Thinly-disguised white supremacy fest coming to my backyard

On October 25, something called the “European American Heritage Festival” will be shitting on my state (and in the same Grand Division, no less). Despite the innocuous title, its purpose is to plug the supremacy of the white race and the imperative to cleanse the darkies of the future Caucasian homeland. (I’m not speculating here. The event has been held for 30 years. We have transcripts of the speeches.)

With all respect to the good people of Pulaski, given that the event’s organizers have zero connection to the area, it is clear the site was chosen for its distinction as birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan.

Indeed, one of the official event sponsors is The Knights Party, the AR Klan group run by Thomas Robb. Previously called the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, it was rebranded by Robb as part of a campaign to soften the group’s racist image. It appears, however, the change extends no further than the name—and barely that far. The main TKP website (linked at the fest site) retains the domain name kkk.bz. The group also owns a landing page—which is not linked at the fest site—at kkk.com. This page is actually the first Google result that comes up for the search term “Ku Klux Klan.” It opens with this banner:

knightspartybanner3

Our friends at The Lamp have supplied a detailed breakdown of all the sponsors and their ties to white nationalism (WN) here. In general, they comprise an incestuous glob of grouplets and other enterprises centered around (if not containing) Robb and the man the Toronto National Post called “one of Canada’s most notorious white supremacists,” Paul Fromm. The SPLC has write-ups of all these guys too (links also at The Lamp).

If any doubts remain as to the nature of the event, another sponsor is Stormfront, easily the world’s largest WN/white supremacist discussion forum. Founded by ex-Klan leader Don Black, its registered usership is responsible for the murders of 100+ people in the last five years.

Oh! And music will be provided by the young duo Heritage Connection, pictured here:

Heritage Connection, the poor man's Prussian Blue

Heritage Connection, the poor man’s Prussian Blue

* * *

I leave with these general thoughts:

WNs love to hold WN events under the banner of Pan-European “heritage,” or as a jejune celebration of some “white” historical figure like Columbus or Leif Erickson. Part of this is probably PR (muting the sting of unsavory ideas), but it also reflects the contradictions inherent in the concept of white nationalism itself.

There simply is no such thing as “white culture” which could serve as the basis for a separate “white nation.” Clearly, race doesn’t automatically imply culture; if it did, the idea of a civic national identity (the way e.g. “French culture” designates the citizens of France, not just the ethnically Gaulish ones) would make no sense. And maybe WNs think it makes no sense. But then, what are the cultural markers—language, religion, cuisine, social habits, songs, art, dress, myths—that circumscribe only US-American (or even Southern American) whites and no others? This entity has yet to be defined even weakly. And yet, only a very clear and robust definition could have the moral force to underwrite the WN program, whose implementation would certainly fuck over a lot of people.

In the end, WN has to reduce to either (a) race—but then, why talk of “culture” or “heritage” at all?—or to (b) one or more specific European national identities—national identities, mind you, which the blockheads attending EAHF have only the most tenuous and cosmetic connection. (Notwithstanding the “flag march”—which is adorable, btw—there are few Irish and German and Danish participants at “heritage” events, at least in the way that indisputably Irish and German and Danish people would understand that).

Last year's cavalcade of other white people's flags

Last year’s “Cavalcade of other white people’s flags”

As a result, at these events you always get a mix of this Pan-European talk, which nobody there takes very seriously, mixed with the open white power shit; neither of which can serve as a rational basis for a “white nation.” (Just as the plural of “anecdote” is not “data,” the plural of “nation” is not “other nation” or “new nation.” It’s just a bunch of different nations stuck together.)

I’m sure I’ll say more about this shit as time goes by. Spelunker also has info on the fest.

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If Islam creates terrorists, how come the terrorists aren’t all that “Islamic”?

[Continuing the theme of the last post.]

The following is not about Hamas specifically, but this quote is prescient:

That religious arguments are used by Hamas to legitimize its ceasefires as much as they are used to legitimize its violence suggests that religious ideology does not provide an adequate explanation of its behavior. -Arun Kundnani

* * *

Turns out two British men convicted for “terrorism-related offences” prepared for their Syrian ‘jihad’ by purchasing “Islam for Dummies” and “Koran for Dummies.” Any decision to take Islam seriously came after the decision to hurt people; it couldn’t have been the cause. At best, religion provided a language in which to express their anger over world events and discrimination at home.

The evidence suggests the British “dummies” are the norm. In his book, The Muslims are Coming!, Arun Kundnani examines every high-profile ‘Islamic’ terrorist attack on US and British soil in recent memory. Behind each he uncovers a narrative similar to the above. It appears the average “Islamic terrorist” is a religious outlier-turned-wannabe with fundamentally political gripes.

To my knowledge (which is of course expansive), every serious study of the issue reinforces this conclusion. For a sampling:

(1) MI5, the British intelligence agency, performed exhaustive case-studies on “several hundred individuals known to be involved in, or closely associated with, violent extremist activity” (2008). It found that most “Islamic” recruits are “religious novices” from relatively unobservant households; nor are they operating under the guidance of any or radical extremist cleric. Many “are involved in drug-taking, drinking alcohol and visiting prostitutes” (so much for hating our freedoms). The report found “evidence that a well-established religious identity actually protects against violent radicalization.”

(2) A 2010 report by the UK think tank Demos profiled more than 200 Islamists throughout Europe. Some were convicted terrorists, while others held radical beliefs but hadn’t turned to violence. The study found systematic differences between the two groups: The actual terrorists “had a simpler, shallower conception of Islam than radicals—that is, their degree of interest in the actual teachings of the Koran was fairly minimal.”

(3) A 2008 Gallup poll of Muslim attitudes worldwide found no correlation between religious devotion and favorable views toward “jihad”-style violence. The 7% of Muslims classified as “radical”—defined in part by their sympathy for the 9/11 attacks and hostility toward the US—were found to be no more religious than the rest of the population surveyed. The same year, Pew Research replicated the basic results, finding that Muslims who believe “attacks on civilians can be morally justified” are no more observant than those who oppose such attacks.

And so on. (Seriously, I could go on and on here.)

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All of this undercuts the view of Pam Geller-style Islamophobes, who see terrorist violence as issuing forth more or less automatically from Islamic holy texts and the “ideas” contained therein. In this view, those “moderate Muslims” who don’t engage in violence against us kafirs are simply not reading their Quran closely enough.

This opinion is more than wrong; it is dangerous.

Kundnani concludes his book with a story about “Boston Bomber” Tamerlan Tsarnaev. (Like the “dummies,” the Tsarnaev brothers weren’t particularly religious before considering a turn to violence. In his famous “boat scribble,” and later to the police, the surviving brother Dzokhar attributed their motivation to US foreign policy.)

Three months before the attack, Tamerlan, angry about US military action in Afghanistan and Iraq, interrupted the imam of his mosque in the middle of Friday prayer service. The topic was a celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr., who Tamerlan accused of being a sell-out for limiting himself to non-violent tactics. The imam silenced the outburst by kicking Tamerlan out.

Kundnani writes:

Since 9/11, mosque leaders have been under pressure to eject anyone expressing radical views rather than to engage with them and seek to challenge their religious interpretations, address their political frustrations, or meet their emotional needs. That policy has been forced on mosques by the wider climate of excessive surveillance. It has made mosque leaders wary of even having conversations with those perceived to be radicals for fear of attracting official attention. They fear that every mosque has a government informant listening for radical talk.

Continuing:

The Tsarnaev brothers were said to be angry about US foreign policy in Afghanistan or Iraq…[b]ut because discussions of foreign policy have been off-limits in mosques since 9/11, they were unlikely to have had their anger acknowledged, engaged, challenged, or channeled into nonviolent political activism.

The issue goes beyond mosques. The Islamophobic obsession with “radical ideas” has led Muslim community leaders to eschew engagement with these ideas on any level. Salma Yaqoob, former Birmingham (UK) councilor, traces this policy to its ultimate conclusion. As quoted by Kundnani:

If Muslims organizations are reluctant to provide the space for sensitive discussions for fear of extremist’s accusations, where are these young people to go? Where will their views and concerns get an airing? The answer is obvious. They will be expressed in private and secret, with the genuine extremists keen to provide listening ears and simplistic solutions.


Pam Geller’s shitty bus campaign is back

So Pam Geller’s/AFDI’s shitty bus campaign is back in NYC. There is much to be said about this all around. But this particular ad is telling:

gellerbus1

Geller is the leading exemplar of the ‘text-centric’ style of Islamophobia. “It’s in the Quran” is basically her mantra. The idea is that naughty-sounding things in the holy texts of Islam more or less mechanically spawn naughty things (Islamic anti-Semitism, terrorism) in real life.

Never mind that:

(a) She interprets these texts—Martin Luther sola scriptura-style—as no Muslim scholar has in 1500 years of religious commentary;

and

(b) If her interpretations are correct, there are approximately zero self-identifying Muslims who actually abide by what’s “in the Quran.” Of course, the preponderance of “moderate Muslims” gives her no pause. They simply need to read “their own book” more closely. (Actually, she does acknowledge the moderates, calling them “secular Muslims”—who are basically apostates. My own view is that, if they are indeed less than “true Muslims,” they are exempt from all of her injunctions against Islam; and if so, she’s got, in statistical terms, almost nobody left to direct these injunctions against. But I digress.)

* * *

Geller’s view is a less sophisticated version of something called the “radicalization thesis,” examined at length in Arun Kundnani’s The Muslims are Coming! Shared by virtually every state actor prosecuting the War on Terror, this is the idea the root cause of anti-Western terrorism is some version of Islamic belief.

The thesis comes in conservative and liberal flavors, depending on whether you think Islam is essentially radical, or that radical interpretations are a perversion of “true Islam.” (Geller of course falls squarely in the conservative camp.) In either scenario, violence is cast as a product of “radical ideas.”

The problem with this theory is two-fold:

(1) Among those Muslims who share extremist ideas, statistically speaking very nearly zero of these ever attempt any sort of violence.

Conversely:

(2) Among those few Muslims who do turn to terrorism, there is simply no correlation between this decision and radical interpretations of Islam. Absolutely none, as evidenced across a couple decades of serious study. Whatever makes “the terrorists” tick, it isn’t something they read “in the Quran.” (Though religious language is typically employed to express those grievances—mostly political—which do make them tick.)

* * *

Granted, I started out talking about anti-Semitism, and ended up talking about terrorism. My reasoning there is that terrorism is simply easier to track. It’s more dramatic and quantifiable. Point being, if we can see that the “Islamic” terrorist threat is negligible, the “Islamic things” we can’t as readily see (anti-Semitism and all the rest) are probably negligible too.

[More on the “radicalization thesis” in my next post, specifically the evidence for (2) above.]

JBG


Mike Brown vs. Darren Wilson: We don’t need to “wait for all the facts to come out” before taking sides

[Jase Short at The Ansible argues that if police violence is systematic and legally-entrenched, self-defense is warranted. The following builds on that thesis, with my thanks.]

nojusticewebeef

It is undeniable that police kill and injure at a higher rate than the civilian population. This is typically defended on grounds of special workplace hazard: It isn’t that the cops are so homicidal and injurious; they just spend so much time dealing with all the other people who are.

But this fails as an explanation. For one, it can’t explain why cops kill and injure more in their civilian capacities too. (It isn’t the stress, either. Other high-stress jobs don’t show this.) Nor does it explain why police are arrested, prosecuted and convicted at a lower rate than the rest of the population when they act out. Moreover, these trends are stable across periods of greater and lesser crime, and across all variety of policy changes designed to abate the trend. Presently, the average officer is literally, mathematically more likely to provoke a deadly incident than to prevent one.

The problem is, of course, concentrated in poor communities of color (especially black) like Ferguson, MO. In the US, a black man is summarily executed by a police or security officer at a rate of about one every day and a half.

But violence is only the most dramatic expression of a generalized climate of harassment: Last year, the city of Ferguson issued ten thousand more arrest warrants than there are actual people living there. This is almost entirely for frivolous crimes: tinted windows, underpaying a parking ticket by $20, or using a trash pickup service other than the one designated for one’s area. The municipal court system has to pump these cases through at an average of one every 12 seconds.

Over the years, the city has replaced an increasingly large percentage of tax revenue with income from civil fines—to the point where now, they have to harass to meet the budget. The abuse has become—in the most literal sense—institutionalized.

Again, this falls mainly upon Ferguson’s black citizens, who are detained, ticketed, fined and arrested in numbers far outpacing their population share. They are far more likely to be pulled over than whites, while far less likely to be found with anything illegal.

(Note: In “high-stop” areas like Ferguson, or New York City under “stop and frisk,” the percentage of detentions that actually lead to arrest and conviction for any crime are exceedingly low. This should tell us something about the police shootings, where “the facts” are often murkier: If we know the average victim of “soft” police harassment is innocent, then, is it reasonable to assume that the average victim who is killed by police was guilty—that is, was shot with good reason? Not likely.)

* * *

Unless this is the grandest web of coincidence in history, white cops are targeting the black citizens of Ferguson. It isn’t a matter of uncharacteristic “bad apples,” but systematic.

Some observers have likened this kind of police presence to a foreign occupying army. One way to test if this comparison is true, or just hyperbole, is to ask: If it isn’t an occupying force, how would an occupying force behave differently? If we can’t answer, the “resemblance” is one of identity.

* * *

To paraphrase The Ansible: It follows that the black citizens of Ferguson are entitled to self-defense, up to and including that of physical resistance; and the more “fervent” responses of the protesters should be assessed in this light.

But I would add two points to this assessment:

(1) It also follows that Michael Brown’s own behavior, leading up to his death, should also be viewed in this light. (Whatever that behavior may have been.) This is why it doesn’t matter whether Mike Brown attacked Darren Wilson first. The Ferguson protests are not solely about the actions of Darren Wilson; so the justness of the community response doesn’t depend on “the facts” of this particular shooting death. Resistance is justified apart from this incident, and was justified the day before it happened. And that goes no less for Michael Brown. Whether he understood it as such, an attack on Wilson would have constituted self-defense in a larger sense.

(2) The “facts” we already know about Brown’s shooting tell us quite enough. The Ferguson police department has admitted Officer Wilson fired at least once on Brown (missing the target) while the latter was running away. No matter what happened before or after—even if Wilson was later justified in killing Brown—this is a crime. This is attempted murder. Wilson may be guilty of more, but he cannot be guilty of less.

JBG