Category Archives: violence

Rethinking Removing Confederate Memorials: Why This May Not Work Out As Planned

In Virginia, emotions are running hot. Following the death of one and the injuring of 19 after a car plowed into a group of counter-protesters at a white nationalist protest in Charlottesville, the conversation has turned from understanding what happened to preventing it from happening again.

During a contentious city council meeting on August 21 — where an expedited plan to remove the city’s Confederate memorials was agreed upon — many city residents asked why the police maintained such a subdued presence during the protest. In recent months, Charlottesville has become a hot spot for white nationalist protests and gatherings.

Elsewhere, the ACLU has called for legislation that would overturn the Virginia state law protecting war memorials, the NAACP has called for the renaming of two schools currently named for Confederate leaders, and there are talks about renaming Virginia streets honoring the Confederacy.

“Virginia’s monuments and memorials to Confederate war figures must go,” the ACLU said in a statement. “Regardless of origin or historical context, today they are inciteful symbols of hatred and bigotry to which white supremacists are drawn like moths to a flame.”

Historically, acts of violent racial hate have galvanized public opinion in significant ways. Televised coverage of police brutality toward protesters during the civil rights movement helped create the groundswell that led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965, for example.

However, there seems to be a disconnect today. The popular push to remove the symbols of racial hate may have surpassed the push to address the effects of racial hate. Increasingly, the national conversation has swung from addressing race-based discrimination to discussing race-based symbolism, to the detriment to the former.

“From the inception of this nation, white supremacist ideology was used to justify genocide and slavery. And so, the problem of collective memory extends far beyond Confederate memorials,” Crystal Marie Fleming, associate professor of sociology and Africana studies at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, wrote for The Root.

“Removing memorials to white supremacy in the United States is not simply a matter of knocking down statues of Robert E. Lee. It’s relatively easy for some to see the Confederate flag as an emblem of hatred and white supremacy. But slavery, lynchings, Jim Crow, mass incarceration and centuries of systematic racism all happened under the star-spangled banner.”

Understanding Racism Today

Discussions on racism today have become a political quagmire. Attempts to address major concerns regarding the equitable treatment of individuals based on race tend to move into one of two choke points. At one end, there is the argument that racism today does not exist, is no longer a significant concern today, or is limited to extremists.

At the other end, there is the argument that racial discrimination persists because policies that promote or encourage “victimization” is allowed to continue unchecked. “The MSM [Main Stream Media] spends too much time on cop-on-Black crime and not enough time on the systematic racism of socialism and welfare perpetrated by the same Democrats who used the KKK to enforce Jim Crow and suppress Blacks for decades,” Pablo Solomon, artist, designer, and a regular conservative commentator, told Atlanta Black Star.

 The Problem with Symbols

The argument of removing the memorials to an ‘enemy combatant’ is an important one. As Ta-Nehisi Coates pointed out, regarding HBO’s decision to green-light a Confederacy-revisionist themed series, Confederate, “The symbols point to something Confederate’s creators don’t seem to understand — the war is over for them, not for us. At this very hour, black people all across the South are still fighting the battle which they joined during Reconstruction — securing equal access to the ballot — and resisting a president whose resemblance to Andrew Johnson is uncanny.”

The problem in using the removal of racial symbolism to address racial hate lies in the fact that racial hate does not come from racial symbols; focusing on the removal of the monuments is akin to addressing the symptoms and not the disease. In a way, focusing on removing the monuments is another choke point, effectively drawing conversation of racial inequitably to a politically drawn tangent.

“While the removal of Confederate symbols of white supremacy is completely justifiable and repulsively long overdue, it is also important to recognize the fact that the flag of the Union — and, indeed, our current, actual flag — is an emblem of white supremacist racism, too. The nation that existed prior to the Civil War was racist. That country is still racist today. It has never not been racist,” Fleming added.

What is Racial Hate?

This does not diminish the fact that Charlottesville happened. To understand the violence that happened there, one has to look at the nature of racial hate.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are 917 hate groups current active in the United States. This number represents a marked increase from the 794 there were in 2014 — the end of a three-year decline due to a transitioning from on-the-ground extremist protesting to Internet-based activities. The resurgence of the extreme fringe was influenced by reports of demographics change — which suggests that this nation will be minority-majority by 2040 and that many states are now minority-majority due to Latino immigration.

However, many feel that the extreme fringe’s reemergence had a singular flash point.

“[Trump] kicked off the campaign with a speech vilifying Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers,” Mark Potok, writer and expert on the Radical Right and formerly a senior fellow with the SPLC, wrote. “He retweeted white supremacist messages, including one that falsely claimed that black people were responsible for 80% of the murders of whites.

“He credentialed racist media personalities even while barring a serious outlet like The Washington Post, went on a radio show hosted by a rabid conspiracy theorist named Alex Jones, and said that Muslims should be banned from entering the country. He seemed to encourage violence against black protesters at his rallies, suggesting that he would pay the legal fees of anyone charged as a result.”

Trump has argued against the removal of Confederacy monuments, stating that it is a slippery slope that will eventually lead to the demand to remove monuments of slaveholders like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

While the Trump presidency cannot be fairly blamed for creating the bias that is being seen today, it can be blamed for granting license for it to be expressed openly. In the first 34 days since Election Day 2016, there were 1,094 incidents of racial hate. The highest concentration happened on the first day after Trump’s election.

Among the groups that have emerged in the Trump era are anti-Muslim hate groups, which have seen steady growth for the last two years, and neo-Confederate groups, which were in sharp decline before Election Day due to the collapse of several Ku Klux Klan groups in the United States. Anti-government or “patriot” groups, which dominated the alt-right during the Obama administration, have fallen off due to a co-opting of their platform by Trump.

 Growing Hate Means More Discrimination

With the decline in white birth rates and the growth of the Latinx community, means that the numbers of foreign-born American residents currently in the US is at levels last seen when the restrictive Immigration Act of 1924 was introduced. At the same time, the shell-shocked global industrial base has opened up, allowing for the outsourcing abroad of entire economic sectors that once made up the bulk of America’s non-college graduates’ career options.

In conversation with Atlanta Black Star, the psychologist Jerry D. Smith Jr. argues that racial hate is the application of fear in a system of racial discrimination. While racial discrimination comes from the human mind’s tendency to categorize things similar to itself the same way it categorizes itself, racial hate comes from a fundamental rejection of not only what is different, but what is threatening because it is different.

“The causes of this fear may be numerous, but often comes from a fear of losing one’s status, power, or station in life — as is often seen in some from majority cultures,” Smith noted. “It also may come from the fear of never-ending abuse — as may be seen among some from minority cultures.”

“When the fear factor is introduced, those in power (particularly, social and political power) often feel the need to protect themselves and their status by identifying and attacking the thing (i.e., group) that triggers the fear. In order to attack someone, there has to be an emotional detachment from them and the easiest way to do this is to denigrate and dehumanize them. When you have successfully dehumanized someone in your mind, you can engage in all kinds of violent actions toward them without remorse.”

The fact that hate has hijacked the conversation has grave consequences for a conversation on how racial discrimination impacts Black lives on a day to day level. An impact that won’t go away just because the obvious symbols of hate are removed from our streets. The realities of race inequality means:

  • That for the majority of poor Blacks, it is easier to get a Big Mac than a fresh apple, as many low-income Black neighborhoods no longer have a supermarket or a green grocer;
  • That the average Black family would have to live twelve lifetimes to have the same wealth as the average white family;
  • That the average Black person is six times more likely to be sentenced for a drug-related charge, despite no difference per capita in drug use;
  • That there are more African Americans that rent than own their home, that pay more than thirty percent of their take-home income as rent, and that lives in substandard housing — compared to whites;
  • That a white child is twice as likely to be raised in a home that has at least one parent with a bachelor’s degree, is nearly twice as likely to get a bachelor’s degree or better for himself, and is more likely to have been read to, told a story, taught letters, visit a library, or do arts and crafts with other family members;
  • That a Black person is more likely to be killed by the police;
  • That a poor Black person can get better healthcare in Cuba than in the United States; and
  • That an African American is more likely to be born in poverty, live their entire life in poverty, have children that are born in poverty and will die in poverty, and have grandchildren that were born in poverty and will die in poverty, than their white counterpart.

The tragedy of racial hate and the focus on racial symbol is that because they are monopolizing the national conversation, no one is talking about what it really means to be discriminated against.

By Frederick Reese/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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An Ill-Advised Lawsuit Against Black Lives Matter Activists

Last July, Gavin Long, a black, 29-year-old former Marine, ambushed police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, killing three officers and wounding three more before being killed. Now one of the wounded, who was rendered permanently disabled in the shooting, has filed a federal lawsuit against the Black Lives Matter movement and activists including DeRay Mckesson and Johnetta Elzie, whom he blames for inciting the attack.

Image: Time Magazine

The unnamed police officers’ injuries were so grave, and so grievously unfair, that it’s not hard to understand this officer’s urge to hold someone accountable. But blaming Black Lives Matter is wrong.

Passages like the following are typical of the complaint:

In 2016, as a leader of BLACK LIVES MATTER, DERAY MCKESSON and the other Defendants planned the Summer of Chaos, Weekend of Rage, and used the internet and social media to organize, stage and orchestrate protests and to attend and/or lead multiple protests and violence that accompanied the protests including, among many others, those in Ferguson, Missouri; Baltimore, Maryland; McKinney, Texas; Dallas, Texas; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The Baton Rouge protests, in large part, took place outside the Baton Rouge Police Department located in front of the former Woman’s Hospital on Airline Highway. This place is the same area where this shooting took place.

More from The Atlantic

Posted by Libergirl

Manchester Attacks: What Price Hypocrisy?

The lack of a coherent anti-terrorism strategy in Washington and by extension the West, as emergency services deal with the devastating aftermath of yet another terrorist atrocity in Europe – this time a suicide bomb attack at a concert in Manchester, England – has been thrown into sharp relief during President Trump’s tour of the Middle East.

Specifically, on what planet can Iran be credibly accused of funding and supporting terrorism while Saudi Arabia is considered a viable partner in the fight against terrorism? This is precisely the narrative we are being invited to embrace by President Trump in what counts as a retreat from reality into the realms of fantasy, undertaken in service not to security but commerce.

Indeed those still struggling to understand why countries such as the US, UK, and France consistently seek to legitimise a Saudi regime that is underpinned by the medieval religious doctrine of Wahhabism, which is near indistinguishable from the medieval religious extremism and fanaticism of Daesh and Nusra in Syria – those people need look no further than the economic relations each of those countries enjoy with Riyadh.

The announcement that Washington has just sealed a mammoth deal with its Saudi ally on arms sales – worth $110 billion immediately and $350 billion over 10 years – is all the incentive the US political and media establishment requires to look the other way when it comes to the public beheadings, crucifixionseye gouging, and other cruel and barbaric punishments meted out in the Kingdom on a regular basis.

The sheer unreality of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, as he stood shoulder to shoulder with President Trump during the latter’s state visit to the country recently, lamenting the chaos and carnage in Syria, which he described as having been “one of the most advanced countries” prior to a conflict that has wrought so much death and destruction, the sheer unreality of this is off the scale – and especially so considering the role the Saudis have played in providing material, financial, and ideological and religious support to groups engaged in the very carnage in Syria as has just been unleashed in Manchester.

There are times when the truth is not enough, when only the unvarnished truth will do, and in the wake of the Manchester attack – in which at time of writing 22 people have been killed and 60 injured – we cannot avoid the conclusion that neither principle nor rationality is driving Western foreign policy in the Middle East, or as it pertains to terrorism.

Instead it is being driven by unalloyed hypocrisy, to the extent that when such carnage occurs in Syria, as it has unremittingly over the past 6 years, the perpetrators are still described in some quarters as rebels and freedom fighters, yet when it takes place in Manchester or Paris or Brussels, etc., they are depicted as terrorists. Neither is it credible to continue to demonize governments that are in the front line against this terrorist menace – i.e. Iran, Russia, Syria – while courting and genuflecting at the feet of governments that are exacerbating it – i.e. Saudi Arabia, previously mentioned, along with Qatar, Kuwait, and Turkey. Here, too, mention must be made of the brutal and ongoing injustice meted out to the Palestinians by an Israeli government that shares with the Saudis a doctrine of religious exceptionalism and supremacy, one that is inimical to peace or the security of its own people.

Ultimately a choice has to be made between security and stability or economic and geopolitical advantage, with the flag of democracy and human rights losing its lustre in recent years precisely because the wrong choice has been made – in other words a Faustian pact with opportunism.

As the smoke clears, both literally and figuratively, from yet another terrorist atrocity, we are forced to consider how we arrived at this point. And when we do we cannot but understand the role of Western extremism in giving birth to and nourishing Salafi-jihadi extremism. Moreover, in the midst of the understandable and eminently justifiable grief we feel at events in Manchester, it behooves us not to forget the salient fact that Muslims have and continue to be the biggest victims of this terrorist menace, unleashed in the name of religious purity andsectarianism, and that it is Muslims who are also doing most to confront and fight it, whether in Syria, Iraq, Libya, or Afghanistan. It should not escape our rendering of the issue either that what each of those countries have in common is that they have all been victims of the Western extremism mentioned earlier.

It bears repeating: you cannot continue to invade, occupy, and subvert Muslim and Arab countries and not expect consequences. And when those consequences amount to the slaughter and maiming of your own citizens, the same tired and shallow platitudes we are ritually regaled with by politicians and leaders intent on bolstering their anti-terrorism and security credentials achieve little except induce nausea.

Enough is enough.

By John Wight/Projectcensored

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Practicing Nonviolence Towards Each Other Should Be Black People’s First Step In Fight Against Racism

This month marks the 49th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. Exactly one year before his murder, the Morehouse University alumnus publicized his opposition to the Vietnam War at New York’s Riverside Church. Dr. King told the congregation that his devotion to nonviolence would no longer permit him to minister to Black people that “Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems,” while saying nothing about the United States’ military plunder in Southeast Asia. He submitted his life as proof of his belief that nonviolence was the only path to justice.

Many Black people and others harbor the highest regard for Dr. King, while rejecting his idea of nonviolence. Charles Cobb Jr., a member of the upstart 1960s Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), writes about Black citizens with this very mentality in “This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible.” He brilliantly illustrates legends like Mississippi’s Hartman Turnbow, a farmer and community organizer who celebrated the work of nonviolent activists but refused to travel without a gun. Turnbow remained a straight shooter and explicitly informed Dr. King, “This nonviolent stuff ain’t no good.”

After a hearty chronicle of 1960s Black self-defense, Cobb concludes the text by lamenting the lack of “nonviolent grassroots effort in America’s most violence-wracked communities.” He reminds readers that Dr. King’s tactic was not exclusively for use against racists. Practicing nonviolence with other Black people could be a powerful strategy to eliminate self-destructive behaviors along with the canned rebuke to all charges of police racism, Black-on-Black violence.

Cobb noted, “Nonviolence may be worth reconsidering [in order to] chip away at this culture of violence,” mandated by the system of white supremacy. Military aggression and lethal force are consistently modeled as preferred methods of resolving conflict. This helps inform why Black residents of Chicago and Baltimore suffer modern holocausts with murder rates live-updated like national debt numbers.

In addition to rejecting physical force, Dr. King’s brand of nonviolence called for acute verbal hygiene. The preacher’s son understood fists and words can inflict violence.

Black Panther Party for Self Defense member, Assata Shakur’s memoir describes how her school teachers “made war sound so glorious, so heroic.” The future Panther and her Black classmates waged their own battles after school, brawling over “petty disputes” and verbal insults. “We would talk about each other’s ugly, big lips and flat noses. We would call each other pickaninnies and nappy-haired so-­and-so’s,” recalls Shakur. Generations of white racism contaminated many Black people with toxic levels of self-hate, often demonstrated in callous treatment.

Dr. King’s philosophy could do much to foster healthier, less-noxious communication between Black people. Media personality and author Tavis Smiley’s biography on the slain preacher details various instances where Black people publicly ridiculed Dr. King’s tactics and adherence to nonviolence. “Doc” turned the other cheek, declined to return their insults. Smiley describes a variety of instances when U.S. Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr. openly disparaged Dr. King, including once in 1968, weeks before the assassination, when he gathered the press to declare, “The day of Martin Luther King is dead.” Smiley emphasizes that Dr. King repeatedly abstained from retaliating and made time in the months before his death to pen the congressman a letter of encouragement.

Dr. King’s admirable refrain is untenable to many Black people who think tongue-lashing wayward Black people is necessary for progress. A different contemporary of Dr. King and a fellow minister, Malcolm X is often cited for his unfiltered putdowns of Black leaders. Cobb retrieves Malcolm X’s 1963 speech where he “denounced Marin Luther King Jr. as a modern Uncle Tom subsidized by whites “to teach the Negroes to be defenseless.” The former Nation of Islam apostle didn’t exclusively target Dr. King and accumulated a heap of verbal smack downs on an array of 1960’s Black entertainers, politicians and activists.

What’s often minimized is following his departure from the NOI and his pilgrimage to Mecca, Malcolm greatly reduced his public attacks on well-known Black people. He met Coretta Scott King in 1965, weeks before his own murder, and impressed Dr. King’s wife with his humility and sincere desire to help. Discarding the counterproductive verbal jousting sooner could have allowed for greater common focus on a common problem.

Echoing Dr. King’s sentiments, North Carolina Central University faculty member and author Dr. Yaba Blay emphasizes that centuries of white terrorism “trained” us to be combative, to be “unable to relate to each other.” Making a conscious commitment to treat all Black people people with physical and verbal nonviolence is a profound application of Dr. King’s concept of “radical love.” It doesn’t require endorsing the views and conduct of every Black person, just a recognition that minimizing conflict with other Black people is an exponential asset in the business of ending racism.

The thought of accepting all varieties of white violence without retaliation is rightfully repugnant to most. But, committing to physical and verbal nonviolence exclusively with other Black people could be a legitimate means of mending our fractured relationships and nourishing the Black self-respect necessary to complete “Doc’s” goal.

By Gus T. Renegade/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

 

The Anarchism of Blackness

An activist rallies the crowd at the Young Gifted & Black Coalition march in Madison, Wisconsin, January 1, 2014. (Photo: Joe Brusky)

An activist rallies the crowd at the Young Gifted & Black Coalition march in Madison, Wisconsin, January 1, 2014. (Photo: Joe Brusky)

Present incarnations of an unfazed and empowered far right increasingly demand the presence of a real, radical left. In the coming months and years, the left and left-leaning constituencies of the United States will need to make clear distinctions between potentially counterproductive symbolic progress, and actual material progress. Liberalism and party politics have failed a public attempting to bring about real change — but there are solutions.

The Black liberation struggle, in particular, has long provided a blueprint for transformative social change within the boundaries of this empire, and it has done so due to its positioning as an inherently radical social formation — a product of the virulent and foundational nature of anti-Blackness in American society. Understanding the significance of this struggle, we can proceed through examinations of the past, present and future to build new movements, a strong and radical left, and political power that generates and inspires rather than disappoints.

The Failings of American Liberalism

The United States’ self-ascribed democratic traits have long been filtered through oppressive forms that the state insists are necessary. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are measured by the success of a capitalist system that only truly benefits a few. Meanwhile, everyone else is told to believe that our supposedly meritocratic chance at being one of those few beneficiaries is what makes us “free.” True, unfiltered freedom and deep democracy are far too revolutionary for this state, so radical and revolutionary critiques of systemic limitations are often dismissed as overly idealistic or a utopian fantasy. But it is in the midst of the real-life nightmare that is the Trump administration that we should now — more than ever — be dreaming and striving to achieve something better.

For many years now, American liberalism has been a bitter disappointment to many of those who somehow maintained faith in the democratic integrity of the two-party system. The Democratic Party has seemingly been the only choice for those who consider themselves progressives working for a better society, but the notion that social inequities will be solved through the electoral process was always naïve at best. The entrails of this system are lined with the far-right fascism that is currently rising and has been bubbling under the façade of liberal democracy at the expense of non-whites in a white supremacist society. A system predicated on the over-emphasis of “order” and “security” is primed for authoritarianism.

Genocide, enslavement and other forms of violence the empire inflicts have grown more tepid in their bluntness since this nation’s birth. Over time, the violence has been displaced and restructured by more insidious and invisible modalities of community destruction. The reservation, the prison system and austerity policies are just some of the negotiable forms of violence that liberalism has facilitated over time.

Over the past few decades, the United States has seen a shift in liberal politics leaving the Democratic Party in a completely compromised position. The emergence of the Tea Party, a populist surge in the Republican Party, alienated the more “moderate” establishment Republicans in favor of a more explicitly articulated bigoted takeover. The lack of a real response to this moment further enabled the rightward shift as a shaken liberal establishment only sought and attempted bipartisan negotiations with the more extreme elements commandeering the party. Instead of moving left, the Democratic Party pandered to the alienated “moderate” right as it had been for years, and facilitated this conservative shift with nearly every waking opportunity.

Bipartisan Delusions

Liberal support for the Iraq War, post-9/11 domestic policy and the foreign policy extensions of the War on Terror made clear the position of the Democratic Party. For “millennials” in particular, our generation has come of political age watching perpetual disappointments to this end. There has been no true left in the United States because the positioning of the Democratic Party is not one of stark opposition to the right. The messaging that suggests we should meet conservatives halfway and work on “both sides of the aisle” has comfortably consolidated a giant right-wing apparatus.

It seems fitting that at the end of the Obama era we would see a white supremacist Trump presidency, and that immediately following a Black president whose cabinet was outspoken about diversity and inclusion we would see a spike in right-wing hate group enrollment. And through the transition of administrations and the first wave of antagonistic legislation, there was neither sustained nor sustainable protection being planned by the party purporting to defend progress. That quiet has now manifested itself in a Trump administration filled to the brim with the worst of the worst: the absence of a real left has left so many vulnerable populations exposed and at the mercy of a plutocratic tyrant hell-bent on destruction.

After a spate of extrajudicial police killings, hate crimes and domestic terror incidents, the country is reeling. Black America has been reminded again and again that we are seen as a monolithic group of feeble-minded children to be chastised by the state for our own disenfranchisement and community disadvantage. If there is nothing to be offered that addresses the reparations Black America is owed on several fronts, then we should seek to secure these things ourselves through action.

Liberalism and Democratic Party politics are simply not working for Black people. The agenda of the liberal establishment is frequently not one that is in line with the everyday material needs of Black America. Despite the optics of change and the promises of a new day and the moral victories of “going high,” an old sun is rising on a white horizon. At this point Black people and all people of color across the United States will have to decide between securing real change and bargaining with bigotry for compromise.

Blackness and the Zone of Non-Citizenship

Societal fascism describes the process and political logics of state formation wherein entire populations are either excluded or ejected from the social contract. They are excluded pre-contractually because they have never been a part of a given social contract and never will be; or they are ejected from a contract they were previously a part of and are only able to enjoy a conditional inclusion at best.

Black Americans are the former: they are residents in a settler colony predicated upon the genocide of indigenous people and the enslavement of the Africans from whom they are descendants. Residents in the United States, as opposed to citizens of. Despite a Constitution laden with European Enlightenment values, and a document of independence declaring egalitarianism and inalienable rights as the law of the land, Black existence was that of private property. The Black American condition is perpetual relegation to the afterlife of slavery, and as long as the United States continues to exist as an ongoing settler project, in this afterlife Black people will remain.

As Hortense Spillers makes clear in her seminal work, “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Story,” Blackness was indelibly marked and transformed through the Transatlantic chattel trade. European colonialism and the subsequent process of African enslavement — both as a profit-maximizing economic institution and an un-humaning institution — can be regarded as “high crimes against the flesh, as the person of African females and males registered the wounding.”

Crimes against the flesh are not simply crimes against the corporeal self: the wounded flesh, rather, was the personhood and social positionality of the African. The wounding is the process of blackening and necessarily of subjugation, a wound from which Black people and “Blackness” writ large have yet to recover. Black exclusion from the social contract is existence within a heavily surveilled and heavily regulated state of subjection. We are carriers of the coveted blue passport still trapped in the zone of citizen non-being. We are simultaneously subjugated and teased with promises of liberation via individualized neoliberal self-betterment and swallowing of a long-soured American Dream whilst choking back dissonances and forcibly reconciling irreconcilable double consciousnesses.

Whiteness has long sought to grapple with the existential threat posed by Black freedom. Black repatriation to Africa, or “colonization,” has long been floated as one potential solution. Founded in 1816 and driven by a variety of ultimately complementary motivations, the American Colonization Society helped to found the colony of Liberia in 1822. The abolitionist contingents within the society believed that because of the insurmountable discriminations free-born Black people and freedmen and their families experienced, Black people would fare far better organizing themselves in their African “homelands.”

Slaveholders within American society were concerned that the presence of free Blacks would inspire enslaved Blacks to revolt and thus compromise the stability (both economic stability and the stability of the anti-Black racial order) of the southern slaveocracy, and other openly racist members outright refused Black people the opportunity to integrate into American society. Others still were concerned that Black families would burden state welfare systems and that interracial labor competition would ultimately compromise wages for white workers.

A lesser known proponent of colonization was the “Great Emancipator” himself, Abraham Lincoln, who entertained a far lesser known and quickly abandoned plan for Black colonization in Panama — one decried by Frederick Douglass as “ridiculous” — which would also play a role in the expansion of American trade influence in the Caribbean. The “Back to Africa” project was subsequently taken up by Black thinkers like Marcus Garvey in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries following the failures of Reconstruction in the South, the first attempt to meaningfully extend citizenship to newly emancipated Blacks, to protect them from white supremacist violence and also the social and political disillusionment of Blacks who had migrated to northern states. It is no coincidence that interest in repatriation peaked during the period.

The major problem with both historical and contemporary repatriation-colonization programs is the means by which they fail to both provide reparation for historic violence and answer the perennial question of Black citizenship in the United States. Many or most Black people, including many descendants of enslaved Africans trafficked from the continent centuries ago, have no desire to return to an Africa that has never been their home in any material sense. Given plans to remain, Black people have organized in myriad ways to affect change and actualize varying conceptions of liberation in the United States. But as history has demonstrated, some vehicles for change and political advancement are more fickle than others.

The Anarchism of Blackness

Make no mistake: progress has been secured by Black people’s mobilization as opposed to a single political party. We are the ones who have achieved much of the progress that changed the nation for the better for everyone. Those gains were not a product of any illusion of American exceptionalism or melting pots, but rather through blood, sweat and community self-defense. Our organization can be as effective now as it has been in the past, serving every locality and community based on their needs and determinations. This much can be achieved through disassociating ourselves from party politics that fail to serve us as Black freedoms cannot truly be secured in any given election. Our political energy is valuable and should not all be drained by political cycles that feed into one another as well as our own detriment.

While bound to the laws of the land, Black America can be understood as an extra-state entity because of Black exclusion from the liberal social contract. Due to this extra-state location, Blackness is, in so many ways, anarchistic. African-Americans, as an ethno-social identity comprised of descendants from enslaved Africans, have innovated new cultures and social organizations much like anarchism would require us to do outside of state structures. Black radical formations are themselves fundamentally anti-fascist despite functioning outside of “conventional” Antifa spaces, and Black people have engaged in anarchistic resistances since our very arrival in the Americas.

From slave ship and plantation rebellions during enslavement to post-Emancipation labor and prison camps, to Harriet Tubman’s removal of enslaved peoples from the custody of their owners, to the creation of maroon societies in the American South, to combatting the historic (and present) collusion between state law enforcement and the Ku Klux Klan — assertions of Black personhood, humanity and liberation have necessarily called into question both the foundations and legitimacy of the American state.

So given this history, why do we understand Black political formations as squarely entrenched within liberalism or as almost synonymous with supporting for the Democratic Party? The reality of the afterlife of slavery shows that the updated terms of Black citizenship are still inextricably linked to the original sins levied against us from the moment of this nation’s inception. We are not able to escape a cage that has never been fully removed, though liberal fantasy would have you think we will have a dream or dignifiedly protest out of harm’s way.

The simple and increasingly realized reality is that mass protests, petitions and the over-exhausted respectable methods liberals tout as sole solutions have a purpose, but do not stop bullets — that is why Dr. King and many of their favorite sanitized “non-violent” protesters of yesteryear carried weapons to defend themselves.

Responding to This Neo-Fascist Moment

Liberalism cannot defeat fascism, it can only engage it through symbolic political rigmarole. The triteness of electoral politics that has been superimposed onto Black life in the United States positions Black people as an indelible mule for much of this nation’s social progression. Our hyper-visible struggle is a fight for all people’s freedom and we die only to realize that everything gained can be reversed with the quick flick of a pen. While liberalism takes up the burden of protecting “free speech” and the rights of those who would annihilate all non-whites, Black people and other people of color assume all of the risks and harms.

The symbolic battles the Democratic Party and its liberal constituents engage in pose direct existential threats to Black people because they protect esteemed ideals of a constitution that has never guaranteed Black people safety or security. The idealistic gestures with which liberalism defines itself are made at the expense of Black people who are not protected by such ideals in the ways institutional whiteness and even articulations of white supremacy are protected.

Constitutional amendments are contorted based on the state’s historical disregard for sustaining an active antagonism towards Black life. The First Amendment has been repeatedly trampled by militarized police trotting through Black neighborhoods. The Second Amendment has been shot down by countless state enforcers who have extra-judicially murdered Black people based merely on the suspicion they might have a weapon. The Thirteenth Amendment legitimized enslavement through mass incarceration and extended the practice into a new form of white supremacist rationalization and an old capitalist labor politic that still tortures us to this day. This fascist moment is neither ideologically new nor temporally surprising. It is an inevitability.

Anti-fascist organizing must be bold. The mechanisms working against us do not entertain our humanity: they are hyper-violent. They deal death and destruction in countless numbers across the non-Western world while turning domestic Black and Brown neighborhoods into proxies for how to treat sub-citizen “others.” The militarization of police, border regimes, stop-and-frisk and ICE are clear examples of how the state regards the communities it targets and brutalizes. At the very least, a conversation on self-defense that does not mistreat our survival as a form of violence is deeply needed. And it would be even better if such a conversation normalized anti-fascist organizing that prepared people for the possibility of a fight, instead of simply hoping that that day never comes and respectably clutching proverbial pearls at those currently fighting in the streets.

Everyone has a stake in the fight against fascism. It cannot be defeated with bargaining, petitioning, pleading, “civilized” dialogue, or any other mode of response we were taught was best. Fascists have no respect for “othered” humanities. Regardless of age, gender, race, sexuality, religion, physical ability or nationality, there is a place for all of us in this struggle. We are always fighting against the odds because there is no respite in a perpetually abusive state. It can only function through this abuse, so we can only prevail through organizing grounded in radical love and solidarity.

Our solidarity must prioritize accountability, and it must be authentic. Strategic organizing of this sort, organizing where we understand the inextricable linkedness of our respective struggles, is our means of bolstering the makings of a cohesive left in the United States. The time wasted on dogma and sectarianism, prejudice and incoherence among leftists is over.

The sooner Black America in particular begins to understand our position as an inherently anarchistic element of the United States, the more realistically we will be able to organize. Moving beyond the misnomer of chaos, the elements that make us such are the very tools we should utilize to achieve our liberation. This burning house cannot be reformed to appropriately include us, nor should we want to share a painful death perishing in the flames. A better society has to be written through our inalienable self-determinations, and that will only happen when we realize we are holding the pen.

By William C. Anderson and Zoé Samudzi, ROAR Magazine | Op-Ed

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Maryland governor signs ‘No means no’ rape law, victims no longer need to prove resistance

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) signed several bills that intend to make it easier to prosecute rape cases and protect sexual crime victims.

On Tuesday, Hogan signed 211 bills into law during a ceremony at the state house, including SB 217, or “Criminal Law – Sexual Offenses – Physical Resistance,” which eliminates the requirement that victims of sexual crimes prove they physically resisted their assailants.

Making Maryland safer begins with making sure that we have a criminal justice system that holds offenders accountable for their actions and the harm they cause, while also supporting victims and the community in the process of healing,” Hogan said in a press release.

Previously, victims of rape had to prove they did not consent and that their resistance was overcome by “force, or the threat of force,” according to Section 3-303 of Maryland Criminal Law.

A 2016 BuzzFeed investigation into the Baltimore County Police Department found that the language in the law often allowed police to dismiss rape charges as “unfounded” if they believed that there wasn’t enough evidence that the victim fought back.

The investigation states that even if a victim submitted to sexual acts out of fear for their life, the assailant was able to “walk away without so much as a police interrogation.” Out of the 42 “unfounded” cases Buzzfeed investigated, 15 were dismissed because the victim did not resist enough.

The bill, signed Tuesday, amends the law, specifically stating, “evidence of physical resistance by a victim is not required to prove that a sexual crime was committed.

Given that a victim increases their chances of being maimed or killed, if trying to physically resist the rape, this bill will clarify that a victim of rape does not have to fight the perpetrator or put up physical resistance in order for the court to hand down a guilty verdict,” State Senator Delores Kelley (D-District 10), who sponsored the bill, said on her website.

The bill was unanimously passed by both the State House and Senate before Hogan signed it into law Tuesday.

In addition, Hogan signed SB 308, the Protecting Victims of Sex Trafficking Act, which expands the definition of sexual abuse to include sex trafficking, even in cases where the sexual abuse is committed by a parent or guardian.

All of the laws signed Tuesday will take effect on October 1.

From Russia Today

Posted by John the Revelator

The Pandora’s Box of War

War opens a Pandora’s box of evils that once unleashed are beyond anyone’s control. The invasion of Afghanistan set out to defeat al-Qaida, and nearly 16 years later, we are embroiled in a losing fight with the Taliban. We believed we could invade Iraq and create a Western-style democracy and weaken Iran’s power in the region. The fragmentation of Iraq among warring factions has left Iran the dominant Muslim nation in the Middle East and Iraq destroyed as a unified nation. We set out to topple President Bashar Assad in Syria but then began to bomb the Islamic insurgents trying to overthrow him. We spread the “war on terror” to Yemen, Libya and Syria in a desperate effort to crush regional resistance. Instead, we created new failed states and lawless enclaves where vacuums were filled by the jihadist forces we sought to defeat. We have wasted a staggering $4.79 trillion on death, destruction and folly as our nation is increasingly impoverished and climate change threatens us with extinction. The arms manufacturers, who have a vested interest in perpetuating these debacles, will work to make a few trillion more before this act of collective imperial suicide comes to a humiliating end.

In war, when you attack one force you implicitly aid another. And the forces we assist by striking the Assad regime are the forces we ironically are determined to eradicate—Nusra Front, al-Qaida and other Islamic radical groups. These are the same Islamic forces we, along with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Kuwait, largely created, armed and funded at the inception of the civil war in Syria. They are the forces that have responded to the chaos caused by our misguided military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan. They are the forces that execute Western captives, slaughter religious minorities, carry out terrorism in Europe and the United States and collect billions of dollars from smuggling refugees into Europe. They are our sometime enemies and our sometime allies.

READ: Trump Intervenes in the Civil War in Syria

 The jihadists’ savagery mirrors our own. The jihadists respond to our airstrikes and aerial drone attacks by using suicide vests and improvised explosive devices. They respond to our black sites and prisons such as Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo with basement cells that torture kidnapped captives. They respond to the ideology of Western secularism with an Islamic state. They respond to violence with violence.

The Islamic militants in Syria, after Russia intervened against them in September 2015, were losing territory, financial revenue and support in the six-year war. And they were the ones who rejoiced this week when the United States fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Syria’s Shayrat airfield, reportedly the launching site for a chemical weapons attack that killed 86 people, including at least 30 children, on Tuesday in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun. The Syrian government says six people died in the U.S. missile attack.

The selective moral outrage of the United States, among both Democrats and Republicans, over the alleged chemical attack—I know from two decades of covering war that the truth is very murky and easily manipulated in wartime—ignores America’s primary responsibility for the wholesale carnage that has left hundreds of thousands dead and millions as refugees, including 4 million from Iraq and 5 million from Syria. It ignores the 12,197 bombs we dropped on Syria last year. It ignores our role in creating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and our role in arming and funding these jihadists in Syria. We have made sure that the Syrians—400,000 of whom have died and half of whom have been forced from their homes during the war—have many options when it comes to dying.

Syria had, and may still have, chemical weapons. It appeared to use them in 2013 in the Damascus suburb Ghouta, leaving anywhere from 281 to 1,729 dead. But the Syrians, in an international accord brokered by then-Secretary of State John Kerry with the Russian government, agreed to turn over their chemical stockpiles to the Russians following the attack. And one has to ask why Syria, which is finally winning the war, would use chemical agents now and risk U.S. retaliation. Syria says the deadly nerve agent sarin and possibly chlorine gas were released when a rebel depot holding the chemicals was hit in an airstrike.

WATCH Does U.S. Attack Against Syria Violate International Law?

Why the moral outrage now among Americans? Why have we stood by as Syrians died daily from barrel bombs, bullets, famine, disease and drowning off the shores of Greece? Why have we been mute as schools, apartment blocks, mosques and hospitals have been bombed into rubble? Where is the outrage about the deaths of the thousands of other children, including those we killed recently in Mosul when a March 17 coalition airstrike took the lives of as many as 200 civilians? Why are we not enraged by the Trump administration’s flagrant violation of domestic law by carrying out an act of war without approval from Congress or the United Nations? Why do we lament these deaths yet bar Syrian war refugees from entering the United States? Is American foreign policy to be dictated by the fickle emotions of Donald Trump, whose perception of reality appears to be obtained exclusively from a television screen?

The radical Islamists can always count on the West to intervene and resurrect them. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian radical, founded al-Tawhid al-Jihad in Iraq with about 100 former fighters from al-Qaidi in Afghanistan. His goal was a sectarian conflict with the Shiites. A unified Shiite and Sunni state in Iraq was an anathema to the Sunni jihadists. Zarqawi’s group became al-Qaida in Iraq in 2004. It declared its loyalty to Osama bin Laden, who had initially opposed Zarqawi’s call for a war with Shiites. Zarqawi was killed in 2006.

By 2010 al-Qaida in Iraq was a spent force. Then came the civil war in Syria. The United States, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey pumped weapons, money and resources to various rebel factions in Syria to overthrow the Syrian regime. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who took over the leadership of Zarqawi’s organization, changed the name of the group to the Islamic State of Iraq. He soon decamped to Syria. His group, like all jihadist organizations in Syria, was showered with weapons and resources. Baghdadi devoted his energy to attacking other jihadist and rebel groups. He gradually took control of an area the size of Texas in Syria and Iraq. Al-Nusra, the al-Qaida-affiliated group in Syria, merged with the Islamic State of Iraq. The new group became the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. It attracted an estimated 20,000 foreign fighters—some 4,000 of whom held European passports. The group was estimated by The Wall Street Journal to earn $2 million a day in oil exports alone. As a trafficker of humans, it has made billions from the desperate refugees attempting to flee to Europe. It has executed religious minority members or forced them out of its territory. The newly formed self-described caliphate has also terrorized the Sunnis in the name of religious purity, as Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton point out in the AlterNet article “Is Trump Rescuing Al-Qaeda’s ‘Heartland’ in Syria?

The rise of Islamic State has instilled pride and self-empowerment for many Sunnis, humiliated by the U.S. occupation. It has exposed the weak and corrupt ruling elites who have sold themselves to Washington. It is proof that the Western military forces are not invincible. These groups will suffer reverses, but they will not go away.

There is no clean or easy way to exit from the morass we created in the region. None of the insurgents in the region will willingly lay down their weapons until the U.S. occupation of the Middle East ends. The wars we started are complicated. There is a myriad of proxy wars being fought beneath the surface, including our war with Russia, Turkey’s war with the Kurds, and Saudi Arabia’s war with Iran. The civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen are the human fodder. This slaughter has already lasted nearly 16 years. It will not cease until the United States is exhausted and withdraws its forces from the region. And before that happens, many, many more innocents will die. So save your tears. We are morally no different from the jihadists or the Syrians we fight. They reflect back to us our own repugnant visage. If we wanted this to stop, we could make it happen.

By Chris Hedges/TruthDig

Posted by The NON-Conformist