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

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Fox News host @kilmeade compares refugee caravan to oil spill

This morning on Outnumbered, Fox News personality Brian Kilmeade said that he thought all US citizens should see the refugees fleeing violence as if they were an oil spill head towards our shores:

There are difficult issues to figure out, and they're easy issues to figure out where both parties stand, but I thought this would be as black and white as the Deepwater Horizon oil leak, when everyone who saw when that platform exploded, that oil leaking into the water in the Gulf, they said "We've got to stop that!" And Obama paid the price because it took forever to do it, he was just starting. We all agreed "Stop the oil leak!"

When you have eight thousand people, roughly, marching towards our border, who we know nothing about, who Sarah Carter just told me on the radio, she's in Guatemala, most of them are men, very few families. We know nothing about them, coming to our border. I would think Democrats and Republicans would go "Yeah, this is a problem. We have a System."
Dehumanizing immigrants and refugees in not new on Fox News, their mouthpieces gleefully parrot President Donald Trump when he implies all undocumented Latinos are MS-13, and refers to these immigrants as "animals," but this may represent a new low in their efforts to stoke the genocidal side of racism.

Fancying myself something of a wordsmith, I can appreciate how well crafted these 146 words are. First, he adopts a causal attitude while stating that his position is a "no-brainer," that the only two possible parties, or positions, obviously should agree with it. With that out of the way, he brings to mind questions of race with his reference to "black and white." There is a lot being done with those three words here, so we must spend a minute on them.

Those words are used often in reference to race on Fox News, so naturally they bring to mind that topic, but here Kilmeade is using them as synonyms for "good" and "bad," or "right" and "wrong." These are the primary, immutable, even pre-cultural meanings of these words. The application of the word "white" to the European settlers in the "New World," and eventually to Europeans everywhere, and the simultaneous labeling of Africans, or in many cases, all people of color, as "black," are secondary definitions these words acquired less than 400 years ago as African slavery was being established in colonial America. The original trick of white supremacy was the fraudulent claiming of the label "white," together with all its virtuals, for a selected group of people based on a lighter skin color. I have written more about this in The two meanings of white. Here Kilmeade encapsulates all of that in his choice of these three words as he segues into his racist analogy: He compares people fleeing violence to an oil leak that needs to be stopped.

Eight thousand was an over-estimation when he said it.

The choice of "roughly" as a synonym for "approximately" was also not an accident. It was designed to support the image of men marching towards our border, and to support the lie that this is not a caravan of families, which it is.

He brings up Obama, but then gives him a pass. This is to show that he's not a racist.

He has the gall to claim "We know nothing about them," in spite of the fact that, by now, just about every major news organization in the US, including Fox News, has reporters among the marchers. The message: They aren't human like us, a point he makes twice.

He evokes these racist images of white and black again with his oil spill analogy. He doesn't have to mention the colors again. The image he brings to mind is that of black oil spoiling our white beaches.

These forty seconds simply reek with racist imagery. This was a purposefully crafted statement, almost certainly read from a teleprompter. It was no accidental outburst. Fox News is quite consciously attempting to create a fear of immigrants of color coming to what they project as a white country under siege. The way they chose to do this lays the psychological basis for the most inhumane treatment of refugees, including genocidal mass murder. After all, we put fire on advancing oil slicks to stop them from reaching our shores, didn't we?

Attempting to contain Deepwater-Horizon oil spill with fire
Honduran migrant caravan on the move
Oil soaked pelicans from the spill (Daniel Beltra/Greenpeace)
Fox News lies, many women & children are in the caravan
Every major genocide of the last century was proceeded by a propaganda campaign carried out by  media outlets designed to paint the targeted people as less than human. In Rwanda, it was radio stations that called the Tutsi "cockroaches," in Nazi Germany, Goebbels' control of all media labeled the Jews as "rats." Now we have Fox News referring to refugees as an oil leak. David Moshman wrote about the role such dehumanization plays in promoting genocide in a paper titled "Us and Them: Identity and Genocide," 2007 Department of Educational Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
In dehumanization, those deemed to be members of the out-group are denied the status of persons. Rather than being seen as members of a human community with individual identities of their own, they are construed as elements of a subhuman, nonhuman, or antihuman collective (Woolf & Hulsizer, 2005).

In the period leading up to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, for example, the Tutsi were persistently portrayed in Hutu Power propaganda as inyenzi, cockroaches. Not only were they a group distinct from the Hutu, regardless of their individual identity commitments, but they were increasingly construed as a group distinct from humanity, not capable of meaningful individual identities. Thus the killing of Tutsi was no more a violation of individual rights than the killing of cock roaches or, in another metaphor also popularized by Hutu Power, the pulling of weeds. On the contrary, given the threat allegedly posed by the Tutsi to the future of Rwanda, their elimination was deemed a moral imperative.

Similarly, a key aspect of the path to the Holocaust was the relentless dehumanization of Jews (Stannard, 1998, pp. 182–183). As Germans with Jewish ancestry were increasingly seen as Jews above all else, they came to be seen as less than fully German, and ultimately as less than fully human, part of a nonhuman mass of Jews. For Hitler, Jews were anti-human. Weitz (2003) provides a concise summary of the biological metaphors of Hitler’s Mein Kampf: “Jews were the maggots feeding on a rotting corpse, the parasites that had to be surgically removed, the sexual predators preying on German women, a spider that sucks people’s blood, a plague worse than the Black Death, the sponger who spreads like a noxious bacillus and then kills his host” (p. 106). Franz Stangl, in contrast, did not share Hitler’s animosity toward Jews, but Stangl’s blander dehumanizations were sufficient to enable him to serve as commandant of the death camp Treblinka (Moshman, 2005b; Sereny, 1983). To him the Jews were more like “cattle,” a mindless herd, making its way toward the slaughterhouse where it would be transformed into “a mass of rotting flesh” that “had nothing to do with humanity.” The Jews were “cargo” to be transported and their bodies were “garbage” to be disposed of. “I rarely saw them as individuals,” he explained. “It was always a huge mass.” (Sereny, 1983, p. 201)
This brings us right back to the Fox News analogy of the Honduran refugee masses hoping to be saved by coming to the United States as a dirty, smelly, dark, oil slick approaching our white beaches. A danger that clearly must be warded off at all costs. This is first rate racist propaganda. Goebbels would be jealous.

In many racist memes, the people to be dehumanized are called some other animal, like a monkey, rat, or cockroach, in Kilmeade's metaphor, the Honduran refugees aren't even considered animals, not even the distressed oil-soaked birds above. They are likened to the oil.

Its hard to imagine a more racist projection. Its easy to see how it supports the psychology of genocide. A billionaire's corporation is promoting this in the United States today for a reason.

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Monday, October 15, 2018

UPDATED: Did Trump just confirm Khashoggi's murder?

I don't know if he even knows that he has done that, but that's my opinion. You are certainly entitled to your own. What he said this morning, according to the Washington Post, is:
“I just spoke with the King of Saudi Arabia, and he denies any knowledge of what took place with regards to, as he said, to Saudi Arabia’s citizen,” Trump said while talking to reporters Monday morning. “He firmly denies that.”

“We are going to leave nothing uncovered,” Trump said later about the investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance. “With that being said, the king firmly denies any knowledge of it. He didn’t really know, maybe, I don’t want to get into his mind, but it sounded to me like maybe it could have been rogue killers, who knows? We’re going to try get to the bottom of it very soon, but his was a flat denial.” [emphasis added]
So the Donald has talked to the King and now he is blabbing about it. We don't know how many times the King denied having any knowledge about Khashoggi's disappearance on the phone to Trump, but we do know that Trump has repeated that denial three times in this short statement that was also at pains to point out that while Khashoggi may have been a Washington Post reporter and a legal United States resident, he was also a subject of the King. Trump said he didn't "want to get into [the King's] mind," but! "it sounded to me like maybe it could have been rogue killers." Why would he say that if the King denied having any knowledge of his "disappearance?" It sounds to me like after his talk with the King,Trump was left with no doubt that Khashoggi had been murdered, and now he has already moved on to shifting the blame away from the Kingdom.

I hope that at the next WHPC some reporter will ask just what the King said that made Trump think that Khashoggi had been murdered.

That's my take. What say you?

UPDATE 1:04PM PT: CNN's Clarissa Ward is reporting the Kingdom is preparing to admit that Khashoggi was killed in an interrogation gone bad. Was their hand forced by Trump's blabbing about "rogue killers," or has he been a part of this operation against Khashoggi from the beginning?

UPDATED 16 Oct. 7:00 PM PT: When I started writing this post yesterday, it was to make a different point, and it had a different title. I tabled that draft when I realized that the really important point to be made about Trump's "rogue killers" statement was that it was the first time either a US or Saudi official talked like he knew Khashoggi had been murdered. That was the breaking news yesterday.

Today, it seems appropriate to return to that original theme in light of a new statement from Trump. Yesterday, the first draft of this post began:

What do "rogue killers" have to do with Kavanaugh?

Does anyone else see a curious congruence between the way Trump & Company handled Dr. Christie Ford's allegations of attempted rape by Brett Kavanaugh, and the way they are handling the way they are handling the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi?

Turkey has alleged that Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi Arabian embassy. They say they have convincing evidence, although no corpse has been found, or is likely to be found in the Turkish allegations are true.

In both cases they use a mis-applied presumption of innocence, combined with what they consider a lack of convincing evidence, to allow them to act like the crime never even happened.

The most curious thing about the way that they handled Dr. Ford's allegation that she was 100% sure that it was Kavanaugh that tried to rape her, was to say "We believe Dr. Ford." meaning they believe "somebody" tried to rape her, but she was just wrong about it being Kavanaugh.

With Trump's response this morning to a reporters question about the Khashoggi disappearance, it sounds like he wants to have it both ways again: "maybe it could have been rogue killers, who knows?"  Meaning, he now believes Khashoggi was murdered, just not by the Kingdom.

Yesterday I abandoned that draft. Today the New York Post is reporting:
Trump compares Khashoggi ‘murder’ to Kavanaugh accusations

By Tamar Lapin
16 October 2018
President Trump criticized those pointing fingers at Saudi Arabia in the case of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi — comparing the situation to the sexual assault allegations leveled against US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

“Here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I don’t like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I’m concerned,” Trump said Tuesday.

Trump warned of a rush to judgement in the case.

“I think we have to find out what happened first,” he said. More...
So, like I said. Its not at all surprising that Trump sees this obscene and curious congruence, since he is the author of it.

UPDATE: Wednesday Thoughts: I suspect Trump so strongly denies the murder of Khashoggi by MBS because there are some US reporters that he would like to murder himself. If he is empowered by a GOP victory in November, journalists everywhere had better watch their backs.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Brett Kavanaugh and the Resistance Color Code

There are a thousand and one ways in which our misogynistic and racist culture is passed on and fortified. This is a story about one of them.

I was reminded of this one by the recent testimony about the serial sexual abuse of young girls by the youthful Brett Kavanaugh. It comes from my own education in technology. That began with an early interest in electricity and electronics. One of my earliest accomplishments in the field was earning a Merit Badge for Electricity from the Boy Scouts of America. It must have been about the same time I was first learning about resistors, and the color code used to mark them.

Resistors are electrical components used very frequently in electrical or electronic circuits. They are used to provide resistance to the flow of electricity. That resistance is measured in Ohms[Ω]. An Ohm is a measure of, well, electrical resistance. The unit was named after Georg Ohm, a 19th century German Physicist who gave us Ohm's Law, among other things. 1Ω really isn't much resistance at all, so in electronics, more often we talk in terms of kiloohms or megaohms. Resistors come in a wide range of resistances, and since most are very small, simply printing the resistance on them, something like 470KΩ, just isn't workable. I wouldn't have been able to read them even when my eyes were young. Instead they are marked by a series of colored bands. Each color stands for a number, or a power of ten. The colors are Black = 0 or 100, Brown = 1 or 101, Red = 2 or 102, Orange = 3 or 103, Yellow = 4 or 104, Green = 5 or 105, Blue = 6 or 106, Violet = 7 or 107, Gray = 8 or 108, White = 9 or 109.

Typical Resistor Color Code Chart
Now you know how to read resistors, so long as you can remember the colors used, and their proper order. Mnemonics can be very helpful in remembering sequences like these, and that is where the connection to the Kavanaugh saga comes to mind, because the most widely used mnemonic for teaching the resistance color code has been this:
Bad Boys Rape Our Young Girls But Violet Gives Willingly
As you can see, the first letter of each word in this memorable little phrase corresponds to the first letter of the color that occupies that position in the resistance color code. As such, it has historically been an easy way to teach this essential piece of knowledge for anyone working with electrical or electronic hardware. I was probably first taught it, with a snicker, about the same time I was earning that Merit Badge in the Boy Scouts.

Now, it is easy to see that this racy mnemonic also taught something else to the overwhelmingly male technology students it was aimed at. It made the violent crime of rape out to be something frivolous, while at the same time it divided women between "good" and "bad" depending on if force was necessary to have sex with them. It also was, all by itself, another barrier women had to overcome to pursue careers in a number of well-paying, male dominated, fields.

Years later, I found there was an even worst version of this mnemonic. Perhaps I was shielded from it because it combined racism with the misogyny. This is from a European electronics manual:

Here is an industry-standard mnemonic e-mailed by Bill Woods for recalling the order and value of colour-markings on resistors. Although a politically/socially dubious phrase, it has nevertheless served to teach budding electronics engineers the code successfully for many years.

"Black Boys Rape Our Young Girls, But Violet Gives Willingly."
I wasn't shielded from discrimination as I developed my technology career. In this version, "our" applied both to the men who needed to remember this bit of technological trivia, and the "young girls," and it went without saying that both were understood to be "white." This racist version may indeed be more popular in Europe. The Daily Mail had this report about a teacher using it lately:
Teacher who taught pupil racist 'rape' rhyme so he
could remember lesson is guilty of misconduct

25 February 2011
Teacher James Hersey of Hove, East Sussex, holding a circuit
board: He claims the rhyme he was taught in the 1950s
helps to remember a colour coding system for resistors
A supply teacher who taught a racist rhyme to a pupil - which included the vile phrase 'Black Boys Rape Our Young Girls' - has been found guilty of professional misconduct.

James Hersey, 68, taught the shocking mnemonic to a 16-year-old boy who was revising a wiring colour coding system for electronic resistors.

He taught the boy the ditty: 'Black Boys Rape Our Young Girls, But Virgins Go Without.' Each word represents the first letter of the colours in the code which are; black, brown, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, grey and white. More...
Hersey's version of this little ditty packs quite a few "collateral" social lessons into this memory exercise. In addition to the trivialization of rape contained in all versions, and the racist element added to some versions, his version promotes the view that women or girls who are raped, are raped because they want it, after all, "virgins go without."

Christine Blasey Ford's heartfelt testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court showed the lifelong damage that can be caused by teenage acts of sexual violence that are encouraged and trivialized by teaching methods such as this one. I'm not sure if this mnemonic is still used anywhere else in the past seven years. I certainly hope not. Clearly, it's time has passed.

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