Hold My Beer: His Name is Isaac

While it’s not exactly news to say that there are racists in Utah, this particular story captured my eye (h/t RawStory). It’s not so much that it’s got a Halloween slant, though I like Halloween. It’s not so much that his slogan “Purge and Purify” is inevitably terrifying to many Jews, even people like me with no direct connection to the Holocaust. It’s not anything new, unique, or different about this racist jerk at all. Instead it’s what the man said that isn’t new or unique at all when he attempted to preserve his public image against charges of racism. I mean, when you use a white sheet to cover your entire garage door with huge painted letters saying “Make America Great Again, Purge and Purify,” you wouldn’t think it could get much worse. But area racist Kade Rogers took up the challenge and passed his beer to a good friend before speaking in front of local news cameras, saying

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Fascist Policing: Caddo Parish Edition

In a story in The Advocate (no, not that one, I’m talking about the one that is slightly less gay & writes primarily about mardi gras and other spectacular events in New Orleans … okay, maybe it’s just as gay), a Louisiana Sheriff discusses the effects of criminal justice reform (a collection of 10 new Louisiana laws collectively titled, “the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Package”) that permits earlier release from prison than was possible under previous parole conditions. Because of the transition to new criteria for reducing time spent behind bars*1 and the way the law come into effect, a larger than usual number of people will be paroled on a single day. 1,400 people will likely be released on November 1st, all of them people who have been without violence or other significant incidents while in prison and most of which*2 were convicted for non-violent behavior. Many of them are people who were jailed as victims of the Drug War.

However Republican Sheriff of Caddo Parish Steve Prator is not excited that he can save taxpayer money by running a smaller jail. No. The Advocate notes that he frets that every single person eligible for parole will actually be granted parole, including particularly one person “arrested 52 times” including for a charge of manslaughter… curiously, the Sheriff didn’t say whether or not the person was actually convicted of manslaughter.

While The Advocate includes all this in its coverage, what is more interesting is what The Advocate leaves out: Prator is unhappy with the new law and its somewhat-earlier release of people who carry around the leaves of plants that grow like weeds just about anywhere in the US because it’s the best prisoners that will be released early, and he counts on being able to force those prisoners to work:

I don’t want state prisons. They are a necessary evil to keep a few, or to keep some [people] out there. And that’s the ones that you can work, that’s the ones that can pick up trash, the work release programs — but guess what? Those are the ones that they’re releasing! In addition to the [cough]. In addition to the bad ones [waves some manilla folders, presumably holding details of people like the current prisoner who has been arrested 52 times] – and I’m calling these bad – In addition to them, they’re releasing some good ones that we use every day to, to wash cars, to change the oil in our cars, to cook in the kitchen, to do all that where we save money … well, they’re going to let them out!*3

That’s right. No efficiencies of private enterprise, please. The Sheriffs have a good thing going where they can force people to work, and the better you are at doing that work, the more they want to keep you locked down. If you’re uncooperative, you’re a bad prisoner and need to be held longer. If you’re cooperative? Well, then you’re a good worker, and you need to be held longer.

This isn’t a law enforcement official concerned about good law enforcement policy. This is a fucking white man mourning the loss of his slaves.

Speaking or which: Fuck you, Steve Prator.

But the truly terrible thing, is that this was Prator in a public press conference. The Advocate didn’t report Prator as advocating slavery and immediately call for his resignation. Prator clearly believed, and the terrible reporting of The Advocate tends to support his belief, that publicly praising the value of slavery was good way to endear him to the majority of the local populace.

To which I can only say: Fuck you, majority of the local populace.

Fuck the ever-loving fuck.


*1: the total sentence is typically not reduced, but more of it is spent under supervision in the community participating in programs and, the state hopes, working at regular jobs)

*2: Possibly all, I haven’t read the text of these 10 related laws yet.

*3: Transcription of Prator’s remarks by me, from a video of Prator’s press conference on the subject. The video was released (and possibly originally made) by journalist Shaun King. Video taken from King’s twitter feed and embedded here for your convenience:

Police Violence is Racialized And Racist, But That’s Not All

About 15-20 years ago now, I first encountered studies whose data found a person’s disability to be a stronger predictor of police shootings than race. It is tragic, it is racist, and it is utterly predictable that the US law enforcement system would kill Black men disproportionately. I’m very, very glad that issue is getting attention and hope that the even more disproportionate killings of indigenous and First Nations men get the same attention. Our racism must end, and the NFL protests among other avenues are fruitful efforts to bring attention to racist killings by police officers and the utter lack of accountability for them.

I hope, however, that there is room enough for us to discuss not only the racism of police, but other things as well. The increasing militarism of the police gets some attention, though it is frequently (and wrongly) framed as an alternative reason for concern, as if it’s not okay for white people to care about racist killings of Black men, but if we concern ourselves with police militarism generally then we’re being “fair” or “reasonable” by devoting ourselves to an issue that affects all of us. But receiving very little attention is the slaughter of persons with disabilities.

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Hold My Beer: Speaking of ‘Both Sides’ on Columbus Day

Wow. Bill O’Reilly has sabotaged his own credibility literally hundreds of times. He has said some of the worst things ever said on television, even if he’s not quite guilty of saying the single worst thing I’ve ever heard said on TV. And yet he felt it necessary to hand a friend his beer to take another go at this being-a-dishonest-asshole-for-cash gig because he really felt he had one more valuable contribution to make to public discussions.

Now, Bill O’ has managed to impress me with the arrogance of his ignorance and with his utter confidence that bothsiderism is somehow a careful, commendable journalistic practice. Given his history, that takes some serious doing. Yet he did it, and The Hill published it.

How, precisely, did he manage to make an impression that stood out after a career of such bullshit? Well, start with this:

First of all, “Indigenous People’s Day” might sound good on the campus of U.C. Berkeley, but it may be troublesome. Yes, some native tribes were enlightened societies but many were not. After inter-indigenous battles, torture and enslavement were often on the menu for the losers.

Wait, Bill. When you describe capturing people in battle and then torturing them, were you intending to describe the enlightened societies or the unenlightened ones? I’m a bit curious given your history.

But hey, the vast numbers of people in the Americas before Columbus did include some good folk and some bad folk. At least that has the benefit of being true, right? So what’s so appalling about this new column? Well, because Bill O is just warming up. Try this next:

Christopher Columbus was not a villain and does not deserve the vilification the PC police are heaping upon him. Every person on the planet has done bad things, but it is the totality of a human being that should be the litmus test.

Soon, the loons will come for the slaveholders George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. In fact, the Dallas school board is now debating their diminishment right now.

This is, of course, just the same macro point about populations brought down to the micro case of an individual:

Sure, Stephen Paddock killed 58 people and shot literally hundreds more, but he was also a fan of country music. Human, see? Complex! Good and bad! Not a villain! And John Shaft was a little bit white, okay? Can we all just agree to that like reasonable people?

Columbus landed on islands in what we now call the Caribbean. He came looking for loot. When he arrived, he found locals quite willing to trade, which we all know generates wealth. But Columbus decided against free trade. Instead he had something else in mind (quoted from Zinn’s Peoples History of the United States which itself quotes Columbus directly):

Arawak men and women, naked, tawny, and full of wonder, emerged from their villages onto the island’s beaches and swam out to get a closer look at the strange big boat. When Columbus and his sailors came ashore, carrying swords, speaking oddly, the Arawaks ran to greet them, brought them food, water, gifts. He later wrote of this in his log:

They … brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks’ bells. They willingly traded everything they owned… . They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features…. They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane… . They would make fine servants…. With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.

And it’s not like he idly mused about this while twirling a mustache, but then forgot all about it, went home to his mother and talked about how excited he was just to have been on a ship that crossed a whole ocean. No, Columbus refutes that idea in his own writing:

As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts.

Okay, maybe he was a bit tribalist. He wasn’t a melodramatic villain to everyone, just those people who weren’t from his own European roots. Yes, sure he enslaved. Yeah, okay, when coming into contact from people of a totally different culture, with no common language and the fear of being one of a few whites on an island dominated by the darker Arawak, Columbus kinda went and kid a few bad things. But what was he like to his fellow whites? I mean, tribalism is a common human failing and I’m sure he was a good guy to those whites he bonded with over the course of a month at sea, right? Well, let’s see:

…on October 12, a sailor called Rodrigo saw the early morning moon shining on white sands, and cried out. It was an island in the Bahamas, the Caribbean sea. The first man to sight land was supposed to get a yearly pension of 10,000 maravedis for life, but Rodrigo never got it. Columbus claimed he had seen a light the evening before. He got the reward.

Oh. Okay. But disease, right? It’s not like he was really that evil, or that he sought to take lands by force. That whole genocide thing was just the accidental result of the introduction of European diseases to American populations, right?

Columbus built a fort, the first European military base in the Western Hemisphere. He called it Navidad (Christmas) and left thirty-nine crewmembers there, with instructions to find and store the gold. He took more Indian prisoners and put them aboard his two remaining ships. At one part of the island he got into a fight with Indians who refused to trade as many bows and arrows as he and his men wanted. Two were run through with swords and bled to death.

Columbus’s report to the Court in Madrid was extravagant. He insisted he had reached Asia (it was Cuba) and an island off the coast of China (Hispaniola). His descriptions were part fact, part fiction:

Hispaniola is a miracle. Mountains and hills, plains and pastures, are both fertile and beautiful … the harbors are unbelievably good and there are many wide rivers of which the majority contain gold. . . . There are many spices, and great mines of gold and other metals….

The Indians, Columbus reported, “are so naive and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone….” He concluded his report by asking for a little help from their Majesties, and in return he would bring them from his next voyage “as much gold as they need … and as many slaves as they ask.” He was full of religious talk: “Thus the eternal God, our Lord, gives victory to those who follow His way over apparent impossibilities.”

Because of Columbus’s exaggerated report and promises, his second expedition was given seventeen ships and more than twelve hundred men. The aim was clear: slaves and gold.

Okay, that kinda sounds bad. He was safe back in Europe and turned around to go back with the specific aim of taking slaves? And this after proving that he was perfectly fine with murder and theft? Yeah, that does sound kinda bad. But not too bad. I mean, lots of people killed people back then, right? I mean, the indigenous peoples of the Americas even tortured and killed sometimes, right? So it was a bad time, but it’s not like Columbus was EEE-ville with a capital EEE. I mean, he believed in God, right? What did the priests have to say about his expedition? Good things, I hope, right? Let’s ask the Catholic priest Bartolome de las Casas who went on Columbus’ expedition to Cuba (via RawStory):

Endless testimonies . .. prove the mild and pacific temperament of the natives…. But our work was to exasperate, ravage, kill, mangle and destroy…

And the Christians, with their horses and swords and pikes began to carry out massacres and strange cruelties against them. They attacked the towns and spared neither the children nor the aged nor pregnant women nor women in childbed, not only stabbing them and dismembering them but cutting them to pieces as if dealing with sheep in the slaughter house. They laid bets as to who, with one stroke of the sword, could split a man in two or could cut off his head or spill out his entrails with a single stroke of the pike. They took infants from their mothers’ breasts, snatching them by the legs and pitching them head first against the crags or snatched them by the arms and threw them into the rivers, roaring with laughter and saying as the babies fell into the water, “Boil there, you offspring of the devil!” Other infants they put to the sword along with their mothers and anyone else who happened to be nearby. They made some low wide gallows on which the hanged victim’s feet almost touched the ground, stringing up their victims in lots of thirteen, in memory of Our Redeemer and His twelve Apostles, then set burning wood at their feet and thus burned them alive. To others they attached straw or wrapped their whole bodies in straw and set them afire. With still others, all those they wanted to capture alive, they cut off their hands and hung them round the victim’s neck, saying, “Go now, carry the message,” meaning, Take the news to the Indians who have fled to the mountains

Oh, er. So that genocide wasn’t all just an accident of disease? And Columbus carried out a campaign of violence in order to terrorize entire populations so that he could take land and gold and spices and slaves and whatever else he wanted? Well, it’s a good thing he wasn’t after any political objectives as well. Armed robbery is bad enough. Genocide is as bad as it gets. If we had to add terrorism to Columbus’ crimes, I think I’d just have to cry some ivory white tears. Thank goodness that quote stops there. Right? RIGHT?

They usually dealt with the chieftains and nobles in the following way: they made a grid of rods which they placed on forked sticks, then lashed the victims to the grid and lighted a smoldering fire underneath, so that little by little, as those captives screamed in despair and torment, their souls would leave them.

Oh, fuck. He was engaged in political killings, too? Well, at least he was a good Christian man. Yeah, he killed those who didn’t give him whatever he wanted. Yes, he terrorized entire nations. Yes, he engaged in targeting killings of political leaders. Sure, it’s hard to believe that anyone could say that he had no political or social objectives such that this would actually constitute terrorism. But he didn’t have, like, naughty sex or anything, did he? I mean, except for the coveting, the murder and such, he didn’t actually break any really important commandments or anything, did he? I’ll let the relentlessly conservative Death and Taxes Magazine tackle this issue, republishing in full their defense against charges of Columbus’ sexual violence and sexual immorality:

 In 1500, Columbus wrote to a friend: “A hundred castellanoes are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten are now in demand.”  Another letter written by Columbus’ friend Michele de Cuneo (in 1492, before the expedition reached the New World) reads “Columbus was rewarding his lieutenants with native women to rape.”

From these letters it has been deduced that Columbus was something of a New World pimp, auctioning off women to his men for sexual pleasure. Surely this behavior must have occurred to an extent, but was it systemic and carried out with great relish by Columbus?  No one can know for sure, yet the charge is leveled at Columbus by his detractors as if it is indisputable fact.

Well, good to know. Columbus killed locals and when their parents were dead enslaved girls “from nine to ten”. Then the wages paid to the Europeans who worked to bring him gold were taken back in exchange for these enslaved girls. But since we don’t know how systemic this was, and we don’t know if Columbus actually chortled with glee while contemplating the profits he made off the rape of children, let’s not actually criticize, okay? It could have happened only a few dozen times, after all! Thank goodness we have conservatives here to give us the best possible view of Columbus. It’s just lucky Columbus didn’t give any of the sex slaves birth control, or he might have lost the advocacy of even those as effective as the writers at Death And Taxes.

After all that, you would think that O’Reilly’s bothsiderism-inspired statement imploring us to remember Columbus was actually a good guy is as bad as it can get. Even when he literally dismisses murder, genocide, theft, and slavery as irrelevant to our moral evaluations of Columbus, that’s merely an extension of what he’s already done, right? I mean, you couldn’t be any more infuriated by this

that was a minor part of the “Columbus business,” as Hollywood would have put it if they were wooing him for a three-picture deal. Mostly, Columbus was a brilliant navigator who opened up the world for travel. No small achievement.

than you already were, could you?

Well then, you really ought to stop reading right now. Now is when O’Reilly passes his beer to whomever counts as his best friend, cracks his knuckles, and outdoes his own obscenities. His bothsiderism (hell, Bothsiderism itself) reaches peak dishonesty, peak horror, and even peak wtF? with this quote:

Columbus made four voyages across the Atlantic between 1492 and 1504. He was looking for a route to Asia so he could buy spices at a discount or something.

But Chris kept running into various Caribbean islands, also the formidable obstacles of South and Central America. There was no passage to the Far East, only an endless drifting around.

Along the way, Columbus ran into some Indian tribes, most notably the Caribes. They did not like Chris and his malodorous European crews. Strife broke out and some bad stuff went down on both sides.

Presumably, of course, he’s referring to the fact that his first military fort in the Americas, on land he didn’t own and wasn’t even in the possession of Spain (his sponsor) or Genoa (the city-state of his birth), was attacked by locals after he murdered many, enslaved more, and left for Europe allowing his 39 representatives living in the fort to scour “the island in gangs looking for gold, taking women and children as slaves for sex and labor.” All 39 representatives were missing and presumed dead on Columbus’ return. Since O’Reilly doesn’t specify any “bad things” done by the Arawak or other nations Columbus attacked, we’ll likely never know to what O’Reilly refers. But perhaps it’s as safe a bet as any to assume that local leaders punishing a gang of serial rapists is a very, very bad thing to O’Reilly.


You can, and should, contact The Hill to tell them just exactly what you think of their publication of this apologia for genocide.

 

 

99 & 44/100ths % Pure Racism

D’oh! I’m an idiot. IVORY soap advertised itself as 99 & 44/100ths% pure, not Dove. My idiocy now set aside, I leave the OP alone so you can at least get the substance about the current advertising campaign, which is correctly attributed to Dove.


Dove, having famously marketed their soap as “99 & 44/100ths % pure,” now has a new ad campaign – or had. That’s right, it’s already over and in all likelihood you hadn’t even yet seen it.

The Kansas City Star appears to have been the first to call it out, and three hours after this article detailing the contemptible ad, the Star had another article up, this one, that highlighted a tepid apology from the company that received less attention in the initial article.

The best news out of all this is that the company took down the ad quite quickly, and also that

None of Dove’s statements on the Facebook advertisement this week described what the company’s intent had been in making the ad.

That’s actually a step up from what we normally see, regardless of how bad the initial ad might have been.

The substance of the racism critique is that a Black woman with a dark shirt is seen pulling that shirt up and off over her head. Through the wonders of green screen tech, this reveals a white woman with a lighter shirt underneath. The apparent implication being that Dove can make you lighter/whiter (and that this is desirable).

That message was undercut by the fact that the white woman then removes her shirt to reveal another woman not depicted in the screen-captures that I saw, but identified in writing as “a woman of color” wearing a shirt of a shade in between that of the Black woman’s dark shirt and the white woman’s ecru shirt. However, not many people were willing to give Dove the benefit of the doubt as the product that they were advertising listed it as useful for

normal to dark skin

Yeah, I think just dropping the ad was a good idea. Get that bottle changed as soon as possible, though, eh?


As a post-script, I feel compelled to note that while it’s hard to praise the marketing of a product as marketing itself is so deeply entwined with consumerism and problematic attitudes towards capitalism and consumption, as far as marketing campaigns go, I actually liked the many-different-shapes ad campaign they ran where their products were not just depicted but actually sold in what they called “Real Beauty Bottles” that contained the same amount of soap or lotion, but differed radically in profile. Some bottles were tall and entirely flat. Some tall but slightly curved in at the middle, others were short and shaped like an upside-down apple, with several other shapes included as well. It didn’t work out well, with one criticism saying the bottles made some people feel judged, but I thought that one came from a good place.

I was wondering when John Carlos would show up

John Carlos, the world’s fastest humanitarian, has been relevant to the NFL protests since they began. I probably should have written about him sooner, but the last 2 weeks when things heated up as a result of Trumps douchegabbery I was in the middle of some serious downtime. So now, I’m sad to admit, I’ve been beaten to the punch. Sports Illustrated nabbed an actual interview.

However, that piece is short and just tremendously inadequate. As is too often the case, you’ve got to go to a venue outside of the US in order to get the fuller story of US racism. In this case, I can reasonably recommend Sam Dean’s piece in the Telegraph last year. From that piece:

Carlos was just 23 when he made his stand, and it cost him everything. With his reputation ruined, he struggled to find a job, his children were bullied at school and then, nine tortuous years later, his wife Kim took her own life. By then, their marriage had broken down, and Carlos believes her death was partly the result of the endless interference of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which had placed him under constant surveillance since his return to the United States.

“Here’s a guy with income who can support his family,” he says of himself. “And then the next day he has no income and people start to walk away. You go through a process in your mind, thinking about why. Maybe it is because they have no love for me, maybe they don’t like me. But then it dawns on you that they are walking away not because they don’t love you – they are walking away because they fear what is happening to you might happen to them.”

The article praises Carlos as a “horticulturalist” who planted seeds of hope, freedom, justice and activism who has been lucky enough to see many of those seeds sprout. Among those seedlings is a more active cadre of athletes and other anti-racist activists. Yet even before the atrocious and overt blackballing of Kaepernick, the Telegraph had clearly identified major barriers to athletes speaking out (though they focussed on the then-current Rio Olympics):

“The fight is going to go on.”

The question, then, is whether it will be fought by athletes. In this money-spinning era of agents, sponsorship deals and endless proclamations of the importance of “brand values”, it seems the weight of the establishment is heavier than ever.

… Such is the primacy of sports brands in the United States that an athlete’s kit supplier is listed alongside their name on results sheets, and is often read out when they are announced to the crowd before competition.

:puke:

I had no idea that the Olympics did anything like announcing, “The Nike-wearing Florence Griffith Joyner!” Nonetheless, there are activist-athletes. The Telegraph pointed out in that piece Serena Williams and basketball player Carmelo Anthony. And now we have not merely Kaepernick, but dozens of NFL players, including some at the top of their positions.

Trump is a jerk, a mendacious, malicious, bullying jerk. But in this case there are finally enough NFL players protesting, with enough non-protestors linking arms with the protestors, that maybe the wildly successful Kaepernick will not have to face the same fall and the same later tragedies as the wildly successful young Carlos. And that unity among players has everything to do with having these decisions forced upon them by Trump’s bullying. Many choose not to protest police violence and other racial injustices, but nearly all of those now choose to stand with those who do. Whatever happens to Kaepernick for his 21st Century Mexico City moment, it’s clear that there are now too many players participating in efforts to end racism for the NFL to blackball them all.

 


*1: Though I haven’t written anything focussed on Carlos, I don’t think, I know I’ve mentioned him in a post before. I’ll have to look up the context.

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…]

This young gentleman got sucked into a counterculture of violence

Those are the words of Spokane (Washington) County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich when describing Caleb Sharpe, the adolescent who quite obviously is the person who killed on fellow high school student and wounded several others on Wednesday.

Whether Sharpe is legally guilty of murder, a crime, will be determined later. There is no doubt, however, that Sharpe is factually guilty of killing another human being. Many people believed they saw the potential for violence in Sharpe, though reports that detail any history of actual injurious violence haven’t come to my attention. In short, at least some of his peers perceived him to be vengeful. The tragic case in point that I want to mention here is that confirmed by a number of reports: Sharpe shot the child he killed, whose name is being withheld from some press accounts, when that the adolescent told the armed Sharpe, “I always knew you were going to shoot up the school.”

And yet, nowhere in the press coverage I’ve seen has Knezovich or even any member of the media reminded us that Sharpe is “no angel”.

I wonder why that is.

 

More Lynching

So I’ve made it clear that when people equate Black pride and Black Lives Matter to white pride and the KKK, the people making the comparison are failing to understand huge, important, relevant differences between the phenomenon of whiteness and the phenomenon of blackness. I’ve also spent some time making the point that not every murder is a lynching, that lynching is a crime with multiple components and the public infliction of terror is part of that. Because of this, I’ve made the case that lynching is ongoing. If lynching includes murder but is not complete until photos of smiling murderers are shared or nooses are displayed, then noose-threats are part of lynching and where we find threats that refer back to racist murders in order to create fear in a community, especially (though today arguably not only) a black community, then you have lynching occurring right here, right now.

But the actual murders have always been more rare than the terrorizing references to those murders, whether photos or other records, or less linguistic symbols such as publicly displayed nooses. This both assists some in discounting the threats inherent in those records and symbols and also helps to convince people that lynch murders no longer happen or don’t happen “here”.

This, of course, is not true. But today it’s my tragic duty to inform you of a particular racist hanging in New Hampshire. Angela Helm of The Root, relying in part on the reporting of NH1 and the Valley Newstells the story:

[A] Claremont, N.H., boy had to be flown to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center after one or more teens decided to hang him from a tree with a rope.

[The boy’s grandmother] told the Valley News that the incident was, in fact, racially motivated and “intentional.”

[She] said that she was able to recount what happened from her grandson’s 11-year-old sister and other children present (there were no adults): Her grandson and some teens were playing in a yard on Aug. 28 when the teens started calling the little boy “racial epithets” and throwing sticks and rocks at his legs.

Some or all of the teens allegedly stepped up on a picnic table and grabbed a nearby rope that had been part of a tire swing, [she] said.

“The [teenagers] said, ‘Look at this,’ supposedly putting the rope around their necks,” [she] said. “One boy said to [her grandson], ‘Let’s do this,’ and then pushed him off the picnic table and hung him.”

I risk quoting the entirety of Helm’s piece, and I do wish that you would go there to read the rest if you can, but there is one other piece of this story too vital to leave out. The local police chief is (appropriately) declining to share information on the kids who perpetrated this racist attempted murder. While withholding the name of 14-year-olds in this case is justified and may even be required by New Hampshire law, it stands in contrast with how so many black children accused of crimes are treated. That contrast was heightened by statements of the Claremont Police Chief, Mark Chase:

[Chase] would not comment on the specifics of the case, saying only that they were still investigating and that those involved are juveniles, prohibiting him from specifically making any comment. Chase also said that the kids being investigated (who knows if they’re charged?) should be “protected.”

“Mistakes they make as a young child should not have to follow them for the rest of their life,” Chase said.

Notice how he called these predators “young children,” infantilizing the white teens. Conversely, teens like Trayvon Martin are made out to be hulking, menacing adults. Chase seems to be centering the perpetrators’ feelings and futures, all but forgetting about the trauma of a little boy who had his so-called friends hang him from a tree to the point where he had to be medevaced to a hospital.

It is a fact of our current social context – one we should seek to change, but that cannot be ignored in this moment – that if the names of the perpetrators of this crime were released, they would be targeted for abuse by scattered, horrible people. Though these people are nowhere near the majority, when stories reach a wide audience only a tiny percentage need react with insults and threats to create an intolerable, life-affecting stream of abuse. I do not want even racist, violent children to be subjected to that. So I’d like us not to focus on the protection of the racist aggressors’ identities as an evil, but rather as appropriate treatment that is too often denied to other children, and which is disproportionately denied to children based on racial and racist categorizations and perceptions.

In particular, I’d like to call attention to that last bit of Chase’s statement:

Mistakes they make as a young child should not have to follow them for the rest of their life,

Yes. Yes they should. They should never forget that day and the choices that they made. What shouldn’t happen is the public shaming of a child. There is such a thing as unjust sentence inflicted after a just conviction. We can argue about what the consequences should be for children who choose, as teens, to attempt murder on an 8 year old child while shouting racial epithets at the poor kid. I won’t argue with anyone who thinks that this is something that a teen should be able to forget or leave behind at some age of majority.

But even more than that, when is this the attitude of public figures towards Black and Latino and other racialized children, especially boys? I can think of only one context, and it’s not one that gives me hope: sexual assault. Think of the Steubenville rape case. One of the rapists in that case was a Black teenager, and when convicted appeared to be included in mass-media’s public mourning on no less a basis as the white teenager convicted of the same crimes. That doesn’t make me more optimistic that the accused will be judged on the basis of their actions and not on the basis of their identities. Rather, it merely shows that at least in the context of sexual assault, it’s possible for gendered classifications to be more important than racial classifications in determining the treatment of the accused. Judging by the Steubenville and Claremont examples, however, both are still more important than the actual behaviors involved.

If there are any more ways a lynching can break your heart, I cannot think of them.


Sorry for the inability to get much written lately, folks.

Also, I’ve redacted the grandmother’s name. It’s all over those other stories, and if you have a reason to need to know it, I’m not preventing anyone from finding it, but enough has happened to this child and I’m not at all interested in spreading his identity even more widely. Though the other posts and articles on this lynching omitted the name of the boy, printing the names of family members makes their efforts ineffective. Thus I’m opting not to print those names more widely even though the story itself is important.

However, some redaction has been performed at those other sites, mainly of the names of children. Confusingly, then, when you see “[she]” in reference to the grandmother of the boy who was lynched, that is my redaction. While “[teenagers]” and “[her grandson]” are redactions made in the original article at The Root.

Dairy Cows and Professional Republicans

I see quite a lot in common between those two. Both of them create a whole lot of product every day, and there’s a great deal of people in the US who find the products of both quite appealing.

But it is sure as heck true that there are a great many people that find those products hard to digest, and although you might not like the fact, it’s not a sampling error nor mere vagaries of individual preference when studies show that both go down easier with some ethnic groups and not others.