Thoughts on the Omar Khadr settlement

Stephen Harperbot’s many grave atrocities are still haunting the Liberals today, and much to my chagrin the Liberals have been slow to act on many of them. One such Ghost of Xmas Past is Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen who was taken to Afghanistan at the age of 15 by his father, a man allegedly affiliated with Al-Qaeda. At some point during his stay in Afghanistan, Khadr was either involved or simply proximal to a combat between AQ and the United States Army. Khadr was wounded during the combat, and was alleged to be responsible for the death of one American soldier. He was captured, and tortured “enhanced interrogated” by both Canadian and American intelligence in Guantanamo Bay. He confessed (as victims of “enhanced interrogation” are wont to do) to a series of war crime charges and sentenced to 10 years prison during a military tribunal, in violation of his rights as a minor to be tried as a minor, based on evidence extracted from torture. In addition, his war crime allegations are a violation of the Geneva Convention–if Khadr was an active combatant, as the “evidence” claimed, then killing another active combatant is supposed to be within the “rules of war.” In other words: Khadr’s trial was a clusterfuck, and nobody involved at any point stopped and said “are we the baddies?”

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Notes on selective white outrage

Madelaine Hanson has some notes on the UK’s far-right and their “Muslims arr commin for arr wimmin!” trope.

Anyway, when there were (and there was) thousands of other rape, abuse, sexual violence and stalking cases committed by white guys against ‘our women’, Lo! Tommy Robinson was nowhere to be seen. Nor was any other outraged white right wingers. Because, if you hadn’t noticed, the crime isn’t abusing women, it’s being a muslim and abusing a white woman. In fact I’d go further than that, it’s being a foreigner/non-white and abusing a white woman. It stinks of racism and reminds me of the lynching of black men who touched white women in the South.

They (the far white-right patriots) use ‘muslim’ as an ideological cover for their xenophobia. Controversially, I’d argue that some of their criticism of Islam, Islamists and indeed South Asian/Arab cultural misogyny isn’t completely wrong, but their motives for it come from completely the wrong place. It doesn’t come from a desire for an end to honour killings, acid attacks and female slavery, it comes from very angry, very racist hatred of the ‘other’. They don’t argue for stricter punishment for acid attackers, they argue for the deportation of Pakistanis. They don’t argue for Salafi women to be given police protection from abusive family/spouses after leaving abusive marriages, they argue for hanging to be brought back in relation to Islamic murders. They don’t argue for longer sentences for child groomers, just for less immigration from Central Asia. It’s transparent.

Read more about it here.

-Shiv

The significance of “Papers, Please” in xenophobic America

Just following orders? Ethicists don’t generally buy that. Nonetheless it’s a testament to video games as a medium that you can be confronted with that reality through Papers, Please.

Papers, Please is an honest examination of the practical limits of resistance for anyone working in immigration and a demonstration of how oppressive states use bureaucracy to obscure their abuses. The increasingly complex rules for who you admit to Arstotzka don’t just exist to arbitrarily increase the game’s difficulty.

It’s a bureaucracy suffocating you under an avalanche of regulations, guidelines, and checklists so you don’t have time to think about the “why” of what you’re doing. The legalistic framework surrounding every aspect of your life and job serves to separate you from your own morality, replacing it with a series of rules and regulations. You may have been assigned a job without consent, you may have to screen refugees and immigrants according to nonsense criteria, and your family can be forcibly relocated at any time… but it’s all legal. And if you have a moral problem with any of those laws, confronting them makes you a criminal.

A state that requires self-immolation in the act of genuine resistance is a state designed to enforce compliance. Part of Papers, Please‘s power is that it doesn’t offer you a heroic path out of your dilemma. There are no good options: you’re either enforcing these rules and therefore you become part of the problem, or you are doing what you can to subvert those rules, and in doing so, you put your life and the life of your family at risk. All for seemingly meaningless results, since you have so little agency as an inspector that any commonplace acts of defiance seem futile.

The bureaucratic grind of your border inspector’s life is compounded by how devastatingly poor you are. If you aren’t fast on the first day of the job (where the rules about who to admit are their most simplistic), you’re liable to be dangerously low on money very quickly. Papers, Please has 20 separate endings, and only one of them involves your inspector managing to more or less successfully complete their mission. The majority of playthroughs will find you in an impossible position.

The severe poverty of Arstotzka and Papers, Please‘s intentionally oversized portrayal of despotic overreach can strike many Western players as a profoundly alien experience, but many of the structural hurdles your border agent faces are written into the marrow of Western democracies as well.

Even before Donald Trump, American immigration policy was a labyrinthine horror show of red tape. ICE as a tool for targeting the most vulnerable immigrants en masse predates Trump as well. We’re only seeing it utilized now as a larger scale vehicle of state terror. The key difference between your inspector in Papers, Please and the federal agent staffing an airport checkpoint is that your inspector never signed-up for any of this. You were forced to become a cog in this machine.

Read more about it here.

-Shiv

Nah mate, that’s definitely a fence

According to the press secretary, Trump’s budget provides over $300 million to replace 40 miles of “border fencing.”

“Just one question about the photos,” Spiering interrupted. “Are those photos of fences or walls.”

Spicer insisted that his photos were of walls, even though he referred to them as fences earlier.

“There are various types of walls that can be built under the legislation that was just passed,” he opined.

“That is a fence,” Spiering said.

“That is called a levee wall,” Spicer replied.

“It’s not the wall the president promised,” CNN correspondent Jim Acosta observed.

“Hold on, Jim, we’re going to take turns,” Spicer said.

“So you’re basically just telling the president’s supporters to be satisfied with this existing tough-guy fencing thing until he’s ready to build the wall?” Spiering asked.

“No!” Spicer exclaimed. “What I’m telling anybody is that the president said he’s going to build a wall and he’s doing it. And he’s using the best technology.”

Tough-guy fencing thing.” New band name?

-Shiv

Don’t get *too* optimistic, there

Abby Brockman strikes me is a bit too optimistic despite catching a critical detail in this scoop: The United States’ border patrol agencies are bleeding out employees faster than they can hire. However, it’s not because the employees in question are having crises of conscience--it’s because the conditions in which they work are shitty.

Trump has ordered the agency to add 5,000 agents to beef up patrols and surveillance in advance of his proposed border wall. But its current 19,000-strong force is already 2,000 shy of a target set during the Obama administration.

Officials said tough screening, especially a lie-detector test, rejected many qualified candidates, and that tough conditions such as living in remote, rugged areas prompted more than 1,000 agents to quit every year.

“Some people just don’t want to live there,” said Randolph “Tex” Alles, acting deputy commissioner of CBP, a 60,000-strong agency that includes Border Patrol. “Hiring challenges are not new. Attracting and recruiting high quality individuals is a challenge for us.”

I wish I could claim optimism and say more people are becoming aware of the imperialist functions required by a state like the USA and consider said functions morally unconscionable, but those functions typically attract the bullies and sociopaths anyways. Boredom definitely strikes me as a much likelier culprit than the sudden discovery of a moral compass.

As ever, authoritarians give us a glimpse into their mindset with delightful(?) Freudian slips: (emphasis mine)

Tony Crowder, the executive director of Air and Marine Operations, told the Guardian his agency was struggling to retain and recruit enough pilots.

Commercial airlines were luring pilots who in some cases were expected to work in remote areas and participate in arrests. “They pay more and it’s a different type of work.”

Another problem is the attitude of young people, especially those for whom 9/11 is distant history. “They have a different view of public service. I don’t want to indict an entire generation but it’s harder to sell self-sacrifice for the common good.

I would argue the reverse, Mr. Crowder. Millenials are more likely to accept that the brown people you’re abusing count as part of the “common good.” To say nothing of how the Mexicans and South Americans brutalized by your practices had sweet fuck all to do with 9/11. That my generation is less willing to blindly accept authority is in my estimate a virtue we must desperately cling to. By the time we’re your age, the coastal cities will be flooded and we’ll need to start electing politicians governments who can think farther ahead than 4 years.

-Shiv

Signal boosting: Inside Immigration Court

Thanks in part to Marcus, I’ve begun a process that questions many of the functions of the State that I take for granted, even if I am unlikely (or at least less likely) to be affected by most of them. Around the same time that I began this questioning, there was a particular term used by xenophobes on the topic of immigration–“illegal”–that began to strike a particularly unpleasant chord in me. Though written, it struck me as a venomous slur, something you spit at someone. Immigration, sovereignty, even the idea of the State–all these lofty ideals seemed to clash with the gritty details once you stop seeing people as immigrants first and human second.

It’s hard to stomach complicity in these ideas, because once you actually take the time to look, you notice the blood tribute they require. (Content Notice: Violence)

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Anti-LGBTQ fascist wants to warn you of the dangers of Islam

Alternative headline: Fascist appeals to Queer community by pointing out his anti-Queer genocidal plan never at any point invokes god.

I can’t help but notice that when the far-right attempts to appeal to me as a QUILTBAG person by framing Islam as a threat to my well being that they have a blind spot for their own activities. While there certainly are many institutions on the planet that would imprison, torture, or otherwise murder me for being who I am, and yes–some of those are explicitly Islamic institutions–the far-right conservatives pushing this observation seem to forget that they’re among the threats. If the far-right were serious in recruiting me, and I don’t think they are, they would remember to turn the spotlight inwards too.

This is demonstrated no better than through PinkNews’ expose of UKIP leadership hopeful Rasheem Kassam in his remarks on trans people in British & global news: (Content Notice trans-antagonism, non-binary erasure and hate speech)

In November 2015, he tweeted: “Also anyone see that advert after #bbcqt about “gender fluidity”? How much tranny-pushing does the BBC want to do? Radio 4, QT, BBC3, web…”

In April this year, when a transgender non-binary teen spoke to Barack Obama, he said: “Muslim Pakistani girl is ‘coming out’ to Obama as ‘transgender’ live now. Demands Obama acknowledge ‘non binary’ people”.

When someone asked why he had referred to the teen as a girl, he responded: “You ain’t gonna bully me into using tranny terms, love. Move along. “

In 2014, when a convicted murderer came out as trans, he wrote: “Ah yes, the ‘tranny defence’.”

In another 2016 tweet, responding to exercise guidelines, he claimed the NHS “wants to turn me into a teetotal tranny”.

Earlier this month, Mr Kassam denied he was responsible for former leader Nigel Farage’s repeated criticism of HIV patients, despite working as his key adviser at the time.

When asked which kinds of people should be allowed to enter the UK in 2014, Mr Farage said: “People who do not have HIV, to be frank. That’s a good start.”

Later, during the 2015 election debates, Farage claimed the UK is ‘incapable’ of treating people with HIV because of immigration, citing the high cost of HIV treatment.

Kassam insisted: “It wasn’t me…. Nigel Farage got up on stage and unbeknownst to any of us, he made this statement.”

Writing for Breitbart UK, Kassam has published a multitude of stories about the stance of Islam on LGBT rights – despite his own controversial views on LGBT issues.

Earlier this year Mr Kassam was linked to a petition to protest “insidious political correctness” in UKIP after the suspension of a candidate who advocates ‘gay cure’ therapy.

The petition claimed it was written by anonymous ‘UKIP Members and Supporters for Free-Speech’ – but it was first circulated on social media by Mr Kassam, who also took to Breitbart to promote it.

Make no mistake Mr. Kassam, the QUILTBAG community is keenly aware of which institutions support violence against us. It’s just that when you frame the issue as “us vs them” we can’t help but notice that “us” never actually included us, you know? It makes your concern for Islam’s impact on the Queer community, on Queer Muslims and ex-Muslims, a bit disingenuous.

You give atheists a shitty name. You’re the reason many of us seek support from progressive, Queer-affirmative religious congregations: Your opinion is every bit as shitty and inhumane as religious fundamentalists even without invoking god or allah to support it.

-Shiv

LOOK THEY FINALLY CALLED A WHITE TERRORIST “TERRORIST”!

The FBI in Kansas foiled a plot to bomb a Mosque and finally a media source–if not a mainstream one–calls the white plotters terrorists. Content Notice for violent racism and xenophobia:

The feds arrested three members of a right wing militia for allegedly planning to detonate explosives at an apartment complex in Garden City, Kansas, with Somali Muslims specifically the target, law enforcement announced at Friday.

The men were Curtis Allen and Gavin Wright, both 49, and of Liberal, Kansas, and Patrick Eugene Stein, 47, of Wright, Kansas, according to a Department of Justice press release. Their arrests Friday morning were first reported by CBS News.

The attack was allegedly planned for the day after Election Day, law enforcement said at a press conference. The men were recorded calling the immigrants “goddamn cockroaches” and “fucking raghead bitches” in recordings, according to court documents. They planned the attack as a response to the Orlando massacre, as well to the fatal shooting of Oregon occupier Lavoy Finicum, the docs said.

They are facing domestic terrorism charges, which, if they are convicted, could result in a maximum sentence of life in federal prison, law enforcement said.

An affidavit signed by FBI special agent Tracey Jenkins (embedded below) details law enforcement’s investigation into the group’s activities. The men were operating in a group that called itself the Crusaders and in an overlapping organization known as the Kansas Security Force, according to the affidavit.

“These are militia groups whose members support and espouse sovereign citizen, anti-government, anti- Muslim, and anti-immigrant extremist beliefs,” the affidavit said.

The investigation uncovered stockpiles of firearms and explosive materials, as well as a manifesto, Beall said at the press conference.

“One of them said, ‘The bombing would wake people up,'” Beall said.

According to the affidavit, the men were recorded numerous times by an unnamed FBI source discussing their plans while smearing Muslims and immigrants.

“The only good Muslim is a dead Muslim,” Stein said in a recording, according to the affidavit. He later added: “If you’re a Muslim I’m going to enjoy shooting you in the head.”

The suspects allegedly planned to attack the housing complex, where approximately 120 people live and where one of the apartments was used as a mosque, the officials said. They planned to use four vehicles, each filed with explosive and parked at each corner of the parking lot, to create a big explosion, according to the affidavit.

Yes, obviously the answer to a terrorist plot executed by an American citizen is to start a terrorist plot targeting American immigrants.

How did I not think of it sooner?

-Shiv


 

Edit October 23: Changed a reference to the targets being refugees to immigrants.

Trump Youth: Totally not Hitler Youth

The founder of Trump Youth decided to take a page out of Mein Kampf and start a youth movement in a radical proposal to “remove the parasites from America.”

I’m literally not making this up.

A website for the group encourages young voters to “[e]mbrace your destiny and become a part of the greatest battle the world has ever seen.”

“We Millennials are destined for greatness; no longer will we sit idle and watch everything our forefathers built be turned to dust,” the website says. “Our world is hurting, and it is up to us, the Youth, to become the Hero Generation and to save the world.”

Writing on his personal website earlier this year, Liardi said that he did not understand the “truth” about Adolf Hitler until he read Mein Kampf.

“I began to seek out the history without the propaganda– I wanted to understand the mind of the supposed most evil man in history,” he wrote. “So I studied the events leading up to the war, the german Weimar Republic, WWI and the climate of Europe in the early 20th century. And yes, I read Adolf Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’.”

Incidentally, I also studied the events leading up to the Third Reich. My term paper on WW2 was returned with a giant checkmark on it, which when pressed for an actual letter grade, my prof said it meant “A+.” Somehow I walked away from that project without coming to the conclusion that fascism is a sustainable or practical solution for… well, literally anything. I won’t bother with the ample material of ethical and moral considerations of fascism, because anyone persuaded by Mein Kampf is already an ethically bankrupt egotist that isn’t likely to be satisfied by any arguments that appeal to altruism or the slightest sense of empathy.

NSA, I know you’re reading this: This motherfucker and every other motherfucker who joins him better be on a list.

-Shiv