ICE Hit & Run vs Members of the Tohono O’odham Nation

There’s a relatively slow-motion hit-and-run occurring on Tohono O’odham Nation land that’s been recorded and now viewed several hundred thousand times. It’s bad enough, though the victim Paulo Remes is reported to be recovering reasonably well by Tuscon.com. The SUV that hit Remes was an Immigration & Customs Enforcement vehicle that drove down the road approaching Remes’ house, turned around, then came back toward Remes who had just walked across the road and was still on the edge of it when struck. This has all the makings of a felony:

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Switzerland’s Pension Funds: Kill Your Spouse, Get Free Money!

Oh, look, another way that old attitudes towards domestic violence persist: Zurich’s Tages-Anzeiger (the Daily Anzeiger?*1) is reporting in German that despite Swiss law requiring that spouse-murderers not benefit financially from their crimes, the laws of Switzerland (presumably Vital Records laws or similar) are not structured in a way that pension funds are informed whether a death is from natural causes or not. RTS amplified the Tages-Anzeiger in a small french-language article. (Content Warning: if you play the accompanying news video, they have a portrayal of a fictional domestic-violence murder. I have no idea why.)

Le droit suisse prévoit qu’une personne puisse être déshéritée si elle a intentionnellement tenté de provoquer la mort du légataire.

Pourtant, les caisses de pension ignorent souvent si la mort est naturelle ou non. “Ces cas non signalés sont difficiles à découvrir”, affirme le secrétaire général de l’Association prévoyance suisse Emmanuel Ullman pour expliquer cette situation.

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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.

Since Rosa Parks Wasn’t Rosa Parks, Who Was? Irene Bad-Ass Morgan, That’s Who

Over on Pharyngula, a discussion has been started about the propriety of using “accomplice” as a better word to describe the people that we have sometimes described as “allies” when discussing people that are not targeted by a specific form of oppression but nonetheless choose to work against it.

I started to write a comment over there about why I believe accomplice is appropriate, but it ended up becoming a treatise*1 about a woman named Irene Morgan*2. I decided that the thread shouldn’t be cluttered by a comment quite as long as I was writing, but that Morgan deserved better than cutting that treatise short. So I’ve moved it to Pervert Justice as a post for your reading pleasure.

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Jeffress in Jerusalem: Hyperbole is Insufficient

So, let me start by saying that I am conflicted and don’t know where I want this post to go: I’m just going to write a bit and explore what comes up.

Robert Jeffress, a man of truly horrible behavior, is a right-wing pastor that does not believe in freedom of religion. Today he gave a christian prayer as the celebrated invocation at the opening of the new US embassy to Israel in Jerusalem. He has also repeatedly insisted that all faithful Jews are going to hell. Now while he’s also condemned just about everyone else to hell, I want to focus on his antipathy towards Judaism for a moment.

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Postmodernism Ain’t Say That

So someone from the UK asked me a question about postmodernism’s relationship to metaethics. I probed a little more deeply, and the question ultimately turned on the assertion that postmodernism denies the existence of truth, including moral truth. When that was probed, it turned out that this person had been listening to reporting people had been doing lately on Aleksandr Dugin.

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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: Yet Another Modest Proposal

So,  NJ.com, an aggregator of content from semi-major newspapers all over New Jersey, has details of a couple of instances of police beating folks without even a decent pretext. The stories are in two separate articles, but they’re entirely routine. In the first a child who took the family car for a drive before getting a driver’s license spooked when a cop wanted to pull him over and drove into a cable:

The teen, who was unlicensed and driving his parent’s car, crashed a sedan into a suspension wire at the corner of Edwin and Bergen streets following a brief police chase.

It’s not entirely clear to me, but my best (although imperfect) understanding of the situation after reading the sources I could get was that the “chase” amounted to something between half a block or up to a few blocks, where the teen, spooked after a cop wanted to pull the car over (probably legitimately, an unlicensed kid is likely to be making many unsafe mistakes in driving) but drove into the wire before any real “chase” could be said to begin.

What happened next was a vicious beating of the teen by the first responding officer – probably also the officer that first attempted to pull over the teen’s car. That officer, Joseph Reiman, is a brother of the mayor of the same city, Carteret, in which the beating took place.

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Hold My Beer: John Kelly Rescues Trump On Confederate Monuments

Still working on a very turbulent and difficult move – oy, this one has been hard. Nonetheless, I have recently been informed that the world has been marching on without me. For those of you who aren’t suffering move-induced-lack-of-time-and-spare-energy, I thought you might like to hear all about the cool praise-y things the United States’ President’s chief of staff General John Kelly has to say about Confederate general and slaver who came across as particularly cruel to his slaves compared to other slavers Robert E. Lee. It turns out that, even at this point in my moving process, I have some thoughts to express on these “thoughts” that Kelly had on television with Laura Ingraham sitting across from him.

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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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