Category: Racism

Portland’s Neo Nazis

On the Media has a good interview with Wilamette Week repoter Corey Pein, one of the only journalists (maybe the only journalist) to have interviewed the Portland train stabber before the stabbing (interivews at right-wing demonstrations). He contextualizes the white power movement in Portland, a power center for skinheads dating back to at least the 90s (you may recall if you recently watched Green Room), the KKK before that, and the Oregon territory’s “whites only” status.

Pein describes the attacker as an avowed Nazi eager to commit violence against people of color and antifa activists — a man who had Vinlander tattoos, participated in skinhead forums, and spoke openly about being radicalized in prison. In other words, not a Bernie bro gone bad. He did root for Bernie because of an explicit desire to kill Hillary Clinton, but also presumably wanted to kill Bernie, since he hoped that all Jews (and the wrong sort of Christians) would be sent to the gas chambers. (Not an ironic Nazi. A Nazi.)

The whole interview is worth a listen. It’s 12 minutes.


Pledge of Allegiance

I’ve been seeing a grumpy meme mocking “the far left” for their preoccupation with racism, as though it’s an insult invented by unpatriotic extremists to beat up Real Americans(TM). I seem to recall that every weekday for 13 years I was instructed to recite a loyalty pledge in which I promised, hand on my heart, to defend liberty and justice for all. All. Maybe you’re familiar with it.

These colors don’t run, y’all.

Gary says: That dog hunts! Always has!! What’s tough for some hunters is that they sometimes realize THEY are the hunted.

Jeff says: A mandatory loyalty pledge in any free society is odd, as is the entire notion of having to repeat any pledge daily, but the “liberty and justice for all” part is really good.

Gary: I don’t know that I would call it mandatory, although when children are required to recite the pledge, it might be called “brainwashing.” But to me, it is brainwashing in a good way! It’s only mandatory in the military, or of those who serve us in the government, as it should be.

Romie: I always thought it was kinda weird, and none of my schools bothered people who didn’t want to do it. I usually participated, although at different points I dropped out certain bits (because my allegiance isn’t actually to the flag; because I believe in a separation of church and state; because the nation was divisible [I felt at the time, but now I take the Unionist point of view that the Confederate secession was never legally legitimate]).

I have a lot of sympathy for people who find the pledge sinister or alienating. However, speaking only for myself, I enjoy rituals and mantras. There’s something interesting about returning to the same set of words over and over again and finding that I understand them differently. Particularly when they’re words I share with a lot of other people.

Sharon: Seconding the enjoyment of rituals. I worry sometimes my daughter doesn’t get enough of them. She, like me, is a creature who enjoys habit.

Kathy: Hate is never good.

To the Teen Girl Targeted on the Portland Train

Teen Targeted On Portland Train Thanks Strangers (CNN)

Oh, hon. I know I’m talking to my TV and you can’t hear me, but I am talking anyway. Sad girl, it breaks my heart to hear you say, “They lost their lives because of me and my friend.” They lost their lives because a violent, angry, confused man wanted to kill them. Their last wish, their dying wish, was that you and your friend feel welcome and safe and valued. I want that too. I hope somebody nearer by can tell you. I hope everybody can tell you, over and over, until you have been told enough times that you are able to believe it.

Angela says: It’d be cool if the president said it, or in any way acknowledged it, instead of amplifying the message that she’s a problem.

Romie: I don’t think of us as having a president right now, since the guy elected to the office doesn’t seem to want to take the role on. We’re going to have to fill in as best we can. For instance, although I don’t have the statutory powers, I’m going to do what I can to be president, and to represent all of us and the best of our hopes. Please join me in also being president.

Cultural Appropriation of Islamic Terrorism

I admit I often find concerns about cultural appropriation overblown, and think “what harm does it do, really,” but in this case…

Tampa man arrested for allegedly killing ‘neo-Nazi’ roommates for disrespecting his Muslim faith” (Courtney Connley, ABC News)

Arthurs stated that he had once shared a common neo-Nazi belief with his two roommates before converting to Islam, and that the shooting deaths were caused by [his roomates] disrespecting his Muslim faith.

Somehow I don’t think it’s Islam doing the heavy lifting on this guy’s propensity toward murder.

The fourth roommate (not killed, not the murderer) was subsequently arrested because the apartment contained explosive devices and he’d been “participating in online neo-Nazi internet chat rooms where he threatened to kill people and bomb infrastructure.”

Mind you, all of this is in the back half of the article. The front half is Arthurs saying “Allah Mohammed” (which I think is like saying God the Father Jesus?) and complaining about America bombing “his Muslim countries.” His. Because they’re his now.

For context, this takes place in Florida. Partly at a head shop.

As Florentine professor Olivier Roy has observed, we’re not seing a radicalization of Islam as much as we’re seeing an Islamicization of radicalism.

Underemployment in the Good Old Days

When people reminisce about the old days when everything worked well, it’s partly because when women and non-white people can’t advance into high-level jobs no matter how smart they are, you wind up with really smart people doing underpaid or unpaid work. Which they do extremely well! It should make you a little sad when somebody does a low-skill job with exceptional skill. (Job, not hobby.) It means something systemic is broken.

Katie says: My 95-yr-old grandmother remarked to my mother once that Black people seemed to be getting smarter. My mom said something about how they’ve always been smart but didn’t always have access to education. My grandmother thought about this for a minute and then wept, saying “what a waste…”

Mothers’ Bail Out Day

The U.S. bail system, as it currently functions, is horrifically expensive on both ends—expensive for paycheck-to-paycheck low-level offenders who lose their jobs because they can’t make a $1000 bail payment and wind up in jail for potentially weeks and months waiting for trial (where they may be found not guilty)—expensive for municipalities that have to house a lot of non-threatening people in jails which cost money.

These are people in jail who have not been found guilty of anything; who are not flight risks; who are not an imminent danger to themselves or others.

Locking them up only makes sense if you think of poor people as vermin, and think it’s worth paying to keep them out of sight. It’s the same kind of sense that makes you put down anti-homeless spikes because you think homelessness happens when the ground is too inviting.

Bail funds are not a permanent solution, but they’re a bandaid that stops at least some of the bleeding until we get this fixed legislatively, city by city.

This mother’s day, a number of bail funds are focused on getting mammas out of holding cells, and getting them back with their kids. I made a donation in honor of my mom. I think she’ll be more excited about it than other presents.

If you’ve wondered what Black Lives Matter has been up to (“oh, they’ve disappeared, where are the marches”): Stuff like this. There’s also a major southern LGBTQ group (called SONG) behind it, and it’s backed by the organizers of the Women’s March.

This Mother’s Day, Black Lives Matter Activists Will Give More Than 30 Women Their Freedom” (Dani McClain, The Nation)

Eggs as Dairy; Women as Stormtroopers

Current conflicts in the Faienza household:

1. Someone on the internet thought eggs were dairy and Ciro said they were emphatically not, and I said that although certainly the adjective “dairy” only applies to milk products perhaps one could use “dairy” as shorthand for “comes from a dairy,” the agricultural production center, given that many dairies deliver eggs, and in this sense eggs are dairy products.

Ciro had to lie down and is considering divorce.

2. We have been playing Star Wars: Battlefront, which features gender-diverse Stormtroopers. I find this troubling. Ciro thinks it’s a sign of progress, and says that the gender imbalance in the original films was a reflection of George Lucas.

I accept that argument about the Rebel forces, but historically fascism has been gender essentialist. I see no reason to expect otherwise of the Empire. Sure, you might have one or two token exceptions, like Gwendoline Christie, but realistically (haha) diehard female Imperials are back on their home planets extolling the virtue of raising fat human babies and snitching on their neighbors.

I mean, really? You don’t assume based on its otherwise reactionary politics that the Empire is misogynist? Are we fans of the Empire now? Do we think it’d be cool to fly TIE interceptors? Perhaps to the dairy?

Topics of agreement:

1. The Jim Jarmusch film Paterson is excellent.

Ciro says:  Women can be excellent defenders of fascist principles if it can be presented as tradition. Mussolini’s beloved tricolor pasta was the invention of a woman.

Romie: Right, but that’s kind of why I feel it’s a failure of imagination to have female stormtroopers, because wouldn’t they instead be making deathstar cupcakes and posting them on instagram?

Ciro: Certain terrorist Islamic sects have enthusiastically supported female suicide bombers.

Romie: True again, but that’s not the same as integrated armed forces. I’m certainly not suggesting there can’t be women in reactionary movements doing horrifying things.

Ciro: Concentrations camps had some notorious female guards. This is an uplifting conversation.

Romie: Well, I liked the part that involved pasta, certainly.

Karen: Once I have some more free time I fully intend to make some Death Star cupcakes….

Romie: I think to be really fully evil, you’d take a single bite out of a whole bunch of different apples and then leave them around.

I remember back in the mid-90s sometime there was a Star Wars movie marathon on TV with Carrie Fisher doing the interstitials coming back from commercial breaks, and one of the things she said – which at the time I found disappointing – was that although a lot of people figured that Leia would eventually become a jedi and get a lightsaber, it was her hope that Leia would get to relax a little, maybe go to a shopping planet.

I still don’t think that’s a great path for Leia, but I think I understand her point now, which is that (based on who appears on screen) this is clearly a universe in which women have separate roles and expectations, and given how few of them are in the films, they must be off doing something that isn’t a duplication of what the guys are doing, and what is that thing and why can’t we see some of it?

I have a clear understanding of the difference between eggs and milk (and milk and snot, which seems to also confuse an alarming number of people), as mammals should. However, I can’t rule out the idea that since the adjective dairy and the noun dairy mean different things, the language could be flexible enough to allow the noun to take on an adjectivial form which would have a different meaning than the original adjective. Making matters more complicated, I looked up the etymology of dairy (trying to figure out whether it referred to the milk or the building first) and found that it comes from a root word that means dough, like bread dough? Maybe because of the kneading motion one makes while milking an udder? It’s like I don’t know anything anymore. It’s like being in John Malcovich’s head.

Edward says:  Frankly, we are all taking it on faith that Phasma is a woman based only on her voice. Question, J.J.: why hire a prominent actress and then never let her remove her helmet? Was she even in that armor, or did she do an hour’s worth of voiceover recording to earn that billing?

Romie: I think she’s supposed to have a larger role in later films? But yes. Had I been the director, the entire script would have gone out the window and the full two hours of The Force Awakens would have been occupied by Gwendoline Christie walking around in a cape, looking at starfields and having complex silent internal reactions we could see on her un-helmeted face. Then at the end she puts her helmet on. Credits.

Ciro: I will add that gender parity in Western society generally increases with the proliferation of technology, so we might imagine that Empire tech acts as kind of an equalizer in a way not possible in other fascist regimes.

Rebecca: Improvement in genetic technology might also mean that stormtroopers are engineered hermaphrodites that posses the preferred traits of both sexes. But it seems like facism in our recent history is a result of patriarchal values, and part of that includes maintaining women as chattel since daddy knows best. That doesn’t preclude a future facism from being based on different values where women are equals and another class is subjugated.

Jenny: Uniformity is a tool of control. In developing stormtroopers, Empire used standardization of experience, training and ability to enforce two key concepts to fascist thought, belonging and interchangeability of individuals. If technology does the same, then yes I agree that gender would become moot.

Ciro: I love this analysis. I think probably tech contributes to this, but beyond that in military setting it renders a lot of purported sexual differences irrelevant–you can’t, for example, claim upper body strength is relevant to firing a blaster (hey there, Leia) or piloting a TIE fighter. This says nothing about how it tends to free up time for women in a lot of traditional labor roles (e.g. washing clothes, cooking, etc), and we know that in SW they have droids capable of virtually anything. The Empire draws forces from a lot of different cultures and races, whose ideas about gender must be radically different from each other, and therefore it doesn’t make much sense to apply a single gender template to recruitment. It makes most sense for them admit anyone who can hit the metrics.

Jenny:  Well not to mention we assume this universe is populated by genetic humans as opposed to aliens with invisible differences (eg. ❤️❤️Gallifreyan)—I mean after all they are force wielders with midichlorians…

Ciro: Midichlorians sad face

Romie: In the original trilogy at least, I don’t think there are any examples of non-human Imperials, and it was my impression that this was deliberate. (My understanding here draws on expanded universe stuff – but expanded universe stuff that was intended to be canon at the time, like the serialized comic that ran between the first movie and Empire Strikes Back, to which Han alludes when he mentions “the bounty hunter we ran into on Ord Mantell.”) In the trilogy, you see non-human Rebels (like Nien Nunb, Ackbar) but every non-helmeted Imperial you see is a white human male. They do hire some non-human bounty hunters.

Han Solo’s original heart-of-gold backstory had him quitting the Imperial Navy because he became friends with Chewbacca and couldn’t handle all the racism against Wookies. You’re supposed to be able to infer that from the stripe on his pants. Which I’m sure is everybody’s understanding as they watch the movies.

John says: I watched Paterson and enjoyed it. However, I told my brother he would not like it, because he dislikes most Jarmusch films. I didn’t think this would be an exception. (Though I have been trying with Only Lovers Left Alive) I think I described Paterson as “You basically watch the Life of a bus driver poet for two hours” and he was like “Nope.” He prefers action or at least quick dialogue.

Romie: OLLA = so good keep trying