(R) stands for (RACIST)

If you are a Republican, you’re racist. If you vote Republican, you are a racist. If you live in a county that voted for Trump, you live in a racist county. Trump himself is an unabashed racist.

That isn’t name-calling. That’s simply an obvious fact at this point. Our incompetent bigot of a president is letting it all hang out.

At an arena rally in Greenville, North Carolina, on Wednesday evening, President Donald Trump quadrupled down on his recent racist attacks on four female Democratic lawmakers. He also chastised one of them for using “the big, fat, vicious…F-word” against him, alleging, “that’s not somebody that loves our country.”

“She looks down with contempt on the hardworking American, saying that ignorance is pervasive in many parts of this country,” the president said of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), to cheering from the crowd, many of whom began chanting, “Send her back,” enthusiastically joining in on the collective anti-Omar hate.

Ilhan Omar is a hardworking American. How dare he treat her as something else. “Send her back” is a shout of racism. There are no dogwhistles necessary anymore — the Republican party is openly drawing on the ugliest strain of American politics and is amplifying it.

The president’s comments came at a time of his announced nationwide raids on undocumented immigrants, as well as his recent asylum plan that could pose his gravest threat to migrants. This week, his racist tirades were defended, excused, or even laughed off by major players in the national Republican Party, with Team Trump arguing that the president didn’t mean it, or that he was correct to say it, or that he was merely being his typical, funny self.

It seems like it was just a few months ago that conservatives and centrists were wringing their hands over whether it was fair to call these people new American nazis, and they were splitting hairs over whether they were really fascists or not. Can we at least regard that argument as over? We’ve got a demagogue holding rallies (Why is he still doing that? Doesn’t he have work to do?) and leading mobs in racist chants, threatening to deport or jail people, journalists and opposition politicians, for being brown. He’s laughing at us. He knows the Democratic party is spineless and will do nothing. If we accuse him of being a new Hitler, I wouldn’t put it past him to grow a toothbrush mustache to mock us.

It’s 1932. What are you doing?

I don’t think I have enough patience to deal with people this far gone

How do young people become racists? On Reddit (a dubious source, I know), one young man explains how his own self-loathing was easily co-opted into support for “scientific racism”. It started with “4chan related memes, which were the coolest thing on the internet”, and then he gets deeper into LessWrong and other sites, and he discovers the two coolest people ever — Davis Aurini (!) and Mencius Moldbug (!!), which tells me that you have to be dwelling in an intellectual vacuum if you think a skull-posing misogynist and a blithering reactionary are intellectuals at all.

To me he was the coolest guy ever. A fearless intellectual who used facts, logic and reason to challenge society’s deepest taboos and come to disturbing conclusions, and a Silicon Valley programmer on top of that. One of his favorite conclusions was that there were biologically distinct human races, and some, like “the black race”, had lower IQ. At this time, 4chan was beginning to go alt-right, with the creation of /pol/, Stormfront brigades, and the pervasive idea that SJWs destroyed OWS and New Atheism, so “race realism” was a big topic there as well. They made it look like a valid scientific theory, with charts and data sheets and all, that just happened to be a taboo because of our collective trauma with slavery and imperialism. Sure, it makes sense that people approach the subject of race with caution, but does that really mean there are absolutely no differences between the races? If the Neanderthals were still alive, wouldn’t these PC leftists be telling us that even they are equal to us?

I was immediately sold on it. Part of the reason is the obvious: it told me I was the master race, and gave me a purpose in life, as a fighter in the war to save western civilization from degeneracy. The incels are always telling you that you are an abomination, that everyone hates you, that you are and will always be been genetic garbage, and the racists let me get some of my self-esteem back.

On top of that, I think part of the appeal of scientific racism is exactly that it feels so wrong. I was ignorant and had never understood what racism was and why exactly it was wrong. I thought it was just a moral failing, and for similar reasons as in “masochistic epistemology”, I was drawn to racist ideas exactly because they were so disturbing. When I was confronted with an argument I didn’t have an answer to – and they do come up with some intimidating statistics and ten-dollar words – I felt like my whole worldview was collapsing, like I was turning into a freak just for being exposed to these ideas, like I would never be able to go back and be accepted by society. There is a reason these far right people like the red pill metaphor so much: they present their ideology as a revelation so profound and disturbing that hearing it will change who you are forever, probably ruining your life. That’s what I felt: knowing this would turn me into an outcast, and I could never trust anyone outside of the alt right.

That rings true. He was deeply ignorant. His intellectual void encountered a body of bad ideas that were “edgy” and swathed in pretentious vocabulary, so he absorbed them. Then he is simultaneously hit with feelings of superiority because he knows the dark secrets, and isolated from better ideas by the feeling that he is now an outcast.

Now I have a couple of questions. How did a garbage site like 4chan become fashionable among young people? And how do we rehabilitate people so infested with bad ideas that they have become pariahs?

If you don’t like punching Nazis, you’re going to hate this

What do you think of a man who threw flares at ICE vehicles and buildings?

An armed man was fatally shot Saturday after throwing what authorities called “incendiary devices” at an immigration detention center in Washington state and trying to set a commercial-size propane tank on fire, according to Tacoma police.

About 4 a.m., 69-year-old Willem Van Spronsen threw “lit objects” at buildings and at cars in a parking lot, police said, causing a vehicle to go up in flames. Court records show the man was arrested last year at a protest at the privately owned detention center, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement called the man an “anti-immigration enforcement protester.”

There’s an argument to be made that he was committing acts of violence and that he was a terrorist. I’d disagree; a terrorist is trying to intimidate civilians with fear, while Willem Van Spronsen was targeting the tools of institutional oppression to stop terror. Violent, yes; terrorism, no. Read further in the article, and buried in bland language is the purpose of his act.

The attack came as thousands protested at ICE facilities nationwide ahead of the agency’s planned mass arrests of undocumented immigrants on Sunday. The Trump administration has said it will target about 2,000 families for deportation, focusing on as many as 10 cities. Seattle is not among the cities reportedly being targeted.

The Northwest Detention Center on the Tacoma Tideflats is owned and operated for ICE by a private company called the GEO Group, according to the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, which puts the facility’s capacity at 1,575 — one of the biggest immigration detention centers in the country, the group says. As ICE faces calls to improve conditions for migrants in its custody, some have called on the government to stop using privately run detention centers.

There is the truly criminal act, the state terrorism we stand by and watch: private companies paid by the government to imprison innocents for being born in the ‘wrong’ place.

He wrote a farewell letter. He knew he was going to die.

He wrote,

there’s wrong and there’s right.
it’s time to take action against the forces of evil.

evil says one life is worth less than another.
evil says the flow of commerce is our purpose here.
evil says concentration camps for folks deemed lesser are necessary.
the handmaid of evil says the concentration camps should be more humane.
beware the centrist.

He was right. Will Van Spronsen is a human being who acted against evil.

ICE imprisons, tortures and deports hundreds of thousands of people and the brutality and scale of their harm is only escalating. We need every form of resistance, solidarity and passion to fight against ICE and the borders that they defend. Will gave his life fighting ICE we may never know what specifically was going through his head in the last hours of his life but we know that the NWDC [Northwest Detention Center] must be destroyed and the prisoners must be freed. We do not need heroes, only friends and comrades. Will was simply a human being, and we wish that he was still with us. It’s doubtless that the cops and the media will attempt to paint him as some sort of monster, but in reality he was a comrade who fought for many years for what he believed in and this morning he was killed doing what he loved; fighting for a better world.

So, what is a racist then?

A couple of white teenagers got a long, long profile in the Washington Post, which is part of the problem. What did they do to deserve all this attention? They pulled a “prank”, charging into their high school the night before graduation, and spray-painting swastikas and racist slurs on the sidewalks and buildings.

They went on a real spree. There’s anti-semitic, racist, and homophobic crap diligently sprayed everywhere, along with an occasional penis. They worked hard to splatter toxic crap everywhere, all with the intent to shock the families that would be visiting for the graduation ceremony. They thought this would be funny, a good joke, something that would be getting them attention, anonymously, they expected.

Unfortunately for them, security cameras recorded the whole ugly game, and worse, their cell phones automatically connected to the campus network, so authorities had their full identity the next day. It was a stupid act sabotaged by their own foolish ignorance, and the four kids were arrested and tried. That’s where it gets really noxious.

They pleaded innocent of a hate crime and racism. Their parents were in total denial that their good little boy was a poisonous bigot.

His understanding of the KKK was limited, too, he said. “Some people think it’s just a word, or a symbol or three letters put together. . . . But they were lynching people, hurting people for no good reason.”

Now, he said, he knows. But he still doesn’t believe his actions that night make him a bigot.

“I spray paint one racist thing and, suddenly, I become a racist? Just because I did it doesn’t mean I hate Jews, gay people or black people.”

He was standing before the judge, pleading guilty to a hate crime, but he would not admit that he harbored any hate.

All around him, the adults agreed.

“He will forever be known as the racist kid at Glenelg, but that’s not who Seth is,” his father said in court that day.

“I told him that his act was racist, but don’t let it define him as a racist. He can and I pray that he will go on and do better,” Maxwell Ware, the African American pastor he met with, wrote in a letter supporting him.

“He is not a racist . . . he has a good heart,” his attorney told the judge.

It’s such a tired wheeze, there’s even a joke about it. Yes, you spray one racist thing, and you’re a racist. You’ve been a racist all along. It means you trivialize hatred of Jews, gay people, and black people. This is not a hard concept to grasp. These kids are still in denial.

They got a slap on the wrist. They’re “good kids”, don’t you know. Their mothers cried when they got handed weekends in jail and probation and community service.

Six weeks later, Seth backed his car out of his parents’ driveway, headed to his final weekend in jail.

Good behavior during his weekends locked up meant he had to serve only two-thirds of them.

The following weekend, Tyler Curtiss, who had painted two swastikas, would finish his weekends, five in all.

Matt Lipp, whose graffiti attacked Jewish, black and gay people, would serve 11 of the 16 he was sentenced to. He has filed an appeal, still arguing that his First Amendment rights had been violated.

Josh Shaffer, who targeted the principal, was sentenced to the most jail time: 18 weekends. He would serve 12.

All four will be eligible to get the hate crimes expunged from their record when their probation is finished.

Right. The first amendment gives everyone carte blanche to scrawl crude hatred on public property. If you’re white, being racist means you might have some weekends spoiled, but don’t worry, your history will be expunged from their record.

Except that now Seth Taylor, Tyler Curtiss, Joshua Shaffer and Matthew Lipp have their names prominently mentioned in a high-profile article in the Washington Post. Good luck getting that monkey off your back, boys!

The entanglement of science with money and crime

The system in the USA has led to deep systemic flaws in all kinds of important institutions. One of the arguments Lawrence Krauss used to try to dissuade me from criticizing Jeffrey Epstein was that he gives so much money to so many scientific enterprises. He’s a friend of science! He donated to Krauss’s Origins Project at ASU. He was dropping millions of dollars on various universities. Look at Harvard, they were happy to take cash from a child rapist.

My university is a small liberal arts college, not well known at all, so I don’t think anyone as perverted as Epstein has donated to us, but I have to be honest. We’re always cash-strapped, so if Epstein had called up and said he wants to give us a million dollars, our administration might well have leapt at it. It’s hard to blame the recipients of corruption when our country is trying so hard to make our educational institutions so desperate (not Harvard, though — Harvard never has any excuse, other than that they’re greedy and grasping for more).

Read this long thread from Nathan Oseroff-Spicer to see how deep the rot has gone.

He highlights two big names, Lawrence Krauss and Steven Pinker. They are not accused of participating in any of Epstein’s sex crimes. Instead, what you see is an unhealthy respect for the wealthy, which motivates them to actively defend a child rapist, or in more generous circumstances, to kindly turn a blind eye to his activities. They are part of the silencing machine of rape culture. Epstein, and many others, are exploiting the system to rape and abuse, but even larger numbers of well-connected people are conspiring to keep it quiet. They wouldn’t even think of raping a child, but hey, that guy who would — he’s bringing megabucks to our research program. Let’s keep his activities out of the public eye, let’s minimize the complaints of his victims, let’s accuse anyone who criticizes rapists of inciting a “moral panic”. As Rebecca Solnit writes:

Monsters rule over us, on behalf of monsters. Now, when I think about what happened with Strauss-Kahn, who was subsequently accused of sexual assault by several other women, and with cases like his, it’s the secondary characters who seem to matter most. These men could not do what they did without a culture—lawyers, journalists, judges, friends—that protected them, valued them, devalued their victims and survivors. They do not act alone, and their might is nothing more or less than the way a system rewards and protects them, which is another definition of rape culture. That is, their impunity is not inherent; it’s something the society grants them and can take away.

You want a particularly vivid example? Just look at Alexander Acosta, the attorney who negotiated that absurdly evil sweetheart deal for Jeffrey Epstein in Florida. He arranged a slap-on-the-wrist prison deal for Epstein — he was free to go about his business, but just had to report in to the prison at night for 13 months — and as a reward, Acosta was promoted to US labor secretary. Now in his elevated position, he’s using his power to cut the budget of the agency responsible for combating child sex trafficking by 80%. Solnit was understating the problem.

Our country is run by a wealthy sex predator who elevates amoral people who have defended other wealthy sex predators to positions where they can protect more sex predators. Meanwhile, academics at wealthy institutions tut-tut those who point out the obvious conflict here as part of “a growing sexual-assault bureaucracy” that “maintains a vested interest in fueling the panic”. We’re being impressively gaslit by these apologists for rape culture.

There’s very little penalty for actively working to maintain rape culture. I learn from Rebecca Watson that Krauss is being rewarded with cruise to Cambodia and Vietnam, with his good buddy Richard Dawkins, funded by the Origins Project — you know, the foundation that used to be funded in part by Jeffrey Epstein. You too can join this luxurious 8-day / 7-night riverboat cruise with Krauss and Dawkins for the low, low price of $10,000.

Krauss is still the president of the board of directors of the Origins Project Foundation — his dismissal from his position at ASU doesn’t affect that in the slightest. Take a look at all the well-known people serving on that board. Some of them I’ve met and engaged with in the context of the atheist movement, and there they are, willingly serving a known sexual harasser and creep. I can sympathize with wanting to support a good cause, but they’re doing it by enabling a bad man. That’s how rape culture thrives.

I’m glad to be out of it. Especially since Rebecca is going to launch all those moral cowards into the sun.

Sorry, it’s Tucker Carlson

I know, it’s early in the morning, my fellow Americans, and you’re still working on your coffee and cornflakes, but if I have to be exposed to this talking emetic, you get it too. He’s now calling people who demand greater diversity in congress “racists”.

That’s perverse. So congress can go on for hundreds of years as a body consisting almost exclusively of white men, and that’s not racist, but anyone suggesting that there be a more balanced representation that includes more women of color is racist. That’s how systems of exclusion and oppression perpetuate themselves, by turning any resistance to a discriminatory system into a feeble rationale about that being discriminatory. You have to be really gullible to accept such a game, but that’s Tucker’s audience.

Tlaib is making a reasonable suggestion that any group that makes decisions for minorities ought to include representation of the target group.

Who are antifa?

A sociologist who studied antifa activists reports on their motivations:

For most people, fascist activism and organizing are abstractions removed from their daily lives; images on television and news reports, cartoonish villains. For the antifa activists whom I researched, fascists represented an intense and immediate threat.

Many militant anti-fascists become involved in this form of activism because aspects of their identity are directly targeted by fascist violence; they are queer, transgender, gender non-conforming, people of color, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, and certainly identified in ways that intersected across these categories.

For them, anti-fascism was a means of ensuring their safety from a movement that threatens their very existence and venerates violence as the highest form of action. Even the antifa activists who identify as cis heterosexual white males are the targets of fascist violence as “race” and “gender” traitors.

Antifa activists routinely describe both verbal threats and physical assaults made against them by fascists. Those who suffered from physical assaults often struggled from PTSD as a result of fascist violence.

What about the police? Aren’t they there to protect the peace?

From a militant anti-fascist perspective, the role of the police has been either ineffectual or outright complicit in fascist violence. It is a criminological truism that police rarely arrive to an incident in progress. A great deal of anti-fascism is informal and spontaneous response to fascist presence in a subcultural or public space. Such “everyday anti-fascism” intervenes against an immediate threat long before any law enforcement could arrive on the scene.

In the case of protest scenarios, especially in Portland, there is evidence of collaboration and collusion between far-right protesters and police with officers engaging in friendly banter with far-right leaders via text message and police logs indicating the targeting of anti-fascists while ignoring armed alt-right activists.

In this context, antifa activists view their actions as the only means of defense against a demonstrable threat from fascist activists. Militancy becomes a move designed to match the violence of far-right activists with a counter-veiling force. I noted after Charlottesville the danger of drawing an equivalency between the violence of the far-right and militancy of antifa activists, and it rings true today.

In response to fascist organizing and even threats of violence, antifa activists mobilize public shaming and confrontational protest. They do so as part of a countermovement strategy designed to demobilize the fascist movement, and in doing so secure the safety of themselves, vulnerable populations, and their communities.

Stanislav Vysotsky doesn’t make excuses for the fascists, unlike far too many people who are promoting the “never punch fascists under any circumstances” approach.

Close the camps NOW

Today is a day of protest. People will be rallying to let our congressional representatives know the border camps must be shut down — the Morris event will be at 5:30 today, outside the library.

This is a crisis. The comparison to Nazis has never been more appropriate — the border patrol is packed with the worst people, bigots who are actively dehumanizing immigrants and subjecting them to horrendous conditions.

This secret Facebook group for border patrol members, “I am 10-15”, that has been pumping out sewage for years is revealing — imagine if the conversations of Nazi prison camp guards had been preserved for posterity, I’m sure they’d sound just like this.

Recent posts shared with ProPublica include a meme using graphic language to mock CNN anchor Anderson Cooper’s sexual orientation and a comment that referred to soccer star Megan Rapinoe as a man. A separate thread made fun of a video of a migrant man trying to carry a child through a rushing river in a plastic bag.

One poster wrote, “At least it’s already in a trash bag.”

Another wrote, “Sous-vide? Lol,” referring to a method of cooking in a bag.

That’s a child they are laughing at.

Several of our representatives went on a tour of the “detention facilities” (the nicest euphemism anyone can come up with for these hell-holes), and it’s a horror show.

California Democratic Rep. Judy Chu also spoke of CBP’s unwillingness to let the lawmakers see the whole facility — and even accused the officers of cleaning up before the group arrived at one of the stations.

“CBP didn’t want us to talk to them. They actually prohibited us from doing it, but we went ahead and did it anyway,” she said of the El Paso station. “There were 3 cells of about 15 women each, and the tears were streaming down their faces as they talked about their children being separated from them, the lack of running water, the fact that they had been there for over 50 days and had no idea when they were going to leave.”

The conditions described by Kennedy, Ocasio-Cortez, and other politicians corroborate what attorneys — and migrants themselves — have said Border Patrol stations are like. On Monday, the Associated Press obtained footage of an interview with a 12-year-old girl who had been held at the Clint, Texas station. The girl, who was separated from her aunt at the border, said she and the other children were “treated badly,” forced to sleep on the floor, and were barely given food.

That the jailers prohibited anyone from recording, or even talking with the prisoners, says it all. They know they’re doing evil, and that they’re being dragged into the light, and they don’t like it.

Fire them all. Shut the camps down. Let the people go free and reunite the broken families.