Category Archives: Race

Quote of the day: A dirty campaign’s toxic legacy


While Norbert Hofer [previously], presidential candidate of the far-Right Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs [Austrian Freedom Party, or FPÖ] lost Sunday’s election by 31,000 votes out of 4.6 million ballots cast, his campaign has left a deep stain on Austria, writes Cathrin Kahlweit of Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Her words are of exceptional relevance here in the U.S., where another candidates will lead his own party’s ticket in November’s presidential election in a campaign fueled by the same resentments, anti-immigrant fear-mongering, and Islamophobia employed so effectively by Hofer:

[R]egardless of the election outcome, the country has changed dramatically over the last several months. Sensationalist media, the FPÖ and even some in the Christian democratic and conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) have jumped on the bandwagon with hyperbolic platitudes splashed all over social networks: There is talk of an “increasing crime rate,” a belief that “women can’t walk the streets alone anymore,” and even that “foreigners are all rapists and murderers.”

Hatred and contempt are suddenly acceptable, because they’re directed at others — outsiders. That’s what Hofer suggested in his final speech, when he said foreigners who care about Austria may stay, “but those who follow ISIS, or rape women, must go.”

Gross generalization and defamation have become widespread, with hateful comments parroted back by a public that passively absorbs them. The election campaign drifted far away from its stated goal of finding the right person to represent the country, attract investors, mediate and connect.

At the end of the day, Hofer could claim victory, even if he didn’t become president. He demonstrated a clear path for how a right-wing leader can rise to power: to sweep the country “clean” with an iron broom, to set limits to the current establishment, to restore the old order. Those in Austria who still see shades of gray, and who favor a moderate approach, are lost right now.

With the ballots counted and Van der Bellen elected, the real fight for Austria has just begun.

Quote of the day: A case of genocide in California


From a Los Angeles Times op-ed by UCLA historian and genocide scholar Benjamin Madley, author of the just-published An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873:

California’s Legislature first convened in 1850, and one of its initial orders of business was banning all Indians from voting, barring those with “one-half of Indian blood” or more from giving evidence for or against whites in criminal cases, and denying Indians the right to serve as jurors. California legislators later banned Indians from serving as attorneys. In combination, these laws largely shut Indians out of participation in and protection by the state legal system. This amounted to a virtual grant of impunity to those who attacked them.

That same year, state legislators endorsed unfree Indian labor by legalizing white custody of Indian minors and Indian prisoner leasing. In 1860, they extended the 1850 act to legalize “indenture” of “any Indian.” These laws triggered a boom in violent kidnappings while separating men and women during peak reproductive years, both of which accelerated the decline of the California Indian population. Some Indians were treated as disposable laborers. One lawyer recalled: “Los Angeles had its slave mart [and] thousands of honest, useful people were absolutely destroyed in this way.” Between 1850 and 1870, L.A.’s Indian population fell from 3,693 to 219.

The U.S. Army and their auxiliaries also killed at least 1,680 California Indians between 1846 and 1873. Meanwhile, in 1852, state politicians and U.S. senators stopped the establishment of permanent federal reservations in California, thus denying California Indians land while exposing them to danger.

State endorsement of genocide was only thinly veiled. In 1851, California Gov. Peter Burnett declared that “a war of extermination will continue to be waged … until the Indian race becomes extinct.” In 1852, U.S. Sen. John Weller — who became California’s governor in 1858 — went further. He told his colleagues in the Senate that California Indians “will be exterminated before the onward march of the white man,” arguing that “the interest of the white man demands their extinction.”

San Francisco ousts top cop over shootings


The lessons of Ferguson are being learned, albeit belatedly, is a city which has seen exposure of racist texts by all too may police officers.

And now, with the latest in a series of shootings by officers, the mayor has finally had enough.

From the New York Times:

Police Chief Gregory P. Suhr was forced out on Thursday after a fatal shooting of a black woman by a police officer, the third killing since December involving the police force, which is under federal investigation because of complaints of racial bias.

Mayor Edwin M. Lee said he had asked for Chief Suhr’s resignation after learning of the shooting.

“These officer-involved shootings, justified or not, have forced our city to open its eyes to questions of when and how police use lethal force,” the mayor said in the statement.

Chief Suhr had made “meaningful” reforms of the police force, the mayor said, “but it hasn’t been fast enough.”

A must-watch: Requiem for the American Dream


The definitive Noam Chomsky video, featuring an extended interview conducted over four years in which he outlines his view of the state of American democracy.

And do set it to high resolution and full screen.

Requiem for the American Dream

The synopsis from IMDB:

REQUIEM FOR THE AMERICAN DREAM is the definitive discourse with Noam Chomsky, widely regarded as the most important intellectual alive, on the defining characteristic of our time – the deliberate concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a select few. Through interviews filmed over four years, Chomsky unpacks the principles that have brought us to the crossroads of historically unprecedented inequality – tracing a half century of policies designed to favor the most wealthy at the expense of the majority – while also looking back on his own life of activism and political participation. Profoundly personal and thought provoking, Chomsky provides penetrating insight into what may well be the lasting legacy of our time – the death of the middle class, and swan song of functioning democracy. A potent reminder that power ultimately rests in the hands of the governed, REQUIEM is required viewing for all who maintain hope in a shared stake in the future.
– Written by Jared P. Scott

Using interviews filmed over four years, Noam Chomsky discusses the deliberate concentration of wealth and power found in the hands of a select few.

Release date: January 29, 2016 (USA)

Directors: Kelly Nyks, Jared P. Scott, Peter D. Hutchison
Music composed by: Malcolm Francis
Screenplay: Kelly Nyks, Jared P. Scott, Peter D. Hutchison
Producers: Kelly Nyks, Jared P. Scott, Peter D. Hutchison
Cinematography: Rob Featherstone, Michael McSweeney

Numbers of the day: The shame of the city


From USA Today‘s interactive database of arrest rates around the United States:

BLOG Berkeley

Headline of the day: JFK’s spooks hard at work


From BBC News:

Nelson Mandela: CIA tip-off led to 1962 Durban arrest

  • Nelson Mandela’s arrest in 1962 came as a result of a tip-off from an agent of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), a report says.
  • The revelations, made in the Sunday Times newspaper, are based on an interview with ex-CIA agent Donald Rickard shortly before he died.
  • Mr Mandela served 27 years in jail for resisting white minority rule before being released in 1990.

Threatened whites spur Donald Trump’s rise


If Donald Trump’s campaign staff are looking for a hook to hang their hopes on, it’s White Power — or rather the perceived loss of privileged status by a segment of the white population that feels threatened as their numbers threaten to dwindle to less than half the population.

An elegant demonstration conducted by Stanford University sociologist Robb Willer, Matthew Feinberg, Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior at the University of Toronto, and Rachel Wetts, a graduate student in sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, proves the point.

Simply darken a photo of Barack Obama and and show it to white folks and they become more likely to say they support the Tea Party, the nucleus of Trump’s supporters.

From the research paper:

Participants were shown pictures of Jay Leno, William Shatner, and an official picture of President Barack Obama. To make more or less salient his African-American heritage, participants were randomly assigned to see a version of the picture in which Obama’s skin was either artificially lightened or darkened. Participants were next given a short survey of political attitudes including a “yes/no” item asking participants “Do you consider yourself a supporter of the Tea Party?

White participants shown the darkened photo were more likely to say they supported the Tea Party (22 percent) relative to a group shown a lightened photo of Obama (12 percent), according to the research.

The result:

White participants in the Dark Obama Prime condition were significantly more likely to report that they supported the Tea Party (22%) than white participants assigned to the Light Obama Prime condition (12%).

The darkening of a black person’s skin as been done before, most notoriously when Fox News darkened a photograph of Trayvon Martin, playing to an audience base that was only 1.38 percent African American, as NewsCorpse noted at the time:

BLOG Fox tweakers

The Fox fakery came at a time when the network was relentlessly pushing the Tea Party and its inherently racist agenda.

And now back to the latest study, with a report from Stanford University:

Threats to racial status among white Americans have driven support for the Tea Party political movement and may also help explain the rise of Donald Trump, a Stanford sociologist said.

Since the Tea Party’s rise in 2009, academic experts have offered different explanations for its growth. The latest evidence from Stanford researchers shows that a perception of a “decline of whiteness” among some white Americans may be a key reason.

For example, white people who were shown an artificially darkened picture of President Barack Obama were more likely to report they supported the Tea Party than if they were shown an artificially lightened version.

Robb Willer, a Stanford professor of sociology, writes in a new research paper [open access — esnl] that the election of Obama as the first non-white president converged with other economic and demographic trends around 2008 to spark the rise of the Tea Party. In short, these factors were perceived as threatening the relative “racial standing” of whites in the United States.

There’s lots more, after the jump. . .

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