Tag Archives: Racism

Shocked by the rise of the right? Then you weren’t paying attention

The morning after both Donald Trump’s victory and the Brexit referendum, when a mood of paralysing shock and grief overcame progressives and liberals on both sides of the Atlantic, the two most common refrains I heard were: “I don’t recognise my country any more,” and “I feel like I’ve woken up in a different country.” This period of collective disorientation was promptly joined by oppositional activity, if not activism. People who had never marched before took to the streets; those who had not donated before gave; people who had not been paying attention became engaged. Many continue.

Almost three years later the Brexit party, led by Nigel Farage, is predicted to top the poll in European parliament elections in which the far right will make significant advances across the continent; Theresa May’s imminent downfall could hand the premiership to Boris Johnson; Trump’s re-election in 2020 is a distinct possibility, with Democratic strategists this week predicting only a narrow electoral college victory against him. “Democrats do not walk into the 2020 election with the same enthusiasm advantage they had in the 2018 election,” said Guy Cecil, the chairman of Priorities USA, the largest Democratic political action committee.


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Some Of Us Are Born This Way: Female Athletes and Testosterone Limits

On Wednesday, May 1, 2019, Caster Semenya, the two time-Olympic champion and professional athlete who has competed in track and field since she was a child, lost an important battle in the fight around gender and sports. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) ruled that Semenya would have to take hormones that would lower her naturally occurring testosterone levels in order to “ensure fair competition in women’s sports.” If Semenya declines the suppressants she cannot compete in the 800-meter races at the Olympics, as well as other international competitions. The ruling concluded that “discrimination is necessary, reasonable and a proportionate means of achieving the IAAF requirement to preserve the integrity of female athletics.”

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Posted by on May 21, 2019 in Uncategorized


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Ardern’s response to Christchurch has put other leaders to shame – but not for its compassion alone

Cometh the hour, cometh the woman. Jacinda Ardern won her spurs last week – and that of all New Zealanders – with her response to the Christchurch atrocity. But the world’s praise for her eloquence and compassion missed the point.

Ardern was different. She fought from the start like a real politician, scorning the killer, attacking racism, slapping back at Erdogan’s revolting election propaganda – which used the murderer’s own video – and then hitting out at Trump. And insisting that New Zealand’s gun laws would change forever.

That was the measure of her. Humanity came armed with political leadership. And what a sorry lot Ardern showed our own hapless “leaders” to be.

Most of them have reacted to mass murders with instant clichés of sorrow and endless waffle about “terror”, and then operatic – and often inappropriate – praise for security forces who have in most cases failed to prevent the crime from taking place. In Christchurch, the cops appear to have driven the murderer off the road before he moved to a third mosque.

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Posted by on March 21, 2019 in Oceania


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The most powerful currency today

Many years ago, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, I remember seeing the world’s hierarchies clearly defined with three distinct divisions at immigration: a visa on arrival section, temporary detention cells, and the everyday immigration queue. Brown South Asian citizens lined up for a rare opportunity at obtaining a visa on arrival, meanwhile mainly black Africans filled the detention cells, and westerners, presumably carrying their exalted passports, filled the seamless immigration queues. Malaysia offers visa-free access to more African countries than most, and yet suspicion was reserved for holders of wretched papers. Observing this, it was clear that cemented hierarchies of access based on nationality were stark and crystal clear.

Passport privilege remains an entirely unaddressed, unsustainable inequity, and the most consistently overlooked factor that defines every single immigration debate and “crisis” of movement and migration. Those soaked in the warm, comfortable balm of a privileged passport—freely traveling the world, subject to no scrutiny or suspicion, waltzing through immigration points with a 90-day entry stamp and a smile, moving and settling at a moment’s notice, protected from presenting an ocean of evidence to justify your legitimacy as a decent human being—are often completely oblivious to the rare power they possess.

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Posted by on March 5, 2019 in Reportages


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‘American History X’ Premiered 20 Years Ago, But It’s More Relevant Than Ever

Two decades ago, American History X brought to life the ugly realities of white supremacy. Never before had moviegoers seen the horrifying minutiae of Neo-Nazi skinhead culture –– flowing blood and cracking bone, the hypocrisy, the devotion to hate, the difficult journey of leaving hate for good. It was billed as a “message” picture that showed how adherents to this horrifying ideology might leave that life behind. That they might even work toward redemption.

Today, the hate that American History X tried to explore as a cautionary tale of sorts is part of establishment political discourse. The film deeply underestimated the extent to which hate can infect, spread, and achieve widespread influence in American culture. That underestimation reflects our current ignorance of the origins of hate, of how hate can be combated, and suggests that greater awareness might ease its grip on our society.

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Posted by on November 1, 2018 in Uncategorized


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Going It Alone

It’s the spring of 2016, and I’m ten miles south of Damascus, Virginia, where an annual celebration called Trail Days has just wrapped up. Last night, temperatures plummeted into the thirties. Today, long-distance Appalachian Trail hikers who’d slept in hammocks and mailed their underquilts home too soon were groaning into their morning coffee. A few small fires shot woodsmoke at the sun as thousands of tent stakes were dislodged. Over the next 24 hours, most of the hikers in attendance would pack up and hit the 554-mile stretch of the AT that runs north through Virginia.

I’ve used the Trail Days layover as an opportunity to stash most of my belongings with friends and complete a short section of the AT I’d missed, near the Tennessee-Virginia border. As I’m moving along, a day hiker heading in the opposite direction stops me for a chat. He’s affable and inquisitive. He asks what many have asked before: “Where are you from?” I tell him Miami.

He laughs and says, “No, but really. Where are you from from?” He mentions something about my features, my thin nose, and then trails off. I tell him my family is from Eritrea, a country in the Horn of Africa, next to Ethiopia. He looks relieved.

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Posted by on September 20, 2018 in Reportages


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The West’s Race Problem

NEW YORK – For obvious reasons, the sight of a German mob chasing foreigners through the streets and throwing up their arms in Hitler salutes is particularly disturbing. This is what happened recently in Chemnitz, a bleak industrial city in Saxony that was touted in the former German Democratic Republic as a model socialist city (it was named Karl-Marx-Stadt between 1953 and 1990). The police appeared to be powerless to stop the rampage, which was sparked by the death of a Cuban German in a knife fight with two men from the Middle East.

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Posted by on September 14, 2018 in Uncategorized



The Hate Network

It’s like a different world. The fenced-in apartment complex in the heart of Denver is located just a short walk from glitzy boutiques and high-end restaurants, but there is no sign of prosperity here. Homeless people are camped nearby while addicts smoke crack in the parking lot.

People are socializing in front of the building’s entrance despite the midday heat. A black man is pacing the fence trying to get someone’s attention while two younger men are carrying furniture into a neighboring building. It’s a convivial neighborhood and everyone seems to know everyone else. Everyone, that is, except the older, gray-haired man who walks up to the door with a shopping bag full of vegetables at around 4 p.m. He doesn’t even look at his neighbors before disappearing into the complex without greeting any of them.

But once you’ve seen the photos from the inside of his apartment, it immediately becomes clear why the 66-year-old seeks to limit his contact with the outside world. And it becomes even more clear when you look into his past.

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Posted by on September 11, 2018 in North America


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Mohsin Hamid on the rise of nationalism: ‘In the land of the pure, no one is pure enough’

Perhaps it is living half your life in Pakistan, for Pakistan is the land of the pure. Literally so: the land, stan, of the pure, pak. Perhaps that is why you have come to question the commonly held perception that purity is good and impurity is bad. For a tribe of humans newly arrived in a location never before inhabited by humans, such an outlook is perhaps sensible. Purity in a stream of water renders it fit to drink. Impurity in a piece of meat sickens those who eat it. Purity is hence to be valued and impurity to be avoided, resisted, expelled. And yet you believe the time has come to seek to reverse, at least partially, the emotional polarity of these two words, to extol impurity’s benefits and denounce purity’s harms.

The issue is, of course, personal. We are each of us composed of atoms, but equally we are composed by time. Since your time has been spent half inside Pakistan and half outside, and your outlook and attitudes shaped by this, you are in a sense half-Pakistani, which is to say, as Pakistan is the land of the pure, you are half-pure: an impossible state. You cannot exist as you are. Or rather, you must be impure. And if impurity is bad then you are bad. And to be bad is hazardous, in any society. So yes, the issue is personal, and pressing.–exit-west-pen-pakistan

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Posted by on August 2, 2018 in Reportages


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Troubles with Identity

Everyone who is troubled by new anti-immigrant populism should make the effort to watch Europa – the Last Battle (Tobias Bratt, Sweden 2017), a 10-episode documentary. It presents in extenso the neo-Nazi version of the last hundred years of European history. According to the series, this history was dominated by Jewish bankers who controlled our entire financial system; from the beginning, Judaism stood behind Communism, and the wealthy Jews directly financed the October Revolution to deal a mortal blow to Russia, a staunch defender of Christianity; Hitler was a peaceful German patriot who, after being democratically elected, changed Germany from a devastated land to a welfare country with the highest living standard in the world by withdrawing from international banking controlled by the Jews; international Jewry declared war on him, though Hitler desperately strived for peace; after the failure of the European Communist revolutions in the 1920s, the Communist center realized that one had first to destroy the moral foundations of the West (religion, ethnic identity, family values), so it founded the Frankfurt School whose aim was to pronounce family and authority as pathological tools of domination and to undermine every ethnic identity as oppressive.

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Posted by on July 17, 2018 in European Union, Reportages


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