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Call of Duty BANS OK gesture over fears its a right-wing extremist symbol – The Sun

CALL of Duty has abolished an in-game gesture over fears it's a hate symbol.

The signal in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare caused a player's character to hold up their hand in a commonly used "Okay" gesture.

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The move involves holding one's index and thumb together and was often used by players during online multiplayer matches to signal a win.

Used innocently by millions worldwide, it has also been described by the US Anti-Defamation League as "a sincere expression of white supremacy".

News of the quiet removal of the gesture or "emote" by Call of Duty (Cod) creator Infinity Ward was reported by The Independent.

Neither Infinity Ward or publisher Activision have confirmed the reason for the gestures removal.

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However, it's widely believed to be part of an official campaign to stamp out racism on Modern Warfare and its spin-off game, Warzone.

"There is no place for racist content in our game," Infinity Ward wrote on Twitter last month.

"This is an effort we began with launch and we need to do a better job.

"Were issuing thousands of daily bans of racist and hate-oriented names. But we know we have to do more."

White supremacist groups adopted the "Okay" gesture in 2017, according to The Independent.

Popularised by notorious social media site 4Chan, "alt-right" supporters are often photographed performing the gesture.

The alt-right is a loosely connected far-right, white nationalist movement based in the United States that has spread across the globe.

The Okay gesture was co-opted to trick the media into a reaction, but is now used so widely that experts believe the symbol's meaning has changed.

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It was flashed by the man accused of killing 51 people at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, last year when he was in court.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) added the "Okay" gesture to its list of hate symbols in September 2019.

It's said to be a way for alt-right supports to communicate with one another, though the gesture is largely a "popular trolling tactic", the ADL said.

The US anti-hate group added that the "overwhelming usage" of the symbol today is still to show approval or that someone is OK.

Call of Duty 2020 when is it out?

Here's what you need to know...

Therefore "particular care must be taken not to jump to conclusions about the intent behind someone who has used the gesture".

Among other changes, Infinity Ward announced last month it would add additional resources to monitor and identify racist content.

They're bolstering in-game reporting systems and handing out more permanent bans in a bid to "root out" repeat offenders.

The Sun has reached out to Activision for comment.

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In other news, a specialXbox event in Julycould see the reveal of a second next-gen console.

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And check outthis crazy 450 "gaming bed".

We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Tech & Science team? Email us at tech@the-sun.co.uk

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Call of Duty BANS OK gesture over fears its a right-wing extremist symbol - The Sun

Police and hooligans clash in Serbia over handling of COVID-19, Kosovo – New Europe

Serbian police and hundreds of hooligans, disavowed by the opposition and non-partisan citizens, clashed for two nights of mayhem in Belgrade, leaving in their wake, scores injured and destruction throughout the city over the mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic and anticipated settlement of the Kosovo issue.

When the dust settled and clouds of tear gas lifted on Wednesday, several clear pictures emerged from the battleground debris. The first being that there are three Serbias in play: the authorities led by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and their well-equipped police; hooligans which have been allowed to flourish since the days of late strongman Slobodan Milosevic who used them as his private paramilitary; and, lastly, the civic, pacifist pro-European values Serbia.

That Serbia showed its true colours on July 9 when, despite the violent scenes of the previous two days, thousands of young people, some with kids in strollers, bravely occupied Belgrades central square in a festive atmosphere. They deployed peaceful sit-down tactics and chased away far-right extremists who, indeed in much smaller numbers, tried several times to reignite fresh riots.

The second picture to emerge is that extremism among the young those who are willing to viciously engage with well-equipped police units that include mounted and K-9 detachments, and special riot-breaking units that are equipped with armoured Humvees is very powerful and could present a serious challenge to stability once a deal is made between Belgrade and Kosovo.

The third is that the fractured mainstream opposition needs to reinvent itself and refocus if it really wants to tap into the dissatisfaction of Serbian citizens, who are angry at the government for its mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic. The main opposition alliance SzS comprises the entire Serbian political spectrum from pro-Europeans to rabid anti-Westerners, the alt-right and pro-Russians, which leaves most of the citizens and all foreign observers too confused as to what that alliance stands for.

They are also too dogmatic. Their position is either, or and that is the other side of the same authoritarian coin fr most citizens. They need to reorganise, get rid of the dead weight, an analyst said.

In fact, on July 8, many of the opposition leaders were struck, booed, and expelled from the demonstration, although it remains unclear whether that was done by the hooligans or by citizens. The following evening, it was obvious that the citizens (and social networks) were calling the shots the opposition leaders were just props and extras, one Western analyst noted.

The toll from the violence has seen 118 policemen injured and 153 people arrested, and police cars were set ablaze according to the director of the police. The material damage is worth millions of euros as riots also erupted in four other towns in Serbia. On July 7 and 10, the police showed remarkable restraint while being pelted with rocks, Molotov cocktails, and flash bombs. When they decided enough was enough, many protesters were brutally beaten in violent scenes which prompted Dunja Mijatovi, the current Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, and various other human rights groups, to call for the perpetrators to face justice. Amnesty International blamed the police for applying heavy-handed measures against the demonstrators.

Images of Serbian police firing tear gas and stun grenades indiscriminately into the crowd, and of protesters and bystanders being charged by mounted police and beaten by police in riot gear, raises serious concerns, Amnesty Internationals Balkans researcher Jelena Sesar said in a statement.

Serbia did have one of Europes strictest and efficient lockdowns for months until late June when the measures were eased. A football derby attended by thousands, the first of its kind in Europe after the outbreak, and the reopening of night clubs opened were overt signals that COVID-19 had been vanquished, but there were many warnings from even before the end of the lockdown that it was far from safe to ignore social distancing rules.

Immediately after the June 21 elections, the virus returned with a vengeance and the number of casualties soared to record levels, prompting Vucic to warn of a lockdown measures.

More than 17,300 cases and over 350 deaths have been recorded throughout Serbia. To add salt to the wound, as EU countries eased entry restrictions, the doors were suddenly shut for citizens of Serbia, including in two top tourist destination countries Montenegro and Greece a veritable disaster for the well-travelled Serbs.

Thousands took to the streets asking for a new medical board overseeing the efforts to curtail the pandemic, a technical government which would prepare fresh elections, and access to the media which is chiefly pro-government.

Vucic won by a landslide in the June elections, but the results were marred by the opposition boycott and Covid-19 scare, dismissed the demands and said the government will not yield to violence. He asked citizens not to fight the hooligans and allow the state to do that for them. I promised that we will know how to preserve peace and stability despite criminal hooligan violent attacks that have shocked us all, he said on his way to Paris for talks with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a video conference summit on July 10 with Avdullah Hoti, the leader of Kosovo, and Vucic. The meeting came ahead of the resumption of EU-sponsored talks aimed at normalising relations between the two countries.

The extreme far-right could present a huge problem for Vucic. The alt-right want nothing short of Kosovo firmly back in Serbia, preferably without any Albanians, a Western diplomat remarked to New Europe. During the weeks violence, rioters and hooligans chanted anti-Kosovo, anti-EU, and anti-NATO slogans and called for the expulsion of immigrants.

They are flexing their muscles and showing they are not afraid of the police. This is a message to the government that it would do well not to ignore the situation even if it did have some semblance of control over them (the alt-right protestors).

Vucic has accused unnamed foreign intelligence services of being behind the unrest, part of an effort to weaken Serbias position at the Kosovo talks.

The pro-government tabloids accused pro-Russian far-right groups of fueling the violence. This prompted the Russian Ambassador to Serbia and the Russian Foreign Ministry to make an unprecedented and protocol-waiving move to issue statements saying that Moscow categorically rejected any notion that Russia was behind the unrest.

The claim came amidst widespread speculation that the Kremlin is, for its selfish reasons, opposed to any solution to the Kosovo issue at this time. Moscow was accused of being involved in attempted coups in Montenegro and North Macedonia last year, charges it denies.

During the first night of the riots, the only cable TV covering the events, N1, made a surprising discovery. In a surreal scene, their camera caught the police beating three young and fit men sitting on a park bench and drinking beer in the thick of the violence.

The journalist went to interview the three when a flustered young woman, who was not more than 30-years-old, joined then and started speaking to the journalist, who was surprised by her accent and asked if she was Russian., The woman replied that she was and said she was taking part in the demonstration, as she did in her own country against dictatorship.

When sked against which dictator she was referring to, the young woman replied, against Yeltsin, of course! The problem is that she must have been a very advanced toddler at the time to take part in demonstrations that would have occurred more than 25 years ago.

The following day, Vucics cabinet issued a statement that a planned meeting with the Russian Ambassador to Belgrade had been cancelled. No reason was given.

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Police and hooligans clash in Serbia over handling of COVID-19, Kosovo - New Europe

For Black Tulsa residents, the city’s racial past and present hover over Trump rally – CNN

They're preparing for a Juneteenth weekend tinged with tension, in a small city that has garnered national attention. Just a stone's throw from where these men are practicing, President Donald Trump will take the stage on Saturday for his first rally since the Covid-19 outbreak.

The men are all Tulsa natives following the tenets of the original Black Panther movement, which was created in 1966 as a force to create social reform. In that vein, they are advocating against the oppression of Black people. Although the small group is comprised of fewer than a dozen men and not affiliated with any national movement, they hope to keep the peace by employing de-escalation tactics if the rally descends into chaos.

"This is unity, this is brotherhood. All of us come from these streets out here," Akono Bey, one member of the group, told CNN. "All of us have dealt with the same problems. We all want better for our children out here. And the only way to get better is to do better."

As Tulsa braces for Trump's visit, civic leaders and others here are mindful of the city's troubled history with racial violence while also cautiously hopeful for the potential of the Black Lives Matter movement. Many are concerned about Trump's visit yet also curious if now is the moment that Tulsa will reckon with its complex racial history.

Greg Robinson, a native Tulsan running to become the first Black mayor in the city's history, says he's learning a lot from the young men. But he understands some might view them with a degree of fear, given how young Black men are often depicted.

The men have read reports of outside agitators, including white supremacists, disrupting protests in Minneapolis after George Floyd's death. They believe this devalues the Black Lives Matter movement, and they say they will be vigilant for potential trouble as President Trump descends on their city. While the movement is not armed, Oklahoma residents have the right to carry arms. However, they say that is only out of a need for self-defense.

"They're so much more peaceful than what society and media would have you believe," Robinson said, referring to the group. "They want an education, they want economic opportunity. They want the space to be able to express themselves and not feel like they have the police hanging over their neck."

Lasting emotional trauma

Like many American cities, Tulsa has experienced well-publicized controversies between the local police department and the Black community.

In a video shot by a bystander, one of the officers is seen leaning into his police car where he had placed one of the handcuffed teens. After a few seconds, the officer is seen kicking into the car. Moments later, that officer throws the handcuffed teen out of the car and onto the sidewalk.

In police dash camera video released by the Tulsa Police Department, an officer can be seen searching the pocket of the teen who had been put in the front seat of the police car. A few minutes later, the officer can be seen kicking his legs as the teen struggles.

Although the boys were eventually released, and the Tulsa Police Department announced an investigation, the lasting emotional trauma of incidents like this one often runs deeper than some realize, Robinson says.

"A white boy wakes up and says, 'What do I want to do today?' And a black boy wakes up and says, 'What can I do today?'" Robinson said.

He hopes that as mayor he can clear a path forward in a city with a long history of racial violence, dating back to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, which destroyed the Black Greenwood District and killed some 300 Black residents.

"When you look and think that we are just on the sunset of the 100-year anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre, and not one descendant of a victim has yet to receive justice," Robinson said. "There are still families that are being victimized by police violence, and no justice is found."

'Rally cry' for alt-right?

Anissia West is an educator and activist who has also lived in Tulsa her whole life. A descendent of Creek Freedmen, former African slaves of Muscogee Creek tribal members, West says it's crucial for Tulsa to reckon with its past as it looks to the future, starting with President Trump's rally this weekend.

She says he should have moved the rally to a different weekend.

"Juneteenth is a whole weekend celebration. It might start on Thursday and last through Sunday," she said.

She says Trump's decision to rally in Tulsa, not far away from the site of such a deadly racial massacre, is more than coincidence.

"I can't help but look at it as anything other than an act of terrorism," she said. "He knows that whether he believes he is racist or not, he knows that members of the KKK and other alt-right organizations are following him and that they will see what he is doing as a rally cry."

Although West is dismayed by the President's visit, she says she has never been prouder of her city and its response to the police killing of George Floyd.

"I've spent years protesting in Tulsa and other places in Oklahoma with really low turnouts," West said. "I was mad at Tulsa because we have a tendency to do the thing we call 'Tulsa nice,' where we're fighting for something, but we're gonna also have a barbecue. This time was different."

West strolls to a popular spot in the Greenwood District, where a large mural commemorates the neighborhood that was once known as Black Wall Street, at one time the beacon of hope for Black life.

"This is sacred space," she said. "We know this is a space where buildings were destroyed. People died here. But the spirit is still here. But we're still here, and we're going to keep building, and we're not going anywhere."

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For Black Tulsa residents, the city's racial past and present hover over Trump rally - CNN

Ricky Gervais Says Liberals Only Claim He’s "Alt-Right" Because His Jokes Have a "Target They Defend" – Decider

Ricky Gervais has some thoughts about his newly-acquired alt-right label. In a new episode of The Daily Beasts The Last Laughpodcast, Gervais sounded off on his steadfast commitment to free speech, which has earned him praise from right-wing pundits and Twitter users. While the After Lifestar appreciates his new fans, he admitted that its only left-leaning users who consider him a fascist, as hes making jokes about things they love. People love the idea of free speech until they hear something they dont like, said Gervais.

Gervais is the first to admit that hes a liberal, but in recent months, his takedown of the Hollywood eliteand woke stars has made him a popular figure within right-wing circles. After his controversial Golden Globes monologue, Fox News host Greg Gutfield praised Gervais for saying everything youve ever wanted to say to that self-obsessed pile of pulsating flesh known as Hollywood and applauded his commitment to freedom from the hypocrisy of the intolerant woke.

When asked about his viral tweets about free speech and his embrace by the alt-right community, Gervais said that only left-wing Twitter users actually believe hes conservative. Whats weird about that is it was actually the left on social media that once again said, Oh, hes alt-right now,' he toldThe Last Laughhost Matt Wilstein. What could be less right-wing than going after the biggest, richest corporations in the world?

Gervais went on to say that its interesting that people consider him alt-right for endorsing free speech, when the alt-right were the ones, the fascists were the ones that were closing down free speech in the past. He insisted that people advocate for free speech until someone says something they dislike, therefore turning it into a selfish thing. People try and justify it, as well, said Gervais. They go, Im all for freedom of speech, but you know, thats the one thing you shouldnt joke about. Oh, you mean the one thing that you care about?

Its odd, he added, noting that even the right knows hes a liberal. People pretend they dont like a joke, for some reason. But you know what? They just dont like the joke having the target that they defend. Thats the bottom line.

You liked it when I made the joke about the thing you dont like. You didnt like it when I made the joke about the thing you do like. Just admit it, he continued. I dont care if people like all the jokes. But dont pretend youve weighed it up and youre being the fair one. You just dont like that joke and thats fine.

Listen to Ricky Gervais entire interview onThe Last Laughpodcast on Apple Podcasts.

Link:

Ricky Gervais Says Liberals Only Claim He's "Alt-Right" Because His Jokes Have a "Target They Defend" - Decider

Alt-Right Trolls Are Trying to Sabotage Black Lives Matter Chatrooms – Mother Jones

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As mass protests against police brutality and racial injustice continue across the country, 4chan, a notorious alt-right troll hub online, is trying to meddle in protesters online operations.

On Sunday night, users of 4chan made several highly trafficked posts with links to dozens of Black Lives Matter channels on Telegram, a privacy-oriented, encrypted messaging app that has been used for organizing protests across the country. Users on 4chan encouraged others to post disinformation in the groups, find incriminating information that they can pass to law enforcement, and trawl the channels for as much personal, identifying, and organizational information as they can about people in the groups.

Some have already posted the phone numbers of volunteers organizing food and water for protesters, and phone numbers for jail support for arrested protesters. The 4chan posts didnt include instructions for what to do with the numbers, but based on 4channers normal behavior, its possible that the implication is to harass the person on the other end of the line. In some cases, users in the threads are also doxxing what they believe to be Antifa safehouses by posting addresses of these homes.

The central focus on the 4chan posts so far, though, hasnt been to impede the current protests, but rather to compile doxxing information on the activists behind the protests. BE STEALTHY DONT TROLL, RIGHT NOW THE MOST VALUABLE THING WE CAN GET IS INFO, one user posted.

A lot of these retards have identifying info on their telegram profiles, instagram, personal website, real name, phone number, etc. get that, another wrote, urging other 4channers to store what they found on internet archive sites like Archive.is and Pastebin (links on Pastebin arent accessible, suggesting that the site may have taken moderation action). Others encouraged people to share their findings with trustworthy public sources and right wing journalists.

Its unclear to what extent 4chan posters have followed through on their plans, and if the threads have led to any offline harassment. Many of the Black Lives Matter channels dont let anyone without authorization post. And administrators of some of the channels seem to be aware of the people trying to infiltrate. One of the larger protest Telegram channels, The BLM Revolution of 2020 with roughly 8,740 subscribers, posted an open letter to to the fascist how are watching this channel, on Sunday night. Im going to be honest with you all, the path that you have picked is only going to bring more suffering, and solidify the system that youve set out to fight against. Your fight is going to end up with more people in your situation. Lost, lonely, and unsure where to go, the person behind the Telegram channel wrote, encouraging right-wingers to reach out if they wanted to anonymously talk.

4channers arent the only group monitoring Black Lives Matter Telegram channels. Extremist groups that label themselves as various brands of fascists and white supremacists have compiled lists of Black Lives Matter channels on their own Telegram channels, and frequently repost content from BLM organizers on their pages.

White supremacists and far-right extremists on Telegram have been a recurring problem that the platform has been unwilling to handle. The encrypted messaging service took action against public ISIS channels, but has been unwilling to do the same with far-right extremists, leaving up channels that compile lists of Jewish people, and others that encourage white supremacist violence.

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Alt-Right Trolls Are Trying to Sabotage Black Lives Matter Chatrooms - Mother Jones

What’s Antifa and its role in Black Lives Matter protests? – TRT World

Anti-fascist leftist movement, Antifa, has dominated US politics during the weekslong protests over the death of unarmed black man, George Floyd, in police custody. US President Trump is holding the group accountable for the ongoing violence.

In the years since US President Donald Trump's election in 2016, a previously almost dormant far-left, anti-fascist group has re-emerged ostensibly in response to a rise in racism and white supremacy.

Now several top officials in the Trump administration from the president to the US attorney general are blaming the anti-fascist group, called Antifa, for taking over protests triggered by black man George Floyd's death in police custody.

Floyd, cuffed and unarmed, was pinned to the ground by Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin, who is white, using his knee. His knee was on Floyds neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, according to a New York Time's reconstruction.

The following protests, which started peacefully, were marred by more brutality and show of force by law enforcement and looting and violence. The press and experts have flipflopped in the blame for both between instigators and protesters.

Here's a look at the group Trump and Attorney General William Barr are blaming for fanning violence:

The Antifa

Antifa is an unstructured, decentralised, leaderless group of far-left anti-fascist activists. The movement's name is a shortened version of the term anti-fascist.

The movement first started in Nazi Germany to fight European fascism before the Second World War and reached the US in the 1970s against Neo-Nazism and alt-right groups.

The movement consists of various groups without any central leadership, the earliest formalised group with this name dates to 2007 in the US. It was mostly inactive until the election of Donald Trump and the concurrent rise of white supremacy in the US.

There is no hierarchical structure to Antifa or universal set of tactics that makes its presence immediately recognisable, though members tend to espouse revolutionary and anti-authoritarian views, said Mark Bray, a historian at Rutgers University and author of Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook.

They do different things at different times in different ways, some of which there is evidence of them breaking the law. Other times there is not, Bray, also a scholar of Spanish radicalism, said.

Antifascists also want to stop any fascist movement before it can grow, even if those they target appear small and inconsequential, said Bray in 2017.

Is there an Antifa 'type'?

There is no official roster of Antifa members, making it near impossible to quantify its size, age range or racial formulation. In every area, Antifa is formed by autonomous local units.

People associated with Antifa have been present for significant demonstrations and counter-demonstrations over the last three years, sometimes involving brawls and property damage.

In February 2017, hours before then editor of the far-right Breitbart News Milo Yiannopoulos was to give a speech at UC Berkeley, anti-fascist protesters tossed metal barricades and rocks through the buildings windows and set a light generator on fire near the entrance. Later, Berkeley said 150 masked protesters were responsible for the violence at the mostly peaceful 1,500-strong protest against the far-right editor.

The movement does not have any known affiliates but some members are known to be parts of Occupy and Black Lives Matter movements.

They mobilised against a white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017 and have clashed repeatedly with far-right groups in Portland, Oregon, including at a protest and counter-demonstration last summer that resulted in arrests and the seizure of shields, poles and other weapons.

The members are known to dress in head-to-toe black and cover their faces as they believe it helps in defending against the police.

Use of violence

Their proactive approach of using violence to stop racist or totalitarian movements from spreading or to protect vulnerable groups distinguishes them from other non-violent leftists groups.

The movement sees the use of violence as self-defence and does not consider damaging property as a form of brutality.

Literature from the Antifa movement encourages followers to pursue lawful protest activity as well as more confrontational acts, according to a 2018 Congressional Research Service report.

The members do not abstain from involving in direct physical confrontations, also followers monitor the activities of white supremacist groups, publicise online the personal information of perceived enemies, develop self-defence training regimens and compel outside organisations to cancel any speakers or events with a fascist bent such as the Yiannopoulos speech at Berkeley.

US administration on Antifa

Trump and members of his administration have singled out Antifa for driving the violence at Black Lives Matters protests.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters on Monday that Antifa is a big element of this protest," though she deferred to the Department of Justice on the question of how one could be identified as a member.

And it's unclear how big its actual involvement is. And whether some of its apparent involvement is driven by instigators.

Twitter said it suspended two fake Antifa accounts, one of which was run by people with ties to a white supremacist group.

There's also a growing presence of Boogalo Bois, a gun-toting, Hawaiian shirt-wearing anti-government group, often misrepresented as a straightforward white supremacist group, at the Black Lives Matter protests. They have been accused of fomenting some of the violence blamed on Antifa by the Trump administration.

Boogalo Bois, or their other iterations, openly called for people to join them in raising militias against the Minneapolis police after the black man's death, Bellingcat reported.

Trump on Antifa

At a White House appearance, Trump blamed Antifa by name for the violence, along with violent mobs, arsonists and looters.

Trump tweeted that the US will designate the movement as a terrorist organisation.

It's not the first time he's endorsed that approach. Trump expressed a similar sentiment last summer, joining some Republican lawmakers in calling for Antifa to be designated as a terror organisation after the skirmishes in Portland.

In a pair of statements over the weekend, Attorney General William Barr described Antifa-like tactics" by out-of-state agitators and said Antifa was instigating violence and engaging in domestic terrorism" and would be dealt with accordingly.

Is Turkey supporting Trump's Antifa stance?

Technically, Turkey is asking the Trump administration to extend the same designation to the YPG, the terror group the US used to fight the Daesh in Syria.

Many YPG sympathisers come from the US to fight in Syria, attracted by the group which Turkey designated as a terror group along with its parent group the PKK and its so-called leftist selling points.

Some believe Antifa's leftist ideology attracts young people to volunteer with the YPG in Syria, after some foreign fighters were linked to the anti-fascists.

Can Trump describe Antifa as a terror group?

As Antifa is not a discrete or centralised group, it remains unclear if it is possible to designate it as a terrorist organisation.

Since Antifa in the US is a domestic entity, it is as such not a candidate for inclusion on the Department of State's list of foreign terror groups. Those groups, which include Daesh and other such groups and the Real Irish Republican Army, are based overseas rather than in the US.

That designation matters for a variety of legal reasons, not least of which is that anyone in the United States who lends material support to an organisation on the terror list is subject to terrorism-related charges.

Even if Antifa is not designated as a terror group, FBI Director Chris Wray has made clear that its on the radar of federal law enforcement.

He has said while the FBI does not investigate on the basis of ideology, agents have pursued investigations across the country against people motivated to commit crimes and acts of violence "on kind of an Antifa ideology."

It is unclear whether the Trump administration is seriously pursuing the designation through formal channels. Experts say Trump lacks the legal authority to do so.

"Terrorism is an inherently political label, easily abused and misused," said ACLU National Security Project Director Hina Shamsi.

Mary McCord, a former senior DoJ official, said, "no current legal authority exists for designating domestic organisations as terrorist organisations."

"Any attempt at such a designation would raise significant First Amendment concerns," added McCord, who previously served in the Trump administration.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies

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What's Antifa and its role in Black Lives Matter protests? - TRT World

What is Pizzagate, and why is the fake news scandal trending on Twitter again? – Sussex Express

A new Sky documentary that investigates some of the most mind-boggling conspiracy theories of recent years has been shining a new light on some of the most baffling fake news stories to come out of the US.

After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News aired earlier this month, and surveys the effects of disinformation campaigns on social media and the impacts of well known conspiracy theories.

One of those theories is that of Pizzagate, and the film follows the growth of the story onforums like Redditand4chan, how it was fomented by thealt-rightandAlex Jones, and then translated into a real-life dangerous situation.

Heres everything you need to know:

What was Pizzagate?

Pizzagate was a widely discredited news story which linked Hilary Clintons presidential campaign with a fictional human trafficking ring.

Its so-called because the alleged headquarters of the operation wastheComet Ping Pongpizzeria in Washington, D.C, which according to the conspiracy was also a meeting ground forSatanic ritual abuse.

It all began inMarch 2016, when the personal email account ofJohn Podesta, Clinton'scampaign manager, was hacked.

WikiLeakspublishedthe emailslater that year; conspiracy theoristsclaimed the emails contained coded messages that alluded to human traffickingand a child sexring.

The emails contained multiple references to pizza and pizza restaurants, but there is no evidence that they are code or refer to anything else.

Had the claims been true, it would have implicated a number of high-rankingDemocratic Partyofficials.

How was the story debunked?

The story has been widely debunked by a number of fact checking a news organisations from across the political spectrum evenFox News has said the story is completely false.

Theorists claimed that similarities between Comet Ping Pongs logocontained symbols linked toSatanismand paedophilia; the New York Times noted these similarities could be found in thelogos of completely unrelated companies, if you looked hard enough.

Claims of a secret underground network beneath Comet Ping Pong were disproven by the fact the establishment has no basement, and evidence that John Podesta played a part in the kidnapping of Madeleine McCannwere simply sketches of a suspect taken from the descriptions of two eyewitnesses.

No alleged victims have come forward and no physical evidence has been found.

What happened?

Despite the theory having zero evidence to support it, that didnt stop those who opposed Hilary Clinton believing the story wholesale.

That includedgunman Edgar Maddison Welch, who travelled down from South Carolina to confront the owners of Comet Ping Pong.

He entered the pizza restaurant in Washington D.C. packed with families on a Sunday afternoon and fired an automatic rifle.

Thankfully, no one was injured in the disturbance; Mr Welch told police he had driven from South Carolina to investigate the restaurant after reading online reports.

Why is Comet Ping Pong back in the news?

Though its been four years since the height of the Pizzagate story, the owners still have to deal with death threats and abuse.

As employees continue to search for a new rhythm [during the coronavirus pandemic], say the Washington Post,they still field calls from Pizzagate obsessors.

A few weeks ago, someone jammed the phone line for an entire day, frustrating customers who struggled to place orders. [Comet] has received almost 70 Pizzagate messages in recent weeks.

There also seems to be a renewed interest in the false story in the wake of news that US prosecutors want a face-to-face interview with Prince Andrew over the Jeffrey Epstein scandal.

The story has been trending on Twitter again, despite remaining completely untrue, with theorists linking Epsteins private jet the Lolita Express and his private Epstein Island with the restaurant.

There is no evidence to suggest any of it is true.

Go here to see the original:

What is Pizzagate, and why is the fake news scandal trending on Twitter again? - Sussex Express

Who are the Boogaloo Bois and what do they want? – Lexington County Chronicle

Charles Manson and his followers called it "helter skelter" in the 1960s and 70s,

Their aim was to foment a racial civil war in America.

Law enforcement sources say the Boogaloo Bois are a far right hate group with similar goals.

Along with white supremists and neo-Nazis, they plan to bring down the government and take controlof America.

What they envision may be similar to Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 40s.

Although they share similar violent motives with far left Antifa groups, theright wingconsiders the left their enemy,

This Chronicle specialreport by Editor Jerry Bellune is based on digital research into these groups, their methods and motives since2 possible members have been arrested in the Saturday, May 30, violence in downtown Columbia,

We have asked the Lexington County Sheriff's Department and the Lexington Police Department for any additional informatiuin they can share.

According to theSouthern Poverty Law Center,the term Boogaloo ...began as a shorthand for civil unrest following potential local or federal firearms confiscation and has been embraced by anti-government and white nationalists.

The word hasbeen embraced by alt-right extremists, some involved in the George Floyd demonstrations.

3 things to know about them:

1. Boogaloo Bois Have Been Charged With Domestic Terrorism

People shout slogans and hold placards, on June 1, 2020, in downtown Las Vegas, as they take part in a Black Lives Matterresponse to the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd.

3men who identify as Boogaloo Bois and who are all former members of the military, according toBusiness Insider, were charged with domestic terrorism, conspiracy to damage and destroy by using fire and explosives, and possession of an unregistered firearm, Las Vegas police reported.

Andrew Lynam Jr. 23, Stephen Parshall, 35, and William Loomis, 40, are each being held on a $1 million bond.

J.J. MacNab of George Washington Universitys Program on Extremism, toldThe Associated Press that she has seen Boogaloo Bois in crowds of George Floyd protestors wearing tactical gear and carrying high-powered rifles.

They want to co-opt themto start their war," McNab told the AP. They see themselves as being on the side of protesters and that the protesters themselves are useful in causing anarchy.

According to theAnti-Defamation League, a2018Reddit post carried a 2012 photo of California Gov. Gavin Newsome in which hetalkedabout coming for private owners' guns.

The post included the words, Civil War 2: Electric Boogaloo.

That was believed to meanarms seizureswould set off a civil war.

Gun-rights enthusiasts shortened the term to Boogaloo.

White nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the alt-right exchange insluts with counter-protestersduring the Unite the Right rally August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Accelerationists arewhite supremacists who want to see Americans at war against each other,

According to theTheBrookingsInstitution, a research and public policy group in Washington:

Accelerationism is the idea that white supremacists should try to increase civil disorder accelerate it to foster polarization that will tear apart the current political orderAccelerationists hope to set off a series of chain reactions, with violence fomenting violence, and in the ensuing cycle more and more people join the fray. When confronted with extremes, so the theory goes, those in the middle will be forced off the fence and go to the side of the white supremacists. If violence can be increased sufficiently, the system will run out of lackeys and collapse, and the race war will commence.

Brookings reported thatneo-NaziJames Masoncame into his ideologies in the 1960s.

TheSPLCsaid that Mason believed, that only the full collapse of American democracy and society will bring conditions sufficient to bring order through Nazism.

Mason was a fan of Charles Manson, according to the SPLC.

All the groups that want a civil war do not have the same ideologies.

The use of the term Boogaloo is not exclusive to white supremacists.

It is used by others who think law enforcement and the government should be overthrown.

Experts say groups will jump into causes that are not really their ownto try to create disorder and to invoke police or other law enforcement to respond with violence.

Alex Friedfeld, an investigative researcher at the ADL Center on Extremism in Chicago said:

I think for a lot of boogaloo-ers, their primary interest is resisting the state, what they believe to be state tyranny. They have this hostility towards law enforcement. They oppose these [pandemic] directives. Theyre upset about no-knock raids, police brutality. The George Floyd case ... is an example of police brutality, this willingness of the state to execute those who disobey so its not surprising that they showed up to protest.

On a Boogaloo Facebook Page called Big Igloo Boys with nearly 34,000 followers, the administratorwroteMay 30:

Protest for support and solidarity of Minneapolisand the George Floyd protesters. Mr Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis ... by the Minneapolis Police Department.We must set aside our differences, and unite against a common enemy in the police state.Wear your PPE. Come in peace, prepare for ... violence. Departments around the country have shown that theyre ready to agitate a crowd to illicit a violent response. This gives them an excuse to react with greater violence towards otherwise peaceful protesters. The media then uses the violence to discredit an entire event.

The group disdains what they call Alphabet Boys, meaning the FBI, ATF, CIA and the like.

Inan open letter to law enforcement on the Big IglooFacebook page, the group calls for an end to no-knock raids.

Inseems to refer to Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African American EMT was shot and killed by police who raided the wrong home in the night while the Taylor was asleep with her boyfriend.

Taylors boyfriend fired at the officers thinking they were intruders,andpolice shot back, hitting Breonna 8 times.

TheApril 7 postsays:

This is, essentially, an open letter to all LE departments across the nation. If I could, Id tag every single one of you. However, since Im positive were being monitored ... Ill have to hope this is enough.

I am asking you, and your agencies, to put an end to the practice of no knock raids. Once again we hear of the wrong house being entered, a man trying to defend himself from a home invasionand having his girlfriend murdered by the police.

Absolutely nothing constructive, meaningful, or worthwhile comes of this practice. What we get are ... innocent people being murdered by botched police work. Stop yourselves long enough to take stock of what youre doing. Youre murdering citizens in their homes. You all swore an oath to the constitution. Which part of the oath, or the document mentions murdering citizens in the dark of night?

Armed protesters demonstrateoutside the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing May 20, 2020. The group is protesting Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmers mandatory closure to curtail the corona virus pandemic.

Reports of protesters in Hawaiian shirts carrying guns started coming out this spring as people demonstrated their dissatisfaction with government directives to close much of the country amid the corona virus pandemic.

The Hawaiian shirts apparently come from off-shoots of the word Boogaloo, which began popping up online.

Words like big igloo and big luau which sound somewhat like Boogaloo became terminology for those in the know and Hawaiian shirts became an identifier of its members.

Boogaloo is an umbrella term meaning a 2nd civil war,

TheADL wrotein April of men showing up at corona virus protests in Hawaiian shirts at the behest of Matt Marshall, a leader of the3 Percenters, a wing of the anti-government militia movement

The event was advertised by theOath Keepers, another anti-government organization.

Marshall encouraged participants to wear Hawaiian shirts, referringto the Big Luau.

Read more:

Who are the Boogaloo Bois and what do they want? - Lexington County Chronicle

#BlackLivesMatter and India: Right-Wing Allies with White Supremacists with Ominous Signs at Home – NewsClick

Protests against the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, in police custody, have intensified across the United States. In solidarity with the US protestors, people have turned out in large numbers from cities like Amsterdam and Paris, where they have questioned their own countrys treatment of minorities and its systemic racial abuse. In India too, citizens put up #BlackLivesMatter on their social media as a gesture of their support for the protests. Rather unsurprising, however still curious, is the response of the Indian right-wing. Platforms with the support of the RSS-BJP were seen lampooning and criticising the protests, and the #BlackLivesMatter theme in particular.

This article, for instance, in an infamous right-leaning web portal, put the word protests within quotes, to raise doubts about the legitimacy of the movement demanding justice for George Floyd. While the article is understandably primarily concerned with the ramifications of those protests in India given the trends #MuslimLivesMatters and #DalitLivesMatter, it has broadly insinuated that the protests are mindless acts of vandalism, discounting the innumerable peaceful protests against institutional racism in the US.

The position that this website takes is identical to that of the Alt-right and supporters of President Donald Trump, both of whom have sought to focus exclusively on the violence, and downplay or ignore the excessive force used by the police and the US National Guard (similar to the RAF and other paramilitary forces in India). In another article, the same portal sought to link the protests with the anti-CAA protests in India, and further denigrate Muslims by hinting that it is an Islamic fundamentalist conspiracy at play in the US. The portal has also made it a point to target Antifa, the decentralised group opposed to white supremacy in the US, calling it a radical far left group, another fillip to the heady cocktail of McCarthyism and anti-Muslim rhetoric on display.

This article, in another portal, recognises that the killing of Floyd was due to police brutality, and even goes on to say that anti-racism protests should not be abhorred. However, at the same time, it seeks to label protests in the US as an excuse for anti-social elements to wreak havoc across the United States under the shroud of anti-racism protests (sic). The primary thrust of the article, however, is Europe, where the protests that have taken place in solidarity, also question the state of race-relations in the respective countries. The intent of the article is to question the very foundation of multiculturalism, an idea that has shaped institutions like the European Union, and which allowed for a mildly compassionate response to the refugee crisis of the Middle East in 2015.

The opposition to multiculturalism and immigration, has been, in a sense, the raison d'etre of right-wing formations that sprung up in Europe and the Western hemisphere since the financial crisis of 2008. Now, the Indian right-wing has joined in, discounting the irony that millions of Indians migrate to these very countries. The article also focuses on the flouting of social distancing norms, an admirable stance, probably coloured by the inability of the writer to see that President Trump was dead against a lockdown and wanted people to return to work amid mounting COVID-19 cases. In a Facebook Post by the same platform, the protests in the US are shown as an opportunity for Trump to polarise voters by looking to be tough on rioting, and doing well at the impending Presidential elections in November.

The Indian right has had a rather complex stand on foreign policy, which has been, for the most part, guided by political expediency at home. I remember seeing articles from the RSS Hindi weekly, Panchajanya, praising the Israeli state for tackling the insurgent movement for the liberation of Palestine, as far back as the 1970s. The stand was self explanatory, in lieu of the common enemy being Muslims, but that never translated into any outpouring of support which might have also reflected in policy, whenever the right-wing came to power. It was in fact Atal Bihari Vajpayee as External Affairs minister in the Janata Party government of the late 1970s, who led the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with the Peoples Republic of China, after years of belligerence following the war in 1962. The Nehruvian tinge to foreign policy continued during the first NDA government (1998-2004) which Vajpayee led. He shot down the request of his foreign minister, Jaswant Singh, to join the post 9/11 US led war on terror. India not only refused to participate in the allied invasion of Iraq, but at least officially deplored war, even as it can be argued that India had effectively become a strategic ally of the US by that time. In its official rhetoric, India, under the first NDA regime, continued to be seen as pro-Palestinian, with Vajpayee supporting a Palestinian state in no uncertain terms.

The Modi led regime has, like many other things, dispensed with a lot of such niceties regarding foreign policy, and in continuation with their amplified rhetoric against all things associated with the first Prime Minister of India, made it a point to showcase their foreign policy shifts such as Indias repeated abstention on UN Human Rights Commission resolutions condemning the Israeli excesses, and the refusal of Mr. Modi to visit the Palestinian Authority while being the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel in 2017 (though he did visit Ramallah one year later, separately). It is a fact that the Indian right-wing can be much more open about its allies and foes internationally, now that it has acquired not just unbridled power, but a wide and deep hegemony in substantial aspects. Hence, it can confidently dismiss pro-Black protestors and ally with the US Alt-right. It all started with the open embrace of Trump, who endeared himself with his anti-Muslim diatribes when the community was increasingly on the Hindu nationalist radar at home. The all too publicised scenes of an extra parliamentary Hindu far right group conducting a hawan for the victory of Trump, represents widespread praise for not just the man, but implicitly his white supremacist views as well.

The alignment with the Alt-right and white supremacist thought represents a metamorphosis which has involved the jettisoning of the entire anti-colonial legacy and sympathy with anti-imperialist struggles, which extended to the Civil Rights Movement in the US.

One of the more understandable reasons for the Hindu right-wing to denounce #BlackLivesMatter is a perception that Muslims sympathise with the campaign. Scenes of militant protests in the US are just enough to touch a raw nerve with the Indian right due to protests against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which saw massive participation of Muslims for months.

However, evidence suggests that Muslims might not be the only scapegoats. The right-wing influence on government means that it is difficult not to see even aspects of lip service paid to the shared legacy of anti-oppression struggles being eroded. The unambiguous positions taken by the RSS, or at least platforms which lean towards it, has significance within India itself. Traditional bias towards fairness has been quite pronounced in mythology, equating it with goodness, while dark skin is a refrain for everything gone awry. The importance of fairness creams in our society is another reminder of how not-so-subtle symbolism affects mindsets. India has seen regular cases of violence and abuse directed at students from Africa, which can only worsen if the Indian right-wing leans closer to ideological anti-Black prejudice elsewhere.

With a complicated geographical, social and linguistic diversity with a past history of contentions, implicit race prejudice being given sanction by ideology, posits a challenge. The southern states history of tensions with the north, are one such example. There were deeply disturbing instances of hate-mongering when the state of Kerala went through its worst floods in decades. There were organised campaigns directed at discouraging relief donations since the Malayalees did not conform to the image of a society best in tune with how the RSS, influenced heavily by its Indo-Gangetic social base, sees it. The concept of Unity in Diversity, so cherished and central to the idea of Indian federalism, cannot profit out of a reinforcement of the idea of white supremacy borrowed from the US and Europe.

There is a corollary to the shared stance of the Indian and American right on #BlackLivesMatter- China. Ever since Trump called the pandemic a Chinese Virus, and accused the country of deliberately concealing facts to abet its spread to the US, dozens of columns and op-ed pieces have appeared in Indian right-wing platforms in support of the stance. An obvious correlation might be made to the very recent symbolic campaign of uninstalling Chinese-invented mobile applications. More significant was an incident in the national capital when a Manipuri student was spat on by a passer-by and referred to as Corona.

The writer is a PhD student at Centre for Media Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University. The views are personal.

Read more here:

#BlackLivesMatter and India: Right-Wing Allies with White Supremacists with Ominous Signs at Home - NewsClick

N.J. mayor clashes with protesters over his brothers police record – NJ.com

After protesters marched through the borough of Carteret in support of the Black Lives Matter movement last week, a group of more than 100 ended up outside Mayor Daniel Reimans home, demanding answers about why his brother is still on the police force.

Joseph Reiman was charged by authorities in 2017 with brutalizing a black teenager after a brief car chase. He was acquitted by a jury in May 2019 and has remained with the borough police department.

As the mayor tried to enter his home, he was flanked by police who cleared the crowd as protesters chanted, Vote him out. One woman called the longtime mayor f---ing nasty, according to a video taken by a protester.

Reiman responded on the video: Are you on drugs again?

He then went into his home without addressing the large crowd, according to several people, as protesters stayed out front for hours.

The mayor said in a statement that the woman was screaming racially offensive and homophobic comments at the Police and myself all day and was clearly not there to support the Black Lives Matter movement."

It appeared to me that she was on some sort of substance and she should have expected to be called out, he said.

Earlier in the day at the middle school, where the protest was set to kick off, Reiman had made the same comment about drug use as he was questioned by two men regarding his brother, according to another video.

He shouldnt be on the street with a badge and a gun brutalizing black teens, said one of the men. Another man held a sign with pictures of Monte Stewart, the teenager Reimans brother repeatedly punched after a brief car chase in 2017.

So we know for a fact you are a heroin addict, Reiman responded on the video.

Jon Salonis, a spokesman for the borough, said the man, is an alt-right agitator who regularly appears at public meetings making derogatory and downright slanderous remarks about the Mayor.

The Mayor was not about to abide his attempted highjacking of what was to be a peaceful walk. And so the mayor called him out for exactly what he is, Salonis said.

Shortly thereafter the exchange, Salonis said outside agitators began shouting down the mayor and the designated speakers, preventing them from addressing the crowd as they had planned too.

The mayor said in a statement that he did not partake in the protest because it took a different route than what was planned and because (protesters) did not want me there. In one video taken before the protest, Mayor Reiman said police should be held to a higher standard and said he was at the event to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

Those who attended the protest described the mayors actions as unprofessional, saying they showed a lack of empathy and leadership during a critical time in American history.

This is the first thing you say while there are protesters outside your home? asked Dominique Cortesiano, a 20-year Carteret resident who took the video of Reiman asking the woman outside of his home if she were back on drugs. He doesnt want to create a dialogue.

The protest was organized after the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police in May, but some who attended the protest said it was just as much about police misconduct in the borough.

You are perpetuating the issue here with your brother, Josef Sanders said of the mayor.

People are angry with (the mayor) and have every right to be, said Lauren Jones, a college student and lifelong resident who organized the protest. ... You cant leave when things get uncomfortable. Part of the uncomfortability is caused by you.

After serving multiple tours as a Marine in Afghanistan and Iraq, Joseph Reiman joined the Carteret police force in July 2015 and quickly became known as an aggressive and forceful police officer in the borough, according to previous reporting by NJ Advance Media.

During a 23-month stretch after he became a Carteret cop, Reiman accounted for more than 20% of all arrests involving force by an officer recorded by the department, according to NJ Advance Media investigation.

Reimans record became public when NJ Advance Media reported a teens account of his arrest after leading police on a brief chase in 2017.

The arrest was captured on dashcam video and showed Reiman climbing on top of the teen and punching him more than a dozen times.

Reimans defense attorney argued at the trial that the officer used the appropriate amount of force consistent with police training when apprehending the teenager.

The mayor said in a statement after his brothers acquittal that the investigation by the Middlesex County Prosecutors Office was corrupt.

Joseph Reiman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This story has been updated with additional comment from Mayor Daniel Reiman.

Our journalism needs your support. Please subscribe today to NJ.com.

Joe Atmonavage may be reached at jatmonavage@njadvancemedia.com. Tell us your coronavirus story or send a tip here.

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N.J. mayor clashes with protesters over his brothers police record - NJ.com

American Racism: We’ve Got So Very Far to Go – The Dispatch

Today lets dive into one of the toughest questions of our religious, cultural, and political lives. While we write and print millions of words about race in America, why is it still so hard to have a truly respectful, decent, and humble dialogue about perhaps the most complicated and contentious issue in American life? Its a huge topic, but lets start with what I believe is a true principle of human nature, a maxim called Miless law: Where you stand depends on where you sit.

While originating as an explanation for behavior of people in bureaucracies, Miless law has a much broader application. It speaks to the overwhelming influence of our own social, religious, and cultural experience over our viewpoint. Our different political cultures not only live different lives, they speak different languages. They apply different definitions to the same words and phrasesand those definitions are not self-evident.

Take systemic racism, for example. I daresay that only a vanishingly small number of Americans know that this is a term with an academic meaning thats not entirely obvious from the words themselves. Heres one definitionstructural or systemic racism is:

A system in which public policies, institutional practices, cultural representations, and other norms work in various, often reinforcing ways to perpetuate racial group inequity. It identifies dimensions of our history and culture that have allowed privileges associated with whiteness and disadvantages associated with color to endure and adapt over time. Structural racism is not something that a few people or institutions choose to practice. Instead it has been a feature of the social, economic and political systems in which we all exist.

Yet millions of Americans read the accusation that America is beset with systemic racism and hear a simpler and more direct meaning of the termyoure saying our systems (and by implication the people in them) are racist. But thats completely contrary to their experience. They think, How can it be that the system is racist when I just left a corporate diversity training seminar, I work at an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer, my sons college professors are constantly telling him to check his privilege, and no one I know is a bigot? It seems to me that the most powerful actors in the system are saying the same thingsdont be racist.

Then, when you go online or turn on the television, youre hardly persuaded to change your mind. If youre conservative, chances are your social media feed is full of images of rioting and looting. There are viral videos (including one the president retweeted Saturday) that declare George Floyd was not a good person and the fact that he has been held up as a martyr sickens me. There is the constant repetition of statistics about black-on-black crime, and posts and pieces arguing that police racism and brutality are overblown are shared across the length and breadth of social media.

Even a well-meaning person subject to this barrage of messaging is then apt to look at clear racist injusticeslike the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, where the killer allegedly used a racial slur after he fired the fatal shotand say, Sure, there are racists still in this world, but theyre not part of any system I know. Moreover, compounding the problem, those voices who are most loudly condemning American racism are also the voices he or she trusts the least on other issuessuch as abortion, religious liberty, economics, or health care. Something in the conservative mind and heart rebels, I cant join with them, can I?

We each like to think were not unduly influenced by our immediate environment and culture. Thats a phenomenon that affects other people, we believe. Im the kind of person who has carefully considered both sides and has arrived at my positions through the force of reason and logic. Sure, Ive got biases, but that only matters at the edges. The core of my beliefs are rooted in reason, conviction, and faith.

Maybe that describes you, but I now realize it didnt describe me. I freely confess that to some extent where I stood on American racial issues was dictated by where I sat my entire life. I always deplored racismthose values were instilled in me from birthbut I was also someone who recoiled at words like systemic racism. I looked at the strides wed made since slavery and Jim Crow and said, Look how far weve come. I was less apt to say, and look how much farther we have to go.

Then, where I sit changed, dramatically. I just didnt know it at the time. I went from being the father of two white, blonde-haired, blue-eyed kids to the father of three kidsone of them a beautiful little girl from Ethiopia. When Naomi arrived, our experiences changed. Strange incidents started to happen.

There was the white woman who demanded that Naomithe only black girl in our neighborhood poolpoint out her parents, in spite of the fact that she was clearly wearing the colored bracelet showing she was permitted to swim.

There was the time a police officer approached her at a department store and questioned her about who she was with and what she was shopping for. That never happened to my oldest daughter.

There was the classmate who told Naomi that she couldnt come to our house for a play date because, My dad says its dangerous to go black peoples neighborhoods.

I could go on, andsuresome of the incidents could have a benign explanation, but as they multiplied, and it was clear that Naomis experience was clearly different from her siblings, it became increasingly implausible that all the explanations were benign.

Then the Trump campaign happened, the alt-right rallied to his banner, and our lives truly changed. In October 2016, I wrote a piece describing what happened. It began like this:

I distinctly remember the first time I saw a picture of my then-seven-year-old daughters face in a gas chamber. It was the evening of September 17, 2015. I had just posted a short item to the Corner calling out notorious Trump ally Ann Coulter for aping the white-nationalist language and rhetoric of the so-called alt-right. Within minutes, the tweets came flooding in. My youngest daughter is African American, adopted from Ethiopia, and in alt-right circles thats an unforgivable sin. Its called race-cucking or raising the enemy.

I saw images of my daughters face in gas chambers, with a smiling Trump in a Nazi uniform preparing to press a button and kill her. I saw her face photo-shopped into images of slaves. She was called a niglet and a dindu. The alt-right unleashed on my wife, Nancy, claiming that she had slept with black men while I was deployed to Iraq, and that I loved to watch while she had sex with black bucks. People sent her pornographic images of black men having sex with white women, with someone photoshopped to look like me, watching.

The attacks got worse and some became overtly threatening, including posting image after image of dead and dying African-Americans in the comments section of my wifes blog. Suddenly, my understanding that weve come so far in American race relations was replaced by the shocking, personal realization that weve got so far to go.

All this was happening as I had already grown alarmed at the sheer vehemence of conservative defensiveness on matters of race. Before the backlash I received for opposing Trump, the piece that generated the most personal anger from conservatives was a 2012 essay in Commentary called Conservatives and the Trayvon Martin Case where I critiqued the conservative medias seeming rooting interest in George Zimmermans innocence, and I critiqued George Zimmermans decision to arm himself and pursue a teen whose only crime was walking to his fathers girlfriends house after dark. I did not judge Zimmerman guilty, but I did signal that conservatives should not reflexively defend the police:

[C]onservatives should not be inclined to trust without question the actions of local law enforcement. There is no evidence that a single national conservative commentator knew the first thing about the competence or character of the individuals who made the initial decision not to charge Zimmerman. They dont know whether those local officials are wise, foolish, or free from racist taint. But they do know, or should know, that public officials (even public-safety officers) make mistakes even when they have the best of intentions, and they should also understand the need not only for constitutional constraints on police actions but also for public accountability.

This is when I began to learn about conservative political correctness. If politically correct progressives are often guilty of over-racializing American public discourse, and they are, politically correct conservatives commit the opposite sinand they filter out or angrily reject all the information that contradicts their thesis.

For example, if youre a conservative, youre likely quite aware that the Obama Department of Justice decisively debunked the hands-up, dont-shoot narrative of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. Youre less likely to remember that there was a second Ferguson report, one that found Fergusons police department was focused on raising revenue more than increasing public safety, and it used its poor, disproportionately black citizens as virtual ATMs, raising money through traffic stops, citations, and even arrest warrants. It painted a shocking picture of abuse of power.

If youre a conservative, you may well be aware of the research cataloged by Heather Mac Donald rebutting claims of systemic racial bias in fatal police shootings. You may be less aware of the recent New York Times report indicating that African Americans make up 19 percent of the population of Minneapolis, 9 percent of the police force and an incredible 58 percent of subjects of police use of force.

But again, I hear the objection in my head, the sentiment of good friends and thoughtful peopleIf racism is this bad, and if the experiences of black Americans are this negative, why dont I ever see it?

Lets perform a thought experiment (I did this on our Dispatch Live event this week, so I apologize to readers whove already heard it.) Lets optimistically imagine that only one out of 10 white Americans is actually racist. Lets also recognize thatespecially in educated quarters of white Americaracism is condemned and stigmatized. If this is the reality, when will you ever hear racist sentiments in your daily life? The vast majority of people you encounter arent racist, and the minority who are will remain silent lest they lose social standing.

But imagine youre African American. That means 10 percent of the white people you encounter are going to hate you or think less of you because of the color of your skin. You dont know in advance who they are or how theyll react to you, but theyll be present enough to be at best a persistent source of pain and at worst a source of actual danger. So you know youll be pulled over more, and in some of those encounters the officer will be strangely hostile. The store clerk sometimes follows you when you shop. A demeaning comment will taint an otherwise-benign conversation. Your white friends described in the paragraph above may never see these things, but its an inescapable part of the fabric of your life.

This is how we live in a world where a white person can say of racism, Where is it? and a black person can say, How can you not see?

So now I sit in a different place. But where do I stand? I believe the following things to be true:

Slavery was legal and defended morally and (ultimately) militarily from 1619 to 1865.

After slavery, racial discrimination was lawful and defended morally (and often violently) from 1865 to 1964.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not end illegal discrimination or racism, it mainly gave black Americans the legal tools to fight back against legal injustices.

It is unreasonable to believe that social structures and cultural attitudes that were constructed over a period of 345 years will disappear in 56.

Moreover, the consequences of 345 years of legal and cultural discrimination, are going to be dire, deep-seated, complex, and extraordinarily difficult to comprehensively ameliorate.

Its hard even to begin to describe all the ramifications of 345 years of legalized oppression and 56 years of contentious change, but we can say two things at onceyes, we have made great strides (and we should acknowledge that fact and remember the men and women who made it possible), but the central and salient consideration of American racial politics shouldnt center around pride in how far weve come, but in humble realization of how much farther we have to go.

Moreover, taking the next steps down that road will have to mean shedding our partisan baggage. It means acknowledging and understanding that the person who is wrong on abortion and health care may be right about police brutality. It means being less outraged at a knee on football turf than at a knee on a mans neck. And it means declaring that even though we may not agree on everything about race and American life, we can agree on some things, and we can unite where we agree.

For example, heres a thoughtyou dont have to be a critical race theorist, agree with arguments about implicit bias, or buy into the radical social platform of Black Lives Matter to reach consensus on some changes that can make a difference. Ill call this tweet, from my progressive friend at Vox, Jane Coaston, the Coaston plan, and I endorse each prong:

A journey of a thousand miles continues step-by-step, and you dont have to agree on the entire travel plan to put the next foot forward.

Oh, and as we do it, be better than me. Remember, I had to change where I sat before I could change where I stood. If you first change where you stand, then the next generation will sit in a very different and better place.

One last thing ...

Weve seen too many images of violence from this weeks protests. Weve seen police violence. Weve seen riots. We havent seen enough moments like the short clip below. It comes from one of my favorite cities (Memphis), its my favorite hymn, and it touched my soul:

Photograph by Brent Stirton/Getty Images.

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American Racism: We've Got So Very Far to Go - The Dispatch

Voice of the People: Columnist Thiessen an ‘alt-right’ conspiracy troll; uncertainty an added burden during pandemic – Akron Beacon Journal

Thiessen an alt-right conspiracy troll

The balanced views of conservative editorialists in the ABJ often present facts that my favored sources overlook. Their alternative points are worth seeing to temper my own opinions. George Will, Michael Gerson, Charles Krauthammer (RIP) and others are all thoughtful, well-informed writers.

But I am disappointed to see less of them lately, replaced by an alt-right conspiracy troll (Marc Thiessen), who should have no place in a publication embracing journalism. In his 4/19 editorial headed The antidote to the virus is freedom, Mr. Thiessen did lay out intriguing information about Taiwanese successes achieved without having to subject their population to economic shutdown. Taiwan is a free society, contrasted with China, the totalitarian government he rightly chooses to shame.

Ironic that he never felt that the similar, head-in-the-sand actions of his fanboy hero might be relevant. He wrote that Taiwan triumphed over COVID-19 by acting fast on 12/31/19, taking proactive medical measures that nipped COVID-19 in the bud unlike China, which blew it. BAD China! Not to excuse them, but being first, China didnt have the luxury of data compiled and spoon-fed to their leader on what was happening on another continent, as we had. Trump had this information concurrent with Taiwan, along with every opportunity to act similarly and save the U.S. from our economic shutdown and massive loss of life. In the many hours of his rallies disguised as daily COVID updates, he has devoted a mere 4 minutes extending empathy for those who died needlessly, many from his own thoughtless quackery.

Too bad Thiessen cant overcome his bias to point fingers occasionally where they belong. Trump now demands that concerned governors Free us from the economic prison his willful ignorance condemned us to.

Alan Stauffer, Tallmadge

Uncertainty an added pandemic burden

As a clinical social worker, I have witnessed the impact of social isolation, financial losses and an uncertain future facing my patients, many of whom already experienced anxiety, depression or both. Uncertainty about the future is an added burden for everyone but particularly difficult for many, especially older individuals with additional physical risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and pulmonary disease.

One of the greatest sources of hope is accurate data about this disease, as the recommendations from government officials range from being based on existing scientific evidence as seen in Ohio to the frequent disconnect between scientists and other state and federal leaders. Many experts have said expanding our testing will help. Identifying individuals who have recovered and now have antibodies will help. I would also like to see a commitment to reporting the number of people who test positive but who are asymptomatic. This last piece of data is often left out.

I realize that reporting the high number of identified cases of the disease who are nursing home residents and staff in addition to health care professionals are important pieces of information, as extra measures of safety are needed to protect these individuals. However, what may decrease the anxiety among people who have not contracted the illness would be to balance the reporting of the horror stories one could experience if they became ill with the hope that not having any or mild symptoms is likely as well. Knowing what those percentages are would give us one more piece of useful information, and it might even have a calming effect.

Alan Kurzweil, Fairlawn

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Voice of the People: Columnist Thiessen an 'alt-right' conspiracy troll; uncertainty an added burden during pandemic - Akron Beacon Journal

The alt-right: identity politics on steroids – Spiked

According to the alt-right identitarian worldview, identity, in terms of ones race, culture and heritage, defines who one is. This would mean that there is a white culture, a white history and, therefore, a white worldview; in short, a white mind. This is race tribalism at its purest. According to this view, individuals see themselves, others and the world around them through the prism of the group in this case, the racial group. Using such a worldview, other groups are viewed with suspicion, or even hostility, and communication with them is difficult. After all, they have their own distinct worldviews and minds.

Do these themes sound familiar, and have we heard them elsewhere? As we will shortly see, the answer is yes.

Since different groups of people think, act and view the world in different ways, the next logical step, politically speaking, is segregation. Thus, Spencer and others in the alt-right movement envision the establishment of a white ethno-state, where the white race can fulfil its destiny. Such an ethno-state will be built on traditionalist values, and will reject many of the tenets of a supposedly alienating modern world.

Predictably, Spencer and the alt-right are sceptical of Enlightenment ideas and critical of the gains of modernity. The modern, Enlightenment view of individuals as sovereign agents, capable of making sense of the world through reason, which is universal and unrelated to race or identity, stands against everything that the alt-right stands for. Being philosophically opposed to individual agency and autonomy, most alt-rightists even have a disdain for capitalism, insofar as it manifests a form of individual freedom. As Spencer said in a video now removed from YouTube (as most of the material related to the alt-right tends to be), a nation based on freedom is just another place to go shopping. Despite some of its prominent members flirting with libertarianism in the early days of the alt-right, its politics are small n-and-s national socialist, and they apply in one state: the white ethno-state.

One of the ugliest parts of the alt-right, which links it to the dark tradition of national socialism, is its anti-Semitism. For Spencer, including Jews in the white ethno-state would be problematic, as the preservation of their identity as Jews was and is contingent on resistance to assimilation, sometimes expressed as hostility towards their hosts. Another alt-rightist is overt in his hate towards Jews: When any element of the organised Jewish community is the counterparty in an agreement, like the fable of the frog and the scorpion, the compulsion towards betrayal, even against allies, is irresistible for the Jew. (1)

One might wonder how the sewer of history broke, and such ugly and vile racist views resurfaced. The answer is not that it is a resurrection of national socialism, or of older forms of white supremacy and racism. Its members might view such movements sympathetically, and consider themselves heirs to their legacy. But the alt-right is a distinctive 21st-century phenomenon. This is because the worldview of the alt-right is the logical result of the dominant ideology in the West today namely, tribalism. Spencers talent, such as it is, lay in his ability to adapt his racist message to the prevailing cultural climate of our times. Thus, the alt-right is focusing on two areas possessed of a strong currency in todays politics: identity and victimhood.

We are constantly being told that our identity is special, that we should be proud of it, and that it makes us who we are. It tells us we are not sovereign individuals; rather, we are male, female, cis heterosexual, LGBT, BAME, minorities the list goes on. The alt-rightists see this trend, nod approvingly, and simply add their identity to the list. We are white, they say, and this is who we are.

In this sense, the alt-right is entirely on trend, intellectually speaking. In academia, for example, racial thinking has also experienced a powerful revival in recent decades. But it has come back wearing a progressive face. Critical-race studies, and similar disciplines, tell us that colour-blindness is problematic, and that whiteness is an inescapable predicament for white people. Indeed, critical-race theorists present whiteness as something close to a modern form of original sin.

The alt-right has seized on this revamped concept of race, and appropriated it for its own ends. In its hands, whiteness becomes something that must be defended. As Jared Taylor, a sixtysomething race realist intellectual, who is popular in the alt-right movement, puts it:

What do you call a black person who prefers to be around other black people, and likes black music and culture? A black person. What do you call a white person who listens to classical music, likes European culture, and prefers to be around white people? A Nazi. All non-whites are expected to have a strong racial identity; only whites must not. (2)

Whiteness, here, has first been turned into an identity, and then into a source of pride, equivalent to blackness in mainstream identity politics. This shows how the promotion of identity politics by the progressive left has fuelled, and paved the intellectual ground for, the adoption of identity politics on the right.

This is why the identitarianism of the left has been a boost for the alt-right. As Spencer wrote in 2015:

Conservatives like to demean such things as identity politics, as just another car on the gravy train. But the reality is that leftists are engaging in the kind of ideological project that traditionalists should be hard at work on the formation of meta-politics.

By meta-politics, Spencer means the culture wars. He views this arena as a battle for cultural hegemony, a rightist version of the long march through the institutions, in which the alt-right aspires to turn its values and beliefs into the socially dominant values and beliefs. If all this sounds redolent of the thought of Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, thats because it is.

This is due to the strong ideological influence on the alt-right wielded by the French New Right (Nouvelle Droite), an intellectually peculiar movement that emerged during the 1960s, which argued that people should be segregated according to their ethno-cultural backgrounds, and subsequently set the tone for rightist identitarianism in Europe and the US (though it avoids some of the ugly racist overtones of the alt-right). Its leader, Alain de Benoist, was influenced not just by reactionary traditionalists (such as Italian thinker Julius Evola), but also by intellectuals associated with the New Left, including the Frankfurt School and, of course, Antonio Gramsci.

Some right-wing identitarians even call themselves Gramscians of the right. They understand well the importance of culture and of ideas in shaping the development and direction of society. And in a society in which the idea of identity plays such a prominent role, the alt-right has made itself firmly at home. The alt-rights worldview could be characterised as identity politics on steroids.

The other mainstream value the alt-right embraces is that of vulnerability, which is both a status requiring special recognition and a basis for political organisation. Ironically, it is perhaps more accurate to portray the alt-right as a white-vulnerability movement, rather than a white-supremacy one. After all, this is the ultimate justification for the alt-rights dream of an ethno-state namely, that it will provide a safe space, as Spencer himself puts it, for white people, threatened, as they allegedly are, by globalism and multiculturalism.

Indeed, Spencer, Taylor and others in the alt-right openly claim that other races have, on average, a higher IQ than whites. Such a claim would have been unimaginable for old-style white supremacists. But here it provides another reason as to why whites need their own racial ethno-state because they are not as bright, as, say, Asian people.

Fortunately, a world of ethno-states is not going to happen anytime soon. The actually existing alt-right has always had a very limited appeal, despite many mainstream commentators and politicians boosting the actual size and threat of the movement. The ugliness of the Nazi-like parades, the Aryan salutes, and, most importantly, the horror show of the Charlotesville riots in 2017, which cost the life of a counter-protester, have delegitimised Spencer and his movement. In fact, many on the anti-establishment right have gone out of their way since Charlottesville to distinguish their position from that of the alt-right.

Yet, a danger remains. Until the tribalism and anti-humanism, so prevalent in mainstream culture, are properly challenged, a more sophisticated version of the alt-right could still have a wide appeal. This is why we need to challenge identitarian ideology as a whole. We need to challenge the idea that people are mere members of groups, and start seeing people as individuals again. Too often, someone starts a sentence by saying as a person of x race, or of y gender, or of z sexual orientation, I think. We need to reply that we dont think with our skin colour or our gender, but with our minds minds that are universally capable of reason and sympathy.

We are constantly being told that our ethnicity, our gender, our upbringings and our culture define who we are. We need to stand up to this view, and defend our individual free will and our capacity to change our predicament. Only then, perhaps, will it be possible to change the world for the better. This is how we will defeat the alt-right and its misanthropy through a defeat of tribal thinking and identitarianism in general.

Nikos Sotirakopoulos is a lecturer in sociology at York St John University and the author of The Rise of Lifestyle Activism: from New Left to Occupy. Follow him on Twitter: @Nikos_17

(1) What the Alt Right Isnt, by P Le Brun, included in The Alternative Right, edited by G Johnson, Counter-Currents Publishing Ltd, 2018, loc, 1936

(2) Race Realism and the Alt Right, by J Taylor, included in The Alternative Right, edited by G Johnson, Counter-Currents Publishing Ltd, 2018, loc, 594

All pictures by: Getty.

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The alt-right: identity politics on steroids - Spiked

If ever there was a time for hygge, its now – Marin Independent Journal

Frankie Frost/Marin Independent Journal

Are you feelin it?

Can you see the light at the end of the tunnel? Are you envisioning the thrill of parking in a public lot? Walking in both directions down a supermarket aisle?

OK, Im sorry I got your hopes up. Were all in this for at least another month, so I say we all just try a little hygge.

It seems that hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) has been going on in Scandinavia for generations. And it apparently is working just fine. So fine that in the annual World Happiness Report, a publication of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Scandinavian countries compose four of the top five happiest countries in the world. For the record, the United States comes in at No. 18, three spots behind Costa Rica but hey, we edged out the Czech Republic and Belgium.

Hygge, which began in Denmark, is described as a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or wellbeing.

The primary principles include atmosphere, presence (the ability to be focused on the now), pleasure, gratitude, comfort and togetherness. Or, as we refer to it here: Stay-at-home.

I pause here to tell you that Denmark is only No. 2 in the top five the actual winner of the happiest country in the world this year is Finland. However, I have eliminated Finland from our little discussion because the Finns idea of a great hygge is getting your body temperature up to about 150 degrees in a sauna, then running outside naked and jumping into a snow bank. I prefer my hygge indoors and with unshriveled body parts.

The word hygge itself is actually a derivative of the English word hug, and it can mean something different to everyone. When youre hunkered down as we all are, it can mean something as simple as a soft blanket and a good book, or looking through a window on a crisp, clear day and letting your face just feel the warm sunlight. The Danes say hygge is not about what it looks like, but what it feels like. And theyre feeling pretty good.

Lest you think this is just some feel-good sort of New Age mumbo-jumbo, I will tell you that there have been more than 30 books published on the subject of Denmarks cozy lifestyle. In fact, hygge was recognized in the Oxford Dictionarys words of the year back in 2016. The winner that year was post-truth, but hygge was a runner-up along with alt-right and woke. Hygge might not be Miss America, but it is Miss Congeniality.

In fact, the word has spawned several offshoots that further describe the cozy living concept. If you have a favorite old armchair, youd be sitting in your hyggekrog. Put your feet up wearing your favorite hyggesokker (socks) or old baggy sweat suit (hyggebukser) and have simple hyggesnak (chat) with friends or loved ones. Preferably via hyggezoom.

It all got me to thinking that if hygge works so well in Denmark and the other countries that compose the happy country top five (Finland, Switzerland, Iceland and Norway) why wouldnt it work here during these trying times of being homebound?

Denmarks contributions to the world have been modest but broad. Its given us Kierkegaard, Hans Christian Anderson, Hamlet and Legos. Beats the hell out of Timothy Leary, Beavis and Butt-Head, Emperor Norton and the pet rock doesnt it?

Oh sure, they also have free education, free healthcare for everyone and paid paternity leave; and they pay the highest tax rate in the world, but they make really great pastries.

I gotta go now. Its time for my hyggetini.

Barry Tompkins is a longtime sports broadcaster who lives in Marin. Contact him at barrytompkins1@gmail.com.

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If ever there was a time for hygge, its now - Marin Independent Journal

Bill Maher Refuses to Touch the Joe Biden Sexual-Assault Allegation – The Daily Beast

Another Friday means yet another edition of Real Time with Bill Maher, the late-night program of choice for the likes of Milo Yiannopoulos, Steve Bannon, and other alt-right, fascism-friendly trolls tearing at the fabric of America.

I was curious to see if Maher, who prides himself on being politically incorrect, would address former Senate aide Tara Reades allegation of sexual assault against Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for presidentgiven that the comedy host has made a field day of mocking Trumps disgusting treatment of women (he once said Trump was making sexual assault great again), and that Biden has, after many days of silence, been making the media rounds to address (and deny) the claimincluding a stop at MSNBCs Morning Joe.

But Maher mostly declinedinstead opting for a more lighthearted bit on Biden called 24 Things You Dont Know About Me, a play on the Us Weekly column. In it, Maher cracked, I was asked to social distance even before the virus, beside a creepy photo of Biden massaging a womans shoulders from behind, as well as, My first idea for a campaign slogan was, Im on Her.

He closed the bit with: You think Im in cognitive decline? You should see the other guy!

Over an hour of jokes, including interviews with Matt Taibbi, Eric Holder, Bret Stephens (ugh), and a pair of monologues, Maher only addressed the allegation against Biden once in a question to Holder, saying he thought it was ridiculous and that it would go away and no one would pay any attention to it, before asking Holder what his thoughts are on it. Maher also questioned how appropriate it was to even be discussing the Reade allegation against Biden given the state of America with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Holder claimed that all allegations have to be taken seriously and the what has been described is inconsistent with the Biden he knows.)

If comedy-pundits on the left are going to rip the Trumps of the world for alleged predatory behavior toward women, they should also take aim at those in their own party, lest they be rank hypocrites.

Then again, Maher has a pretty spotty track record when it comes to #MeToo allegations against those on the left, having recently launched into a wildly misogynistic defense of his pal Chris Matthews, after the MSNBC host resigned following allegations of sexual harassment. And, when a number of women came forward last April to accuse Joe Biden of uncomfortable groping and close contact, Maher went as far as defending the former vice president and attacking his accusers.

But you know, were getting a little nitpicky, Maher said. I mean, of course no one likes to be touched unwantingly, and women get a lot more of that than men, but the first person who brought this up said he made her feel gross and uneasy. You know what makes me feel gross and uneasy? A second Trump term.

Hes not Harvey Weinstein or R. Kellyhes more like the TSA, he added. And its getting ridiculous. A woman who came forward today said she was touched by one of his speeches.

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Bill Maher Refuses to Touch the Joe Biden Sexual-Assault Allegation - The Daily Beast

Justin Rohrwasser tattoos: Patriots kicker would help himself by further explaining his Three Percenters ink – MassLive.com

EDITORS NOTE: Justin Rohrwasser talked to WBZ-TV on Monday night. You can read his comments and watch that interview here.

The Justin Rohrwasser story isnt over.

The weekends attention on the Patriots fifth-round picks tattoos connected to the alt-right group the Three Percenters is just the beginning. Weekend social media is about to be overshadowed by talk radio and ESPNs debate shows. With no NBA Playoffs or Major League Baseball, its going to be all draft talk and a controversial kicker makes for compelling TV.

If Rohrwasser is being connected to something he truly doesnt want to represent, he should get out in front of this now and further explain where he stands. Otherwise, hes going to spend the rest of his career connected to the alt-right.

Rohrwasser, like all of the New England picks, did a conference call with the media Saturday and was asked one question about his ink, and he answered it. He sounded sincere and disappointed in himself when asked about the tattooed logo on his left arm:

Question: One of your tattoos matches a group called the Three Percenters. Whats the story there?

He answered: I got that tattoo when I was a teenager and I have a lot of family in the military. I thought it stood for a military support symbol at the time. Obviously, its evolved into something that I do not want to represent. When I look back on it, I should have done way more research before I put any mark or symbol like that on my body, and its not something I ever want to represent. It will be covered.

Thats a good start to an answer but not enough. It needs to be a larger conversation. With no follow-up questions, which arent easy to do in the structure of a conference call, it may seem like Rohrwasser got off easy.

For people who would like it to go away, he put it behind him. For others, theres nothing he could say that would make it OK.

But for people still forming their opinions, there are unanswered questions. Hed be smart to try to answer them.

The biggest is: If he was ashamed of the tattoo, why didnt he cover it up before now?

He got the tattoo as a college student at Rhode Island before he transferred to Marshall. There are pictures of him in college without it. Most people would vigorously conceal an image on their body they were embarrassed about, especially if theyre regularly on television. If he couldnt get it removed or covered by a new tattoo, he could have used long sleeves, a sweatband, a bandage or something as simple as athletic tape. Why didnt he? In photos, he could have turned his arm away from the camera. He didnt. Why not?

Worth noting, its not just one tattoo. That Three Percenters tattoo is inches away from a large tattoo of the words Liberty or Death.

The phrase Liberty or Death was the theme of an alt-right protest on Seattles City Hall in 2018. It was co-organized by two groups. One called Patriot Prayer and the other was the Washington State Three Percenters. On his other arm is a Dont Tread on Me tattoo another popular slogan among the alt-right.

If Rohrwasser really made a mistake by getting the Three Percenters tattoo, hed help himself by explaining the other two. What does he believe, and what doesnt he believe? If he has a good explanation, now would be a good time to get it out there if he cares how hes perceived.

Hes being accused of being racist. Thats hard to live down. The Three Percenters have inconsistent history on that front. Some of their leaders have denounced racist acts. The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies them as anti-government which puts them on the same side as many White Nationalist groups. Their members have been anti-Islam and provided armed security during the Nazis march Charlottesville in 2017.

Having friends of another race doesnt mean somebody isnt a racist, but its noteworthy that several of his African-American teammates went on Twitter to defend him when accusations began flying.

Rohrwasser quickly made his own Twitter private, but his Instagram is still live. It includes an April 2, 2019, post where he appears to be giving a presentation in support of Jordan B. Peterson. With it he posted:

"One day Ill be lucky enough to do this for a living.

Peterson is a controversial Canadian academic who is criticized for being anti-feminist, anti-gender identity and anti-Islam. He called white privilege a Marxist lie, according to the Guardian.

Had Rohrwasser been drafted by a different team, this would still be a story, but it wouldnt come with the same prologue. Fair or not, every story that involves race in Boston becomes the next spot on the timeline of the citys unpleasant racial history, following Tom Yawkey, bussing riots, Bill Russell, Dee Brown, etc.

Add to that Tom Bradys red hat, Robert Krafts campaign contributions and Bill Belichicks letter and the perception of the Patriots is that theyre connected to President Donald Trump, who is the darling of the conservatisms extreme flank. Even though there are quite a few players in Foxborough who supported Colin Kaepernick and are anti-Trump, including Devin and Jason McCourty who are likely heirs to Bradys leadership position, the perception stands.

So New England drafts a guy who tattooed alt-right symbols to his body, it doesnt play like an isolated incident and only increases the attention this is going to get.

There are people in the NFL, or really any profession, who have every political belief across the spectrum. But if it doesnt come up in conversation, most people arent aware of them. Rohrwasser has no obligation to say anything else and given the Patriots history of reticence, he might not.

But the perception of him is starting to harden. If its not accurate, hed be smart to say something. Get on camera somewhere and explain who he actually is. Invite hard questions. Without the full story, peoples imaginations are going to fill in the blanks.

Follow MassLive sports columnist Matt Vautour on Twitter at @MattVautour424.

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Patriots draft Justin Rohrwasser, kicker from Marshall, in fifth round of 2020 NFL Draft

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Justin Rohrwasser tattoos: Patriots kicker would help himself by further explaining his Three Percenters ink - MassLive.com

Amazon and other platforms allowing payments to far-right groups – The Guardian

Dozens of hate groups and racist media outlets are receiving income via mainstream payment processors such as Amazon, Stripe and DonorBox, according to a new report by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD).

The groups still receiving donations and sales via such platforms include promoters of the Great Replacement conspiracy theory that motivated the Christchurch shooter, an organization cited as an inspiration by mass shooter Dylan Roof, and several groups that participated in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville that ended in the killing of a protester.

The CMD report called Funding Hate finds that despite previous, widely publicized crackdowns, and explicit policies forbidding racist far-right groups from their services, companies are still allowing income to flow to white nationalist, neo-Confederate and neo-Nazi hate groups.

The report found three such groups were still using DonorBox, including the American Freedom party, which advocates the deportation of non-white people and the creation of a white ethnostate.

DonorBox banned the Council of Conservative Citizens, which Roof named as the source of his beliefs about black-on-white crime, after being contacted by CMD.

According to the report, some of these groups have found ways to circumvent previous DonorBox bans by using false names and emails.

Meanwhile, nine groups use Stripe, whose policies leave the door open to racist groups that do not explicitly advocate violence, according to CMD.

Their services are used by several groups including the neo-Confederate group the League of the South, who were prominent participants in Unite the Right; white nationalist media outfits like Red Ice and the Right Stuff; and anti-immigrant not-for-profits and groups like the VDare Foundation and the HL Mencken Club.

On Amazon, self-published books by white supremacist authors and the entire catalogue of white nationalist publishers including audiobooks are easily available.

Amazons offerings include books by the Vandal brothers, who advocate race war, and the antisemitic Arkansan militia leader Billy Roper.

Amazon also sells books published by Washington Summit Publishers, run by the white nationalist Richard Spencer, including an issue of Radix journal entitled The Great Erasure.

The website also carries books and ebooks published by Arktos Media, described by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as an alt-right publishing syndicate, which has translated and promoted racist books and which, according to the report, is closely tied to Richard Spencer, Red Ice and the white nationalist terrorist group the American Identity Movement.

Arktos titles are also available as audiobooks on Amazons Audible platform.

In addition, the Guardian found that many of Arktoss titles are available at no cost for users with a Kindle Unlimited subscription, including foundational texts of the so-called Identitarian movement by Markus Willinger and Guillaume Faye. Christchurch shooter Brenton Tarrant had extensive contact with leading members of the same Identitarian movement, which promotes fears of demographic replacement, in the lead-up to the shootings.

Other services which the report found were allowing far-right groups to receive income include GoDaddy, Patreon, Squarespace and some Donor-Advised Funds.

The reports author, the investigative journalist Alex Kotch, said in an email that companies should do more to keep hate from their platforms.

There is absolutely no excuse for a company to service, and make money from, any group identified by SPLC as a hate group, Kotch said.

He added: Many people dont understand that speech on corporate platforms is not subject to the first amendment. As long as a company has a formal policy, that company can remove any users who violate the policy.

An Amazon spokesperson said in an email: As a bookseller, we believe that providing access to the written word is important. That includes books that some may find objectionable, though we have policies governing which books can be listed for sale.

We invest significant time and resources to ensure our guidelines are followed, and remove products that do not adhere to our guidelines.

We also promptly investigate any book when a concern is raised.

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Amazon and other platforms allowing payments to far-right groups - The Guardian

The Future of the American Left, Part Two: The Tactics of Our Opponents – Quad

Photo by Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

In my first essay of this series, published last week in the Quad, I discussed what I believed were the weaknesses of Bernie Sanders candidacy for President, and how left-wing activists in America can avoid repeating that campaigns mistakes and move on in pursuit of victory. I also outlined that this second installment would be about organizing the left, and while that essay is still forthcoming, I thought it would be more logical to first discuss both what we are organizing against.

So what is the left organizing against? The true antithesis of our beliefs is the radical, fascist right-wing of American politics. The American Republican Party has trended farther and farther to the right and become more and more anti-intellectual over the course of the last few decades; until now they are led by Donald Trump, who is somehow both an imbecile and an effective fascist leader. As has been repeated ad nauseam in journalism and elsewhere, facts are no longer universally agreed upon. An insistence on being in the right is all that is required to sway support for ones ideas.

This didnt simply happen, however, and it certainly wasnt something Donald Trump or the Republican Party invented. Two other entities pioneered this vitiation of political discourse: Fox News and the alt-right movement.

Anyone who considers themselves a leftist and is reading this essay almost certainly already knows this. It is painfully apparent to anyone with critical thinking skills that Fox News has twisted the truth for as long as it has existed. It is also apparent to anyone who experiences empathy and compassion for others that the alt-right, as a whole, feels no such thing. Recognizing all this is one thing combating and defeating them is entirely another.

Both Fox and the alt-right espouse similar rhetorical tactics: forcing their opponents to perpetually explain and defend their positions; masking the facts of an issue behind a misleading and sensational statement; reducing a nuanced, complex issue down into a binary; and many others. All of these tactics are insidiously intended to portray an attitude of control and authority even when the positions they present are factually incorrect. This is the downright Machiavellian part of the far-rights tactics: their goal is never to convince the person with whom theyre debating its to convince their audience.

It is painfully apparent to anyonethat Fox News has twisted the truth for as long as it has existed.

In a debate, the natural instinct at least for people debating in good faith is to convince the other person. That natural instinct is why virtually all liberals and quite a lot of leftists are so susceptible to falling victim to the far-rights tactics and helping them achieve their rhetorical goals. Because right-wing activists and voters have in recent years more frequently resorted to rhetorical methods such as these, recognizing them for what they are is imperative if we are to successfully undermine their effectiveness.

The YouTube channel Innuendo Studios produces a series titled The Alt-Right Playbook, and while its specifically about the tactics of the alt-right, it can be applied to those of Fox News as well. Its videos are relatively short, but each thoroughly unpacks a different method the alt-right uses to change the dynamic of a political discussion. In their video The Alt-Right Playbook: Never Play Defense, they lay out specifically the tactic of forcing opponents to explain and defend their views, always seeming to be reactive to the conservatives active. This active-vs.-reactive dynamic creates the illusion for the audience that the conservative is winning the argument, while simultaneously exhausting their interlocutor.

In Never Play Defense, the videos creator and narrator Ian Danskin says, if someone tries to force you to play defense, you dont have to play, turning this particular far-right tactic against them by suggesting that refusal to engage is a valid counter to it.

In addition to that opportunity to refuse engagement, I believe that calling out and attacking the method itself is an effective oppositional response. Saying, you keep condescending and attacking, rather than engaging with the facts because you cant engage with the facts takes the power of their method and turns it against them. Now you are the one on the offensive, and the right-winger youre debating must decide whether to defend, withdraw or continue attacking. Whatever they decide, in avoiding the appearance of reacting, youve taken away their power and won.

The idea of never playing defense is a part of and supporting framework for almost all other right-wing talking points. While I dont have the space on these pages to unpack it, the tendency of Fox News to use misleading and sensational statements relies on it when their anchors or viewers are called out on spreading them is an example. The American right relies on many other spurious rhetorical practices beyond all this, and I recommend watching the entirety of Innuendo Studios The Alt-Right Playbook to learn more.

At the end of the day, it is obvious that leftists in America must learn to spot the tactics of the right and learn how to wage an effective rhetorical war against them not only to achieve victory in more theaters but to simply survive. We have been losing that rhetorical war for far too long, and its high time we fought back.

We have been losing that rhetorical war for far too long, and its high time we fought back.

Next week, the third installment of the Future of the American Left series will be published online for The Quad and will focus on what American leftists are fighting for: our goals of universal opportunity, equality and justice. The first two parts of this series were focused on how the left should operate, but in Part Three, Ill be discussing why leftist ideals exist in America in the first place. It is arguably the most important one thus far, and I hope youll look out for it.

Kyle Gombosi is a senior music: elective studies major with a minor in journalism.KG806059@wcupa.edu

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The Future of the American Left, Part Two: The Tactics of Our Opponents - Quad

Author of book about victim blaming bombarded with misogynist abuse – The Guardian

A British academic whose new book is about why women are blamed for crimes committed against them has been subjected to thousands of coordinated attacks from alt-right trolls over the last week, culminating in her personal computer being hacked.

Dr Jessica Taylor, a senior lecturer in forensic and criminal psychology, is due to publish her exploration of victim blaming, Why Women are Blamed for Everything, on 27 April. Looking into what causes society to blame women who have been abused, raped, trafficked, assaulted or harassed by men, the book has drawn increasing publicity, including an appearance on Womans Hour.

But since 17 April, Taylor has been targeted by what she describes as a group of organised trolls who align themselves with the alt-right, mens rights activists, incel (involuntary celibates) and Mgtow (men going their own way) movements, who have posted thousands of messages on her public Facebook page, including rape and death threats. On 21 April, Taylor contacted police when the screen on her laptop was remotely accessed. The investigation is ongoing.

They had total control of my keyboard and mouse. I tried to stop them after about 30 seconds of this, I realised how serious it was and I shut my laptop down and ran inside to turn my wifi off and shut all other devices down, Taylor told the Guardian on Friday.

For five days, she was receiving 100 comments every few minutes, everything from telling me to die, kill myself, messages saying I will rape you, messages saying I am not a real psychologist or PhD, that Im fat, ugly, disgusting, dyke, ugly lesbian, barren, infertile, will die alone, that my parents hate me etc When we started banning and blocking, they really ramped it up and it became violent and abusive.

By Friday, more than 2,000 accounts had been blocked from her Facebook page.

Taylor is the founder of VictimFocus, an international research, teaching and consultancy organisation which aims to challenge the victim blaming of women subjected to violence and abuse. Her book is based on her doctoral research and on her 10 years of practice with women and girls, including interviews with women who were blamed for being raped, and the professionals who supported them.

I knew the book needed to be written but I didnt know it needed to be written this badly. The targeted attacks from men in the last week have been appalling. I will always centre women in my work and I will keep making misogynists uncomfortable. Abuse and trolling is scary and its exhausting, but its never going to get me to a point where I say, I will just stop talking about the abuse of women and girls, said Taylor.

She said the book was written for every single woman and girl who has been told that she had to do something differently, change something about herself or make her life smaller so she isnt subjected to male violence. Ive had enough and millions of other women have had enough, too [This book] has made a lot of men angry. You have to ask why that is. What are they frightened of?

Continue reading here:

Author of book about victim blaming bombarded with misogynist abuse - The Guardian

Law Enforcement Must Be Too Busy Policing POC to Stop Swastikas and Alt-Right Gatherings – BELatina

Any essential work involving physical contact during the coronavirus pandemic is nothing short of commendable.

From drivers and cashiers, to law enforcement and healthcare workers, everyone who puts their lives at risk in one way or another to keep our relative normalcy going deserves much more than daily applause.

However, even during a public health crisis or perhaps precisely because of it the disparities and injustices are only doubled.

It is impossible to overlook the fact that, while Dr. Armen Henderson was arrested in Miami outside his home as he prepared for his shift to volunteer and protect people on the streets from the spread of COVID-19, there are those who can walk the streets threatening those who dare to attack their supposed freedom with guns and swastikas.

During the past week, several states in the country were the scene of protests as dystopian as the crisis itself, where hundreds of people denounced the closure imposed by state governments to prevent the spread of the virus.

Residents of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and other states took to the streets at the instigation of a series of tweets from the president and thanks to the support of far-right groups such as the Proud Boys, small armed conservative militias, religious fundamentalists, anti-vaccinators and other elements of the radical right, according to The Guardian.

While some of the protests were organized by conservative coalitions and identified as Trump Republicans, their social networking collaterals, especially on Facebook, did the rest, prompting other states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York to join the demonstrations, variegatedly mixing the right to bear arms with the governors decision to impose a shelter in place.

Seeing nurses counter-demonstrate in Denver was a Dantesque image of the phenomenon that Donald Trump has fanned for years.

For those whove chosen to put their trust in science during the pandemic its hard to fathom the decision to gather to protest while a deadly viral pathogen transmitted easily by close contact and spread by symptomatic and asymptomatic people alike ravages the country, wrote Charlie Warzel in his opinion piece for the New York Times. But it shouldnt come as a surprise. This weeks public displays of defiance a march for the freedom to be infected are the logical conclusion of the modern far-rights donor-funded, shock jock-led liberty movement. It was always headed here.

Meanwhile, law enforcement continues to prioritize arrests based on race, as was the case with Dr. Henderson or underground parties in Canarsie. Immigrants continue to be confined to Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers with few health protocols, and undocumented citizens suffer from the governments neglect of the economic package approved by Congress.

Worse yet, in the face of demands from activist groups to release prisoners during the pandemic, the president and his party have once again seen an opportunity to put their priorities above the needs of voters.

As James Hohmann and Mariana Alfaro wrote for the Washington Post, The coronavirus spread threatens to unravel prison sentences for President Trumps former associates that career prosecutors fought hard to secure, including Rick Gates, former deputy Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, some of whom may favor a presidential pardon and release.

If there is any doubt left about the profound flaws in the American judicial system, it is because you simply have not been paying attention.

More here:

Law Enforcement Must Be Too Busy Policing POC to Stop Swastikas and Alt-Right Gatherings - BELatina


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