Category Archives: Intolerance

Presidential race: Austria’s Bernie-lite beats alt-right


Sunday’s Austrian presidential election bore some distinct similarities to the American presidential race, albeit one in which Bernie Sanders ghad won the Democratic nomination.

The race pitted an unaffiliated liberal, one decidedly to the right of Sanders, against an unalloyed anti-immigrant nationalist who evoked strong feelings of the darkest period of modern Austrian history.

Alexander Van der Bellen, an independent, triumphed over Norbert Hofer, candidate of the Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs [Austrian Freedom Party], a collection of far-right activists, many of whom call for creation of a Großdeutschland, a unified nation consisting of Austrian and Germany, and a phrase used by another Austrian-born politician who briefly accomplished the unification just before launching the Second World War.

Hofer, who packs a Glock and called for an end to Austria’s strict gun control laws, also sports a blue cornflower boutonniere, just as Austrian Nazis did during the 1930s during the periods when the party was banned.

From Deutsche  Welle:

According to a exit poll conducted by Austrian broadcaster ORF on Sunday, independent candidate Alexander Van der Bellen has been elected as Austrian president after winning 53.6 percent of the vote.

Right-wing candidate Norbert Hofer conceded defeat after garnering 46.6 percent of the electorate.

Van der Bellen had the backing of Austria’s Green Party, but ran as an independent in Sunday’s election. A pro-European liberal, the 72-year-old aspires to a fence-free “United States of Europe” and is a supporter of gay marriage.

During the bitter 11-month campaign, he won the support of many young Austrians and celebrities, calling for the country to be guided by “reasons not extremes.”

Israeli shapes a U.S. law enabling campus purges


How would Americans like it if, say, North Korea dictated a law barring criticism of that country on U.S. campuses.

We imagine lots of folks would get righteously upset.

But an Israeli propagandist and former Deputy Prime Minister has done just that.

From the Intercept:

After Donald Trump’s election emboldened white supremacists and inspired a wave of anti-Semitic hate incidents across the country, the Senate on Thursday took action by passing a bill aimed at limiting the free-speech rights of college students who express support for Palestinians.

By unanimous consent, the Senate quietly passed the so-called Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, only two days after it was introduced by Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Tim Scott, R-S.C.

A draft of the bill obtained by The Intercept encourages the Department of Education to use the State Department’s broad, widely criticized definition of anti-Semitism when investigating schools. That definition, from a 2010 memo, includes as examples of anti-Semitism “delegitimizing” Israel, “demonizing” Israel, “applying double standards” to Israel, and “focusing on Israel only for peace or human rights investigations.”

Critics have pointed out that those are political — not racist — positions, shared by a significant number of Jews, and qualify as protected speech under the First Amendment of the Constitution.

According to the draft, the bill does not adopt the definition as a formal legal standard, it only directs the State Department to “take into consideration” the definition when investigating schools for anti-Semitic discrimination under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

Now why do we say that the law is the creation of an Israeli propagandist?

That’s because those key words — demonizing, delegitimizing, demonizing — are the formula created by Israeli political propagandist, Natan Sharansky, a former Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs and a good friend of Sheldon Adelson, the zealous Ziocon and Las Vegas casino magnate, and newspaper publisher who poured $25 million into a Trump-supporting PAC and sits on Trump’s inauguration committee.

Sharanksy,’s formulation is a brilliant semantic coup, employing words of such vagueness that they can be applied to virtually any critic of Israeli policies.

We know that, because they have been applied to us, repeatedly, first when reporting on the actions of a campaign launched against the Berkeley Daily Planet, a paper that came under fire from a motley crew of militant Ziocons angry because the paper published letters critical of Israeli government policies toward its Palestinian population.

Hillary Clinton lead the way

Attesting to the brilliance of Sharansky’s word-spinning is the fact that it was adopted as the adoption of that very definition of antisemitism by the State Department under Hillary Clinton.

Surely it’s legitimate to criticize the actions of a government which clearly applies double standards by seizing land and homes of non-Jewish citizens while not taking the same actions toward the property of its Jewish citizens.

Similarly, one could question’s Israel’s legitimacy, given that the state was created as the result of an accord between by the British and French governments without the consent of those who lived their, the majority of them not Jewish.

As for demonizing, what word could be more vague?

Trump’s tweet addiction linked to narcissism


While this new academic study doesn’t mention Trump by name, the behaviors described fit no one better.

From the University of Georgia [emphases added]:

A new statistical review of 62 studies with over 13,000 individuals found that narcissism has a modest but reliable positive relationship with a range of social media behaviors. The largest effects were with the number of friends/followers narcissists had and frequency of status updates, followed by selfie postings, according to University of Georgia psychology researchers.

The two strains of narcissistic behavior — grandiose narcissism and vulnerable narcissism — showed different relationships to social media use. Grandiose narcissism, the more extroverted, callous form, positively related to time spent on social media, the frequency of updates, number of friends/followers, and the frequency of posting selfies. Vulnerable narcissism, the more insecure form, did not show any relationship to social media, but there was relatively little research on this form of narcissism.

“The stories you have heard about grandiose narcissism on social media are probably true,” said the study’s senior author, Keith Campbell, a professor of psychology in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

Campbell, co-author of the best-selling “The Narcissism Epidemic,” notes that “when you engage with social media, you will be engaging with more narcissism than might really exist in the world. This might distort your view of the world as being more narcissistic than it is.”

“It is important to remember that these are only correlations, however,” said the study’s lead author, Jessica McCain, a graduate student in the Behavioral and Brain Sciences Program in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of psychology. “This is not evidence that social media causes narcissism or vice versa. Theoretically, we suspect that individuals with pre-existing narcissism are drawn to social media, but the present evidence only establishes that the two are related.”

“Networks on social media aren’t designed by people in Silicon Valley,” Campbell said. “They are built one link at a time by users. And narcissists seem to be central to this build-out.”

The study, “Narcissism and Social Media Use: A Meta-Analytic Review,” was published in the early online edition of Psychology of Popular Media Culture and is available here [$11.95 to download].

The diagnostic criteria for grandiose narcissism

So what is grandiose narcissism?

Here are the diagnostic criteria from the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the standard reference for psychiatrists and other mental health professionals. We opted for it rather than the subsequent fifth edition, which uses a lot more words to say the same things:

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).
2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
3. Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
4. Requires excessive admiration.
5. Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations.
6. Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.
7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.

And something to help you with the diagnosis

From a fascinating collection of Trumpisms assembled by author Eliot Weinberger for the London Review of Books:

  • ‘My entire life, I’ve watched politicians bragging about how poor they are, how they came from nothing, how poor their parents and grandparents were. And I said to myself, if they can stay so poor for so many generations, maybe this isn’t the kind of person we want to be electing to higher office. How smart can they be? They’re morons.’
  • ‘The beauty of me is that I’m very rich.’
  • ‘I fully think apologising’s a great thing – but you have to be wrong. I will absolutely apologise sometime in the hopefully distant future if I am ever wrong.’
  • ‘I love women. They’ve come into my life. They’ve gone out of my life. Even those who have exited somewhat ungracefully still have a place in my heart. I only have one regret in the women department – that I never had the opportunity to court Lady Diana Spencer.’
  • [On daughter Ivanka]: ‘She does have a very nice figure. I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.’ ‘Yeah, she’s really something, and what a beauty, that one. If I weren’t happily married and, ya know, her father…’
  • ‘My fingers are long and beautiful, as, it has been well documented, are various other parts of my body.’
  • ‘My IQ is one of the highest – and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure; it’s not your fault.’
  • ‘We won with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated.’
  • ‘With nuclear, the power, the devastation is very important to me.’
  • ‘Love him or hate him, Donald Trump is a man who is certain about what he wants and sets out to get it, no holds barred. Women find his power almost as much of a turn-on as his money.’
  • ‘When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength.’
  • [When confronted by the father of a Muslim U.S. army captain killed in Afghanistan angry over Trump;’s virulent anti-Muslim rhetoricm, who asked the Donald what sacrifices he had made for his country] ‘I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I’ve had tremendous success. I think I’ve done a lot.’

Trump supporters mock a transgender suicide


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The story, from U.S. Uncut:

Donald Trump loyalists recently took pleasure in the news of a transgender woman’s suicide, openly celebrating on a Facebook page to honor her memory.

Last Wednesday in Pierre, South Dakota, Lizzy Waites committed suicide out of loneliness and desperation. She posted her suicide note publicly on her Facebook page.

“I’m so sorry to all the people I hurt by killing myself. I truly am. I’ve been hurting so bad and I can’t form words to communicate it to you,” Waites wrote. “I’m so lonely.”

According to the Daily Beast, Waites’ partner, Amanda — whom she had been with for 9 years and with whom she had a 5-year-old son — was about to write her last goodbyes as a comment on the Facebook note when hateful messages from profiles invoking Donald Trump’s name and face began posting hateful comments.

What may have drawn the ire of Trump’s supporters was a paragraph near the end of the note, in which Lizzy Waites wrote, “The pills are taking effect and I can’t think straight. I love you all,” before writing, “Dump Trump. Kill him. Mike Pence too. Goodnight white pride. Steal the hats and destroy them. Best [sic] fascists with a baseball bat.”

Trump-inspired hate floods the nation’s classrooms


Not only are incidents of overt racism and hatred on the rise in the nation’s schools, fear is leading teachers not to talk about it.

From the Southern Poverty Law Center:

In the first days after the 2016 presidential election, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project administered an online survey to K–12 educators from across the country. Over 10,000 teachers, counselors, administrators and others who work in schools have responded. The survey data indicate that the results of the election are having a profoundly negative impact on schools and students. Ninety percent of educators report that school climate has been negatively affected, and most of them believe it will have a long-lasting impact. A full 80 percent describe heightened anxiety and concern on the part of students worried about the impact of the election on themselves and their families.

Also on the upswing: verbal harassment, the use of slurs and derogatory language, and disturbing incidents involving swastikas, Nazi salutes and Confederate flags.

Teaching Tolerance conducted a previous survey in March, when we asked teachers how the primary campaign season was affecting our nation’s students. The 2,000 educators who responded reported that the primary season was producing anxiety among vulnerable students and emboldening others to new expressions of politicized bullying. Teachers overwhelming named the source of both the anxiety and the behavior as Donald Trump, then a leading contender for the Republican nomination.

Since Trump was elected, media have been awash in reports of hate incidents around the nation, including at schools. Some detractors have characterized the reports as isolated, exaggerated or even as hoaxes. This survey, which was distributed by several organizations (see About the Survey for a complete list), via email and social media, offers the richest source of information about the immediate impact of the election on our country. The findings show that teachers, principals and district leaders will have an oversized job this year as they work to heal the rifts within school communities.

The survey asked respondents a mix of easily quantifiable questions and also offered them a chance to describe what was happening in open-ended questions. There are over 25,000 responses, in the form of comments and stories, to the open-ended questions. It will take time to fully analyze and report on those comments. This report provides a high-level summary of the findings.

Here are the highlights:

  • Nine out of 10 educators who responded have seen a negative impact on students’ mood and behavior following the election; most of them worry about the continuing impact for the remainder of the school year.
  • Eight in 10 report heightened anxiety on the part of marginalized students, including immigrants, Muslims, African Americans and LGBT students.
  • Four in 10 have heard derogatory language directed at students of color, Muslims, immigrants and people based on gender or sexual orientation.
  • Half said that students were targeting each other based on which candidate they’d supported.
  • Although two-thirds report that administrators have been “responsive,” four out of 10 don’t think their schools have action plans to respond to incidents of hate and bias.
  • Over 2,500 educators described specific incidents of bigotry and harassment that can be directly traced to election rhetoric. These incidents include graffiti (including swastikas), assaults on students and teachers, property damage, fights and threats of violence.
  • Because of the heightened emotion, half are hesitant to discuss the election in class. Some principals have told teachers to refrain from discussing or addressing the election in any way.

Read the rest.

Trump picks yet another virulent Islamophobe


This time the choice to play a key role in the handover of the Department of Homeland Security, and agency certain to play a key role in Trump’s own promised targeting of the nation’s Islamic citizens,  immigrants, and refugees.

From the Intercept:

Katharine Gorka, a controversial national security analyst who specializes in discussing the threat posed by Muslims to the United States, has complained bitterly that the Department of Homeland Security trains its agents — falsely, in her opinion — that Islam is a “religion of peace.”

Now, Gorka will have a chance to help Donald Trump remake the department. On Tuesday, she was selected by Trump to be part of the DHS “landing team” that will meet with Obama’s DHS officials to manage the handoff to new leadership.

Gorka, the president of a think tank called the Council on Global Security and the president of Threat Knowledge Group, a consulting firm, is a well-known figure among anti-Muslim campaigners.

Gorka argues that defeating terrorism depends “upon our being able to call the enemy by its proper name: Global Jihadism.” She has pushed legislation to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group and impose sanctions on its “affiliates, associated groups, or agents.”

The affiliated groups mentioned in the legislation include mainstream civil rights organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Islamic Society of North America.

Trump really, really hates the First Amendment


His latest umbrage outrage, revealed in a tweet [of course]:

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The Washington Post reports:

President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday threatened loss of citizenship or jail for those who burn the American flag, saying such protests — which the Supreme Court has declared to be free speech — should carry “consequences.”

Flag burning was ruled to be constitutionally protected speech under the First Amendment in a 1990 Supreme Court case, United States v. Eichman, that struck down a law seeking to prevent its desecration. Moreover, a 1958 Supreme Court decision rejected the practice of stripping U.S. citizenship as a form of criminal punishment.

>snip<

Trump’s latest interest in curbing First Amendment protections follows several other actions related to free speech, including his blacklisting of reporters who fell out of favor with his campaign and a suggestion that he would “open up” libel laws to make it easier to sue the news media.

Even better, a Washington Post editorial cartoonist perfectly captured the character revealed by his ornamental outrage:

Ann Telnaes: Trump’s new hat reflects his commitment to the First Amendment

blog-t-telnaes

And flags? Really?

Flags are symbols, and only that. The flag flying when we were born had 48 stars, followed soon by a version with 49, then the current fifty-starred version.

Much more precious than any piece of fabric is a human life, and locking or deporting someone for expressing opinion — and that’s what flag-burning is — is antithetical to the First Amendment.

Once you criminalize the expression of opinion, the game is up and totalitarianism has gained a solid foothold.

But, hey, what is Donald except a man who thinks that only his opinions matter?

An old friend used to keep a flag atop the ceramic logs in his gas fireplace in the late 1980s, ready for ignition had the Supreme Court upheld laws criminalizing flags. The court ruled otherwise, and the flag was never burned.

Right on!