Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Posts Tagged ‘bigotry

Racism Is Good at Hiding. Just Ask This White Nationalist Police Officer.

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Zak Cheney-Rice writes in New York:

The historical ties between American law-enforcement agencies and white supremacist groups are well documented. Southern sheriffs abetted Ku Klux Klansmen under Jim Crow. The FBI posted a bulletin in 2006 warning about white nationalists and skinheads infiltrating police entities, citing cases in Ohio, Illinois, Texas, and California, including the formation of a neo-Nazi gang by officials within the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The armed forces have been implicated as well. Federal agents in February arrested a 49-year-old Coast Guard lieutenant and self-described white nationalist who had amassed 15 firearms and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition while planning a massacre of innocent civilians “on a scale rarely seen in this country,” according to court documents.

Most of the accused are united as much by their bigoted beliefs as their ability to fortify them in private while maintaining a veneer of public respectability. But as has been true throughout history, the most recent reported case proves these impulses are not at odds. On the contrary, they are intimately connected, and often make one another possible.

The Daily Beast’s Kelly Weill reported this week that Daniel Morley, a 31-year-old school resource officer employed by L.C. Bird High School in Chesterfield, Virginia, is also an organizer for Identity Evropa, a white nationalist group also known as the American Identity Movement. His involvement was first exposed on Monday by Virginia anti-fascists, according to the report, who leaked the group’s online chat messages. (Morley has since been suspended, pending a departmental investigation). The exchanges they uncovered suggest that Morley holds an esteemed and valuable position within the organization: coordinating new recruits. His particular focus is on helping members hide their bigotry and racist aims from the public by employing misleading language.

According to Weill, this role is an extension of Morley’s activities going back a decade, to his days as a commenter on the white supremacist website Stormfront. “A good strategy would be to steer the definition of ‘racism’ towards ‘racial hatred,’” he reportedly counseled one Identity Evropa member last year. “We don’t hate other races, so we’re not racists. After all, the word isn’t going away. May as well control it.”

In order to be successful, this brand of subterfuge requires a public that is either too ignorant or in willful denial of racism’s machinations to look past the surface. Fortunately for Morley, he lives in the United States, where questions of racism are often litigated in terms of “what’s in a person’s heart,” or what they are willing to admit publicly. Such myopia permitted Representative Steve King of Iowa to espouse white nationalism for more than a decade, with the only rebuke from his fellow Republicans coming in January when he inquired (on the record, in a New York Times profile), “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” It is how U.S. senator and presidential candidate Cory Booker can respond to the question, “Do you believe that Donald Trump is a racist?” with, “I don’t know the heart of anybody. I’ll leave that to the Lord.”

Absent divine insight or X-ray vision, the rest of us will have to do better on our own. To this end, historical evidence is valuable: The impulse to obscure or deny one’s bigoted intentions is not new, nor is it limited to avowed white supremacists. It was being deployed in national politics decades before Donald Trump tried his hand at campaigning, as illuminated when Richard Nixon’s campaign consultant, Lee Atwater, explained the strategy behind his candidate’s efforts to woo southern whites away from the Democratic Party: “By 1968 you can’t say ‘nigger’ — that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract.”

Indeed, such behavior has become more useful in the post–civil-rights era, as open bigotry has become more taboo in polite company and the explicit racism of Jim Crow–era laws and sumptuary codes ran afoul of federal law, requiring evasive action among its adherents. This is where cries of “reverse racism” enter the discourse, where claims like Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts’s 2007 insistence that “the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race” captures the ethos of pols seeking to override civil-rights gains through fealty to a theoretical — but not actual — equality.

Other manifestations have been less mannered. Morley can find perhaps his most famous modern analogue in former KKK grand wizard David Duke, who has spent decades preoccupied with taking his brand of white nationalism mainstream. He has been remarkably successful. Duke, in 1989, was elected to a seat in Louisiana’s House of Representatives, where he served until 1992. These days, he can be found defending other bigots in public using canards and false equivalences. “[In] this country,  . . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

22 March 2019 at 7:57 am

Funding of protests against the community center: some from the Feds

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Nick Baumann and David Corn report at Mother Jones:

President Barack Obama has declared that a group of moderate Muslims have the right to build a community center in lower Manhattan, two blocks from the site once occupied by the World Trade Center towers. Yet representatives of a wholly US government-funded outfit have joined the vociferous opposition to the Park51 or Cordoba House project that critics have dubbed the "Ground Zero Mosque." A leader of this group—which receives $4.3 million a year from the government—has even proclaimed that the community center could be a front for Islamic terrorism. That’s not all: the same agency, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCRIF), has been the subject of an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint for allegedly discriminating against Muslim employees.

The commission was created by Congress in 1998 to monitor religious freedom around the world and scold countries that aren’t meeting religious freedom obligations outlined by international human rights treaties. Its sole source of funding is the US government; it is empowered to make recommendations to the president about policy decisions related to issues of religious freedom. Recently, the commission has decried Vietnam for its systemic violation of religious freedom and slammed China for its repression of Uighur Muslims. But leading conservative members of the commission have supported the opposition to the Cordoba House, essentially joining those who want to deny New York Muslims the freedom to build their religious and cultural center at this particular site.

In a recent piece for National Review Online, Nina Shea, one of USCIRF’s nine commissioners (who are selected by the president and congressional leaders), wrote that instead of "a cultural center for all New Yorkers," the "mosque" project could be "a potential tool for Islamists"—suggesting it would be a hotbed of jihadism that, among other things, spreads the literature and ideas of Islamic extremism. She compared the leaders of the Cordoba House project to convicted terrorist Omar Abdel Rahman (the "blind Sheikh") and accused Fort Hood and Christmas Day bombing coordinator Anwar al-Awlaki. (Shea’s piece, as of Monday, was no longer showing up on the NRO site.)

Shea, long an influential figure in neoconservative circles last appointed to the commission by House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), is not the only commissioner of this religious freedom organization trying to block the Cordoba House project. Leonard Leo, the chairman of the commission and a top official in the conservative Federalist Society, is director of Liberty Central, a new tea party-related rightwing group organized by Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and Liberty Central has organized a petition campaign against the Cordoba House project. Moreover, Virginia Thomas is one of several conservative leaders participating in a 9/11 rally against the Cordoba House project, organized in part by anti-Islam activist/blogger Pam Geller, who runs an organization called Stop Islamization of America and who kick-started the "mosque" controversy. (Geller recently said that Obama has "sided with Islamic jihadists.") To break this down: the chairman of the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (Leonard Leo) is working closely with a conservative activist (Virginia Thomas) who is a featured speaker at an event being mounted by an outright anti-Islam group. [Regarding Thomas’ participation in this rally, see the update below.]

And as TPM reported, Richard Land, another USCIRF commissioner and the influential president of the conservative Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, has opposed the project, comparing it to a (non-existent) Shinto shrine near Pearl Harbor and a (never-built) convent near Auschwitz. (Land says that the USCIRF itself is prohibited from intervening in domestic matters, but the commission has officially criticized a Saudi-run high school in Alexandria, Virginia.)

The USCIRF also happens to have connections to former UN ambassador John Bolton, one of the fiercest critics of the Cordoba House project. Bolton served as a USCIRF commissioner in the early years of the George W. Bush administration, and Jackie Wolcott, the commission’s current executive director, worked under Bolton when Bolton was in charge of nuclear nonproliferation efforts within the Bush State Department. (Bolton wrote the forward to Geller’s anti-Islam book and is another scheduled speaker at her September 11 rally against the project.)

The USCIRF may have internal problems with Muslims, too. In February, the Washington Post broke the news of religious infighting at USCIRF. According to the Post, Safiya Ghori-Ahmad, a former policy analyst at the commission, filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging that her contract was cancelled because she was a Muslim and affiliated with the Muslim Public Affairs Counsel, an advocacy group. Another researcher at the commission, Bridget Kustin, quit in protest after Ghori-Ahmad’s contract was not renewed. In her resignation letter, Kustin wrote that she did not want to "remain part of an organization that would be willing to engage in such discrimination."

In a message on the commission’s website, Leonard Leo notes that …

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Written by LeisureGuy

25 August 2010 at 12:29 pm

It’s difficult to respect Jonah Goldberg on any day

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Alex Pareene in Salon:

Jonah Goldberg, whose columns are apparently published in grown-up newspapers for consumption by literate adults, uses today’s to expand on a theme that he first toyed with at The Corner last week: Liberals are the real intolerant ones because they make up "Islamophobia" and accuse Real Americans of it.

Here’s the lede:

Here’s a thought: The 70% of Americans who oppose what amounts to an Islamic Niketown two blocks from ground zero are the real victims of a climate of hate, and anti-Muslim backlash is mostly a myth.

First: "an Islamic Niketown"? What … what does that mean? Will there be shoes for sale? Are Americans objecting to the commercialization of the sacred ground near but not adjacent or particularly related to the former site of the World Trade Center, where a complex of commercial office building are currently being constructed? Couldn’t Goldberg, who is Jewish and from New York, have come up with an analogy that actually helped explain to his readers what he is talking about?

The data backing up Goldberg’s thesis? FBI hate crime statistics. That’s it. There were only 481 hate crimes against Muslims in 2001, "the year a bunch of Muslim terrorists murdered 3,000 Americans in the name of Islam on Sept. 11," Jonah helpfully reminds us. ("Now, that was a hate crime," he adds, because he is a truly execrable columnist.)

Goldberg certainly doesn’t like hate crimes, but he finds that to be an acceptable number of them. Although, the ADL presented the FBI’s numbers with the disclaimer that "anti-Islamic" bias crimes are hard to classify, because people were going around stabbing Sikhs and blowing up Hindu temples in the weeks after 9/11. One group, using contemporary media accounts, found 645 incidents of bias in the first week after 9/11.

And as Conor Friedersdorf pointed out when Goldberg first tried this line, even outside of outright crime or incidents of harassment or threats, the entire national media conversation became, at times, incredibly anti-Islamic. Goldberg claims, hopefully (but probably not) in jest, that occasionally "heated" anti-Muslim rhetoric is dwarfed by "open bigotry toward evangelical Christians" on the Op-Ed page of the New York Times. If anyone can point to anything published in the Times that is as hysterically anti-Christian as, say, any random week’s worth of Andy McCarthy’s contributions to the National Review, please let me know.

Then there is the fact that this miserable summer has, from sea to shining sea, featured  enraged white people staging marches in the street attacking all Muslims as terrorist sympathizers, for the crime of wanting to build a house of worship in their communities. And the entire conservative political elite, along with a huge portion of the supposed other wing, refuse to even bother to condemn it. (Indeed, they indulge it! The Muslims in New York are all told to be more "sensitive" to the angry white people!)

So you can maybe see why some people are concerned about an atmosphere of intolerance toward American Muslims, and the possible effects of such an atmosphere. It is about more than just FBI-identified bias crimes.

The "news peg" of that Time cover on Islamophobia that Jonah is so mad about is not some sort of lofty essay about stupid middle-American pigs being bigots; it is based on an actual poll, of the Americans themselves.Some fun findings:

Twenty-eight percent of voters do not believe Muslims should be eligible to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. Nearly one-third of the country thinks adherents of Islam should be barred from running for President — a slightly higher percentage than the 24% who mistakenly believe the current occupant of the Oval Office is himself a Muslim.

Forty-four percent of Americans have a favorable view of Muslims. Even Mormons top 50 percent.

I’m just saying that before we go around congratulating ourselves, as a nation, for not spending even more time vandalizing the property of people we suspect to be Muslim and physically attacking anyone in a turban, we should maybe ask ourselves if we are setting the bar a bit low.

But Goldberg apparently thinks that it’s bigoted against real Americans to be at all concerned about bias against American Muslims, because Goldberg, who does not give a shit about American Muslims, does not think the coordinated nationwide campaign to make people uneasy about them has led to that much violence.

This, actually, is the funniest line from Goldberg’s piece:

Meanwhile, to listen to Obama — say in his famous Cairo address — you’d think America has been at war with Islam for 30 years and only now, thanks to him, can we heal the rift. It’s an odd argument given that Americans have shed a lot of blood for Muslims over the last three decades: to end the slaughter of Muslims in the Balkans, to feed Somalis and to liberate Kuwaitis, Iraqis and Afghans.

Well, if that is how you interpreted that speech, I can understand why you’d find it "an odd arguments." Lots of arguments probably seem odd when you don’t understand rhetoric or logic. But, yes, Jonah Goldberg still thinks America is owed a great big fucking thank you from all the people we’ve been "liberating" in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Barack Obama should spend less time apologizing to people who hate us for our freedom and more time apologizing to people who hate him because they think he’s a Muslim.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 August 2010 at 12:22 pm

Posted in Daily life

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It’s difficult to respect Abe Foxman today

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He had his day, and is now acting against his earlier positions, which he apparently did not mean. He increasingly seems like a bigoted jerk. Justin Elliott at Salon:

Yesterday we reported on the Anti-Defamation League’s unusual lobbying effort against a trip to concentration camp sites by a group of U.S. imams and a few Obama Administration officials.

And now one of those officials, envoy to combat anti-Semitism Hannah Rosenthal, has issued a response to the ADL in a statement to Politico’s Laura Rozen.

The background is that the ADL, while acknowledging that National Director Abe Foxman lobbied against U.S. officials’ participation in the trip, claimed Monday that Foxman objected only because he thinks Rosenthal should be focusing on "government to government" work. (Though a person familiar with the trip told Salon Monday that Foxman went so far as to call a Polish rabbi during the imams’ trip earlier this month to implore the rabbi not to meet with the American group.)

In response to the ADL’s objection, Rosenthal explained: "My reason for going was simple – Anti-Semitism is growing in places for different reasons, but Holocaust denial is growing in parts of the Muslim communities and must be confronted in order to combat the anti-Semitism that accompanies it."

It’s also worth noting that the imams’ trip to Auschwitz ended with a strong joint statement denouncing anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.

Here’s Rosenthal’s full statement:

My reason for going was simple – Anti-Semitism is growing in places for different reasons, but Holocaust denial is growing in parts of the Muslim communities and must be confronted in order to combat the anti-Semitism that accompanies it.

The response to my participation on the trip has been overwhelmingly positive and encouraging. As I travel to countries facing increased anti-Semitism, I regularly meet with Jewish organizations, and interfaith and interethnic organizations, in addition to meeting with government leaders. I recognize that this age-old hatred will take a multi-faceted approach: calling for government leadership in condemning anti-Semitism; better education for the younger generation; interfaith understanding and advocacy; and good old-fashioned relationship building. I am trying hard to do just that.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 August 2010 at 12:18 pm

Posted in Daily life, Religion

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