It’s that bad

Intelligence agencies are (unsurprisingly) cagey about their activities. Every time we get a chance to peek under the mask, we learn more about how bad it is. The Liberals, who inherited Conservative policy that characterizes environmentalists and indigenous activists (there is plenty of overlap) as a domestic terrorist threat, have done little more than spew hot air, keeping the worst of the human rights violations from Conservative policy.

This is what that looks like.

The records detailing monitoring of individual activists and leaders speak to a larger pattern of surveillance against non-violent dissent, Indigenous-led social movements and their allies. As APTN reported in relation to the documents referring to Thomas-Muller, RCMP records also listed a number of groups as “involved persons,” including “the Defenders of the Land, Direct Action in Canada for Climate Justice, Ontario Public Interest Research Group, Ruckus Society, Global Justice Ecology Project, Sea to Sands Conservation Alliance, Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, the Indigenous Action Movement and the Wet’suwet’en Direct Action Camp.” In 2014, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) filed complaints against both the RCMP and CSIS, alleging unlawful surveillance against opponents of Northern Gateway that included many of the same organizations. While the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP launched an independent investigation, the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) (the body responsible for CSIS oversight) instead held a series of secret hearings. They issued a decision in 2015, but barred the BCCLA from speaking about the outcome. The BCCLA has since applied for judicial review of this decision.

Just last month, documents obtained by VICE News demonstrate that the RCMP surveilled Indigenous activists who constructed a Tipi on Parliament Hill as part of Idle No More’s Unsettling Canada 150, a campaign coinciding with 150 years since Canadian confederation. Idle No More has come under government scrutiny on other occasions: in 2015 documents obtained by APTN confirmed that Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (AAND, now INAC) shared information about peaceful protests led by the group with Canada’s spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), and passed on information about meetings between government and First Nations leaders to the Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre (ITAC), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and others.

Read more here.

-Shiv

I know those cognitive shortcuts, too

It’s clockwork at this point: No argument, no matter how meticulously evidenced or delicately constructed, will ever be engaged with as long as it implicates people as participants in a harmful system. Instead a variety of shortcuts are employed to avoid confrontations of complicity. One of the more routine ones I receive is the presumption of “insanity”–that none of my conclusions need be examined or grappled with because I’m “crazy”–and it’s a familiar one Sherronda Brown receives too.

When I wrote “The Racist Roots of Gynecology and What Black Women Birthed” for Wear Your Voice Magazine, I was called a liar. My credibility and intelligence were challenged by white readers who refused to believe the facts that I laid out about disparities in pain management and anti-Blackness medicine.

“Sims never gave [anesthesia] to the enslaved women in his care. It is recorded that he subscribed to the belief that Black people did not have the same capacity to feel pain as white people, a belief that many people in the medical field unfortunately still hold. Physicians continually offer less pain relief and fewer management resources to their Black patients, even to children, due to this accepted myth.”

I spent an entire weekend reading through texts like Trial and Error: J. Marion Sims and the Birth of Modern Gynecology in the American South, “Toward an Understanding of the ‘Medical Plantation’ as a Cultural Location of Disability,” and A Calculus of Suffering: Pain, Professionalism, and Anesthesia in Nineteenth-Century America. I even read Sims’ own account of his life, work, and ideology in his autobiography.

I provided evidence and sources. Still, the legitimacy of my work was questioned, because so many white people refuse to admit that the insidiousness of racism and anti-Blackness reaches as far and as wide as it does, and that it harms us in the many horrific ways that Black people and non-Black people of color know all too well.

White supremacy’s modus operandi is not only to deny the validity of clear evidence set before it, but it is also to alter narratives in its own favor, something that we have witnessed Trump and his supporters do time and time again. It’s something that we have seen history textbooks perpetrate, claiming that the enslaved Africans of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade were nothing more than immigrants and that Canada’s First Nations peoples agreed to move out of their own lands to make room for European settlers.

It’s lazy thinking, and it’s fucking ubiquitous.

Read more by Brown here.

-Shiv

Dr. Becky, PhD

A teaching assistant at Wilfrid Laurier University was recently disciplined for making the dignity of trans people the subject of a debate. Lindsey Shepherd–or Dr. Becky, PhD as I’ve come to call her–recorded audio of her meeting with the administration, and leaked the subsequent recording. Since then, a horde of tedious dudebros have followed her every tweet, and Dr. Becky has taken up the reactionary dipshit speaking circuit. Whatever benefit of the doubt I might have given her before vanished once she signed up for generously paid speaking circuits to lambast the evil transes.

Her fans sound suspiciously similar to Jordan Peterson’s, for reasons that should be transparently obvious.

Still, I didn’t feel the need to respond myself because there has been nothing I’ve said about J Pete that doesn’t apply to Dr. Becky, PhD. But Florence Ashley looked at the typical frozen peaches lobbed in the name of ceaselessly litigating my humanity, and I’m sharing what she found:

Free speech only benefits those who have a voice. If you’re not invited to speak, freedom of expression is pointless. Those who have a platform don’t concern themselves with the difficulties of obtaining one as much as those who don’t have one.

When free speech is reduced to a justification for one’s intuitive reaction or opinion on a given case, it is instrumentalized in defence of those we agree with. It becomes a mere shadow of the right we have enshrined in our Constitution.

There is much to be said about balancing free speech with other human rights, such as the right to equality. But even for free speech absolutists, a lot more can be done without talking about other rights. The distribution of outrage and the equality of access to platforms are free-speech issues.

Read the rest here.

-Shiv

Good news Thursday: Canada pays $800 million in reparations to victims of cultural genocide

Marcia Brown Martel began eight years ago a lawsuit claiming damages against the Canadian government for an operation that would come to be known as the “60s scoop.” The Indigenous communities, destabilized by the lasting effects of ghettoization and the cultural genocide program we call the residential schools, were frequent clients of Child & Family Services. Unlike today, placement practices for children removed from their parents’ care had little regard for reunification as a possible goal. Indigenous children were effectively trafficked out of their communities and placed in white, Catholic homes, far away from home. Some were even sold to the United States and various countries in Europe.

Now the Canadian government has announced that it will not only consolidate the various lawsuits filed against it, but will settle for all of them, earmarking $800 million for the remaining survivors.

TORONTO — The federal government has agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to survivors of the ’60s Scoop for the harm suffered by Indigenous children who were robbed of their cultural identities by being placed with non-native families, The Canadian Press has learned.

The national settlement with an estimated 20,000 victims, to be announced Friday by Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett, is aimed at resolving numerous related lawsuits, most notable among them a successful class action in Ontario.

Confidential details of the agreement include a payout of between $25,000 and $50,000 for each claimant, to a maximum of $750 million, sources said.

In addition, sources familiar with the deal said the government would set aside a further $50 million for a new Indigenous Healing Foundation, a key demand of the representative plaintiff in Ontario, Marcia Brown Martel.

Spokespeople for both Bennett and the plaintiffs would only confirm an announcement was pending Friday, but refused to elaborate.

“The (parties) have agreed to work towards a comprehensive resolution and discussions are in progress,” Bennett’s office said in a statement on Thursday. “As the negotiations are ongoing and confidential, we cannot provide further information at this time.”

The sources said the government has also agreed to pay the plaintiffs’ legal fees — estimated at about $75 million — separately, meaning the full amount of the settlement will go to the victims and the healing centre, to be established in the coming months, sources said.

Read more about the settlement here.

-Shiv

Silver-lining-in-genocide Senator wants to assimilate you

If there was ever an argument for abolishing Canada’s appointed Senate, Lynn Beyak is it. After defending the first genocide of the continent’s first nations by European colonials, then the second genocide through the residential school program by bonafide Canadians, Beyak spent her summer months supposedly meeting with Indigenous communities. Her takeaway? Give up your culture and assimilate–also, apply for citizenship that you already have.

“Trade your status card for a Canadian citizenship, with a fair and negotiated payout to each Indigenous man, woman and child in Canada, to settle all the outstanding land claims and treaties, and move forward together just like the leaders already do in Ottawa,” she said in an open letter published Sept. 1 on her Senate website.

(Indigenous people born in this country are Canadian citizens, and were given full voting rights in 1960.)

“Like the leaders already do in Ottawa” is an interesting euphemism, considering the outstanding criticism is that we flout our treaties. Perhaps Beyak is unaware, but a federal government dishonouring its agreements is generally perceived as a high-risk partner in diplomacy, and it severely damages your government’s ability to bargain. There’s a reason North Korea has exactly zero friends, with their supposed ally mostly using NK as a proxy to undermine the United States. The fact that Trudeau is undermining “fewer” of these treaties isn’t… exactly… progress.

Also, she’s apparently unaware that status first nations are still citizens? Why is this twit being paid with my tax money?

“None of us are leaving, so let’s stop the guilt and blame and find a way to live together and share,” she wrote. “All Canadians are then free to preserve their cultures in their own communities, on their own time, with their own dime.”

Great! So we’re de-funding the Catholic systems then! (Somehow I doubt that’s what she actually means)

How about, instead of paying this leaking ass-pimple her salary, we use the money to fire her into the fucking sun.

-Shiv

 

Away from declaration, towards euphemism

Obscurity has been a feature of politics probably since politics was a thing, but it got especially severe starting with Nixon and his Southern Strategy: Court racism without actually saying openly racist shit. The principles of the strategy seem to have spread quickly, and Kristen Cardozo reviews its modern impact:

And yet this is a strangely naked moment we’re living in. If there has been a historical progression, it has been in language, moving away from an open declaration of our alignments and into euphemism. Now, in Trump’s America, our euphemisms are being set aside in favor of the open, forthright bigotry modeled by officials in the highest offices in the land. We live in an America where a sitting US president has insisted that some people marching under a Nazi flag, at a rally where an American woman was murdered, are good, a president who has referred to a “they” who are stealing “‘our’ history and ‘our’ heritage,” as Confederate monuments tumble. The president, in his first major policy decision post-Charlottesville, cancelled the wildly popular DACA program that allows undocumented people brought to this country as children to work, presumably because it will play to his rapidly shrinking and very white base, as well as thwart the will of the first Black president. Trump’s alignment to white supremacy is expressed loudly, not in a polite whisper.

Our president literally opened his campaign with a claim that Mexicans are rapists and criminals. As Trump won primary after primary, white pundits repeatedly said, up until the moment that Trump took office, that his bigotry “wasn’t funny anymore.” That it could ever have been seen as “funny” at all shows a divide in how people of different races read. For people who have been on the receiving end of American racism, the blunt declaration of a candidacy predicated on open hatred of brown bodies was another sign that, to white people, the fundamental American was always white. White Americans found Donald Trump’s overt racism humorous because too many of us saw it as an aberration, one that had no place or purchase in our egalitarian culture. People of color, who live under a daily onslaught of micro and macro aggressions, saw it as a clear reveal of the racism that underlies American culture.

Read more here.

-Shiv

There is no middle ground on justice, moderates

One of the reasons I distrust so-called “moderates” is that their list of things they’re willing to compromise on is a bit too long, and often includes critical human & civil rights issues. In fact, being willing to tell your neighbour they are only partially human, or partially “equal,” should be considered extreme in my opinion.

The average American will easily agree that they believe that freedom, justice, and equality are basic rights, rights we are born with. These ideas are woven throughout the entire narrative of our democracy. But in practice, very few people actually believe that freedom, justice, and equality are rights that every American deserves. When you enjoy your freedoms, and you tell those who want their freedoms that they have to wait, that they have to go slowly, that they have to give you time to make uncomfortable adjustments to the amount of privilege that their inequality has afforded you, what you are saying is, “You were not born with these rights. You were not born as deserving as me. I have the power and privilege to determine when it is time for you to receive freedom and equality, and my approval is conditioned on how comfortable and safe you make me feel about how that freedom and equality will impact the privileges I enjoy.”

Read more Ijeoma Oluo here.

-Shiv

Anti-black racism and challenges to the state

Zoe Samudzi is the sort of writer I appreciate, with the ability to connect two seemingly unrelated phenomenon by their rhetoric. Here she examines the parallels between the defamation of anti-fascist groups and black liberation:

Anti-fascists displaced the Berkeley Police Department in their role as community protectors (despite the claims made in media accounts of the day), a role the police abrogated following that brief but tense standoff. The potential significance of that power unquestionably represents something fearful to people who endorse the state’s sole capacity to act as the arbiter of justice. There is a reason that Dr. King, whose words are constantly weaponized by centrists to discredit anti-facist (and specifically forceful Black liberatory) action, referred to the “white moderate who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to ‘justice’” as “the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom” as he addressed the world from Birmingham City Jail in 1963. Any media that is understood to be legitimate in the United States defaults to protecting the state’s monopoly on violence and its mechanisms even when it, despite the freedoms afforded by our beloved First Amendment, brutalizes and silences dissent. It is no mistake that liberal and so-called “progressive” politicians, such as Nancy Pelosi and Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, have tended to respond to militant anti-fascism with the racializing languages of containment and punishment inherent to the carceral state. There is nothing surprising about Mayor Arreguin’s suggestion that the state “should classify [antifa] as a gang” while many city and state law enforcement officials in California, even while describing the murder of Heather Heyer as an act of domestic terrorism, refuse to classify hate groups as gangs or domestic terrorists (despite fitting the state’s definitions) because “law enforcement officials are wary of being perceived as investigating any person or group for political views.” Black and Brown communities are overwhelmingly targeted and criminalized by anti-gang measures, and these injunctions, along with the emergency ordinance passed by Berkeley City Council, lay the foundation for a liberal “solution”, compatible with fascism, to the anti-fascist “threat” posed by opposition to white supremacists.

Read more here.

-Shiv

Who the flying fuck thought arrest quotas was a good idea?

Ever wondered what it would look like if the cops were actively incentivized to misbehave?

Wonder no longer.

Follow my words here carefully. In 2013, a federal judge, Shira A. Scheindlin, in a 193 page ruling, stated that New York’s horrendous “stop and frisk” police tactic was unconstitutional because it unfairly and disproportionately targeted “blacks and Hispanics who would not have been stopped if they were white.” She did not rule that “stop and frisk” in and of itself is unconstitutional, but that the way New York was administering it, on the backs of people of color, was. The facts were undeniable, but the practice itself was not overruled.

A staggering 5 million incidents of stop and frisk took place in New York since 2002. Nearly 90% of those stops were of people who were found to be completely innocent. The overwhelming majority of stops, of course, were done against black and Latino residents of the city. When the practice was formally disbanded in New York City after Judge Scheindlin’s decision, it was seen as an enormous victory for police reforms. And it was, but something that is perhaps even more nefarious than stop and frisk unofficially rose up within the NYPD to take its place — a crisis of false arrests driven by an unwritten quota system being overseen by precincts across the city.

Just three days after Donald Trump was inaugurated, New York City agreed to something that is so scandalous, so huge, that only the incoming presidency of Donald Trump could’ve outshined it. New York City agreed to pay $75 million (that’s $75,000,000) out in a police corruption case that should’ve rocked the city and the nation to its core. They likely chose that date and time on purpose. The case had been in litigation for years and years, but the city chose one of the most fragile, news heavy times in the history of modern American media to drop an absolute bomb. The city admitted that it was forced to dismiss over 900,000 arrests and summonses because they simply didn’t have the evidence to back them. These weren’t 900,000 stops that were made, but 900,000 legal actions accusing people of crimes that they did not commit. They were all bogus. Not 9,000. Not 90,000 — which seems like an outrageous number, but 900,000. Not only that, but the case actually had its very own deleted email scandal, where every almost every single email Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly ever sent was deleted — never to be found again. Yeah, really.

Here’s the lawsuit:

Try not to explode when reading more here.

-Shiv

Wait, which NFL were you watching before?

Content Notice: White supremacy, sexual assault.

Before Colin Kaepernik took many a white supremacist’s advice and “protested quietly” (which, spoiler alert, still pissed them off), the same league in which he competed routinely defended and employed players who assaulted their wives or mass raped drunk students. It’s in this context that a boycott of the NFL has finally spawned, stating that the NFL’s continued reluctance to employ Kaepernik supports white supremacy.

I’m glad that the conversation for black liberation is picking up some traction, but if you’re only now boycotting the NFL, I have to ask: Where the fuck you been? Damon Young is wondering the same.

I get that, for many of these fans, the Kaepernick blackball is the straw that broke the camel’s back. But again, the NFL been trash. They give no fucks about Kaepernick because they’ve given no fucks about anything other than getting your money and removing whatever might be in the way of getting more of it. You can’t give any fucks about black people if you don’t give any fucks about people. This is how they’re able to reason that Kaepernick remains unsigned because he’d be a distraction while players accused of distracting-ass shit like rape and aggravated assault remain on NFL rosters, and a Hotep preacher accused of killing two actual people is thought of as the best person to mentor Kaepernick into respectability. Having Kaepernick exist as your NFL straw in 2017 is like boycotting Trump because his hair is the color of Clorox.

So am I saying don’t boycott? No! Yay boycott! Boycott the fuck out of them! Throw boycott parties with complementary avocado toast and chorizo frittatas! Just remember that the NFL is trash, has been trash, and will continue to be trash even if Kaepernick is on a team.

I’m glad they found their back bone. I hope they keep it.

Read more here.

-Shiv