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Alt-Right Figures Distance Themselves From SF Rally Organizer, With One Proud Boy Vowing a ‘Better Planned’ Event in SF – SFist

After yet another right-wing Twitter figure was embarrassed by poor turnout and overwhelmed by counter-protester turnout in San Francisco on Saturday, self-styled alt-right pundits have spent the last 48 hours ridiculing him and distancing themselves from the embarrassment. Also, Instagram and Twitter have booted him of their platforms. Still, a GoFundMe to help fix the organizer's front teeth has raised over $26,000.

SFist surmised two weeks ago that Texas-based Twitterer Philip Anderson a seemingly passionate but highly confused young Black man who supports the Proud Boys and hates Black Lives Matter and all things Left was likely operating under some delusion of grandeur and without the confirmation of many of his scheduled speakers when he began tweeting out a flyer for a "free speech rally" in San Francisco's Dolores Park.

Such events can not get permits for Dolores Park, as SF Rec & Parks assured us. But Anderson turned out to be somewhat more determined than we'd guessed, obtaining a permit for an event in UN Plaza and flying himself to San Francisco to appear, all while costing SF taxpayers money with police protection, etc.

Berkeley Antifa helped galvanize turnout among local leftist activists to make a show of force at Saturday's event, and by all accounts there were several hundred counter-protesters facing off with Anderson and perhaps a small handful of supporters and Proud Boys. It's not even clear if any of his scheduled speakers showed up at all, and current leader of the Proud Boys, Florida-based Enrique Tarrio, had publicly backed out of the event two days before.

As the Chronicle reports, Anderson took the "stage" around 1 p.m. after already being punched, claiming that he was only interested in "free speech," but obviously understanding what he had come to San Francisco to incite. He reportedly had a lot of plastic and glass bottles thrown at hime. A couple of other Trump supporters and Proud Boys were confronted by the throngs of counter-protesters, and at least two other men one with a MAGA hate were reportedly injured after confronting counter-protesters on Market Street about 90 minutes later.

Violence was thankfully kept to a minimum, and Anderson claims he was punched was for "no reason." But the antifa kids clearly saw reason enough to be outraged in bringing the Proud Boys who claim not to be racist but merely "western chauvinist" and overlap quite a bit in their supporters with white nationalists to the middle of San Francisco for a rally.

The event had many parallels with an equally poorly planned Patriot Prayer rally in San Francisco in the wake of Charlottesville in the summer of 2017, which was canceled, protested, rescheduled, and ended up being a bust for gun-toting organizer Joey Gibson.

And while Anderson tried to make the case that the "optics" of his bloody mouth and taking a punch from antifa were good for the alt-right cause, this Twitter thread documents the various troublesome figures whom Anderson unsuccessfully tried to lure to the event by naming them as speakers without their permission, and figures who are now denouncing his foolishness for holding such a poorly planned event with little security of his own.

One Proud Boys leader, Joe Biggs, went on Twitter to decry Anderson's poor organization and poor planning, and says that his knocked-out tooth just makes them look "weak." He claims, spuriously, that he and Tarrio will hold their own event in San Francisco soon to raise money for Anderson's dental work, and it will be better organized and protected by more Proud Boys.

Berkeley Antifa has also been taking pains to document Anderson's support for the Proud Boys, despite his being a minor figure thus far in the alt-right, by all accounts, with fewer than 2,000 followers before his Twitter account was suspended over the weekend. Tarrio, who identifies as Afro-Cuban, and Anderson, both like to claim their own race as proof that the Proud Boys is not a racist group but as has been widely noted, they promote Islamophobia, xenophobia, violence against leftists, everything Trump, and their membership has for obvious reasons overlapped with many a racist and white-supremacist group.

Unfortunately, like Trump, embarrassments like this may only incite a stepped up sense of importance among alt-right figures, with San Francisco and Berkeley being their favorite stages (after Portland) for street battles aimed at gaining video content for their social media crusades.

Hopefully we can get through the next two weeks before the election without any more of this bullshit.

Previously: Trump Supporters Turn Out for Small 'Free Speech Rally' at UN Plaza, Outnumbered by Counter-Protesters

Read more from the original source:

Alt-Right Figures Distance Themselves From SF Rally Organizer, With One Proud Boy Vowing a 'Better Planned' Event in SF - SFist

Videos From Right-Wing Site That Preaches ‘The Left Ruins Everything’ Assigned In Ohio School – HuffPost

An Ohio public school has been giving students extra credit for watching videos from PragerU, a right-wing website that produces clips of talking heads such as Candace Owens and Ben Shapiro discussing conservative viewpoints, HuffPost has learned.

The PragerU videos with titles such as Build the Wall, Why the Right Was Right and The Left Ruins Everything were assigned to a 10th-grade history class at Maumee High School, along with a series of questions about the videos most important messages.

The assignment came at the same time that the website has tried to gain further influence in K-12 classrooms. Earlier this month, the organization launched a program directly aimed at parents and educators, complete with study guides with sections such as Conservatives Are the Real Environmentalists and The Ferguson Lie, based on a HuffPost review of the materials.

Andrea Cutway, the mother of 16-year-old student Avery Lewis, brought the assignment to the attention of Maumee City Schools administrators and immediately pulled her daughter out of the class. Maumee is about 10 miles southwest of Toledo.

Administrators first tried what they deemed a compromise by also assigning work that reflected views from the other side of the political spectrum to the student,Cutway said. But after HuffPost reached out to the school about the assignment, it decided to remove the materials from the syllabus, Todd Cramer, superintendent of Maumee City Schools, told HuffPost.

Other PragerU videos on its website dissect issues in five-minute clips and have titles such as There Is No Gender Wage Gap, How to Steal an Election: Mail-In Ballots, andIs Islam a Religion of Peace?

The teachers class website shows that she also assigned the videos last year.

The homework assignment appeared unrelated to PragerUs latest venture, called PragerU Educators and Parents, or PREP, which launched several weeks ago. The inception of such a program suggested that these types of assignments may become more prevalent in schools.

Already, 2,000 parents and educators have already signed up for PREP, Craig Strazzeri, chief marketing officer of PragerU, said in an email to HuffPost.

We constantly hear from educators and teachers who use our videos in the classroom, Strazzeri said. He declined to disclose how many public school teachers specifically joined the new program. Ideally, every school in America would show PragerU videos in the classroom on a regular basis to help educate the next generation.

PragerU started the PREP program in response to COVID-19-related school shutdowns, which forced us to take a closer look at what is being taught and not taught across the country, said Adrienne Johnson, PragerUs chief of staff and lead of the PREP platform, in a video interview with conservative news channelOne America News Network. America is not being fairly portrayed. Many schools are implementing anti-racist Black Lives Matter curriculum andThe 1619 Project.

In recent weeks, President Donald Trumptargeted The 1619 Project, an initiative of The New York Times Magazine, which elevates the importance of the first year enslaved Africans arrived in America and reexamines American history with that year in mind. Schools around the country are teaching a curriculum based on the project, which won a Pulitzer Prize last year.

Lewis was immediately alarmed when she started her extra credit assignment last week. The assignment asked her to watch PragerU videos and then answer questions about how the videos challenged her beliefs. She had hoped to use the assignment to tack on a few extra points to her grade after taking a test on which she suspected she performed poorly, but after seeing the videos, the teen didnt think she could complete the homework.

Cutway, Lewis mother, was similarly shocked when her daughter showed her the assignment. She immediately fired off an email to the schools principal asking who approved the assignment and whether or not students had been given any context for PragerUs point of view.

Its ALT RIGHT propaganda, Cutway said in the email to the school principal, which she provided to HuffPost. If you Google PragerU and spend a few minutes scrolling, you will see that this site is controversial at best.

Photo courtesy of Andrea CutwayAvery Lewis (left) was assigned PragerU videos for extra credit at school. Her mom, Andrea Cutway (right), immediately complained.

Cutways concern was less for her daughter, whom she sees as politically savvy enough to recognize that the sites videos were one-sided. But she worried about other students, who may be learning about some of these issues for the first time and assume the videos are presenting facts rather than opinions. She immediately pulled her daughter from the class.

Lewis met with school administrators soon after to discuss the issue. Together, they came up with a solution that the teacher would also assign her viewpoints from the opposite side, Cutway said.

For Cutway, though, this ignored the larger issue that PragerU videos be assigned at all and that school administrators did not see a problem. She had a phone meeting with the administrators, which she found similarly disconcerting.

When I talked to the principal and vice principal, they acted like this was just another assignment, said Cutway, who works as a juvenile parole officer for the state. I said, I think at this time we need to end this call, gentlemen. I dont know what you have allowed to bring into your public school.

This really is some scary stuff, Cutway said of PragerU. I do feel like they have found a way to get into the public school system.

The teacher who assigned the videos did not respond to a request for comment.

Since Cutways conversation with the school administrators, district leaders appeared to have had a change of heart and said they removed the assignment from the syllabus, though they stopped short of condemning the overall use of such materials.

We believe that students deserve a balanced presentation of content, district Superintendent Cramer said when asked if the school condoned use of PragerU materials. We support our educators in using a variety of instructional tools and materials. We expect our educators to exercise good judgment and trust our students, parents and community to engage our staff in conversations about our instructional methods and the materials being used if they feel the need to do so.

The incident, he said, has also led to internal conversations focused on ensuring we are presenting content through a variety of balanced materials.

Cutway was especially concerned for how the school assignment could have made immigrant students or LGBTQ people feel, she said.

PragerU is no stranger to controversy. In 2017, the organization sued YouTube after the site flagged some of its videos as inappropriate, alleging that such a move amounted to censorship and violated the First Amendment.A federal court ruled that a private firm such as YouTube wasnt bound by the First Amendment in this case.

The PREP program study guide quizzes students with true-false questions such as nearly all the major 19th- and 20th- century breakthroughs in health care were made by Western Europeans and North Americans. (The study guide says the answer is true.) Another true-false question asks students to evaluate the following statement: Big Tech with its control of search algorithms, its shadowbanning, and deboosting supports political correctness and the resulting limitations of freedom.

In the OANN interview, Johnson said the program has signed up so many educators.

Seeing what theyre saying when they join the discussion forum, these are people who value children, value childrens education, and they are just heartbroken by what they see happening in schools and the leftist indoctrination. This is a place where they can come and fight against that, she said.

Calling all HuffPost superfans!

Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost's next chapter

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Videos From Right-Wing Site That Preaches 'The Left Ruins Everything' Assigned In Ohio School - HuffPost

Alexandra Minna Stern: Far-right groups expect to disrupt upcoming elections – University of Michigan News

FACULTY Q&A

The recent alleged attempt by anti-government militias to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has put a spotlight on domestic terrorism in the United States.

And the violence could get worse with the November elections less than a month away, says Alexandra Minna Stern, a University of Michigan expert who studies far right extremism. She is author of Proud Boys and the White Ethnostate, which applies a historical analysis, feminist studies and critical race studies to deconstructing the core ideas of the alt-right and white nationalism.

Stern is the Carroll Smith-Rosenberg Collegiate Professor of History, American Culture and Womens and Gender Studies.

Why have far-right groups become emboldened in recent years?

Weve seen a rise in far-right groups over the past two decades, and really significantly over the past several years. This year has seen an acceleration of that process in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly with protests against public health measures as we saw played out in our capital in Lansing. In addition, anti-racism protests in the summer brought people into the streets including far-right actors and instigators who want to wreak havoc.

What role did social media play in their efforts?

Social media and information technologies have played a role in the far right and among white supremacist groups for a long time. In fact, some of the white power movements in the 1970s and 80s were the first to use encrypted computer technologies to communicate with each other.

If we fast forward to the early 21st century, with the advent of social media. Its undeniable that platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube played a role in both making extremist content available and amplifying it, and also in providing ways for far-right actors to meet each other and to network.

In the plot against Michigans governor, we know that at least several of the13 men allegedly involved used private Facebook pages to communicate with one another. Social media was critical to honing their own identities, making connections with other like-minded extremists and also in organizing this plot against the governor.

Why target the governor?

There are a few reasons why they targeted Gov. Whitmer. First, theyre here in Michigan, which has a long history of militia movements. Second, they are anti-government by definition, and thus interpreted the governors social distancing orders, like closing businesses and mandating face masks, as infringements on their own personal liberties. The dialogue included in the FBI criminal complaint reveals that they expressed unbridled misogyny. They talked about attacking the governor and her family in violent fantasy terms.

Finally, it is also clear that Gov. Whitmer was a target because she was called out by President Trump. For many of these far-right actors, their views align with his views. He called her That woman from Michigan and has antagonized her over and over again. Now she has courageously spoken back at him; they interpreted her as an enemy in the same way as he did.

Are these behaviors unique to groups located in Michigan?

What were seeing in Michigan with the rise of these paramilitary groups is home-grown to the state and also to America. Its part of the recent rise of the far-right in society. However, this is a broader global phenomenon where were seeing the rise of these groups across the world, such as Germany where there have been similar anti-COVID protests and significant growth of extremist and neo-Nazi groups.

What actions, if any, do you expect the far-right groups, militias and other racist groups taking after the presidential elections?

I think we need to be concerned about what is going to unfold in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 3 elections. We know that several groups, including the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, have stated their intent to disrupt electoral processes. They want to monitor the elections. They plan to stake out poll sites from vehicles with cameras. Many of them plan to arrive both visibly armed or carrying concealed weapons to be on-hand to protect people. They want to carry out citizens arrests and potentially disrupt the voting process. They like to call this protection, but we need to name it for what it is: voter suppression, disruption, and intimidation. And its important to note that this problem will be with us after the elections. No matter who wins the election, the far right will not disappear after Nov. 3.

The rest is here:

Alexandra Minna Stern: Far-right groups expect to disrupt upcoming elections - University of Michigan News

Plot to kidnap Whitmer grew from the militia movement’s toxic mix of constitutional falsehoods – Salon

The U.S. militia movement has long been steeped in a peculiar and unquestionably mistaken interpretation of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and civil liberties.

This is true of an armed militia group that calls itself the Wolverine Watchmen, who were involved in the recently revealed plot to overthrow Michigan's government and kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

As I wrote in "Fracturing the Founding: How the Alt-Right Corrupts the Constitution," published in 2019, the crux of the militia movement's devotion to what I have called the "alt-right constitution" is a toxic mix of constitutional falsehoods and half-truths.

Private militias

The term "militia" has many meanings.

The Constitution addresses militias in Article 1, authorizing Congress to "provide for organizing, arming and disciplining, the Militia."

But the Constitution makes no provision for private militias, like the far-right Wolverine Watchmen, Proud Boys, Michigan Militia and the Oath Keepers, to name just a few.

Private militias are simply groups of like-minded men members are almost always white males who subscribe to a sometimes confusing set of beliefs about an avaricious federal government that is hostile to white men and white heritage, and the sanctity of the right to bear arms and private property. They believe that government is under the control of Jews, the United Nations, international banking interests, Leftists, Antifa, Black Lives Matter and so on. There is no evidence of this.

On Oct. 8, the FBI arrested six men, five of them from Michigan, and charged them with conspiring to kidnap Whitmer. Shortly thereafter, state authorities charged an additional seven men with, according to the Associated Press, "allegedly seeking to storm the Michigan Capitol and seek a "civil war." Included were the founders and several members of the Wolverine Watchmen.

As revealed in the FBI affidavit accompanying the federal charges, the six men charged claimed to be defenders of the Bill of Rights. Indeed, some of the men in April had participated in rallies in Lansing, the state capital, where armed citizens tried to force their way onto the floor of the State House to protest Governor Whitmer's pandemic shut-down orders as a violation of the Constitution by a "tyrannical" government intent upon sacrificing civil liberties in the name of the COVID-19 fight.

According to the FBI's affidavit, the conspirators wanted to create "a society that followed the U.S. Bill of Rights and where they could be self-sufficient."

Militia members imagine themselves to be "the last true American patriots," "the modern defenders of the United States Constitution in general and the Second Amendment in particular."

Hence, the Bill of Rights and especially the Second Amendment, which establishes the right to bear arms figure prominently in the alt-constitution. It is no accident that the initial discussions about overthrowing Michigan's so-called tyrannical governor started at a Second Amendment rally in June.

According to most militias, the Second Amendment authorizes their activity and likewise makes them free of legal regulation by the state. In truth, the Second Amendment does nothing to authorize private armed militias. Private armed militias are explicitly illegal in every state.

No restrictions on rights

Additional foundational principles of militia constitutionalism include absolutism. Absolutism, in the militia world, is the idea that fundamental constitutional rights like freedom of speech, the right to bear arms and the right to own property cannot be restricted or regulated by the state without a citizen's consent.

The far right's reading of the First and Second Amendments which govern free speech and the right to bear arms, respectively starts from a simple premise: Both amendments are literal and absolute. They believe that the First Amendment allows them to say anything, anytime, anywhere, to anyone, without consequence or reproach by government or even by other citizens who disagree or take offense at their speech.

Similarly, the alt-right gun advocates hold that the Second Amendment protects their God-given right to own a weapon any weapon and that governmental efforts to deny, restrict or even to register their weapons must be unconstitutional. They think the Second Amendment trumps every other provision in the Constitution.

Another key belief among militia members is the principle of constitutional self-help. That's the belief that citizens, acting on their inherent authority as sovereign free men, are ultimately and finally responsible for enforcing the Constitution as they understand it.

Demonstrating this way of thinking, the men arrested in Michigan discussed taking Gov. Whitmer to a "secure location" in Wisconsin to stand "trial" for treason prior to the Nov. 3 election. According to Barry County, Michigan Sheriff Dar Leaf a member of the militia-friendly Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officer Association the men arrested in Michigan were perhaps not trying to kidnap the governor but were instead simply making a citizen's arrest.

Leaf, who appeared at a Grand Rapids protest in May of Gov. Whitmer's stay-at-home order along with two of the alleged kidnappers, mistakenly believes that local sheriffs are the highest constitutional authority in the United States, invested with the right to determine which laws support and which laws violate the Constitution. The events in Michigan show how dangerous these mistaken understandings of the Constitution can be.

There will be more

The Wolverine Watchmen are not a Second Amendment militia or constitutional patriots in any sense of the word. If they are guilty of the charges brought against them, then they are terrorists.

[Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation's newsletter.]

The FBI and Michigan law enforcement shut down the Watchmen before an egregious crime and a terrible human tragedy unfolded. But as I concluded just last year in my book, "there is little reason to think the militia movement will subside soon."

Unfortunately, I did not account for the possibility that President Trump would encourage militias "to stand back and stand by," which seems likely to encourage and embolden groups that already clearly represent a threat. Expect more Michigans.

This story incorporates material from a story published on April 15, 2019 in The Conversation.

John E. Finn, Professor Emeritus of Government, Wesleyan University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Plot to kidnap Whitmer grew from the militia movement's toxic mix of constitutional falsehoods - Salon

Column: Plot to kidnap Whitmer grew from the militia movement’s toxic mix of constitutional falsehoods and half-truths Michigan Advance – Michigan…

The U.S. militia movement has long been steeped in a peculiar and unquestionably mistaken interpretation of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and civil liberties.

This is true of an armed militia group that calls itself the Wolverine Watchmen, who were involved in the recently revealed plot to overthrow Michigans government and kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

As I wrote in Fracturing the Founding: How the Alt-Right Corrupts the Constitution, published in 2019, the crux of the militia movements devotion to what I have called the alt-right constitution is a toxic mix of constitutional falsehoods and half-truths.

The term militia has many meanings.

The Constitution addresses militias in Article 1, authorizing Congress to provide for organizing, arming and disciplining, the Militia.

We will find you: Whitmer warns extremists after thwarted kidnapping plot

But the Constitution makes no provision for private militias, like the far-right Wolverine Watchmen, Proud Boys, Michigan Militia and the Oath Keepers, to name just a few.

Private militias are simply groups of like-minded men members are almost always white males who subscribe to a sometimes confusing set of beliefs about an avaricious federal government that is hostile to white men and white heritage, and the sanctity of the right to bear arms and private property. They believe that government is under the control of Jews, the United Nations, international banking interests, Leftists, Antifa, Black Lives Matter and so on. There is no evidence of this.

On Oct. 8, the FBI arrested six men, five of them from Michigan, and charged them with conspiring to kidnap Whitmer. Shortly thereafter, state authorities charged an additional seven men with, according to the Associated Press, allegedly seeking to storm the Michigan Capitol and seek a civil war. Included were the founders and several members of the Wolverine Watchmen.

As revealed in the FBI affidavit accompanying the federal charges, the six men charged claimed to be defenders of the Bill of Rights. Indeed, some of the men in April had participated in rallies in Lansing, the state capital, where armed citizens tried to force their way onto the floor of the State House to protest Governor Whitmers pandemic shut-down orders as a violation of the Constitution by a tyrannical government intent upon sacrificing civil liberties in the name of the COVID-19 fight.

According to the FBIs affidavit, the conspirators wanted to create a society that followed the U.S. Bill of Rights and where they could be self-sufficient.

Militia members imagine themselves to be the last true American patriots, the modern defenders of the United States Constitution in general and the Second Amendment in particular.

Hence, the Bill of Rights and especially the Second Amendment, which establishes the right to bear arms figure prominently in the alt-constitution. It is no accident that the initial discussions about overthrowing Michigans so-called tyrannical governor started at a Second Amendment rally in June.

According to most militias, the Second Amendment authorizes their activity and likewise makes them free of legal regulation by the state. In truth, the Second Amendment does nothing to authorize private armed militias. Private armed militias are explicitly illegal in every state.

Additional foundational principles of militia constitutionalism include absolutism. Absolutism, in the militia world, is the idea that fundamental constitutional rights like freedom of speech, the right to bear arms and the right to own property cannot be restricted or regulated by the state without a citizens consent.

The far rights reading of the First and Second Amendments which govern free speech and the right to bear arms, respectively starts from a simple premise: Both amendments are literal and absolute. They believe that the First Amendment allows them to say anything, anytime, anywhere, to anyone, without consequence or reproach by government or even by other citizens who disagree or take offense at their speech.

Susan J. Demas: Protestors threatened Whitmers murder. GOP leaders havent condemned them.

Similarly, the alt-right gun advocates hold that the Second Amendment protects their God-given right to own a weapon any weapon and that governmental efforts to deny, restrict or even to register their weapons must be unconstitutional. They think the Second Amendment trumps every other provision in the Constitution.

Another key belief among militia members is the principle of constitutional self-help. Thats the belief that citizens, acting on their inherent authority as sovereign free men, are ultimately and finally responsible for enforcing the Constitution as they understand it.

Demonstrating this way of thinking, the men arrested in Michigan discussed taking Gov. Whitmer to a secure location in Wisconsin to stand trial for treason prior to the Nov. 3 election. According to Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf a member of the militia-friendly Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officer Association the men arrested in Michigan were perhaps not trying to kidnap the governor but were instead simply making a citizens arrest.

Leaf, who appeared at a Grand Rapids protest in May of Gov. Whitmers stay-home order along with two of the alleged kidnappers, mistakenly believes that local sheriffs are the highest constitutional authority in the United States, invested with the right to determine which laws support and which laws violate the Constitution. The events in Michigan show how dangerous these mistaken understandings of the Constitution can be.

Militia threats just paralyzed Oregons legislature. The movements roots in Michigan run deep.

The Wolverine Watchmen are not a Second Amendment militia or constitutional patriots in any sense of the word. If they are guilty of the charges brought against them, then they are terrorists.

The FBI and Michigan law enforcement shut down the Watchmen before an egregious crime and a terrible human tragedy unfolded. But as I concluded just last year in my book, there is little reason to think the militia movement will subside soon.

Unfortunately, I did not account for the possibility that President Trump would encourage militias to stand back and stand by, which seems likely to encourage and embolden groups that already clearly represent a threat. Expect more Michigans.

This article is republished from our partners at The Conversation. Read the original article.

Originally posted here:

Column: Plot to kidnap Whitmer grew from the militia movement's toxic mix of constitutional falsehoods and half-truths Michigan Advance - Michigan...

Gay community attempts to take over #ProudBoys from alt-right group – New York Post

Gay people trolled the far-right Proud Boys by tweeting celebrations of gay pride along with the #ProudBoys hashtag on Sunday in an attempt to drown out content posted by the Proud Boys group under that tag.

Gay twitter has claimed the #ProudBoys hashtag from alt-right white supremacists and filled it with images of love, positivity, and true PRIDE! tweeted one user on Sunday.

Many members of the LGBTQ community used the hashtag to celebrate their own relationships.

#ProudBoys twenty seven years together and still going, tweeted one user along with a photo of himself and partner.

Another shared a snapshot from their wedding, saying, A pair of #ProudBoys here to reclaim the word proud.

The Proud Boys made headlines last week when President Trump told the group to stand back and stand by when asked to disavow white supremacists and militia groups at the presidential debate.

The group, which has been active since at least 2016, is considered by the Southern Poverty Law Center to be a general hate organization that espouses misogynistic, anti-Muslim and homophobic rhetoric.

They were also involved in the 2017 Charlottesville Unite the Right rally where a woman was mowed down and killed.

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Gay community attempts to take over #ProudBoys from alt-right group - New York Post

The Proud Boys are a far-right gang. Trump boosted them on national TV – The Guardian

At the first 2020 presidential debate, Donald Trump was explicitly asked to denounce the white supremacists and rightwing militia groups that passionately support him. While an average person would expect this to be a straightforward answer, Trump, once again, failed to answer unambiguously. Instead he said: Proud Boys stand back and stand by. But Ill tell you what. Ill tell you what. Somebodys got to do something about antifa and the left because this is not a rightwing problem. Rather than harnessing an opportunity to ratchet down the rhetoric and talking points of white power groups, Trumps not-very-coded language has actually energized Proud Boys and similar alt-right groups.

The Proud Boys, for those unfamiliar, are a self-described western chauvinist mens club established in 2016 by Gavin McInnes. The group sometimes paints itself as a wacky fraternal organization; in practice, it is much closer to a street gang, and McInnes has publicly described the group as a gang. Their gatherings tend to involve large amounts of drinking and violence. Members partake in unusual rituals to gain status within the group. They have a uniform (Fred Perry shirts), gang colors (black and yellow) and a mascot/symbol (a cockerel). Traditionally, the Proud Boys would be considered nothing more than a modernized version of racist skinheads. They package themselves, however, in a hipster persona that uses humor and irony to spread far-right talking points opposing feminism, immigration, political correctness and establishment politics.

The blogger Ken White coined something called the goat rule: if you ironically kiss a goat, you are still a goat-kisser. (We are paraphrasing his original language, which was slightly stronger.) The Proud Boys like to give the impression that they simply enjoy using caustic or ironic humor to trigger liberals and social justice warriors. But theyre not ironic, transgressive humorists or provocateurs; theyre goat-kissers who are racist and sexist.

From the perspective of the criminal justice system, the elements that form the Proud Boys collective identity are the same as the criteria that law enforcement agencies often use to designate street gangs. As gang experts and the authors of Alt-Right Gangs: A Hazy Shade of White, we think its extremely clear that the Proud Boys membership criteria, aesthetics and penchant for violence identify the group as a street gang. Yet the Proud Boys and other white power groups are not considered a criminal street gang by many police agencies and are generally absent in gang databases. This is especially concerning given that a 2006 FBI report found that some American police officers sympathize or even actively collaborate with far-right militias or white power groups.

Trumps recent overture to the Proud Boys is also troubling because of a phenomenon called Big Gang Theory. The Proud Boys are numerically small but, like a lot of gangs and splinter ideological groups, benefit from the (exaggerated) perception that they are highly organized, control a lot of territory and have members in many municipalities. This is reminiscent of the Hammerskins, the largest racist skinhead gang in the United States, which at its peak has probably never had more than about 500 members despite there being about 5,000 racist skinheads in the US.

Like the Hammerskins, the Proud Boys give off the impression that they are bigger and more imposing than they actually are, as evidenced by the lack of attendees at their recent rally in Portland. Trumps call for Proud Boys to stand by further plays into this embellished facade.

Trump is pulling this far-right group more and more into the mainstream, providing the Proud Boys with the opportunity to gather support from a far bigger pool of potential recruits, which they will then slowly expose to their white supremacist rhetoric and affirmation of violence. Trumps remarks also increase the risk that other extremist groups that are not as well-known as the Proud Boys will escalate their violence in order to gain similar attention.

In our current period of political and social uncertainty, the Proud Boys, other white power gangs, and far-right militias will continue to draw more people into oppositional politics. Trumps callous and deliberately ambiguous language, which far-right groups interpret as praise and endorsement, will only nurture more extremism.

Shannon E Reid is an associate professor of criminal justice and criminology at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. Matthew Valasik is an associate professor of sociology at Louisiana State University. They are the authors of Alt-Right Gangs: A Hazy Shade of White (University of California Press)

Originally posted here:

The Proud Boys are a far-right gang. Trump boosted them on national TV - The Guardian

Your Guide to Right-Wing Extremists in Texas as the Election Nears – Reform Austin

Early voting in Texas starts on Oct. 13, and there are already concerns being voiced by the FBI that armed right-wing extremist groups might show up as poll watchers in order to intimidate or deter voters. This is particularly impactful in Texas, where President Donald Trump currently holds less than a two-point lead over former Vice President Joe Biden, making it possible that Trump will be the first Republican not to carry Texas since 1976. At a moment when every vote counts, voter intimidation might mean the difference between victory and defeat for either candidate.

But just who are these groups, and how much danger do they pose to Texas and the electoral process? Heres a quick look.

The Proud Boys

The biggest name in right wing extremism at the moment is the Proud Boys. Founded in 2016 by Gavin McInnes, they are described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as western chauvinists who vehemently deny they are white nationalists. However, they regularly associate with more overt white supremacist groups, such as their participation in the Unite the Right Rally in 2017, and members constantly espouse anti-immigrant, misogynistic and Islamophobic viewpoints. The association of the Proud Boys with white nationalism is strong enough that they were used as an example of such groups in the first 2020 presidential debate, where Trump told them to stand back and stand by. The phrase was immediately adopted by the group as a slogan.

In other cities (primarily Portland, Ore.), the Proud Boys are known for their rallies and history of sustained provocations that are used to incite violent confrontations with counter-protesters, blame any resulting violence on the left, and press for further repression and retaliation against those they consider their political adversaries according to the SPLC. However, in Texas their activities have been minimal.

In 2019, the current head of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, attended a Texans Against Communism event held in Houston and spoke at length. The entire program was rife with slurs and bizarre right-wing conspiracy theories, but Tarrio took things to the next level. He quoted passages from Pat Buchanans book The Death of the West, one of the seminal white nationalist American texts.

Another curious incident happened in Houston in 2018 that may or may not have involved the Proud Boys. In May of that year, the famous Rothko Chapel was vandalized. The Broken Obelisk sculpture by Barnett Newman that is dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was splashed with white paint and the ground was littered with flyers bearing the phrase its okay to be white. About a month after reporting negatively on the incident, I received an email from the Houston Press contact system by a man named James Friend who claimed to be a member of the Houston chapter of the Proud Boys.

It reads (with errors intact), Have you ever actually talked to the groups you hate? As a member of the Houston Proud Boys chapter, Id love to have the chance to give you the real story of who we are. Or are you only able to tell lies and slander us. Will admit, yall do keep our lawyer busy. But if your a true open minded leftist, then you really need more info for your stories. We are NOT alt right, nor racist.

In neither the original article about the vandalism nor the follow-up opinion piece I wrote about soft white supremacy did I mention the Proud Boys by name. The supposed member contacted me out of the blue following the reporting. If this link between the vandalism and the Proud Boys is legit, it would constitute the only illegal act connected with the Proud Boys in Texas thus far. At least three chapters do exist in the Lone Star State, but Tarrio describes them as drinking clubs with a patriot problem. They dont appear to be planning any demonstrations at Texas polling places at this time.

Other Groups

Two other right-wing organizations in Texas bear mentioning.

The first and most dangerous is Atomwaffen Division, an overtly neo-Nazi group that is connected to at least five murders. They are very active in Texas, with their leader John Cameron Denton, also known as Rape, attending white supremacist concerts and throwing Hitler salutes in pictures.

Terrifying and violent as Atomwaffen Division is, it is unlikely that well see them at polls attempting to sway voters. Though they do target journalists who have written critically of them, they also openly targeted Trumps Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen. A true classical hate group, they dont seem interested in political activities.

The second is Texas Patriot Network, who also operate out of the Houston area. TPN was a partner in the Texans Against Communism event mentioned above. They are also famous for protesting at the largest Muslim convention in the country in Houston in 2018, at which leaked chat logs showed them picking specific targets and calling them dead meat. Fortunately, no one was injured then.

TPN often serves as a kind of hub for smaller groups, such as the openly racist Sons of Odin and Texans United for America. In 2017, TUA organized the 1776 Freedom March in Austin (also attended by the Proud Boys), and called for armed insurrection. Since reporting on the Texans Against Communism event (after which I received at least one death threat from people associated with the group), TPN went underground and privatized all their social media. However, they did survive the recent Facebook purge of right-wing extremists, and as of September were still planning pro-Trump parades in Texas.

Boogaloo Movement

When a dad joke meets the specter of armed insurrection to protect a right-wing supremacy in America, you get the Boogaloo Movement (as in Civil War 2: Electric Boogaloo). Texas has always had people willing to dance with the idea of violent secession. In 2015, concerns about the Jade Helm series of military exercises in the state were exacerbated by Gov. Greg Abbott saying he would call out the Texas State Guard to watch the maneuvers, leading to an all-out movement of alt-right lunacy that was worthy of merciless mockery.

Those sentiments didnt go away, though. In fact, they grew. As the QAnon conspiracy cult and other factions of violent right-wing extremism metastasized on Chan boards and escaped into the mainstream, Boogaloo Boys began making themselves an uncoordinated but extremely potent driver of intimidation, often showing up at rallies in their trademark Hawaiian shirts and tactical gear.

In Texas, they are very active. In June, Austin bodybuilder Phillip Russell Archibald was arrested. He was being investigated for trafficking steroids, but he was also on social media calling for violent action at Black Lives Matter rallies. He had apparently also gained quite a personal following of people interested in hunting Antifa and shooting looters. In April, a Texarkana man, Aaron Swenson, was arrested after planning to attack police officers. His social media accounts also contained numerous references to the Boogaloo movement.

Unlike other extremist groups, the Boogalo Boys are far more loose-knit and decentralized. As such, tracking their movements, motivations and activities is very difficult. Their ideology is also less cohesive and more prone to conspiracy theory thinking, making it hard to anticipate their actions. Their sole, consistent beliefs seem to be a fanatical devotion to the unregulated right to bear arms and a desire for a civil war, whatever form that may take. Considering their members histories of planning violent acts, voters should be wary of anyone they see in a Hawaiian shirt with a gun while standing in line to cast their votes. Odds are, they are there to cause trouble.

If you feel you are witnessing an attempt to intimidate voters, call the Election Protection Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE), or if you feel you are in danger, 911.

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Your Guide to Right-Wing Extremists in Texas as the Election Nears - Reform Austin

Did Biden Call Trump Supporters the ‘Dregs of Society’? – Snopes.com

In October 2020, with just four weeks to go until Election Day, the reelection campaign of U.S. President Donald Trump posted a short video clip on Twitter saying it showed Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden calling Trump supporters the dregs of society.

The tweet, posted on Oct. 6 by @TrumpWarRoom, contained the following text: Joe Biden called Trump supporters the dregs of society. The idea that Biden is a unifier is a joke. In the accompanying eight-second clip, Biden says:

Theyre a small percentage of the American people. Virulent people. Some of them the dregs of society.

However, the Trump campaigns presentation of Bidens remarks was deeply misleading. Viewed in proper context, its clear that the former U.S. vice president was not referring to Trump supporters as a whole, but rather what he called the forces of intolerance throughout the world and in the United States, in particular the Ku Klux Klan and the alt-right.

In the 2016 election, the Trump campaign capitalized on Democratic candidate Hillary Clintons infamous claim that half of Trumps supporters constituted a basket of deplorables. The false attack on Biden both in September 2018, when he made the remarks, and again in 2020 appeared to be an attempt to create a similar narrative around Biden, who has pitched himself to voters as a moderate and unifying candidate.

The short clip posted by the Trump campaign was taken from a much longer speech that Biden gave on Sept. 15, 2018, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. Biden was speaking at an annual dinner for the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ rights non-profit.

In order to provide the full context for Bidens dregs of society remark, the following is a transcript of the relevant section of his speech, and the moments leading up to it, with especially relevant remarks highlighted in bold. The section of the speech in question can be watched in full below:

Thanks to you, our children, my grandchildren will grow up in a world thats far more just, open-minded and humane. But our work is not yet done, by any stretch of the imagination. The stakes are much too high. As I said, were faced with an administration, and some of its most ardent right-wing supporters from the Ku Klux Klan the head of the Ku Klux Klan has endorsed [Trump] and the alt-right, who are trying to undo all the progress you have made, and the little that Barack [Obama] and I have made with you.

Today, we still dont have a federal law that explicitly protects LGBTQ [people] from being fired or evicted or denied service at a restaurant. In 28 states, you can still be fired for being gay. In 30 states, you can be fired if youre transgender. Legally fired. And heres what I want to remind you all: the American people are better than this. I promise you, they dont know that that is possible. We should be reminding them, day in and day out, that that it is still possible, because they will not support it. And as Chad [Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin] said, transgender Americans are still under attack in state legislatures, and face an epidemic of violence that claims far too many of their lives each year.

And around the world, LGBTQ individuals face terror and torture. Chechnya, El Salvador, Malaysia, Tanzania. Even some of our democratic allies, like Romania, appear to be giving way to some narrow-minded divisive politics that have tried to define family here at home. The same kind of people. Any person of conscience, regardless of their religious or partisan beliefs, should be able to agree that discrimination and violence against any person, in any form, is simply intolerable, illegal, wrong.

As you know, when I was vice president I spent a lot of time traveling around the world, and Id speak out about this issue in these countries. And Id be told, in some of the countries, Its cultural. Well let me tell you something, those who try to excuse this kind of discrimination in the name of culture, I say prejudice is prejudice and humanity is humanity. It is a crime. And using religion or culture as a license to discriminate, demonizing the community, individuals to score political points is no more justifiable around the world than it is here at home, and our policies should reflect that.

But despite losing in the courts and in the court of public opinion, these forces of intolerance remain determined to undermine and roll back the progress you all have made. This time they, not you, have an ally in the White House. This time they have an ally. Theyre a small percentage of the American people. Virulent people. Some of them the dregs of society. And instead of using the full might of the executive branch to secure justice, dignity, safety for all, the president uses the White House as a literal literal bully pulpit, callously exerting his power over those who have little or none.

Its clear that when Biden said some of them [are] the dregs of society, he was referring to the forces of intolerance he had already discussed in his speech, namely the Trump administration and its most ardent right-wing supporters, which Biden specified as including the Ku Klux Klan and the alt-right. He did not call Trump supporters, in general, the dregs of society.

The clip was framed in this misleading way shortly after the speech, in September 2018. Right-wing conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson tweeted it out, adding this goes way beyond deplorables,' and the presidents son, Donald Trump Jr. promoted Watsons tweet, adding, We are all used to Creepy Joe saying stupid stuff but this is too far even for him.

The false claim that Biden had described Trumps supporters as the dregs of society was given added credibility when Newsweek published an article, based on Trump Jr.s tweet, with the erroneous headline, Donald Trump Jr. Says Joe Biden Went Too Far in Calling Trump Voters Dregs of Society.'

Twitter has rules against what it labels synthetic and manipulated media, and its policies warn that we may label tweets containing synthetic and manipulated media to help people understand their authenticity and to provide additional context.

The company has implemented that policy against Trump in the past. In March 2020, for example, Trump retweeted a video clip posted by his aide, Dan Scavino, which falsely presented Biden as endorsing Trumps reelection. Scavinos tweet, and Trumps promotion of it, were both given the labelmanipulated media by Twitter.

Twitters policy categorizes isolative editing, omission of context, or presentation with false context (all three of which are features of @TrumpWarRooms misleading October 2020 tweet), as subtler forms of manipulated media. Nonetheless, the company stipulates that such content may be labeled or removed on a case-by-case basis.

Snopes asked Twitter whether the @TrumpWarRoom dregs tweet violated the companys rules against manipulated media, and whether they intended to take any action against the tweet or the @TrumpWarRoom account. We did not receive a response in time for publication, but we will update this fact check if we do.

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Did Biden Call Trump Supporters the 'Dregs of Society'? - Snopes.com

How Stephen Miller became a top Trump aide in the White House – Vox.com

How much do we really know about Stephen Miller?

A senior adviser to President Donald Trump, the 35-year-old Miller has emerged as the leading far-right ideologue in this administration outlasting his only real competitor, Steve Bannon. By all accounts, Miller is the driving force behind Trumps most extreme anti-immigration measures from the separation of migrant families at the border to Trumps infamous Muslim ban. Now hes in the news for an entirely different reason: On Tuesday, he was the latest top Trump aide to test positive for coronavirus.

As my Vox colleague Jane Coaston pointed out, Miller delights in provocation for provocations sake. And yet, in this role, he has gone beyond triggering the libs to shepherding real policies with real consequences. Hes also been enormously successful at reinforcing his power in one of the most chaotic White Houses weve ever seen.

A new book called Hatemonger by journalist Jean Guerrero takes a deep dive into Millers background where he comes from, the events and people that shaped his worldview, and what he really wants. Its a fascinating look at Millers upbringing in southern California and the Trump-like family dynamics that turned him into a conservative firebrand.

Millers ambitions are all the more important in light of recent comments from a former Trump DHS official suggesting Miller has a list of shock and awe immigration orders to unleash if Trump wins a second term, orders that were unacceptable to issue in a first presidential term because they knew they would lose voters because they would be so extreme.

I reached out to Guerrero to talk about Millers life and ideology and, hopefully, get a sense of what those extreme orders might look like. Miller, Guerrero argues, might be a troll, but hes also much more than that and we dismiss him at our own peril.

A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows.

The premise of your book is that we should take Stephen Miller seriously because hes someone who genuinely thinks hes on a quest to save the country. What does that mean?

It means hes a fanatic. I really believe that Stephen Miller is one of the few people in the White House who has a firm ideology and has invested in that ideology over the course of his life so much that its become inseparable from his identity. And that ideology is basically that multiculturalism poses an existential threat to Western civilization, as we know it.

So his entire obsession with the immigration system and trying to limit the number of people from different countries, particularly from Latin America and Africa, to come here, it goes back to that belief that multiculturalism is a threat to civilization, which is a prominent view among white supremacist groups and its why they want a white majority in this country.

These are ideas that Miller learned at a very young age and over the years invested more and more in them. My sense, based on the conversations I had with people who have known him since he was a kid, is that this has become his lifes mission and it drives everything he does now that he has real power.

Its a little surprising to hear you say that Miller has a firm ideology because he built his reputation as a troll, and we dont typically think of trolls as serious ideologues.

His friends tell me that, at first, they also couldnt tell whether he was joking, And maybe early on in his life, it was less about ideology and more about being a teenager and looking for attention and finding ways to stand out and wanting to make certain people laugh. But over the years, he learned that being provocative was a good way to get attention and power and so that become a key political tool for him.

So yeah, I do think Miller started out as a kind of troll but eventually the ideas he was flirting with became a huge part of his identity and he really believed it. This sense of mission he has is inseparable from his identity, hes consumed by it. Whatever lightheartedness he may have had when he was younger is gone we should see him above all as a committed ideologue.

I always wonder with these alt-right types if they began as trolls and picked up a coherent ideology later or if its the other way around. I guess its the former in Millers case, but also a little complicated because there was real resentment pretty early on in Millers life.

Even though I said he may have started out as a troll, its misleading to think of his early years that way. As you said, there was a lot of actual resentment present in his early years, particularly towards students of color, and the trolling was often a mask for that resentment.

Where did that resentment come from?

He started to express his conservative and contrarian views at a time when his family had lost a lot of money, and he had to move from a very affluent part of Santa Monica to a less affluent part. And he looked around at his high school, his very diverse public high school, where otherwise he mightve attended a mostly white private high school and he was clearly annoyed that so many of his class were getting special attention and having their voices elevated. And this is when he starts to express his resentments out loud. He becomes more vocal and more aggressive.

When I look at some of these clips of Miller, especially when he was younger, its so hard tell where the trolling ends and the earnest beliefs begin. Everything he says is tinged by that half-cocked grin, and you can see it still today. Is it just impossible to disentangle the performance from the ideology in Millers case?

I think theyre impossible to disentangle, partly because he takes such pleasure in triggering people. When he goes on television or gives interviews, he sometimes has this glimmer in his eye and will say things that are kind of humorous but its never totally clear if its a joke. But what hes really doing is trying to expose what he thinks is the false moral outrage of a lot of progressives this is his thing. So yeah, its trolling but its also a way of advancing his ideology because he believes trolling is an effective way to do politics.

There are a lot of bizarre anecdotes in the book, but the one about Miller and the high janitors is so revealing. Can you explain briefly what thats about?

He gave this speech at his high school where he was screaming, Why do we have to pick up our trash when we have janitors to do it for us. And I remember reading his friend, Chris Morriss justification of it. Oh, it was a joke. Obviously, it was a joke. It was just meant to get people to laugh.

One of the questions I wanted to answer was, how much of a joke was it really? I went back and interviewed a lot of his classmates and former friends and I dont think it was a joke. There were numerous instances, not just in high school but also in college, where he would throw his trash or leave his trash out and encourage others to do the same, saying, This is what we have the janitors here to do. And at one point, he told a teacher who was encouraging students at a rally to clean up after themselves, he interrupted her and said, No, dont listen to her. This is what we have janitors here to do. They need a job. So throw your trash on the ground.

It struck a lot of classmates as not only classist but racist. At Millers high school, there were a handful of janitors for this very large student population, and they were mostly people of color. So giving that speech the way he gave it made a lot of classmates feel like he was trying to incite a race riot at the school and thats why they had to push him off the stage, because he wouldnt stop talking and the student body was getting really riled up.

So what do you think hes doing in the White House? Does he really want to change the world or is the White House the ultimate trolling platform?

Its an interesting question. Nothing in any of my discussions with his colleagues in the White House have indicated that he has looked to influence other countries consciously. I do think that it would be a natural next step for Miller to try to spread his ideology overseas and coordinate with others and share his views in other countries, and try to turn that into some kind of global movement, as we saw Steve Bannon attempting to do.

I think Miller would be more effective and more dangerous than Bannon by the way, because I dont think that Bannon has a real ideology the way that Stephen Miller does. So far, hes been extremely focused on the United States. He has an almost tunnel vision for immigration policies in the US and thats what hes focused on. But I wouldnt be surprised he expanded his focus outward in the future.

What would you say is the most important thing people should know about Miller?

I think people should know that he is arguably the most powerful advisor in the White House. And he is a case study in radicalization, someone who was consumed by an extreme ideology at a very young age, and then went on to become one of the most powerful advisers in the White House, shaping not only immigration policy, but Trumps speeches and even the reelection strategy for 2020.

Why is Miller the one adviser, apart from Trumps family members, that has survived all these years?

Its a few things. The most important is that Miller gets Trump emotionally, psychologically, even spiritually. Part of it is that Miller grew up in a family that was very similar to Donald Trumps. Several people described Millers father to me as Trump-like. He was tangled up in numerous legal disputes and bankruptcies related to his real estate company over the years, as Miller was growing up. He is described in court documents as being a master of evasion and manipulation. He was described to me as being very combative. I think this experience helps Miller manage his relationship with Trump, helps him manage Trumps personality.

The other part of it is that Miller is always tasks himself as a devoted vehicle for Trumps agenda and is careful not to overshadow his boss. And this is partly one of the sources of his power within the White House. Whenever he wants something done, he invokes Trump. He invokes Trumps desires, Trumps demands. He invokes Trumps name. So hes constantly channeling Trump and this makes officials in the White House afraid to challenge him, because its like they would be challenging the president. And theyre aware of his special relationship with the president.

So this elevates Millers power within the bureaucracy, but it also elevates his power over Trump personally, because it works for Trumps ego, unlike other people who have exaggerated their influence in the White House. Miller is more comfortable in Trumps shadow.

What do you think Miller does after Trump? Does he find another political vehicle or is he likely to get involved some other way?

His initial goal was to be a prosecutor and then become a senator. I think becoming a prosecutor is not on his mind anymore, but I do think its possible that he might still run for office somewhere. I think its possible he might try and make a living as a commentator on conservative outlets.

I do think that if Donald Trump loses the election, Miller will double down on his ideology and look for new ways to elevate it through the media, something hes very good at doing. He understands the media and has been exploiting it since he was a teenager going on conservative talk radio in southern California. And if Trump wins in November, well, I think hes going to double down on his agenda and become even more powerful.

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How Stephen Miller became a top Trump aide in the White House - Vox.com

With Pendley Toppled, the Alt-Right’s Public Land Agenda Starts to Crumble – CounterPunch

Last Friday, a lawsuit brought by Governor Steve Bullock (D-MT) yielded a ruling that President Trumps interim appointment of William Perry Pendleys to head the BLM was illegal, and that the decisions made while Pendley was in charge are illegal too.

William Perry Pendley has long been a fringe activist affiliated with the alt-right movement to end public lands, and federal governments management of them. He wrote opinion pieces in the conservative National Review siding with the Bundys when they organized a heavily-armed mob, complete with snipers, that interfered with the federal roundup of Bundys illegally trespassing cattle, and another article calling for the sale of all federal public lands. His Twitter handle was even @Sagebrush_Rebel.

Pendley isnt the first public lands extremist, even in the Trump administration. Wyoming attorney Karen Budd-Falen actually represented Cliven Bundy himself in the appeal challenging the original closure of Bundys grazing leases on what would eventually become Gold Butte National Monument. At the same time the Bundy crew was taking over Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Budd-Falen was stirring up county governments in Oregon to adopt county plans that, ion a twisted legal theory, might be used to have counties dictate the contents of federal land-use plans, to the benefit of local extractive industries. Although Budd-Falen lobbied to be appointed BLM director, ultimately it became obvious that she would not survive Senate confirmation, and she was appointed instead to the lesser attorney post of Deputy Solicitor, which requires no Senate approval.

The history of alt-right attempts to stage takeovers of Americas public lands dates back to the 1940s, but cropped up more recently in the Reagan administration. Reagan himself famously proclaimed, I am a Sagebrush Rebel, and he appointed as his first Interior Secretary the notoriously anti-environmental James Watt, like Pendley a product of the Mountain States Legal Foundation. George W. Bush recapitulated Reagans alt-right lands agenda by appointing Gale Norton to helm Interior, herself a Mountain States protg of Watts. Thus, more often than not over the past four decades, Republican presidential administrations put a public lands extremist of the Bundy persuasion in charge of a major lands and wildlife agency.

During the first year of the Trump administration, long before Pendleys appointment , the alt-right agenda started gathering steam with a secret meeting that brought state and county proponents of extractive industries together with the BLM to plot a local government takeover of public lands. Several environmental groups were tipped off and listened in, and were able to bring to light efforts to put conservative counties and states in the drivers seat of public land decisionmaking, restrict environmental reviews, squelch Freedom of Information Act document availability, and otherwise dismantle federal public land protections. Trumps gutting of NEPA, the concept of outcomes-based grazing to put ranchers in charge of managing public-land grazing leases, and a dismantling of grazing regulations are the anti-environmental fruits of this poisonous tree.

William Perry Pendley was appointed to the Trumped-up BLM position of Deputy Director serving in the capacity of the Director, a dodge to avoid a Senate confirmation process likely to deny Pendley the leadership position and embarrass the Trump administration. Selecting an oil industry office complex in Grand Junction, Colorado as his new BLM headquarters, Pendley proceeded to threaten senior BLM staff with termination if they didnt relocate. It was a bald-faced scheme to put the agency firmly under the thumb of the minerals and livestock industries.

Things started to unravel for Pendley in the fall of 2019, when key Senators drafted a letter objecting to his leadership, and when Pendleys controversial remarks at a Colorado gathering of journalists scapegoated wild horses as an existential threat to public lands and the agencys top priority, even while horse impacts were dwarfed by the environmental destruction caused by federally-approved livestock, and myriad other BLM-permitted problems. Things got worse a month later, when Pendley directed BLM law-enforcement to defer to local sheriffs when enforcing the law on federal lands. Conservationists immediately exposed this as a sop to the Bundy-ally Constitutional Sheriffs, who seek to dismantle federal authority and environmental protections on public lands. As the year ended, 91 conservation groups demanded Pendleys ouster.

Ultimately, two conservation groups sued to remove Pendley, and later Governor Bullock launched a similar lawsuit of his own. Hoping to dodge the litigation, Trump finally nominated Pendley to head the BLM, but just as quickly withdrew the nomination when it became obvious that he wouldnt survive the confirmation process. This August, every Democratic Senator (plus the two Independents) demanded that he go. The Bullock lawsuit yielded a ruling finding Pendleys appointment illegal, and decisions made under his leadership illegal as well. We might well be witnessing the beginning of the end of the alt-rights last best chance to hijack Americas public lands. Not a moment too soon.

The rest is here:

With Pendley Toppled, the Alt-Right's Public Land Agenda Starts to Crumble - CounterPunch

Wait, Whats Going on With Netflix and Cuties? – Vulture

A viral tweet claiming the film sexualizes a young Black girl has led to thousands of people calling for Netflix to dump the film and now, a Texas grand jury to indict the streaming platform. Photo: Netflix

This article was originally published on August 20 and has been updated multiple times to include information about Cuties release, including the most recent news that Texas state representative Matt Schaefer tweeted a filing for an indictment against Netflix for promoting lewd material in Cuties.

Before Cuties arrived on Netflix in the United States, the French-language film from writer-director Mamouna Doucour, about an 11-year-old Senegalese immigrant named Amy, garnered an unusual amount of attention. Although it received relatively positive reviews at Sundance earlier this year remember when we could go to movie theaters, much less whole film festivals? and took home the World Cinema Dramatic Directing Award, things took a turn months later when, uh actually, heres a tweet from our colleague, Vulture film critic Alison Willmore, that does a pretty good job of summing up what the hell happened to Cuties:

To back up, in August of 2020, Netflix started promoting the film. It used a picture of a young Senegalese Muslim character, Amy, along with the titular Cuties the dance crew of cool girls from her middle school in Paris in spandex dance costumes (short-shorts and metallic crop tops). The now-deleted description says Amy becomes fascinated with a twerking dance crew and that, in an attempt to join them, she starts to explore her femininity, defying her familys traditions. Netflix WTF IS THIS, reads a viral tweet from a thread calling out the platform for sexualizing minors. The fact that this is a black girl lead makes this even worse, reads another tweet in the thread. The Twitter user also posted a petition to have Cuties removed from Netflix. (Removed is perhaps the wrong word for an as-yet-unreleased film, but we have larger problems to address here.)

In the first week, over 40,000 people signed the petition. Now, that number is closer to 400,000. This movie/show is disgusting as it sexualizes an ELEVEN year old for the viewing pleasure of pedophiles and also negatively influences our children, reads the description. There is no need for this kind of content in that age group, especially when sex trafficking and pedophilia are so rampant! There is no excuse, this is dangerous content! A different petition titled I want Netflix to remove the new movie Cuties as it promotes child pornography had garnered over 60,000 signatures in the same time period; it now has over 600,000.

As the film had not yet been widely released in the United States at the time these petitions were created, it seems safe to say the scores of people signing them had not actually seen the film. Or even watched the trailer. If they had, they would have seen a very different movie than the one the petitions describe: a story about family, womanhood, growing up, and the clash between Amys Senegalese heritage and the freedom craved by anybody who was ever an 11-year-old girl. Writer and director Daniell Dash pointed all this out in her own viral thread in response to the Cuties uproar.

The costumes from the Netflix promo do appear briefly in the trailer, but, in context, you can see them for exactly what they are: costumes for a dance competition. The trailer also shows a scene of the girls laughing and running down the street clutching shopping bags, wearing bras and underwear over their clothing. A still from that scene was the films original release poster.

Netflix has since updated the promo image and description and issued an apology for the first iteration. The image for the film now shows just Amy looking over her shoulder in a pink top. (Its cropped from the still at the top of this post.) The description no longer mentions twerking and instead describes the movie as a story of an 11-year-old girl rebelling against her family after she meets a free-spirited dance crew.

This hasnt stopped people from negatively reviewing the movie which, again, most people who arent film critics had almost certainly not seen before September on platforms like IMDb. This movie is about children twerking. I really dont need to say anymore. It is unacceptable that they even thought this was a good idea. The active sexualization of children is all this movie is. Netflix should be ashamed of themselves, reads one early review. A new low for the entire cinema industry, the authors, Netflix, Sundance, parents of the actresses/dancers. And whoever claims that this is artwork should be jailed, reads another. A number of vocal conservatives, including alt-right troll Jack Posobiec, have also weighed in on Twitter.

Doucour told Deadline shes been the target of serious harassment as a result of the controversy. I received numerous attacks on my character from people who had not seen the film, who thought I was actually making a film that was apologetic about hypersexualiation of children, she said. I also received numerous death threats. Netflixs co-CEO, Ted Sarandos, called her personally to apologize. (Doucour is currently working on a new, unnamed project for the platform.)

The Cuties uproar only intensified following its September 3 premiere. After continued backlash and accusations of pedophilia from conservative social-media figures and media outlets, Texas House of Representatives member Matt Schaefer tweeted on September 10 that he had asked Texas Attorney General Paxtons office to investigate Cuties for possible violations of child exploitation and child pornography laws.

Furthermore, far-right media personality and conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson shared an article on September 11 accusing Cuties of featuring communist propaganda in the form of hidden hammer-and-sickle imagery:

While many film critics have expressed bafflement and dismay at this conservative outrage over Cuties, certain bad-faith readings of the film and the campaign of harassment directed toward Doucour tracks with the increased platforming of QAnon-aligned conspiracy theories in right-wing media. The main conspiracy that QAnon pushes is that there is a global cabal of pedophiles and child sex traffickers controlling world governments and mainstream media, that the Democrats are complicit, and that Donald Trump is a Decker-style savior figure attempting to bring it down. Its an evolution/devolution of the conspiracy theory that led to Pizzagate, when Edgar Welch shot up Washington, D.C., restaurant Comet Pizza in 2016 because he believed Hillary Clinton was operating a child sex-trafficking ring out of its basement.

At this point, many people have pointed out that the sorts of junior dance teams depicted and commented upon in Paris-based Cuties have long been a part of American pop culture, in everything from Dance Moms to Toddlers & Tiaras. Alas, such an acknowledgment has done little to stymie the #CancelNetflix hashtag or the organized harassment of critics who positively reviewed the film.

In fact, on October 6, Texas state representative Matt Schaefer tweeted a filing for an indictment against Netflix by grand jury in Tyler County, Texas, for promoting material in Cuties film which depicts lewd exhibition of pubic area of a clothed or partially clothed child who was younger than 18 yrs of age which appeals to the prurient interest in sex. The indictment is dated September 23. The indictment states that Cuties has no serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value, a spurious charge which Netflix countered in a statement shared with TMZ: Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children. This charge is without merit and we stand by the film. According to Variety, the grand jury filed the indictment under a Texas state law that forbids the lewd exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of an unclothed, partially clothed, or clothed child.

The Tyler County district attorney who filed the indictment is Lucas Babin, who, Variety points out, played Spider in School of Rock. (And, yes, theyre right. The former male model and son of a Republican congressman is now a conservative DA who administers something called Man Church.)

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Wait, Whats Going on With Netflix and Cuties? - Vulture

What explains Europes love-hate relationship with the kebab? – TRT World

Largely associated with Muslim-run takeout joints, the popular late night snack has also become an obsession for the far-right and politicians looking to win votes.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, authorities in Austria have a new priority: Going after kebab vendors who serve on the streets of Vienna.

The countrys Ministry of Finance is warning owners of kebab stands to comply with government regulations on the sale of food.

While Austria is governed by a coalition led by the Austrian Peoples Party (OVP), in the capital it holds only seven out of a 100 municipal seats available, trailing way behind the 44 seats held by the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPO).

Curiously the OVPs lead candidate in the election scheduled for October 11 is Austrias Minister of Finance Gernot Blumel.

The timing of the advertisements has therefore led many in the Austrian media to question whether there is an electoral motivation.

Past precedent in neighbouring countries, as well as popular sentiment across Europe tilts towards the idea that kebabs are more than just a tasty but slightly greasy indulgence.

For many, there is a strong association between the late night staple and the presence of mainly Muslim migrant communities in Europe.

Some Austrian media outlets have made a direct link between the campaign against kebab vendors and unsubstantiated statements made by politicians about Turkish government influence in the country. The inference being that the campaign against the snack is one way of tapping into voter fears surrounding foreign and migrant influence in Austria.

A history of kebabophobia

Austria is by no means alone in its anxieties over the kebab. Variants of the dish, such as the Turkish-origin doner and Arab-origin shawarma, are sold across European cities.

Neither is hostility towards the dishes universal, either among politicians or the masses.

Former British Prime Minister David Cameron praised the entrepreneurial spirit of kebab vendors and stated: "Kebabs have become part of our food heritage, alongside fish and chips and curry."

For her part, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has had pictures of herself taken slicing meat off a doner spit.

A 2019 poll found that the kebab was the UKs seventh most popular takeaway, trailing classic options such as Fish and Chips and Burgers, but ahead of traditional English snacks, such as pies and sausages.

Germans have a similar love affair with Doner, with the Turkish kebab ranking highly on the countrys list of favourite takeout options.

But despite their popularity with customers of all backgrounds, the presence of kebab shops makes many uneasy.

In France, which has instituted bans and restrictions on a number of Islamic symbols, such as headscarves and face veils, the kebab shop has become a symbol of creeping Islamisation among the right.

In a 2014, a Reuters report about kebab-related tensions in France, one kebab shop owner said that debate around the snack had become a safe conduit to express anxieties over the presence of Muslims.

Criticism of the kebab was a way to speak ill of Muslims without speaking ill of Muslims, according to Parisian kebab vendor Damien Schmitz.

Noting anxieties surrounding the food, the far-right National Front had made combatting kebabisation a key campaign pledge.

Many cities in France and Italy have tried to ban or have succeeded in prohibiting the sale of kebabs in city centres, while leaving vendors of traditional snacks untouched.

Violent kebabophobia

Official prohibitions are just one expression of kebab anxiety, in a number of cases across Europe, kebab shops have found themselves the target as racial tensions simmer.

In October 2019, a German Neo-Nazi began an attempted massacre at synagogue by first attacking a kebab shop. The rampage resulted in two deaths.

Christchurch terrorist, Brenton Tarrant, described himself as a kebab remover before embarking on his massacre of worshippers in two New Zealand mosques.

The self-description was a reference to the remove Kebab meme in alt-right circles, which celebrates the Bosnian genocide, as well as other instances of Muslim populations being ethnically cleansed, such as during the 1948 expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland.

Serb forces used kebab as a racial slur and code for Muslims they would go onto massacre and todays far-right extremists use it to plan for similar ends.

By wrapping their hate of Islam and Muslims in the semi-humourous imagery of the humble kebab, the far-right masks their broader agenda of reestablishing a Europe free of Muslims.

In an opinion article for TRT World following the Christchurch massacre in 2019, the academic Ibrahim al Marashi wrote:

Gastronomic racism constitutes a narrative employed during the Bosnian civil war and kept alive today by far-right European political parties. Tarrant took this sentiment to an absurd and deadly conclusion.

Source: TRT World

Continued here:

What explains Europes love-hate relationship with the kebab? - TRT World

George on Georgia – Hawaiian shirts and blood on the carpet – Decaturish.com

Guys in Hawaiian shirts make my teeth itch even on a good day, unless theyre playing a ukulele. Better, when those shirts arent covered in Glocks. These days, I am paying much more attention to the sartorial choices of people picking fights, especially when theyre local. And Im not alone.

Sunday afternoon, a group of Black Lives Matter protesters in Savannah drew the attention of Fredrick James, 34, of greater Decatur. He rolled up to the protest as they were closing down an intersection in an act of civil disobedience. James was captured on video throwing what people learned later was a smoke bomb into the middle of the crowd laying in the street.

When people started pelting the truck with whatever was handy, he got out with a gun in his hand.

Weve seen this play before.

Their Boogaloo Boy uniform of choice, oddly enough, is the Hawaiian shirt. Its absurd. So much is absurd today. This is the one James was wearing.

James caught an aggravated assault charge. He has been denied bond. Police in Savannah arent offering much more than what is on their initial incident report.

Both I and the collective commentariat have their antennae raised high out of fear that the election will bring political violence. The chatter seems to be getting louder, and the incidents more frequent. But a few things about this strike me as particularly odd.

What was James doing in Savannah at all when he lives in a house in south DeKalb?

I can speculate: he wasnt just in Savannah on a lark. Did he go there deliberately looking for a Black Lives Matter protest to intimidate with armed violence?

James, it seems, probably should never have been legally allowed to have a weapon in the first place. His possession of a weapon at all if it even turns out to have been legally so speaks to the failures of the system.

You see, he changed his name in 2010. He used to be named Fred David Hendricks, according to the publication record of the Gwinnett Daily Post. The birthdays line up.

As a young man in Gwinnett, Fred Hendricks got into a lot of trouble. He has multiple convictions for weapons violations. The last conviction, for carrying a concealed weapon on school property in 2010, should have been a felony conviction. Prosecutors accepted a plea deal to reckless conduct.

A few hours after the attack, footage taken from a nearby building made its way to far right websites and Facebook groups, which seem to have been built recently with the intent of promoting this violence.

The Savannah Freedom Exchange described this as a male pick-up truck driver decided to toss harmless green smoke, common in emergency kits, into the middle of the cluster of concrete-lying individuals, and the guy with a gun as [i]n perfectly legal defensive posture, the owner of the vehicle warned the individuals to get away. They failed, so he exited the vehicle and drew his conceal-carry weapon.

This Facebook group didnt exist before April of this year. It is a propaganda page for the alt-right.

And the response to this act of violence is well, what we might expect at this point. Line after line calling for social justice protesters to be murdered in the street.

I should have something uplifting to say about how we will all come together after this is over, to repudiate the hatred in our midst. But I cannot help but notice how all of this is affecting me. Ive been just that much more ready to bite someones head off in a conversation about this stuff. Ignoring what is happening is what got us to this point; exposure to it slowly makes it easier to adopt the stridency of others. A willingness to fight wins attention, more than a desire to build bridges does.

Even now, I am giving air to the fire.

Four years ago, after I watched a clueless upper-middle class white woman from Candler Park pantomime at voter outreach with some black kids on the street, I wrote We have a country run by high-achievers who are both risk averse and hold the public in contempt. The result is an economy serving their interests well one that rewards extraordinary achievement while ignoring everyone else.

We have the politics we do because we are a people with very strong views who cant figure out how to talk to one another anymore, despite the most robust communications tools known to humanity. The politics we have reinforce strong views and bury moderating influences.

My great fear isnt that Joe Biden wont win. Hes probably going to win. Its that he will win and will be inadequate to the task. What conventional political biography prepares an American leader for a country ready to tear itself apart at the seams? For all my desire to see the grifters and incompetents of the Trump Administration replaced with wide-eyed workaholic 20-something Princeton graduates, I fear that too few of them will understand how to keep 500 Kyle Rittenhouses from tracking blood across Americas pavements.

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George on Georgia - Hawaiian shirts and blood on the carpet - Decaturish.com

Facebook and Instagram to remove all QAnon pages and groups – Metro.co.uk

A man waves a QAnon conspiracy flag at a protest of coronavirus skeptics, right-wing extremists and others angry over coronavirus-related restrictions and government policy on August 29 in Berlin (Picture: Getty)

Facebook has announced that it will be removing any pages or groups representing conspiracy group QAnon.

The social media company, which also owns Instagram, said in a statement tonight: Starting today, we will remove any Facebook Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts representing QAnon, even if they contain no violent content.

This is an update from the initial policy in August that removed Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts associated with QAnon when they discussed potential violence while imposing a series of restrictions to limit the reach of other Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts associated with the movement.

QAnon is a wide-ranging conspiracy theory which claims that there is a cabal of Satan-worshipping paedophiles in government, business and the media, being fought by Donald Trump.

It has gained traction within the alt-right and is linked to anti-vaccine and 5G beliefs.

On August 19, Facebook announced new measures to curb the spread of QAnon posts, saying it would disrupt militarised social movements from operating on its platform.

Within a month they had removed over 1,500 pages and groups for QAnon containing discussions of potential violence, a spokesman said.

But we believe these efforts need to be strengthened when addressing QAnon, they added.

We are starting to enforce this updated policy today and are removing content accordingly, but this work will take time and need to continue in the coming days and weeks.

Our Dangerous Organizations Operations team will continue to enforce this policy and proactively detect content for removal instead of relying on user reports.

Weve been vigilant in enforcing our policy and studying its impact on the platform but weve seen several issues that led to todays update.

For example, while weve removed QAnon content that celebrates and supports violence, weve seen other QAnon content tied to different forms of real world harm, including recent claims that the west coast wildfires were started by certain groups, which diverted attention of local officials from fighting the fires and protecting the public.

Additionally, QAnon messaging changes very quickly and we see networks of supporters build an audience with one message and then quickly pivot to another. We aim to combat this more effectively with this update that strengthens and expands our enforcement against the conspiracy theory movement.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

For more stories like this, check our news page.

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Facebook and Instagram to remove all QAnon pages and groups - Metro.co.uk

Does an Intellectual History of the Trump Era Exist? It Does Now – The New York Times

People like McCusker, Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and the N.S.C. expert Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman are the sort of civil servants Michael Lewis celebrated in his book about Trumps assault on the bureaucracy, The Fifth Risk, another of Lozadas favorites. They do due diligence, they adhere to protocol. Their truth is not postmodern. They do their jobs without fanfare; they do not turn their work into self-aggrandizing performance art. Their rigor is what makes our federal government legitimate and credible, despite its flaws.

Impeachment was a hard case. Trumps shenanigans were illegal, and definitely unseemly, but they didnt rise to the level of bipartisan horror necessary for a successful conviction. In the end, the Democrats probably did themselves more harm than good. But what Trump on Trial makes clear is that the Republican response was an all-out assault on regular order, expertise, law, diplomacy and the quotidian chores of holding a democracy together. I had forgotten how blatant it was. Elements of the Civil Service have decided that they, not the president, are really in charge, said Devin Nunes, the California Republican. Matt Gaetz, the Florida Republican, paraphrased what he thought was the Democrats message: We the elite, we the permanent Washington, we the smart folks, have decided that this is not acceptable conduct. Or, as Trump told one of his rallies, Were dealing with people that dont respect you. The Michigan Democrat Elissa Slotkin, a former intelligence analyst and senior Defense Department official, saw herself in civil servants like Yovanovitch and Vindman: Their life was her life. It was an ethos shared by her friends, especially the ones who had sworn an oath in the military. Slotkin went back to the nations founding documents: The framers had warned against the danger of Americas leaders soliciting foreign interference in the countrys internal affairs. Hadnt this president admitted to doing exactly that?

There could not be a more obvious example of Yuval Levins dialectic. The Republicans were all about What do I want? The Democrats worried, How should I act? The parties had traded their traditional places. The counterculture never died, Lozada writes of the alt-right movement, summarizing the views of the journalist Angela Nagle. It just switched sides. Transgression now lives on the right, dogmatism on the left. The Democrats have become traditionalists. The Republicans, a most illiberal group of libertarians, tear down the pillars of the temple. The former Trump adviser Steve Bannons nihilism is the spiritual heir to Abbie Hoffmans jolly anarchy in the 1960s. What losers and suckers the traditionalists were! To read Trump on Trial in the context of What Were We Thinking is to be scalded. The pain is excruciating.

Carlos Lozada is a book critic, not a policy wonk. He doesnt propose specific solutions to our current state of disgrace, but he does offer a vision of American stability being eviscerated by the publics need to be entertained. This reminded me of the dichotomy that Machiavelli posited in The Discourses: the contest between virt and ozio. Virt is the quality that keeps a republic strong: It is rigor and responsibility and intellectual achievement, albeit with a distressing tinge of militarism. Ozio is indolence; it is the laziness that overtakes a republic when it is not at war or in crisis. In America, we experienced 70 years of unprecedented peace and prosperity, without a perceived existential threat, from 1946 to 2016, a bacchanal of ozio. In the process, far too many of us lost the habits of citizenship. Truth became malleable. Morality became relative. Achievement became pass-fail and, more recently, just showing up. Rigor was for chumps. You didnt have to do anything to become famous, except be an influencer. And to be an influencer, you didnt need to train or study, although plastic surgery branding certainly helped. You didnt have to serve or sacrifice; that was for chumps, too. This was the America that elected Donald Trump president. What were we thinking? We werent. Critical thinking was just too hard and another episode of Duck Dynasty or Keeping Up With the Kardashians always beckoned.

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Does an Intellectual History of the Trump Era Exist? It Does Now - The New York Times

Bay Area rapper Paris returns with fire tracks for the masses – East Bay Express

Paris has been making politically charged hip-hop since he came on the scene, with The Devil Made Me Do It, in 1990. The title track addressed the country's systemic racism and was immediately banned by MTV for being "too controversial."

Since that auspicious debut, his ability to combine sleek, swinging grooves and densely packed, politically charged commentary has grown more powerful. His latest effort, Safe Space Invader, is another bracing collection, taking on the topics that are impacting Black life in the America of 2020police departments that are out of control, racism, gentrification, social and economic inequality, and white supremacy.

The first single, "Baby Man Hands," gets right to the heart of the matter, with a scathing putdown of the current occupant of the oval office that mixes caustic humor, biting realism and a hook "Baby Man Hands"sung by cartoon voices. The lyrics combine familiar catch phrases, such as "fine people on both sides" and "make America great," with a realistic look at the havoc the current president has created.

"There are plenty of quotes I could have used," Paris says. "When I was writing, they were just the most prominent examples. If you're a critic, he's the gift that keeps on giving. The sad part is, that while his words may be amusing for people unaffected by his inability to use correct sentence structure, his administration has put social progress and race relations back decades. He's like a 6-year-old with a lot of money. Nobody's ever told him, 'No!' He's a petulant child."

The record also includes "Nobody Move," a call for revolution that rides a thumping backbeat; "Somethin' Bout the West Coast," a look at the positive and negative sides of living a Black life in the San Francisco Bay Area, with a hint of Funkadelic in the hook; and "Press On," an uplifting tune that urges people to stay positive, despite the forces of oppression that can often seem overwhelming. The chorus takes flight with the help of Claytoven Richardson's harmony vocals and Katisse Buckingham's nimble flute.

Paris wrote, arranged, recorded and produced Safe Space Invader in his home studio, with the help of a few local artists. He started the album last summer, slowly creating all the beats and special musical effects.

"I was a studio rat for a long time. I've observed people working in studios since the late '80s. It was a trial-and-error apprenticeship. A lot of attention was paid to the music that came before me, and many early influences still impact my music. Funkadelic is a mainstay, as is Curtis Mayfield, Earth, Wind and Fire, and my hip-hop predecessors who actually rap. There are lots of people in hip-hop currently that don't actually rap; they chant and make noise. I don't look unfavorably on any of them, I just maintain my lane."

The record's music is always upbeat, with songs that pack decades of history and a lot of background information into lyrics that flow easily, without sounding pedantic. "If I want to get preached at, I go to a church," Paris says. "I always try to strike a conversational tone. That's what hip-hop isa conversation between the creator and the listener."

Paris begins the dialogue with the album title, a phrase that may seem to reference the current pandemic, although it has deeper, more troubling associations. "The alt-right has been using 'safe space invader' to insinuate that people concerned with social justice are fragile for years," Paris says. "My usage co-opts the phrase to dig at their fragility. Conservatives view people who really want to see social change as pussies, but conservatives are the biggest snowflakes in the world. They always reflexively protest anything we do and often collectively stand united, even against their best interest, simply to spite us. Using that phrase was a way for me to reappropriate it and use it to my advantage.

"The songs are a continuation of the thoughts I expressed on my last album, Pistol Politics. It was released in 2015, during an era where a lot of people were complacent, especially in the hip-hop community, because Obama was in office. This was despite the fact that he also furthered the ideals of imperialism. But right now, there's a clearly defined boogie man in the White House that adversely affects everybody that isn't rich, white and male. My message is easier to convey in 2020, but it's never changed."

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Bay Area rapper Paris returns with fire tracks for the masses - East Bay Express

Coronavirus And Conspiracies: How The Far Right Is Exploiting The Pandemic – StopFake.org

By Blyth Crawford, for The Conversation

Just as the global death toll from COVID-19 reached 250,000 at the start of May this year, a short film emerged that hassince been calledthe first true hit conspiracy video of the COVID-19 era. Titled Plandemic, it featured a lengthy interview with thediscredited scientist Judy Mikovits, who falsely argued that the COVID death tolls were being exaggerated to pave the way for a large-scale vaccination programme.

Allegedly orchestrated by big pharma companies in conjunction with Bill Gates, this scheme would supposedly kill millions in the name of generating profit. The video was removed from Facebook and YouTube where it had been shared, but not before it was watched an estimated8 million times.

The perceived danger of an eventual vaccination programme has been one of the most concerning and far-reaching of coronavirus conspiracy narratives. But it has also been linked to attempts by the far right to exploit the pandemic to promote its extreme ideology.

Similar conspiracies are prevalent within far-right social media circles, but many of them degenerate intoovert antisemitism, with claims the virus is a hoax engineered by Jewish elites intent on implementing a vaccine either for profit or to eradicate the white race. Onejournalist warnedthat the Plandemic video may be the first step in introducing new audiences into the depths of the far-right abyss.

By playing on peoples health fears in such ways, the far right is hoping tonormalise its viewsand make those of the political mainstream seem inadequate when it comes to explaining or resolving the crisis. And its possible that the pandemic may be increasing public awareness of and even participation in extremist discourse.

Arecent reportfrom the United Nations Security Council warns that extreme right-wing groups and individuals in the US have sought to exploit the pandemic to radicalize, recruit, and inspire plots and attacks. This sentiment is echoed in anote from the Council of the European Union, which warns that it is highly likely right-wing extremists are now capitalising on the corona crisis more than on any other issue. It adds that this focus may have led to an expansion in target selection, with sites like hospitals being viewed as legitimate targets for large-scale attacks.

The far rights focus on coronavirus has been reflected across social media. Onerecent reportshowed that between January and April 2020, hundreds of thousands of far-right posts about coronavirus were made to public Facebook groups. Meanwhile, conspiratorial narratives relating to elites a staple of far-right discourse steadily increased from mid-March.

Similarly, far-right groups on the encrypted messaging app Telegram have set up a range of channels dedicated specifically to the discussion of coronavirus, often amplifying disinformation. In March, Telegram channels associated with white supremacy and racismattracted an influx of over 6,000 users, with one channel, dedicated to the discussion of coronavirus, growing its user base by 800%.

One of the key ways the far right is doing this is by taking advantage of the staggering extent of misinformation and conspiracy theories surrounding the virus. The plandemic narrative is one example, but there has also been asignificant risein social media activity relating to the QAnon conspiracy movement, which has alsoamplified misinformation about the pandemic.

A number of these conspiracies have also been influential within theReopen movement, which advocates for the lifting of lockdown restrictions. This momentum has been harnessed by some far-right actors, particularly the Proud Boys, an alt-right, pro-west fraternal organisation.

This group has historically attempted to market itself towards the Republican mainstream on platforms such as Facebook bydeliberately avoiding the use of overtly racist symbols. Now a number of Proud Boys have been spotted taking part in anti-lockdown protests, with the groups president, Enrique Tarrio, framing the Florida protests as the point where the battle for the 2020 election starts. This suggests he is using the protests as apropaganda opportunityfor his movement.

Indeed, the spirit of the protests accords closely with narratives being propagated by some more overtly extreme facets of the right, suggesting the Reopen movement has presented an opportunity to popularise extreme anti-state messaging. For example, one alt-right figure used his Telegram channel to paint the lockdown measures as a power grab by the state, and an orchestrated attempt to ensure citizens particularly men remain slaves to society and the government.

Perhaps one of the most concerning groups that appears to have been buoyed by similar narratives is theboogaloo movement, a loose online network of radical firearms activists that has been linked to several violent incidents across the US. It unites a widevariety of people, some of whom have attempted to associate with Black Lives Matter, and others with neo-Nazism, with a commitment to preserving their right to bear arms and a shared desire to incite a civil war in order to overthrow the government.

In place of a rigid political philosophy, the movements disparate followers are instead bound byin-jokes and memes. But some supporters have also demonstrated a propensity for violence, with several incidents this yearleading to arrests, and three alleged followers now facingterrorism charges.

This activity has been matched bynumerous online postsreferring to insurrectional violence relating to the coronavirus. And unrest related to pandemic restrictions appears to have significantly boosted the profile of the movement.

Researchhas shownthat the conspiracy theory that the US government is using the pandemic to restrict American citizens freedoms has been central in influencing calls for a civil war. Some Boogaloo supporters also believe that the pandemic and subsequent lockdown have helped raise awareness of their civil war narrative amongst wider populations.

The pandemic has certainly been fertile ground for far-right messaging, helping give new platforms to activists and movements. While it is impossible to predict the long-term effects of these events, the potential for the crisis to spread some elements of far-right ideology to more mainstream audiences cannot be ignored. Shifting those people away from these ideas may be as difficult as tackling the virus itself.

By Blyth Crawford, for The Conversation

Blyth Crawford PhD Candidate, Department of War Studies, Kings College London. Blyth Crawford is a Research Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) based in the Department of War Studies at Kings College London.

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Coronavirus And Conspiracies: How The Far Right Is Exploiting The Pandemic - StopFake.org

Google is improving the Alt-Tab switcher in Chrome OS, here’s what you need to know – Android Police

Alt-Tab is an often overlooked keyboard shortcut on Chrome OS that allows you to cycle recent applications without using a mouse. Despite the productivity potential, the Alt-Tab switcher is mediocre because it lacks interactivity. For example, you can't use the arrow keys or your cursor to select and launch recent applications, making them frustrating to access if they're placed towards the end. The developers at Google realize that the Alt-Tab experience can be better, so they tackled the interactivity issue head-on to help you quickly open your recent applications.

As spotted recently in the Dev channel, Chrome OS uses a combination of shortcuts and gestures to help you quickly launch recent applications in the Alt-Tab switcher. For instance, you can finally navigate using the left and right arrow keys or move your cursor to select and focus applications. Other small changes include adding a three-finger touchpad swipe to scrub applications and pressing the enter or space key to focus the application chosen. Here's how the new interactivity features work.

Selecting a recent application with your cursor is a notable addition that Chrome OS surprisingly didn't have until recently. While pressing the Alt and Tab keys and holding Alt down, you can move your cursor to any window you want to open and click it. It's incredibly useful if you're going to quickly select and focus an application without having to press buttons on your keyboard.

Did you know that Alt-Shift-Tab navigates the Alt-Tab switcher in reverse? I sure didn't. In contrast to Alt-Shift-Tab, the arrow keys are much easier to remember. The left arrow key navigates the switcher backward while the right arrow key moves the selection forward.

The Enter and Space keys aren't as handy as the other Alt-Tab improvements coming to Chrome OS, but they may help ease the learning curve. If you want to maximize a recent application you selected, you can either hit the Space or Enter key.

You can quickly scrub through running applications in the Alt-Tab switcher using three fingers on the trackpad, just like Chrome tabs. Three fingers to the left will move the selection backward while three fingers to the right will navigate forward. Despite the productivity potential, I feel that the trackpad gesture sensitivity is too weak to be practical. I often misselect windows when I try compensating for the lack of responsiveness. Also, there's a weird quirk where scrubbing windows with the trackpad gesture also affects Chrome tabs in the background, but I imagine this will be fixed in the future.

Adding interactivity to the Alt-Tab switcher makes a huge difference to my workflow. As a student, I often juggle through several Chrome windows at once while writing research documents for school. I was surprised I couldn't navigate the Alt-Tab switch using my cursor or the arrow keys like Windows. Because of the interactivity limitations, I never used this feature since it was not productive for my Chrome OS workflow.

There is still work that needs to be done for Alt-Tab to be a useful productivity tool. For example, I wish Chrome OS would offer a close button in the Alt-Tab switcher to close a recent application without focusing its window first. My Pixel Slate also struggles to maintain an acceptable framerate when I navigate several windows, especially when using the three-finger swipe gesture. But by far my biggest gripe with Alt-Tab on Chrome OS is the awful layout when more than three applications are opened.

It's a pain to cycle through multiple windows.

As you can see, the Alt-Tab switcher overflows past the right side of the screen. If you navigate past the third window, the switcher scrolls from the screen's right side. While it allows a larger window preview to be seen at a glance (thus making it easier to recognize), I cannot see my other windows, meaning I have to cycle through several applications before getting to the end. Google can easily fix this usability issue by exposing all of the active windows in the Alt-Tab switcher (similar to Windows).

I'm happy to see Google recognize the need to do something to improve the Alt-Tab switcher on Chrome OS. Despite their current shortcomings, these new interactive features are a solid improvement that will help speed up your window management workflow. They're currently live on the Chrome OS Dev channel and should soon roll out to the Beta and Stable channel.

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Google is improving the Alt-Tab switcher in Chrome OS, here's what you need to know - Android Police

Coronavirus and Constitutionalism The Oxford Student – Oxford Student

Image description: Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster

Last Wednesday, following a deal at the eleventh hour, the governments latest renewal of the Coronavirus Act passed through the House of Commons. Pressure from backbench Conservative rebels forced Number 10 to make several concessions, including giving MPs a final vote on any new national lockdown. This was an important victory.

Many (rightly) criticise the government for its considerable missteps during the COVID crisis. However, we must also remain vigilant to ensure that, in meeting this momentous challenge, precedents are not set which put the health of a free and democratic society in jeopardy.

To be clear, before I garner accusations of Covidiocy, I am not suggesting a Lassiez-faire approach to the pandemic. It is right and proper that those in power take the necessary steps to protect public health. But in doing so, they must not be allowed to infringe on civil liberty any more than necessary.

We cannot sit idly by in the event the government uses this emergency to erase and undermine such checks and balances that exist on their power.

To do otherwise is to flirt with fascism. These concerns are, regrettably, founded in fact. It is already evident that our government is willing to play fast and loose with international law. Our prime minister has already been found by the Supreme Court to have misled the Queen into illegally proroguing parliament just last year. That such a man, and such a government, should now find themselves enjoying the awesome powers of the executive should raise alarm for all, regardless of party political preference.

In times of emergency, particularly on a scale such as this, it is natural that we expect our leaders to act. It is crucial though, that this action is subject to sufficient scrutiny. To allow this government to run rough-shot with legislation risks hard-won liberties. Obligations and expectations exist we much be upheld and respected regardless of circumstance. Of course, the greater discretionary powers now exercised by public authorities in England has been a necessary evil.

But in a country such as ours, which endows our leaders with the flexibility of an unwritten constitution, it is important to be fully aware of how these powers are obtained and exactly what their limitations are. For example, it is interesting, as LSE academic Andrew Blick points out, that the government chose not to rely on the statutory powers obtainable under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 when seeking to acquire regulatory authority.

Any increase to the presence or power of government is naturally controversial. A substantial degree of public trust is required, that those so empowered will exercise their new functions with diligence and responsibility, to prevent a breakdown of social order. Faced with an administration that has thus far spectacularly bungled and bodged their duties, it is all too easy to worry about how other abilities may be similarly misused.

Coming back to the issue of precedence, there is warranted concern over blurred lines between temporary and post-pandemic legislation. Giving evidence to the Constitution Committee, established to explore among other things the impact of the pandemic on the ability of parliament to scrutinise the government, Lord Ashton of Hyde raised exactly this point. The Conservative Chief Whip in the House of Lords commented: the lesson to be learned is that it is much better not to mix emergency and non-emergency provisions.

Clearly, there is a recognition in the Lords at least that long-term constitutional transformation inspired by pandemic necessities is intolerable. Once the committee concludes its evidence-gathering phase in November it will be most intriguing to learn what findings it reaches on these matters. Though an exact timescale will be dependent on observable medical realities, an expiry date to these powers must exist, at least in principle.

Backbench Conservative MPs, led by Sir Graham Brady, expressed concerns over a lack of accountability in the governments renewal of the Coronavirus Bill. These MPs, who allegedly numbered more than 80, were alarmed over the prospect of a parliament disenfranchised of the right to vote on key lockdown legislation. That so many were willing to rebels speaks to more than just Johnsons lack of control over an infamously disloyal Conservative party.

It exposes a distressing disinterest by this government in that same idealised parliamentary sovereignty that so many of its members had professed to champion. The deal reached between Brady and Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg leaves much to be desired. One wonders whether such a stance will suffice. Faced with a second wave of rising cases, the renewal was undoubtedly necessary.

That it took a rebellion of this scale within the Conservative party to prevent what was essentially lockdown rule by decree raises the risk that civil liberty and the constitution might still be under threat.

A perspective of constitutional concern is by no means ideologically infallible.

One must always be mindful not to fall into an alt-right mindset of a ultra-libertarianism. This libert ou la mort attitude is both dangerous and dishonest. A challenge to lockdown rules brought by millionaire Simon Dolan for example, might not appear motivated by the best intentions to all. Importantly, the Supreme Court did not find in favour of this case. That such proceedings could be issued though is itself significant. Clearly, there is room to question in the context of the courtroom the legality of the measures our government has taken.

The proper process of law and order may serve to frustrate attempts by the executive to cease headlines with swift action, but it remains a necessary bulwark to authoritarianism. One does not need to slide into Farage-endorsed fantasy of COVID denialism to expect the government to respect and acknowledge constitutional restraints on its power. Abuses to original Coronavirus Act existed not just in theory.

As of July, over 50 people had been unlawfully prosecuted under this legislation, yet the government refused to even acknowledge the flaws in its emergency powers. Everyone wants to facilitate a quick end to this pandemic. The science is clear that doing this requires a sustained commitment across society to collective action that will mitigate contagion and reduce infection.

Absolutely, every government has a public responsibility to facilitate this. However, it remains right and proper that the essential components of a free democracy are upheld and defended throughout this crisis. No emergency should be abused by any government to fatally undermine civil liberties enshrined under constitutional law. We can but hope that recent rebellions give the government at least pause for thought before unleashing powers whose legacy may prove far more lasting than that of our current leadership.

Image credit: Parliament and Big Ben by Marcin Nowak

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Coronavirus and Constitutionalism The Oxford Student - Oxford Student


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