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The white-Left Part 1: The two meanings of white

Thursday, November 30, 2017

What is Trump reading in the wee hours of the morning?

A lot of attention has been focused on Donald Trump's re-tweeting of three anti-Muslim tweets from the UK white supremacist Britain First group. Much has already been written about the racist character of these tweets and their false content. Looking at the timestamps on these tweets tells its own story. @realDonaldTrump re-tweeted those tweets around 6:40 in the morning, only 2 hours after the last of the three Jayda Fransen (@JaydaBF) racist attacks were put on the Internet by a Britain First twitter bot.

Assuming @realDonaldTrump is not a bot, he would have had to see these tweets before he could retweet them. Personally, I think I spend far too much time on twitter, and I focus on these political issues, and I never even heard of the @JaydaBF twitter handle, let alone seen these tweets before @realDonaldTrump retweeted them to his followers, which includes me. So how is it that he happened to see these tweets between 4:40AM ET and 6:40AM ET? It's not like they were trending on twitter, at least not before the president made his support for the British fascist site public.

Here are some other fun facts about @JaydaBF from twitonomy: The account has sent out 3,197 tweets between 28 June 2017 and 30 November 2017. In this period it has been retweeted 97.7% of the time for a total of 349,368 retweets, its tweets have been favorited  97.7% of the time for a total of 390,857, and it has replied to a tweet only 1 time, and that was to @realDonaldTrump.

While the twitter account @realDonaldTrump officially only follows 45 [45 get it!] others, mostly family members, and @JaydaBF isn't one of them, it seems likely that Trump is following some accounts surreptitiously that it wouldn't be prudent to list as officially being followed by the president, because when someone retweets a tweet that isn't trending within hours, it's likely they are keeping a close eye on the output of that twitter feed.

I reported earlier how some of the white supremacists that tried to bust up the meetings of the Santa Monica Committee for Racial Justice were convinced that Donald Trump was watching their livestreams. It has also been reported that the bodyguard of Baked Alaska, a leader both of the Santa Monica disrupters and the Charlottesville torch carriers, was visited in the hospital by an unidentified representative of the Trump campaign.

It has been widely reported that in addition to Fox and Friends, the president likes such questionable websites as Breitbart News and Alex Jones. It now appears likely that in the wee hours of the morning he is engaging with white supremacist and fascist elements more extreme than we know. These retweets are a warning. The question isn't merely: Why did he retweet them? The first question is: How did he ever happen to see them?

Here are some timestamps to consider. All times below are EST unless otherwise noted. The three Jay Fransen tweets:

VIDEO: Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!    2:40 AM 29 November 
VIDEO: Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!                                           4:40 AM 29 November
VIDEO: Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!                               3:40 AM 29 November

We don't know the exact time @realDonaldTrump re-tweeted them, but by looking at his timeline we can tell that he retweeted them between 6:32 AM - 6:49 AM 29 November 2017 because they are bracketed by his tweets.

There is another things I noticed about these tweets and this twitter account. Each of the three tweets @realDonaldTrump re-tweeted had been initially tweeted 40 minutes into the hour exactly, in three consecutive hours between 7:40 AM and 9:40 AM BST, and looking into the history of this account it is clear that it had been regularly broadcasting tweets like clockwork 40 minutes into the hour for as far back into its history as I cared to go, about 20 a day. This was true, with relatively rare exceptions right up until 7:05 AM when it thanked @realDonaldTrump for the retweets less than 30 minutes after he sent them to his 44 million followers. Since then, it has been a whole different story. @JaydaBF has now become very active with a lot of randomly timed tweets like you'd expect from a normal account, and refreshing my browser, it appears they've added 1300 new followers overnight. It appears the @realDonaldTrump has breathe new life into a twitter account that seemed largely robotic before, but the fact remains that the President of the United States was up at 6:30 in the morning re-tweeting anti-Muslim garbage put on the Internet by automation.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders broke new ground in Alt-Reality when defending the president's promotion of fake anti-Muslim videos:
“Whether it’s a real video, the threat is real. His goal is to promote strong border security and strong national security.”
But the British didn't take too kindly to our president promoting their domestic terrorists:

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Sunday, November 26, 2017

After decades of voter suppression Trump & Moore say "Let Alabamians Decide!"

When asked if President Donald Trump believed the women that are accusing Alabama Senatorial candidate Roy Moore dating them when he was in his 30s and they were teenagers as young as 14, charges he denies, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, 16 November 2017:
"Look, the president believes these allegations are very troubling and should be taken seriously, and he thinks the people of Alabama should make the decision on who their senator should be."
That quickly became the response of Moore supporters around the country when asked to weigh in on the moral character of Roy Moore in the face of charges of sexually inappropriate behaviour with at least nine women. Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said it's "up to the people of Alabama." Conservative commentator Ed Martin repeated "And my point is, as the president has said, let the people of Alabama decide." The letters section of the Orange County Register echoed the headline "Let Alabama decide on Roy Moore’s fate."

They say this about a state in which racism and voter
suppression has distorted every election it has ever had.

Alabama instituted its first measures to limit the African-American vote only two years after the Civil War ended with its first felony disenfranchisement law in 1867. At the same time African-Americans were criminalized. Jeff Manza wrote about this period in Ballot Manipulation and the “Menace of Negro Domination”: Racial Threat and Felon Disenfranchisement in the United States, 1850–2002:
The sharp increase in African-American imprisonment goes hand-in-hand with changes in voting laws. In many Southern states, the percentage of nonwhite prison inmates nearly doubled between 1850 and 1870. Whereas 2% of the Alabama prison population was nonwhite in 1850, 74% was nonwhite in 1870, though the total nonwhite population increased by only 3% (U.S. Department of Commerce 1853, 1872). Felon disenfranchisement provisions offered a tangible response to the threat of new African-American voters that would help preserve existing racial hierarchies.
It was written into the state constitution by the Jim Crow era 1901 Alabama Constitutional Convention. As note by Manza:
[W]hich altered that state’s felon disenfranchisement law to include all crimes of “moral turpitude,” applying to misdemeanors and even to acts not punishable by law (Pippin v. State, 197 Ala. 613 [1916])...John Field Bunting, who introduced the new disenfranchisement law, clearly envisioned it as a mechanism to reduce African-American political power, estimating that “the crime of wife-beating alone would disqualify sixty percent of the Negroes” (Shapiro 1993, p. 541).
In his opening address, John B. Knox, president of the all-white convention, openly justified the law on the basis of white supremacy:
“[In 1861], as now [1901], the negro was the prominent factor in the issue. . . . And what is it that we want to do? Why it is within the limits imposed by the Federal Constitution, to establish white supremacy in this State. . . . The justification for whatever manipulation of the ballot that has occurred in this State has been the menace of negro domination. . . . These provisions are justified in law and in morals, because it is said that the negro is not discriminated against on account of his race, but on account of his intellectual and moral condition.”
With time they learned the disadvantages of such frank expression, but the motivations and justifications have never changed. This law was intentionally vague as to what constituted "moral turpitude,” which allowed un-elected county registrars to interpret it as they saw fit. The effect was as intended. The power of the black vote was greatly diminished.

In 1985, US Attorney Jeff Sessions indicted a number of Alabama civil rights workers on false charges of election fraud for assisting elderly black citizens with absentee voting ballots. That same year the Supreme Court found the "moral turpitude” provision of the Alabama state constitution to be in violation of the Equal Protection Clause and unanimously invalidated it, but 11 years later Alabama passed a new felony disenfranchisement law, which did pretty much the same thing.

That statute led to the disenfranchisement of a quarter-million Alabamians, most of them black. 15% of Alabama's African-American voters lost their right to a ballot because of this law. Finally last May, after a long struggle led by community and civil rights organizations, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a law that defined the legal phrase "moral turpitude" and limited the number of crimes to which it could be applied to about 50. The was heralded as a great victory for voting rights and was suppose to restore as many as 250,000 voters to the rolls. But there was a big BUT: In spite of the new law, anyone who had lost their franchise as a result of a criminal conviction still could not regain the right to vote until they pay off any outstanding court fines, legal fees and victim restitution. As a practical matter, that means that most ex-felons still can not exercise the right to vote in Alabama. In effect they have imposed a new poll tax, a voter discrimination measure the 24th Amendment abolished in 1964. These policies will likely be found unconstitutional one day, but not before the help Roy Moore.

A year after a 2013 Supreme Court decision gutted parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Alabama passed a law requiring citizens to have a photo identification in order to vote. Then it closed 31 DMV offices, most in African American communities. John Archibald wrote in AL.com: “Every single county in which blacks make up more than 75 percent of registered voters will see their driver license office closed. Every one.” Mass protests and public exposure, and a DOT investigation that concluded:
"African Americans residing in the Black Belt region of Alabama [were] disproportionately underserved by ALEA's driver licensing services, causing a disparate and adverse impact on the basis of race," 
forced the state to reopen the shuttered offices, but the voter suppression effects of the new law otherwise remain in effect.
At the 52nd anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” march over Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge that remains to this day the iconic example of Alabama's opposition to black voting rights, Rev. William Barber said about Alabama’s voter ID law "We can’t be polite about this. We can’t be casual or cavalier. We have more voter suppression in recent years than we’ve seen since Jim Crow.”

In 2016 Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill (R) opposed automatic voter registration saying "if you’re too sorry or lazy to get up off of your rear and to go register to vote, or to register electronically, and then to go vote, then you don’t deserve that privilege.” The year before he insisted: “The closure of 31 DMV offices will not leave citizens without a place to receive the required I.D. card to vote...All 67 counties in Alabama have a Board of Registrars that issue photo voter I.D. cards." To the ex-cons that the new law is intended to allow to vote, Merrill reminds "In order for you to have your voting rights restored, you have to make sure all your fines and restitution have been paid," Merrill is a Roy Moore supporter and plans to vote for him, of Moore's accusers he said "I don't know whether they're making it up or not, because I don't know their intention."

So, after more than a century of rigging the Alabama vote to insure that bigots like Roy Moore can keep getting elected, they can all sound so fair and democratic by saying "Let the people of Alabama decide," when really, that is their worst nightmare.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Why the Moore-Trump approach to sexual assault is so toxic

It is beginning to look like the Harvey Weinstein revelations have initiated a deep and far ranging sea-change in women's acceptance of sexual abuse and misconduct. What may have been awakened by the sexually abusive bragging of criminal misconduct by a candidate for the presidency and the United States, and then proven by more than a dozen women who bore witness against him, has turned into a tsunami with the charges against Roy Moore, Kevin Spacey, Al Franken, John Conyers, and so many others, most not nearly so famous.

This social transformation is likely to require an extended period of social introspection and change to right the many historic wrongs. Donald Trump and Roy Moore have exampled one way of dealing with these allegations - deny, deny, deny. Al Franken has exampled another - admit past wrongdoing while asking for further investigation and forgiveness.

Moore, Trump, Fox News et al, have taken the tack of demanding harsh punishment for Franken, based on his admission of guilt, while opposing any for Trump or Moore based on a presumption of innocence flowing from their denials no matter how strong the evidence against them is. For example, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said
"I think in one case specifically Sen. Franken has admitted wrongdoing and the president hasn't. I think that's a very clear distinction."
We have all heard Trump admit to a practise that most would call sexual assault, but we are suppose to give him a pass because he doesn't see it as wrong.

This is a very dangerous tact to take at this historic juncture.

The message to men who may have been guilty of sexual misconduct in the past is: Whatever you do, don't admit it. If you do you may be summarily and severely punished. It's much safer to hide behind the presumption of innocence and force your accusers to prove their case in a court of law. It will likely never come to trial, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is statute of limitations.

While recent headlines have highlighted the news about the "rich & famous," the problem of male sexual misconduct is one that is rampant throughout society and is one that affects people of all strata. Most cases will never come to trial or even a legal conclusion. Only the worst or most famous cases will. If society is to get through this sea change so that humanity can rise to a higher plane with a minimum of bloodshed and a maximum of healing, the process must look a lot more like the "Truth and Reconciliation" process which South Africa went through than the Nuremberg Trials.

That being the case, Al Franken has shown us the way forward and is to be commended for his honesty. This is the example all men who know they are guilty of sexual misconduct should be encouraged to follow. A spirit of forgiveness should also be encouraged. If the abused woman isn't demanding punishment, who rightly should?

Moore, Trump, Fox News et al, claim they are demanding punishment for Franken's admitted past deeds. As a practical matter they are demanding punishment for Franken breaking the code of silence and admitting to his bad past acts. They also example how to avoid that. Given the scope of the social wrongs that must be corrected, this position is a very dangerous one. Their example encourages men to fight these changes by denying past bad acts for fear that any willful admission is the surest path to punishment.

Moore, Trump, Fox News et al, are taking their approach for self-defensive and partisan political advantage, but they are also advocating social policy at this world historic juncture of the relations between the sexes, and it is very toxic social policy.

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Friday, November 24, 2017

#ThemToo: America's sexual violence blindspot

Sexual violence by some men against other men is endemic in America's prison system and that fact is well known. We can deduct that by the way it is casually referenced in our culture. Everyone knows that a young man, or boy, that is not well connected or well protected, is subject to being repeatedly raped in prison. Here's an example:
Option A, Brandon takes the deal.

Option B, Brandon goes up to the penitentiary and gets his rectum resized about yay big.
Considered as a revelation, this is certainly one of the least shocking revelations in Breaking Bad, because Saul Goodman is just telling us what most already know.

Nobody knows how widespread this type of sexual violence is within our prison systems because few care, and nobody is keeping count.

Generally speaking, it isn't even considered. For example, following Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, this is the way Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, described the problem of sexual assault on Democracy Now today:
My thoughts about this are that—exactly what Tarana said earlier, that this kind of violence is as American as apple pie. I am both heartbroken by all of the stories that I have seen being shared—there’s more stories being shared every day. And lots of people that I know, that I’m in community with, and people that I don’t know, are asking themselves, “What do we do about this epidemic of violence—violence against women, violence against women of color, violence against black women, queer people, trans people? And even, what do we do about violence against men?” Right? Cis men, trans men.
Sexual assault that is regularly visited upon mostly heterosexual men in the form of violent homosexual anal rape in our prison system gets mentioned by no one.

This is a type of sexual violence which is entirely within the state's ability to control. It does not because it is used by the state, as also exemplified by the above Breaking Bad quote. The "criminal justice" system quite deliberately uses this threat of sexual violence to enhance the deterrent value of incarceration. The fictional scene above is replayed many times a day in real world lockups. In weighing his options, that image of having his rectum resized, more than just about anything else, is likely to persuade the young defendant to take the deal even though it has nothing to do with his guilt or innocence. Externally, they use sexual violence as a deterrent. Internally they used it as a lever of control over the prison population. They welcome it as a beneficial parasite that is useful to the prison host, and so they feed it what it needs.

We must consider these victims too. Anyone who thinks we can end sexual violence and sexual abuse, while leaving this state sponsored incubator intact, is on a engaged in "a task that has little to no chance of being successful or beneficial."

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The liberal soul of "neoliberalism"

Today Portside carried a link to an article by Kean Birch published earlier in The Conversation titled "What Exactly is Neoliberalism?" and since I must admit to my own share of confusion about what people are talking about when they use this very popular term, that title was "click bait."

Kean Birch aims to set us straight as to the true meaning of the term neoliberalism and in the first sentence he calls it "a problematic economic system we might want to change." Gee, I always called that something else, but when he says "I struggle with neoliberalism" he means the definition of the term not class struggle:
As a result of its growing popularity in academia, media and popular discussions, it’s crucial to understand neoliberalism as a concept. We need to know its origins and its definition in order to understand our current political and economic mess, including the rise of nativism that played a part in Brexit and Donald Trump’s election a year ago.

Neoliberalism is regularly used in popular debate around the world to define the last 40 years. It’s used to refer to an economic system in which the “free” market is extended to every part of our public and personal worlds. The transformation of the state from a provider of public welfare to a promoter of markets and competition helps to enable this shift.
When was the capitalist state "a provider of public welfare?" Is that when America was great before? Neoliberalism as a concept, as a reference to an economic system, and as a term that has been popularized over the last 40 years, is an intentionally vague term used by those who don't see our current problems as a result of overripe capitalism, which must be overthrown. They see it as something else, a deviation from acceptable capitalism to something they call neoliberalism which, presumably can be gotten rid of without revolution.

Sometimes the distribution of words can reveal a lot about a piece. For example, since Birch sets out to define "neoliberalism," it's not surprising that the term is used 34 times in his article, with "neoliberal" used another 9. What is surprising is that the term "capitalism" shows up only once, and even then it is "neoliberal capitalism." All the world's troubles flow from "neoliberalism," whatever that is, so we can pay capitalism, with its distinct property and class relationships, history and course of development, no nevermind.

He traces the origins of the word all the way back to a Monthly Review article in 1884. This means there were "neoliberals" even before there were Nazis, let alone neo-Nazis. How old can something be before "neo" no longer applies? This definition of "neoliberalism" covers the entire span of the imperialist development of capitalism. It's pretty clear that "neoliberalism" is alt-speak for capitalism.

Nativism is another alternative word that is often matched with "neoliberalism." Birch speaks of "the rise of nativism that played a part in Brexit and Donald Trump’s election a year ago." Terms like "racism", "white nationalism", and "white supremacy" are foreign to his narrative. They are being replaced by more opaque language, alternative words like "nativism" and "tribalism," except "separate but equal" was never the true goal of white supremacy. "Nativism" and "tribalism" are cover stories. They are terms the white supremacists are comfortable with.

This a real shame because the fight against white supremacy is the defining struggle of our time. Just look at Dotard Trump's morning Twitter feed. All this was before 5AM. This hateful obsession bodes very bad things for black people, and "neoliberals" trying to rebrand it as "nativism" are most unhelpful.

The confusion around the term "neoliberalism" is so profound that it rightly belongs in the dustbin of alternative terms along with "nativism" and "tribalism." [as they are being popularized by white supremacists.] We have a president that hates black people and so-called leftists who think neoliberalism is a plague on capitalism and prettify white supremacy as "nativism." Let's hope 2018 brings in a better crop.

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Monday, November 13, 2017

Why no one should stand for the national anthem #TakeAKnee

Colin Kaepernick started taking the knee during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" to protest the police treatment of black people in the United States. When other players, both black and white, joined him, President Donald Trump, who has previously encouraged police violence, took the tactic of objecting to the football players taking a knee to protest police violence against African Americans by claiming they were disrespecting the national anthem, and by extension, the flag, the country, the military, and the American way.

I take a very different view, in fact, I'm here to argue that no one should stand for the “The Star-Spangled Banner.” 

Jason Johnson called it "one of the most racist, pro-slavery, anti-black songs in the American lexicon," for good reason. This is why the California NAACP is calling for it to be removed as our national anthem. Furthermore, its author, Francis Scott Key, was much more than a slave owning victim of his times, as the District Attorney for the City of Washington from 1833 to 1840, he became one of the pioneering architects of the racist police and criminal justice system the #TakeAKnee movement is protesting. That makes the time when we are all forced to hear the words of this racist poet, a most appropriate one for protest.

First about the song, then about the man.

about the song

Most Americans are familiar with "thy rocket's red glare" and "thy bombs bursting in air" of the first stanza of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Less often sung is its racist third stanza:
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave'
From the terror of flight and the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
In Key's poem [it only became a song and nation anthem later], the hirelings were colonists who remained loyal to the crown or mercenaries fighting for a paycheck. The British were also offering freedom to any slave who would fight for them, and the Americans were unwilling to match this offer, so many slaves ran away to fight for their freedom. Since Britain was to end slavery throughout its empire three decades ahead of the Emancipation Proclamation, it can be fairly argued that the slaves would have been better off had the American Revolution failed. In anycase, that is the 20/20 vision of hindsight, in 1814, the slaves were responding to the offer on the table then and for this Key wished them "the terror of flight and the gloom of the grave."

The fact that they could run away and pick up a gun showed the complete bankruptcy of the slave system Key was defending, beyond that he had very personal reasons for wanting to see these runaway slaves turned soldiers dead.  Three weeks before the battle at Fort McHenry in Baltimore on 13 September 1815, for which Key was to pen his famous poem, was the Battle of Bladensburg on 24 August 1815. Key was a lieutenant at the time and his unit was "taken to the woodshed" by a battalion of Colonial Marines. Colonial Marines were black soldiers, runaway slaves who joined with the British Royal Army in exchange for their freedom. Key hated them for it. That is what those lines reflect. The question is: Why are we still singing his praises and standing for his song?

Black lives didn't matter to Francis Scott Key.

about the man

Modern police practises and departments developed with the growing urban environments they were tasked with regulating. This task became both more urgent and more complicated in the fast growing cities of the slaveholding South. In Southern cities like Richmond, VA, Atlanta, GA and Washington, DC they not only had to deal with the ordinary contradictions of developing urban life, they were increasingly given the special task of suppressing a growing urban population of free and slave African Americans. One of the main reasons why racist police violence has proven to be so intractable is that from its earliest days, the developing police culture had forced upon it the extraordinary task of maintaining social control over a racially oppressed people. This has created a racism corruption in modern American policing that has been programmed into its very DNA from those earliest days.

1835 DC Anti-Slavery Broadside
As the district attorney of Washington, DC in the 1830s, Francis Scott Key was privileged to become one of the pioneering architects of precisely the type of racist criminal justice system Kaepernick is protesting today.

In 1833, Washington's free black population had overtaken its slaves in population, and many blacks ran businesses and were well established in the nation's capital. Those blacks, both free and slave, were increasingly demanding liberty. Britain was ending slavery throughout its empire that year, and the abolitionists were stepping up their agitation to end it in the United States as well. That was the general situation when President Andrew Jackson appointed Francis Scott Key DA of DC.

Key could have used his position to advance the progressive struggle. Instead he chose to use his power to fight it. There was still time to avoid a costly civil war, as General John Kelly, Trump's Chief of Staff, has suggested, and end slavery through civil discourse instead, but men in positions of power and trust like Key chose to violate the constitution, suppress free speech, use police powers corruptly, suppress the black community, and jail freedom fighters in a vain effort to preserve a system in which he could profit from the ownership of other people.

As DC DA, Key's most celebrated cases came out of events in August of 1836 that became known as "the Snow Riot." The riot took its name one of its first targets: Beverly Snow, a mixed race man whose popular restaurant on the corner of 6th & Penn, the Epicurean Eating House, was destroyed.  It was the first race riot in our nation's capital. Whites ransacked and burned black homes and businesses.  There were as many as 400 white rioters.  A citizen's militia of some 50 to 60 people armed with muskets and fixed bayonets had to be hastily organized to support the city constable force of 10 in restoring order. Beverly Snow left town "for a country where a man might live freely: Canada," but his name remained with the riot.

DC DA Key made two big cases out of the Snow Riot:  a black slave he sought to have hung, and a white abolitionist he tried to have sent to prison. He failed to achieve satisfaction on either count, but it was not for lack of trying.

The slave was an educated and well known slave named Arthur Bowen, then 19. A series of drunken mishaps that you can read about in some detail here found him entering the bedroom of Anna Thornton on the night of 10 August 1836 with an axe in his hand. Anna was so convinced of his innocence that she testified for his defense at trial, and after his conviction, appealed to President Jackson for a pardon. This was only a few years after Nat Turner had led a band of slaves in murdering 50 whites with axes, so when a witness reported the vision of Arthur standing in Anna's door with an ax, a white riot ensured. A group of mainly Irish workers that called themselves "the Mechanics" went on a rampage in the black community. This is how the Snow Riot began.

Cops lying about a jailhouse confession? Not for the last time.
DA Key had already been using his office to suppress the black community and violate the first amendment rights of abolitionists. He decided the best way to placate this white supremacist unrest was to accuse Bowen not just of yielding an axe, but also of attempting to start an insurrection, so he could try him for a capital offense. Since a black man couldn't be credited with coming up with insurrection on his own, he also arrested Reuben Crandall, a local white abolitionist. As abolitionists go, Crandall wasn't that much. Known as a teetotaler, he was more interested in alcohol prohibition than ending slavery, but his sister was a nationally known abolitionist. Prudence Crandall was the Connecticut schoolteacher who had welcomed a free Negro girl into her classroom, and Reuben had been found with copies of the Anti-Slavery Reporter and the Liberator in his office.

Bowen's trial for attempted murder and burglary began in late November of 1835 and lasted until the jury brought in its verdict on 10 December. Anna Thornton testified that she did not believe he had intended to kill her, nevertheless it took an all white jury all of 15 minutes to bring in the verdict that Arthur Bowen be "hanged by the neck until he be dead." Bowen's execution was scheduled for 26 February 1836. From his jail cell, he composed a poem, later published in the Globe. He blamed alcohol for his problems:
Farewell, farewell, my young friends dear;
Oh! View my dreadful state,
Each flying moment brings me near
Unto my awful fate.

Brought up I was by parents nice,
Whose commands I would not obey,
But plunged ahead foremost into vice,
And into temptation's dreadful way.

Good bye, good bye, my friends so dear,
May God Almighty please you all,
Do, if you please, but shed a tear
At Arthur Bowen's unhappy fall.
Francis Scott Key wasn't the only one who could pen a poem in those days. TV and Twitter have robbed us of some beautiful skills.

For Key, the really big case was U.S. v. Reuben Crandall. Key considered him the real culprit behind the Snow Riot. That trial began in April 1836, took ten days, and was the O.J. Simpson trial of its day. The City Hall courtroom was crowded, congressmen sitting in the front row, and two of Washington's most famous attorneys, Richard Coxe and Joseph Bradley, counsel for the defense

DC DA Key argued that Crandall was guilty of sedation because his efforts to incite slaves, free Negroes and others to "stir up against slave owners" were "base and demonical." In his closing argument, the author of the national anthem called U.S. v. Reuben Crandall "one of the most important cases ever tried" in the nation's capital, and then went on to appeal to the all white jury on the basis of white supremacy:
"Are you willing, gentlemen, to abandon your country; to permit it to be taken from you, and occupied by the Abolitionist, according to whose taste it is to associate and amalgamate with the Negro? Or, gentlemen, on the other hand, are there laws in this community to defend you from the immediate Abolitionist, who would open upon you the floodgates of such extensive wickedness and mischief?"
In spite of District Attorney Francis Scott Key's best efforts, it took the jury only three hours to acquit Reuben Crandall.

Anna Thornton portrait by Gilbert Stuart 
Meanwhile Anna Thornton had been carrying out a legal defense campaign in support of Arthur Bowen that included a 17 page letter to President Andrew Jackson. Those efforts initially won a stay of execution and eventually, a pardon, to take effect, according to the presidential order "on the 4th of July" 1836. On that same day that Arthur was released, Ann Brodeau, Anna's long sick mother, passed. Rumor has it that the light-skinned slave Arthur was her husband's issue, and Anna's half-brother. This is a true American story.

Although he was unable to achieve his ends by legal means. Francis Scott Key may have derived some satisfaction from Crandall's ultimate fate. While he was locked up in the germ infested city jail, Reuben Crandall contracted tuberculosis, and although he ran to Kingston, Jamaica to escape it, he never recovered and it killed him in January 1838.

There are many actors in this saga that all Americans can be proud of; first and foremost, Arthur Bowen, who suffered death row with dignity; Anna Thornton, who never stopped fighting for justice; Reuben Crandall, who paid the ultimate price in the fight for freedom; even the jury in the second trial; and President Andrew Jackson who pardoned Bowen; but Francis Scott Key is not one of them.

So, with all due respect, I say: No one should stand for the national anthem. We should demand it be changed.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for my posts on the 2016 US Election
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Libya

Sunday, November 12, 2017

This is why they #StandWithRoyMoore: Acceptance of pedophillia in the South is a legacy of slavery @MooreSenate is an attack on all women ‏

If you want to understand this:
Alabama’s GOP governor says she plans to vote for Roy Moore

By Michael Scherer and Sean Sullivan November 17 at 6:49 PM
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) said Friday that she plans to vote for embattled GOP nominee Roy Moore for Senate, even as she said she has “no reason to disbelieve” the women who have accused him of sexual misconduct. More...
You need to read this:

While some people were surprised by the allegation that Alabama Republican Senatorial candidate Judge Roy Moore attempted to date a 14 year old girl in 1979 when he was 32, many more were shocked by how many of his Alabama supporters seemed to be willing to defend, or even accept, what is essentially a charge of pedophillia, or child sexual assault, in the candidate they hope will represent them in the Senate.

To understand why many Southern whites find acceptable, behaviour which would be considered deviant and criminal in most parts of the United States, one must understand the role that Antebellum slavery played in cultivating a culture of sexual abuse and pedophillia in the South.

Before the Civil War, forcing frequent and casual sex on young girl slaves was a prized white privilege of the Southern culture they built on the backs of their slaves. It's no accident that the age of consent is only 16 in all the former Confederate states but Louisiana, Florida, Virginia, Tennessee and Texas. Before the women's movement forced a change around 1920, it had been 12 or even 10 in the former Confederate states.

The sexual submission of female slaves was one-hundred percent expected. The slave codes did not recognize the crime of rape for African American women, free or slave. It was considered that they could not be violated because they were already "impure." It was white supremacist mythology that they were promiscuous, so it didn't matter. It was law that they had no rights a white man was bound to respect. When the woman raped belong to another master, it was considered a property crime with damages paid to the slave's owner, the rape victim wasn't even owed an apology. The African American slave woman was considered property with no more right to control her own body and sexuality than a draught animal. This is the culture the white South still celebrates with its statue of Lee and his horse in the town square. Robert E. Lee had the passion to whip young girls himself even when his regular slave-whipper refused. Put a statue of that in the park!

Gloria Sonnen of Bowdoin College writes about The Sexual Abuses Suffered by Female Slaves:
Slave women were forced to comply with sexual advances by their masters on a very regular basis. Consequences of resistance often came in the form of physical beatings; thus, an enormous number of slaves became concubines for these men.
Slavery made rape socially acceptable so long as the woman being raped, either slave or free, was of African descent [or a slave*]. Slavery also made rape profitable. Once slave trading had been banned, the slave owner relied on the reproductive services of slave women to replenish his stock. Usually, this involved forced sex. The owner might choose what he considered a good bull among the male slaves to mate with one of his prime breeders. Former slaves Sam and Louisa Everett told how it was, “if their master thought that a certain man and women might have strong, healthy offspring, he forced them to have sexual relations, even though they were married to other slaves.” This was double rape. Often, the slave owner would impregnate the poor girl himself. This was rape, completely legal, with a very tangible and profitable return. A slave of proven fertility was more valuable, and a pregnant slave would bid a higher price at auction.

One can never fully understand the strong objections to the right to an abortion that comes from this region without seeing the link to his long tradition of denying a woman any control over her own body or reproductive choices. Rape was an essential part of the Southern way of life Moore celebrates in his campaign.  This is the culture Roy Moore celebrates when he adorns his office with busts of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.

Rape is, first and foremost, an exercise in power. The master used sex as another way to enforce his authority over the slaves, both male and female. Rape and sexual assault were much more demeaning to the slaves than other forms of torture such as flogging. Sex put to that purpose was of the most sadistic kind. It was designed to take away slaves dignity, privacy and any sense of family life. A black man had to experience the reality that his woman could be raped in front of him by any white man who chose to do so, and there was nothing he could do about it on pain of death. He could not protect her from sexual abuse. The slave system systematically sought to emasculate black men and take away their role as protectors of women. Now culture has turned that historical reality on its head with the white male sexual fantasy of racial cuckoldry.

While most women think their beauty a blessing and seek to enhance it, slavery turned even this on its head. Of the slave child,  ex-slave, Harriet A. Jacobs said “if God has bestowed beauty upon her [the female slave], it will prove her greatest curse.” Some female slaves were sold exclusively for the purpose of concubinage. Just as the Japanese fascists had their Korean "comfort women," the Southern gentlemen had their African American “fancy maids,” attractive female slaves that lived in the big house so that she could be sexually available to her master right under the nose of his white wife. *Robert E. Lee's "Slave Ledgers" reveal that before the Civil War he sent bounty hunters North to kidnap people to work as slaves on his plantation, including girls described as "white looking" to serve as "fancy maids." Sexual practises and morals born in the slave quarters crossed the color-line and furthered the oppression of all women.

Slaves resisted this behaviour. While the records are understandably shallow on these questions, we do know of one case in which the female slave fought back, but with fatal consequences for both her and her master. In the 1850's John Newsome of Callaway County, Missouri purchased Celia, then 14 years old. Newsome raped her repeatedly, causing her to bear two of his children. After years of sexual abuse, she had finally had enough. According court records “On the night of June 23, 1855, Newsome made his last demand. As he approached Celia in her cabin, she hit him with a stick, causing him to fall to his death.” Celia was tried and hung on December 21, 1855. She was then 19 years old.

Another slave told how no woman, either black or white, could restraint the white man's behaviour:
“In them times white men wen [went] with colored gals and women bold[ly]. Any time they saw one and wanted her, she had to go with him, and his wife didn’t say nothin’ bout it.”
The Southern belle may not have had the power to stop her man from raping other women, but she still had the power to make that woman pay dearly. Consider the following story from a slave's memoirs:
"Maria was a thirteen-year-old house servant. One day, receiving no response to her call, the mistress began searching the house for her. Finally, she opened the parlor door, and there was the child with her master. The master ran out of the room, mounted his horse and rode off to escape, 'though well he knew that [his wife's] full fury would fall upon the young head of his victim.' The mistress beat the child and locked her up in a smokehouse. For two weeks the girl was constantly whipped. Some of the elderly servants attempted to plead with the mistress on Maria's behalf, and even hinted that 'it was mass'r that was to blame.' The mistress's reply was typical: 'She'll know better in the future. After I've done with her, she'll never do the like again, through ignorance'" (Stanley Felstein, Once a Slave: The Slaves' View of Slavery, p.132).
Alabama GOP State Rep. Ed Henry also found a way to blame victim in the Roy Moore case.  He told The Cullman Times
“If they believe this man is predatory, they are guilty of allowing him to exist for 40 years. I think someone should prosecute and go after them.”
Harriet A. Jacobs
This remembrance by Jacobs, speaks volumes about what these practices did to the culture and how it was used to brand all African American women as "whores":
I once saw two beautiful children playing together. One was a fair white child; the other was her slave, and also her sister…The fair child grew up to be a still fairer woman. From childhood to womanhood her pathway was blooming with flowers, and overarched by a sunny sky… How had those years dealt with her slave sister, the little playmate of her childhood? She, also, was very beautiful; but the flowers and sunshine of love were not for her. She drank the cup of sin, and shame, and misery, whereof her persecuted race are compelled to drink.
That same feeling of abashment was felt by Roy Moore's victim in 1979, as she recounted to the Washington Post:
“I felt responsible, I felt like I had done something bad. And it kind of set the course for me doing other things that were bad.”
Slavery made sex with children easy for the masters of the old Dominion. There were no rules. A UK national archives report on the childhood of slaves states:
The trauma of sexual abuse is also a difficult subject to quantify. Sensibilities of the time and the fact that abolition was often associated with religious organisations means that sexual abuse of girls was often only alluded to in veiled terms and sexual abuse of boys was almost never mentioned. The dangers of sexual exploitation are only too obvious with slave children being seen as chattels with no legal protection. The fact that sexuality appears to have rarely discussed also left slave children ignorant and vulnerable to abuse. If the issue of forced marriage of slaves is included in this category along with coercion into sexual activity for preferential treatment, it is easy to see how sexual abuse could be seen as endemic in slave children’s lives
Southern culture explains why Judge Roy Moore could feel comfortable hitting on a child of 14, that was about the age that a female slave was expected to be available to all white men. Again Jacobs relates:
The slave girl is reared in an atmosphere of licentiousness and fear…When she is 14 or 15, her owner, or his sons, or the overseer, or perhaps all of them, begin to bribe her with presents. If these fail to accomplish their purpose, she is whipped or starved into submission to their will.
No lesser band than the Rolling Stones memorialized this aspect of Southern culture in one of the greatest rock and roll hits [pun intended] of all time:

Gold Coast slave ship bound for cotton fields
Sold in the market down in New Orleans
Scarred old slaver knows he's doin' all right
Hear him whip the women just around midnight

Brown Sugar, how come you taste so good
Brown Sugar, just like a young girl should

Drums beatin' cold, English blood runs hot
Lady of the house wonderin' when it's gonna stop
House boy knows that he's doin' all right
You should have heard him just around midnight
The South became the most "Christian" part of the United States precisely because its enterprise was the most sinful. The Bible was widely used to condone slavery and then, as now, white Southerners would hypocritically marshal the Scriptures to justify even the rape of children. Alabama state auditor Jim Zeigler defended Moore's sins with Biblical references:
"Zechariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist. Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus. There's just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual."

In a typical outburst of conservative Christian sentiment, Roy Moore told Talking Points Memo:
"People are getting killed in the streets. Chicago has the highest murder rate you can imagine. All across our land we have child abuse, we have sodomy, we have murder, we have rape, we have all kind of immoral things happening because we have forgotten God.”
Southern white racists have a long history of cloaking the sins of their very corrupt and profitable system in the trappings of Christian morality. As an Alabama prosecutor, Moore said he spent his time convicting “murderers, rapists, thieves and drug pushers,” so I'm sure he did more than his part to maintain the South's system of racial oppression between sermons.

When the struggle to raise the age of consent finally erupted in the 1920's, some whites argued that it should be lower for the South, saying African American women "matured earlier." This was a common myth about non-white people. Some even had the audacity to stretch the bunk science to the point where they claimed that white girls living in sub-tropical climates "ripened" into women earlier.

Another factor that seemed to propel, if not justify, certain sexual practises outside of marriage in the Antebellum South is the fact that most marriages among the slave owning class were arranged marriages. The children of the planters couldn't marry for love. That is one right the slaves had that they didn't. Their marriages were arranged by their parents to consolidate estates and build family power. We can see just how little things have changed when Judge Moore brags that he would never "date" an underage girl without getting the permission of her mother first. He seems to think that makes it alright.

Debbie Wesson Gibson ~17
The mother of Debbie Wesson Gibson was one such mother. In 1981, when her 17 year old daughter asked her mother what she thought of her dating a man twice her age, her mother asked who the man was. When the daughter said it was Roy Moore, already a big fish in the county, her mother said“I’d say you were the luckiest girl in the world.” How different is that from the slave mother that would encourage her daughter to willingly lie down with their master in the hopes of winning better treatment for her and her family? How much has really changed?

Those that find it hard to see how white Southern evangelists and Republicans can reconcile their Christian morality with their support for Roy Moore's pedophillia need to understand that Southerners have been honing that hypocritic art since the first day they started calling themselves "white," which was about 1670. Labeling themselves with that symbol of innocence and enlightenment was, and remains, at the core of their racist trickery.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for my posts on the 2016 US Election
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Libya

Thursday, November 9, 2017

My Libyan Diaries

These are my articles on the Libyan Revolution:
Libya Myth used by Trump, Bolton and Amy Goodman to blow up peace talks with North Korea
Extreme racism & slave auctions 3 times a week in Gaddafi's Libya
Gaddafi's Harem: No rapist abused women like the late Libyan leader

Majority of Libyans Supported NATO’s War
Everyone says the Libya intervention was a failure. They’re wrong.
Are Obama's "boots" in Syria the result of lessons learned in Libya?
Life as it was under Gaddafi's democracy in Libya
The "Left's" Crime Against Humanity
How Noam Chomsky cleans up Mummar Qaddafi
Why the revolutions in Libya & Syria failed(so far) - the short version
Libya: Hailed as a Model Journalist Glenn Greenwald Proves to be the Exact Opposite
How Seymour Hersh confuses Syria with Libya
Socialism and the State of Libya
Why I consider Libya a revolutionary success story
Bringing David Swanson's imagination back to reality
While Assad's CW is 95.9% intact, Qaddafi's is 100% destroyed
Renfrey Clarke on the Libyan militias
Did US kidapping al-Libi help al Qaeda in Libya?
The PSL School of Falsification: A Libyan Rebel Sets the Record Straight
MSM wrong on Libya again
Libya: Saif Qaddafi's trial starts today
RT: Large Portion of Qaddafi's army in Libya were non-Libyans
Two years blogging for the Arab Spring
Tawergha, Libya: Acknowledging History
The State of Libya
A Libyan rebel speaks out on Jihadists in Syria
Stratfor files: British mercenaries trained rebels during Libyan Revolution!
Bani Walid Revisited
Bani Walid
BREAKING: Libya | BaniWalid falls!
US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens Murder Timeline
Libya: This is what democracy looks like - protesters take over HQ of Ansar al-Sharia
My answer to Secretary Clinton Re: US Death in Libya
Women and the Libyan Revolution
The Left and the Arab Spring
Libya's elected congress to take power today
The Elections and Libya's Violent Militias
#Libya at the crossroads: The ballot or the bullet
Is Libya better off than it was?
Libyan Elections to be held July 7th
Qaddafi forces Strike Back in Libya
Libya & Syria - two videos - no comment
BREAKING: Libyan High Court strikes down anti-free speech law
Where should Libya's Saif Qaddafi be tried?
MSM plays Hankey Panky with Libya
Qaddafi lies live on after him
Libya's Qaddafi helped US & Israel against Iran in Olympic Games
Why is Russia demanding NATO boots on the ground in Libya?
#LyElect Libyans register to vote 1st time in 60 years
Libya's Revolution: How We Won - The Internationale in the 21st Century
Good News from Libya
On Libya & Glenn Greenwald: Are the anti-interventionists becoming counter-revolutionaries?
UN: NATO killed 60 civilians in Libya
Libya in the news today
Amnesty International on Libya again
The Current Situation in Libya
Democracy Now & Amy Goodman gets it wrong again.
Why is Chris Hedges calling for "boots on the ground" in Libya?
The Worm Has Turned: Good Film on Libyan Revolution from PressTV
Why NATO's mission in Libya isn't over yet
Libya's Freedom Fighters: How They Won
Racism in Libya
Abdul Rahman Gave his Eyes to See the End of Qaddafi
BREAKING: Secret files reveal Dennis Kucinich talks with Qaddafi Regime
BREAKING: Libyan TNC won't extradite Lockerbie bomber
Who really beat Qaddafi?
#Feb17: @NATO Please help MEDEVAC wounded from #Libya
What should those that opposed NATO's intervention in Libya demand now?
BREAKING: Qaddafi's Tripoli Compound Falls!
Does PDA Support Qaddafi?
BREAKING: Operation Mermaid Dawn, the Battle to Liberate Tripoli is Joined
Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
Qaddafi's Long Arm
SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO
Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Arming Gaddfi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation