Saturday, June 13, 2009

Dialogue from "Anne and Emmett"

I thought this was pretty damned powerful:

In the play, Anne and Emmett meet in a place called Memory. She's in a room, working on her famous diary, when Emmett appears against the backdrop of a tree with a noose hanging from a limb.

Emmett: "After all we've been through, Anne, we get to be just a moment in someone's mind? All they have to do is remember? That's it? They don't have to do anything?"

Anne: "I have an idea. . . . Tikkun olam. From the Talmud. It means a moral obligation to repair the world. . . . That's what we can do. Join forces and repair the world."

You can find out more about "Anne and Emmett" here.

Border vigilantes arrested for murder

Unlike some of the other recent examples of right-wing violence, this one appears to not be overtly politically motivated as such - rather it seems more the case of some predators wanting to score some quick cash, and had a convenient victim from a group they had dehumanized in mind. Here's a few tidbits from various sources, starting with the Arizona Star (linked above):
Three people, including the leader of a border watch group and an officer within that group, were arrested in connection with a May 30 home invasion that left a father and his daughter dead and the mother wounded, authorities said.

One of those arrested, Shawna Forde, is the leader of Minutemen American Defense, a group out of Washington state that conducts operations along the U.S.-Mexican border in Arizona. The group is not related to either the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps founded by Chris Simcox, or the Minuteman Project founded by Jim Gilchrist.


Several men and a woman claiming to be police officers forced their way into the home in the middle of the night May 30 and killed the pair. The girl's mother was wounded, and investigators believe she returned fire, injuring Bush, Dupnik said.
Dupnik painted a grim picture of the tragedy during a press conference Friday at the Sheriff's Department headquarters.

Raul Flores was a suspected drug dealer, and the three suspects targeted the house with the intention of stealing money and drugs, he said.

Bush was the suspected shooter, Dupnik said.
They did not plan to leave any survivors, he said. "The plan was to kill everyone. To kill a 9-year-old because she might be a potential witness is one of the most despicable acts I've heard of."

Dupnik said Forde and her cohorts even searched for the couple's other daughter, who had spent the night at her grandmother's, with the intention of killing her.


Forde is executive director of Minutemen American Defense, a border watch group that claims to secure the U.S. Border from human and drug trafficking, according to its Web site.

The Minutemen American Defense group is not associated with the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps, said Al Garza, vice president of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps.
Forde was a leader with the Civil Defense Corps a few years ago but was dismissed after a few months because of leadership issues, he said.

Garza did not have a working relationship with Forde, but he met her when she came to Arizona in 2005, he said.

"She showed signs of poor leadership, but I didn't see any wrongdoing," he said.
From Raw Story an additional bit of information about Forde's organization:

The group's Web site, which does not appear to bear any mention of Jason Bush, places the group as actively involved in the "tea parties" which swept right-wing media around tax day.

The group also takes space on its front page to equate the rallying themes which drove the Confederate states to revolt, leading to the U.S. civil war, with today's 10th Amendment protesters.

According to KVOA's website:
"If you look at her history closely, and you know what we know, she is at best a pyschopath," says Sheriff Dupnik referring to Forde during a press conference Friday.
Jeralyn at Talk Left says in regard to Sheriff Dupnik's statement:
The Sheriff is understandably upset at these horrible murders, but he needs to button his lip and avoid prejudicing a potential jury pool and possibly jeopardizing any potential future conviction with statements like these
See also ImmigrationProf, TPM, and skippy. I'm sure in the weeks and months to come we'll learn more about what motivated this particular crime. I'm guessing that once one gets into vigilante behavior, it gets increasingly easy to cross all sorts of lines that one would otherwise not cross.

Tweets of hate redux

Some of the recent twitter chatter in the aftermath of the Holocaust Museum shooting by neo-Nazi James von Brunn:
JoAnneMoretti: How are they still calling Von Brunn Right wing? The guy was a Dem, hates Jews, Bush and neo-cons. That's left wing! Get it straight!
iskidd: von Brunn hated blacks, jews, Fox News and the Federal Gov't. Total left wing socialist anti-semite Huffpo freak
HuntzHall: The NUTJOB LEFTISTS want to draw a line between Von Brunn and the right-wing. ("Reprehensible" would be a good word here!)
ewerickson: von Brunn's writings show he'd have been banned ASAP at RedState, but would have enjoyed a long career as a recommended diarist at DailyKos.
ConservativeGal: They want to blame Ann Coulter & conservatives for James Von Brunn's anti-semitism views! Liberal whining at its premium best! LOL
bweintraub: James Von Brunn, Like Most Holocaust Deniers are From the Left not the Right
jazzbokoontz: How is von Brunn a right-wing extremist? He hates Bush, O'Reilly, neo-cons, believes Bush and Jews set up 9-11. That's right-wing? BS.
Scott_ATL: Anderson Cooper last night continued to refer to James Von Brunn as a "Right Wing Extremist". Wise up Anderson and CNN.
Con_Brawler: Von Brunn hated Christianity, Conservatism and Capitalism and had plans to attack the Weekly Standard. A right-winger he was NOT.
clstrout: Racist Museum Shooter Outspoken Liberal
Waiting4Godot: von Brunn #falseflag to destroy 9/11 truth, stop 'Audit the Fed' bill, repeal #2A, stop calls for end to Israel expansion,criminalize speech
johnyaya137: James Von Brunn is From the Left
JRuppert: Turns out the Holocaust Museum killer James von Brunn was a registered Democrat who hated conservatives,..A fact left out by the media.
A few thoughts. First, the chatter is considerably more subdued than it was with regard to Dr. Tiller's assassination. It should be mentioned that for the most part (and this was true for the various tweets regarding Tiller and the man who assassinated him, Roeder) the comments are ones of shock, dismay, and disgust at what von Brunn perpetrated. One can, I think, take some comfort that most folks, from most perspectives, seem to understand the consequences of extremism when they see them.

The chatter regarding von Brunn's alleged party affiliation fits in with the meme that has been floated in right-wing circles of von Brunn as a "leftist'. At this point, I think it's time to ditch some of the tribalism inherent in such commentary and look at what party affiliation might or might not mean. If I were to read somewhere that an octogenarian who harbored anti-black and anti-Jewish sentiments and identified with white supremacist movements was also a registered Democrat, I would be thoroughly unsurprised. Let's just say if one were to look at the bulk of my relatives (some close, most distant) from von Brunn's age cohort or older, most of them were lifelong Democrats. At the time when these people were reaching adulthood, the Democratic Party in the US was very hostile toward any effort to achieve racial equality. Hell, the party had a stranglehold on the former Confederate states, with their Jim Crow laws. Although some of von Brunn's cohort would have re-registered GOP in 1960s or 1970s once the Dems had taken some baby steps toward racial equality, many would keep their registration unchanged (many of these folks would become our "Reagan Democrats"). What I'm trying to convey here is that not too long ago, it would have been perfectly consistent to be a registered Democrat and also hold, say, a KKK membership - and although that particular demographic is mostly dying out, there are a few of them clinging to life. From conversations I can still recall with some of my own relatives of that age group while they were still alive, I can assure you there was nothing liberal about them.

I would also say a few things about the 9-11 truthers. These folks come from all over the political map, although my experience is that the majority of them are pretty right-wing in their political views, prone to conspiracy theories, and highly dogmatic. That one can find a sample of these truthers convinced that von Brunn's behavior is some sort of false flag operation just further convinces me of the general wackiness of much of that movement.

Finally, I'm noticing in the chatter on twitter as well as on various other sites around the Internet toobz a tendency by right-wingers to conflate (at least implicitly) criticism of Israeli treatment of Palestinians on some centrist/center-"left" sites such as Daily Kos with being anti-Jewish. I'd offer that being critical of the genocidal behavior of the Israeli government doesn't make one anti-Jewish any more than being critical of the genocidal behavior of the Nazi government in the 1930s and 1940s would have made one anti-German. From what I remember of Daily Kos, just as an example, I always had the distinct impression that someone spouting Holocaust denialism (as von Brunn has done for ages) would not last more than a handful of comments before being banned. Hell, as it is, even mild criticism of Israel gets one in all manner of hot water at Daily Kos.

Speaking of denial, again, it's striking as to how right-wingers are in denial regarding the role that so many of their authority figures have fanned the flames, have created a Zeitgeist in which a substantial subset of their own kindred spirits might view violence against various out-groups as acceptable. The extent to which right-wing political, religious, and media figures have vilified and dehumanized a variety of targeted groups, such as liberals, pro-choicers, undocumented immigrants, Arabs, Muslims, and educators is awe-inspiring. In fact, you'd have to really stretch to find any such comparable rhetoric among those viewed as leaders among what passes for a left in the US. Nor are you likely to find much in the way of incitement to violence among leftist or left-leaning political, religious, or media figures that seems to be quite prominent in the rhetoric among right-wingers.

If I have time, there are more remarks that I'll want to make. As it is, I've already taken myself away from some other projects for longer than I intended.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A more positive anniversary

Larry E has the goods:
I could not let today pass without noting that it is the 27th anniversary of the largest peace demonstration in US history, when somewhere between 750,000 and 1 million people gathered in Central Park in New York City to call for an end to the nuclear arms race.

No, the movement did not achieve its goal; the danger of nuclear weapons is still with us, only now it's tucked away out of our awareness except when a little fear-mongering about Iran and/or North Korea seems useful. But still, this was a campaign that did more than move mountains, it moved nations, altered the policies of governments, and changed forever the image of nukes from "protection" to "risk."

Looking back on it, I'm struck by two things: One is the energy, the verve, the yes excitement that stands in such contrast to the jacket-and-tie mien of so many of the leading voices of the "movement" (the quotes are deliberate) today, who seem to regard such hairy, chaotic, "still crazy after all these years" actions as pointless and icky even though they are precisely the kinds of things that pried open the gates to the halls of power through which they have passed to exert their supposed but largely symbolic influence.

The other is the real sense of hope that drove the whole thing. Sure, there was a fear of nuclear war involved, but fear is a paralyzing emotion, not an energizing one. I remember the story of a teacher at the time who asked a class if they were afraid of a nuclear war. Every student raised their hand except one girl. When the teacher asked her why she wasn't afraid, she said "Because my mommy and daddy go to meetings to keep it from happening." The hope drives out the fear.
I was a teen at the time. A few months after that demo, sometime in the spring of 1983, my high school would have a teach-in on nuclear war. It too was based on hope - that is the hope that my age group would become educated enough to do something to reduce the number of nukes on the planet.

When one considers the context in which the anti-nuclear war protest of 1982 occurred, it appeared to be a pretty scary time. The basic fear at the time was of a nuclear war between the US and USSR - a fear fed with generous doses of propaganda and in Christianist circles by a profitable cottage industry of apocalyptic-themed books and audiotapes. There was also concern that El Salvador or Nicaragua would be my generation's Vietnam, given that there had been some effort to bang the war drums in response to the Sandinistas' recent victory in Nicaragua and the FMLN's insurgency in El Salvador. The US government managed to wage a war by proxy in that region instead, and the next Vietnam would have to await the present decade.

Back to Larry:
In my very first post here, over 51/2 years ago, I quoted myself as having told a friend "The truth is, my hope is nearly gone. My anger is the only thing that keeps me going." In the intervening time, I've realized that's not entirely true. The anger feeds the awareness of injustice and fuels the wording, but it's the hope that keeps the flame alive, generates the heat in which righteous anger can dwell, and it's the times when the hope is at a low ebb that the fire is coolest and thus the drive is the weakest.

So today, I'd like everyone to look back (or, for the grayer among us, think back) twenty-seven years and take some pleasure and some encouragement in seeing and sensing what hope - hope based in ideas and ideals, not merely elections - looks and feels like.
Something to think about as we make our way through this current bleak time.

More change you can believe in

The Pope of Hope defends the awful DOMA.

There is also news that the White House is using some strong-arm tactics on freshman congresscritters to vote "yes"on a war funding bill that also includes giving a generous $100 billion line of credit to the IMF (a perpetrator of neoliberal shock "therapy" that has left countless people all over the world impoverished and displaced). We'll see if there are enough Dems to actually push back (I am not holding my breath).

Oh, and just so we are clear on who Obama really believes he works for, get ready for some nasty austerity budget policies in the near future. Not to worry, though - the banksters won't be the ones who starve, nor will war profiteers.

I still have yet to figure why so-called progressives are still so keen on this guy, or some of the other yokels that many of them were shilling for in the primaries last year.

White Nationalist Speaks at Pat Buchanan's American Cause Conference

Buchanan always has given me the creeps. That he has a white supremacist perspective should be obvious to anyone who has had access to any print, audio, video, or internet media at any point in the last few decades. This cat is still taken seriously by our corporate overlords (which should tell us a thing or two about what drives our elites at least implicitly). So a prominent white nationalist will be appearing at a Buchanan-run event - and we're supposed to be surprised? Look at the dude's track record:
Buchanan himself has appeared at least twice on a neo-Nazi radio show; one appearance was streamed live on Stormfront, one of the most prominent white supremacist online forums.
A real class act.

"Just imagine how forgetful I'll be when I'm eighty!"

Today would have been Anne Frank's 80th birthday. Wikipedia has a decent capsule summary of her all-too-brief life and legacy.

Humor according to the American Taliban

The blogger cognitive dissident asks, WTF is wrong with these people?
If we lived in a world where crazed conservative gun nuts weren't shooting up liberal churches and immigration centers, killing cops, assassinating doctors, and murdering Holocaust Museum security guards, shit like this (h/t: Chris at Cynical-C) might be marginally humorous:
Of course cognitive dissident reminds us of a similar such "liberal hunting permit" from earlier in the decade:
Now, whatever incidents in our recent past cognitive dissident doesn't cover, Sara at Orcinus does:
Wednesday, January 21 -- the day after the inauguration -- 22-year-old Keith Luke goes on a rape and killing spree in his Boston neighborhood. He rapes and kills one woman, and kills the sister who tries to help her. He then goes out onto the street and shoots a passing homeless man. Police intercept him on his way to a local synagogue, where he tells them he intended to "kill as many Jews as possible during bingo night." He also tells investigators that he was fighting the extinction of the white race, and had stockpiled 200 round of ammunition to that end.

Tuesday, February 10 -- In Belfast, Maine, radioactive "dirty bomb" materials are found in home of James Cummings, who had been killed by his wife after years of domestic violence. Cummings was an admirer of Adolf Hitler; a large collection of Nazi memorabilia and a filled-out application for the National Socialist Movement were found on the scene.

Thursday, February 26 -- In Miramar Beach, FL, 60-year-old Dannie Baker walks into a neighboring townhouse where 14 Chilean students -- all in the US legally -- are gathered. He fires, killing two and wounding five. Those who know Baker describe him as a mentally ill man obsessed with the fear that immigrants are taking over the country.

Sunday, April 5 -- Budding white supremacist and recently discharged veteran Richard Popalowski shoots and kills three police officers following a standoff in Pittsburgh. They were responding to a domestic disturbance call. He believed they had been sent by the Obama Adminstration to take away his guns.

Tuesday, April 28 -- US Army Reservist Joshua Cartwright shoots and kills two sheriff's deputies in Fort Walton Beach, FL. His wife called police from the emergency room after he beat her. In the incident report, his wife reported that her husband believed the U.S. Government was conspiring against him, and was severely disturbed that Barack Obama had been elected President.

Wednesday, May 6 -- Stephen P. Morgan of Middletown, CT kills former NYU classmate Johanna Justin-Jinich, whom he had been harassing since at least 2007. A diary found in his belongings included an entry: "I think it's ok to kill Jews and go on a killing spree" and "Kill Johanna. She must Die." Justin-Jinich was Jewish, and the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor.
We live in some creepy times, folks.

Say hello to

anna missed

Back to writing letters

Dear Bill O'Reilly:

With regards to why women might hide their identities on a political website, you might take that one functioning brain cell and consider the right-wing terror you and your esteemed colleagues have fomented.


A Pseudonymous Blogger

Thursday, June 11, 2009

And they get their marching orders

Apparently, in some warped parallel universe, an avowed white-supremacist Holocaust denier is not a right-wing extremist, but might as well be a blogger on Daily Kos. Thank Limbaugh for setting everyone straight. Never mind that in the real universe, even sensible conservatives see that kind of talk for what it is: stupidity at its most blatant. What I think is actually happening is that folks like Roeder and von Brunn are just a bit too similar to many of the wingnut koolaid drinkers who ooze their way through the internet toobz for their own comfort, and facing up to the mounting prospects that their hatred has the same effect on potential right-wing assassins and bombers as steroids on someone with serious anger-management issues is causing them to look for any way to put some distance between themselves and the monstrous consequences they helped to create.

Update - The stupidest commentary read or heard today: von Brunn is just like a lesbian studies major, according to some bozo named Andrew Breitbart. Let me guess - Rush is handing out free samples of Oxycontin to his followers. Something that should debunk the "von Brunn as leftist" meme is von Brunn's old defunct website that someone has managed to re-create. I don't see too many lefties worrying about the destruction of "the white gene pool", or who link to Stormfront, Order of White Knights, or the Institute for Historical Review (Stormfront and IHR are listed as hate groups by the SPLC; OWK is a UK-centered hate group). Definitely time to put the kibosh on that particular meme.

More about crawling out of the woodwork

Video h/t BLCKDGRD.

I'm sure there are some explanations for what Shepard Smith is observing, and he has good reason to be concerned with what he's seen in recent months. The main phenomenon seems to be one of group polarization. Basically, what happens is that hanging out in groups of like-minded individuals leads individual members to take more extreme attitudes on whatever topic is discussed than they would have otherwise. There is a ton of research on group polarization, and it suffices to say that the phenomenon can be observed regardless of topic, context, etc. Of course, to the extent that attitudes do influence behavior, we can expect that more extreme attitudes will lead to more extreme behavioral outcomes.

Group polarization can be a problem to the extent that members of a group are isolated (be it by circumstance or by choice) from contrary sources of information and from other people and groups that hold divergent attitudes or opinions. There's also a normative influence that seems to reinforce expression of opinions that are consistent with the group and to punish or otherwise exclude opinions that are inconsistent. Someone says something that is consistent with the group's norms, gets positive reinforcement, and they'll keep on doing that. Similarly, expressing something a little more extreme, but still consistent with the group's norms, will also get reinforced, leading to a cycle of increasingly extreme statements and potential for those statements to become actual deeds rather than just words.

I've probably noted before, at least in passing, that acts of terrorism don't just come out of nowhere, but are usually developed over time, within a particular social context that involves a great deal of exposure to eliminationist rhetoric. One thing that the Internet has done is made it easier to find some like-minded individuals, to find some camaraderie, and in spite of the vast expansion in available information, to isolate oneself from any information that might be attitude-inconsistent, and for someone who happens to be like either of the two assassins whom we've encountered on the news this month, that means an intellectual diet of hatred 24/7. Selective exposure to ideas and information is an on-going human problem - it's just easier now than ever before. And the rhetoric that at least a subset of our population is almost exclusively exposed to is blood curdling, to say the least, and has been blood curdling for quite some time. The line between saying "we know where you are and we're not going to let you fuck with this country again" after being exposed to such statements for years, and opening fire, or setting off explosives in order to eliminate those perceived enemies is a rather thin one.

In the meantime, be safe and be vigilant.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

And they come crawling out of the woodwork

Hot on the heels of the assassination of Dr. Tiller, today we get a Holocaust Memorial shooting in DC (h/t) The perp? A long-time, notorious white male anti-Semite. Suffice it to say, we've been warned.

Listening assignment

"Mitre Storm" by Jasper McVain. The tune was part of the soundtrack to the Venture Bros. episode "I Know Why The Caged Bird Kills" (probably one of my favorite episodes from that series). The sound is intriguing - reminding me vocally a bit of Grace Slick and Nico channeled through Lisa Gerrard, and the sound has a sort of a latter day gothic quality to it; something fans of Dead Can Dance or late-period Joy Division would dig on, with some shoe-gazing elements thrown in. Dark, seductive, almost becalming.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Busy, busy, busy

You might have noticed the pace has slowed a bit. That will likely continue for a while. As I don't have the luxury of taking the summer off, I picked up some extra work and that will take a considerable amount of my time. I also got back to a manuscript that I'd put on the back burner a while ago, and have been in the process of writing, re-organizing, and revising quite a bit of text. That also will keep me occupied. In the process of getting back to that book project, I started thinking about another book idea (a book on genocide aimed at a lay audience of advocates, activists, and fellow travelers involved in genocide prevention) - I'm sure I'll be mining some of the material from this blog for that project. It'll be interesting to find out if there would actually be a market for such a book. Then, of course, there's been the ongoing process of removing all traces of the previous blog location, as well as my old personal website, from the internet toobz necessitated by a cyberstalker who began to get just a bit too personal for my comfort. Let's just say that I didn't exactly appreciate someone outing information about me that was really intended only to be privvy to family, students, and co-workers. I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

Oddly enough, all the talk about outing pseudonymous bloggers has attracted my attention. Recently publius was outed by Ed Whelan. Since I blog semi-pseudonymously, I have some stake in cases where someone is outed. An Alaskan politician did something similar to AK Muckraker of Mudflats earlier this spring. My take on outing someone who blogs or writes under a psuedonym is that one should tread very carefully before doing so. The only circumstance I could ever think of where outing person using a pseudonym would be warranted would be if the person in question were making threats of violence or inciting others to commit violence, and the person doing the outing was one of the targets of those threats. If that isn't your particular situation, then you are highly unlikely to have any reason to out that person.

My stalker, for example, operates under a psuedonym. By an odd and unexpected coincidence I stumbled upon that person's identity; when your stats counter from the old blog keeps recording a bunch of hits from the same IP address at the same location, it gets kind of hard to ignore (word to the wise for would-be stalkers - if you're planning on downloading someone's blog template to your hard drive and then planning on opening that file on a web browser, make sure that you download it to an account on that hard drive that does not contain your real name; the stats counter might still be active). I've refrained from outing that individual publicly, and in all likelihood since that individual has turned out to be little more than a minor nuissance than a tangible threat, I probably will have no need to do so. Of course I have informed some close friends and family members of that person's identifying information on the very off chance that I were harmed as a consequence of this individual's behavior, they would have the information needed to contact the appropriate authorities regarding a possible "person of interest". Beyond that, silence is golden.

In the process, I've learned a bit about how to prevent search engines from storing caches of blog information, how to block IP addresses or ranges or IP addresses, among other things to prevent (hopefully) future incidents of creepiness.

Sunday, June 7, 2009