Why do Italian-Amerikkkans take pride in genocide?

Pittsburgh

I guess it’s really weird to me that Italian-Amerikkkans can apparently find no other symbol to take pride in other than Christopher Columbus, who was a bit more than, as Bill Peduto phrases a perspective I share, “a progenitor of slavery and racism.”[1] Columbus was one who initiated genocide.[2] It’s disturbing even that people find this something to be proud of.

Megan Guza And Joanne Klimovich Harrop, “Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto recommends removal of Columbus statue from Schenley Park,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 9, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-mayor-peduto-recommends-removal-of-columbus-statue-from-schenley-park/


  1. [1]Megan Guza And Joanne Klimovich Harrop, “Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto recommends removal of Columbus statue from Schenley Park,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 9, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-mayor-peduto-recommends-removal-of-columbus-statue-from-schenley-park/
  2. [2]Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States (New York: HarperPerennial, 2005).

Alleged shooter in Portland appears to have committed ‘suicide by cop’

Higher Education

Kery Murakami, “Fauci Urges Colleges Not to Send Students Home,” Inside Higher Ed, September 4, 2020, https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2020/09/04/fauci-urges-colleges-not-send-students-home


Protests

It appears the shooter in Portland[1] was a Leftist. In a National Public Radio article, he is being cast as possibly having mental health issues. The victim in that shooting has been identified as Aaron Danielson; the suspect, Michael Reinoehl, died in a volley of, according to people nearby, forty to fifty shots, as “four officers from three different jurisdictions fired weapons” when Reinoehl allegedly produced a weapon,[2] raising the specter of suicide by cop, assuming even that he did indeed brandish that weapon.[3]

That cops are poorly prepared to deal with mental health issues is an argument for abolishing or defunding the police.[4]

Conrad Wilson and Kimberley Freda, “Suspect In Fatal Shooting Of Portland Right-Wing Protester Killed By Law Enforcement,” National Public Radio, September 4, 2020, https://www.npr.org/2020/09/04/909515885/protester-suspected-in-portland-shooting-death-killed-by-law-enforcement


  1. [1]Faiz Siddiqui and Isaac Stanley-Becker, “One person shot dead in Portland following clashes between pro-Trump supporters, counterprotesters,” Washington Post, August 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/08/29/blm-activists-counterprotesters-clash-portland-leading-arrests/; Hollie Silverman and Alta Spells, “1 person is dead after a shooting during protests in downtown Portland,” CNN, August 30, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/30/us/portland-protest-fatal-shooting/index.html
  2. [2]Conrad Wilson and Kimberley Freda, “Suspect In Fatal Shooting Of Portland Right-Wing Protester Killed By Law Enforcement,” National Public Radio, September 4, 2020, https://www.npr.org/2020/09/04/909515885/protester-suspected-in-portland-shooting-death-killed-by-law-enforcement
  3. [3]Mark Joseph Stern, “The Police Lie. All the Time. Can Anything Stop Them?” Slate, August 4, 2020, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/08/police-testilying.html
  4. [4]Amanda Arnold, “What Exactly Does It Mean to Defund the Police?” Cut, June 12, 2020, https://www.thecut.com/2020/06/what-does-defund-the-police-mean-the-phrase-explained.html; Zak Cheney-Rice, “Why Police Abolition Is a Useful Framework — Even for Skeptics,” New York, June 15, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/06/police-abolitionist-lessons-for-america.html

As Donald Trump faces possible defeat, violence is here

Updates

  1. Originally published, August 30, 2020, at 11:16 am.
  2. August 30, 2020, 10:34 pm:
    • It turns out the shooting victim in Portland may well have been a white supremacist Trump supporter and the shooter may have been among demonstrating Leftists. Further details are sparse[1] but some possibilities come to mind:

      1. This could have been a “false flag” operation in which a white supremacist embedded himself among Leftists and fired at one of his own in an attempt to garner sympathy for the white supremacist cause. Yes, some of them really are this crazy and it’s even conceivable that the victim volunteered to be a martyr.
      2. I have also been seeing on Twitter that as police credibility has evaporated, some Leftists say they are taking up weapons—indeed, some have apparently had them all along. So it’s possible this really was a Leftist shooting at a militia member. It does appear that any violence from the Leftist side may have been provoked by the militia side.[2]
      3. It is possible we will never know the truth. Police have been known to “testilie,” that is, give false testimony, even under oath. The practice may even be ubiquitous and the incentives for both district attorneys and police generally favor at least complicity if not worse.[3] It does appear police sympathies lie with the militia,[4] so we cannot presume that any law enforcement-led investigation will be impartial. And so we have no way to be assured of the honesty of any law enforcement-led investigation.

      Donald Trump is of course seizing on the violence in his “law and order” narrative, praising his supporters.[5]

  3. August 31, 2020, 9:07 am:
    • Guardian coverage of the Portland shooting includes video of the shooting that seems to suggest it occurred away—I don’t know how far away—from clashes between racial justice protesters and right-wing militia groups.[6] It’s possible this had nothing to do with the protests but, adopting the logic of the Kenosha police chief,[7] we might suggest that had this man not come to Portland to provoke violence with protesters, he might still be alive. I’m just guessing Donald Trump won’t acknowledge that.

      This coverage also includes video of militia members driving pickups through protests and pepper-spraying protesters.[8] The driving cars through protesters thing reminds me of the violence in Charlottesville.[9]

  4. August 31, 2020, 9:35 am:
    • As I was dredging my archives to check my recollection of Charlottesville, I came across this:

      In March [2017], [Keith] Mines was one of several national-security experts whom Foreign Policy asked to evaluate the risks of a second civil war—with percentages. Mines concluded that the United States faces a sixty-per-cent chance of civil war over the next ten to fifteen years. Other experts’ predictions ranged from five per cent to ninety-five per cent. The sobering consensus was thirty-five per cent. And that was five months before Charlottesville.[10]

      I guess I’d have to say this still seems to me to be a stretch. Combatants would likely be drawn from the Left and the extreme right. I’m not seeing it become a mainstream thing. But the violence seems like it might be escalating and it certainly is eye-catching.

  5. August 31, 2020, 10:17 am:
    • If you want to see a map of the homes destroyed in the LNU Complex Fires, including the Walbridge Fire, see this Sacramento Bee article. You’ll have to drag the map quite a ways to the west to get to Sonoma County. I dragged it clear towards Fort Ross near where once I came across a home that was for sale—it was absolutely spectacular—and that I badly wished I was in any kind of condition to purchase. It looks like three homes burned there; I’m wondering if that house was among them.


Militia

When Donald Trump was being impeached, I wrote,

I object to the present proceedings because I suspect they would not be occurring at all had Trump targeted anyone other than the neoliberals’ preferred candidate for the neoliberal (Democratic) party presidential nomination[11] and because I think there are stronger grounds for impeachment that would not enable Trump’s bigotry against migrants on the U.S.-Mexican border.[12] I have also worried about the possibility that Trump’s base might resort to violence and it very much appears to me that I now live in an area[13] where some of that violence might occur.[14][15]

That impeachment went down to a well-deserved—I called it “[t]he stupidest impeachment ever, historically notable first for all the offenses it failed to charge Donald Trump with,[16] second for its utterly predictable futility, and third for its transparent (and apparently failed) attempt to protect Joe Biden[17][18]—defeat[19] but now that Donald Trump faces a possible defeat in his re-election bid this November, he has embraced a neoconservative “law and order” mantra in response to Black Lives Matter protests,[20] and the specter I worried about with impeachment seems to be coming to life. The part I didn’t predict was that the police would embrace the militia.[21] There is a new blog post entitled, “Donald Trump’s ‘brown shirts.’

Faiz Siddiqui and Isaac Stanley-Becker, “One person shot dead in Portland following clashes between pro-Trump supporters, counterprotesters,” Washington Post, August 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/08/29/blm-activists-counterprotesters-clash-portland-leading-arrests/

Hollie Silverman and Alta Spells, “1 person is dead after a shooting during protests in downtown Portland,” CNN, August 30, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/30/us/portland-protest-fatal-shooting/index.html

Ed Pilkington and Joanna Walters, “Portland clashes: Trump accused of encouraging violence after shooting,” Guardian, August 31, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/aug/30/fatal-shooting-in-portland-as-trump-supporters-clash-with-black-lives-matter-protesters


  1. [1]Faiz Siddiqui and Isaac Stanley-Becker, “One person shot dead in Portland following clashes between pro-Trump supporters, counterprotesters,” Washington Post, August 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/08/29/blm-activists-counterprotesters-clash-portland-leading-arrests/
  2. [2]Faiz Siddiqui and Isaac Stanley-Becker, “One person shot dead in Portland following clashes between pro-Trump supporters, counterprotesters,” Washington Post, August 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/08/29/blm-activists-counterprotesters-clash-portland-leading-arrests/
  3. [3]Mark Joseph Stern, “The Police Lie. All the Time. Can Anything Stop Them?” Slate, August 4, 2020, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/08/police-testilying.html
  4. [4]Ryan Devereaux, “The Thin Blue Line Between Violent, Pro-Trump Militias and Police,” Intercept, August 28, 2020, https://theintercept.com/2020/08/28/kyle-rittenhouse-violent-pro-trump-militias-police/; Jeremy Stahl, “Kenosha Police Chief Blames Protesters for Their Own Deaths, Defends Vigilante Groups,” Slate, August 26, 2020, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/08/kenosha-police-chief-daniel-miskinis-blames-protesters-for-own-deaths.html
  5. [5]Faiz Siddiqui and Isaac Stanley-Becker, “One person shot dead in Portland following clashes between pro-Trump supporters, counterprotesters,” Washington Post, August 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/08/29/blm-activists-counterprotesters-clash-portland-leading-arrests/
  6. [6]Ed Pilkington and Joanna Walters, “Portland clashes: Trump accused of encouraging violence after shooting,” Guardian, August 31, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/aug/30/fatal-shooting-in-portland-as-trump-supporters-clash-with-black-lives-matter-protesters
  7. [7]Jeremy Stahl, “Kenosha Police Chief Blames Protesters for Their Own Deaths, Defends Vigilante Groups,” Slate, August 26, 2020, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/08/kenosha-police-chief-daniel-miskinis-blames-protesters-for-own-deaths.html
  8. [8]Ed Pilkington and Joanna Walters, “Portland clashes: Trump accused of encouraging violence after shooting,” Guardian, August 31, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/aug/30/fatal-shooting-in-portland-as-trump-supporters-clash-with-black-lives-matter-protesters
  9. [9]British Broadcasting Corporation, “Charlottesville: One killed in violence over US far-right rally,” August 13, 2017, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-40912509
  10. [10]Robin Wright, “Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War?” New Yorker, August 14, 2017, https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/is-america-headed-for-a-new-kind-of-civil-war
  11. [11]David Benfell, “It’s still a smoke-filled room,” December 6, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/06/its-still-a-smoke-filled-room/; David Benfell, “How the neoliberal (usually known as Democratic) party may well lose in 2020,” Not Housebroken, December 7, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/07/how-the-neoliberal-usually-known-as-democratic-party-may-well-lose-in-2020/
  12. [12]David Benfell, “The whiteness of impeachment,” Not Housebroken, December 15, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/15/the-whiteness-of-impeachment/
  13. [13]Colin P. Clarke, “One Year After Tree of Life, We Still Aren’t Talking Enough About Violent White Supremacy,” Rand, October 27, 2019, https://www.rand.org/blog/2019/10/one-year-after-tree-of-life-we-still-arent-talking.html; Letrell Deshan Crittenden, “The Pittsburgh problem: race, media and everyday life in the Steel City,” Columbia Journalism Review, October 25, 2019, https://www.cjr.org/tow_center_reports/racism-black-burnout-in-pittsburgh-journalism.php; Eric Heyl, “Neo-Nazi, White Supremacist, Islamic Hate Groups Active In Pittsburgh,” Patch, August 16, 2017, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/pittsburgh/neo-nazi-white-supremacist-islamic-hate-groups-active-pittsburgh; Moriah Ella Mason, “Pittsburgh Doesn’t Need More Guns — We Need Less White Supremacy,” Forward, October 29, 2018, https://forward.com/scribe/413104/pittsburgh-doesnt-need-more-guns-we-need-less-white-supremacy/; Charles Thompson, “Pennsylvania housed 36 active hate groups last year, ranking 8th in the country: report,” Penn Live, February 21, 2019, https://www.pennlive.com/news/2019/02/southern-poverty-law-center-counts-36-active-hate-groups-in-pennsylvania-in-2018.html
  14. [14]David Benfell, “Militia territory,” Not Housebroken, November 22, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/11/22/militia-territory/
  15. [15]David Benfell, “The least violent solution,” Not Housebroken, December 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/16/the-least-violent-solution/
  16. [16]David Benfell, “The whiteness of impeachment,” Not Housebroken, December 15, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/15/the-whiteness-of-impeachment/; see also Democracy Now, “Law Professor: Trump Could Also Have Been Impeached for War Crimes, Assassinations and Corruption,” January 24, 2020, https://www.democracynow.org/2020/1/24/donald_trump_senate_impeachment_trial
  17. [17]David Benfell, “It’s still a smoke-filled room,” Not Housebroken, December 6, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/06/its-still-a-smoke-filled-room/; David Benfell, “How the neoliberal (usually known as Democratic) party may well lose in 2020,” Not Housebroken, December 7, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/07/how-the-neoliberal-usually-known-as-democratic-party-may-well-lose-in-2020/; David Benfell, “The whiteness of impeachment,” Not Housebroken, December 15, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/15/the-whiteness-of-impeachment/; David Benfell, “The least violent solution,” Not Housebroken, December 16, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/16/the-least-violent-solution/; David Benfell, “The sham (pick your partisan flavor) is on,” Not Housebroken, December 19, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/19/the-sham-pick-your-partisan-flavor-is-on/; David Benfell, “The asterisk,” Not Housebroken, December 21, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/21/the-asterisk/
  18. [18]David Benfell, “One farce down, one to go,” Irregular Bullshit, February 5, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/02/05/one-farce-down-one-to-go/
  19. [19]Jennifer Haberkorn and Sarah D. Wire, “Senate acquits Trump in impeachment trial; Romney breaks with GOP to vote for conviction,” Los Angeles Times, February 5, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-02-05/senate-expected-to-acquit-president-trump-impeachment-trial
  20. [20]David Benfell, “The authoritarian populist president embraces neoconservatism–to advance his own tyranny,” Not Housebroken, July 29, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/07/21/the-authoritarian-populist-president-embraces-neoconservatism-to-advance-his-own-tyranny/
  21. [21]Ryan Devereaux, “The Thin Blue Line Between Violent, Pro-Trump Militias and Police,” Intercept, August 28, 2020, https://theintercept.com/2020/08/28/kyle-rittenhouse-violent-pro-trump-militias-police/; Jeremy Stahl, “Kenosha Police Chief Blames Protesters for Their Own Deaths, Defends Vigilante Groups,” Slate, August 26, 2020, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/08/kenosha-police-chief-daniel-miskinis-blames-protesters-for-own-deaths.html

A bumper sticker of hate

wp-1598373513760.jpg
Fig. 1. Photograph by author, August 25, 2020.

What kind of an asshole puts a bumper sticker like this (figure 1) on the back of their car? I take that question on in a new blog post entitled, “The Donald Trump supporters’ campaign message: Fuck Your Feelings.”


Tropical Storms

eusgm
Fig. 2. 72-hour gif of satellite imagery for the eastern U.S. and Gulf of Mexico, as of August 26, 2020 at 8:01 am EDT.

Laura now appears to be setting its own course (figure 2) and may graze both the Louisiana coast and the extreme eastern Texas coast.


My Pittsburgh dilemma

Pittsburgh

So I finally got a photograph of a “no trespassing” sign on the outskirts of Clairton (figure 1):
IMG_20200808_133215
Fig. 1. A “no trespassing” sign on the outskirts of Clairton, along Miller Road, just off North State Street. Photograph by author, August 8, 2020.

I say of this on my Pittsburgh page,

The sign in figure 1 is not exceptional. I have white passengers get in my car wearing tee shirts that say, “We don’t call 9-1-1,” and that depict guns. Signs with a similar message may declare that property is “protected by the second amendment.” When you see enough of these signs, and enough of these tee shirts, and enough of these messages; when you see enough guns gratuitously displayed, ostensibly to honor veterans, but especially around certain neighborhoods; when you see the gun nuttery in the state legislature;[1] and when you see gun stores treated as essential businesses during a pandemic,[2] they just don’t seem to be joking anymore.[3]

If I seem to be waffling on the question of moving out of Pittsburgh, it’s because the racism, white supremacism, and politics are, on one hand, so abysmal, and the natural beauty of the place is, on the other, really quite spectacular. Every time I drive up a lane with woods on both sides, I can’t think of any place I’d rather be. Every time I see a Confederate flag, a Trump flag, yet another gun store, or a sign like the one in figure 1, I am so appalled I can’t imagine staying.


  1. [1]Stephen Caruso, “Pro 2nd Amendment lawmakers want to let you carry a gun during an emergency,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, July 7, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/government-politics/pro-2nd-amendment-lawmakers-want-to-let-you-carry-a-gun-during-an-emergency/; Jon Delano, “Lawrence Co. Lawmaker Wants To Abolish Concealed Carry Gun Permits,” KDKA, May 7, 2019, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2019/05/07/aaron-bernstine-abolish-pennsylvania-concealed-carry-law/
  2. [2]Brian C. Rittmeyer, “Wolf allows gun stores to reopen on limited basis during coronavirus shutdown,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 25, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/regional/wolf-allows-gun-stores-to-reopen-on-limited-basis-during-coronavirus-shutdown/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Pittsburgh,” Irregular Bullshit, n.d., https://disunitedstates.com/pittsburgh/

‘They’re Screwing Around in Congress’

There is a new blog post entitled, “The psychopathy of the spike in COVID-19 cases.”

It’s been a hot and dry few days. But as I’m about to hit publish here, look what just appeared to our west (in eastern Ohio):
ecan
Don’t know that it will come our way and suspect it won’t change the pattern much, but there it is.


Fascism

George Monbiot conflates the situations of the U.S. and the U.K., declines to call that conflation fascism, and distinguishes this conflation from fascism on specious grounds.[1] I’m beginning to sense a pattern: It is not intellectually fashionable to invoke the f-word (“fascism”), so people bend over backwards to explain how our situation is different so they can still style themselves ‘intellectuals.’

I call what is happening in the U.S. fascism because, crucially, it seeks to build political support through violence, whether structural or physical, against subaltern groups, especially nonwhites and the poor, that enables further violence against those groups.[2] That’s different from what Monbiot says is happening in the U.K., but Monbiot is criticizing anti-intellectualism in both countries and this is how he grounds his conflation.

I’m not prepared to call intellectuals a subaltern group in either country, though I certainly feel a temptation. Whether I would call the U.K. fascist depends on its treatment of subaltern groups and, while I’m not prepared to excuse that treatment, I’m also not prepared to say that that treatment is part of a feedback loop. Here is my previous definition of fascism from the previous update on May 16:

Fascism is an ideology that seeks to institutionalize structural and physical violence against some or many subaltern groups on the grounds of bigotry and to increase its own public support through the exploitation of such violence and bigotry. This bigotry may take several forms including nationalism, scapegoating, sexism, racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. To the extent that it succeeds, it acts as a self-reinforcing feedback as public support enables further and more extreme violence.[3]

If, on the other hand, I am to consider intellectuals a subaltern group, it cannot be all intellectuals. Some, like economists who enable an intellectually utterly discredited neoliberalism[4] and those who support the political class in other ways, are often richly rewarded. Professors who cling to tenure hardly seem subaltern to me. So I would need a way to distinguish between outcast intellectuals, those who are not sycophants for the ruling class, and those who are.

That’s not as easy as it sounds. It can’t simply be that intellectuals who agree with me are subaltern, but ideological sycophancy might be one distinguishing feature of non-subaltern intellectuals. There are books on my shelf I haven’t gotten to that might help with this and Sergio Caldarella criticizes ideological conformity.[5] There may also be economic considerations: What if the surplus of Ph.D. holders functions, intentionally or not, to undermine intellectuals’ leverage in the marketplace, and therefore intellectualism at large?

For now, I just don’t know. A group I might more easily include as subaltern is that of dissidents. Monbiot criticizes the elite response to intellectual dissent in the U.S. and the U.K.,[6] but what if the real objection authoritarian populists and elites have with those Monbiot calls intellectuals isn’t to their intellectualism but rather to their ideas?

So here is how I am further refining my definition:

Fascism is an ideology that seeks to institutionalize structural and physical violence against some or many subaltern groups on the grounds of bigotry and to increase its own public support through the exploitation of such violence and bigotry. This bigotry may take several forms including the repression of dissent or the promotion of nationalism, scapegoating, sexism, racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. To the extent that it succeeds, it acts as a self-reinforcing feedback as public support enables further and more extreme violence.[7]

George Monbiot, “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” July 6, 2020, https://www.monbiot.com/2020/07/07/something-wicked-this-way-comes/


Pennsylvania

Keeping Pennsylvania safe for white supremacy.

Stephen Caruso, “Pro 2nd Amendment lawmakers want to let you carry a gun during an emergency,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, July 7, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/government-politics/pro-2nd-amendment-lawmakers-want-to-let-you-carry-a-gun-during-an-emergency/


  1. [1]George Monbiot, “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” July 6, 2020, https://www.monbiot.com/2020/07/07/something-wicked-this-way-comes/
  2. [2]David Benfell, “A simple definition of fascism,” Not Housebroken, July 7, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/06/a-simple-definition-of-fascism/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “A simple definition of fascism,” Not Housebroken, July 7, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/06/a-simple-definition-of-fascism/
  4. [4]Mark Blyth, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford, UK: Oxford University, 2013); Amir Fleischmann, “The Myth of the Fiscal Conservative,” Jacobin, March 5, 2017, https://jacobinmag.com/2017/03/fiscal-conservative-social-services-austerity-save-money; Jason Hickel, “Progress and its discontents,” New Internationalist, August 7, 2019, https://newint.org/features/2019/07/01/long-read-progress-and-its-discontents; Daniel Stedman Jones, Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University, 2012); Robert Kuttner, “Austerity never works: Deficit hawks are amoral — and wrong,” Salon, May 5, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/05/05/austerity_never_works_deficit_hawks_are_amoral_and_wrong/; Dennis Loo, Globalization and the Demolition of Society (Glendale, CA: Larkmead, 2011); Thomas Piketty, Jeffrey Sachs, Heiner Flassbeck, Dani Rodrik and Simon Wren-Lewis, “Austerity Has Failed: An Open Letter From Thomas Piketty to Angela Merkel,” Nation, July 6, 2015, http://www.thenation.com/article/austerity-has-failed-an-open-letter-from-thomas-piketty-to-angela-merkel/; John Quiggin, “Austerity Has Been Tested, and It Failed,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 20, 2013, http://chronicle.com/article/Austerity-Has-Been-Tested-and/139255/; David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, “How Austerity Kills,” New York Times, May 12, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/13/opinion/how-austerity-kills.html; David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, “Paul Krugman’s right: Austerity kills,” Salon, May 19, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/05/19/paul_krugmans_right_austerity_kills/
  5. [5]Sergio Caldarella, The Dark Campus (Princeton, NJ: Dark Age, 2016).
  6. [6]George Monbiot, “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” July 6, 2020, https://www.monbiot.com/2020/07/07/something-wicked-this-way-comes/
  7. [7]David Benfell, “A simple definition of fascism,” Not Housebroken, July 7, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/06/a-simple-definition-of-fascism/

Symbol and substance in anti-racism demonstrations

Updates

  1. Originally published, July 1, 2020, 10:52 pm.
  2. July 2, 9:38 am:

The Lost Cause

David W. Blight, “Europe in 1989, America in 2020, and the Death of the Lost Cause,” New Yorker, July 1, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/europe-in-1989-america-in-2020-and-the-death-of-the-lost-cause

W. Ralph Eubanks, “The Confederate Flag Finally Falls in Mississippi,” New Yorker, July 1, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-confederate-flag-finally-falls-in-mississippi


Pandemic

An Uber driver claims, and the company denies, that he was fired because he refused riders who weren’t wearing masks. Drivers are indeed required to take selfies proving they are wearing masks,[1] but the same is not true of riders, who are asked but not required to prove compliance.

Since the recent spike in cases, both locally[2] and nationally,[3] and especially since Allegheny County ordered a halt to on-site drinking in bars,[4] I’m noticing much greater compliance among Uber riders.

I’d been told that “Pittsburgh is a drinking town with a football problem;” it might be that taking away their booze does indeed get their attention, although as I was driving home this evening, I was stopped at a red light next to an ice cream shop with people lined up outside. I could see the young ladies working the counter were wearing masks. But despite a newly issued order, taking effect immediately, requiring everyone to wear masks in public,[5] not one customer was, and a lot of them were not social distancing while in line.

If passengers ask, I will tell them that they should wear a mask and, in my experience, they generally comply. But otherwise, I won’t say anything. I won’t argue. That was likely that now-former Uber driver’s mistake.[6] But I’m now giving them a lower rating and specifically tagging that they weren’t wearing a mask. That might be the severest threat of all.

Hannah Dineen, “Uber driver denies unmasked riders, fired for complaints,” News Center Maine, July 1, 2020, https://www.newscentermaine.com/article/life/uber-driver-denies-unmasked-riders-fired-for-complaints/97-80794869-0c8b-4aa1-8ec8-e340d4e6fed5

WTAE, “Masks are now mandatory in all public spaces in Pennsylvania,” July 1, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/masks-are-now-mandatory-in-all-public-spaces-in-pennsylvania/33026253


  1. [1]Hannah Dineen, “Uber driver denies unmasked riders, fired for complaints,” News Center Maine, July 1, 2020, https://www.newscentermaine.com/article/life/uber-driver-denies-unmasked-riders-fired-for-complaints/97-80794869-0c8b-4aa1-8ec8-e340d4e6fed5
  2. [2]Samson X. Horne, “Allegheny County reports 90 new coronavirus cases, the highest daily total for county,” Tribune-Review, June 27, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/allegheny-county-reports-highest-daily-total-of-coronavirus-cases-at-90/; KDKA, “‘For The First Time…Allegheny Co. Led The State In The Number Of New COVID-19 Cases’: Allegheny Co. Officials Ban On-Site Consumption Of Alcohol At Local Bars,” June 28, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/28/allegheny-co-highest-case-numbers-bans-on-site-drinking/; KDKA, “Allegheny Co. Health Officials: Spike In New Coronavirus Cases Linked To Bars, Not Protests,” June 29, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/29/spike-in-coronavirus-cases-linked-to-bars-not-protests/; Madasyn Lee, “Allegheny County exceeds highest coronavirus case total with 96 new cases,” Tribune-Review, June 28, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/allegheny-county-exceeds-highest-coronavirus-case-total-with-96-new-cases/; John Shumway, “‘People Don’t Care’: Recent Jump In Allegheny County Coronavirus Cases Linked To People In Their 20s, 30s,” KDKA, June 23, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/23/jump-in-allegheny-county-coronavirus-cases-linked-to-young-people/; Teghan Simonton, “61 new coronavirus cases reported in Allegheny County, highest in 2 months,” Tribune-Review, June 26, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/61-new-cases-of-coronavirus-reported-in-allegheny-county-2-deaths/; Teghan Simonton, “83 new cases of coronavirus in Allegheny County, no new deaths,” Tribune-Review, June 29, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/83-new-cases-of-coronavirus-in-allegheny-county-no-new-deaths/; Megan Tomasic, “505 new coronavirus cases, 3 deaths reported in Pa.,” Tribune-Review, June 28, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/505-new-coronavirus-cases-3-deaths-reported-in-pa/
  3. [3]Talal Ansari, “Texas Governor Rolls Back Reopening as U.S. Virus Cases Hit Record,” Wall Street Journal, June 26, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/coronavirus-latest-news-06-26-2020-11593159630; Annie Gowen, Arelis R. Hernández, and Lori Rozsa, “Young people urged to take virus more seriously as pandemic worsens in U.S.,” Washington Post, June 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/young-people-are-driving-a-spike-in-coronavirus-infections-officials-say/2020/06/27/3654638c-b7b4-11ea-a510-55bf26485c93_story.html; Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey, and Yasmeen Abutaleb, “With Trump leading the way, America’s coronavirus failures exposed by record surge in new infections,” Washington Post, June 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/with-trump-leading-the-way-americas-coronavirus-failures-exposed-by-record-surge-in-new-infections/2020/06/27/bd15aea2-b7c4-11ea-a8da-693df3d7674a_story.html; Meg Wagner et al., “Fauci, Redfield testify on Covid-19 reopening as cases rise,” CNN, June 30, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/webview/politics/live-news/covid-19-school-work-reopening-testimony-06-30-20/h_cc7cf09eae87064e72f75af30984acd3
  4. [4]KDKA, “‘For The First Time…Allegheny Co. Led The State In The Number Of New COVID-19 Cases’: Allegheny Co. Officials Ban On-Site Consumption Of Alcohol At Local Bars,” June 28, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/28/allegheny-co-highest-case-numbers-bans-on-site-drinking/
  5. [5]WTAE, “Masks are now mandatory in all public spaces in Pennsylvania,” July 1, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/masks-are-now-mandatory-in-all-public-spaces-in-pennsylvania/33026253
  6. [6]Hannah Dineen, “Uber driver denies unmasked riders, fired for complaints,” News Center Maine, July 1, 2020, https://www.newscentermaine.com/article/life/uber-driver-denies-unmasked-riders-fired-for-complaints/97-80794869-0c8b-4aa1-8ec8-e340d4e6fed5

Patriotic hypocrisy

Pennsylvania

KDKA, “Study Finds Pennsylvania Among The Least Patriotic States In America,” June 24, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/24/pennsylvania-is-among-least-patriots-states-in-america/


U.S. Military

Lois Beckett, “How the US military has failed to address white supremacy in its ranks,” Guardian, June 24, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/24/us-military-white-supremacy-extremist-plot


Donald Trump, the petulant raging narcissist-in-chief, must do his homework

Racism

There is a new blog post entitled, “Be careful what you ask for.”

Jason Okundaye, “Abolish Whiteness,” London Review of Books, June 16, 2020, https://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2020/june/abolish-whiteness


Unauthorized migrants

The Supreme Court has, in essence, informed the Trump administration that it must do its homework.[1]

Robert Barnes, “Supreme Court rules against Trump’s attempt to end DACA, a win for undocumented ‘Dreamers’ brought to U.S. as children,” Wall Street Journal, June 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-rules-against-trump-administration-attempt-to-end-daca-a-win-for-undocumented-immigrants-brought-to-us-as-children/2020/06/18/4f0b6c74-b163-11ea-8758-bfd1d045525a_story.html


Pandemic

Though the data is “proprietary” (really? for a government health agency?), it appears that Pennsylvania is making some progress against the pandemic.[2] The trouble here is that nobody has hermetically sealed borders. The rise in other states[3] remains a serious threat.

KDKA, “Gov. Tom Wolf: CDC Says Pa. Is 1 Of 3 States Where Coronavirus Cases Have Declined For More Than 42 Days,” June 17, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/17/gov-tom-wolf-pennsylvania-coronavirus-cases-decline/


Recession

AnnaMaria Andriotis, “Americans Skip Millions of Loan Payments as Coronavirus Takes Economic Toll,” Wall Street Journal, June 18, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/americans-skip-millions-of-loan-payments-as-coronavirus-takes-economic-toll-11592472601


  1. [1]Robert Barnes, “Supreme Court rules against Trump’s attempt to end DACA, a win for undocumented ‘Dreamers’ brought to U.S. as children,” Wall Street Journal, June 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-rules-against-trump-administration-attempt-to-end-daca-a-win-for-undocumented-immigrants-brought-to-us-as-children/2020/06/18/4f0b6c74-b163-11ea-8758-bfd1d045525a_story.html
  2. [2]KDKA, “Gov. Tom Wolf: CDC Says Pa. Is 1 Of 3 States Where Coronavirus Cases Have Declined For More Than 42 Days,” June 17, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/06/17/gov-tom-wolf-pennsylvania-coronavirus-cases-decline/
  3. [3]Lisa Shumaker and Brendan O’Brien, “Record spike in new coronavirus cases reported in six U.S. states as reopening accelerates,” Reuters, June 16, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-idUSKBN23N32O