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

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Ralph Nader on Democracy Now: Unsafe at any age

Immigrant family fleeing teargas
By now it should be clear to all that when Donald Trump talks about when America was "great" before, he is talking about a time when white men of wealth could rule without the challenges they face today, i. e. the good ole days of the 1950's or maybe even the 1850's. Ever since he came down a Trump Tower escalator to complain about so-called Mexican rapists and announce his candidacy, he has stood at the center of a last-ditch attempt by a segment of the US capitalist class to re-establish white supremacist rule in a radical new way that is likely to lead to fascist government in a few years if not stopped.

Jill not Hill equaled Trump 
This successful attempt by a white supremacist cabal to seize executive power in the US government was aided in no small part by a white Left that rallied around the Green Party candidacy of Jill Stein. This group refused to acknowledge the extreme white nationalism and racism that distinguished the Trump candidacy. They declared that there were no significant differences between the two contenders, or even claimed that Donald Trump was the lesser of two evils. They campaigned for progressives to either cast a symbolic vote for Jill Stein, or just stay home. They never seriously tried to win over Trump voters. Their focus was on diverting Clinton voters to the Jill St. off-ramp This was, in effect, a voter suppression campaign every bit as effective as any run by the Russians or the Republicans, and without it Trump would have lost. Had the Jill Stein voters in just three states voted for Hillary Clinton instead, she would be president now.

In 2000 the stakes weren't as high, still Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader played a similar role in helping George Bush win the White House and start a war in Iraq that continues to this day. That is why after all the votes were tallied in November 2016, we published Dr. Jill Stein now officially 'the Ralph Nader of 2016.'

Last Monday, Amy Goodman had Ralph Nader on Democracy Now to get his appraisal of the current situation. In spite of the Trump cabal's continuing fear-mongering about immigrants from the South, and the cruelty they are training Americans to accept in the government's treatment of people of color. In spite of the fact that the architects of this immigration madness see it as but a stepping stone to racist policies they hope to implement against all people of color, regardless of citizenship, Amy and her guest continue to remain mute on the racism driving Trump's policies and programs.

Note the cruelty he highlights in his wall.
Where does Nader address this?
Curiously, they also made no mention of either the Green Party or Jill Stein. What made this noteworthy was the fact that Ralph Nader ran as a Green Party presidential candidate, and appeared on DN in 2016 to promote Jill Stein's bid. Now he gets billing only as "former presidential candidate Ralph Nader," and the Green Party is nowhere to be seen.

What makes this particularly tragic is that during the 2016 presidential campaign, the line from Greens was even if they had no chance of winning, and might even throw the election to Trump, they were doing the really important work of building the political party that could lead the mass struggle in the future. Now the future has come, and not only is the Green Party no more effective than it ever was, many activists formerly known as Greens are striving to distance themselves from that history.

Ralph Nader pitching his new book on Democracy Now on Monday

This is how Amy Goodman introduced him:
To talk about all of this and much more, we’re joined by longtime consumer advocate and former presidential candidate [ of what party, Amy? ] Ralph Nader. He is author of the new book To the Ramparts: How Bush and Obama Paved the Way for the Trump Presidency, and Why It Isn’t Too Late to Reverse Course.

Ralph Nader, welcome back to Democracy Now! Let’s start where we ended, with that long list of just what’s happened this week,
We'll get to Nader's list in a moment. First, let's start with when he was on DN just before the election, because I think it can be fairly argued that Ralph Nader also paved the way for the Trump presidency, and I suspect that isn't covered in his new book.

Ralph Nader didn't notice the racism of the Trump campaign when he was on DN before the election, 19 September 2016, but he did rage against what he called "bigotry" in the 2016 presidential campaign:
[T]he idea of calling a third party “spoiler,” using the First Amendment right to run for office, is a politically bigoted word and should never be tolerated by the American people, because everyone has an equal right to run for office.
Just because you can run for office, it doesn't follow that you should run for office. If most progressive think like Ralph Nader, and write their own name in, while the reactionaries rally around a single candidate, a bad outcome will be assured, and banning the word spoiler won't change that arithmetic.  Jill Stein was so taken by the fact that she could run for office, that she never considered whether she should run for office. Many warned Donald Trump can only win if Jill Stein stays in. She did stayed in, and on DN until election night, and he won.

Anyway, back to the present. Ralph Nader gives Amy Goodman a list of current political priorities as he sees them:
RALPH NADER: And we’re going to present to the progressive chairs of the House of Representatives a whole list of hearings that have to be held in order to put these in play, electorally, in terms of public opinion and in terms of civic action. I can give you a quick list if you’d like.

AMY GOODMAN: Go ahead.

RALPH NADER: OK. First, obviously, is one on single payer. Full Medicare for all...

There needs to be hearings on corporate crime by the Judiciary Committee...

5,000 people die every week in this country in hospitals due to preventable problems. We know what they are. There are no congressional hearings here.

There’s got to be congressional hearings on foreign policy...

Criminal justice reform, that one is long overdue...

How about climate devastation? I think we shouldn’t use the words “climate change.” It’s too benign...

So, you could just go list after list. Minimum wage, that should be up right away...
Good list. Except it fails to fight or even address the extreme white nationalism, both in rhetoric and program, that the Trump cabal uses to "rally its base." This is the terrain of the most important political struggle facing the country. This obviously includes all the fear mongering against brown immigrants that has been skillfully used to normalize a level of official cruelty to people of color that would have been intolerable only a few years ago. Shouldn't a progressive congress also challenge Trump on his border wall and Muslim ban, Nader?

Trump has also lead a very vocal attack against African American football players for protesting the racist killings of people of color at a time when those killing go unabated, and hate crimes by white supremacists, including racist murders, are on the rise. Where are these questions on Nader's list?

Maybe the new congress should exercise some oversight into the FBI's responds to the rising tide of white nationalist violence, and question why the new category of "Black Identity Extremist" was created by the Trump administration.

Much of Trump's support for white nationalists international, whether in Britain, Europe or South African has been done in concert with Vladimir Putin, and Russian ultra nationalists. Shouldn't the new congress also look into this?

Ralph Nader didn't exactly lead the fight against Trump before the election. Now he tries to see a silver lining where he can. For example, he thinks that "if they overturn judicially" ObamaCare "that opens the door" to single payer health care. Nevermind it will close the hospital door to thousands that need life-saving treatment right now.

He tells us that the gathering of synophants around Trump means he won't be around long:
The combination of Mulvaney, John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is a lethal one even for Trump’s political survival. He’s trying to get sycophants around him, which is usually a late stage in the collapse of a regime.
His reading of history is meant to comfort and disarm us, when we should be most alarmed because that is not the lesson of history. Adolf Hitler had gathered his most important sycophants, including Joseph Goebbels, Rudolph Hess, Hermann Göring, and Heinrich Himmler as early as 1925, hardly the late stage in the collapse of his regime.

This Monday, the US government is going into a second day in a huge fight over what Nader called "a porous wall that is eroding farmer property values and ranchers on the Mexican border." The campaign to build the southern border wall is about distracting people from the real problems we face with fear of brown people. All the rhetoric ostensibly about border, is really about building a fear of the brown caravans. It certainly isn't about stopping drugs and terrorists. Unlike refugees, they are very mobile. They can and do cross the unguarded Canadian border with little trouble or controversy. Nader doesn't address the real purpose of Trump's border wall. He just thinks it won't work ["porous" - but that's not its purpose, Ralph.]  And the worst thing - it will erode property values.

When Amy Goodman asked him for his thoughts on impeachment, Nader said "We shouldn’t make a big deal out of it." Since impeaching a president is a big deal any way you slice it, it sounds like Ralph Nader opposes impeaching Donald Trump. No doubt, this position was welcomed when he appeared on Fox News the day after his DN appearance to pitch his new book on Tucker Carlson.

Ralph Nader pitching his new book on Fox News Tucker Carlson on Tuesday

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

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How Ralph Nader & Democracy Now support Trump

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Will @realDonaldTrump sell http://www.TrumpTowerMoscow.com?

I registered my first Internet domain name, CosmosEng.com, in 1996, and over the years I have registered or bought many Internet domain names, sometimes on speculation. This morning I got the idea that it would be fun to own TrumpTowerMoscow.com. Since this wasn't an original idea, I wasn't surprised to find that someone else had beat me to the punch. TrumpTowerMoscow.com had already been claimed, although no corresponding website for it exists.

Instead it was parked on Godaddy, where they are offering to negotiate its sale:

It turns out that the domain name TrumpTowerMoscow.com is owned by the Trump Organization. The WHOIS database shows they first register it on 17 July 2008, which means Trump's interest in a Moscow Tower goes back over a decade. Five years later, he still kept hope alive, although there still was no website!
Apparently, Trump's dream of a Moscow tower didn't die even after he became president, contrary to all his denials. The domain registration was last updated less than six months ago on 28 June 2018, the same day Trump sent out this tweet:

It doesn't expire until 1 July 2019, assuming it isn't renewed:

I'm seriously thinking of ponying up the seven buck, or better yet, contacting the Trump Organization directly, and making a bid. After all, it isn't being used, and Trump swears he's not interested in a Trump Tower Moscow anymore. If that is the case, might he be willing to part with it?

What say you?

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

First mention of Raed Fares on Democracy Now comes after his death

Raed Fares
According to Democracy Now's own search facility, today's Death Notice was the first mention of Raed Fares on Democracy Now. Google's much more thorough search engine also finds nothing before today's Headlines on Democracy Now.

For those familiar with the work of this Syrian revolutionary and the civilian society protest organization he lead, Kafranbel, this will sound extraordinary, but it is a true fact, and a damning commentary on the biased way Amy Goodman and Democracy Now have represent Syrian developments since the beginning of 2011.

Banner like these made Kafranbel famous worldwide, just not on DN
We remembered his work in our own hurried post about his death last Friday, Raed Fares, leader of Kafranbel killed by HTS gunmen in Idlib, but we have been covering Fares and Kafranbel since December 2013 when he toured the United States to bring us news about the civil society side of the Syrian revolution.

Raed Fares in Los Angeles
He came to Los Angeles, and I had an opportunity to hear him speak. The event was even announced on KPFK, but I guess Amy missed it. That was five years ago. We have cover Fares and Kafranbel many times since then, as has just about anyone interested in honestly informing people about what the struggle in Syria, that has taken as many as a million lives, is all about. Clearly, that hasn't been Democracy Now. Raed Fares and Kafranbel should have had a dozen show segments by now, if DN really was an unbiased progressive outlet. Now that he is dead, its safe to talk about him, so today he finally got a HEADLINE:

Syrian Journalist Raed Fares, Who Faced Threats by Government and Rebels, Killed in Idlib

Syrian radio host and activist Raed Fares was shot dead in Idlib Friday, along with activist Hamoud Jneed. Fares founded Radio Fresh, an independent radio station broadcasting from inside opposition-held Syria. Fares joined the popular protests against the government of President Bashar al-Assad in 2011. In the following years, he documented the human cost of the war in Syria, exposing rights violations and the devastation of air strikes on civilians. Fares was targeted by both the government and opposition militants. He survived previous assassination attempts, a kidnapping and torture.
That's how easily they handled his obit. They don't even mention Kafranbel. In fact, they have never mentioned Kafranbel!

So the first ever Linux Beach CYA Awards goes to Democracy Now for Wednesday's first ever mention of Raed Fares. Now we can't say Amy never mentioned him, and now that he's dead, its safe to say a few words. Democracy Now knew that if their audience saw the Syrian Revolution through Raed's eyes, they would support it, and that's the last thing Amy wants. Way to go, Democracy Now! Don't ever change. We won't be able to use this logo.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for our posts on the 2016 US Election
Click here for a list of our other blogs on Syria
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Saturday, November 24, 2018

Tijuana anti-immigrant protests & Tucker Carlson's definition of races

In 1978, I led a group of American educators on a tour of China. It was an exciting time to visit. President Nixon had ended 25 years of US attempts to isolate the People's Republic of China just six years earlier, and we were among the first western tourists to visit since the revolution in 1949.

While in Beijing, we were given a tour of the National Minority Institute, where we were told of the more than fifty national and ethnic minorities that live in China, the ongoing struggle against discrimination and great Han chauvinism. As we were leaving the institute, I overheard a white member of our overwhelmingly white tour group say:
I don't believe they have any minorities in China. They all look Chinese to me.
I was reminded to that comment Monday evening by Tucker Carlson. He was focused on one of his usual subjects - the Honduran migrant caravan making its way through Mexico to the US border. Under the leadership of Donald Trump, he and the rest of the Fox News crowd have been crying wolf about what they call an "invasion" of poor refugee families. US white supremacists, led by Donald Trump, have effectively taken over the Republican Party, and have been using anti-immigrant agitation as a gateway to their more extreme goal of creating a white ethnostate.

Tucker Carlson, Fox News 19 Nov 2018
In Tijuana, on Sunday, there was a small anti-immigrant protest by Mexican citizens who support Trump's position on the Honduran caravan. While most Mexicans have been very accepting and supportive of these Central American refugees, Tijuana has become the center of anti-immigrant activities in Mexico. There Mayor Juan Manuel Gastélum, who has been called "The Trump of Tijuana" and "Donald Trump Jr.," because of his hateful rhetoric directed at the caravan, has created a favorable climate for that opposition.

It might be said that Donald Trump has adopted him with this tweet:

The neo-Nazi Daily Stormer also supports him. They quote extensively from the Mayor's "choice words for this group of brown movers," saying "those certainly sound like statements that someone from ICE or the KKK would make," before complaining that "Simply saying that a group of brown people are committing crimes is an act of racial hatred."

Of course, one reason Tijuana has such a massive problem is although thousands of refugees are trying to seek asylum, the US is playing a game of asylum suppression, not unlike the Trump campaign policy of voter suppression, by accepting claims at a handful of legal ports of entry like San Diego, where they are processing only 100 claims a day.

Mayor Juan Manuel Gastélum in a Trump styled "Make Tijuana Great Again" hat. Does he realize how ironic it is that he says this in ENGLISH, or did he just want to make sure it could be read by his target audience? Does he also agreed with the way Trump talks about Mexicans? Trump talked about the Mayor again in his Thanksgiving call to the troops in which he said he also authorized the US army to use "lethal force" at the border "if they have to." Does this "Mexican patriot" also support Trump on that?
Tijuana has already had its own challenges in recent years, like more than 2000 homicides in 2018, before 3000 refugees started camping out near the border crossing. Given encouragement from the mayor, the anti-immigrant propaganda coming from north of the border, and who knows what other incentives, it's surprising that they could only muster about 300 "Mexico First" protesters willing to say things like:
"Trump was right! This is an invasion!"
However, those 300 where enough for Tucker Carlson to build a show segment around because he thought he could use this protest to demonstrate that the dislike of immigrants he promotes nightly was universal [xenophobic], and not racist. Tucker thought that since they were Mexicans protesting immigrants from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, he could use them to argue that white supremacy was not behind the anti-immigrant campaign in the US either. The Daily Stormer thought they could use the story the same way:
It looks as if the Jew-run media is mostly trying to ignore what’s happening in Tijuana. That’s because there’s no way they can really spin a narrative in their favor. For weeks they were claiming that the bad orange man in the White House was lying about the caravan. But what’s happening in Tijuana proves that he was right. The mere fact that the Mexicans want these invaders to go back to where they came from is proof of this.
They do however have multiple videos about Jim Acosta’s press pass and a video about Apple’s CEO Tim Cook talking about how he wants to brainwash children into becoming faggots.
Their narrative about the caravan was wrong and they can’t start calling Mexicans racist for being angry at the situation. And they definitely want to ignore the fact that Tijuana’s mayor is basically agreeing with Trump in saying that these invaders need to go back to their shitholes.
Since Tucker pretends to be "Fair & Balanced," he can't be that direct, so he invited on Enrique Acevedo, an anchor at Univision, to be his guest for this segment on the Tijuana protest.

Tucker played Fox News interviews with four protesters. The show used subtitles even though all the Mexican protesters they interviewed were speaking very intelligible English. They said things like "these are bad people", "they don't belong here", "this is not about racism," and "these caravans are committing crimes." Tucker then proceeded as though those were majority opinions in Mexico, and put his main premise to his guest:
Tucker: I'm confused. We just saw a group of Mexican citizens in Tijuana saying basically the same things that President Trump says, almost to the word endorsing Trump. Are they white supremacists?

Enrique: Well, you have to understand that unlike human beings, intolerance, hate, and even racism flow freely across borders, and that's what you saw in those interviews. They're not running for president. They're not running for president in the United States either. They are part of a group of around 300 protesters in a city of 1.3 million who, like many others along the way of this Caravan, are opposed to their presence in Tijuana, and you know, the overwhelming majority of people in Tijuana welcome immigrants. It's a city of immigrants.

Tucker: Wait but, wait but, I'm sorry, can I just backup a little bit? Its a big city for sure. Hold on. Woe, I think you just said that they're racist but they're Latino, Spanish-speaking Latinos attacking other Spanish-speaking Latinos. So where's the racism?

Enrique: Well, we're not a monolithic community Tucker. We have people from Central America, from Venezuela, from Colombia. Different backgrounds, different ethnicities, and yes, racism exists in Mexico toward Central Americans. It's not new. It's happened through...

Tucker: Okay, but I'm not quite sure how it's racism if they appear to be of the same race?

Like that educator on my tour that could see only Chinese in China, Tucker Carlson puts everybody south of the US southern border into the same race of brown people. That's how he thinks about race. He is white and all of them are brown, including, no doubt, the Mayor of Tijuana, and those are objective, immutable racial categories, and not his subjective and culturally derived opinion.

He is delusional.

He should start with the objective reality that while humans of all races and nationalities have eyeballs and teeth that are white (more or less), nobody has skin that is objectively the color white. The main determinate of human skin color is its density of melanin. As the English rulers of colonial America begin to create a system of African slavery as a solution to their labor problems, they sought to built a pro-slavery unity among all those exempt from slavery based on their lighter skin color, and for this new synthetic "race" they appropriated the label "white" because it carried with it many positive attributes. Soon after that, they began to label the Africans they were enslaving "black," although their skin color was not black like their hair color. They labeled them "black" because that color already had many negative connotations. These labels were chosen to support slavery and white supremacy. This happened in the 17th century in what would become the United States.

It was a marketing and branding coup d'état, and the inauguration of white supremacy. People like Tucker, who don't understand the fraudulent nature of the title "white," and think of themselves as white, also assume that racism or white supremacy is limited to the sphere of conflict or interaction between "white people" and "people of color," indeed they strive to limit it to that, as though the racial categories he has in his head have some objective, persistent reality to them. This makes it hard for him to understand that their was a time when people he may now welcomes into the white race, such as the Irish, Jews, and less than a hundred years ago, as I reported in The Rise of Xenophobia, the Poles, where not considered white and were subjected to racism, or white supremacy, by those that did consider themselves white. I wonder in Tucker considers Jews white, even today. I know his Daily Stormer buddies don't. I'll bet Gastélum thinks he is white, although Tucker thinks he is the same race as every other Latino.

It is also problematic for racists like Tucker to conceive of a white supremacist hierarchy existing among people he considers all to be in another race. This is a simpleminded view of the world.

Anyone familiar with African American culture and history knows very well that there is a racist hierarchy of discrimination based on skin color, with lighter skin being favored. This discrimination is supported by the white power structure, but it also is a reflection of white supremacy within the oppressed race. In other places, I have report on how even in Sudan, Africa, among the brown and black skin population, where exists a white supremacist hierarchy enforced by those who think themselves "white" no matter how brown they may look to European eyes.

The Guardian also reported on this protest. Sarah Kinosian wrote:
On Sunday, anti-caravan protesters chanted: “Out Hondurans, we don’t want you here”, “Tijuana first” and “Long live Mexico”, and waved Mexican flags and signs reading “no to the invasion” and “no more migrants”.

The group, which at its height numbered about 300, gathered in front of a statue of the Aztec warrior Cuauhtémoc before making their way to a sports complex serving as a temporary shelter to about 2,500 migrants from the caravan.
She also wrote about how this Mexican anti-immigrant movement had been influenced by the US:
While many have welcomed the migrants – as they have the thousands of others who have come to the city over recent years – some Tijuana residents have expressed hostility to the caravan, amid intense media coverage and aggressive rhetoric from the US president, Donald Trump.
The Associated Press echoed this sentiment, saying that while some blamed the backlash on the sudden arrival of the caravan:
Others point to social media and the hostile rhetoric of U.S. President Donald Trump, who said it harbored criminals and gang members and was planning an "invasion."
There has been a well developed social media campaign at work building this anti-immigrant movement in Mexico. Karla Zabludovsky on Buzzfeed wrote about this 15 November  2018 in The Racist Backlash To The Migrant Caravan Is Building In WhatsApp Groups In Mexico:
Several Facebook and WhatsApp groups advocating for the caravan's deportation have sprung up in the month since the migrants set out from Honduras, underscoring escalating anti-immigrant sentiment in northern Mexico. The violent language used against Central Americans in these groups echoes that used by Trump supporters in the US, referring to the caravan as an "invasion" and issuing a call to arms in defense of borders.

Inside the WhatsApp chat, people have felt free to share their unfiltered views:

"These people are a Cancer that signals the end of Mexico."

"I'm asking the men here to defend their women and children... Since the majority of Central Americans who've arrived are men, violent thefts will start any moment now."

"Plagues are confronted with venom. And [bullets] are the venom here. Hondurans are equal to gonorrhea."

Other messages in a WhatsApp group called "Citizen’s Blockade" — which BuzzFeed News had access to after joining a related, closed Facebook page — included suggestions to deliver pizza and hamburgers filled with pesticide to migrants, and a call to burn down one of the biggest shelters in the city. The group has more than 250 participants.
Considering that all that they still had only 200-300 protesters at their rally. These are the people Tucker supports-a minority of haters who advocate violence. James Fredrick, writing for NPR described them as a "few hundred Tijuanenses gathered in the city's high-end Rio area." While some of the marchers headed for Mayor Gastélum's office, other headed off towards a shelter where more than 2,500 immigrants are staying. Alonzo Castillo, 37, a construction worker from Honduras was not intimidated by their tactics, and had no trouble putting a name to what they are facing:
“I’m not afraid of them, this is just racism.”
Tucker Carlson may think that opposition to Central American immigrants in Mexico can't be based on racism because they all "appear to be of the same [brown] race," but as CNN Contributor Ruben Navarrette Jr. wrote in 2012 In Mexico, racism hides in plain view:
The enduring taboo subject is skin color, whether an individual's complexion betrays an allegiance to the Spanish who conquered the Aztec empire in 1521 or the Aztecs who were conquered. It's no exaggeration to say that, in this country and especially in this city, the best, highest-paying, most important jobs often seem to go to those who, in addition to having the best education and the strongest connections, have the lightest skin.

On television, in politics and in academia, you see light-skinned people. On construction sites, in police forces and in restaurant kitchens, you're more likely to find those who are dark-skinned. In the priciest neighborhoods, the homeowners have light skin, and the housekeepers are dark. Everyone knows this, and yet no one talks about it, at least not in elite circles.
He also talked about the role this racism has played in holding Mexico back:
Nor do Mexicans seem all that eager to discuss the larger dynamic that race feeds into: the fact that this is, and has always been, a country of deep divisions. In the 100 years since the Mexican Revolution, one part of Mexico has often been at war with another: urban vs. rural, rich vs. poor and, yes, dark-skinned vs. light-skinned.

It's one reason that institutions such as the economy, the political system and the social structure haven't matured as quickly as they should have, given Mexico's advantages.

This country of 120 million people has ports, highways, airports and skyscrapers. It takes in billions of dollars every year in revenues from oil and natural gas, and billions more from tourism and remittances from Mexican migrants living abroad. Mexico's economy is growing faster than the U.S. economy, and investments are flowing in from Asia and Europe. It's consistently within the top three of trading partners for the United States. But what good is all that when only a small number of the population can live up to their full potential? Prejudice kills progress.
Those like Tucker Carlson who promote the narrowest possible view of the problems caused by racism are just wrong. It was a core feature in the development of early capitalism because white supremacy was developed as a ideological tool that could be used to justify domination not only of the newly created "non-white" people of the Earth, but the very Earth itself. Just as it has held back Mexico's develop, so has it held back revolutionary development worldwide. Capitalism can never be transcended so long as white supremacy has so many under its spell.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

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Friday, November 23, 2018

Raed Fares, leader of Kafranbel killed by alleged HTS gunmen in Idlib

UPDATE 29 Nov 2018: First reports blamed HTS for his murder, and now that evidence of HTS support for Fares has been found, it would seem that conclusion is, at best, premature, and may be wrong.

Raed Fares
The Syrian revolutionary Raed Fares was murdered today, along with fellow activist Hamoud Juneid in the town of Kafranbel, Fares' own Radio Fresh is reporting. They are reporting Fares and Juneid were "shot dead by unknown assailants riding a van in Kafranbel." It is widely believed the dominate jihadist group in Idlib, HTS [Hay'et Tahrir al-Sham], was behind the assassination.

Raed Fares became one of the few Syrian activists I had the opportunity to meet in the flesh. I meant him almost five years ago when he came to Los Angeles in December 2013

Al Jazeera has this report:
'Immense loss for Syria': Gunmen kill Idlib activist Raed Fares

Raed Fares, who heads Kafranbel-based Radio Fresh and survived a 2014 ISIL shooting, dies in gun attack, reports say.
Raed Fares gained prominence with protest banners that drew international attention on social media [File: Raed Fares via Reuters]
Gunmen in Syria's rebel-held Idlib province have killed Raed Fares, a prominent activist who ran an independent radio station in the country's last opposition stronghold.

Fares was shot on Friday along with his colleague Hamoud Juneid in the town of Kafranbel, according to their Radio Fresh station.

Fares and Juneid were "shot dead by unknown assailants riding a van in Kafranbel", Fresh FM, which provides independent news and satirises both President Bashar al-Assad and opposition groups, said in a post on Facebook.

Salman, a 33-year-old mathematics teacher, who witnessed the attack, told the Middle East Eye website that attackers in a van driving "at high speed ... fired shots from a machine gun, before speeding away".

Juneid died during the attack while Fares died of his wounds at the Orient Hospital, Middle East Eye reported. More...

This section is reprinted from our 15 December 2013 post on Raed Fares and Kafranbel
Protest March in Kafranbel, Idlib Province | 6 Dec 2013

Occupied Liberated Kafranbel The Little Syrian Town That Could
The fortitude & courage of revolutionaries .. From Kafranbel

A town in northwestern Syria has become the creative center of the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad. Since the beginning of the uprising, the residents of Kafr Anbel have drawn signs that skewer the Assad regime and express outrage that the world has not done more to stop the killing in Syria.

This type of defiance and courage is what will ultimately destroy Assad and his tyrannical regime. Heroes are people that are pushed to the point that they have nothing to live for in their current situation and decide that to die trying, is far more superior than to live "dead".

Raed Fares, an activist in Kafranbel, explained that the town's residents chose to draw in English, rather than Arabic, explicitly to reach an international audience. "It's very important to send our message to all the world," he said. "And English is the public language."

And here's to hoping that this little website will help you guys reach your messages to that greater audience. Keep it up!

Thanksgiving message from people in Syria to people in the US

Kafranbel: the Syrian revolution in 3 minutes | 17 Sept 2013

This is how the international community reacted to the genocide commited by Assad against the Syrian people

The demonstration in Kafranbel in Idlib Province | 17 Aug 2012

From EAWorldView on 8, Aug 2012:
Yesterday we posted reports that Kafranbel, a town in Idlib made famous for its witty protest signs made in English, was under heavy attack by regime forces (map). At the end of the day, there was little news beyond the report that many shells had fallen and many civilians were injured.

The spirit of Kafranbel:
In Kafranbel, in rebel-held Idlib province, I met Abu Yusuf, who had been a policeman for 26 years. His words voice a sentiment shared by the Syrian mainstream: "I don't fast in Ramadan. I pray when my mind isn't busy. I'm a Muslim, but my first religion is humanity. I don't care about the religion of the president. But I'll fight to the death to not be ruled by a murderer."

Link to hundreds of signs, protests and artwork from Kafranbel.

Long Live The Syrian Revolution

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

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Friday, November 16, 2018

Trump have you no shame? Delete these tweets!

Dear President Donald Trump:

Whereas the death toll of 65 from this current round of California wildfires is bound to rise drastically as the final status of the 631 presently listed as missing is determined. Whereas poor forest management is not the cause of this tragedy. Whereas it is the job of the president to lead the nation in times of such tragedy. You should delete these shameless tweets before you visit California again.

Sign the petition at Change.org:
President Trump please delete these shameless tweets before you visit California.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Rise of Xenophobia

After a white supremacist murdered eleven Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue because of their support for Central American immigrants, Amy Goodman on Democracy Now said this about the killer:
Robert Bowers has a history of posting anti-Semitic and xenophobic content.
She put it the same way on the next show:
Bowers has a history of posting anti-Semitic and xenophobic content and was posting on the far-right social media site Gab until just before the shooting.
The Washington Post less charitably called Gab "the white supremacist sanctuary" in a headline.

Xenophobia is a much used word on Democracy Now. It's been used more than two thousand times by Google's count. It is especially favored when describing Donald Trump. Here are a few examples:

22 July 2016 Title:
Classic Authoritarianism: In a Speech Filled with Fear & Xenophobia, Donald Trump Accepts Nomination
28 September 2016:
In the wake of Monday night’s first presidential debate, the establishment Republican Party and conservative newspapers continue to distance themselves from Donald Trump amid increasing accusations of racism, sexism, xenophobia and Islamophobia.
5 September 2017 Title:
Trump Slammed for Siding with “Hate and Xenophobia” by Rescinding DACA for 800,000 “DREAMers”
31 January 2018 Title:
In Xenophobic Speech, Trump Attacks Immigrants, Pushes War with North Korea
Of course, Democracy Now is far from the only white Left organ to make liberal use of the word xenophobia in the age of Trump. It is widely used as an all encompassing super-category under which a host of hatreds or "phobias," including racism can be subsumed. For example, Jacob Bacharach, writing on Jacobin had a similar assessment of the Pittsburgh massacre:
"this murder is a project of the political right, who deploy xenophobia and antisemitism to incite senseless violence"
Calling it xenophobia favors the conclusion that it was "senseless," violence, whereas racist violence has a purpose. It generally serves the economic interests of the capitalist class. Anti-Semitic violence is also employed with a purpose by fascists.

In another example, an article by Joseph Natoli in counterpunch, titled "Über-Globalization or Über-Xenophobia?," 9 September 2016, two months before the election, promoted the view that xenophobia is the natural root of many ethnic, racial, and religious issues. He begins by quoting Jim Harrison:
“We are all naturally xenophobic.”
Before going on to say this about what he calls Über-Globalization:
Revolt against this now remains with Trump and his supporters, its manifesto being what I call über-xenophobia, xenophobia being the mildest preamble to the ugliness of the whole.
And this is how he appears to justify this xenophobia:
Indeed, a fear of difference, whether of skin color, religion, language, culinary passion, dress code or shocking idiosyncrasy, is woven into the cloth of our cultural imaginaries.
We saw a big increase in the usage of the word "xenophobia" on the Left in 2016. That year, the word "xenophobia" was often mobilized to give a minimalist description to the outright racism of the Trump campaign by those out to defeat Clinton by any means necessary. The cardinal sin of the white Left in 2016 was to disparage the distinction between what Clinton represented, another vanilla Democratic regime, and what Trump represented, an extreme white supremacist regime with fascist inclinations. For those on the Left telling progressives "Don't vote! for the lesser of two evils," substituting "xenophobic" for "white supremacist" helped cloud the differences, and sell that very bad advice.

In a pre-midterm Left Voice piece titled "Democrats Were Not "the Lesser Evil" for the Migrant Caravan," Tatiana Cozzarelli recounted the very bad record the Democratic Party has on Central America and immigration, and then argued that progressives should've sat out the midterm elections that took the House away from Trump sycophants. Under the banner of "No Votes for an Anti-Immigrant Party," she wanted to see progressives repeat the same mistake that allowed Trump to win in the first place. She describes Trump supporters as "the xenophobes who are terrified of people rushing to the border." I assume she would also include under that umbrella the "terrified" terrorist who wrote "Screw your optics, I'm going in" before he massacred eleven Jews in Pittsburgh.

Many on the Left position xenophobia as the higher, all encompassing category, with racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim [Islamophobia] attitudes operating as sub-categories of xenophobia. This is how John Reiman, who blogs as the Oakland Socialist, and thinks himself a Marxist, used it in discussions with me. He defines xenophobia simply as "hatred of foreigners" [email 23/7/2018]:
Yes, the anti-immigration issue is and will be used to build the forces of white supremacy, but you could also put it the other way around. In any case, I think that the xenophobia that is being built also has its own component. And let’s not forget that this is a global development. Yes, white supremacy is often part of it elsewhere, but consider this: The Brexit vote was largely an anti immigrant vote, but a large part of that xenophobic, anti immigrant sentiment was directed against Polish immigrants into Britain.
The Poles and white supremacy

Actually, anti-Polish attitudes have their own phobia - polonophobia. More to the point is this BBC News article from 19 July 2012:
The Polish Association of Northern Ireland has called for action after Poland flags were burned in several locations across Belfast on 11 July.

They have described the burning of the flags as "racist intimidation" of the Polish community.
The reason they called it "racist intimidation" and not "xenophobic intimidation" is that it was being done by white supremacist gangs that don't consider the Poles to be really "white," no matter how hard the extreme right-wing government back in Poland tries to be white nationalist. Such are the odd contradictions of "whiteness."

Because Reiman considers the Poles to be "white," he thought they would make a good case for why xenophobia, as opposed to white supremacy, was the operative force at work in this case. What he overlooks is that it is the racists that determine who is "white," and the Poles aren't always considered white.

The white race was invented in the pre-United States between 1650-1705, after the colonial ruling class decided to solve its labor shortage problems with African slave labor, and needed to cobble together the various European nationalities into a new synthetic one that would enforce racial slavery. After about 1690, "white people," and along with the "white race" even started showing up in English language dictionaries.

It wasn't easy to get the various European people to give up their native heritages, and buy into this new synthetic "white race." It isn't widely recognized that the earliest "whites only" legal restrictions {circa 1670s} were not designed so much as to restrict the rights of the few free blacks, as they were to force anyone who was deemed as qualifying for membership in the white race to apply for membership. Under the new racial laws, if you wanted to own land, do legal business, etc, you had to declare yourself "white," not English, Irish, French, or German. The white race was created by force, just as the black race was, and by the same people.

Today, the Trump administration wants to put a citizenship question on the US census. It is widely recognized that the promotion of white supremacy {or as the white Left would say "xenophobia"} is behind this demand. The US census of 1790 recognized only three categories of Americans: “free whites”, “other free people”, and “slaves.” There were many advantages that came with being able to check the "free whites" box. As for the other categories: White slaves {indentured servants} had existed in abundance in the colonies before lifetime racial slavery had become solidified with the Virginia 1705 Slave Codes. By 1790 they were history.

Still, not all whites were free, and the category of "other free people" was a multiracial one that included whites still in bondage or prison, free Africans, native Americans, Asians and others such as the Irish, Jews and Slavs, that weren't initially considered white. Reiman may consider the Poles "white," but they became white much later than white Americans from England, or even Ireland. {The first prototype for white supremacy was the English oppression of the Irish.}

In a piece titled "How do you become “white” in America?," Sarah Kendzior describes the status of Polish immigrants in the United States before 1919 in some detail, and then sums it up by concluding:
The Poles, in other words, were not considered white.
In this period when racism is on the rise, there seems to be a lot of obfuscation about just what is racist. Recently, NBC host Megan Kelly lost her job after asking:
"But what is racist? Because you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface on Halloween,..."
Kendzior gave us a lesser known example of why blackface will forever be associated with racism in her description of how the Poles became white:
In 1919, Irish gangs in blackface attacked Polish neighborhoods in Chicago in an attempt to convince Poles, and other Eastern European groups, that they, too, were “white” and should join them in the fight against blacks. As historian David R. Roediger recalls, “Poles argued that the riot was a conflict between blacks and whites, with Poles abstaining because they belonged to neither group.” But the Irish gangs considered whiteness, as is often the case in America, as anti-blackness. And as in the early 20th century Chicago experienced an influx not only of white immigrants from Europe, but blacks from the South, white groups who felt threatened by black arrivals decided that it would be politically advantageous if the Poles were considered white as well.

Over time, the strategy of positioning Poles as “white” against a dark-skinned “other” was successful. Poles came to consider themselves white, and more importantly, they came to be considered white by their fellow Americans, as did Italians, Greeks, Jews, Russians, and others from Southern and Eastern Europe, all of whom held an ambivalent racial status in U.S. society.
As you can see, the attitude of the Irish to the Poles was all about whether they were to be considered in or out of the white race, so-called xenophobia had little to do with it.

These post-war years were very tumultuous ones for race-relations in the US. During the war, many African Americans migrated North to take part in war production while others went abroad to fight in it. Both were changed by their experiences. In Chicago, the African American population increased from 44,000 in 1909 to more than 100,000 in 1919, when many veterans were returning to find them in the industrial jobs that were "whites only" before the war.

"Xenophobic" groups like the Ku Klux Klan were taking full advantage of these disruptions. The KKK was making a comeback, and bringing racial violence back to the South. There were 64 lynchings in 1918, and another 83 lynchings in 1919. One would hope that such "xenophobic" lynchings are history, but even now, Monday, 12 November 2018, CNN is carrying a story about a white US Senator from Mississippi joking about her desire to sit "front row" at a "public hanging," as she faces a 27 November run-off election against her African American opponent.

In the "Red Summer" of 1919, resentment against the great migration of African Americans from the rural South to the urban North prompted by the war came to a head, and race riots broke out in Washington, D.C.; Knoxville, Tennessee; Longview, Texas; Phillips County, Arkansas; Omaha, Nebraska and Chicago. The riot in Chicago started on 27 July 1919 after an African American teenager was stoned and drowned to death by a group of white youths because he had strayed over an unofficial segregation line. Police refused to arrest the white man that eyewitnesses said was responsible, and that sparked a week of rioting that saw more than a thousand black families burned out of their homes in violence that also took the lives of 15 whites and 23 blacks.

While some of those homes may have been burned by white men in white sheets, others were burned by white men in blackface. Blackface wasn't just for minstrel shows at the time. As Christopher Lamberti wrote in Riot Zone: Chicago 1919:
White men in black grease paint posing as African Americans frequently committed crimes in the South around the turn-of-the-century, and in Chicago as early as 1914, when the Defender complained, "With a blackened face crimes of all kinds are committed and laid at the door of an innocent Afro-American." The number of robberies and assaults by white men in blackface increased in Chicago during the early years of the Great Migration.
Characteristically, some of these blackface crimes involved assaults on white women.

Here's an interesting tidbit that turned up in my research: One of the Irish-American gangs that took part in the riot was the Hamburg Athletic Club. At the time, the legendary mayor of Chicago (1955-1976), Richard J. Daley, was a 17 year old member.

A Polish gang member of that period told researcher Frederick Thrasher, “A Jew or a ni@@er can be a pal of mine if he’s a good fellow.” Such was the contradictory position the Poles occupied in the US at the time. It was in the context of this sharp struggle that Chicago's Poles were finally admitted to the white race, less than a hundred years ago! Some might call this a part of the rich history of "xenophobia," but they would just be misappropriating the history of white supremacy.

It is the racists that get to define the races. Hitler didn't label the Poles white, although he did the English. I'll bet the pro-Brexit "xenophobes" don't see the Polish immigrants as "white" either.

The Rise of Xenophobia

Above is a graph of the popularity of word "xenophobia" from 1800 to 2008, it is based on the Google Books collection as constructed by Google's Ngram Viewer. It seems to indicate that nobody was describing the attitudes of the Irish or Poles in terms of "xenophobia" at the time of these events. The word didn't even get noticeable usage until the 1900s. It saw a steady increase in usage after WWII, followed my a kind of leveling off and then its sharpest rise beginning with the Reagan years. No doubt there has been another sharp rise recently that this tool, which only goes to 2008, can't show. Such has been the meteoric rise of xenophobia over its relatively short life.

Fashioned from the Greek prefix "xeno," and the Greek suffix "phobia," it has the feeling of being a very old term for a timeless condition. In point of fact, it was coined about 1880. It didn't even exist until the 200+ year regime of racial slavery had been overthrown, and white supremacy was re-positioning itself for the age of imperialism.

Xenophobia is a political term and not a recognized medical phobia. Phobias are legitimate anxiety disorders. Those with a genuine fear of something don't seek out and harass the objects of their "phobia." Xenophobic harassment is a method of racist control. A part of the "charm," shall we say, of "xenophobia" is that it masquerades as a psychological disorder when it decidedly is not one. The same can be said about Islamophobia, homophobia, and the above mentioned polonophobia, for that matter. The use of the suffix "phobia" in these cases is a fraudulent one, but clearly it has been embraced by the white Left.

Merriam-Webster tells us a bit more about the history of the word:
Word History
The History of the Word 'Xenophobia'

The word isn't as old as you might think

Xenophobia"fear or hatred of strangers or foreigners"—has the look and feel of a word that has been in the English language for hundreds of years, borne of the tumultuous political climates of the Renaissance and the penchant that many writers back then had for fashioning fancy new words from Latin and Greek. It is not that old. In fact, the word is relatively new (with an emphasis on "relatively"), with all evidence suggesting that it originated near the end of the 19th century. Our earliest citation is from 1880:
Here, however, as in other cases, we are inclined to think that intelligent xenomania is decidedly preferable to the Xenophobia which is of necessity and always unintelligent.
—The Daily News (London, England), 12 April 1880
Xenophobia was formed from a brace of words found in ancient Greek, xenos (which can mean either "stranger" or "guest") and phobos (which can mean either "flight" or "fear"). More...
More History

The use of African slavery in the colonies produced a theory and practise of white supremacy with deep roots that go back to the earliest days of capitalist development. The development of white supremacy was inextricably tied to the creation of the white race itself.

Once richly developed after 200 years of racial slavery, white supremacy became the antecedent from which a multitude of oppressions sprang. It was the model applied to oppress people everywhere, even white workers. For example, the slave owners need to control human reproduction determined much about the status of all women, as white supremacy came to influence the system of domination not only of people of color, but also of nature, and the Earth itself.

How does this compare with the relatively brief history of xenophobia? African slave labor was central to the economic development of the US for a very long time. That was the material basis for the development of white supremacy. This involved detailed and expensive material world elaboration:

Here is just one example from American history: Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia so that the sons of slave owners would not be "corrupted" by a liberal Northern education. A new appraisal of Jefferson's role in creating UVA, issued just this year by the university admitted to “his vision in creating a southern pro-slavery Ivy League school.” He wanted UVA to be “an institution with slavery at its core.” What this meant is that Jefferson created a university in which every course was corrupted by white supremacy, because truth could not be allowed to interfere with commerce. Such were the foundations of white supremacy. Upon what pillars does "xenophobia" stand, beyond the assertion that it is natural and forever?

Since "xenophobia" as a concept that has earned it own word goes back a little over a hundred years, it is hard to credit it with a long history, or with having great impact on social development before it was recognized. Generally, when it is proposed as a reason for behavior today, it is given no particular foundation in economic development. Instead it is left to stand on its own as though the term explains itself.

Nativism, Tribalism and Identitarian

Two other words often associated with xenophobic behavior, tribalism and nativism, turn out to be older than xenophobia, but not much older. Etymonline.com dates nativism from the US anti-immigrant movement ~ 1845, and tribalism from 1868. Identitarian is too new for Etymonline.com to find, but the Ngram Viewer has it showing up around 1938. Although it is the least used of any on this list, it has been sharply trending up since 1991. It also is a white supremacist movement by another name.

Here is what the Google Books Ngram Viewer tells us about the usage of white supremacy, xenophobia, nativism, tribalism, and identitarian.

We can see that since 1954, the year of the Supreme Court school desegregation decision, xenophobia  had pretty much caught up with white supremacy, and has been running neck-and-neck with it ever since.  Tribalism and nativism have been bringing up the rear, with identitarian looking for market share.

In Australia, the "nativists" adopted "White Australia" as their policy. Asian immigration was severely restricted, and most Pacific Islanders were deported. When Japan tried to get a racial equality clause included in the Covenant of the League of Nations at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, Australia collaborated with Britain to block it. Japan's own Wajin supremacy having developed around 1880, after being influence by white supremacists from the West and their pseudo-scientific ideas about race.

In the United States, the nativists were first represented by the Native American Party, more commonly called the Know Nothings. Abraham Lincoln had no trouble seeing the racism of these "nativists," he wrote in a 24 August 1855 letter to Joshua Speed:
I am not a Know-Nothing—that is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes." When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equals, except negroes and foreigners and Catholics." When it comes to that I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty—to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.
From the above we can gather that one difference Lincoln had with the Know Nothings was that he considered "foreigners and Catholics" to be among the "classes of white people," and they didn't.

What is being sold to us as xenophobia, nativism, and tribalism are recent elaborations of white supremacy. All were founded long after it, and like symbolic links, have no independent existence without it. Of course, their promoters can always go back and claim various early behaviors represented xenophobia, just as they can claim the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans were "white," no matter what color they really were, or how little attention they paid to it.

When you include racism in the NGram chart, all the others fade towards insignificance.

After racial slavery had finally been overthrown, and while black reconstruction was being overthrown, and white supremacy was being refitted for a larger, if subtler role, under imperialism, "xenophobia" was created as a way of excusing white supremacy without ever even acknowledging it.

Google Trends show us how "xenophobia" has been doing lately. I find it curious that it peaked so sharply just when Trump was becoming president.

In Summary

Xenophobia is often used by the white Left to describe the motivation behind the current anti-immigrant movement. They are doing the fascist a great service by promoting this limited framework. Xenophobia is made to stand in as reason enough to explain anti-immigrant attitudes without invoking racism, but the white supremacists who are building the anti-immigrant agitation are consciously trying to create a white supremacist fascist state. They see the anti-immigrant agitation as but a step up the ladder, even while the white Left strives to disguise the danger by explaining away the current movement with talk of "xenophobia," and such.

What these various white Left commentators are doing is very dangerous because this explanation for racist behavior tend to favor the white nationalist argument for ethnostates.  If there is a natural fear of people that are different, say different skin color, maybe the best thing for all is that we go our separate ways. People of color can leave the US, or live under a white apartheid regime. This is genocidal nonsense, but it is what the white nationalists conclude about xenophobia.

It is also dangerous because it divorces racism from its material and historic roots. It favors thinking of racism as simply a personal dislike of the others, so all people can be racists, just as all people can be xenophobic or whatever. It is no longer connected to that long history in which the employers of labor systematically used differences in skin color to divide the laborers between white and black. This opens the door to the situation in which our "xenophobic" president is publicly accusing African American reporters of being racist.

This too, is part of a plan. Last week Trump verbally attacked three female African American reporters. Observers have noted that he has a record of attacking black women, including Michelle ObamaApril RyanAbby PhillipBrenda SnipesMia LoveMyeshia JohnsonRep. Frederica WilsonJemele HillSusan Rice, and Rep. Maxine Waters to name a few. This is a program fully supported by Fox News and the rest of the Alt-Right [white supremacist] media. This week they are also loudly blaming a black women for incompetence and voter fraud in Florida. We can expect a lot more of this. They have long vilified African American men, but they understand that if they are to build white support for taking down a people, they must vilify the women as well.

Likewise, the have seized upon the issue of immigration as a gateway to much more extreme white supremacists' policies. They know exactly what they are doing. They have a plan to lead people step by step to accept conditions and commit atrocities that most who consider themselves anti-immigrant would find unthinkable now. The white Left is obliging this white supremacist movement by blaming the current anti-immigrant/anti-Muslim movements on "xenophobia," and failing to expose its deeper roots and long-term program.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

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