There's a powerful scene in the late great 1991 John Singleton classic Boyz n the Hood. Black teens Tre and Ricky get pulled over by an abusive Black cop, officer Coffey. The stop quickly escalates, with Coffey producing a gun and placing it square under Tre's chin. "Scared now, eh? I like that," booms Coffey as Tre is brought to tears.
That iconic scene first came to mind when the bodycam video of Tyre Nichols' death was recently released. All five cops involved in the sadistic beating are Black, setting off a familiar reverberation around the country—including surprise that Black cops can be as brutal as white ones. The Black community already knew that having people in power who look like us isn't necessarily a salve. But really, everyone know should know this.
After all, it's not anything that James Baldwin didn't say in 1955 in Notes of a Native Son: "In Harlem, Negro policemen are feared more than whites, for they have more to prove and fewer ways to prove it."
It's not anything that wasn't explored by Charles Fuller's 1982 Pulitzer Prize winning work A Soldier's Play, about an all-Black WWII regiment in the Jim Crow South. That play later became A Soldier's Story, featuring a young Denzel Washington, and puts front and center the self-hating Sergeant Vernon Waters—played masterfully by the late Adolph Caesar, who earned an Oscars nod.
It's not anything that wasn't revealed in Samuel L. Jackson's portrayal of the "Uncle Tom" character Stephen in Django Unchained. Not to mention slavery depictions that came well before and have followed.
Americans can't really say that we don't know about a phenomenon which has rolled through literature, theater, Hollywood, hip hop, and even a bombastic Quentin Tarantino slavery-western mashup.
There's also the individual testimony of Black Americans. At the tail end of a 3-day cross-country Amtrak trip, I was excited to pull into an Arizona station for a 45-minute break. I could finally go to a real grocery store instead of subsisting on microwave hotdogs. But when I saw four cop cars milling outside the station, I half considered staying put.
I ultimately rolled the dice, got some great food, and breathed a sigh of relief when those police cruisers were gone on my return.
As soon as I sat back down at my seat, however, I saw a Black assistant conductor enter the car, yucking it up with an older white couple. I knew we would have an encounter.
Still about 8 feet away, he barked at me, and only me, for my ticket. I complied. Next, he asked where I was coming from and heading, even though all that information was printed right in front of him. Then he pretended not to understand me when I told him. He eventually continued on with his newfound friends.
Black folk around the country have a trove of these stories ranging from the relatively benign to the downright terrifying. The common denominator isn't what race the security guard is, or cop, or tour guide, or professor. The common thread is how we are treated when we engage with the ordinary institutions in our lives. Imagine a betrayal that can come from all sides, even from people who should be running alongside you.
The term "institutional racism" has floated around in liberal circles for decades. But there's the academy, and then there's reality. And in the day to day, it's still much easier—and much more flattering—to think about racism in terms of individual actors and actions. It feels a lot less intractable if you cling to the idea that all is required is marshalling the goodness in yourself and your peers to finally kick this thing.
Black Americans also have some issues we need to exorcise. Scrolling through, I saw the occasional tweet asking if the five officers were ADOS (American Descendants of Slavery), referencing the reparations movement that also aims to make a distinction between American-born Black people and others in the diaspora—as if systemic racism gives a damn.
Similarly, basketball player LeBron James' tweet that Black Americans are our own worst enemies is unfortunate and needs to be corrected. Not the least of which because it has over 25 million views and counting. But rather than browbeat King James, we should remind him that this is yet another name and yet another story that Black Americans around the country have rallied together to lift up. Tyre is us. We know he is us. And the all-encompassing pain we feel when see men who look like us recreate Strange Fruit is evidence of a knowing that will always rise above the lies.
The cultural work and testimony of Black Americans, that which figures like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis are frantically attempting to swab away, still isn't being digested. Until it is, Americans will continue to react to such tragedies with "surprise" and limited language.
An alleged “Nazi homeschooling group” based in Ohio has been widely condemned, amid reports that it distributed lesson plans which included writing exercises based on quotes by Adolf Hitler.
A couple calling themselves “Mr and Mrs Saxon” established the “Dissident Homeschool” channel on Telegram in 2021, according to reporting by Anonymous Comrades Collective, an anti-fascist research group, verified by Huffpost and Vice.
The channel, which has almost 2,500 subscribers, distributes “ready-made lesson plans”, Huffpost reported, including history lessons which praise the Confederate general Robert E Lee as a “grand role model for young, white men” and denigrate Martin Luther King Jr as “the antithesis of our civilization and our people”.
The Saxons were identified by Huffpost and Vice as Logan and Katja Lawrence, from Upper Sandusky, a town of about 7,000 in northern Ohio.
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy joined hands with more than a dozen House Republicans, leading them in prayer at Wednesday’s National Gathering for Prayer and Repentance, an event co-sponsored by several far-right Christian organizations, at least five of which appear on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-LGBTQ hate groups.
The California Republican specifically mentioned his upcoming meeting later Wednesday with President Joe Biden, when the two will discuss the debt ceiling, which Republicans want to leverage to massively cut federal spending on programs critical to keeping many Americans alive, including Social Security and Medicare – or shut down the federal government if Democrats do not agree to their terms.
"Father, I want to lift up those who are not here today. I want you to open their hearts,” McCarthy prayed. “Father, I want to lift up the president. Father, you know I will meet with him today. Father, I ask. I asked that you open both of our hearts that you put our meaning, our meaning that seeks your truth. And the help for this nation. Father, we know as we struggle, is we come up short and again but continue to seek your guidance. We ask that you give us the patience of Job. We ask that you give us the intellect the leadership that you gave David we ask that you give us the boldness.”
The event was held at the Museum of the Bible, a non-profit founded by right-wing evangelical activist David Green and the Green family. Green is the founder of Hobby Lobby, the privately-held chain store that won a Supreme Court case enshrining into U.S. jurisprudence the concept that for-profit corporations can and do have religious beliefs.
The five groups sponsoring the event which also appear on the SPLC’s list of anti-LGBTQ hate groups include the American Family Association (AFA), the Family Research Council (FRC), the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), Liberty Counsel, and the Pacific Justice Institute.
Other attendees included anti-LGBTQ activists, like “right-wing pastor Andrew Brunson, who blasted the United States as ‘the primary corrupter of the world’ because ‘our government and corporations increasingly march under the rainbow flag,'” he said, as Right Wing Watch reported.
Later, the Republicans, including McCarthy, were prayed over by Tony Perkins, the longtime head of the anti-LGBTQ hate group Family Research Council. Perkins has also served as chair and vice chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent federal government commission.
Far-right House Republican U.S. Rep. Randy Weber of Texas descended into an anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ tirade during which he invoked “the blood of the lamb” to telegraph to McCarthy his concerns about U.S. debt.
Weber is an original co-sponsor of the federal “Don’t Say Gay” bill. He once compared then-President Barack Obama to Hitler.
Right Wing Watch reports some of the Members of Congress who attended include Reps. Mary Miller, Diana Harshbarger, Steve Scalise, Rick Allen, Brian Babin, Michael Cloud, Robert Aderholt, Tracey Mann, Burgess Owens, Gary Palmer, Michelle Steel, Warren Davidson, Brandon Williams, Dan Bishop, Nathaniel Moran, and Mike Johnson.
TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): David Azerrad was born and raised in Montreal, but like a lot of ambitious and freedom-loving people, he fled later to the United States. And because all the people who care about their own rights have left, Canada under Justin Trudeau has become effectively a dictatorship. And we don't like dictatorships, we're American. We liberate dictatorships. That's what we do. So, we ask the obvious question, "Why don't we just liberate Canada?"
Will Stancil @whstancil
Here's the thing you need to understand about anti-vaxxers: it's not about vaccines. It's about far-right anti-institutional anger. Anti-vaxxers say "These liberal institutions have harmed you, harmed your kids, and now they must be punished." THAT's the appeal.
Quote:MMTUCKER CARLSON (HOST): David Azerrad was born and raised in Montreal, but like a lot of ambitious and freedom-loving people, he fled later to the United States. And because all the people who care about their own rights have left, Canada under Justin Trudeau has become effectively a dictatorship. And we don't like dictatorships, we're American. We liberate dictatorships. That's what we do. So, we ask the obvious question, "Why don't we just liberate Canada?"
There has always been some spillover into Canada of American right wing agitprop but it seems to be worse than I've ever seen it. Every day on Facebook, for example, there are right wing Canadians (and trolls likely posing as Canadians) who voice precisely this same disinformation.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis may not want a reputation as a book banner, but that's not slowing down the Republican's efforts to knock as many books out of the hands of students, both college-age and younger. In fact, Florida Republicans' war on reading is only escalating, with the GOP engaged in a full-scale gaslighting project to deny what is clearly a campaign of threats and intimidation to keep teachers from letting kids read.
Last week, the investigative journalism team at Popular Info published a report showing that teachers in Florida are being told to lock up their classroom libraries or risk felony prosecution. Images of bookshelves being put behind barriers and stories of children crying quickly went viral. That's when the gaslighting began.
DeSantis' lieutenant and Florida Commissioner of Education, Manny Diaz Jr., called the story "fake news" and accused the teachers of overreacting. But, as Judd Legum of Popular Info confirmed in a follow-up report, "Diaz's recommendations to teachers directly contradicts the training produced by his own agency," which requires all books to be prescreened and warns that the censors must "err on the side of caution" when deciding if a book fits the very right-wing definition of "harmful to minors." As Legum points out, one author that has been frequently targeted by Republican censors is Pulitzer Prize winner Toni Morrison, making it clear that it's not "pornography" that is in dispute here — which no one actually thinks teachers were providing — but internationally renowned literature. That explains why books about the Holocaust and Martin Luther King Jr. have also been frequently targeted by Republicans for bans.
Meanwhile, as Republican politicians play "don't believe your lying eyes" games, they are also amassing a volunteer army of wannabe censors who are ready to descend on schools to make sure no errant books slip past their anti-reading dragnet.
The Manatee Patriots, a right-wing group in Florida's Manatee County, recently put out a recruitment call for "woke busters" to be the "eyes and ears and boots on the ground in the schools" to stop educators from "filling the libraries with these books." It did not take much digging to discover that the "woke busters" have extremely broad ideas about what constitutes "inappropriate" reading material. Their parent group, Manatee Patriots, recently celebrated what they claim was a successful effort to force a public library to take down a display celebrating LGBTQ history. They objected to the library's alliance with a local youth group that serves LGBTQ teens, claiming it's "the first stage of Grooming" and "Porn" for the group to offer information to kids about safer sex.
"More things found in the Library," their site breathlessly reads. The offensive materials they flagged? Michelle Obama's memoir and a history of Barack Obama's presidency.
Yep, they not only want to erase sex education but documented evidence that the U.S. once had a Black president. These are the folks who are worming their way into Florida schools, based on DeSantis' censorship orders, to decide what students should be allowed to read.
I would vote democrat, but if I was republican and my choice was between DeSantis and Trump, I would hold my nose and pick Trump.
In a social media post that coincided with Trump’s official 2024 campaign kickoff, the ex-president once again declared that he values the opinion of Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin more than those of the U.S. law enforcement and intelligence communities. He wrote, in part, “Remember in Helsinki when a 3rd rate reporter asked me, essentially, who I trusted more, President Putin of Russia or our ‘intelligence’ lowlifes.” He then characterized U.S. intelligence and law enforcement leadership as consisting of “really bad people.” He also used the word “slime” to describe them. And then he concluded “Who would you choose, Putin or these Misfits?”
The following is a celebration of the cancellation of the Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative, an attempt by a committee of IT leaders at Stanford University to ban 161 common words and phrases. Of those 161 phrases, I have taken pains to use 45 of them here. Read at your own risk.
Is the media addicted to bad news? It’s not a dumb question, nor are you crazy to ask. After all, we follow tragedy like hounds on the chase, whether it’s stories about teenagers who commit suicide, victims of domestic violence or survivors of accidents in which someone winds up quadriplegic, crippled for life or confined to a wheelchair. We report on the hurdles former convicts face after incarceration, hostile attitudes toward immigrants and the plight of prostitutes and the homeless. Given the perilous state of the planet, you might consider this barrage of ill tidings to be tone-deaf.
Well, I’m happy to report good news for a change. You might call it a corrective, or a sanity check, but whatever you call it — and what you can call things here is key — there have been several positive developments on American campuses. The chilling effects of censorship and shaming that have trapped students between the competing diktats of “silence is violence” and “speech is violence” — the Scylla and Charybdis of campus speech — may finally be showing some cracks.
Matters looked especially grim in December, when the internet discovered the 13-page dystopicallly titled “Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative. A kind of white paper on contemporary illiberalism, it listed 161 verboten expressions, divided into categories of transgression, including “person-first,” “institutionalized racism” and the blissfully unironic “imprecise language.” The document offered preferred substitutions, many of which required feats of linguistic limbo to avoid simple terms like “insane,” “mentally ill” and — not to beat a dead horse, but I’ll add one more — “rule of thumb.” Naturally, it tore its way across the internet to widespread mockery despite a “content warning” in bold type: “This website contains language that is offensive or harmful. Please engage with this website at your own pace.”
Before you get worked up, know this: A webmaster has taken the site down and the program has been aborted for re-evaluation. Last month, in a welcome display of clear leadership, Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Stanford’s president, said the policy, brainchild of a select committee of IT leaders, had never been intended as a universitywide policy and reiterated the school’s commitment to free speech. “From the beginning of our time as Stanford leaders, Persis and I have vigorously affirmed the importance and centrality of academic freedom and the rights of voices from across the ideological and political spectrum to express their views at Stanford,” he wrote, referring to the school’s provost, Persis Drell. “I want to reaffirm those commitments today in the strongest terms.”
Could this be a seminal moment for academic freedom? Consider other bright spots: Harvard recently went ahead with its fellowship offer to Kenneth Roth, the former head of Human Rights Watch, which was earlier rejected, allegedly owing to his critical views on Israel. M.I.T.’s faculty voted to embrace a “Statement on Freedom of Expression and Academic Freedom.” At Yale Law School, which has been roiled by repeated attempts to suppress speech, a conservative lawyer was allowed to appear on a panel with a former president of the A.C.L.U. after protests disrupted her visit the year before. And Hamline University, which had refused to renew an art history professor’s contract because she showed an artwork that some Muslim students may have found offensive, walked back its characterization of her as “Islamophobic.”
Finally, when an office within the School of Social Work at the University of Southern California banned the terms “fieldwork” and “in the field” to describe research projects because their “anti-Black” associations might offend some descendants of American slavery, U.S.C.’s interim provost issued a statement that “The university does not maintain a list of banned or discouraged words.”
It’s hard to know how much these shifting prohibitions distress students, whether freshman or senior, given how scared many are to speak up in the first place.
But we do know two things: First, college students are suffering from anxiety and other mental health issues more than ever before, and second, fewer feel comfortable expressing disagreement lest their peers go on the warpath. It would be a ballsy move to risk being denounced, expelled from their tribe, become a black sheep. No one can blame any teenager who has been under a social media pile-on for feeling like a basket case. Why take the chance.
Yet when in life is it more appropriate for people to take risks than in college — to test out ideas and encounter other points of view? College students should be encouraged to use their voices and colleges to let them be heard. It’s nearly impossible to do this while mastering speech codes, especially when the master lists employ a kind of tribal knowledge known only to their guru creators. A normal person of any age may have trouble submitting, let alone remembering that “African American” is not just discouraged but verboten, that he or she can’t refer to a professor’s “walk-in” hours or call for a brown bag lunch, powwow or stand-up meeting with their peers.
“You can’t say that” should not be the common refrain.
According to a 2022 Knight Foundation report, the percentage of college students who say free speech rights are secure has fallen every year since 2016, while the percentage who believe free speech rights are threatened has risen. Nearly two-thirds think the climate at school prevents people from expressing views that others might find offensive. But here, too, let’s convey some good news: The number of students who say controversial speakers should be disinvited has fallen since 2019. And one more cheering note: The editors of The Stanford Review, a student publication, poked gleefully at the document before it was taken down, with the shared impulse — irresistible, really — of using a number of taboo terms in the process.
Surely my ancestors from the ghettos of Eastern Europe couldn’t anticipate that their American descendants would face this kind of policing of speech at institutions devoted to higher learning. (While we’re on history, per the document, but news to all the Jews I know: “Hip hip hooray” was a term “used by German citizens during the Holocaust as a rallying cry when they would hunt down Jewish citizens living in segregated neighborhoods.”)
Consider what learning can flourish under such constraints. In a speech last fall celebrating the 100th anniversary of PEN America, the novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie noted: “Many American universities are well-meaning in wanting to keep students comfortable, but they do so at the risk not just of creating an insular, closed space but one where it is almost impossible to admit to ignorance — and in my opinion the ability to admit to ignorance is a wonderful thing. Because it creates an opportunity to learn.”
It is reasonable to wonder whether any conceivable harm to a few on hearing the occasional upsetting term outweighs the harm to everyone in suppressing speech. Or whether overcoming the relatively minor discomforts of an unintentional, insensitive or inept comment might help students develop the resilience necessary to surmount life’s considerably greater challenges — challenges that will not likely be mediated by college administrators after they graduate.
Rather than muzzle students, we should allow them to hear and be heard. Opportunities to engage and respond. It’s worth remembering how children once responded to schoolyard epithets: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never harm me.” Narrow restrictions on putatively harmful speech leave young people distracted from and ill-prepared for the actual violence they’ll encounter in the real world.