Belonging Where?

By David Trend:

Throughout its existence the United States has shown a strange tendency to turn against itself, dividing citizens against each other with a vehemence rivaling the most brutal regimes on earth. Some have rationalized the resulting crisis of “belonging” in America as an understandable consequence of cultural diversity, economic stress, and global threat. After all, haven’t there always been “insiders” and “outsiders” in every culture? Aren’t competition and aggression wired into human nature?  Or is there something peculiar about the personality of the U.S.?  Could it be that prejudice is the real legacy of the “American Exceptionalism,” in traditions dating to the genocide of indigenous populations, the subjugation of women, the rise of slavery, the scapegoating of immigrants, and more recent assaults on the poor or anyone falling outside the realm of normalcy?

I discussed selected aspects of America’s divisive pathology in my book A Culture Divided: America’s Struggle for Unity, which was written in the closing years of the George W. Bush presidency.  Like many at the time, I had completely given up on the idea of “common ground” amid the residue of post-9/11 reactionary fervor and emerging economic recession. Media commentators were buzzing constantly about red/blue state polarization.  Opinions varied about the cause of the divide, attributing it to factors including regionalism, media sensationalism, partisan antipathy, or all of these combined. Also joining the fray were those asserting the divide was fabricated, with evenly divided elections showing most people in the middle of the curve on most issues.  My somewhat contrarian view was that the “problem” shouldn’t be regarded problem at all. After all, America always had been divided––through war and peace, boom and bust. Division was the country’s national brand.  But as a book about politics, A Culture Divided didn’t get to the roots or the lived experience America’s compulsive divisiveness.

Speaking at the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery marches, President Barack Obama described America as an incomplete project––a nation caught between ideals of a perfect union and the lingering realities of their failure. While citing advances in civil liberties since the bloody apex of the Voting Rights Movement, Obama also spoke of a federal report issued just days earlier documenting structural racism and misbehavior toward African Americans by police in Ferguson, MO, where months before law enforcement officers had killed an unarmed black teenager. “We know the march is not yet over.  We know the race is not yet won,” the President stated, adding, “We know that reaching that blessed destination requires admitting as much, facing up to the truth.” Continue reading “Belonging Where?”

California hate crimes decrease

California declined about 12 percent last year and has dropped by more than one-third over the past decade, the state attorney general’s office said Wednesday.

There were 930 reported hate crimes in 2012, down from 1,060 in 2011 and 1,491 in 2003, reports SF Gate

“Hate crimes based on the victim’s race, ethnicity or national origin dropped 10 percent, from 587 in 2011 to 528 last year. But they still accounted for nearly 57 percent of complaints. Black people have been the most common target, accounting for about one-third of victims in the past decade.

“Hate crimes targeting a victim’s sexual orientation was the next largest category. Reports fell nearly 4 percent, from 244 in 2011 to 235 in 2012.

“Within that category, hate crimes against gay men dropped from 111 in 2011 to 88 last year. But there were 77 crimes targeting gay men in 2003, making that category the only one to show an increase in the 10-year comparison. Those involving a victim’s religion dropped nearly 28 percent last year, from 201 in 2011 to 145 in 2012. Jews were once again the most common target. The reports are submitted to the attorney general’s office by California law enforcement agencies and district attorney’s offices.

“While overall numbers are down this year, any hate crime hurts the people and values of California,” state Attorney General Kamala Harris said in a statement. Continue reading “California hate crimes decrease”

Facebook vs gender related hate speech

Facebook has announced plans to renew its effort toward monitoring, and where appropriate, removing gender-related hate speech from its users, per a post on the company’s Facebook Safety page Tuesday, reports arstechnica:  “In its most recent battle, Facebook appears to be trying to differentiate what is “cruel and insensitive” and what is “distasteful humor” in order to answer complaints from groups including Women, Action, and the Media.

“WAM wrote an open letter to Facebook on May 21 that asserted the company seems to apply its hate speech mandates unevenly when that hate speech is gender-based. imagesThe group cites several Facebook fan pages, including “Fly Kicking Sluts in the Uterus” and “Raping your Girlfriend,” which have now been removed but were presumably present at the time of WAM’s writing.WAM claims that pages like these and others that constitute hate speech toward women are allowed to exist while similar hate speech pages based on religion, race, and sexual orientation are quickly moderated. WAM cites hateful images or content that get a media spotlight as the exception:

“You have also acted inconsistently with regards to your policy on banning images, in many cases refusing to remove offensive rape and domestic violence pictures when reported by members of the public, but deleting them as soon as journalists mention them in articles, which sends the strong message that you are more concerned with acting on a case-by-case basis to protect your reputation than effecting systemic change and taking a clear public stance against the dangerous tolerance of rape and domestic violence. Continue reading “Facebook vs gender related hate speech”

Oberlin cancels classes due to hate groups

Oberlin College canceled classes Monday to hold a “Day of Solidarity” following a month of hateful vandalism and the latest report of a person spotted on campus wearing a Ku Klux Klan-style outfit, reports Huffington Post


Throughout February, multiple acts of vandalism on the Ohio campus have targeted the black, Jewish and LGBT communities with hate speech.

“Black History Month posters were defaced with the N-word, a note found at the LGBTQ Community Coordinator called it the “Nigger + Faggot Center,” and someone wrote “Nigger Oven” in an elevator, among other incidents according to the Review. On several occasions, swastikas were drawn, the Cleveland Jewish News reports.

“On Monday morning, the school’s administration sent out an announcementessentially calling the reported KKK outfit the last straw:

“Early this morning, there was a report of a person wearing a hood and robe resembling a KKK outfit between South and the Edmonia Lewis Center and in the vicinity of Afrikan Heritage House. This report is being investigated by both Safety and Security and the Oberlin Police Department. This event, in addition to the series of other hate-related incidents on campus, has precipitated our decision to suspend formal classes and all non-essential activities for today, Monday, March 4, 2013, and gather for a series of discussions of the challenging issues that have faced our community in recent weeks.

“Oberlin had previously scheduled a convocation for Wednesday in response to the “racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic messages spread anonymously around campus,” according to the school’s Office of Communications, but moved it up to Monday afternoon. Prior to the convocation, there will be a “Rally Against Hate.” AFeb. 13 march in response to the initial vandalism drew around 460 students, according to one student’s count.”


Full story at:

Hate groups on the rise

The number of anti-government “patriot” groups, including paramilitary hate organizations, reached an all-time high in 2012, fanned by President Barack Obama’s reelection and talk of gun control following the Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre, according to a report issued Tuesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center amd reported upon by Huffington Post: Continue reading “Hate groups on the rise”

Hate group leader appeals legal loss to Rachel Maddow

Homophobic Christian rocker Bradlee Dean is appealing a judge’s dismissal of his defamation lawsuit against MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, a ruling that also required Dean to pay Maddow’s legal fees.

Dean leads the group You Can Run But You Can’t Hide, listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. As reported in World Net Daily, “An appeal is being prepared in a case that alleges MSNBC personality Rachel Maddow defamed a Christian minister by maliciously asserting he advocated the execution of homosexuals, after a judge who was accused of being biased against the plaintiffs went ahead and dismissed it. Attorney Larry Klayman told WND today that the judicial behavior could be characterized as ‘unethical’ after the judge, Joan Zeldon, praised Maddow’s attorneys as ‘distinguished’ but denigrated Klayman. Then she went ahead and dismissed the claim brought on behalf of Bradlee Dean and his You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International ministry. Klayman said there are several grounds for the appeal, including the fact that Zeldon ordered the plaintiffs to pay $24,000 in legal fees for the defendants without any discovery or hearing on exactly what those fees were for. ‘Rachel Maddow should not take any satisfaction,’ Klayman told WND. ‘This is just round one. The case has not been adjudicated on its merits.’ He explained that ‘clearly, what they did was defamatory, and it put the life of Bradlee Dean and the lives of his family and colleagues in danger.’”

For background on the decision, see “Rachel Maddow, Bradlee Dean Lawsuit: Christian Rocker Ordered To Pay MSNBC Host’s Legal Bills” in the Huffington Post.

More reasons to hate bankers

“In the 2012 edition of Occupy Money released this month, Professor Margrit Kennedy writes that a stunning 35% to 40% of everything we buy goes to interest. This interest goes to bankers, financiers, and bondholders, who take a 35% to 40% cut of our gross domestic product.” So says an article in today’s Asia Times by Ellen Brown, entitled  “Why Bankers Rule the World.”

As Brown continues, “That helps explain how wealth is systematically transferred from Main Street to Wall Street. The rich get progressively richer at the expense of the poor, not just because of “Wall Street greed” but because of the inexorable mathematics of our private banking system.

“This hidden tribute to the banks will come as a surprise to most people, who think that if they pay their credit card bills on time and don’t take out loans, they aren’t paying interest. This, says Kennedy, is not true. Tradesmen, suppliers, wholesalers and retailers all along the chain of production rely on credit to pay their bills. They must pay for labor and materials before they have a product to sell and before the end buyer pays for the product 90 days later. Each supplier in the chain adds interest to its production costs, which are passed on to the ultimate consumer.

“By 2010, 1% of the population owned 42% of financial wealth, while 80% of the population owned only 5% of financial wealth. Dr Kennedy observes that the bottom 80% pay the hidden interest charges that the top 10% collect, making interest a strongly regressive tax that the poor pay to the rich.

“People generally assume that if they pay their bills on time, they aren’t paying compound interest; but again, this isn’t true. Compound interest is baked into the formula for most mortgages, which compose 80% of US loans. And if credit cards aren’t paid within the one-month grace period, interest charges are compounded daily.

For more, see “Why Bankers Rule the World.”