Don’t you dare call Israel racist! Or the Burmese genocidal!

Anti-Semitism

So a White House official confirmed to CNN that Donald Trump was about to sign an order declaring Judaism a nationality. That appears to be inaccurate,[1] but it sure kicked off a fuss.

That said, the order relies on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism, which includes “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”[4] Which is to say that Israel may engage in ethnic cleansing and genocide of Palestinians, but we can’t call it racist.

Jacob Kornbluh and Melissa Weiss, “A first look at the language of Trump’s executive order on antisemitism,” Jewish Insider, December 11, 2019, https://jewishinsider.com/2019/12/exclusive-a-first-look-at-the-language-of-trumps-executive-order-on-antisemitism/

Veronica Stracqualursi, Paul LeBlanc, and Betsy Klein, “Trump aims to crack down on anti-Semitism on college campuses using civil rights protections,” CNN, December 10, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/10/politics/trump-order-judaism-nationality/index.html


Israel

Ruth Eglash, “Israel heading for third election in less than a year after politicians fail to form government,” Washington Post, December 11, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/israel-heading-for-third-election-in-less-than-a-year-after-politicians-fail-to-form-government/2019/12/11/d9d4818a-1ac6-11ea-977a-15a6710ed6da_story.html


Amazon

Danny Fortson, “Is Jeff Bezos’s Amazon now the ‘evil face of capitalism’?” Times, December 8, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/is-jeff-bezoss-amazon-now-the-evil-face-of-capitalism-3lxjs0k0n


Rohingya

Aung San Suu Kyi will need to do better than this. Even if she is correct in blaming “the separatist Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army” for “forc[ing] Myanmar [Burmese] forces to respond,” “mass executions, sexual violence and arson”[5] are war crimes. Executed on the scale Burma is accused of and especially at a largely noncombatant population, they amount to genocide.

The one point that she might have is that international courts do indeed try claims almost exclusively against small, poor countries.[6] But “selective prosecution” is a weak defense against crimes against humanity.

Note that until a relatively legitimate government, which has not existed there in a very long time,[7] exists to assert the name “Myanmar,” I will continue to refer to the country by its admittedly colonial name, “Burma.”

As to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and the Rohingya generally, they appear not to be separatist at all but rather, according to C. Christine Fair, seek only “to return to Myanmar with citizenship and, problematically, with government recognition as a distinct ethnic group.” Crimes against the Rohingya, including land confiscation, concentration camps, forced labor, and arbitrary taxation, appear to precede the ARSA by decades,[8] entirely undermining Aung San Suu Kyi’s argument.

So my message to the Nobel laureate is this: Get over yourself, you lying bitch.

Clyde Hughes, “Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi rejects genocide claims,” United Press International, December 11, 2019, https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2019/12/11/Myanmar-leader-Aung-San-Suu-Kyi-rejects-genocide-claims/1061576065233/

Marlise Simons and Hannah Beech, “Aung San Suu Kyi Defends Myanmar Against Rohingya Genocide Accusations,” New York Times, December 11, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/11/world/asia/aung-san-suu-kyi-rohingya-myanmar-genocide-hague.html


  1. [1]Jacob Kornbluh and Melissa Weiss, “A first look at the language of Trump’s executive order on antisemitism,” Jewish Insider, December 11, 2019, https://jewishinsider.com/2019/12/exclusive-a-first-look-at-the-language-of-trumps-executive-order-on-antisemitism/; Veronica Stracqualursi, Paul LeBlanc, and Betsy Klein, “Trump aims to crack down on anti-Semitism on college campuses using civil rights protections,” CNN, December 10, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/10/politics/trump-order-judaism-nationality/index.html
  2. [2]Jamal Dajani (@JamalDajani), Twitter, December 10, 2019, 8:49 pm, https://twitter.com/JamalDajani/status/1204578922702069760
  3. [3]Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA), Twitter, December 11, 2019, 9:20 pm, https://twitter.com/RWPUSA/status/1204586619057115136
  4. [4]International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, quoted in Jacob Kornbluh and Melissa Weiss, “A first look at the language of Trump’s executive order on antisemitism,” Jewish Insider, December 11, 2019, https://jewishinsider.com/2019/12/exclusive-a-first-look-at-the-language-of-trumps-executive-order-on-antisemitism/
  5. [5]Clyde Hughes, “Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi rejects genocide claims,” United Press International, December 11, 2019, https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2019/12/11/Myanmar-leader-Aung-San-Suu-Kyi-rejects-genocide-claims/1061576065233/
  6. [6]Marlise Simons and Hannah Beech, “Aung San Suu Kyi Defends Myanmar Against Rohingya Genocide Accusations,” New York Times, December 11, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/11/world/asia/aung-san-suu-kyi-rohingya-myanmar-genocide-hague.html
  7. [7]Lawrence James seems not to specify when, precisely, Burma fell under sway of the British empire in The Rise and Fall of the British Empire (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1994) but notes campaigns were fought there in 1824 and 1853.
  8. [8]C. Christine Fair, “Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army: Not the Jihadis You Might Expect,” Lawfare, December 9, 2018, https://www.lawfareblog.com/arakan-rohingya-salvation-army-not-jihadis-you-might-expect

Anti-Semites for Israel

Donald Trump

Donald Trump again used a trope of Jews and money, suggesting that they’d have no choice but to vote for him because Elizabeth Warren would take their money away.[1]

Eric Cortellessa, “Trump tells pro-Israel conference that some US Jews don’t love Israel enough,” Times of Israel, December 8, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/trump-tells-jewish-group-theyll-vote-for-him-to-protect-their-wealth/


  1. [1]Eric Cortellessa, “Trump tells pro-Israel conference that some US Jews don’t love Israel enough,” Times of Israel, December 8, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/trump-tells-jewish-group-theyll-vote-for-him-to-protect-their-wealth/

The wages of fire

There is a new blog post entitled, “How the neoliberal (usually known as Democratic) party may well lose in 2020.”


Pacific Gas and Electric

The Los Angeles Times story incorrectly states that “[t]he wine country fires in 2017 scorched more than 200,000 acres mostly in Napa County, destroyed or damaged more than 5,500 homes, displaced 100,000 people and killed at least 41.”[1] These fires were mostly in Sonoma County, rather than in Napa County. This settlement does not include this year’s Kincade Fire,[2] which also occurred mostly in Sonoma County.

Howard Blume, “PG&E reaches $13.5-billion settlement with victims of devastating California wildfires,” Los Angeles Times, December 6, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-12-06/pge-settlement-fire-northern-california

Dale Kasler, “PG&E makes deal to pay California wildfire victims. What it means for utility’s future,” Sacramento Bee, December 6, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article238138009.html


Elon Musk

Tim Higgins, “Elon Musk Cleared by Jury in Defamation Case Over ‘Pedo’ Tweet,” Wall Street Journal, December 6, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/elon-musk-cleared-by-jury-in-defamation-case-over-pedo-tweet-11575678498


Palestine

Democrats Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar and Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the first two Muslim women to serve in Congress who have gained notoriety for their strong criticisms of Israel, both opposed the resolution [H.R. 326], as did the two other left-wing congresswomen dubbed “The Squad.” They objected that the resolution’s authors, in a bid to gain broad support, removed a call to end Israel’s “occupation” of Palestinian land.[3]

As I have previously said, a country founded in response to genocide cannot allow even the appearance of ethnic cleansing. Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians, even refusing to acknowledge their identity and labeling them “Arabs” instead, and further, refusing them the right of return to lands they were expelled from, is in fact an erasure of the Palestinian people—genocide.

Thus, Israel erases its own legitimacy. As a state it can no longer have a right to exist.

Eric Cortellessa, “In rebuke to Trump and Netanyahu, US House passes resolution supporting 2 states,” Times of Israel, December 6, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/in-rebuke-to-trump-netanyahu-us-house-passes-resolution-supporting-two-states/


  1. [1]Howard Blume, “PG&E reaches $13.5-billion settlement with victims of devastating California wildfires,” Los Angeles Times, December 6, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-12-06/pge-settlement-fire-northern-california
  2. [2]Howard Blume, “PG&E reaches $13.5-billion settlement with victims of devastating California wildfires,” Los Angeles Times, December 6, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-12-06/pge-settlement-fire-northern-california; Dale Kasler, “PG&E makes deal to pay California wildfire victims. What it means for utility’s future,” Sacramento Bee, December 6, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article238138009.html
  3. [3]Eric Cortellessa, “In rebuke to Trump and Netanyahu, US House passes resolution supporting 2 states,” Times of Israel, December 6, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/in-rebuke-to-trump-netanyahu-us-house-passes-resolution-supporting-two-states/

The anti-Semitism lie against the Labour Party in the United Kingdom

Updates

  1. Originally published, November 27, 6:32 pm.
  2. November 27, 9:49 pm:
    • Donald Trump signed the bill supporting Hong Kong protesters[1] that had passed both houses of Congress with “veto-proof” majorities, but which he had nonetheless threatened to veto.[2] In a signing statement, Trump threatened to pick and choose which parts of the law he will comply with.[3]

Anti-semitism

The British general election campaign is proving very, very ugly, pretty much no matter what side you’re on. Among the ugliness is the resurrection of allegations of anti-Semitism against the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn, notably in an op-ed published in the Times.[4]

As near as I can determine, these allegations are utterly unsubstantiated, and likely result from the Labour Party’s occasional sympathy with the Palestinian cause.[5] Honestly, if libel laws in the U.K. weren’t so lax, I’d say there should be some lawsuits. And yeah, Ephraim Mirvis’ op-ed is more of the same fucking bullshit.[6] Read it and see for yourself, because—it’s amazing—this is as much substance as we ever see to these allegations.

Ephraim Mirvis, “What will become of Jews in Britain if Labour forms the next government?” Times, November 25, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/ephraim-mirvis-what-will-become-of-jews-in-britain-if-labour-forms-the-next-government-ghpsdbljk


Koalas

Natasha Daly, “No, koalas aren’t ‘functionally extinct’—yet,” National Geographic, November 25, 2019, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2019/11/koalas-near-extinction-myth-australia-fires/


Bolivia

Marjorie Cohn keeps being right. I expect she is this time, too.[7]

Marjorie Cohn, “US Is Again Complicit in an Illegal Coup, This Time in Bolivia,” Truthout, November 27, 2019, https://truthout.org/articles/us-is-again-complicit-in-an-illegal-coup-this-time-in-bolivia/


Hong Kong

Paul LeBlanc, “Trump signs Hong Kong human rights act,” CNN, November 27, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/27/politics/trump-hong-kong-human-right-democracy/index.html


  1. [1]Paul LeBlanc, “Trump signs Hong Kong human rights act,” CNN, November 27, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/27/politics/trump-hong-kong-human-right-democracy/index.html
  2. [2]David J. Lynch, “Trump says he might veto legislation that aims to protect human rights in Hong Kong because bill could affect China trade talks,” Washington Post, November 22, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/11/22/trump-says-he-might-veto-legislation-that-aims-protect-human-rights-hong-kong-because-bill-would-impact-china-trade-talks/
  3. [3]Paul LeBlanc, “Trump signs Hong Kong human rights act,” CNN, November 27, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/27/politics/trump-hong-kong-human-right-democracy/index.html
  4. [4]Ephraim Mirvis, “What will become of Jews in Britain if Labour forms the next government?” Times, November 25, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/ephraim-mirvis-what-will-become-of-jews-in-britain-if-labour-forms-the-next-government-ghpsdbljk
  5. [5]Wikipedia, s.v. “Antisemitism in the UK Labour Party,” last modified November 27, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisemitism_in_the_UK_Labour_Party
  6. [6]Ephraim Mirvis, “What will become of Jews in Britain if Labour forms the next government?” Times, November 25, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/ephraim-mirvis-what-will-become-of-jews-in-britain-if-labour-forms-the-next-government-ghpsdbljk
  7. [7]Marjorie Cohn, “US Is Again Complicit in an Illegal Coup, This Time in Bolivia,” Truthout, November 27, 2019, https://truthout.org/articles/us-is-again-complicit-in-an-illegal-coup-this-time-in-bolivia/

Smile for your oppressors

BraveheartsSpeech
Fig. 1. Existential Comics, undated, but well-timed in my Facebook feed, fair use.


Hong Kong

U.S. Congressional concern for human rights in Hong Kong[1] is, of course, laudable. Its silence on the same for Uyghurs is contemptible.

David J. Lynch, “Trump says he might veto legislation that aims to protect human rights in Hong Kong because bill could affect China trade talks,” Washington Post, November 22, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/11/22/trump-says-he-might-veto-legislation-that-aims-protect-human-rights-hong-kong-because-bill-would-impact-china-trade-talks/

Verna Yu, “‘Turning point’: ball in Beijing’s court after Hong Kong’s decisive vote,” Guardian, November 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/25/turning-point-ball-in-beijings-court-after-hong-kongs-decisive-vote


Uyghurs


Figs. 2 and 3. Get a load of this “vocational skills education centre.” Undated photographs by Thomas Peter of Reuters, via the Guardian,[2] fair use.

Emma Graham-Harrison and Juliette Garside, “‘Allow no escapes’: leak exposes reality of China’s vast prison camp network,” Guardian, November 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/24/china-cables-leak-no-escapes-reality-china-uighur-prison-camp


Gig economy

I’ve always found it curious that Uber, but not Lyft, occasionally requires me to take a “selfie” to verify my identity. It utterly mismanaged the camera on one of my previous phones, making the selfie very nearly impossible to take. It also seems to require these selfies be taken at the most inopportune moments, especially when lighting conditions are poor, which effectively put me out of business until I could satisfy its demands.

Apparently this still isn’t good enough for London authorities (where Lyft doesn’t operate) and Uber, in an attempt to placate them, says it will “require drivers to look at their smartphone camera and blink, smile and turn their head to verify their identity.”[3]

So it’s not enough I’m having to work seven days a week, trying and failing to keep my head above water. I’ll have to smile for these mother fuckers too? Why not require a cartwheel as well?

Parmy Olson, “Uber Loses License to Operate in London,” Wall Street Journal, November 25, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-loses-license-to-operate-in-london-11574677664


Israel

Benny Gantz’ concern for avoiding violence at a demonstration for and against Binyamin Netanyahu is touching,[4] in light of the entire Israeli establishment’s lack of such concern for avoiding it against Palestinians.

Raoul Wootliff, “Seemingly killing PM’s immunity hopes, Liberman says cases must go to court,” Times of Israel, November 25, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/seemingly-killing-pms-immunity-hopes-liberman-says-cases-must-go-to-court/


Donald Trump

Spencer S. Hsu and Ann E. Marimow, “Former White House counsel Donald McGahn must comply with House subpoena, judge rules,” Washington Post, November 25, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/legal-issues/former-white-house-counsel-donald-mcgahn-must-comply-with-house-subpoena-judge-rules/2019/11/25/6de26cc8-018d-11ea-8bab-0fc209e065a8_story.html


  1. [1]David J. Lynch, “Trump says he might veto legislation that aims to protect human rights in Hong Kong because bill could affect China trade talks,” Washington Post, November 22, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/11/22/trump-says-he-might-veto-legislation-that-aims-protect-human-rights-hong-kong-because-bill-would-impact-china-trade-talks/
  2. [2]Emma Graham-Harrison and Juliette Garside, “‘Allow no escapes’: leak exposes reality of China’s vast prison camp network,” Guardian, November 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/24/china-cables-leak-no-escapes-reality-china-uighur-prison-camp
  3. [3]Parmy Olson, “Uber Loses License to Operate in London,” Wall Street Journal, November 25, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-loses-license-to-operate-in-london-11574677664
  4. [4]Raoul Wootliff, “Seemingly killing PM’s immunity hopes, Liberman says cases must go to court,” Times of Israel, November 25, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/seemingly-killing-pms-immunity-hopes-liberman-says-cases-must-go-to-court/

Colonization and a potential pogrom

Hong Kong

Tseng Yat-yiu et al., “Hong Kong District Elections Could Gauge Support For Protest Movement,” Global Security, November 22, 2019, https://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/china/2019/china-191122-rfa01.htm


Pittsburgh

So I saw this (figure 1):
IMG_0053
Fig. 1. Photograph by author, November 22, 2019.

And I wrote a new blog entry entitled, “Militia territory.” My mother responded with a bunch of links[1] confirming and expanding many of my worst previously expressed fears and what my passengers have told me about racism in Pittsburgh.[2] These links don’t quite get to the militia issue but they come close, much too close for comfort, and close enough that they lay a groundwork for at least the plausibility of militias in this area, if not their likelihood.

On a more personal note, the Tree of Life Synagogue shooter lived “in a neighborhood dotted with mostly small to medium brick homes, about a 25-minute drive south of Pittsburgh in the suburb of Baldwin Borough,”[3] which is the municipality where I now live. Baldwin is a fairly large place, reaching nearly down to the Monongahela River, with a few apartment buildings so it isn’t necessarily the complex I live in. But the one I live in is probably the largest, so place your bets.

If indeed a race war[4] of the shooting sort breaks out,[5] it very much appears that the part of Pittsburgh I live in could become a combat zone. To my knowledge, however, Blacks are mostly unarmed. I think the gun nuttery I see is largely a white phenomenon. So “war” is probably the wrong word for it. We’ll be looking at a pogrom.

I feel completely helpless to stop it and, after what I saw that one day,[6] I’m pretty sure I can count on the police to stand aside and laugh.

The question, then, is, just how likely is such a scenario?


Chagos Islands

Global Security, “‘Illegal colonial occupier’: Mauritius blasts UK as it skips UN deadline to return Chagos Islands housing US airbase,” November 22, 2019, https://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/uk/2019/uk-191122-rt01.htm


Israel

Times of Israel, “TV report says top Likud leaders working behind the scenes to oust Netanyahu,” November 22, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/tv-says-top-likud-leaders-working-behind-scenes-to-oust-netanyahu/


  1. [1]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
  2. [2]David Benfell, “The banners and the guns: Flagrant racism in Pittsburgh,” Not Housebroken, October 12, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/09/20/the-banners-and-the-guns-flagrant-racism-in-pittsburgh/
  3. [3]Campbell Robertson, Christopher Mele, and Sabrina Tavernise, “11 Killed in Synagogue Massacre; Suspect Charged With 29 Counts,” New York Times, October 27, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/27/us/active-shooter-pittsburgh-synagogue-shooting.html
  4. [4]Kathleen Parker, “Trump has essentially declared a ‘race war,’” Washington Post, July 30, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-has-essentially-declared-a-race-war/2019/07/30/ad6ae554-b305-11e9-8949-5f36ff92706e_story.html
  5. [5]Mary B. McCord, “Armed Militias Are Taking Trump’s Civil War Tweets Seriously,” Lawfare, October 2, 2019, https://www.lawfareblog.com/armed-militias-are-taking-trumps-civil-war-tweets-seriously
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Hey cops! Do you know what year it is?” Not Housebroken, August 27, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/27/hey-cops-do-you-know-what-year-it-is/

At long fucking last, Binyamin Netanyahu is indicted

Israel

Steve Hendrix and Ruth Eglash, “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicted on charges of bribery, fraud, breach of trust,” Washington Post, November 21, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/israeli-prime-minister-benjamin-netanyahu-indicted-on-charges-of-bribery-fraud-breach-of-trust/2019/11/21/ef396fee-0bc2-11ea-8054-289aef6e38a3_story.html

Raoul Wootliff, “AG announces Netanyahu to stand trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust,” Times of Israel, November 21, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/ag-announces-netanyahu-to-stand-trial-for-bribery-fraud-and-breach-of-trust/


Benny Gantz fails

Israel

Steve Hendrix and Ruth Eglash, “Challenger Benny Gantz fails to form Israeli government, deepening political crisis,” Washington Post, November 20, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/challenger-benny-gantz-fails-to-form-israeli-government-deepening-political-crisis/2019/11/20/9e6da19c-0b14-11ea-8054-289aef6e38a3_story.html


Donald Trump

Jeremy Diamond, “The White House shifts description of Trump’s visit to Walter Reed,” CNN, November 19, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/19/politics/donald-trump-hospital-visit-white-house/index.html


Pacific Gas and Electric

Mary Fricker, “Exploring options for PG&E’s future,” Sonoma West Times and News, November 20, 2019, http://www.sonomawest.com/sonoma_west_times_and_news/news/exploring-options-for-pg-e-s-future/article_cdccdf26-0bc2-11ea-a06f-1bf6a8868cad.html


Endless, endless war

War

There is a new blog post entitled, “Raw, naked power.”

Simon Jenkins, “The US and Britain face no existential threat. So why do their wars go on?” Guardian, November 15, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/nov/15/britain-and-us-wars-conflicts-middle-east


Julian Assange

Karla Adam, “Sweden drops alleged rape investigation against Julian Assange of WikiLeaks,” Washington Post, November 19, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/sweden-drops-alleged-rape-investigation-against-julian-assange-of-wikileaks/2019/11/19/a0c4a9ae-0ad3-11ea-8054-289aef6e38a3_story.html


Palestine

Michael Bachner and Jacob Magid, “Settler leaders call for West Bank annexation after US shifts stance,” Times of Israel, November 18, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/settler-leaders-call-for-west-bank-annexation-after-us-shifts-stance/


Jeffrey Epstein

I’m not seeing much explanation on the conspiracy charge.[1]

Rebecca Davis O’Brien and Sadie Gurman, “Jeffrey Epstein’s Jail Guards Charged With Conspiracy, Records Falsification,” Wall Street Journal, November 19, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/jeffrey-epsteins-jail-guards-charged-11574181201


  1. [1]Rebecca Davis O’Brien and Sadie Gurman, “Jeffrey Epstein’s Jail Guards Charged With Conspiracy, Records Falsification,” Wall Street Journal, November 19, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/jeffrey-epsteins-jail-guards-charged-11574181201

The neoliberal party’s version of Donald Trump

So I’ve been in Pittsburgh over six months now and I’m doing a bit of reflection.

It is often pretty here, even now that a somewhat disappointing fall foliage season[1] (I did see some of the amazing sort that reassures me that no, painters weren’t just making that shit up) has given way to the pastel hues of brown and, still, some green. That spectacular fall foliage is indeed spectacular, but there is a peace that accompanies the present hues that I appreciate.

I am not missing California, even as there are the occasional place name reminders—street names and the like—that evoke places in California that I know, sometimes with irritating discrepancies in spelling. For the most part, the places I loved in California are so much a part of me that I need only think of them to be there.

The racism here is horrifyingly apparent.[2] I don’t know what to do about it beyond acknowledging that it is so apparent and condemning it utterly.

The conservatism is also apparent. Confederate battle flags can be seen in front yards. People fly “Trump 2020” flags along with their U.S. flags as if to affirm Donald Trump’s identification of the United States with himself.[3]


Fig. 1. Map of gratuitously displayed artillery that by its very locations, mostly seems to metaphorically target Blacks. Pictures here.

And even where Confederate battle flags, Gadsden (“Don’t Tread On Me”) flags, or Trump 2020 flags are absent, there is a hyper-patriotism that evokes a wonder at what folks here might be over-compensating for. U.S. flags are flown much more commonly here than in California and monuments to veterans and war dead are everywhere. Some of those banners commemorating (almost exclusively white) war dead that I thought were coming down are still up, seemingly permanently, in all their manifestly racist splendor. Government institutions, including those that should know better, routinely fly the black POW-MIA flags that evoke a conspiracy theory about missing Vietnam soldiers who do not and never did, in fact, exist.[4] This is by no means the patriotism of people who are confident in the country they stand for, but rather a loud, conformist affirmation that denies troubling questions, both historic and present.

But mostly, it has been good to reconnect with a place I had thought I might never see again, to explore it, and to really begin to learn my way around it.

How long that lasts is an open question. I do very much sense that I am on the frontier with what Colin Woodard calls “Greater Appalachia,”[5] which I associate with authoritarian populism,[6] and that is not a comfortable place for me to be. I also sense that it might be possible to soften that by moving a bit north. Even around North Park, streets start to widen, traffic seems a bit less maddening, and the gun nuttery seems less omnipresent.


Pete Buttigieg

Pete Buttigieg is an ass. Anyone who knows anything about the history of U.S.-Mexico relations knows that the last thing the U.S. can do is send its troops into Mexico. No Mexican government could agree to it; to do so would provoke a fury that would, at a bare minimum, bring that government down.

That, nonetheless, is what Buttigieg suggested.[7]

Mexicans have many grievances against the U.S. and little reason to trust U.S. troops on their soil. There’s the the U.S. invasion of 1846-1847, the subsequent Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) which ceded about half of Mexico’s territory to the U.S., and a rather lop-sided balance of everything that has happened since.[8] “Poor Mexico,” said Porfirio Díaz, who served seven terms as president of the country, “so far from God and so close to the United States!”[9] And I will never forget a remark I overheard while bringing some folks down from a concert at the Mountain Winery overlooking Saratoga, California: “It’s our land anyway!”

Daniel Kim, “Pete Buttigieg says he’s open to sending U.S. troops to Mexico,” Sacramento Bee, November 17, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article237463004.html


Hong Kong

What we see now in Hong Kong[10] is an extreme example of a phenomenon in which the rulers’ pretense of ruling by consent is exposed as a hollow facade. The imperative here is to rule, to control.

If it were otherwise, territories could be allowed to secede. But from Scotland, to Catalonia, to Hong Kong, it is never that way. Rulers will never permit it and will, if necessary, respond with force to prevent it.

John Lyons, Dan Strumpf, and Natasha Khan, “Hong Kong Police Try to Storm University in Bid to Retake Campus From Protesters,” Wall Street Journal, November 17, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/hong-kong-police-officer-shot-with-an-arrow-at-university-battle-11573981792


Ageism

Carol Hymowitz, “Older Workers Have a Big Secret: Their Age,” Wall Street Journal, November 17, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/older-workers-have-a-big-secret-their-age-11574046301


Palestine

Associated Press, “Trump changes decades-old U.S. position on illegality of Israeli settlements,” Los Angeles Times, November 18, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2019-11-18/u-s-softens-position-on-israeli-settlements


  1. [1]Mary Ann Thomas, “Leaf peeper season in full swing in the Laurel Highlands; Pittsburgh, Alle-Kiski Valley must wait,” TribLive, October 20, 2019, https://triblive.com/local/valley-news-dispatch/leaf-peeper-season-in-full-swing-in-the-laurel-highlands-pittsburgh-alle-kiski-valley-must-wait/
  2. [2]David Benfell, “The banners and the guns: Flagrant racism in Pittsburgh,” Not HOusebroken, October 12, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/09/20/the-banners-and-the-guns-flagrant-racism-in-pittsburgh/
  3. [3]Peter Nicholas, “Trump’s Dark Assumption About America,” Atlantic, October 30, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/10/trump-impeachment-2020/601048/
  4. [4]Rick Perlstein, The Invisible Bridge (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2014).
  5. [5]Colin Woodard, American Nations (New York: Penguin, 2011).
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Barack Obama asks, ‘Why is it that the folks that won the last election are so mad all the time?’” Not Housebroken, November 4, 2018, https://disunitedstates.org/2018/11/04/barack-obama-asks-why-is-it-that-the-folks-that-won-the-last-election-are-so-mad-all-the-time/
  7. [7]Daniel Kim, “Pete Buttigieg says he’s open to sending U.S. troops to Mexico,” Sacramento Bee, November 17, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article237463004.html
  8. [8]Manuel G. Gonzales, Mexicanos (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University, 2000).
  9. [9]Wikiquote, s.v. “Porfirio Díaz,” last modified July 19, 2018, https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Porfirio_D%C3%ADaz
  10. [10]John Lyons, Dan Strumpf, and Natasha Khan, “Hong Kong Police Try to Storm University in Bid to Retake Campus From Protesters,” Wall Street Journal, November 17, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/hong-kong-police-officer-shot-with-an-arrow-at-university-battle-11573981792