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Author Topic: Mechanisms of Prejudice: Hidden and Not Hidden  (Read 4937 times)

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Wednesday January 10, 2018

Where does forced labor come from? What are the root causes? Often this is traced back to two explanations: poverty and globalization, but how exactly do they perpetuate “endemic labor exploitation” in global supply chains?

This week Beyond Trafficking and Slavery, part of Open Democracy, launched a 12-part report that breaks down the root causes of forced labor and what we can do about them. The report aims to “provide policymakers, journalists, scholars and activists with a road map for understanding the political economy of forced labour in today’s “global value chain (GVC) world.”

This report is organised around a metaphor – the classical economic metaphor of ‘supply and demand’. Within mainstream economic theory, the price of any particular good is not determined by the individuals who buy and sell it. Instead, the price results from a system-wide balance between how much of it is available in the world (supply), how many people want it, and how badly (demand). The price goes up as supply decreases or as demand increases, and down if the opposite applies.

This is a useful way of thinking about forced labour. Rather than a simple consequence of greed or the moral shortcomings of individuals , forced labour in global supply chains is a structural phenomenon that results when predictable, system-wide dynamics intersect to create a supply of highly exploitable workers and a business demand for their labour.

On the “supply side,” researchers identify four key factors that contribute to vulnerability among workers: Poverty, Identity and Discrimination, Limited Labor Protections, and Restrictive Mobility Regimes. On the “demand side,” or factors that “create pressure within the market for highly exploitable forms of labor,are Concentrated Corporate Power and Ownership , Outsourcing , Irresponsible Sourcing Practices , and Governance Gaps  .

The research is grounded in several academic disciplines and draws on industry-specific cases, ethnographic investigations, and statistical studies from around the world. In sum, they paint a picture of how the global capitalist economy produces an “unjust status quo” and point out what is and what is not working to fix it.

To read the entire article, click here https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/genevieve-lebaron-neil-howard-cameron-thibos-penelope-kyritsis/confronting-root-causes

Agelbert NOTE: Okay, foced labor may not be the simple consequence of greed or the moral shortcomings of individuals, but that does NOT rule out the FACT, especially if we are going to address ROOT causes, not a causal chain of downstream effects (see: moral hazard), that ALL abuse of humans for profit is the somewhat complicated consequence of greed and the moral shortcomings of individuals.

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The artists are going to do in Trumpofsky.   



POLITICS 01/13/2018 11:33 pm ET Updated 1 hour ago
Projector Lights Up Trump’s D.C. Hotel With ‘Shithole’ And Poop Emojis
The Trump International Hotel’s new makeover was inspired by Donald Trump’s recent immigration meeting.
By Carla Herreria
Periscope/Bells Visuals

If you took a look at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., on Saturday night, you might think it was a real shithole.

An artist with a video projector gave the Trump family’s D.C. hotel a makeover using President Donald Trump’s very own and very racist words.

“This place is a shithole” was projected onto the front steps of the hotel, in an apparent nod to reports that Trump called Haiti and African nations “shithole countries.”

The projection also displayed the word “shithole” and a stream of poop smiley-face emojis (💩).

As seen in a Periscope livestream, a longer message mocked Trump and his supporters and called for others to stand against white supremacy.

“This is not normal,” a segment of the display read, along with messages to “stay vigilant” and “#resist.”

“The president distracts us from politics that are harming us,” the projection read later in the video.

The display was the work of artist Robin Bell, the founder of video projection company Bell Visuals.

Bell has made news headlines in the past for projecting various messages on buildings with political ties. In May, Bell projected on the same D.C. hotel “emoluments welcome” and “pay Trump bribes here.” (Both of those messages also appear in the most recent projection.) That same month, Bell projected “#SessionsMustGo” and “I thought the KKK was OK until I learned that they smoked pot” on the Department of Justice building, in reference to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Trump incited outrage this week over his reported remark, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” ― which he asked after lawmakers suggested granting visas to individuals from Haiti, El Salvador and multiple African nations during a meeting about immigration reform.

Democrats and some Republican lawmakers criticized the president’s choice of words and called for him to apologize.

Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said in a statement that Trump’s alleged remarks were another “confirmation of his racially insensitive and ignorant views.”

“It also reinforces the concerns that we hear every day, that the President’s slogan Make America Great Again is really code for Make America White Again,” Richmond added.

The United Nations human rights office rejected the president’s remark, which they labeled as “racist.”

“There is no other word one can use but ‘racist,’” U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said, according to Reuters. “You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as ‘shitholes’ whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome.”

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Donald Trump’s Racism:
The Definitive List


JAN. 15, 2018


Donald Trump has been obsessed with race for the entire time he has been a public figure. He had a history of making racist comments as a New York real-estate developer in the 1970s and ‘80s. More recently, his political rise was built on promulgating the lie that the nation’s first black president was born in Kenya. He then launched his campaign with a speech describing Mexicans as rapists.

The media often falls back on euphemisms when describing Trump’s comments about race: racially loaded, racially charged, racially tinged, racially sensitive. And Trump himself has claimed that he is “the least racist person.” But here’s the truth: Donald Trump is a racist. He talks about and treats people differently based on their race. He has done so for years, and he is still doing so.

Here, we have attempted to compile a definitive list of his racist comments – or at least the publicly known ones.

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15 Reasons African Countries Aren't 'Shitholes'

The African continent boasts several of the world's fastest growing economies.

By Zoe Kelland

 JAN. 12, 2018

On Thursday, US President Donald Trump reportedly referred to Haiti, El Salvador, and several African countries as “shithole” countries in a meeting with politicians, the Washington Post reported.

The president had been discussing immigration policy with the lawmakers and suggested that the US focus on bringing in people from countries like Norway over those from African countries.

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump reportedly said, comments which the UN condemned as racist on Friday.

This is not the first time the president has allegedly made such comments. In a meeting with cabinet members and administration aides last year, Trump reportedly advocated against more open immigration policies, saying that all Haitians have AIDS and that people from Nigeria would refuse to go back to their “huts” if allowed into the US, according to the New York Times.

But the idea that the entire continent of Africa is a disease-ridden land of “huts” is a myth, and a dangerous one at that.

Here are 15 other debunked myths about African countries.

1. Africa is poor, and always will be.
DJ Paco (Papis), a DJ and rap artist from Mauritania. Photo by Philippe Sibelly, The Other Africa.

Yes, 47% of people in Sub-Saharan Africa live on less than $1.25 a day, and this is a scandal. However, this number is falling, and things are getting better. One in three Africans are defined as ‘middle class’, and whilst many Western economies are in crisis, Africa’s economy continues to grow. Did you know that 6 of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world are African?

2. Africa is all savannah and wild animals.
Image credit: BBC

In 2014, Delta airline, a major US carrier, made a huge mistake on social media. Whilst congratulating the US World Cup team on a victory over Ghana, they used a photo of a giraffe to represent the African nation. Unfortunately for Delta there are in fact no wild giraffes in Ghana, and the Twitter community was quick to alert them to this.

Oh dear, @delta. There isn't even a single wild giraffes in Ghana. pic.twitter.com/oDsA1mA2RJ

— Messi Minutes (@MessiMinutes) June 17, 2014
That Delta giraffe pic is from Getty Images and it's from the Masai Mara National Reserve. In KENYA http://t.co/XV9t8Ig8mk via @YAppelbaum

— Solange U (@dcGisenyi) June 17, 2014
If you're gonna talk about something at least take 10 seconds to study it a little. @Delta Africa is not a big bush full of wild Animals.

— InnÖcent ÖkÖye (@CentyClaus) June 17, 2014
This is the boolsheet us Africans gotta deal with. There are no giraffes in Ghana, you narrow-minded nincompoops! @Delta FAIL!

— Awesomely Luvvie (@Luvvie) June 17, 2014

Slammed by accusations of racism and stereotyping, Delta have since apologised for the image used. However, this highlights how widely such stereotypes are still accepted and perpetuated in Western media. Yes, there are a whole host of exciting wild animals, and gorgeous savannahs, in some regions of Africa. However, there are also huge cities, rolling beaches, historic ancient monuments and more. One region of Africa is not identical to another, and we shouldn’t stereotype a whole continent in this way.

3. It’s hot, dry and sunny all the time
Photo credit: Kyle Taylor (Flickr)

Band Aid may be a classic festive hit, but next time you find yourself singing ‘there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time’ remember that Africa is a diverse continent with a huge variety of landscapes and temperatures. Take a look, for example, at this stunning snowy landscape on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania!

4. Africans have no access to modern technology.

Technology in Africa is actually an incredibly fast growing market, with many global technology giants making big investments in the continent. Did you know that people in Kenya are 4 times more likely to own a mobile phone than to have access to a toilet or latrine? As of 2013, 80% of African people had access to a mobile.

Mobile technology is also being used in very innovative and exciting ways to help end extreme poverty across Africa. Check out this story of mobile insurance creating financial stability for people in Ghana!

5. In order to develop, Africa should become like the West
Tana River, in Kenya, is one source of the country’s hydroelectric power. Image credit: Bedford Biofuels

There are so many arguments against this presumption. Let me focus on one - many African countries are far ahead of Western countries in terms of sustainable energy use. Both the UK and the US source only 11% of their energy from renewable sources, less than Kenya sources from geothermal activities alone (13% of Kenya’s energy consumption). Meanwhile, a staggering 50% of Kenya’s energy comes from hydroelectricity. In terms of long-term sustainability, shouldn’t we be looking to Kenya for some answers?

6. There’s no arts industry in Africa
Nigerian actress Taiwo Ajayi-Lycette gets makeup applied before performing a scene. Photo by Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters

Every year, more films are made in Nigeria’s Nollywood than in the US’s Hollywood. FACT.

7. Africans do nothing to help themselves
Dr. Hawa Abdi and her daughters. Together they have helped over 90,000 women & children in Somalia. Photo from the Dr Hawa Abdi Foundation.

The stereotype of African people as helpless and dependent on Western help is one that has been built by decades of well meaning but arguably dangerous charity advertisements in the West. Bombarded by images of sad, dirty children with eyes that call you to urgently donate money, it’s no surprise that this is a common belief. The debate around how development charities should advertise is a complex one, but these photos often ignore the fact that African people can and do help themselves.

In 2010, Africans who lived outside the continent sent $51.8 billion back to Africa. Meanwhile, $43 billion was sent in aid from Western countries, known as Official Development Assistance (ODA). Yes, you read that right - African people who now live outside the continent send more money back to their families than the whole Western world sends in aid.

There are also countless examples of grassroot projects established by African people, for African people. One is Hawa Abdi, an incredible Somalian woman who established a health clinic in the 1980s. It’s now grown to encompass a school, refugee camp and hospital for over 90,000 women and children made homeless in the war. Incredible, huh?

8. ‘African’ is a language (and African people don’t speak English)
A student at Cambridge University challenges African stereotypes. Photo from Tumblr (We Too Are Cambridge)

There are over 2000 languages spoken across the African continent, and ‘African’ is not one of them. This is the equivalent of presuming that people who live in Europe speak ‘European’. English is also an official language in 24 African nations and taught to a high level in schools across the continent.

9. Africa’s not that big
This is the real size of Africa. Pretty big, right?

10. African men always carry machine guns

This brilliant video by Mama Hope is made by African men, dispelling myths about themselves. Pretty cool, huh?

11. Everyone in Africa has AIDS

At the end of 2013, Justine Sacco, a PR director from InterActiveCorp, posted this tweet just before boarding a flight to South Africa. Understandably, the world’s reaction escalated quickly from disbelief...

Yes, but you're also clearly stupid. “@JustineSacco: Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white!”

— Whydya Tweetthat (@TwitOvershare) December 20, 2013
...to strong accusations of racism.

Oh. Hell. No. Did this Justine Sacco person just say that? Did she really fix her keyboard to type that mess? Whyyyyyyyy? You racist bit ch!

— Amish Donut (@Lilikins8) December 21, 2013

After a worldwide twitter storm hit Justine, she did apologise for her remark. However, this appallingly insensitive tweet represents a terrible stereotype that is all too common. Not everybody in Africa is sick. Furthermore, we should treat those who do suffer from HIV, or any other illness, the way we would want to be treated - with dignity and respect.

12. All governance in Africa is bad.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf speaking at the opening of Libera’s first tuition-free girls’ school, the More Than Me Academy. Photo from More Than Me.

Let me dispel this myth with an example of one leader who is making incredible progress for her country. The current President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is an inspirational woman who is leading Liberia out of the devastating damage caused by civil war, and kicking ass at it. President Sirleaf was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for her “non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights”, and listed by Time as one of the top 10 female leaders in the world.

13. Everyone in Africa lives in a mud house in the middle of nowhere.
Embed from Getty Images

Where would you guess this city is? The US? Europe? Asia? Nope - this is Lagos, in Nigeria, and it has a population of 21 million - more than double that of urban London! In 2008, 39% of the African population lived in urban areas, and this is rapidly increasing.

14. There’s no partying in Africa

Before I first visited the continent, I never thought about Africa having parties, bars or clubs. I presumed they just didn’t exist, but boy was I wrong! Having spent nine years of my life working with  Nakuru Children's Project in Kenya, let me tell you that most of my Kenyan friends know how to party hard. And by partying I don’t just mean pubs and clubs - I mean finding a reason to sing, dance and celebrate at any time of day!

15. It’s all doom and gloom

This satirical meme reminds us of the common humanity that we all share, no matter where we’re born. Every 60 seconds bad things happen all over the world, not just in Africa. But an awful lot of good things happen too!

Above article with graphics at link below:
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Haitians gather outside the US embassy in Port-au-Prince to protest against reported comments made by Donald Trump against the countries of the Caribbean and Africa

For most immigrants in the United States, the year that has passed since President Donald Trump's inauguration has been one in which their new country has become an increasingly frightening place to live.

Those of us who are visible as an "other" - having black or brown skin, bearing names that show we are Muslim or Hispanic, wearing clothing that mark us as somehow "different" - are repetitively evoked (in both veiled and vulgar language) in the president's public speeches, private policy meetings, and barrages of tweets.

Trump tweeted earlier this month that he plans to make immigration more "merit-based" to attract "highly skilled" workers and followed these plans up by calling potential and existing immigrants from Haiti and all of Africa, in particular, people from "shithole countries" during a policy meeting.

Part of why Americans are susceptible to this violent, xenophobic, and nativist rhetoric is not because they are exceptionally thick, but because of how the national mythology of the US  - one constructed on Puritan ideals of egalitarianism, "hard work" and perseverance against adversity - is constructed.

Americans are told, since childhood, that hard work and perseverance not only build character, but allow them to overcome obstacles, and achieve their goals and dreams. Because this powerful myth is repetitively drummed into their heads - be it through apocryphal narratives of kids who came from impoverished backgrounds who went on to become multimillion-dollar earning athletes, or women who beat the odds and attained positions of leadership in fields dominated by men - they learn to believe that their country is a meritocracy.

These experiences of failure and not-making-it are true, unexceptional, and the norm; yet, they are unincorporated into America's popular narrative.

Anyone who has gone thorough the immigration process here knows that US immigration is not only class-based, but underhandedly racist, too: after all, Trump himself remarked, in that same infamous policy meeting, that immigrants from Asia should be favoured over those from Haiti and Africa.

So it baffles me why legislators and pundits are suddenly calling on immigration reforms to reflect the desire for skilled workers, when it is clear, from even a cursory glance at H1B and Greencard application documents, that it is already so.

As an immigrant who was born in a small island in South Asia (Sri Lanka) and grew up in a Southern African country (Zambia), and who now lives and teaches in the US, I make a point of incorporating my own narrative of immigration - the cost, the paperwork, the lawyers' fees, the networks of fellow immigrants who helped me, and the (often difficult to identify) factors and existing privileges in my personal history that allowed me to be a "successful" immigrant - into how I teach my global literature classes.

"It's about money and existing privilege," I laugh. "America sure didn't want any tired and poor immigrants." Most of my American students are surprised - unless they, too, have come from recent-immigrant families.

We all know this to be true, if we are recent immigrants to the US. But we become defensive against racism, and prefer to align ourselves with American rhetoric of being exceptional. And because US immigration policy already selects immigrants who come from privileged social class, caste, and educational backgrounds, this group is used to being seen as elite; certainly, these immigrants do not want to align themselves with workers in the service industries or the undocumented.

I was dismayed, but not surprised, therefore, by the defensive rhetoric used by my fellow immigrants when "Shithole-gate" hit the national and international fans. On Twitter and Facebook, immigrants brought out the weaponry of respectability to prove that racists were wrong about them. Since Haiti and Africa were on the "shithole" list this time, they listed the exceptional African and Haitian immigrants who invented amazing things and discovered incredible surgical techniques that no doubt saved the lives of countless American racists who hated immigrants.

Others touted how so few immigrants, statistically, are involved in any crimes. Articles, like this one in the LA Times, rushed to assure frightened Americans that while many are refugees, and "beneficiaries of the 'diversity visa programme' aimed at boosting immigration from underrepresented nations…African immigrants are better educated than people born in the US or the immigrant population as a whole".

The African Studies Association's Board of Directors released the following statement:

"[In the] US Census Bureau report, Africans account for only 4 percent of the total foreign-born population in the United States, but the educational attainment of that 4 percent far exceeds the average of all of those born outside of the US. Indeed, 41 percent of African residents in the US hold bachelor's degrees or higher. Nigerians, who have been singled out by the president on previous occasions, are among the most educated group in the US, with some 61 percent holding bachelor's degrees and 17 percent masters degrees."

All this is true. But this rhetoric only serves to boost the myth of merit, and further the erroneous belief that only the "deserving" and exceptional - who are mostly exceptional because of existing class, family, political, and educational privileges - should be in the US.

As critic Steven Salaita explained in a Facebook post, cases like that of 57-year-old Palestinian-American business owner, Amer Othman Adi - who has been unjustly held by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and is currently on hunger strike, "gives lie to the conservative (and often liberal) narrative that 'good' immigrants are welcome … By all accounts, including those of a mayor, a business community, and a congressman, Adi was the ideal arrivant. So, even by the insidious standards of model minority discourse (fuelled by anti-Black racism and Native dispossession), Adi isn't worthy of freedom and dignity. What is left to conclude? That people from certain countries - shitholes - are never acceptable no matter how much they conform to the state's chauvinistic mythologies."

    It is time that Asian immigrants in particular ... also stop imagining themselves as more special and deserving than US minorities of non-recent immigrant backgrounds.     

In my university classes, I make sure that I stress that all but the most privileged had to almost bend God's will to be here, and stay here. I make sure that I include immigrants who are both documented and undocumented in this narrative.

We are nearly all exceptional in many ways, but not because we have class privilege and exceptional jobs - but because of the inventiveness of our hustle, the "I can't go on/I'll go on" ideology, evocative of Irish playwright Samuel Beckett's beautiful, painful writing.

We internalise that struggle, steel, and vulnerability in the face of immigration officials at airports, border checkpoints, local immigration offices, and the everyday racism we encounter. When I read French existentialists, I actually laugh: if they actually wanted to know what it is like to face insurmountable obstacles, they should have first spoken to a black or brown immigrant in the US (or France) first.

It is true that many of the first friends I made in the US were in college because they did have something exceptional about them that parents and teachers recognised; a slew of people - school administrators, guidance counsellors, a friend in the neighbourhood who had an aunt who went to college - helped get them into university by helping them fill out paperwork, write entrance essays, and generally navigate the difficult US tertiary education system and immigrate into the lower rungs of the US middle class.

But I also pose this question: what happens if you are exceptional, but a queue of terrible and overworked educators dismiss or simply do not see your ability? What happens if you are not exceptional, but simply ordinary, and poor, and immigrant?

While the ordinary middle and upper-middle class kid will often have parents and educators advocating for them - protecting the young person from learning difficult lessons even at the cost of their character and skills development - the poor and the immigrant in the US rarely have the benefits of that invisible, protective shield. These experiences of failure and not-making-it are true, unexceptional, and the norm; yet, they are unincorporated into the US's popular narrative.

Those who have gone through this expensive and Faustian processes of an H1-B application, Permanent Residency or "Greencard" process, and eventually, US citizenship, know how ludicrously and nakedly class-based, racist, and violent it is towards immigrants. It is especially so for women of colour.

This system clearly favours those with existing economic, class, gender, and privileges that pipeline them into college educations. Those of us from urban centres, rather than rural areas, from nations with thriving education systems, from families with existing wealth and political power, and those from ethnic groups that are in ascendancy get ahead.

US visas and immigration processes favour those with money in hand, to pay for those exorbitant application fees, a requirement at every step of the immigration and naturalisation process. Yet, if I suggest that the US is not a meritocracy, my students react in disbelief, and many sweetly try to convince me otherwise, using the examples of the miraculous achievements of the authors we read in class.

When I point out that the problem with a meritocracy is that only those who are truly exceptional - like the authors we read - who will "make it" out of dire circumstances, there is silence. When I point out that none of us would have a chance, should we have been born in more dire circumstances, since no one in class (including me) is truly as exceptional as any of the authors we read, there is more silence.

These are some of the few moments in which I have felt that I have communicated something of importance about how structures in the US work - creating at least some doubt about powerful and pervasive mythologies that serve only to blame those who cannot claw their way out of circumstances meant to make them fail.

The truth is, anyone who plots, schemes, saves, and works to the point of exhaustion - sometimes only with the hope that the next or even the third generation will benefit - in an economically and politically powerful nation like the US has to be exceptional, in some way.

It is obvious that (white) Americans need to be disabused of the notion that the US's white population is special, and deserving, somehow, of privilege; it is time to get over the belief that they only received their privileges from having worked for it.

But just as importantly, those immigrants of more privileged backgrounds - those who are currently touting the percentage of people from their national group who have college and post-graduate degrees, as if waving these statistics and their material possessions are ways of proving that they are not, in fact, deserving of Trump's racism - also need an antidote for their misplaced smugness.

It is time that Asian immigrants in particular - who benefit from the Civil Rights Movement and the efforts of African Americans towards changing and challenging racist immigration laws that excluded Asians, and who have, as a group, been favoured since American immigration began moving towards a merit-based system - also stop imagining themselves as more special and deserving than US minorities of non-recent immigrant backgrounds.

Our class snobbery, carried over from our old countries, and defensive superiority, developed against the racism of our new country, has only aided white supremacists who couldn't care less about how exceptional we are.


The drivers of xenophobia and racism are more perceptions than reality. Mistaken assumptions,like:

There would be plenty of good-paying jobs for all native born Americans who managed to get a high school diploma if it just weren't for all the illegals. Wrong.

Native born Americans could get health insurance if the government wasn't giving it away free to illegal aliens. Wrong.

Spanish speaking children should just figure out how to speak English instead of us spending millions on bilingual education. Wrong.

But every misapprehension has a grain of truth. For many years, some illegals from Mexico and Central America and pretty much all of their American born offspring did get free Medicaid. I know that's true, because the government paid me to provide the care. I saw it. No illegals now, but still plenty of second and third and fourth generations manage to be poor enough to qualify. There are definitely ways to game the system.  I have people arriving for their kid's free dental treatment in Hummers and  brand spanking new pick-up trucks. Not all of them, but enough to know something is fishy.

And....there is a fairly large contingent of Spanish speaking adults in this country who were born here who still can't (or just won't)speak English, which is an unfortunate unintended consequence of bilingual education. I deal with these people very day too.

As for jobs, technology is an equal opportunity job destroyer. All low skill, low education jobs suck, pretty much. And high skilled jobs are something for skilled Americans to fight over with smart, educated H1-B immigrants. It is the corporations who want the H1-B workers. They cost less. Why blame the immigrants...but they're convenient.

There is a definite drain on social services when large numbers of very poor, uneducated refugees are allowed to immigrate into 1st world countries, either legally or illegally. Anybody who can't see that is willfully blind.

And, when such people accumulate to form ethnic enclaves in ghettos, and their children can't get jobs, it leads to crimes of various kinds, against property and against innocent people, and it leads to social unrest.

We have shithole places in the world now. I don't blame anybody for wanting to get out of Syria or sub-Saharan Africa, or even El Salvador. All those shitholes were made into sh itholes by the colonial system of disenfranchisement, corporate take-over of assets, and resource stripping. Now they're getting worse because of climate change and extreme population overshoot.

These problems appear intractable to me. The sh it is literally hitting the fan. No one is going to fix these problems. We could certainly be doing a better, more fair job of taking care of those who need help. But solve the underlying problems? Nah.

Prepare for impact.


“There are no innocents. There are, however, different degrees of responsibility.”

― Stieg Larsson, The Girl Who Played with Fire
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🌩 The Power of Fear 🌪

The United States imprisons more people than any other nation, including China and Russia. Over 2.3 million adults are currently in American prisons and jails. Locking up more and more people for longer and longer doesn’t make us safer, yet still the incarceration rate has shot up 500% over the past four decades.

We explore the scope and source of mass incarceration in, Sentencing Reform: Part I – The Power of Fear. It's the first in a forthcoming series that will highlight the symptoms and ultimate solutions to the ongoing mass incarceration epidemic.

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Trump's America Raises the Ghost of Dred Scott


To understand the historical roots and ideological underpinnings of Trump’s white supremacist beliefs, Taney’s opinion in the Dred Scott case is a good place to start. Contrary to what most of us are taught in high school civics classes, the case is by no means a relic of the past pertinent only to the institution of slavery. It is also a conduit to the bigotry of the present.

As law professors Jack Balkin of Yale University and Sanford Levinson of the University of Texas wrote in a 2007 article for the Chicago-Kent Law Review, the Dred Scott case remains “relevant to almost every important question of contemporary constitutional theory.” In particular, Balkin and Levinson argue, “The twin questions that Dred Scott posed and answered in 1857—who is an American and to whom does America truly belong—are still with us today.” Trump’s “Make America Great Again” and “America First” slogans and his white-nationalist agenda are the latest iterations of the perennial debate.


Although Taney’s opinion dealt with slavery, its reasoning is far broader, and directly applicable to the policies and rhetoric of President Trump because of the linkages it draws among race, status, citizenship and community. Echoes of these linkages, as Balkin and Levinson argue, “are still with us whenever we assume that one race is more centrally ‘American’ than others and more clearly and obviously a part of the American people and the American political community.”

For Taney and also, unfortunately, for Trump, America was and remains principally a white nation descended from European immigrants. Substitute “illegal aliens” or DACA “Dreamers” or prospective immigrants from “shithole” countries for the “Negroes” reviled by Taney and you have today’s “others”—the perpetual and dangerous outsiders stigmatized by Trump and his enablers, who should never be admitted to the country or welcomed and embraced as citizens.

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