uber/Lyft drivers 

Sad, but not surprising:

A new study shows that the promise of transportation network companies, or ride-sharing firms, getting beyond the discrimination of the past is not being fulfilled, as field-study data shows that African Americans wait longer to get rides and suffer more ride cancellations once drivers determine they’re black.

The new study – “Racial and Gender Discrimination in Transportation Network Companies,” by researchers at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Stanford University and the University of Washington – relied on more than 1,400 individual cases of research assistants ordering, waiting and taking actual rides in Seattle and Boston with transportation network companies (TNCs), primarily with Uber and Lyft. The controlled field experiments randomly selected times, days, routes and riders, some of whom were black, some white, and monitored various performance metrics at each stage of every trip.

In Seattle, one experiment found consistently longer waiting times for African American passengers—as much as a 35 percent increase.

In Boston, a separate experiment that captured a wider variety of performance metrics found more frequent cancellations against passengers when they used African American-sounding names. Across all trips, the cancellation rate for passengers using African American sounding names was more than twice as frequent compared to when the same passengers used white sounding names.

I have noticed that many of my African-American passengers do not put their pictures on their profiles, and I assume this is part of the reason why. (Although many women in general do not use pictures either.)

Source: New study shows a pattern of racial discrimination by drivers using the Uber and Lyft ride-sourcing

uber-lyft-african-american-black-bias-racism-bigotry

In wake of election, Asian law partner reveals troubling incident

Lee-Bill

A local Mass. hockey parent confronts a Big Law partner who happens to be Asian.

At a gas station. Over a car.

In Wellesley for chrissakes:

“Where does a guy like you get a car like that?” the man said to Lee, looking at the litigator’s vehicle.

Lee, whose parents came to this country from China in 1948, tried to defuse the situation. “From Herb Chambers,” he said, referring to a local car dealer.

“Why don’t you go back to your own country,” the man said, according to Lee.

“I don’t understand you,” Lee said.

“You mean, you don’t understand English,” the man said.

“I don’t understand ignorance,” Lee replied.

The Wilmer partner drove away, but the man followed in his car. When Lee pulled into a nearby police station, the man vanished.

“In the bluest of Blue States, Massachusetts, a mile from Wellesley College, if someone tells you to go back to your own country, this can happen anywhere,” Lee said. “If this can happen to the managing partner of an Am Law 200 firm, what’s happening to the rest of the country?”

Lee said he hadn’t heard a comment like this for 40 years. He attributes the encounter to the political environment that has encouraged hostility to immigrants. “He felt he could say it,” Lee said.

These are scary fucking times we live in.

And to all my friends and relatives who voted for Trump: This is what you helped to unleash. Do you feel at all bad that you aligned yourself with guys like this? People who confront Asians at a gas pump merely over the fact that they are driving a nice car?

And now the Trumpster is going to break all of his promises and fuck all of you little guys over who voted for him.

If there weren’t so many good people who are going to get shafted along with you, I’d laugh in your face the next time I see you.

Man, Trump really saw you guys comin’ and you took the bait, gobbled it down and asked for more, pretty please?

Suckers!

 

So it begins? Nazi-related graffiti in Philly on anniversary of Kristallnacht

Now comes this from Philadelphia:

On the 78th anniversary of Kristallnacht, during which Jewish-owned businesses and buildings across Nazi Germany were attacked and destroyed, Philadelphia police are investigating an act of vandalism involving swastikas and president-elect Donald Trump’s name painted on the storefront windows of the abandoned Meglio Furs at Broad and Wharton streets in South Philadelphia.

Cosmo Baker of nearby Garrett Street said he saw a picture of the graffiti on social media and walked over to the site. Police arrived shortly after.

He doesn’t know who called them.Baker agreed to be the complainant after police arrived. A detective was on the scene as of 11:40 a.m.

Baker said he contacted the Anti-Defamation League, and he told police the incident should be investigated as a hate crime. Whether it was drawn by a Trump supporter or protester, the effect is the same, he said.

The Anti-Defamation League’s Philly office had this to say:

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today expressed disgust at the vandalism of an abandoned storefront at Broad and Wharton Streets in Philadelphia, which included a swastika, the words “Seig Heil 2016,” and the word “Trump” with the T replaced by another swastika. The vandalism occurred on the 78th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass” pogrom that took place on the eve of the Holocaust.

“We are horrified by the appearance of hate graffiti on a storefront in South Philadelphia,” said Nancy K. Baron-Baer, Regional Director. “Swastikas and the Nazi salute send a message of intolerance and hate to the entire community. The fact that today is the 78thanniversary of Kristallnacht adds another layer to this already sickening act.”

“While we view this as an isolated incident, we cannot allow this behavior to become routine. Everyone has a role to play in combating bigotry – we must advocate, educate and investigate until hate is no longer welcome in our society. We thank the Philadelphia Police Department for their quick response to this incident, and we urge all community members to answer the call to work towards a more civil and inclusive Philadelphia.”

This is why I am not taking part in all the talk of leaving the United States out of fear of Trump’s election as President.

I will not be chased away. I am staying to fight in any way I can. For everyone.

Wikipedia describes Kristallnacht as:

The name Kristallnacht comes from the shards of broken glass that littered the streets after Jewish-owned stores, buildings, and synagogues had their windows smashed.

Estimates of the number of fatalities caused by the pogrom have varied. Early reporting estimated that 91 Jewish people were murdered during the attacks. Modern analysis of German scholarly sources by historians such as Richard J. Evans puts the number much higher. When deaths from post-arrest maltreatment and subsequent suicides are included, the death toll climbs into the hundreds. Additionally, 30,000 were arrested and incarcerated in Nazi concentration camps.

Jewish homes, hospitals, and schools were ransacked, as the attackers demolished buildings with sledgehammers. Over 1,000 synagogues were burned (95 in Vienna alone) and over 7,000 Jewish businesses destroyed or damaged. Martin Gilbert writes that no event in the history of German Jews between 1933 and 1945 was so widely reported as it was happening, and the accounts from the foreign journalists working in Germany sent shock waves around the world.

The Times wrote at the time: “No foreign propagandist bent upon blackening Germany before the world could outdo the tale of burnings and beatings, of blackguardly assaults on defenseless and innocent people, which disgraced that country yesterday.”

The pretext for the attacks was the assassination of the German diplomat Ernst vom Rath by Herschel Grynszpan, a German-born Polish Jew living in Paris. Kristallnacht was followed by additional economic and political persecution of Jews, and is viewed by historians as part of Nazi Germany’s broader racial policy, and the beginning of the Final Solution and The Holocaust.

Kristallnacht, shop damage in Magdeburg (By Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1970-083-42 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5418870)
Kristallnacht, shop damage in Magdeburg (By Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1970-083-42 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5418870)

Source: Nazi-Related Trump Graffiti Found in South Philly | News | Philadelphia Magazine

Are white supremacists getting jobs in law enforcement?

One redacted page from a 2006 report on white supremacist infiltration of law enforcement.
One redacted page from a 2006 report on white supremacist infiltration of law enforcement.

As far back as 2006 (and before) federal officials have been warning of efforts by white supremacists to infiltrate law enforcement, either through having their followers apply for jobs or by recruiting among the ranks of those who are already in the field — from cops at the street level, to sworn law enforcement jobs in the U.S. government.

One of the key issues highlighted in the report is the possibility that a person who secretly shared views with white supremacists or any number of right-wing homegrown U.S. domestic terrorist groups might someday infiltrate into a position where they are called upon to protect, for example, a federal elected official. 

Say, perhaps, the country’s first black or woman president or their families?

Or perhap a white supremacist on the inside could keep right-wing terrorist groups informed of efforts by law enforcement to keep tabs on them.

If it was considered enough of a problem back then, it’s likely safe to assume that it’s only gotten worse considering both the meteoric rise of right-wing hate groups in the U.S., and the emboldenment their followers must feel with the rise of Donald Trump.

After all, the largest police organization in the country just endorsed Trump. the most blatant racist to run for president since George Wallace. 

Just imagine that one day in the not-too-distant past this all would have been fantastical thinking out of a thriller novel. 

In the 1960's the Klan had infiltrated law enforcement so heavily that federal officials often had to step in to enforce civil rights laws since local police were so filled with KKK rot on the inside.
In the 1960’s the Klan had infiltrated law enforcement so heavily that federal officials often had to step in to enforce civil rights laws since local police were so filled with KKK rot on the inside.