Category Archives: Racism

Trump lost, but racism is alive and infused in U.S. history

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theconversation.com

Nov 13, 2020

The United States presidential election was a great spectacle. It was also a battle over the nation’s history and its future.

As historians will tell you, how we characterize the past has direct bearing on how we imagine possible futures. What is the vision for a post-Trump America?

In both the lead-up to Nov. 3 and its aftermath, history loomed large. More than 200 scholars of authoritarianism, fascism and populism signed an Open Letter of Concern about the imminent threat to democratic processes and institutions, drawing on histories of past regimes that have curtailed democratic rights and freedoms in moments of instability and unrest.

Fascism historians Ruth Ben-Ghiat and Federico Finchelstein warned that Donald Trump’s narcissism is more than just a character flaw; it is a clarion call to build an authoritarian state. Even in defeat, they argued, strongmen and their followers often continue to undermine institutions — just as Trump appears to be doing following the election with his refusal to accept the results. The answer? See through the rhetoric, exercise caution and remain vigilant.

For others, fascism may not be knocking at the door, but the shock of the 2016 election was not undone by the 2020 results. If anything, the strong showing of the Republican party, despite a platform of xenophobia and hatred, exposed the chasms that divide Americans by race and class.

Trump is reminiscent of far-away strongmen like Hungary’s Viktor Orbán and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan. A good portion of the electorate likes what he’s selling anyway. That’s a bitter pill for a country that came of age on pledges of allegiance to fundamental freedoms.

As historian Adam Tooze put it in the Guardian immediately after the election, Trump supporters love “his aggression, and his gleeful slaughter of liberal sacred cows.” Will the defeat of a single politician silence his millions of supporters and change a system rife with inequality and abuse?

People carrying anti-Trump signs gather with the White House seen in the background.
Americans celebrate the election’s outcome outside the White House, in Black Lives Matter Plaza, on Nov. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Changed the playing field

Even in defeat, Trump has already changed the playing field. His linguistic disobedience, alternative facts, lies and media manipulation have given false claims some legitimacy, paving the way for others to carry the baton forward in a politics of hate, recriminations and denial of truth.

Without serious social and electoral reform, the next authoritarian to make a play to lead the U.S. may be much more capable. Trump may have been stopped from his “autocratic attempt,” but the party he transformed has yet to renounce his politics. Trump lost, but Trumpism is alive and well, along with the conditions that propelled him to power in the first place.

Trump supporters carry signs alleging an illegal election
Trump supporters protest outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia on Nov. 8, 2020, a day after the 2020 election was called for Biden. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

At best, the post-election future might be one of regrouping and rebuilding; at worst, there will be more challenges to legal norms and truths by the outgoing president and the Republican Party.

Americans rose to the challenge?

Biden supporters, meanwhile, have tapped into other American pasts. While they acknowledge Trump’s brutalism has been concerning, they saw Americans rising to the challenge, “taking back the conversation” and placing renewed faith in institutions.

They saw glimmers of hope in the record-breaking voter turnout, and in efforts to replace Confederate emblems from state flags and remove racist language from state constitutions.

They revelled in America’s diversity, praising the herculean efforts of African American and Indigenous activists and voters for defeating Trump. But they did so often without recognizing that these same groups had the most to lose from a Republican victory during a global pandemic that hit their communities particularly hard.

Some saw this election as an extension of Civil Rights movement struggles, going so far as to compare Kamala Harris, the vice-president-elect, to Ruby Bridges, the girl who desegregated her Louisiana elementary school. This is a broken democracy, the argument goes, not a defeated one.

Yet American democracy wasn’t under attack simply by the Trump presidency. It has never adequately accounted for minority experiences in the first place.

Trump’s everyday racism is not an aberration. Although it may be extreme, it’s at the core of America’s history.

Tiffany Florvil, a scholar of transnational Black activism, put a fine point on it when she echoed the words of historian Thomas Holt: In the United States, “race lives because it is part and parcel of the means of living.” Racism is woven into the very fabric of American life. It is a feature of American democracy, not any authoritarian aberration.

What this means is the Civil Rights movement is not a thing of the past. It is an ongoing, unfinished project.

Scholars of African American history and law have been saying this for a long time. America’s institutions, economy and media are all built upon a history of what UCLA historian Robin D.G. Kelley has called racial capitalism — a system of exploitation with repercussions into the current day.

As Kimberlé Crenshaw put it in Time magazine, referring to Trump’s directive to all federal agencies to stop anti-bias training to address white privilege:

“It’s an approach to grappling with a history of white supremacy that rejects the belief that what’s in the past is in the past, and that the laws and systems that grow from that past are detached from it.”

America’s past — borne of stolen land, slavery, head taxes and segregation — is evident in the dog whistles of Trump’s rigged election speechciting Detroit and Philadelphia as notoriously corrupt, and the chatter on the far right about the need to turn the election result into a justification for another civil war.

But it also surfaces when Democrats too quickly forget the struggles racialized populations endure to safeguard a democracy that has not always protected them.


Read more: Trump has made America nostalgic again for a past that never existed


All of these facets of America’s past and future are circulating right now as Americans ponder Trump’s exit and whether he will go peacefully.

But the lessons drawn from history should not be solely focused on patterns that repeat themselves; they should also guide us in shaping policy and law.

Only an honest engagement with the full scope of American history, including the crushing role racial inequality has played for generations, will help its citizens imagine an alternative future in which freedom and equality might indeed be possible.

Summer of rage: Unrest intensifies in Minneapolis and Los Angeles, undercover cops accused of setting fires

“A bunch of undercover cops were the main ones starting the arsons!!!!!! Spread the word!!!”

Summer of rage: Unrest intensifies in Minneapolis and Los Angeles, undercover cops accused of setting fires

http://www.intellihub.com

With permission from

(INTELLIHUB) — Like a concerted operation, the summer of rage has arrived. Civil unrest has now spread to several cities and states following the police murder of a Minneapolis man named George Floyd.

Protesters taking a stand against police brutality have become increasingly unruly in both Minneapolis and Los Angeles over the past several days which has put a strain on law enforcement personnel tasked with riot duty.

Things have ramped up in Minneapolis following Tuesday’s siege on the police department’s Third Precinct where protesters were captured on video decimating police property before law enforcement officers arrived firing concussion grenades and tear gas to disperse the crowd.

https://flic.kr/p/2j6pvWm
Jenny Salita/Flickr

Many buildings were set ablaze on Wednesday as things began to heat up.

Omar Jimenez

@OmarJimenez

I just took a walk around the block next to the Minneapolis Police precinct. This is what the city is waking up to today.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter
243 people are talking about this

An Auto Zone burns.

SRB BREAKING NEWS@news_srb

: Rioters have set an Autozone on fire near the Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct.-PM

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16 people are talking about this

It almost appears as if the chaos is organized–but by who?

Rosie memos@almostjingo

WTF

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65 people are talking about this

To make matters worse a social media post containing a video has surfaced which insinuates undercover police were the primary arsonists on Wednesday.

“A bunch of undercover cops were the main ones starting the arsons!!!!!!,” the post reads. “Spread the word!!!”

KELESE@k3lese

A bunch of undercover cops were the main ones starting the arsons!!!!!! Spread the word!!!

27.7K people are talking about this

Meanwhile in California Black Lives Matter protesters took to the streets–one of which was severely wounded after falling from the roof of a moving police cruiser.

National Police Association@NatPoliceAssoc

Black Lives Matter protesters smash the windows of two California Highway Patrol cruisers on the northbound Hollywood (101) Freeway in downtown Los Angeles https://abc7.com/black-lives-matter-george-floyd-dtla-protest-downtown-la/6215968/ 

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106 people are talking about this

 

Meditations On Whiteness

 

You’ve probably already seen the footage of a white police officer named Derek Chauvin cheerfully suffocating a black man named George Floyd to death with his knee while Floyd pleaded for his life. This went viral around the same time as another viral video where a white woman in Central Park called New York police on a black man who posed no threat to her while making sure to inform the police that he was black, and just weeks after video footage surfaced of a black man named Ahmaud Arbery being shot to death by a white former cop and his son while out for a jog.

So race is on everyone’s mind, and rightly so. And whether we’re honest with ourselves or we throw a bunch of verbiage at it to try and compartmentalize away from it, white people are all aware when we watch George Floyd being torturously murdered that there’s no way it could have been us on the business end of that knee. Not because of our impeccable manners or our sparkling personality, but because our skin is a certain color.

And whether we choose to directly acknowledge this reality or not, we’re going to experience discomfort on some level. And mainly what I want to say here is, that’s okay.

It can be tempting to try and distance ourselves from this discomfort by making it about individuals: that individual cop was a bad, bad man and I would never do such a thing, and I didn’t, so I have no accountability here. And of course it’s true that you were not personally directly responsible for George Floyd’s actual murder, but white people who urgently advance that truism are only ever doing so to avoid confronting the more uncomfortable reality that they live in and benefit from a society which guarantees that they will never be on the receiving end of such brutality.

White people have a lot of unprocessed feelings about racism, their role in it and the extent to which they’ve benefited from it, both in America and here in Australia, where the bright sun on my pale skin is a constant reminder to me that I am an alien on stolen land. Those unprocessed feelings will probably express themselves in angry vituperative comments on this essay by white people who are afraid of simply feeling their feelings and getting real with themselves, because this is uncomfortable, confrontational stuff.

“Identity politics!” is an objection I often get when I try to talk about the reality of racial power dynamics in our society, probably because I have a lot of readers who follow me because of my criticisms of the Democratic Party which often cynically exploits race and racism to advance political agendas.

But this isn’t identity politics; it’s not about politics at all. This is about healing, and being real with ourselves.

“Bah, white guilt!” is another common objection. “You just want us to feel guilty! How does white people feeling all guilty help fix racism??”

They always talk about guilt. Guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt. I never brought guilt up, but that’s what they argue against. Which is of course very telling.

Obviously guilt in and of itself is not the objective here. Nobody’s claiming that the world’s racial wounds would be healed if white people just went around feeling guilty all the time; that’s a vapid strawman that is advanced by white people who don’t want to viscerally grapple with the reality of the advantages their whiteness brings them.

But also, why such a fearful, defensive response to the possibility of experiencing guilt? Why treat guilt like it’s made of molten lava? Guilt is just a feeling; it won’t hurt you. You just feel it, listen to what it has to say, and then once it’s been felt all the way through it subsides. There’s no need to fear it, and it’s not legitimate to reject ideas on the basis that they might cause you to experience it.

It’s not about guilt, it’s about consciousness and curiosity. Consciousness of the way racial power dynamics play out in our own lives, and curiosity about the experience of other races in our society.

White people are averse to emotionally processing the reality of their privilege for the same reason rich people aggressively insist they worked hard for every penny they have even though they know they received way more opportunities and advantages than the average person ever sees. Life is hard and abrasive for everyone, even for white people and even for rich people, so acknowledging you’ve received a head start in some way over other people can be one more thing in your mind telling you you’re deficient, in addition to your father’s voice and your first love rejecting you and all the other painful inadequacy stories you’ve got circling through your consciousness.

White privilege doesn’t mean white people don’t suffer or that some white people don’t have it harder overall than some black people. All it means is that having white skin is an advantage, and that all other factors being equal a white person will have an easier time in our society than a person of color. And that this is because our society has been shaped by white supremacy for many generations, leaving many remaining effects.

Healing can’t happen without consciousness. Healing our society’s racial wounds won’t happen as long as white people are compartmentalizing away from the reality that our lives have been easier than they would otherwise have been if we’d been born a different race, and that this is because our ancestors killed, enslaved, exploited and oppressed people who didn’t look like them for many generations before we got here. That while we didn’t personally cause this dynamic, we are interwoven into its tapestry and we have risen above others because of it.

And to be honest, if you really determine to get real with yourself and make your white privilege conscious, you will experience guilt at some point. It’s an inescapable part of the journey if you’re being really sincere and getting really curious about what life is like for people of different races in our society. And that’s okay. Guilt is not dangerous; you just feel through it and continue on your journey. It’s not the final destination in the journey, but it’s a river that you will cross along the way.

There are all sorts of conscious and unconscious ways that white people defensively protect a racist system, even when they don’t think of themselves as racist. You can witness these dynamics in a more overt form by simply scrolling through the comments on any of the videos linked here, full of white people arguing in various ways that this isn’t the atrocious thing that people are making it out to be. (Hint: if the only time you talk about racism is to yell at people that something isn’t racist, then you’re protecting racism.) They can happen in much subtler ways as well, throughout all aspects of our life, and it’s only by making them conscious and feeling the feelings that brings up until they are fully felt that these subconscious white supremacy-supporting mental habits can be noticed and uprooted.

My ancestors came to Australia as prisoners, and some almost certainly would have played some role in the genocide against the people who’d been living here for more than 65,000 years before them. And now I live in a society that is dominated by whiteness, and I’ve benefited from that. I’ve never had cause to fear for my life in the presence of a police officer, in fact I’ve never hesitated to call them if I’ve needed their help. I had an easy youth because my parents came from the race that has been favored by generations of white supremacist policies in Australia. Media I consumed growing up consistently featured people who were the same color as me, consistently feeding me through my formative years the message that I can accomplish anything I want in life. I’ve gotten jobs because I understand the subtleties of white culture enough to know how to speak and dress for different interviews, and because I had many white contacts (it’s not what you know, it’s who you know). There are people who pay attention to my words today who wouldn’t give them as much respect if they appeared next to a profile picture with dark skin. There are many other advantages I’ve had that I can’t even know about, since I’ve never lived a day in brown skin.

This is a reality I need to feel into and make conscious if I’m to play my part in our society’s healing of its racial woundedness. And yeah it can bring up uncomfortable emotions. Being white is weird, man. If we live in Australia or North America we’re acutely aware that we’re disconnected from our ancestral roots, but if we go to visit Europe that feels weird and not at all like home too. We walk through the land surrounded by the ghosts of its previous inhabitants, aware that they had a deep connection to it and that we do not. We’re always reaching for culture because we sense intuitively that that’s something people are meant to have, but everything we grasp fails to satisfy in any meaningful way. We’re aware on some level that we have it better than other races, but we also know that life has been cruel and abrasive to us too, and we don’t know how to solve all the problems which white supremacy has caused.

And if we’re honest with ourselves, it brings up a lot of feels. And it’s okay that it does. It’s good that it does. These feelings need to be felt. Really diving down the rabbit hole of racism and our role in it will move mountains inside you that you didn’t even know were there, and there will be some deep, deep emotions underneath them which will bring burning shame, and big tears. Those tears need to come out though. They’re what’s standing between you and true healing.

And when you have processed through that journey, you will no longer have in you the defensiveness about your own white privilege, and any parts of you which were unconsciously defending and protecting white supremacy in that way will have been purged from your system. And you will be in that respect a much more real and authentic human being, with a much more real and authentic relationship with the world. And the world will feel much more like home to you.

_______________________

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics onTwitter, checking out my podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following me on Steemit, throwing some money into my tip jar on Patreon or Paypalpurchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my books Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

Ten reasons why immunity passports are a bad idea

Pic added by Tales
Restricting movement on the basis of biology threatens freedom, fairness and public health.
Women in Beijing display a health QR code on their phones as a security guard takes their temperature with a remote sensor

A woman in Beijing shows a health QR code on her phone to access a shopping area, as a security guard checks her temperature. Credit: Kevin Frayer/Getty

Imagine a world where your ability to get a job, housing or a loan depends on passing a blood test. You are confined to your home and locked out of society if you lack certain antibodies.

It has happened before. For most of the nineteenth century, immunity to yellow fever divided people in New Orleans, Louisiana, between the ‘acclimated’ who had survived yellow fever and the ‘unacclimated’, who had not had the disease1. Lack of immunity dictated whom people could marry, where they could work, and, for those forced into slavery, how much they were worth. Presumed immunity concentrated political and economic power in the hands of the wealthy elite, and was weaponized to justify white supremacy.

Something similar could be our dystopian future if governments introduce ‘immunity passports’ in efforts to reverse the economic catastrophe of the COVID-19 pandemic. The idea is that such certificates would be issued to those who have recovered and tested positive for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 — the coronavirus that causes the disease. Authorities would lift restrictions on those who are presumed to have immunity, allowing them to return to work, to socialize and to travel. This idea has so many flaws that it is hard to know where to begin.

On 24 April, the World Health Organization (WHO) cautioned against issuing immunity passports because their accuracy could not be guaranteed. It stated that: “There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection”(see go.nature.com/3cutjqz). Nonetheless, the idea is being floated in the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and other nations.

China has already introduced virtual health checks, contact tracing and digital QR codes to limit the movement of people. Antibody test results could easily be integrated into this system. And Chile, in a game of semantics, says that it intends to issue ‘medical release certificates’ with three months’ validity to people who have recovered from the disease2.

In our view, any documentation that limits individual freedoms on the basis of biology risks becoming a platform for restricting human rights, increasing discrimination and threatening — rather than protecting — public health. Here we present ten reasons why immunity passports won’t, can’t and shouldn’t be allowed to work.

Ten points

Four huge practical problems and six ethical objections add up to one very bad idea.

COVID-19 immunity is a mystery. Recent data3 suggest that a majority of recovered patients produce some antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. But scientists don’t know whether everyone produces enough antibodies to guarantee future protection, what a safe level might be or how long immunity might last. Current estimates, based on immune responses to closely related viruses such as those that cause severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), suggest that recovered individuals could be protected from re-infection for one to two years. But if SARS-CoV-2 immunity instead mimics that seen with the common cold, the protection period could be shorter.

Serological tests are unreliable. Tests to measure SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in the blood can be a valuable tool to assess the prevalence and spread of the virus. But they vary widely in quality and efficacy. This has led the WHO and former US Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb to caution against their use in assessing individual health or immune status. Several available tests are sufficiently accurate, meaning they are validated to have at least 99% specificity and sensitivity. But preliminary data suggest that the vast majority aren’t reliable4. Low specificity means the test measures antibodies other than those that are specific to SARS-CoV-2. This causes false positives, leading people to think they are immune when they aren’t. Low sensitivity means that the test requires a person to have a high concentration of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies for them to be measured effectively. This causes false negatives in people who have few antibodies, leading to potentially immune individuals being incorrectly labelled as not immune.

The volume of testing needed is unfeasible. Tens to hundreds of millions of serological tests would be needed for a national immunity certification programme. For example, Germany has a population of nearly 84 million people, so would require at least 168 million serological tests to validate every resident’s COVID-19 immune status at least twice. Two tests per person are the minimum, because anyone who tested negative might later become infected and would need to be retested to be immune certified. Repeat testing, on no less than an annual basis, would be necessary to ensure ongoing immunity. From June, the German government will receive 5 million serological tests a month from the Swiss firm Roche Pharmaceuticals — a leading supplier of one SARS-CoV-2 serological test that has been approved by regulators. This will allow only 6% of the German population to be tested each month.

Even if immunity passports were limited to health-care workers, the number of tests required could still be unfeasible. The United States, for example, would need more than 16 million such tests. At the time of writing, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and US public-health laboratories have performed more than 12 million diagnostic tests for SARS-CoV-2 (3% of the total US population; see go.nature.com/2wemdd2). Even South Korea, a country with high testing rates, had managed to test only 1.5% of its population by 20 May (see go.nature.com/2aztfvp).

Health-care worker draw blood samples from a family wearing facemasks sitting at the dining table in their home in Munich

Health-care workers in Munich, Germany, take blood to test for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2.Credit: Laetitia Vancon/NYT/Redux/eyevine

Too few survivors to boost the economy. The proportion of individuals known to have recovered from COVID-19 varies widely in different populations. Reports from hot spots in Germany and the United States suggest some locations could have recovery rates between 14% and 30%. In New York state, for example, where 3,000 people were tested at random in grocery shops and other public locations, 14.9% had antibodies against COVID-19 (see go.nature.com/2waaku9). But these seem to be the exception. In an April press conference, the WHO estimated that only 2–3% of the global population had recovered from the virus.

Low disease prevalence combined with limited testing capacity, not to mention highly unreliable tests, means that only a small fraction of any population would be certified as free to work. Based on current numbers of confirmed US cases, for example, only 0.43% of the population would be certified. Such percentages are inconsequential for the economy and for safety. A cafe can’t open and serve customers without risk if only a fraction of its staff are certified as immune. A shop can’t turn a profit if only a minuscule proportion of customers are allowed to enter.

Monitoring erodes privacy. The whole point of immunity passports is to control movement. Thus, any strategy for immunity certification must include a system for identification and monitoring. Paper documentation could be vulnerable to forgery. Electronic documentation integrated into a smartphone app would be more resistant to fraud and more effective for contact tracing, retesting and updates of immune status.

But electronic documents present a more serious risk to privacy5. In some Chinese provinces, QR codes on smartphones control entrance into public places on the basis of the individual’s COVID-19 health status. However, these apps report more than COVID-19 information — including people’s locations, travel history, who they’ve come into contact with and other health information, ranging from their body temperature to whether they’ve recently had a cold. Taiwan is also using smartphone apps with alert systems that are directly linked to police departments. The United Kingdom, United States and many other countries are testing various app options. Yet there’s no guarantee that the apps will recede when COVID-19 does. China has announced that elements of its QR-code tracking system are likely to remain in place after the pandemic ends.

Marginalized groups will face more scrutiny. With increased monitoring comes increased policing, and with it higher risks of profiling and potential harms to racial, sexual, religious or other minority groups. During the pandemic, China has been accused of racially profiling residents by forcing all African nationals to be tested for the virus. In other parts of the world, people from Asia have faced spikes in racialized prejudice.

Before this pandemic, stop-and-frisk laws in the United States already disproportionately affected people of colour. In 2019, 88% of people who were stopped and searched in New York City were African American or Latin American (go.nature.com/2jntjym). And during the pandemic, policing continues to target people from minority groups. Between mid-March and the start of May in Brooklyn, New York, 35 of the 40 people arrested for violating physical distancing laws were black6.

Continue:

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How To Understand All This China Stuff

 

 

China is in the news every day now. Today here in Australia we’re pretending to be offended because a Chinese tabloid published the accusation that our nation is a “giant kangaroo that serves as a dog of the US”, even though we all know that’s completely true and we should be flattered that at least they said “giant”. Before that we were getting indignant over a hefty barley tariff in response to our facilitation of America’s global anti-China spin campaign, which it turns out Washington screwed us on.

Anti-China sentiment has been thriving in Australia, aided by our Murdoch-dominated news media, State Department-funded think tanks explicitly geared toward manipulating the China narrative, and of course our own deep-seated racism and xenophobia. Because of its geographical location, the US military/intelligence asset conventionally known as Australia has been a major focal point for the US-centralized empire’s propaganda campaign against the most powerful unabsorbed nation in the world.

China is in the news constantly now, and it’s not because of any virus. It’s not because of Hong Kong, it’s not because of Uighurs, it’s not because of intellectual property violations or any of the other scattershot, unrelated hodgepodge of excuses you’re being fed as to why the Chinese government must be regarded as the latest Actual Hitler all of a sudden.

China is in the news all the time because of imperialism.

Caitlin Johnstone ⏳@caitoz

Imperialist Russia hysteria had a hard time finding serious purchase in Australia, but sinophobia has had plenty of propaganda primer here and there’s a State Department-funded think tank in Canberra dedicated to inflaming China hysteria
(https://johnmenadue.com/myriam-robin-the-think-tank-behind-australias-changing-view-of-china-afr-15-2-20200/ ). https://twitter.com/SBSNews/status/1253239688430673922 

MYRIAM ROBIN. The think tank behind Australia’s changing view of China.(AFR 15.2.20200 –

On Tuesday in the Australian Senate, Labor’s Kim Carr rose to his feet, thundering about “hawks intent on fighting a new cold war”. In his sights was the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, which…

johnmenadue.com

SBS News

@SBSNews

This Chinese-Australian family in Melbourne was terrorised over two nights with broken windows and vandalism, in what’s believed to be racial attacks related to COVID-19.

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To understand what’s going on with China and why the “news” media keep punching you in the face with stories about how awful it is, you really only need to grasp two basic points:

Point 1: We are in the middle of a slow-motion third world war between the US-centralized power alliance and the nations which have resisted being absorbed into it.

A loose alliance of nationless oligarchs who use governments as weapons have secured control over a large empire-like cluster of nations with economic and military might loosely centralized around the United States. In order to gain more power and ensure its ongoing hegemony, this oligarchic empire must keep expanding by absorbing more nations and brutalizing them if they resist. China is by far the most powerful of the unabsorbed nations, followed by Russia at a distant second and Iran at a distant third.

Nuclear weapons make another hot world war undesirable, so this one takes the form of resource control, economic warfare, staging coups, arming oppositional militias to use as proxy armies, expanding military presence in key geostrategic regions under the pretense of fighting terrorism, and “humanitarian interventionism”, with old-school full-scale ground invasions used only as a last resort, and only after manufacturing sufficient international approval to ensure the continued cohesion of the empire-like power alliance.

But the end goal is the same as that of a conventional world war: to beat the other side into submission and compliance. And, in this case, absorption into the imperial blob. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the prevailing orthodoxy in US power structures became that the US must maintain unipolar hegemony at all cost to maintain a “liberal world order” (even if it means abandoning “liberal” values whenever it’s convenient). From that point on the agenda has been global domination and the slow, suffocating subversion of anyone who gets in the way.

Caitlin Johnstone ⏳@caitoz

US Foreign Policy Is A War On Disobedience

“So now you’ve got this weird dynamic where the US is constantly working to make sure that no other countries surpass it and gain the ability to treat America the way America treats other countries.”https://medium.com/@caityjohnstone/us-foreign-policy-is-a-war-on-disobedience-ae4e7e75ce02 

US Foreign Policy Is A War On Disobedience

In an excellent new essay titled “We’re Not the Good Guys — Why Is American Aggression Missing in Action?”, Tom Engelhardt criticizes the…

medium.com

411 people are talking about this

Point 2: Propaganda is used to move this world war along.

In a conventional war each side has clear military objectives that everyone understands, and the weapons are naturally moved around in accordance with these objectives. In this weird slow-motion world war, nobody understands what’s going on besides the major power players and those who are paying very close attention. The various agendas against the governments of Iran, Venezuela, Russia, Syria, China etc appear different and unrelated when looked at individually, and indeed you will see different political factions supporting some of these agendas but not others. The only thing unifying this slow-motion movement toward the destruction and absorption of all unabsorbed nations is carefully constructed propaganda narratives.

The way these unifying propaganda narratives operate is simple. It would never occur to rank-and-file citizens that a nation on the other side of the planet that’s pretty much just doing its own thing needs to be sanctioned, subverted and brought to heel, so the imperialist oligarchs who own the political/media class make sure everyone is fed custom-made narratives according to their own ideological echo chamber to prevent any domestic inertia from being thrown on these agendas. Once there’s sufficient agreement that Saddam/Gaddafi/Morales/Assad/Maduro/whomever must go, the campaign to subvert, sabotage and absorb that government can safely be escalated.

If you can understand points one and two, you can understand everything that’s happening with China, and everything that will continue to happen. Propaganda narratives will be rolled out with increasing aggression which have the long-term goal of alienating China from its allies, hurting its economic interests, and preventing its rise to true superpower status and creating a multipolar world.

And the funny thing is, none of this is necessary. Westerners have been deliberately propagandized into believing that China wants to take over the world and will do so unless kept in line by the United States, who has surrounded China with military bases in an act of extreme aggression that the US itself would never tolerate from any unabsorbed government. But if you really grill people on how they know that China wants to take over the world, you’ll find they don’t have any substantial evidence for it.

They’ll tell you that China has an authoritarian government which persecutes ethnic and religious minorities, wrongly claiming that this means they want to take over the world and inflict the same on everyone else. They’ll tell you China has sought to expand control over some directly adjacent territories, wrongly claiming that this means they want to dominate the planet militarily like the US currently does. They’ll cite evidence which shows China is seeking to become a superpower and create a multipolar world (something China openly admits) and wrongly claim that this is proof that they are seeking to dominate the world with unipolar hegemony. They won’t be able to produce any actual, hard evidence that China is trying to take over the world and censor your internet and take away your rights, because no such evidence exists. It’s a completely empty belief arising from aggressive narrative manipulation.

“One myth I think really that needs to be dispelled is that somehow China is aiming to replace America and going to run the world, and it’s not,” said Chinese venture capitalist and social scientist Eric Li on the John Pilger documentary The Coming War on China. “First of all, the Chinese are not that stupid. The west, with its Christian roots, are about converting other people into their beliefs. The Chinese are not about that. It’s just that–again, I’m not degrading the western culture, I’m just pointing out the inherent nature, the DNA of two different cultures–the Chinese two thousand years ago built the Great Wall to keep the barbarians out, not to invade them.”

I’d say this is a reasonable summary. After European nations tried to conquer the planet just a few generations ago in the name of spreading Christianity and “civilization”, we’re projecting our sick vestigial colonialist values on a nation whose culture never drove it to such madness.

Caitlin Johnstone ⏳@caitoz

Arresting people for future crimes is called “pre-crime”, and it’s the stuff of dystopian horror fiction.
Violently dominating an entire planet because another country might hurt yours in the future is called “US foreign policy”, and it’s the stuff of mainstream news punditry.

292 people are talking about this

Violently dominating the entire planet for all eternity on the vague suspicion that another country wants to do the same to you is not sane, and is not an option. Unabsorbed nations should be allowed to remain unabsorbed, absorbed nations should have their sovereignty restored (or in Australia’s case granted to it for the first time since its existence as a nation), and America should begin acting like a normal country. The notion of “pre-crime” is the purview of dystopian horror fiction when applied to individual people, and there’s no reason we should find the prospect of attacking and destroying for hypothetical future offenses any less insane on an international scale.

There was never any reason for the coronavirus to be made into an issue of international conflict when it could just as easily be an issue of international collaboration, and indeed collaborating is what we should all be doing, with this virus and with everything else. Let’s end this weird slow-motion world war and move toward sanity.

______________________________

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics onTwitter, checking out my podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following me on Steemit, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypalpurchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my books Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

America isn’t just a failing state, it is a failed experiment

Source

http://www.aljazeera.com

by

April 20, 2020

And the mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic is just another proof.

People protest against a state-at-home order issued by Colorado Governor Jared Polis to curb the coronavirus outbreak on April 19, 2020 in Denver, US [AP/David Zalubowski]
People protest against a state-at-home order issued by Colorado Governor Jared Polis to curb the coronavirus outbreak on April 19, 2020, in Denver, US [AP/David Zalubowski]
 

Sometime in the future, maybe two or three centuries from now, when historians and other social scientists begin to write the first books about the failures of the defunct American experiment, they will all confront a basic truth: That despite American proclamations of freedom and equality, the realities of racism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia and gross economic inequalities as practised in American society constantly belied these ideals.

Future experts will have to consider whether America’s ultimate virtues really ever had a chance to flourish, or were simply myths meant to soothe the American ego.

These future researchers will have a list of events to point to that signaled the death knell of America as a superpower, a nation-state, and as an idea worth pursuing. And that list is long:

The squandering of trillions of dollars from 1945 through the 1980s on the Cold War, Vietnam and the nuclear arms race. The presidency of Richard Nixon, Watergate, and craven government corruption. The disinvestment from the American social safety net and the massive deregulation of corporations that began during President Ronald Reagan’s rule in the 1980s – all while proclaiming “it’s morning in America again” – and continued unabated under Presidents Bill Clinton, George W Bush and Barack Obama. The First Gulf War in 1990-91 and the new US commitment to endless, preemptive wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere in the decades since. The 2008 housing bust and the Great Recession that only further benefitted corporations while grinding millions down into poverty and the gig economy.

All this has led the US to its current calamity, the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, one that at publication, has claimed more than 40,000 American lives and sickened at least 700,000 others. It is an epic crisis which America’s leaders from President Donald Trump down could have blunted by heeding advanced warnings from the World Health Organization, from the Centers for Disease Control, and from the Obama administration, making preparations and taking action.

Trump could have mitigated the crisis but he failed miserably, opting first for denial, declaring the COVID-19 warnings the Democrats’ “new hoax”.

The COVID-19 outbreak has highlighted another epidemic that has plagued American society –  American narcissism, a disease that has been growing since the founding of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in North America, in 1607.

America’s narcissism was and remains more infectious than any virus, as the attraction of presumed wealth and unlimited success has been a salve for many Americans for generations, no matter how fantastical.

Let us look at how the US has responded to the coronavirus since the first reports of patients dying of severe pneumonia came out of the city of Wuhan in China in early January. The federal government never mobilised its authority and resources to provide kits for testing the potentially and actually infected here within the US (but apparently sent respirators, masks, and other medical supplies to China in early February).

Once the virus infected Americans in Washington State in late January, little was done to immediately take its spread across the US seriously. It was all business as usual for the White House, for Congress, and for so many elected officials until the beginning of March, with the impeachment trial now but a blip on this election year’s calendar.

Once it became apparent that American leadership would fail to be proactive in preventing the spread of COVID-19, the nation’s me-first instincts kicked in. Toilet paper, bottled water, rubbing alcohol, liquid soap, surgical face masks, hand sanitizers, paper towels, orange juice, and thermometers all began to disappear off supermarket and drug store shelves. Some Americans thought it a good idea to corner the market in these items as part of an attempt to profit from panic and deadly tragedy. Trillion-dollar businesses like Amazon did nothing to stop the hoarding, the panic, and the exploitation.

The big corporations and the smaller businesses also did little to protect their employees before mid-March, even though every credible immunologist and epidemiologist urged social isolation and shelter-in-place orders days and weeks earlier.

It took the shutting down of face-to-face classes at Harvard and the NBA postponing the remainder of its 2019-2020 season before other universities, the sporting world, and other institutions began to shut down en masse. And that was mostly because both academia and professional sports are global in nature, an advantage and a liability when it comes to a pandemic.

America’s 50-plus states and jurisdictions, and Washington, DC have had 50-plus separate responses to the crisis, from a general lockdown in New York, Illinois, New Jersey, and California to barely any precautions at all in Alabama, Florida, and Texas until well into the pandemic’s impact on their states.

Even so, many Americans have violated even the most basic rules of social distancing, frolicking at beaches and attending public gatherings as if this crisis is one big national summer vacation.

In March, some, like Dan Patrick, Lieutenant Governor of Texas, went into amateur eugenicist mode, opting for despair over government action. Patrick’s message on FOX News? “Let’s get back to work, let’s get back to living. Let’s be smart about it, and those of us who are 70-plus, we’ll take care of ourselves, but don’t sacrifice the country.”

The lives of the elderly are apparently less important than the American economy’s stability. Trump, Patrick, and other government officials have declared people rendered vulnerable by ageism, ableism, sexism and racism exploitable and expendable.

Governor Tate Reeves of Mississippi for his part signed an executive order that temporarily rescinded local bans on opening non-essential businesses and on social distancing, essentially ordering most state residents back to life as normal.

Meanwhile, Jerry Falwell Jr, the president of Virginia’s Liberty University and its evangelical leadership thought it wise to reopen for face-to-face classes again as the numbers of infected climbed by the thousands every day.

The need for profit over protecting the citizens of Mississippi? Jerry Falwell Jr’s blind evangelical faith over science and the welfare of thousands of students? Seriously?

But, just like with American narcissism, American racism has grown from the same toxic soil that combines greed and a craving for power with a total disregard for whole swaths of humanity. America’s narcissism and racism work hand in glove. Why else would Trump deliberately scratch out the word “corona” in his talking points and replace it with the “Chinese virus” for a press briefing in mid-March?

Why else have there been over 1,100 anti-Asian and anti-Chinese incidents and attacks in the past month in the US? How could there be any other explanation for hacking online classes and disrupting them with racist rhetoric?

Without a doubt, the penchant for narcissism and racism and the othering of so many as exploitable and expendable are interconnected, both historically and in the COVID-19 crisis in the US.

All the while, America’s most vulnerable have hardly been given a thought. The patchwork nature of the US healthcare system means that millions living with poverty, homelessness, incarceration, disabilities and psychological illnesses will likely be exposed to the coronavirus in the next weeks and months.

They will represent a disproportionate number of the 200,000 experts predict will die from the virus in the next 12 or 18 months. They will not have the benefit of medical care necessary to keep them alive. They will not partake in the $2 trillion Congressional stimulus package mostly meant to shovel more money down the throats of the nation’s corporate monopolies.

For so many who are not immediately vulnerable, the pittance of funds from this stimulus meant for ordinary Americans will be way too little and come way too late. So many more will join the ranks of the unemployed, the underemployed, the permanently and temporarily homeless, as well as the jailed, the sick and the dead.

America’s lack of leadership at home and abroad during this pandemic has been stunning. But its populace’s denial of these facts is simply gobsmacking.

The truth is, many Americans barely care about other Americans, especially those who are black and brown and especially during this pandemic. This is what 400 years of racism and narcissism have led to. Most Americans either do not care that much of this allegedly natural devastation stems from globalisation and climate change, or act as if there is nothing that can be done about it. The COVID-19 crisis is yet another log on the stack of America’s enduring shame as the world’s most powerful and yet most do-nothing nation.

Is America really over? Yes, it will remain a superpower and a rich nation for the foreseeable future, but with so much of that power and wealth ever more consolidated into the hands of rich whites and the corporations.

The coronavirus pandemic will not plunge the US into darkness. But this crisis is an omen, a truly horrifying sign that the US as both a stable nation-state and a symbol of freedom and goodness is a bald-faced lie.

Anyone who believes otherwise or who fights for such ideals while also hoping to preserve America as it currently stands is not only promoting American narcissism and racism but also guaranteeing future calamities. They will ultimately be as responsible for America’s failure to fulfill its fanciful experiment as every president since Lyndon Johnson.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.


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