The Incivility Spreads

As you probably know, the staff of Maryland-based Capital Gazette were victims of a shooting attack, not to say mass murder or even terrorism (we much prefer “targeted attack”). CNN’s Anderson Cooper had two of the surviving victims on his show 360, both Gazette journalists, one named Selene San Felice the other Phil Davis. Both made important statements, but in response to the myriad thoughts and prayers sent in the direction of her and her surviving colleagues, the man and the woman who had just witnessed someone killed before their eyes had some pretty uncivil things to say:

Selene San Felice: I’ve heard that President Trump sends his prayers. … We need more than prayers. I appreciate the prayers. I was praying the entire time I was under that desk. I want your prayers but I want something else.

Phil Davis: … I was praying when he started reloading that shotgun that there weren’t going to be more bodies. And you know what? If we’re going to have a position in society where all we can offer each other is prayer then where are we?

San Felice: This is going to be a story for how many days? Less than a week? People will forget about us after a week unless, y’known, we keep tweeting. I don’t really care about tweeting right now. … I don’t know what I want right now, right? but I’m gunna need more than a couple days of news coverage and some thoughts and prayers. Because it’s…. Our whole lives have been shattered. And so, thanks for your prayers but I couldn’t give a f*ck about them if there’s nothing else.

While Fox News and conservatives generally are going to give San Felice and Davis a lecture about how their incivility caused their colleagues murders in yet another proof of the dictum pre hoc ergo propter hoc, lets give San Felice and Davis something different than blame, something better than lectures, something more than just thoughts and prayers.

If you’re a US citizen living anywhere or anyone living legally in the US, call your House Rep and your Senators and express yourself on what you think are appropriate government (and especially legislative) responses to mass murder.

 

 

Stealing Children Is Who We Are

I don’t know Laura Parrott Perry, but I’m loving Perry already.

 

Not sure a country that has a history of selling babies away from their parents in slavery, sending native children to "boarding schools," & separating families in Japanese internment camps gets to clutch its pearls and cry, "this is not who we are." It's who we've always been.

 

True fax.

 

ETA: There’s a good blavity post up about this, and there are probably a great many more. The blavity post itself includes copies of others’ work. I hadn’t seen any “Handmaid’s Tale” references in the critique of Trump’s Steal-The-Children policy, but apparently there have been some. In response, Reagan Gomez tweeted:

Kinda weird that folks keep bringing up the Handmaidens Tale and not like…the real history of this country forcibly separating children (/Native/First Nations/African) from their parents for centuries.

If you send me links in the comments to any more good takes about the US history of separating children from their parents, I’ll add them to the OP.

Guns Have Nothing To Do With Art-All-Night Shootings

Another week, another mass shooting, this time in New Jersey at a festival called Art All Night.

I can already here the mating calls of the 2nd Amendment Republicans:

Too many doors!

Why do they let people were baggy clothes on a summer night?

This is what happens when liberals get together at festivals that value lefty things, like art!

We’ll propose a ban on doors, baggy clothes, and art to save the people just as soon as we find a way to stop all this criticism that keeps happening to us despite the fact we’re only exercising our 1st Amendment rights!

Call your representatives and senators and insist that they vote for the ban on doors, baggy clothes & art! Don’t let them take away your guns! Freedom first!

Fuck.

Would you believe that the CNN story on this this morning included the line:

Authorities have heard that as many as 1,000 people were in the area at the time of the shooting, Onofri said. The festival entrances had no metal detectors, he said.

Yes. Yes of course you would.

As for the people, there’s still one victim in “extremely critical” condition – probably still in surgery. Twenty people were injured. It appears that “one killed” is in reference to a suspect that was killed, probably by police. Unusually for situations like this, there was actually another suspect as well, that one taken into custody alive.

I hope the final death toll doesn’t get any higher.

Venezuela: Fucked by Capitalism, Fucked by Socialism

I don’t know much about Venezuela, but I do know that the late Hugo Chavez has been pilloried as a source of instability, particularly for his socialist reforms. This is true despite the fact that Chavez’ power has always been acquired through elections as free and fair as any in recent Venezuelan history, while his opponents launched a coup to end his first stint as head-of-state.

So why is that? Could it be that he came to power fairly but implemented such bad, harmful, and/or tyrannical policies that a coup was justified?

Even granting that Hugo Chavez had participated in an unsuccessful 1992 coup intended to instal Rafael Caldera as Venezuelan head-of-state (and the fear of violence that might generate among his opposition after he was elected), Al Jazeera doesn’t think so. While they do blame Chavez for certain decisions, they do not find general blame in a socialist approach to economic policy … nor do they find it in any capitalist approach. What they find instead is both interesting and, for those with a good understanding of economics, fairly predictable.

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Satire Begins When Truth Fails

Simply stating truth is oftentimes insufficient. Thus rhetoric generally, but also satire specifically. Mano has a post up about the attention received by an Onion piece detailing the fictional account of an Israeli soldier killing an 8-month old, then telling his story to his fellow troopers, then being nominated for a medal. It is uncomfortably like the practice of US militarized police who appear to grant themselves medals every time they shoot someone, but it also reminded me of something I wrote about 4 years ago that happened to scare anteprepro because it didn’t come with sarcasm tags. It was in response to this post by PZ, where he critiqued Sam Harris’ defense of Israeli violence against the unarmed.

My comment, which strongly mirrors certain aspects of the Onion article as well as (intentionally) the arguments of the IDF’s apologists, begins by twice quoting Sam Harris’ opinions on the tactics of the IDF and the consequences of its conflicts. Here is the content of that shockingly-too-close-to-standard-Israeli-rhetoric satire:

there’s probably little question over the course of fighting multiple wars that the Israelis have done things that amount to war crimes.

I disagree.

They have been brutalized by this process—that is, made brutal by it. But that is largely the due to the character of their enemies.

Finally! Someone who understands the nature of war! It brutalizes the poor colonial powers through the uncivilized use of violence by the natives. If only the Palestinians would use civilized violence, the Israelis could adopt a much healthier attitude towards killing them and spare many, many Israelis the deep anguish of shooting innocent people and blowing up children on beaches. Israelis would love to only kill the guilty, and that they are forced to kill the innocent by the twisted tactics of the Palestinians use, that they are made brutes by the Palestinians (but not as brutish as the Palestinians, that would be ridiculous) is just another way that the devious Arabs of the region victimize Israelis specifically and Jews generally.

If only someone, somewhere could find it in their hearts to sympathize with the Israeli political and military leadership…

The truth is that there is an obvious, undeniable, and hugely consequential moral difference between Israel and her enemies. The Israelis are surrounded by people who have explicitly genocidal intentions towards them. The charter of Hamas is explicitly genocidal.

And this is the crux of the issue. That thing about war crimes that everyone keeps harping on about? **You can’t hold Israel accountable**. War crimes, by definition, are things that can only be justified in the exigencies of war, so if you’re fighting in a war it’s okay. Especially if the other side is E-ville! That’s why they’re called “war/crimes”. It’s either war, or it’s a crime. For Israel, it’s war, therefore anything at all is justified. Easy-peasy.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not excusing Palestinian action. **THEY** aren’t engaged in war. The very fact that they have committed crimes proves them terrorists, therefore not warriors, therefore they aren’t fighting a war, therefore those are crimes.

Is Sam Harris some kind of a genius? Why can’t everybody figure this out?

But PZ is clearly not a genius. His analysis of this section?

Whatever terrible things the Israelis have done, it is also true to say that they have used more restraint in their fighting against the Palestinians than we—the Americans, or Western Europeans—have used in any of our wars. They have endured more worldwide public scrutiny than any other society has ever had to while defending itself against aggressors. The Israelis simply are held to a different standard. And the condemnation leveled at them by the rest of the world is completely out of proportion to what they have actually done.

Goes off on killing Catholics for whatever reason. You really have to figure out that these are 2 separate sections to fairly analyze them.

1. Whatever terrible things the Israelis have done, it is also true to say that they have used more restraint in their fighting against the Palestinians than we—the Americans, or Western Europeans—have used in any of our wars.

2. They have endured more worldwide public scrutiny than any other society has ever had to while defending itself against aggressors. The Israelis simply are held to a different standard. And the condemnation leveled at them by the rest of the world is completely out of proportion to what they have actually done.

You see, #1 proves the great moral courage of Israeli political and military leadership, as they could, at a moment’s notice, complete a more thorough genocide then the Nazis inflicted upon European Jews and queers and Gypsies and such. With zero consequences to hold them back save their own principles, we see the greatness of the state of Israel.

#2 proves once again, the immoral, anti-semitic vindictiveness of the Palestinians and too much of the outside world. Dammit, Israel faces massive international consequences from any bullet’s ricochet! It’s so unfair that every time a mortar is 20 yards off target there’s talk of international trade sanctions that have the power to destroy Israel’s economy, leaving her defenseless. This horrendously disproportionate response to every single one of Israel’s missteps, this threat to the life of every single Israeli Jew every time one of their informants names the wrong house!, is a threat so dire that no other nation has had to face its like. This proves the vileness of the Palestinians and their allies, rendering the entirely voluntary restraint of Israeli military and political leadership that much more noble!

Get it together, PZ. This is not about Israel being less bad than it could be. This is about the complete absence of any realistic or even drastically improbable negative consequences for evil proving Israel isn’t less bad, it’s morally awesome!
And it’s about the horrendously disproportionate consequences for every single, random, little child blown up, even when that child is holding a stick and looking off over the oceans…exactly where vulnerable Israeli warships are waiting for targeting orders! Worse, it’s about the undue scrutiny, such that where other countries can blow up 12 or 20 kids and only catch any hell (not even disproportionate hell!) for 2 or 3, Israel is criticized for blowing up kids **every single time they blow up kids**!!!!!

This malevolent, Sauron-like obsession with looking over the shoulder of every Israeli in harm’s way, combined with the unfathomable need for inflicting vastly disproportionate harms, such as talking in front of the UN about imposing trade sanctions until we comply with international law or filming a media story, well, it doesn’t make Israel more moral, becomes Israel is entirely moral for acting with restraint when it faces no negative consequences, but it does highlight the evil of the other side, making Israel more, like, functionally moral by comparison!

There is something about satire that has the power to convey important critique much more effectively than a dispassionate recitation of fact or even opinion. I don’t know what is going to come of the recently renewed attention to the IDF’s tactics, but I don’t currently have any concerns that the real-world consequences are going to include harm to Israel, so it’s all likely to be neutral or positive from my perspective.

Although i strongly urge you to read Mano’s post in full, now that you’ve read that satire, see if you can spot similarities to this weeks comments by Netanyahu and US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, as quoted by Mano who got it from Jeremy Scahill at The Intercept. First, Netanyahu:

On May 14, Israeli snipers and other forces gunned down more than 60 Palestinians, and wounded thousands of others, including civilians, journalists, and paramedics. “You try nonlethal means and they don’t work,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “So you’re left with bad choices. It’s a bad deal. You know, you try and you go for below the knee, and sometimes it doesn’t work, and unfortunately these things are avoidable.”

Now, examine the words and actions of Haley:

On Tuesday, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley brought plenty of blame to pass around at the Security Council for the deaths of unarmed Palestinians. She blamed Iran. She blamed Hamas. She blamed the Palestinians who protested. But Nikki Haley placed no blame on Israel. “This is what is endangering the people of Gaza. Make no mistake — Hamas is pleased with the results,” she said. “No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has.”

After Nikki Haley blamed the Palestinians for murdering themselves with Israeli snipers, she wouldn’t even listen to the Palestinian delegation at the U.N. She walked out when they began speaking

Scahill is responsible for the characterizations of remarks outside the quotes and obviously unsympathetic to the apologists for the IDF’s actions, but Netanyahu and Haley almost perfectly follow the logic of my satire.

It is, I believe, entirely insufficient to simply state “killing protestors is immoral, and Israel killed 60.” While many possible responses are reasonable and sufficient – non-Palestinians could stand between the IDF and the protestors, for instance – for some who are far away, the rhetorical force of satire is the natural next step when simple truth-telling fails.

Might I Remind You of a Couple Things?

In light of the attacks on Syria, I thought it might be good to remind the community of a couple things.

The first is one you’re less likely to remember, though it is important: Two years ago, during the campaign, Trump was asked by Mika Brzezinski on the MSNBC show Morning Joe about the source of his foreign policy advice, given that there were so many difficult issues active in 2016.

He replied:

I listen to myself and speaking with myself, number one, because I have very good brain and have said a lot of things, so I would listen to myself. … My primary consultant is Myself.”

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Fascist Policing: Miami Edition

So, Lt. Javier Ortiz, the head of Miami’s Fraternal Order of Police, tweeted last night/early this morning after the Vegas shooting that

I could, of course, just say, “fuck that tweet” and stay classy, but you know I’m not classy. So let’s dig in. [Read more…]