Category: Social Politics (Page 1 of 11)

Exclusive: The scene at Lafayette Park and marching with the counterprotesters

Lafayette Square was filled with protesters hours before the alt-right began marching towards the White House—counterprotesters, that is.

Pre-march

The counterprotesters consisted of a diverse group of people. Many were individuals who simply opposed racism who didn’t appear to be aligned with any specific group. Many were centrists or moderate liberals. One man who wore a NATO flag as a cape said, “I like to piss off both sides. I oppose fascism and communism.”

There was no shortage of hardcore activists and far-left ideologues, as well. Activist groups organized around communism, socialism, anarchism and “racial justice” all sent large contingencies.

At 12:20 pm, a group of black rights activists came marching down 16 Street NW carrying signs and chanting. Among the groups represented on their shirts and signs were Black Lives Matter, Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) and the Party for Socialism & Liberation (pslweb.org). Black protesters marched in front, followed by white allies. The Revolutionary Communist Party, A.N.S.W.E.R. and Refuse Fascism.org had organized protesters into the park, too, by then.

The park was divided in half—counterprotesters were allowed to fill the northern half, alt-right racists in the southern half. The counterprotest site was a cacophony of chanting and speeches by anti-racists, including Daryle Lamont Jenkins of One People’s Project.

The alt-right arrives

But the real action was along the orange line of the Metro.

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Alt-right marches to Lafayette Park (Unite the Right 2 photos)

Outnumbered by police officers. Outnumbered by journalists. Heavily outnumbered by counterprotesters.

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Vice’s shoddy journalism ethics and reckless sensationalism: the story of Sarah Jeong and Naomi Wu

Sarah Jeong didn’t publish an article exposing personal information about a pseudonymous Chinese tech woman. She just supported the publication of the article and attacked the victim after the fact.

The renewed controversy speaks to shoddy ethics and reckless journalistic practices of Vice, the sensationalist hipster magazine cofounded by current alt-right hate group leader Gavin McInnes. Its March 25, 2018 about tech goddess Naomi Wu is coming under further scrutiny in the aftermath of the New York Times’s hiring of Sarah Jeong. Jeong has been a contributing editor to Vice Motherboard when the article and attacked Wu after the article was published.

The gist of the controversy over this particular article, written by Sarah Emerson, is that the writer and her editors did not respect Wu’s privacy as a Chinese female living in an authoritarian country and working in a heavily-sexist industry. Now that Jeong is under fire because of tweets she has made, Wu took the opportunity to give the controversy renewed attention.

On Friday, I argued that Jeong’s controversial tweets were not in fact racist. But the fact remains that she may have committed breaches of journalistic or social media etiquette in other ways.

Her involvement in the Vice story appears to be mostly limited to criticizing Wu after the fact. She is not listed on the byline of the article, but she enthusiastically jumped into the controversy on Twitter, as might be expected of someone who maintains such a Twitter feed.

Vice’s Reckless Journalism

The article described how Naomi “SexyCyberg” Wu creates cool gadgets while dressed in sexy attire. It links her work with the culture of Shenzhen, a fast growing tech and design hub, and relates the difficulties of working in tech as a woman.

The big problem came approximately 4,700 words in, when Emerson raised a conspiracy theory and the topic of Wu’s personal life, including her marital status. As Wu wrote on Twitter in February 2018, “Why the fuck can guys make things, do STEM[,] without people taking a crowbar to their bedroom door as if they are entitled to the details of EVERY aspect of their lives?”

Vice fancies itself as a worldly, progressive outlet, but in this case, the writers and editors involved in the article failed their cause.

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The conservative case for why Sarah Jeong isn’t racist

After Sarah Jeong was hired by The New York Times, the alt-right attacked her by surfacing controversial years-old tweets and calling for her firing. The mainstream right, while not involved in direct racism against her, did advance the narrative that Jeong’s tweets were “racist” and put pressure on the Times.

”#CancelWhitePeople!”

”Dumbass fucking white people marking up the internet with their opinions like dogs pissing on fire hydrants,” the shared tweets said.

’Just think what SJWs would do if a white person said that about black people!!!’ the cliched response goes.

Well, excuse me for being a dumbass fucking white person* sharing his opinion online, but calling Jeong “racist” and calling for her to be fired is an overreaction and isn’t even defensible from a laissez faire conservative perspective. (*Although (((I))) am not actually a fucking white person, according to the alt-right…)

Over the past few years, conservatives have wielded the torch of “free speech” against “political correctness.” It was supposedly one of the reasons Donald Trump won the electoral college vote. He was the only one fearless enough to say that Hispanics are not qualified to judge cases impartially and that “#WhiteGenocide” is happening.

Easily-offended right-wing SJWs tweeting angry attacks at Jeong after her tweets went viral.

Alt-right took Jeong tweets out of context

Trump, you see, expressed actually racist thoughts. Jeong, by contrast, was mostly responding to racism directed at her (directly as an individual and indirectly as a member of a targeted ethnicity) and other minority groups.

The idea of “#WhiteGenocide” is illustrative. It is, as I have written, “the idea that diversity is bad because it increases the population of minority ethnic groups in the United States and thus decreases the percentage of whites.” According to the alt-right narrative, America is a white country and should remain that way. Any change of demographics, due to immigration, intermarriage, or group differences in birth rates, is considered “genocide,” because it, in some small way, changes the demographic characteristics of the country. Demographic change in the country, where the percentage of white children born is now less than half of all children, was a factor in Trump’s election.

Thus, when Jeong tweeted to “@RepDanMode,” a racist account that has since been suspended,

.@RepDanMode White people have stopped breeding. You’ll all go extinct soon. This was my plan all along. 😈

complete with a devil emoji, she was mocking the racist idea of “#WhiteGenocide.”

The idea that she individually—or minorities as a group—could have some kind of conspiratorial plan to decrease the fertility rate of members of the white ethnic group is hilariously stupid. Jeong was responding to something racist Mr. “Mode” said and treating it with the contempt it deserved. If anyone thinks she seriously has a plan to stop white people from breeding, they need to learn what sarcasm is.

See the difference? Arguing for banning immigration on the grounds of race is racist. Arguing against the racist idea that immigration should be banned isn’t racist. Using hyperbolic sarcasm to respond to racism is not the same thing as racism.

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Facebook banning Alex Jones was the right thing to do

I wrote in April how Facebook has no obligation to post lies and bullshit. Free speech doesn’t mean forcing companies to help broadcast defamation, and Facebook has a real problem with defamatory news. Has Facebook taken the seriousness of its problem to heart?

Alt-right conspiracy nut Alex Jones was suspended from his personal Facebook account for thirty days for violating community standards. The suspension comes shortly after YouTube pulled four of Infowars’ videos for being false and full of conspiracy theories.

The alt-right will be quick to whine that they are victims. Trendy members of the ordinary right will talk about how “ideas should compete in the free marketplace of ideas.” Jones, however, isn’t sharing ideas or competing to make an argument or report news. He’s lying and slandering people. (And YouTube and Facebook aren’t the government; they are media platforms.)

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Women’s equality is not some kind of war on men (Response to Jordan Peterson)

The fact that the economic playing field has become more fair to women and minorities over the past fifty years has paradoxically been cited by some critics of feminism as an affront on men’s rights. Jordan Peterson and Tucker Carlson see an assault on “masculinity”—an assault that is “a consequence of directed policy,” Peterson said in an appearance on Carlson’s Fox News show.

Cathy Young is sympathetic to Peterson’s case. “Crisis or no, there is certainly evidence that many men and boys have been left struggling by the cultural transformations of recent decades,” she wrote in a Los Angeles Times op-ed published, citing, in part, the fact that the women attending college outnumber men, “working-class men are more likely to be left behind by economic shifts that working-class women,” and jobless men are not attractive as mates.

Young is far from the only commentator to point to such trends. Others have done so with much less elegance and culture than she. The anonymous author of the HipCrime Vocab blog, for instance, wrote in a piece about Peterson, “The rise of the Sheconomy has made the only jobs on offer for men ones that they don’t particularly enjoy doing or are not particularly suited for.” The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh, while not discussing Peterson, cited similar stats about education and claimed, “The eduction system is designed for girls.”

What is striking about these pieces is how little thought the authors engage in about the causes of these supposed problems and whether they really are problems. Is society really biased against men? Is the reason men are reportedly falling behind due to societal discrimination or incentives unfairly stacked against men? Because if that’s not the reason, then there is no problem. It could just be a result of individual choices or circumstances.

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Harvey Weinstein isn’t a Democratic Senator, and neither is Al Franken anymore

“The Right” has an unfortunate tendency to make broad, meaningless statements about “the Left.” To be more precise, in this case, David French of National Review made a broad attack on “the Left” on the basis of some people having been punished for having committed sexual assault.

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Free speech ≠ forced speech; Facebook can and should control its own platform

Conservatives are playing victim once again and whining about yet another instance of some supposed anti-“conservative” bias by a company. Now it’s Facebook apparently limiting the reach of “Diamond and Silk” on Facebook’s own network. It is important to put “conservative” in quote marks here. Diamond and Silk are a pair of Trump surrogates, named Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, who speak at Trump campaign rallies, sell Trump merchandise, appear on racist white supremacist radio shows, and make pro-Trump videos. Like many of the pro-Trump social media genre, they don’t talk about conservative policies or appear to have any considered beliefs. They can hardly be called conservatives.

I quote a brief excerpt just to illustrate:

<

blockquote>”This week’s bowl of stupid goes to Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. Both of these here two morons exhibiting moronic behavior. Now, this one right here, Chuck Schumer done shut down the government because he is trying to tie DACA to the government spending bill. Now we gotta fund the government. Now what he want to do is he want to not fund the government and he want to fight for these DACA [inaudible] that’s illegal aliens that’s in our country and not fight for the American People.

Really, high-brow stuff. Intellect on level with the president of the United States. If this is what American Senators (Ted Cruz) are spending official time asking Mark Zuckerberg about during Congressional testimony, we must fear for our republic.

Editors need to control what they publish in their papers, and platforms need to control what they publish and broadcast just the same. Facebook is a private company with its own network and its own algorithms, and somehow people think that they should have full control over someone else’s platform. One week ago, an extreme lunatic shot up the YouTube offices because she was upset that her ad revenue declined after an algorithm change. Ben Shapiro is moaning that Facebook’s apparent algorithm changes to improve the quality of its feed are supposedly impacting him and other low-quality viral conservative pages.

“Toleration implies the existence of a distinctive procedure for testing ideas… It has nothing to do with a cacophony of screaming fakers marketing political nostrums in the public square.” – Barrington Moore

What these entitled outrage-mongers forget is that it’s Facebook’s network in the first place! How did they think their websites were getting so much traffic? Facebook created an algorithm in the first place that favored low-quality clickbait bullshit. They benefited from it and molded their websites and their social presences to leverage it. Now they talk about Facebook trying to “control” what we read; Facebook already was controlling what was showing up in our feeds. The 2016 election showed just how destructive this kind of viral garbage, partisan hackery, and outright lies and conspiracy theories can be to the quality of our public discourse.

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State of the Union highlights: Trump’s unpatriotic appropriation of the flag

Donald Trump attacked free speech in his first State of the Union address (and second speech to Congress) on January 30. As usual, he tried to claim the mantle of patriotism by referencing acts and words of others whose values he himself doesn’t appear to share.

In one case, he returned to one of his greatest hits tracks: the national anthem and attacking those NFL players who have been taking a knee to protest.

Preston’s [referring to a 12-year-old boy, Preston Sharp, who put flags in front of veterans’ graves] reverence for those who have served our nation…

It is worth noting here, that reverence for veterans is not something Trump shares with Preston. Trump has diminished the sacrifices of veterans, referring to John McCain as a “loser” for having served something larger than himself, and saying of prisoners of war, “I like people who weren’t captured.”

Trump doesn’t understand why anyone would be an official, because he doesn’t understand serving the public

…reminds us why we salute our flag, why we put our hands on our hearts for the pledge of allegiance, and why we proudly stand for the national anthem.

Context and subtext are inseparable from meaning. That’s why Trump can say, “It’s big enough. Believe me,” and people know what he’s meaning without him saying it directly. Communication would be an impossible task if people didn’t include context and subtext in their analysis of meaning. (And, indeed, Trump’s speechwriters and supporters do so, too, even if they feign otherwise when it suits them.)

In this case, the context is clear. Trump has been attacking Colin Kaepernick and other football players who have been taking a knee to protest, both in support of #BlackLivesMatter and, later, in protest to Trump’s attacks on free speech. Trump lashed out and called for the firing of any player who takes a knee. He has also issued words of support for criminalizing burning the flag with punishments up to loss of citizenship.

In this case, by proclaiming “stand[ing] for the national anthem” as something “we” do, he is saying anyone who does otherwise is deviantly violating the rules and norms of our society. In fact, the vast majority of people already do stand, and it wouldn’t even be an issue in the NFL anymore if Trump hadn’t made it an issue (the number of players kneeling in solidarity increased hugely after his attacks), and anyone who kneels isn’t actually disrespecting veterans or causing any material harm. (The only potential harm they might be causing is offending—or annoying—people who are offended by words and speech, and Trump says he is against political correctness.)

Trump doesn’t have to say he’s specifically attacking those who protest, nor does he need to issue the threat, which he has already made clear in the past, any more than a triad collector needs to spell out what happens if you don’t pay your protection fee.

Of course the Republicans gave Trump a standing ovation for this bit of low brow refuge-seeking.

Even divorcing the words from all context, they are empty drivel not worthy of applause, much less ovation. Any president and any politician and the vast majority spectators do the ceremonial standing at the sound of the anthem. It doesn’t require any sacrifice. It doesn’t help the soldiers injured in Iraq and those still serving in Afghanistan and elsewhere. At best it is a symbolic gesture, and at worst, as in Trump’s State of the Union, it is a manipulative appropriation of a symbol of patriotism used to prop up a man who values the flag only for what political value it might bring him.

Feature photo by Shealah Craighead, official White House photographer. Public domain.

Who’s next? #MeToo concerns women who care about the men in their lives

We, and many other women, are concerned about their neurodiverse loved ones being falsely accused.

With the recent magnitude of sexual harassment claims being thrown about from every corner of the media, and ruined careers piling up like carcasses, often from unproven accusations, every man must now be questioning their own past behavior, fearing it will be misconstrued into some harrowing sexual predation that would affect every aspect of their life without evidence, a trial, or a jury.

The suicide of Welsh MP Karl Sargeant four days after such nebulous accusations unnamed women has been shamefully swept under the carpet as the #MeToo frenzy continues. Calls for an internal enquiry into the clearly deficient process he went through, where he was suspended from his job without knowing the details of the complaint, have been dropped. We can only hope Mr Sargeant and his family get the answers and the justice they deserve via the official coroner’s inquest. The tragedy of Karl Sargeant is the most extreme example of the incredible injustice many men –not forgetting their families- are going though as a result of this appalling witch hunt and trial by media.

All of us know people in our life—family members and friends—who are otherwise smart, witty, empathetic, but socially awkward, either for cultural or neurological reasons like autism spectrum disorders (ASD) or just as part of their personality. They struggle to read body language, situations or atmospheres, let alone female mind games. Men, who walk a tightrope of social acceptance already, now stepping into a world where feminists want men deemed as second-class citizens, to be distrusted and their social interactions scrutinized at every second.

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