Later On

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

Posts Tagged ‘Racism

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

Roads to nowhere: how infrastructure built on American inequality`

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Johnny Miller reports in the Guardian:

It’s a little after 3pm in Detroit’s 8 Mile neighbourhood, and the cicadas are buzzing loudly in the trees. Children weave down the pavements on bicycles, while a pickup basketball game gets under way in a nearby park. The sky is a deep blue with only a hint of an approaching thunderstorm – in other words, a muggy, typical summer Sunday in Michigan’s largest city.

“8 Mile”, as the locals call it, is far from the much-touted economic “renaissance” taking place in Detroit’s centre. Tax delinquency and debt are still major issues, as they are in most places in the city. Crime and blight exist side by side with carefully trimmed hedgerows and mowed lawns, a patchwork that changes from block to block. In many ways it resembles every other blighted neighbourhood in the city – but with one significant difference. Hidden behind the oak-lined streets is an insidious piece of history that most Detroiters, let alone Americans, don’t even know exists: a half mile-long, 5ft tall concrete barrier that locals simply call “the wall”.

“Growing up, we didn’t know what that wall was for,” says Teresa Moon, president of the 8 Mile Community Organization. “It used to be a rite of passage to walk on top of the wall, like a balancing beam. You know, just kids having fun, that kind of thing. It was only later when I found out what it was for, and when I realised the audacity that they had to build it.”

In 1942, 8 Mile was a black neighbourhood – segregated by law, segregated by culture, segregated from white Oakland County by the eponymous 8 Mile Road. It was a self-contained community, filled with not only African Americans but immigrants of all colours, some of whom had built their houses with their own hands.

It was also adjacent to empty land – valuable land that developers were rapaciously turning into homes for a surging postwar population. Land that one housing developer wanted to use to build a “whites-only neighbourhood”. The only problem was, he couldn’t get federal funding to develop the land unless he could prove he had a strategy to prevent black people and white people from mixing. His answer: wall off the white neighbourhood with a concrete barrier.

“That wall is a monument,” says Moon. “We survived it. It’s a part of what happened, and no one feels any negativity towards what happened.”

Her neighbour, Lou Ross, agrees. “What that Wall was intended for, it didn’t work that way. It did for a minute – but it didn’t last.”

Today, policymakers are making plans to revamp the nation’s infrastructure. The Trump administration has pledged to create a $1tn infrastructure renewal plan, and came to power, after all, on the promise of building a massive wall. But, like Trump’s wall and the 8-mile wall, infrastructure is not value-free – and the decisions made now will affect the future of inequality in our cities.

To get an understanding of how infrastructure transforms communities, there’s no better place to start than the Federal Housing Authority “redlining” housing maps. Commissioned by the federal government in the 1930s, these maps were critical to decisions of where and what type of infrastructure, lending and housing each neighbourhood of each American city would be able to receive.

“The FHA promoted home ownership in new – and primarily suburban – neighbourhoods so long as they were white and not ethnically or economically diverse,” writes Antero Pietila in Not in My Neighbourhood: How Bigotry Shaped a Great American City.

If your neighbourhood had the misfortune to be “redlined”, it was often doomed to a future of stillborn investment and decay. Specifically, it would be impossible to secure federally backed mortgages, a sort of scarlet letter branded across huge swaths of the city. Developers avoided these areas and concentrated investment into white areas, and services stagnated. The seeds of the future ghettos of America had been sown.

FHA maps were created for every major city in the US. Original assessment documents unearthed by researchers at the T-Races project reveal the cold, casually racist way in which data collectors consigned vast neighbourhoods to neglect and poverty:

This is a ‘melting pot’ area and is literally honeycombed with diverse and subversive racial elements. It is seriously doubted whether there is a single block in the area which does not contain detrimental racial elements … It is hazardous residential territory and is accorded a general medial red grade – Original FHA evaluator report for Boyle Heights, California

West Oakland in California is a typical example of a redlined neighbourhood.

Continue reading.

There’s a lot more, illustrated with photos, about how racism shaped infrastructure. The part on Baltimore is particularly interesting since I have family who live there.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 February 2018 at 9:45 am

Posted in Business, Daily life, Government

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Trump’s Pardon Aside, Reporters Have Built Long Rap Sheet Against Sheriff Joe

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Ryan Gabrielson reports in ProPublica:

President Donald Trump issued his first pardon to Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County sheriff famous for using his local police force to aggressively pursue undocumented immigrants. In its official statement, the White House credited Arpaio with “more than fifty years of admirable service to our nation,” which made him “a worthy candidate” for a pardon.

Below is a list of essential reading on one of the most reviled and beloved lawmen in the U.S.

In November 2004, Arpaio won re-election to his fourth term as sheriff and quickly set about reorganizing the police force by transferring some 140 deputies to different positions. Mark Flatten, then a reporter at the East Valley Tribune, found evidence the moves were tied to the deputies’ political loyalty, or lack thereof, to Arpaio. “Those who worked to re-elect the sheriff moved into more prized positions,” Flatten wrote. “An analysis of the transfers of sworn officers by the Tribune shows deputies who backed Saban, Arpaio’s rival in the Republican primary last September, were moved to such jobs as transporting prisoners or standing watch in courtrooms.”

The sheriff’s office had long feuded with the Phoenix New Times, an alternative weekly newspaper that broke major stories about misconduct by Arpaio’s force. In August 2007, the agency’s top commanders teamed with local prosecutors to subpoena seemingly every document inside the newsroom, ostensibly as part of a criminal probe. The order warned the New Times that it was a crime to disclose anything about the subpoena. Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, then New Times’ publishers, did not remain silent.

That October, the newspaper plastered across its front page the headline: “Breathtaking Abuse of The Constitution,” and provided the public with every detail. The subpoena demanded “every note, tape, and record from every story written about Sheriff Arpaio by every reporter over a period of years,” the publishers wrote. Worse yet, the sheriff’s office wanted information on the newspaper’s readers, including “every individual who looked at any story, review, listing, classified, or retail ad over a period of years.” Sheriff’s deputies arrested Lacey and Larkin at their homes the evening they published, and held them for several hours.

Arpaio allowed William Finnegan, staff writer at The New Yorker, to attend his meetings, ride along in his car, and interview his top commanders at great length in early 2009. The result of that access is a revealing, unsparing profile of Arpaio and the police force he ran at the peak of its illegal immigration enforcement. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 August 2017 at 4:48 pm

Systemic racism in America explained in just three minutes

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Jason Kottke has a powerful post, which begins with a three-minute video:

Kottke writes:

This short video shows several ways in which systemic racism is still very much alive and well in the United States in 2017. See also Race Forward’s video series featuring Jay Smooth.

“What Is Systemic Racism?” is an 8-part video series that shows how racism shows up in our lives across institutions and society: Wealth Gap, Employment, Housing Discrimination, Government Surveillance, Incarceration, Drug Arrests, Immigration Arrests, Infant Mortality… yes, systemic racism is really a thing.

The reason why this matters should be obvious. Just like extra effort can harness the power of compound interest in knowledge and productivity, even tiny losses that occur frequently can add up to a large deficit. If you are constantly getting dinged in even small ways just for being black, those losses add up and compound over time. Being charged more for a car and other purchases means less life savings. Less choice in housing results in higher prices for property in less desirable neighborhoods, which can impact choice of schools for your kids, etc. Fewer callbacks for employment means you’re less likely to get hired. Even if you do get the job, if you’re late for work even once every few months because you get stopped by the police, you’re a little more likely to get fired or receive a poor evaluation from your boss. Add up all those little losses over 30-40 years, and you get exponential losses in income and social status.

And these losses often aren’t small at all, to say nothing of drug offenses and prison issues; those are massive life-changing setbacks. The war on drugs and racially selective enforcement have hollowed out black America’s social and economic core. . .

Continue reading.

The fact is that the United States has been a racist society since its beginning, and it is obvious to those who look. However, many whites, enjoying their privileged position, will not look. (A good book in this connection: Vital Lies, Simple Truths: The Psychology of Self-Deception, by Daniel Goleman.) To take one glaringly obvious example: the genocide of the Native Americans, who still must struggle to make their voice heard (cf. the Dakota Access Pipeline struggle at Standing Rock).  Of see the attitude many Americans express about immigrants.

One good example is the War on Drugs. When drugs were a serious problem in the black community, as in the days of crack cocaine, we got paramilitary actions against both drug suppliers and drug victims, with mandatory minimum sentences and tens of thousands sent to prison for the crime of addiction.

Now, however, the drug epidemic is affecting white victims, and lo! the tactics used are suddenly much more compassionate. See, for example, Al Baker’s report “When Opioid Addicts Find an Ally in Blue” in the NY Times:

BURLINGTON, Vt. — In this college town on the banks of Lake Champlain, Chief Brandon del Pozo has hired a plain-spoken social worker to oversee opioids policy and has begun mapping heroin deaths the way his former commanders in the New York Police Department track crime.

In New York City, detectives are investigating overdoses with the rigor of homicides even if murder charges are a long shot. They are plying the mobile phones of the dead for clues about suppliers and using telltale marks on heroin packages and pills to trace them back to dealers. And like their colleagues in Philadelphia and Ohio, they are racing to issue warnings about deadly strains of drugs when bodies fall, the way epidemiologists take on Zika.

The police in Arlington, Mass., intervene with vulnerable users. Officials in Everett, Wash., have sued a pharmaceutical firm that they say created a black market for addicts. Seattle’s officers give low-level drug and prostitution suspects a choice: treatment instead of arrest and jail.

Opioids are cutting through the country, claiming increasing deaths and, in some cities, wrecking more lives than traffic fatalities and murders combined. Police leaders are weary of the scenes: 911 calls; bodies with needles in their arms; drugs called “fire” strewn about. They are assigning themselves a big role in reversing the problems. They are working with public health officials, and carrying more antidote for heroin and its synthetic cousin fentanyl.

Continue reading the main story

Few see policing, by itself, as the answer to such a complex social problem, certainly not through enforcement alone. The law enforcement approach to the crack-cocaine scourge of the late 1980s filled jails and prisons, expanded government and did little to address the social issues driving that addiction crisis.

“The police can play a critical role in a very broadly based social and medical response,” said Samuel Walker, an emeritus professor of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska Omaha. “So if people think we are going to arrest our way out of the opioid crisis, they’re wrong.”

Governors like Andrew M. Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey, both former prosecutors, have adopted a notably compassionate tone in framing the crisis. In 2014, Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont used 34 minutes of his state-of-the state speech to urge treatment and support for addicts. As a candidate, President Trump vowed to solve America’s drug crisis, a pledge that resonated in impoverished, rural areas that have been ravaged in recent years by opioids.

Labeling it a health epidemic, not a war on drugs, marks a stark contrast with the criminal justice system’s approach to the crack-cocaine plague, which was met by mass arrests in mostly black and Hispanic communities. [But the opioid epidemic is affecting whites, so a totally different approach is used. – LG]

Now, policing leaders claim to have learned from the past. But they also know how violent crime can flow from illegal drugs the way Anthony Riccio, a chief in the Chicago Police Department, says is happening in his city. A big fear among police chiefs is that increased demand for low-cost, high-potency opioids will lead to more shootings, and murders, as prices drop and drug traffickers organize.

In Mexico, where almost all of the heroin entering the United States is grown and cultivated, violence surrounding the drug trade is “horrific,” said Chuck Rosenberg, who runs the Drug Enforcement Administration.

But American cities are not immune.

“In almost all of our major seizures and arrests, we’re encountering weapons,” Mr. Rosenberg said. “And there’s only one reason to have those around.”

Increasingly, the police find themselves scrambling from call to call for reports of seemingly lifeless bodies. Death counts are rising. Nearly 1,400 people died of drug overdoses in New York City last year, the highest ever and up from 937 the previous year. In Philadelphia, the tally was 906. Nationally, there were 52,000 overdose deaths in 2015, Mr. Rosenberg said. And last year, the drug overdose death count likely exceeded 59,000, according to preliminary data compiled by The New York Times. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 June 2017 at 9:37 am

Oregon is the White Supremacist state

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I generally think of Idaho as a state with an active white supremacist movement, but clearly I was wrong. Keegan Stephan informs us about Oregon:

Last week, a white supremacist allegedly stabbed two men to death and severely wounded another who tried to intervene as he hurled racial slurs at a black woman and a Muslim woman. Yet one of the most shocking aspects of the incident was where it occurred: Portland, Ore. Many Americans consider the city to be a progressive utopia, to the point of televised parody. The truth is far more complicated.

I went to high school outside Portland, and I encountered more overt white supremacy there than anywhere else. Progressive politics and discrimination are not mutually exclusive. Many classmates who would have described themselves as progressive expressed white supremacist ideals, often in violent terms. Without diversity, overt racism often goes unchecked. And where it goes unchecked, it persists.

While Portland is indeed progressive on many political issues, it is still the whitest large city in America — and that’s by design. Before becoming a state in 1859, Oregon passed laws that prohibited slavery but also required all African Americans to leave the territory. It simply wanted no black people. It went so far as to make the “crime” of being black punishable by floggings until the “perpetrator” left. Thus, when Oregon joined the union, it joined not as a free state or a slave state, but as a no-blacks state, the only state to do so.

Even as the rest of the country began to extend rights to African Americans after the Civil War, Oregon held fast to its racist origins. When the 15th Amendment was ratified in 1870, giving black men the right to vote, Oregon was one of only a few states not to sign on, and refused do so until 1959. While the 14th Amendment was passed in 1868, granting citizenship and equal protection of the law to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States,” Oregon did not ratify it until 1973.

The state left on the books anti-miscegenation and other laws that clearly violated the equal protection clause well into the 20th century. Until 2002 , the Oregon constitution even insisted that “no free Negro, or mulatto . . . shall come, reside, or be within this State, or hold any real estate.”

Technically, these laws were unconstitutional despite Oregon’s refusal to ratify the 14th Amendment, and anyone prosecuted under them should have been able to successfully overturn their conviction. Yet their existence still served to intimidate; the weight of the state’s criminal-justice system stood behind them, as Portland proved just as willing to enforce Jim Crow-style segregation as the Deep South, even banning black people from public swimming pools into the 1960s. The possibility of successfully challenging the application of these racist laws in federal court, even for those with the means to do so, offered little comfort.

I was lucky enough to live across the street from Judge Belton Hamilton, the first black federal administrative law judge in the state. (A black justice still has not been appointed to Oregon’s highest state court.) One of the kindest and most generous men I’ve ever met, Hamilton told me that he never felt safe living in the state under these laws. He told me that he had to draft legislation in order to legally marry his wife (a Japanese American woman) and to buy his house in our small suburb. But although Hamilton may have helped to rewrite the laws, he never successfully changed the hearts of all our neighbors. I remember his house being vandalized regularly growing up. I remember helping him pick toilet paper out of his trees and scrub swastikas off of his stone walkway — in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

As tragic as last week’s murders were, they should shock no one. In a state that sought to exclude black people entirely, and that openly discriminated as long as the Jim Crow South, no one should be surprised that violent, white-supremacist ideologies still flourish. In the 1920s, Oregon had the largest Ku Klux Klan membership per capita of any state; in the 1980s, white nationalists chose Portland as a place to establish themselves in the Northwest; in 1988, a skinhead, egged on by two others, beat Nigerian immigrant Mulugeta Seraw to death with a bat; in 2016, a white supremacist was charged with a hate crime after mowing down a black teenager named Larnell Bruce with his SUV; just two months before this latest attack, ProPublica and BuzzFeed found that Oregon has recently had more documented hate crimes than any other state. A white nationalist rally is still slated to take place just two weeks after this latest double slaying. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 June 2017 at 5:52 pm

Posted in Daily life

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The racist base of the GOP

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Not all in the GOP are racist, by any means. But there is a substantial block, particularly in the South. Paul Krugman points out in his NY Times column today:

. . . My own understanding of the role of race in U.S. exceptionalism was largely shaped by two academic papers.

The first, by the political scientist Larry Bartels, analyzed the move of the white working class away from Democrats, a move made famous in Thomas Frank’s “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” Mr. Frank argued that working-class whites were being induced to vote against their own interests by the right’s exploitation of cultural issues. But Mr. Bartels showed that the working-class turn against Democrats wasn’t a national phenomenon — it was entirely restricted to the South, where whites turned overwhelmingly Republican after the passage of the Civil Rights Act and Richard Nixon’s adoption of the so-called Southern strategy.

And this party-switching, in turn, was what drove the rightward swing of American politics after 1980. Race made Reaganism possible. And to this day Southern whites overwhelmingly vote Republican, to the tune of 85 or even 90 percent in the deep South.

The second paper, by the economists Alberto Alesina, Edward Glaeser, and Bruce Sacerdote, was titled “Why Doesn’t the United States Have a European-style Welfare State?” Its authors — who are not, by the way, especially liberal — explored a number of hypotheses, but eventually concluded that race is central, because in America programs that help the needy are all too often seen as programs that help Those People: “Within the United States, race is the single most important predictor of support for welfare. America’s troubled race relations are clearly a major reason for the absence of an American welfare state.”

Now, that paper was published in 2001, and you might wonder if things have changed since then. Unfortunately, the answer is that they haven’t, as you can see by looking at how states are implementing — or refusing to implement — Obamacare.

For those who haven’t been following this issue, in 2012 the Supreme Court gave individual states the option, if they so chose, of blocking the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid, a key part of the plan to provide health insurance to lower-income Americans. But why would any state choose to exercise that option? After all, states were being offered a federally-funded program that would provide major benefits to millions of their citizens, pour billions into their economies, and help support their health-care providers. Who would turn down such an offer?

The answer is, 22 states at this point, although some may eventually change their minds. And what do these states have in common? Mainly, a history of slaveholding: Only one former member of the Confederacy has expanded Medicaid, and while a few Northern states are also part of the movement, more than 80 percent of the population in Medicaid-refusing America lives in states that practiced slavery before the Civil War.

And it’s not just health reform: a history of slavery is a strong predictor of everything from gun control (or rather its absence), to low minimum wages and hostility to unions, to tax policy. . .

Written by LeisureGuy

22 June 2015 at 5:02 pm

Posted in Daily life, GOP, Politics

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White supremacy groups

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Fascinating video well worth watching. Thanks, Bob.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 June 2008 at 11:39 am

Posted in Daily life

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