Make ‘feminism’ the word of the year until females feel safe

One week ago

As the jaunt of abusive humen continues and the world assures the power of women behind this cultural moment, we have to continue the hard work

This week a man attempted a terrorist attack in New York’s Port Authority subway station, but his bomb explosion early and the attacker was the only one seriously injured. Despite what Twitter would have you believe, New York- as it does- went on very much the same. People groused about metro delays and went on with their day .~ ATAGEND It was just one of many days that induced me proud to be a native New Yorker. We could all take a lesson from that sort of resilience and posture, to be honest: we won’t let terrible people attain us feel terrible. We will live our lives, and refuse to be terrorized.

On a happier note, though the outing of abusive humen continues, the world is starting to recognize the power of women behind this incredible culture moment: Merriam-Webster named “feminism” the word of 2017. Now we just have to continue to make it the movement of the year( and next year, and the next) until girls can start to feel safe in their own country.

Glass half full

The unthinkable happened and Doug Jones won the Alabama special election. It’s a low bar- getting excited over an accused child-molester and explicit racist losing- but in a time when wins are few and far between, I’ll take it.

What I’m RTing

Melissa Silverstein (@ melsil)

Hollywood, you are seriously so fucked up about women. Seem at the outfits. 2gQiTHN5JY

December 8, 2017

Adam Serwer

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‘You don’t tell yourself no’: Stacey Abrams’ bid to be America’s first black female governor

22 days ago

After winning Georgias Democratic primary, Abrams tells Lucia Graves about her uphill battle to win in a state with a history of segregationist governors

For Stacey Abrams to became the first black female governor- and in Georgia , no less- would take a miracle. Then again, according to the politics of convention, it already took one for her to get this far.

” We have to be hopeful enough and courageous enough to believe in the unexpected ,” said LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, at Abrams’ primary victory party on Tuesday night at a hotel ballroom in downtown Atlanta. Abrams easily defeated her fellow former Georgia state legislator, Stacey Evans.

Already Abrams has stimulated history, becoming the state’s first black nominee for governor and the first black female major party nominee for the job in America.

She will go on to face the victor of the state’s Republican runoff election in July. In a state that hasn’t seen a Democratic governor elected since 1998, she’ll be fighting an uphill battle.

But when Abrams took the stage on Tuesday, before concourses of volunteers and a large group of schoolchildren who had met, as one chaperone put it,” to come ensure history being built”, her emphasis was less on her own barrier-breaking than on how far the state had come.

” We are writing the next chapter of Georgia’s future where no one is unseen , no one is unheard and no one is uninspired ,” she said in her opening remarks.

That’s an important page-flip in a state with a history of segregationist governors whose country flag featured the Confederate emblem until 2001. Even now, just 8 %~ ATAGEND of the state’s officeholders are women of color, even though they constitute 23% of the population. On stage on Tuesday, Abrams was equally at ease quoting the book of Esther and policy particulars, describing what she’s called the ” Georgia of tomorrow “~ ATAGEND. It was clear, even in the first moment of the new stage of the election, that there would be no fulcrum to the political center.

‘ We have the numbers in Georgia ,’ Abrams said. Photo: Public domain

As she later explained in an interview:” My job is not to worry about the Republican. They are going to try to out-Trump each other and demonstrate who can be more xenophobic and more pro-gun. That’s not my narrative .”

As the Georgia state senator Nan Orrock put it:” We know what the other side’s about and good golly, they have no shame .”

Abrams’ election will test her faith that Democrat don’t have to adopt moderate views to have widespread appeal. A handful of special-election Democratic primaries this week presented a mixed image for the party across the board.

But Abrams isn’t interested in reading tea leaves.

Her strategy is grounded in voter participation for historically under-engaged demographics and her underlying philosophy that changing ideology is much harder than changing behaviour. That entails getting more people to the polls, and Abrams, who has argued Georgia isn’t red,” it’s just blue and confused”, has been working assiduously on voter enfranchisement endeavours for years.

This could just be the year she demonstrates her claim. Georgia has never been considered a swing country, but Abrams likes to point out that states aren’t” swing countries” until they swing.

” We have the numbers in Georgia ,” she told me. And though she permitted that it had taken years to construct that electoral capacity,” I know if we talk about those issues and if we do the ground game of reaching voters and explaining to them why this election matters, we will see not only the historic turnout that we saw in the primary, but we’ll consider historic turnout in members of the general .”

Electioneering won’t inevitably bear that out. But Abrams’ campaign is equal parts voter registration numbers and belief- specifically, a belief that someone with her face and her heart can win.

On Tuesday night, such disciples were in abundance.

” Five or six months from now, she’s going to make history ,” said the Atlanta deacon Henry Moon.” I believe ,” he told, thumping himself over the heart for emphasis. “You’ve got to believe.”

Abrams’ life story is a study in pushing the boundaries of the possible.

Born one of six children to poor mothers in Mississippi, Abrams was not a victim of her circumstance. She graduated magna cum laude from Spelman College, was a Harry S Truman scholar and went on to become the first in their own families to buy a house. She received a master’s degree from the Lyndon B Johnson School of Public Affair at the University of Texas at Austin and a statute degree from Yale.

She also wrote numerous romance fictions, for the purposes of the the nom de plume Selena Montgomery, and when we first met over coffee, she delighted in details of how she once wrote an ex into prison as vengeance.

As both a writer and a legislator, Abrams has made an art of imagining what does not yet exist.

As the Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous recalled in a tweet after her election, where reference is first met Abrams at an event for student organizers 25 years ago,” she told me then she would be the first black governor of Georgia. I told her I believed her .”

Stacey Abrams takes the stage to proclaim victory in the primary on Tuesday night. Photo: Jessica McGowan/ Getty Images

It’s a confidence, Abrams said, bear of her upbringing. Her mothers grew up in Jim Crow Mississippi and had to fight for the right to vote.

” They created us to believe we were capable of anything ,” she said.” My dad told us,’ You don’t tell yourself no- let everyone else do that. You go for what you think you can have .”

And she did.

Abrams would go on to become the youngest deputy city attorney in Atlanta, according to the mayor who hired her; she was elected to the Georgia state house in 2006 and became Democratic leader in the country house in 2011.

That she defined her sights so high is all the more remarkable given what America tells women about aspiration. Hillary Clinton was lambasted for it in the 2016 presidential cycle, and sure enough, an early ad from the Republican Governors Association( RGA) accused Abrams of the same.

Asked to respond, she didn’t deny a thing.

” I have the ambition we can actually induce life better for people. I have the ambition that politics and policy can work together to build things good. We shouldn’t want leaders who don’t have ambition ,” she said,” who can’t dream beyond the moment .”

And no one can accuse Abrams of that failing.

Unfortunately for the RGA, her aspiration is contagious, according to the woman who was elected to Abrams’ statehouse seat after she resigned to run for governor.” She genuinely depicts women and people of color that our goals and our ambitions- our prospects don’t have a ceiling ,” told Bee Nguyen, who has transgressed some records of her own as the first Vietnamese American female elected to the country general assembly.

” Stacey’s vision for Georgia includes all of us ,” Nguyen told.” She’s the only candidate who even talks about Asian Americans as being a part of our electorate in Georgia .”

Seeing unseen or minority constituents, listening to their concerns and elevating their voices are some of Abrams’ sweet places, according to many who took the stage on Tuesday night.

Abrams’ own identity, she has said, devotes her” a complex understanding of America “. But largely, it dedicates her a propensity to listen.

” I believe there are more Democrats who are ready to lift their voices ,” she said.” And that’s what our campaign is about .”

She also thinks, in an epoch when Americans are hungry for authenticity in politics, there’s no substitute for telegraphing values of her own.

” There’s no one who’s going to convince me that reproductive access should not exist. That civil right are a peril. They’re never going to convince me that I should not stand up for labor unions. Those are ideological beliefs that I hold ,” she said.

So no, she said, there will be no pivot in members of the general. And she’s not worried about losing votes over it.” They’re going to know that because I was consistent throughout the campaign, I would bring that same consistency and authenticity to the governor’s office .”

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Lena Dunham talks policies and pantsuits in push for Hillary Clinton

24 days ago

The Girls creator and star repudiates condescending and misogynistic assumption that she is backing the Democratic frontrunner only because she is a woman

Lena Dunham isnt supporting Hillary Clinton for president since they are share the same anatomy. She is, however, a big fan of the Democratic frontrunners pantsuits.

The Girls creator and star to be laid down her support for Clinton at an Iowa City coffee shop on Saturday, while recommending a mob of mostly women to get involved in the sates Iowa caucus on 1 February. Dunham was attending her first event of the day, on a swinging through early voting nations on the candidates behalf.

Nothing gets me angrier than when someone connotes Im voting for Hillary Clinton simply because shes female, Dunham said, to laughter.[ Its] as if I have some feminist version of beer-goggles, lets call it estrogen blindness, and I just kind of walking like a zombie towards the nearest vagina.

This assumption is condescending at best and it is sharply mysogynistic at worst.

Dunham said she was supporting Clinton because of her policies, because of her track record, because of her notions and a little bit because of her pantsuits. But thats my prerogative as a citizen.

Dunham recently interviewed Clinton for the first issue of her email newsletter, Lenny. Seated across from Clinton on a folding chair, she asked the Democratic nominee: Do you consider yourself a feminist?

Yes, Clinton responded. Absolutely.

With a mix of raw integrity and playful self-deprecation, on Saturday Dunham told the crowd how she had not voted until four years after she came of voting age. She encouraged women, especially young women, to make their voices heard in 2016.

Im embarrassed to say this but it took me far too long to start voting, Dunham said. I had been of legal age for more than four years before I cast my first vote in the 2008 general elections.

Its not that I didnt care, but I didnt believe that me caring mattered. It was impossible for me to comprehend that one young woman checking a box after waiting in a long line could matter on a national level.

Dunham said she virtually turned away the opportunity to create a video for President Barack Obamas re-election campaign in 2012. She said deciding to make the innuendo-laced cinema, Your First Time, energized her to engage with politics.

My father has never been prouder of me than when I was called a dirty word on Fox News, Dunham joked about reaction to the video, which she told ran a little bit viral.

On Friday, Dunham traveled around New Hampshire with the World Cup-winning soccer superstar Abby Wambach, pitching Clinton as the best proponent for women. Notably, Dunham has been having fun with her bespoke Hillary Clinton line of gowns and sweaters. In Iowa on Saturday, she wore a white jumper featuring Hillary printed in red.

The audience, equal proportions Dunham fans and Clinton advocates, were very receptive.

Abbie Gould, 24, said she was still choosing between Clinton and her chief contender, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, but was impressed by what Dunham had to say about the former secretary of state.

Listening to Lena, hearing the seriousnes in her voice and listening to how she got involved in the campaign, and that she actually hadnt gotten involved into politics until subsequently in her career, I think thats inspiring for people my age, Gould said.

Allison Poss, who runs a small business, Girls with Ideas, in Iowa City, called Dunham and Clinton the dreaming team. Poss said she was an unabashed Dunham fan she collects clippings of every publication interview she devotes and a longtime Clinton supporter.

Ive always followed[ Clintons] policies, that is what is driving my vote for her, Poss said. However, its like a double-whammy of happiness to me that she just so happens to be a woman as well.

After the Iowa City coffee shop event, Dunham and her team departed without taking any questions, in order to make it to a second event of the day in Des Moines.

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‘I’ve been silent’: Harvard’s Clinton backers face life on a pro-Bernie campus

1 month, 1 day ago

As students across the country voice support for Sanders, Hillary Clinton backers “says hes” contend with rage and accusations: Youre evil

Walk around any college campus and Bernie Sanders popularity is immediately apparent. Depending on the climate, youre likely to see Bernie T-shirts or Bernie sweaters or Bernie hats or Bernie scarves.

Youre less likely to encounter Hillary Clinton memorabilia. In a put where students are meant to be rebelling against the status quo, to be wearing berets and hanging Che Guevara posters on their walls, supporting Clinton only isnt cool.

It turns out this is even true at Harvard University barely known for revolutionary politics.

In April, Sam Koppelman, a 20 -year-old government student at Harvard, wrote a letter to the New York Times lamenting that his support for Clinton meant that on campus he might as well be Pat Buchanan.

At Harvard, admitting that #ImWithHer is nearly tantamount to boasting Make America Great Again, Koppelman wrote.

Sam Koppelman at Harvard. Photograph: Mark Lorenz for the Guardian

The letter was a coming out of sorts for Koppelman, who told the Guardian that despite having written often about politics for his student newspaper until 2012, he stopped this year for fear that it would cast me as an foreigner, cast me as someone whos more conservative.

The 2016 election Ive is wholly silent, save for a few snarky tweets. And I think thats definitely emblematic that Im trying to avoid these dialogues, he told. He made a conscious decision until last month to not write about his support for Clinton.

If youre a Hillary supporter, youre kind of in this happy medium. Or actually an unhappy medium, Koppelman said, where, by voicing support for Hillary Clinton, youre at once alienating college Republicans who still view her basically as the antichrist and youre alienating Bernie supporters who view her as this remnant of a hour when Washington was highly corrupt.

Koppelman, who grew up in New York City, has spent his time at Harvard engaging in leftwing activism. He is involved in the Black Lives Matter movement and started a group called Harvard cant breathe, after Eric Garner died while being arrested in Staten Island, New York City. Garners death was ruled a homicide by the medical examiner, but a grand jury chose not to indict the policeman who arrested him.

Koppelman is still involved with those groups but said he had been conscious not to announce his support for Clinton to his fellow activists.

If youre shall include participation in activism and youre a part of the campus left, and then you choose to support Clintons campaign thats almost a traitorous act, Koppelman said.

Not all Harvards students are as reluctant to admit their is supportive of Clinton. As a is part of the Harvard for Hillary group, Janet Ho canvassed for Clinton during the Massachusetts primary. Ho, a 19 -year-old freshman, is an open advocate for the former secretary of state, but admitted that being a Clinton supporter can be difficult.

Do I feel more called into question by Bernie supporters? Yeah. Do I feel more challenged in general? Yes, I do, she said. Ho said she felt she had to justify her backing for Clinton to Sanders fans.

They assure the Hillary supporter as someone who doesnt actually want as much equality as they do.

Janet Ho speaks on her support for Hillary Clinton. Photograph: Mark Lorenz for the Guardian

Like: What do you mean why dont you want free tuition for everyone? Its not fair. Why dont you want equal pay for everyone? Why dont you want to tax the rich? Whats wrong with you? Like: youre evil.

In March, Clinton won the Massachusetts primary with 50.1% to Sanders 48.7%, although exit poll demonstrate Sanders won 71% of the vote among 18 to 24 -year-olds. Sanders support among young, passionate voters has assured reporting on the Bernie Bros phenomenon the notion that some Sanders advocates use social media to attack Clinton and her advocates.

Columnists in favour of Clinton have depicted special ire sometimes in an aggressive way, sometimes in a sexist style, sometimes both.

In January, it prompted Sanders rapid response director, Mike Casca, to call for supporters to respect others in the race. It might explain why some Clinton backers would choose to remain in the closet.

There are going to be some people on either side who are going to be really emphatic about what they believe, said Molly Roberts, a 22 -year-old senior studying English who writes a column for the Harvard Crimson, the universitys student newspaper.

And then you know, if theyre jerks in the first place perhaps theyll get vitriolic.

Molly Roberts, 22, a senior at Harvard. Photograph: Mark Lorenz for the Guardian

Roberts has not been cowed by the potential for dorks to become vitriolic. In February, she wrote about her is supportive of Clinton in the Crimson.

There was maybe one person who said something pretty nasty about it on Facebook and then got some comments that were also nasty, she said. But I dont think thats the prevailing route that the Bernie supporters act.

Koppelman said he was prompted to out himself as a Clinton supporter due to frustration at being unable to be open about it. He wanted to address what he sees as a doubled criterion among some Sanders supporters that to support Clinton is to fail to support the fight for equality.

Around the country, low income people, low income minorities are voting for Hillary in vast majorities, Koppelman told.

And this attitude on college campuses that if youre an advocate for social justice issues, you need to be a Bernie supporter is truly dismissive of those people across the country who are voting for Hillary.

Its a we know better position that is so emblematic of the very things Bernie Sanders is campaigning against.

Sanders won the Indiana primary on Tuesday, but remains well behind Clinton in terms of delegates. It seems likely that Sanders advocates may soon have a decision to stimulate on whether to commit to Clinton, following a primary campaign that has gone on longer and at times been sourer than most would have predicted.

I think Bernie Sanders supporters need to understand that Hillary is not the foe here, Ho said.

But I dont feel bad or sad when shes challenged. Its more like: OK, I understand what youre saying, but youre wrong. At the end of the day, she is still the more viable Democratic nominee. She is fighting for the same issues.

Whatever has gone before, Roberts predicted that come November, there would be a unifying behind whoever is the Democratic nominee.

Just as I know that Bernie supporters, if and when Hillary wins the nomination, is absolutely vote for her, and I genuinely hope to campaign for her, I would do the same for Bernie, she said.

Ill take him over any of the Republican candidates any day.

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Hitler salutes and white supremacism: a weekend with the ‘alt-right’

1 month, 10 days ago

The alt-right seminar in Washington wasnt a assemble of a forgotten white working class. It was a white nationalist motion buoyed by millennials

Some of the most prominent members of the so-called alt-right, the white nationalist motion that helped propel Donald Trump to the presidency, gathered in Washington DC on Saturday to plot how the movement can start influencing policy and culture under the Trump administration.

There was a celebratory mood as Richard Spencer, the president of the National Policy Institute, a nationalist thinktank which hosted the day-long seminar, “was talkin about a” how the alt-right would be an intellectual vanguard for Trump and the rightwing at large.

But to an foreigner, the conference simply served as a shocking insight into the racism, sexism and disturbing faiths of the alt-right.

The event concluded with a 40 -minute pseudo-academic lecturing called America and Jewish Consciousness, by Kevin MacDonald, a former psychology professor described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as the neo-Nazi motions favorite academic, and a series of Nazi salutes by members of the audience.

Trumps win in the presidential election, and the subsequent selection of Stephen Bannon the executive chairman of Breitbart News as Trumps chief strategist, constructed for plenty of optimism.

Spencer, one of the most prominent faces of the movement, was among the most optimistic about Trumps presidency.

With Donald Trump, we feel like we have a dog in the fight for the first time, Spencer told the Guardian. And with him theres a real chance we could start influencing policy and culture.

Spencer said the alt-right was aiming to exert that influence by publishing regular policy papers advancing white nationalist notions. The hope is that alt-right ideas can enter the mainstream and through Trump and Bannon have an impact on the government.

A policy he mentioned several times on Saturday is a breach on all immigration for a 50 -year period something he believes would help maintain a white-dominant society in the US.

We want to influence people. We want to be an intellectual vanguard that starts to inflect policy, inflect culture, inflect politics, he said.

Thats what we can do.

The alt-right visit to Washington DC had get off to an inauspicious start.

Conference attendees had gathered at a restaurant for a private dinner on Friday night, but anti-fascism protesters were tip-off off to their place and stormed into the restaurant, disrupting the meal.

The protesters were swiftly ushered outside, but not before one of them had sprayed Spencer with what the thinktank chairman described as a shit-smelling substance.

On Saturday morning, about 200 activists demonstrated outside the conference at the Ronald Reagan building, a couple of blocks south-east of the White House.

People protest the appointment of Steve Bannon. Photograph: David Mcnew/ AFP/ Getty Images

Inside Spencer, who seemed to have got rid of the smell, held a press conference in the convention hallway. About 150 movement adherents watched as journalists asked questions; listeners occasionally booed certain publications including the Guardian.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has described Spencer as a suit-and-tie version of the white supremacists of old, a kind of professional racist in khakis, and on Saturday he was dressed accordingly, in a fitted gray suit and brown loafers, and sporting an undercut hairstyle.

Spencer, 38, who grew up in Boston, had convened a panel of five other white men for the conference, but he did most of the talking railing against the protesters and Twitter, which recently suspended the accounts of Spencer and others.

When the time came for topics, I pointed out to more boos from the crowd that there were very few women at the event. It prompted a surreal debate between six white humen about the sexual preferences of women.

The almost entirely male audience cheered when Spencer attained his statement about women desire for a strong man.

Ive looked at a lot of romance fictions that girls read and Ive noticed a distinct pattern, Spencer said.

Romance novels about cubicle-dwelling boring computer programmers dont sell very well. Romance novels about cowboys and vikings seem to be very popular. We might want to look at something like that and see if that tells us something about human nature.

MacDonald, the academic, had been drafted onto the panel. He also chipped in.

This is textbook stuff, MacDonald told. Women are attracted to wealth and power.

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Don’t boo Mike Pence- at the least he went to Hamilton | Emma Brockes

1 month, 11 days ago

The vice-president-elect deserved the displeasure of the audience, but watching it happen virtually constructed me sorry for him

The booing of Mike Pence, vice-president-elect, at a performance of Hamilton last week elicited a answer I had expected in myself, but hoped might take a little longer to surface, which is pity for the overdog.

Its a bourgeois tic, I know the aversion of public rudeness over what is, clearly, the greater offence of Pennies voting record. But I discovered it impossible not to wince at what happened at the theater, in the same way that, years ago, I winced when someone in the audience on BBCs Question Time was monstrously rude to Tony Blair.( I dont mean vigorously cross-questioned him or spoke truth to power; I mean they were petulantly rude, in the manner of a sixth-former freshly aware of his powers .)

Pence, unlike his philistine boss, was at least going to see Hamilton. Maybe something of it would rub off on him, I said to a friend, who scoffed. The vice-president-elect, who in his home state of Indiana has tried to restrict abortion, enable discrimination against LGBT people and devote gun proprietors the right to keep handguns in their vehicles travelling along school property, is not an obvious candidate for a liberal epiphany. Do you think, said my friend, hes going to see Hamilton and abruptly tell, hey, gay people are terrific, someone tell Satan he cant have them after all!

And yet there was something about the booing I didnt like. Its not a question of respect for high office, that very American reflex that always builds Brits sneer at joint press conferences, when the US press corps stands up for its leader and the Brits stay obstinately seated. And its not that I object to jeering per se. During the campaign, I guessed if I saw Donald Trump in the street it would give me tremendous satisfaction to yell something rude at him.

A columnist in the Washington Post exclaimed hypocrisy. There was, he wrote , nothing more delusional than a mob of wealthy, out-of-touch Manhattan liberals( who can afford $849 tickets to Hamilton) booing Pence and lecturing him on diversity. But this wasnt right either; the constituency of the crowd was neither here nor there and one got the feeling that this particular columnist, a former speechwriter for George W Bush, had uttered the phrase out-of-touch Manhattan liberals before.

I suppose it seemed to me like a tactical fault one that, while cathartic for the booers, was likely to entrench Pence further in his reactionary positions. As we all strain to look outside our bubbles, isnt it better for Mike Pence to see Hamilton than Cats?

Father knows best

Wheres your son? I asked. Hes fine, said my male friend, without looking around. Photograph: Attila Kisbenedek/ EPA

Dads are different from mums, I was reminded the coming week, when I gratified up with a male friend and his son at the park. He and I stood chatting while the children ran around, but my intellect was a one-quarter in it. Principally I was watching to see if my children tripped, climbed under the fence, touched a pigeon, or zoomed out of my vision for more than half a second.

Wheres your son? I asked. Hes fine, he told, without looking around.

This seems a healthier posture to me, one that I watch daddies at the park espouse all the time, a less grabby and jittery approach than the mums. Also, less talkative. I know speech acquisition depends on jabbering at your kids non-stop, but I sometimes hear myself Are you putting that in the cup ?! Wow! You are! Youre putting it in the cup! and want to die. At the baby gym this week, the sound of 12 mothers all feverishly narrating their toddlers every move sounded like the enactment of a biblical curse.

The politics of playtime

Toddler etiquette: I may teach mine to boo and call it a day. Photo: Thomas Barwick/ Getty Images

And the baroque etiquette when one toddler bumps into another! A kid called Mason barrelled into one of my daughters and they both fell over. Say sorry, Mason, said his mother. Mason seemed blank. Shes fine, dont worry, I told, but we still had to stand there for five minutes while Mason, who is 18 months old, was badgered and cajoled and ultimately exempted from saying sorry because he indicates no sign of being able to speak. I may teach my two to boo and call it a day.

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Trump is just the latest obstacle on the zigzagging course of racial advance | Margaret Burnham

1 month, 21 days ago

Studying the American civil war and civil rights movement, its clear theres no racial nirvana ahead. Instead there may be an era of sustained political violence

At the end of the American civil war, before Reconstruction could plant its feet solidly in the south, white people in the region fought to redeem their countries from freedmen, whom they assured as corrupted and ignorant, and northern rulers, whom they deemed to be corrupt opportunists. So bloody was the campaign that ultimately returned black people to near-slavery that one writer, Nicholas Lemann, described the redemption period, from 1876 to the mid-1 890 s, as the last combat of the civil war. I remind you of this because the president-elects selection of Jeff Sessions as attorney general suggests, perhaps more than any other appointment, that the redeemers have once again triumphed.

In the 20 th century, after the successes of the civil rights movement, eventually a reincarnated redemption motion lessened the force of the 1960 s civil rights laws and led to racialised mass incarceration. The prospect that the combined voice of a Sessions justice department and an altered supreme court may cut deep into legal protections upon which minorities have relied since the civil rights motion deserves close analysis. Far more frightening, however, is the real possibility that the current regime will usher in an age of sustained political violence, reminiscent, in purpose if not precisely in kind, of what was experienced in the original redemption.

This sounds far-fetched, to be sure, but as we prognosticate over what the Trump presidency will entail, it would be a mistake to ignore how the US once legitimated and then paved over this long epoch of state-organised racial violence. Here is where traditional law-making, partisan politics and racial violence have historically intersected. If political violence was the gasoline of the redemption machine, new disenfranchising statutes comprised its chassis and the Democratic party was its engineer. What, then, can be learned from history that might help us stave off the most ruthless reactions to the two previous reconstructions?

The presidential election of 1876, which brought to power Rutherford Hayes and led to the ejection of the Republican party in the south, marked the entrenchment of political terror against the newly liberated citizens. In the aftermath, the freedom of the media dreamings of African Americans and their friends were replaced with an apartheid from which the nation has really never recovered.

After a political flowering in the wake of the civil war, the likes of which the country would not witness again for more than a century about 2,000 black elected officials in the former Confederate countries( including two US senators and a governor ), a commitment to public education, agrarian reform and economic development in the south, a federalised civil rights regime black people were stripped of legal protections and whipped, raped, lynched and defrauded back into submission.

Researchers have estimated that in the presidential election of 1880 black voter turnout in North Carolina was 81%, a figure that dropped to 1% by the 1912 election. And while a black North Carolinian was elected to Congress in 1897, a second would not serve in that body until 1992. Literal, collectively enacted and virulent, the violence of the redemption was not distinct from its politics but instead the product of complex relations among performers aiming to redefine the political community.

Since the 1960 s historians have termed the civil rights motion a second reconstruction. The second redemption, just as with the first, rested on the myth that white racial stances had so moderated that minority groups no longer required protection; on this reading affirmative action policies and protections against disfranchisement were not only unnecessary but also unAmerican.

A casual examine of the American past stimulates two things clear: first, racial advance proceeds in zigzag fashion whether because, as the legal theoretician Derrick Bell argued, the white majority supports minority rights only if they converge with white interests, or because a full mapping of the USs racial history has never been undertaken; and second, partisan politics both constructs and reflects distinct racial categories. In other words there is no racial nirvana ahead of us; instead, what we will have, given the USs troubled history and disinclination to tackle it, is permanent contestation and contingency. Indeed, its political salience is precisely what renders race so reliably non-perishable.

Barack Obama championed incremental change, perhaps because he believed that nothing else was possible in American politics. They may not have been earth-shattering but Obamas successes including the fact of his election reflected a sort of third reconstruction, the antithesis of which is breathing heavily on the backs of peoples necks. That the Trump regime will aim to augment the voting power of its core rural constituency by expanding voter suppression laws and launching a full-throttled great efforts to repeal “whats left of” the Voting Rights Act is a dedicated. Trump promised as much when he recently complained that millions of votes were fraudulently cast, and Sessions has denied that restrictive statutes have hurt black citizens in his home state of Alabama.

Also vulnerable are civil right measures that were passed on commerce clause grounds, such as the equal employment opportunity provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, known as Title VII. Tea party constitutionalists, echoing debates by libertarian legal scholars such as the Hoover Institutes Richard Epstein, claim that the supreme court has, since the 1930 s, improperly enlarged the scope of that clause to the harm of individual liberties. While libertarian jurists may have aligned with traditional liberals on same-sex marriage, some of them also think that the commerce clause does not confer on Congress the power to forbid racial or gender discrimination by private companies. This seemed a preposterous posture, but if it gains momentum in academic circles and adherents on the court, Title VII is one of ratings of measures that could end up on the chopping block.

Redemption number three may bring us more than only the formal rollback of 1960 s-era civil rights laws. One thing is pretty certain: the resistance to this president is likely to be fierce and activist. And with a view to responding, the federal government, led by the Sessions justice department, may well launch a low-intensity war against the insurgents. Also to be expected is that poor and marginalised communities will be subjected to increased country violence in the form of police barbarism, mass criminalisation and incarceration, and other forms of violence, both attritional and lethal.

The line between legal and extra-legal violence could fade as it typically does in times of heightened political or racial situations of conflict and as it did in the first redemption, when even moderate white people maintained silent in the face of the Ku Klux Klans butchery because they tried a speedy return to white rule in the south.

Trumps demonising of the Movement for Black Lives( a alliance of US groups representing black communities, including Black Lives Matter) has reinforced the perceptions of many white people that they are a distinctive community threatened with extinction by black crime. One can expect that white racial solidarity, mobilised by economic anxiety, prejudice and Trumps Make America Great Again nation-building project, will incline white people to justify extra-legal violence and incorporate it into beliefs about what the law actually permits. The president-elects campaign, which mixed dread and stereotypes to generate violence, generated the kind of climate in which vigilantism thrives, and nothing in the post-election weeks has changed this picture.

Clearly this will not be redemption redux, and one would hope that the rule of statute would hold, but it is also true that , notwithstanding the horrors of the 20 th century, we dont truly understand what persuades ordinary people to butcher their neighbours and co-citizens. Americans are just as human as Rwandans, Germans and Serbians; no more , no less.

The first reconstruction opened, for an exhilarating moment, a window through which former slave communities could envisage a new political life. The post-reconstruction counter-revolutions suggest that such instants of transformation can be quickly subverted, and that the challenge of recapturing what was lost is arduous and protracted.

The myth that racism is dead has been variously styled separate but equal, colourblindness and post-racialism. Whatever the word, it is the duty of all of us who fear for the US to remember that though racial postures are not unalterable or homogeneous, race will always register and resistance will always resurface. Revolutionaries holding alternative understands of what ails America as a nation its the class struggle, stupid who want to win elections, or transform power relations more fundamentally, would do well to examine the politics of the redemption and that 95 -year gap in North Carolina.

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He who must not be named: how Harry Potter helps make sense of Trump’s world

1 month, 27 days ago

For fans of the wizard series, the new political order is Dumbledores army v President Voldemort. Is it merely a juvenile comparing or have JK Rowlings books shaped a generations thinking?

Every generation has its go-to pop-culture political analogy. For decades, it was Star Wars. Its easy to see how Reagans 80 s space-based weapons shield initiative earned its nickname, for example, but the reference has endured, to the extent that White House chief strategist Steve Bannon expressed his admiration for the dark side in a recent interview: Darkness is good. Dick Cheney, Darth Vader, Satan. Thats power. But one name was missing from that listing: Voldemort.

The Harry Potter villain has risen again over the past couple of years, as fans have described comparisons, often humorously, between a world under threat from a narcissistic tyrant and that of the Harry Potter volumes. In February, Bannon was the subject of a Buzzfeed quiz that asked, Who Told It: Steve Bannon or Lord Voldermort ?; it was harder than you might have thought. JK Rowlings readers have grown up at approximately the same pace as Harry, Ron and Hermione, and with its hundreds of millions of book marketings and the massive success of the movie adaptations, the series reach has been enormous.

What Harry Potter has given a generation is a simple narrative of good triumphing over evil, and, as a result, it has been a frequent and controversial point of reference in this time of political divisiveness. At the worldwide Womens Marches in January, there were plenty of homemade signs that indicated Princess Leia as the face of a new resistance, but there were as many Potter ones, such as Dumbledores army, inspirational quotes from the series and references to Hermiones role in Harrys survival. Perhaps these placards had been inspired by an outpouring of affection for the books following the US election in November, as people began to post quotes on Twitter. Order of the Phoenix, mount up, wrote Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. There is even a Chrome extension that changes any mention of Donald Trump or his cabinet to the name of a notable Death Eater. Install it, and your browser will instantly refer to Betsy DeVos as Dolores Umbridge, Jeff Sessions as Antonin Dolohov or Rex Tillerson as Draco Malfoy.

Placards at the Girl March in Washington DC. Photo: Patsy Lynch/ REX/ Shutterstock

I would have been nine or 10 when I started read it, tells Jamie MacColl, 26, the guitarist in Bombay Bicycle Club. Last year MacColl set up the campaign group Undivided, which aims to ensure young peoples voices are heard in Brexit negotiations, and he recently appeared on the BBC Question Time panel. I remember the craze to read each new volume within minutes of it coming out, and queueing up in the midst of the night at the bookshop to get it. He says that he can only think of their political or social message in light of JK Rowlings transparently left-leaning Twitter presence. I think she has a similar kind of politics to me. But one of the things that struck me at the time was that it didnt matter who you were. Hermione had no wizard blood and was by far the most capable.

The broad central message of the Potter volumes is diversity and acceptance of difference. As the characters grow older, and the books more complex and matured, the political the effects of not heeding this doctrine become darker and more imperil. The baddies insistence on the superiority of purebloods over mudbloods has overtones of ethnic cleansing; the Death Eaters are fascistic. It would be mean-spirited to spoil the carefully guarded plot of The Cursed Child for those with tickets to see it, but it is fair to say that there is plenty in the play that stimulates this association clear.

Its a lot of fun to update the references and see how Rowlings vision works for the current epoch. Throughout the series, the Ministry of Magic is full of incompetent, pervert, bumbling figures whose only ambition is to cling on to power. The press is untrustworthy and hysterical. In a magical premonition of phone-hacking, the journalist Rita Skeeter transforms herself into a beetle in order to report on details nobody else could know about. The Daily Prophet is often used as a marionette of the system in order to sway popular positions. About the recent Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Rowling told, I was partly inspired by the rise of populism around the world .~ ATAGEND The explanation of the anti-magic sentiment rippling through 1920 s New York in the film could be taken from Brexit Britain: When No-Majs[ American for muggle] are afraid, they attack.

Steve Bannon, who recently told: Darkness is good. Dick Cheney, Darth Vader, Satan. Thats power. Photo: REX/ Shutterstock

In 2013, Anthony Gierzynski, a prof of political science at the University of Vermont, published a study called Harry Potter and the Millennials: Research Methods and the Politics of the Muggle Generation, co-authored with Kathryn Eddy. It aimed to answer the question of whether the Harry Potter narrative had influenced the politics of millennials. In the introduction, Gierzynski discusses, with what now looks like quaint naivety, online comparings that at the time variously likened Voldemort to Rick Perry and Dick Cheney.

To say the political scenery has changed is an understatement, he tells me. We have a chairwoman whose rhetoric promotes intolerance and who fits the typical authoritarian personality. I would think the Harry Potter lessons are even more relevant today than they were for the 2012 election.

Rowling herself nodded to a Trump/ Voldemort comparison back in 2015, when Trump first proposed a ban on Muslims entering the US. How horrible. Voldemort was nowhere near even worse, she tweeted. The connect has been made by others, and often; there are countless memes comparing the president to He Who Must Not Be Named.( Intriguingly, when criticising Trump in recent speeches or interviews, celebrities such as Meryl Streep and Kristen Stewart have declined to address him by name, a stance shared with many US activists .)

In the case of Trump, Gierzynski indicates, a better reference point would be an incompetent Ministry of Magic, Cornelius Fudge-type figure. But he also points out that hurling names around is unlikely to be helpful in the long run. Calling anyone Voldemort is problematic in terms of the debate you might have. It shuts down the debate, he tells. If you have a discussion[ about] what happens with these kinds of leaders, and how this leads to an fanaticism of out groups that is where the value of the Harry Potter series is, to me. It can provide lessons about how you deal with that sort of injustice and intolerance.

In 2016, Diana Mutz, prof of political science at the University of Pennsylvania and director of the Institute for the Study of Citizens and Politics, published a paper called Harry Potter and the Deathly Donald, which cautiously was contended that reading Harry Potter or watching the movies lowered Americans opinions of Trump and his policies. Stories can sway peoples opinions; Harry Potter is just one that happens to have been read and viewed by a massive number of people. This stimulates it potentially more influential than most tales, she tells me by email. Fictional stories are more than simply analogies; they are a time-honoured style of influencing sentiments. Think of Uncle Toms Cabin and American attitudes towards slavery.

Michael Gambon as Dumbledore. Photograph: Warner Bros/ Sportsphoto/ Allstar

Like Gierzynski, Mutz suggests that the messages of tolerance and diversity in the Harry Potter world have influenced the beliefs of its readers, rather than reflecting an existing point of view. But she was surprised by the strength of the backlash she received upon publication of the paper. I have never received more hate mail than in response to this study; its a bit scary, to be honest. Clearly, people who like Donald Trump are uncomfortable with the studys findings, but with empirical data, you dont get to choose your findings. They are what they are, she says.( The current climate is so toxic that Gierzynski also expressed concern. Theres a bit of fear in our discourse. Usually, when I talk to journalists, I wouldnt worry, but these days I do .)

Trump advocates are not alone in criticising the use of Harry Potter as a political analogy. In a scathing post-election column for Esquire last November, Corey Atad wrote that even though he considers himself to be an enormous Harry Potter fan, he found the comparison of Trump to Voldemort, and the idea of an opposition that is Dumbledores army, to be repellent. In tweet after shameful tweet, intellectually and emotionally stunted adults sought to place the election of a fascistic president in terms they could easily understand, he wrote. The Huffington Post operated a narrative that called Trump/ Voldemort comparings inane and condescending, while Matthew Dessem, a writer for Slate, was similarly outraged: Are you fucking kidding me with this shit? … This is really happening.

All three pieces were written in the immediate aftermath of the election; the anger and anxiety is palpable and understandable. But the idea of using fictional narratives to understand and construe the world is as old as day; it is no coincidence that sales of Nineteen Eighty-Four and The Handmaids Tale have risen since November. If, as academics such as Mutz and Gierzynski argue, the Harry Potter series has created a generation of people who are more open-minded and tolerant of change owing to the books they read as children, then it seems far from juvenile and reductive.

Besides, there is little to suggest that tweeting a Dumbledore quote is as far as a Potter fan might take it. In June last year, Yeni Lopez Sleidi, the editor of the site wwwayward, attained posters of Donald Trump underneath a motivational quote: There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it. Potter fans may recognise these words as are subordinate to Professor Quirrell, recollecting what the Dark Lord taught him. Sleidi sold a number of posters to Trump advocates and donated the profits to Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, a charity that supports LGBTQ Latino communities. If the purchaser had put the posters on their walls and turned off the lightings, they would have found that their purchase had a secret: in the dark, Trump vanishes, to be replaced by a glowing green image of Voldemort. Now thats magic.

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Why do people dislike Hillary Clinton? The tale runs far back

2 months, 5 days ago

A sense of untrustworthiness has haunted the Democrat this election, but the roots of hostility against her are much deeper

There is and perhaps there always will be a dedicated group of people who dont know Hillary Clinton personally, but nonetheless hate her.

Whether they are truly a vast rightwing conspiracy( as Clinton called them in 1998) or just many in number and conservative in outlook, theres no arguing that they exist or that they continue to try to influence public opinion on the Democratic nominee.

But even if people consider themselves savvy enough to repudiate the strangest conspiracy theories( sample asserts include that she is a mass-murderer, a closeted lesbian faking her 40 -year marriage, a member of the Illuminati and/ or an agent of the devil himself ), there seems little doubt that an undercurrent of hatred spanning decades has had an impact upon how she is viewed.

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What Trump did this week: Jerusalem triggers ire as Mueller follows the money

2 months, 12 days ago

Trump announced US recognition of Jerusalem as Israels capital, as it emerged Deutsche Bank has provided Mueller with bank the recording of Trump affiliates

As the first anniversary of Donald Trump’s inauguration approaches, the president seems keen to get points on the members of the security council in ways that don’t involve the interminable compromises and reversals of Congress- last week’s tax vote in the Senate notwithstanding. This week, he outraged liberals on a number of fronts where he has unilateral power, with moves on national monuments and the status of Jerusalem and full-throated backing for controversial Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Last weekend

‘ It was his tweets about Flynn that landed him in trouble .’ Photograph: Evan Vucci/ AP

Following his former national security consultant Michael Flynn’s guilty plea in the special counsel’s investigation into Russian meddling with the 2016 election, Trump went on a Twitter tear. The chairwoman lashed out at a San Francisco court‘s” miscarriage of justice “; the FBI (” its reputation is in Tatters – worst in History !”); an agent who was removed from Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation squad because of anti-Trump text (” Now it all starts to make sense !”); a suspended ABC News reporter (” False and Dishonest “); and of course perennial targets Hillary Clinton and” the’ Justice’ Department “.


The key events in the Trump-Russia investigation


GCHQ advises US intelligence

Britain’s spy agency GCHQ becomes aware of suspicious “interactions” between people with Trump ties and Russian intelligence operatives. In late 2015, GCHQ cautions US intelligence.

10 March 2016

Hacking and ‘influence campaign’

The first phishing emails begin to hit Democratic someones( the Democratic National Committee having been hacked months earlier ). Hundreds or thousands of impostor accounts appear on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

31 March 2016

Trump foreign policy meeting

Trump is told about the Russian contacts of at least one aide, and Jeff Sessions shoots down a possible Trump-Putin meeting, according to multiple people present. Later Trump and Sessions repeatedly deny there had ever been such contacts by anyone in the campaign with Russian operatives.

9 June 2016

Trump tower session

Top Trump campaign advisers including Donald Trump Jr meet at Trump Tower with Russian spies, having been promised “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary.” A Russian present says sanctions were discussed.

18 July 2016

Republican national convention

The convention convenes in Cleveland, Ohio. Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak attends. Top Trump campaign aides vociferously deny contacts with Russian spies. WikiLeaks releases 44,000 emails from the Democratic National Committee.

September 2016

Publication of emails

Across the Fall, outlets including WikiLeaks, Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks publish tens of thousands of emails stolen from Democrats and the Hillary Clinton campaign.

September 2016

The Facebook campaign

As Russian impostor accounts spread divisive propaganda throughout social media over the Fall, the Trump campaign experiments aggressively with micro-targeting on Facebook, making on an “average day” 50,000 -6 0,000 ads, according to former digital director Brad Parscale

September 2016

Contacts and refusals

Top Trump campaign aides Michael Flynn, Jared Kushner and others have dozens of contacts with Russian spies that are repeatedly denied in public across the Fall. “It never happened, ” a campaign spokeswoman said two days after the election.” There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign.”

8 November 2016

Trump elected

Donald Trump is elected president of the United States.

December 2016- January 2017

Presidential transition

Trump aides keep up the relations with Russian operatives in the case of policy and appear to hide those dialogues from the US government and public. Michael Flynn lied to the FBI about the conversations, then later admitted that Jared Kushner had directed him to seek certain policy commitments from the Russian ambassador.

9 May 2017

James Comey fired

Trump fires the FBI director.” When I decided to only do it, I said to myself, I told ‘you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story’, ” Trump tells an interviewer two days later.

Thank you for your feedback.

But it was his tweets about Flynn that landed him in difficulty. A claim that” I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI” opened the president to accusations that Trump knew Flynn lied to the FBI( international crimes) where reference is asked former FBI director James Comey to go easy on him, something that would strengthen any case of blockage of justice. The next day, Trump renewed his denial that he ever stimulated that request of Comey and his lawyer John Dowd claimed– to some scepticism– that he had been the one who wrote the offending tweet.

Whether or not that was true, on Sunday Trump suffered a blow in his recent reported tries to cast doubt on the authenticity of the notorious 2005 Access Hollywood” grab them by the pussy” tape that nearly derailed his campaign. Writing in the New York Times, Billy Bush, the other voice on the tape, stated bluntly:” Of course he said it .”


Beverly Young Nelson, pictured with her yearbook, accused Roy Moore of sexually assaulting her when she was 16. Photo: Tami Chappell/ AFP/ Getty Images

Trump made it crystal clear he was endorsing Moore in next week’s Alabama Senate election, presenting a voted in favour of the Republican- who denies accusations of sexual harassment including one involving a 14 -year-old girl- as crucial for the GOP agenda. He then phoned Moore to tell him:” Go get’ em, Roy !” Trump has also been accused of sex misconduct by numerous girls, and also denies the accusations.

The same day, the president travelled to Utah to announce the dramatic shrink of two national monuments- the biggest elimination of public lands protection in US history.


Robert Mueller in Washington. Photograph: Charles Dharapak/ AP

It emerged that Deutsche Bank has provided special advise Mueller with bank records of Trump affiliates. In July, Trump said he would consider it a red line if Mueller started analyzing his or his family’s finances.” I think that’s a violation ,” he said.


Protest outside the American embassy in London against US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Photograph: Barritt/ REX/ Shutterstock

In the teeth of vociferous opponent around the globe, Trump announced US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. International critics said the status of the city- half of which is claimed by the Palestinians as their own capital- should be left to peace negotiations. Trump pledged to induce the change on the campaign trail, pleasing pro-Israel conservatives, evangelical Christians whose theological beliefs involve backing the Jewish country, and some parts of the US Jewish community, including Sheldon Adelson, a donor who gave Trump millions in 2016.

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Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli troops in West Bank- video

An attempt by some Democrats to start impeachment proceedings against Trump was voted down in the House. Despite pressure from liberal activists for congressional Democrats to push for impeachment, they are reluctant to do so before Mueller finishes police investigations, for dread of jumping the gun, and are also conscious that any impeachment process might actually bolster is supportive of Trump, as it seemed to with Bill Clinton. Impeachment requires a majority of the House and two thirds of the Senate to pass- something vanishingly unlikely while Republican are in charge of both.


Melania and Donald Trump attend a Hanukkah reception at the White House. Photo: Drew Angerer/ Getty Images

A fairly quiet day for Trump ensure him mark the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack that led to the US’s entry into the second world war, celebrate his Jerusalem decision at the White House Hanukkah party … and make one of his occasional forays into arts criticism.” Go get the new volume on Andrew Jackson by Brian Kilmeade … Really good ,” he tweeted, adding, presumably to indicate his source: “@ foxandfriends “.


CNN was forced into an embarrassing climbdown after getting a key date incorrect in a narrative reporting that an encryption key to unlock hacked material was emailed to Trump and his son two months before the presidential election. Donald Trump Jr was quick to demand a retraction, which he got. It must have been fulfilling for the first son after he attracted ridicule earlier in the week, when he quoth attorney-client privilege in refusing to discuss with lawmakers dialogues he had with his father regarding his controversial 2016 Trump Tower meeting.

” If you’re Bob Mueller and you get an interview of Donald Trump Jr, this is going to be one of the three or four main topics in your outline ,” said Andy Wright, a former White House associate attorney under Barack Obama.” Like at the Roman numeral level .”

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