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Tag Archives: Racism

For the first time in my life, I’m frightened to be Jewish

I am 58 years old, and for the first time in my life, I am frightened to be Jewish.

We live in a time when racism is being normalized, when Nazis parade in the streets in Europe and America; Jew baiters like Hungary’s Orban are treated as respectable players on the international scene, “white nationalist” propagandist Steve Bannon can openly coordinate scare-mongering tactics with Boris Johnson in London at the same time as in Pittsburg, murderers deluded by white nationalist propaganda are literally mowing Jews down with automatic weapons. How is it, then, that our political class has come to a consensus that the greatest threat to Britain’s Jewish community is a lifelong anti-racist accused of not being assiduous enough in disciplining party members who make offensive comments on the internet?

For almost all my Jewish friends, this is what is currently creating the greatest and most immediate sense of trepidation, even more than the actual Nazis: the apparently endless campaign by politicians like Margaret Hodge, Wes Streeting, and Tom Watson to weaponize antisemitism accusations against the current leadership of the Labour party. It is a campaign – which however it started, has been sustained primarily by people who are not themselves Jewish – so cynical and irresponsible that I genuinely believe it to be a form of antisemitism in itself. And it is a clear and present danger to Jewish people.

https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/opendemocracyuk/first-time-my-life-im-frightened-be-jewish/

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Posted by on September 12, 2019 in Europe, Uncategorized

 

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Trump Plays the Race Card. So What?

This week witnessed outrage over racism at the highest levels of government in Britain and U.S. The day after the U.S. Congress voted to condemn President Donald Trump’s attacks on four congresswomen of color, British Prime Minister Theresa May and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn accused each other of tolerating racism in their parties.

Such moral indignation might make racism seem a taboo and Trump a pariah. But this would ignore both the insidious nature of racism and its tenacity, not to mention the hypocrisy of those ostentatiously recoiling from it.

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-07-19/donald-trump-s-send-her-back-racism-is-american-tradition

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2019 in North America

 

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The Race Card in America

Donald Trump has racialized American politics more than any US president in living memory, and many are blaming him for acts of racist violence, like the recent mass shooting in El Paso. But, given that what makes politics in the United States so complicated is the conflation of race, class, and culture, his opponents should not follow his example.

LONDON – The recent mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, carried out by a young white man who had posted a hate-filled anti-immigrant screed shortly beforehand, has called attention to US President Donald Trump’s own rhetorical affinity for white supremacy. Trump has consistently insulted Mexicans, African Americans, and other people of color. He referred to Haitian and African immigrants as coming from “shithole countries.” Last month, he told four new members of Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, and Ilhan Omar, to “go back” to where they came from. All four Congresswomen are, of course, American citizens. All but one (Omar) were born in the United States.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/racial-politics-in-america-2020-presidential-election-by-ian-buruma-2019-08

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2019 in North America

 

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The Weaponization of National Belonging, from Nazi Germany to Trump

This past week I found myself in Stuttgart, an industrial city in southwest Germany. As I usually do in a European city I haven’t visited before, I went to the local history museum to see how the story of the Second World War is presented. Stuttgart’s museum opened just last year, and its handling of the Nazi era is more circumspect than that of older German memorials. The period from 1933 to 1945 comprises a small set of displays, perhaps ten per cent of the entire exhibition. The tone is neutral.

“After 1933, National Socialism pursued Hitler’s anti-Semitic, racist, and imperialistic ends in Shtuttgart, too,” a caption explains in English. “Despite their Social Democratic past, many citizens endorsed and profited from the new policies.” Only a third of Stuttgart’s residents voted for the Nationalist Socialists, but this was enough to make the party dominant in the city. “In 1933 began the marginalization, persecution, and murder of Jews, political opponents (social democrats and communists), and other groups,” another caption states, using an impersonal construction that makes marginalization, persecution, and murder sound like forces of nature rather than acts of man. Members of Hitler’s party defaced the entrances to Jewish shops and then rallied in the town square.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-weaponization-of-national-belonging-from-nazi-germany-to-trump

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2019 in North America

 

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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.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/24/country-racist-elections-liberals-anti-racism-movement

 
 

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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.”

https://www.thecut.com/2019/05/the-hypocritical-policing-of-caster-semenyas-body.html

 
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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.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/jacinda-ardern-new-zealand-shooting-christchurch-donald-trump-erdogan-turkey-a8833156.html

 
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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.

https://africasacountry.com/2018/12/the-most-powerful-currency-today/

 
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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.

https://www.vice.com/amp/en_us/article/43ekvq/american-history-x-premiered-20-years-ago-but-its-more-relevant-than-ever

 
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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.

https://www.outsideonline.com/2170266/solo-hiking-appalachian-trail-queer-black-woman

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2018 in Reportages

 

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