No one knew much, but the crowd was growing. We were at the rest stop off Highway 29 between Eden and Pelham, where North Carolina meets Virginia, and everyone was looking for the Ku Klux Klan. It was 8.40am.The day after the election of Donald Trump, the Loyal White Knights of Pelham, a chapter of the KKK with a suitably unhinged website, had announced that they would be holding a victory parade on 3 December. In the weeks since, there had been no word on the Knights’ website or anywhere else about when or where the parade would be. But the initial declaration was perhaps the most dramatic manifestation of what we might call the New Emboldening – a coast-to-coast rise in everyday American racism and bigotry spurred by the rhetoric and election of a billionaire who had taken swipes at certain Mexican-Americans and all Mexicans, certain women and all women, certain Muslim-Americans and all Muslims, all African Americans and all immigrants.In the month after the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center had tracked more than 900 incidents targeting non-whites. A Muslim college student in Ann Arbor had been told, by a young white man, to remove her hijab or he would light her on fire. At a Utah high school, two Mexican-American sisters were told by their white classmates, “You get a free trip back to Mexico. You should be happy.”The idea of a Klan rally in this kind of atmosphere was potentially explosive. The KKK had demonstrated a year earlier, in Columbia, South Carolina, and the results had been ugly. Three hundred Klan members had been there. The New Black Panthers had countered with 400 of their own members. In all, there were 2,000 protesters. There were cops in body armour. Ripped Confederate flags. A grandmother with a bloody nose. A Klan member, trying to flee in his vehicle, ran into a lamppost.
Tag Archives: Racism
Those who have been telling us that Islam, not just revolutionary Islamism, is a lethal threat to Western civilization should now feel satisfied: the President of the United States, and his main advisers, agree with them. In the tweeted words of Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser, General Mike Flynn: “Fear of Muslims is rational.” Stephen Bannon, the former executive chairman of the alt-right Breitbart News who is Trump’s chief political strategist and a member of the National Security Council, has stated that the “Judeo-Christian” West is engaged in a global war with Islam.
From grades nine through 11, I was fortunate enough to attend Community High School, a free-thinking smaller public alternative school to the two larger high schools in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I lived from age four until 18. Ann Arbor was and still is a radical liberal town with a proud history of open-minded optimism. I was a 17 year old junior in 1996, and something happened that year that changed my life forever.Our school was within walking distance of downtown Ann Arbor and city hall. As students, we were given permission to spend our lunch breaks and after school time in the midst of Ann Arbor’s small but stimulating street culture. It was a vibrant and dynamic mixture of University of Michigan graduate students, rogue musicians, sidewalk preachers, sketchy odd-ball drifters, and leftover psychedelic hippies from the city’s prime back in the 1960s.
Dopo le elezioni statunitensi e la clamorosa vittoria di Donald Trump sono stati in molti a tirare in ballo nel dibattito pubblico la parola “fascismo”. Durante la campagna elettorale il neoeletto presidente americano è stato via via associato alle figure di Benito Mussolini e di Adolf Hitler. Qualcuno, soprattutto in Italia, lo ha paragonato anche all’ex premier (nonché miliardario) Silvio Berlusconi (che però, va ricordato, ha preso le distanze da Trump) e c’è chi si è spinto a definirlo addirittura un Hugo Chávez di destra, un caudillo del Ku Klux Klan. Tutti questi abbinamenti hanno un tratto in comune, quello di spiegare il fenomeno Trump – e soprattutto il fenomeno dei suoi elettori – con paragoni presi da mondi diversi da quello statunitense.Il leit motiv del dopo elezioni non a caso è stato “stanno tornando gli anni trenta”.Ma è davvero così?
Much of the talk about Europe these days revolves around the return of the nation state, the rise of identity politics and all sorts of geographical divides, north-south, east-west – trends again illustrated by Hungary’s referendum on Sunday.
What’s less explored is Europe’s generational gap: not just the differences between young and old but the way people’s expectations have mutated over time, and how that can create deep frustrations when initial hopes aren’t met. Frustrations will easily breed anti-establishment sentiment, and they can fuel the extremes.
Over the course of 2014, America seemed to reawaken to one of its oldest preoccupations: the reality of how race is lived in the United States, and in particular the many stark disparities that persist between black and white people.
The continued existence of racial inequality in the United States was not exactly news – but the shocking deaths of a series of unarmed black men at the hands of the police made the issue impossible to ignore. The killing of Eric Garner, who was wrestled to the ground and choked to death by police on a New York City sidewalk in July 2014, confronted the public with a disturbing question: how was it possible that a black man could be killed for the trifling infraction of selling loose cigarettes? Garner’s dying words – “I can’t breathe” – captured on video, would soon become the rallying cry of a nascent movement, Black Lives Matter.
When Michael Brown was killed by a policeman the following month, enormous protests erupted, and the attention of the entire country – and much of the world – turned to Ferguson, Missouri. Television news was filled with scenes of mostly black protesters surrounded by heavily armoured riot police, evoking images from an era that American liberals liked to believe was long in the past.
Brown’s death, in the heat of the summer, produced a huge swell of anger and a fierce debate, but a tentative conclusion soon emerged: though his death had first seemed disturbing, many came to see him as a flawed victim. Brown had not led an unblemished life: he had shoplifted minutes before his demise, he had smoked pot, and investigators insisted that he had resisted arrest, tussling with the policeman who shot him. He was “no angel”, in the uncharitable words of a New York Times story published two weeks after his death. This tone could be heard in much of the coverage of Brown’s killing and the ensuing protests in Ferguson – and not just at that newspaper. What this tone suggested was that a black person who died at the hands of police needed to have been perfect, and utterly blameless, to justify outrage at their death and national attention to the problem.
Edward Said was no tree-hugger. Descended from traders, artisans and professionals, he once described himself as ‘an extreme case of an urban Palestinian whose relationship to the land is basically metaphorical’.＊ In After the Last Sky, his meditation on the photographs of Jean Mohr, he explored the most intimate aspects of Palestinian lives, from hospitality to sports to home décor. The tiniest detail – the placing of a picture frame, the defiant posture of a child – provoked a torrent of insight from Said. Yet when confronted with images of Palestinian farmers – tending their flocks, working the fields – the specificity suddenly evaporated. Which crops were being cultivated? What was the state of the soil? The availability of water? Nothing was forthcoming. ‘I continue to perceive a population of poor, suffering, occasionally colourful peasants, unchanging and collective,’ Said confessed. This perception was ‘mythic’, he acknowledged – yet it remained.
The former London mayor and left-wing Labour politician Ken Livingstone has been suspended from his party for claiming that Hitler was a Zionist in the early 1930s. According to Livingstone, “before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews,” Hitler had merely wanted to expel them from their own countries to Palestine. And that, supposedly, made him a Zionist.
Historically, this is nonsense: Hitler never promoted Palestine as a Jewish state. And the implication that the Führer’s hatred of the Jews put him on the same side as Jews who wished to build their own state to escape from violent anti-Semitism is offensive, to say the least.
Last spring in Madison, Wisconsin, I skipped my academic duties as a neuroscience graduate student to attend a protest demanding justice for Tony Robinson, a black 19-year-old who lived about a block away from me. Robinson was a local kid who often hung out skateboarding on Willy Street, the main drag of an especially crunchy, progressive part of Madison, home to an eponymous health food co-op.