Five Reasons To Feel Uneasy

#1

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) says in its latest “Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents” that the number of assaults, acts of vandalism and violence against Jewish institutions between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30 totaled 1,299, compared to 779 over the same time last year. The 1,299 figure surpasses the total for all of 2016, which stood at 1,266, the group said.

In case you’ve been trying furiously to scrub the disturbing details from your brain, one of the hateful slogans the army of frat boy Nazis at Charlottesville chanted was “Jews will not replace us!” Not that antisemitism is always so nakedly obvious.

#2

A New Jersey town has introduced hateful and highly discriminatory new rules aimed at barring Orthodox Jews from moving in, according to a stunning complaint filed by the state attorney general.

The nine-count complaint accuses Mahwah’s public officials and most vocal residents of using the same tactics employed by “1950s-era white flight suburbanites who sought to keep African-Americans from moving into their neighborhoods.”

Speaking of flight…

#3

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The NAACP issued a warning for African Americans who fly American Airlines Tuesday.

The group says they are noticing a pattern of disturbing incidents involving the removal of black passengers from flights, in addition to other troublesome conducts that are giving rise to this warning.

Is it too much to ask that black folks just be allowed to exist without encountering racism at every turn?

#4

[A]ccording to an analysis by FiveThirtyEight, the 2016 Crime in the United States report — the first released under President Trump’s administration — contains close to 70 percent fewer data tables1 than the 2015 version did, a removal that could affect analysts’ understanding of crime trends in the country. The removal comes after consecutive years in which violent crime rose nationally, and it limits access to high-quality crime data that could help inform solutions.

“To me it’s shocking that they made these decisions to publish that many fewer tables and they didn’t make the decision with the APB,” James Nolan, who worked at the UCR for five years and now teaches at West Virginia University, told FiveThirtyEight.

Nolan called the FBI’s removal of the tables for lack of web traffic, “somewhat illogical.” (A spokesman for the UCR program told FiveThirtyEight that in the last year, the UCR received 3,045,789 visitors.)

It’s a simple enough trick. If you’re going to make spurious claims about crimes committed by immigrants and refugees, it helps the cause of institutional nativism to control the flow of information.

#5

Asylum seekers who illegally crossed the U.S. border into Canada this year are obtaining refugee status at higher rates, new data shows, as authorities accept claims from people who say they feared being deported by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration.

More than 15,000 people have crossed the U.S.-Canadian border illegally to claim refugee status in Canada this year. Many were in the United States legally and some interviewed by Reuters said they might have stayed were it not for an immigration crackdown.

This would seem like far-flung fabulism had it not been reported by Reuters. Will Canada have an American refugee crisis by 2018?

(Year Zero/Day Two Hundred and Ninety-One)

Consider Who They Are

Consider the appearance of the military families Donald Trump is willing to spar with in public.

Consider what makes an acceptable target. For a man that otherwise has a perverse veneration for military culture and militarism, what differences allow the man who is somehow our president to so crassly attack people overcome by grief? And why, when people with even a shred of decency object to his abhorrent treatment of the grief-stricken, does he double down? If everything else people have said has been mere screaming into the void, remember what Charlottesville laid bare.

(Year Zero/Day Two Hundred and Seventy-Seven)

Will One Distract From The Other?

Not only did the Hobbit Troll refuse to back down from his royal Twitter decree that trans folks will no longer be allowed to serve in the military, this afternoon he formalized the discrimination by signing a directive barring them from joining the armed forces forthwith. However,

[It] gives Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wide discretion in determining whether those already in the armed forces can continue to serve.

The criteria Mattis will use to determine a trans individual’s worth is unclear. What is clear: however one may feel about militarism, the exclusionary policy is a shocking blow to LGBTIQ rights in America. It’s a situation that requires a focused and immediate response from The Resistance.

Which is why almost immediately after the news broke, Trump pardoned that lifelike facsimile of a human being, Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

President Trump on Friday pardoned Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff whose aggressive efforts to hunt down and detain undocumented immigrants made him a national symbol of the divisive politics of immigration and earned him a criminal contempt conviction.

In a two-paragraph statement, the White House said that with Mr. Arpaio’s years of “admirable service to our nation, he is worthy candidate for a presidential pardon.”

The effect of the pardon is twofold. Opponents of Trump are forced to figure out where to pool their resources. Do they direct their outrage to the directive, the pardon or both? Will railing against one steal oxygen from the other? Will stridently objecting to the directive and the pardon mute their impact on both issues?

And of course, both actions are gift-wrapped presents for the president’s “deplorable” base. Since they’re the only ones who seem to want to keep that awful boor around, when they’re happy, he’s happy.

Thoughts On “Our Civilization”

Iowa Rep. Steve King has been in a bit of a brannigan since he took to Twitter to endorse the views of far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders using explicitly nativist language.

In its bio, Voice of Europe offers the mission statement “Real news from a beautiful continent in danger. Anti EU / Pro Europe / MAGA”.

Liberal Americans were rightly appalled by Steve King’s tweet, and the usual for-shames and this-isn’t-Americas were brandished. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is out for King’s blood — or rather, this being the House of Representatives — his gavel. Pelosi won’t get it. In another day or two some fresh outrage will consume the politerati and the whole thing will be more or less forgotten.

*  *  *

After the King controversy had been the scuttlebutt of Washington for just over a day, Paul Ryan offered a watered-down admonition.

“I don’t think that statement reflects what is special about this country,” he said. But then Ryan added this: “I would like to think — and I haven’t spoke to Steve about this — I would like to think he misspoke, and it wasn’t meant the way it sounds, and I hope he’s clarified that.”

King clarified that.

“Of course I meant exactly what I said, as is always the case,” King told CNN’s Chris Cuomo.

Well, that went well.

*  *  *

Steve King isn’t alone in his thinking. You can visit Right Wing Watch any day of the week for a toxic stew of racism, nativism, evangelical religious fervor, paranoia, outlandish conspiracy theories and militant activity. Recent headlines include Former Trump Campaign Adviser Says God Warned Him About Bugging Of The White House, Jim Bakker: Trump Opponents Bringing ‘Anarchy’ And ‘Civil War’ To America, Peter LaBarbera: The Fight For LGBTQ Equality Is ‘Satanic and Lance Wallnau Claims Milo Yiannopoulos ‘In The Name Of Jesus For The Kingdom Of God’. As uncomfortable as it is to think about, this worldview pollutes the minds of many Americans.

*  *  *

If there’s anything racists who insist they aren’t racists love to talk about, it’s comparative birth rates. For them, it’s a numbers game based on simple arithmetic. On one side is children who descend from a variety of nations and ethnicities who, through complex social/historical processes, are now considered to be “white”. Membership rules have been modified over time (to allow the eventual admittance of the Irish after they rallied against the Chinese, for example, and depending on the circumstances Jewish people are or aren’t in the club), but the consensus is that when it comes to power, “white” people are the in-group.

On the other side is everyone else. The racial caste system, though weaker than it used to be, still places some people of color above others. It’s generally agreed that people of African descent occupy the lowest level. To complicate this schema, since 9/11 people who have immigrated from the Muslim-majority Middle Eastern countries have been near the bottom as well. In their situation, racism mingles with xenophobia and antimuslimism to create an especially harmful atmosphere. Similarly, “Hispanics” face racism mixed with xenophobia, the sacrificial lamb for the failures of neoliberalism and the perfidy of corporate America.

The arrangement of our country’s caste hierarchy has no meaning except insofar as the in-group has made it mean something. These racists who don’t like the way that word sounds in other people’s mouths want plenty of “white” babies so that the system will, visibly or invisibly, continue to the benefit of their “race”. It’s usually more visible during GOP administrations, but as Jordan Peele’s metaphorization of the black experience in Get Out masterfully showed, white liberals are not immune from racism or benefit from the system any less.

*  *  *

The caste system has so far been maintained by the numbers. The openly nativist among whites correctly intuit once “somebody else’s babies” outnumber their own, things will have to change. Their fear helps re-elect Steve King every six years, and gave Donald Trump enough electoral college votes to force his way into power.

*  *  *

“Whatever the outcome of the election today, the genie will not go back into the bottle. People feel misrepresented.” As I write this, polls have just closed in the Netherlands. Exit polling data shows Geert Wilders performed more poorly than expected. Some will say this reverses the lurch towards the far right in Europe, others like myself are keeping one eye permanently glued on French demagogue Marine Le Pen. The Genie is out of the bottle at in America, in Britain, in every place where the frothing “white” masses feel emboldened. Steve King and Donald Trump will still be part of the nationalist international after the current news cycle has ended. It will take more than a Dutch embarrassment to stop the fascist creep in the West.

(Year Zero/Day Fifty-Five)