Look back at the life of Archbishop Desmond Tutu – Action News Now

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Anglican cleric whose good humor, inspiring message and conscientious work for civil and human rights made him a revered leader during the struggle to end apartheid in his native South Africa, has died. He was 90.

In a statement confirming his death on Sunday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed his condolences to Tutu's family and friends, calling him "a patriot without equal."

"A man of extraordinary intellect, integrity and invincibility against the forces of apartheid, he was also tender and vulnerable in his compassion for those who had suffered oppression, injustice and violence under apartheid, and oppressed and downtrodden people around the world," Ramaphosa said.

Tutu had been in ill health for years. In 2013, he underwent tests for a persistent infection, and he was admitted to hospital several times in following years.

For six decades, Tutu -- known affectionately as "the Arch" -- was one of the primary voices in exhorting the South African government to end apartheid, the country's official policy of racial segregation. After apartheid ended in the early '90s and the long-imprisoned Nelson Mandela became president of the country, Tutu was named chair of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The Nelson Mandela foundation called Tutu's loss "immeasurable."

"He was larger than life, and for so many in South Africa and around the world his life has been a blessing," the foundation said in a statement. "His contributions to struggles against injustice, locally and globally, are matched only by the depth of his thinking about the making of liberatory futures for human societies."

Tutu's civil and human rights work led to prominent honors from around the world. Former US President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. Obama called Tutu a "mentor, a friend, and a moral compass" in a statement after his death.

"Archbishop Tutu was grounded in the struggle for liberation and justice in his own country, but also concerned with injustice everywhere. He never lost his impish sense of humor and willingness to find humanity in his adversaries," said Obama.

In 2012, Tutu was awarded a $1 million grant by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation for "his lifelong commitment to speaking truth to power." The following year, he received the Templeton Prize for his "life-long work in advancing spiritual principles such as love and forgiveness which has helped to liberate people around the world."

Most notably, he received the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize, following in the footsteps of his countryman, Albert Lutuli, who received the prize in 1960.

The Nobel cemented Tutu's status as an instrumental figure in South Africa, a position he gained in the wake of protests against apartheid. Despite anger about the policy within South Africa, as well as widespread global disapproval -- the country was banned from the Olympics from 1964 through 1988 -- the South African government quashed opposition, banning the African National Congress political party and imprisoning its leaders, including Mandela.

It was up to the clergy to take the lead in speaking out, said Rev. Frank Chikane, the former head of the South African Council of Churches and a Tutu colleague.

"We reached the stage where the church was a protector of the people, who was the voice for the people," Chikane told CNN.

The current archbishop of Cape Town and metropolitan of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Thabo Makgoba, said that the church will plan Tutu's funeral and memorial services.

"Desmond Tutu's legacy is moral strength, moral courage and clarity," Makgoba said in a statement. "He felt with the people. In public and alone, he cried because he felt people's pain. And he laughed -- no, not just laughed, he cackled with delight when he shared their joy."

In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby issued statements praising Tutu for his sagacity and infectious positivity.

"(He) will be remembered for his spiritual leadership and irrepressible good humor," Johnson said.

Welby called Tutu "a prophet and priest, a man of words and action -- one who embodied the hope and joy that were the foundations of his life."

"Even in our profound sorrow we give thanks for a life so well lived," he said.

In the 1950s, Tutu had resigned as a teacher in protest of government restrictions on education for Black children, the Bantu Education Act. He was ordained in 1960 and spent the '60s and early '70s alternating between London and South Africa. In 1975 he was appointed dean of St. Mary's Cathedral in Johannesburg and immediately used his new position to make political statements.

"When we were appointed we said ... 'Well, we'll live in Soweto,' " he told the Academy of Achievement, referring to the black townships of Johannesburg. "And so that -- we begin always by making a political statement even without articulating it in words."

It wasn't a plan, though from an early age he'd been inspired by Trevor Huddleston, a priest and early anti-apartheid activist who worked in a Johannesburg slum in the 1950s. By embarking on this path, he inspired thousands of his countrymen -- and more around the world.

"Desmond Tutu had no reason to act as he did other than his profound sense of our shared humanity in working for a world in which justice and the wellbeing of all is an expression of his ethical leadership of compassion," wrote Episcopal priest Robert V. Taylor on CNN in 2011.

Tutu believed he didn't have a choice, even if the path was rocky.

"I really would get mad with God. I would say, 'I mean, how in the name of everything that is good can you allow this or that to happen?' " he told the Academy of Achievement. "But I didn't doubt that ultimately good, right, justice would prevail."

Desmond Mpilo Tutu was born October 7, 1931, in Klerksdorp, a town in South Africa's Transvaal province. His father was a teacher and his mother was a domestic worker, and young Tutu had plans to become a doctor, partly thanks to a boyhood bout of tuberculosis, which put him in the hospital for more than a year. He even qualified for medical school, he said.

But his parents couldn't afford the fees, so teaching beckoned.

"The government was giving scholarships for people who wanted to become teachers," he told the Academy of Achievement. "I became a teacher and I haven't regretted that."

However, he was horrified at the state of Black South African schools, and even more horrified when the Bantu Education Act was passed in 1953 that racially segregated the nation's education system. He resigned in protest. Not long after, the Bishop of Johannesburg agreed to accept him for the priesthood -- Tutu believed it was because he was a Black man with a university education, a rarity in the 1950s -- and took up his new vocation.

The 1960s and 1970s were tumultuous times in South Africa. In March 1960, 69 people were killed in the Sharpeville Massacre, when South African police opened fire on a crowd of protesters. Lutuli, an ANC leader who preached non-violence, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize later that year -- while banned from leaving the country. (The government finally let him go for a few days to accept his prize.)

Mandela -- then a firebrand leading an armed wing of the ANC -- was arrested, tried and, in 1964, sentenced to life in prison. In the early '70s, the government forced millions of Black people to settle in what were called "homelands."

Tutu spent many of these years in Great Britain, watching from afar, but finally returned for good in 1975, when he was appointed dean of St. Mary's Cathedral in Johannesburg. The next year he was consecrated Bishop of Lesotho. He gained renown for a May 1976 letter he wrote to the prime minister, warning of unrest.

"The mood in the townships was frightening," he told the Academy of Achievement.

A month later Soweto exploded in violence. More than 600 died in the uprising.

As the government became increasingly oppressive -- detaining Black people, establishing onerous laws -- Tutu became increasingly outspoken.

"He was one of the most hated people, particularly by White South Africa, because of the stance he took," former Truth and Reconciliation Commission member Alex Boraine told CNN.

Added Chikane, the South African Council of Churches colleague, "His moral authority (was) both his weapon and his shield, enabling him to confront his oppressors with a rare impunity."

South Africa was becoming a pariah country. Demonstrators in the United States protested corporate investment in the nation and Congress backed up the stance with the 1987 Rangel Amendment. The United Nations established a cultural boycott. Popular songs, such as the Special AKA's "Free Nelson Mandela" and Artists United Against Apartheid's "Sun City," deplored the country's politics.

With his scarlet vestments, Tutu cut a distinctive figure as he preached from the bully pulpit -- perhaps never more so than in his Nobel Prize speech in 1984.

After reeling off the prejudices and inequalities of the apartheid system, Tutu summed up his thoughts. "In short," he said, "this land, richly endowed in so many ways, is sadly lacking in justice."

There were more injustices to come: assassinations, allegations of hit squads, bombings. In 1988, two years after being named Archbishop of Cape Town, becoming the first Black man to head the Anglican Church in South Africa, Tutu was arrested while taking an anti-apartheid petition to South Africa's parliament.

But the tide was turning. The next year, Tutu led a 20,000-person march in Cape Town. Also in 1989, a new president, F.W. de Klerk, started easing apartheid laws. Finally, on February 11, 1990, Mandela was released from prison after 27 years. De Klerk died last month.

Four years later, in 1994, Mandela would be elected president. Tutu compared being allowed to vote for the first time to "falling in love" and said -- behind the birth of his first child -- introducing Mandela as the country's new president was the greatest moment of his life.

"I actually said to God, I don't mind if I die now," he told CNN.

Tutu's work was not done, however. In 1995 Mandela appointed him chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to address the human rights violations of the apartheid years. Tutu broke down at the TRC's first hearing in 1996.

The TRC gave its report to the government in 1998. Tutu established the Desmond Tutu Peace Trust the same year.

He returned to teaching, becoming a visiting professor at Emory University in Atlanta for two years and later lecturing at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He published a handful of books, including "No Future Without Forgiveness" (1999), "God Is Not a Christian" (2011), and a children's book, "Desmond and the Very Mean Word" (2012).

He retired from public service in 2010 but remained unafraid to take controversial positions. He called for a boycott of Israel in 2014 and said that former US President George W. Bush and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair should be "made to answer" at the International Criminal Court for their actions around the Iraq war.

But he was also distinguished for his sense of humor, embodied in a distinctive, giggle-like laugh.

While visiting "The Daily Show" in 2004, he broke up at Jon Stewart's jokes. And he poked fun at "On Being" interviewer Krista Tippett in 2014, chiding her for not offering him the dried mangos -- his favorite -- she'd brought along.

Despite all the praise and fame, however, he told CNN he didn't feel like a "great man."

"What is a great man?" he said. "I just know that I've had incredible, incredible opportunities. ... When you stand out in a crowd, it is always only because you are being carried on the shoulders of others."

For all of his good works, he added, there may have been another reason he had so many followers.

"They took me only because I have this large nose," he said. "And I have this easy name, Tutu."

Tutu is survived by his wife of more than 60 years, Nomalizo Leah Tutu, with whom he had four children, Trevor, Theresa, Naomi and Mpho.

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Brothers Offer New Perspective on Maternity and Family With Parallel Mothers – Yahoo Entertainment

Pedro Almodvar has written and directed 23 feature films since 1978; each one carries his unique style, yet he manages to keep surprising audiences. Parallel Mothers may be his best and most accessible; it features his frequent outrage at government oppression and deceit, mixed with great compassion for his characters.

Almodvar has had shockingly few Oscar nominations, but this film could wind up with bids for him, for best picture and for star Penlope Cruz.

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The filmmakers brother, Agustin Almodvar, has been his producer since the 1987 Law of Desire. Thats fitting, since families are at the center of many of the films, including this one but theyre not necessarily traditional families.

Says producer Almodvar, I think Parallel Mothers gives an interesting perspective on maternity and family. This is one of the films in which Pedro refers to families based on love, rather than on biology. Parallel also offers Cruz a terrific role. Almodvar says of the new film, Penlope Cruz gives a magisterial performance; its a master class in acting.

The producer says that with each new film, Im very lucky to be there from the beginning, when a script is just an idea.

I play two roles. One is to support Pedro during his creative process, specifically in doing research or information he needs for the film. The other role is more technical: finding funds to make the film. I keep those two things very separate because I dont want economic constraints to affect Pedros creative choices.

Did they know during production that this film was special?

We never really know. Were always working with uncertainty and thats always a challenge, entering new territory. Thats stimulating to me as a producer and to Pedro as a writer-director. We always ask that a script takes us into new places.

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He adds, Pedro likes to work with characters facing a moral dilemma. In Parallel Mothers, Cruzs character is dealing with two dilemmas: an atmosphere of secrecy and lies that go back to the Franco era, and a private truth, which shes incapable of confronting right away, says Almodvar.

Aside from the work of his brother and Cruz, Agustin notes, Also, you have the soundtrack by Alberto Iglesias and the photography by Jos Luis Alcaine. All this makes the film an amazing collaboration of artists.

Pedro Almodvar personally has only been nominated for two Oscars, as writer and director of the 2002 Talk to Her, winning for original screenplay.

Of his previous 22 films, only three received Oscar nominations for foreign-language/international film: Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988), All About My Mother (which won, 1999) and Pain and Glory (2019). Spain, for whatever reasons, often fails to choose his films for submission.

When Pain and Glory opened, star Antonio Banderas talked with Variety about the 1982 San Sebastian premiere of Labyrinth of Passion, saying the audience was passionate, pro and con, with vocal reactions to the film.

I realized Almodvar was more than a movie director; there was a social movement attached to the way he was expressing himself. Banderas added the filmmaker was part of a revolution that shook the foundation of Spanish cinema and Spanish morality.

Varietys Owen Gleiberman reviewed Parallel Mothers at the Venice fest and proclaimed it his best since All About My Mother. He added, It is as serious as any film Almodvar has made but he hasnt let go of his luminously light, beguiling puckish side and Cruz acts the part with a mood-shifting immediacy that leaves you breathless.

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Apartheid in the Holy Land Middle East Monitor – Middle East Monitor

In our struggle against apartheid, the great supporters were Jewish people. They almost instinctively had to be on the side of the disenfranchised, of the voiceless ones, fighting injustice, oppression and evil. I have continued to feel strongly with the Jews. I am patron of a Holocaust centre in South Africa. I believe Israel has a right to secure borders.

What is not so understandable, not justified, is what it did to another people to guarantee its existence. I've been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about.

On one of my visits to the Holy Land I drove to a church with the Anglican bishop in Jerusalem. I could hear tears in his voice as he pointed to Jewish settlements. I thought of the desire of Israelis for security. But what of the Palestinians who have lost their land and homes?

I have experienced Palestinians pointing to what were their homes, now occupied by Jewish Israelis. I was walking with Canon Naim Ateek (the head of the Sabeel Ecumenical Centre) in Jerusalem. He pointed and said: "Our home was over there. We were driven out of our home; it is now occupied by Israeli Jews."

My heart aches. I say why are our memories so short. Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, the home demolitions, in their own history so soon? Have they turned their backs on their profound and noble religious traditions? Have they forgotten that God cares deeply about the downtrodden?

Israel will never get true security and safety through oppressing another people. A true peace can ultimately be built only on justice. We condemn the violence of suicide bombers, and we condemn the corruption of young minds taught hatred; but we also condemn the violence of military incursions in the occupied lands, and the inhumanity that won't let ambulances reach the injured.

READ: Veteran anti-apartheid campaigner Archbishop Tutu dies aged 90

The military action of recent days, I predict with certainty, will not provide the security and peace Israelis want; it will only intensify the hatred.

Israel has three options: revert to the previous stalemated situation; exterminate all Palestinians; or I hope to strive for peace based on justice, based on withdrawal from all the occupied territories, and the establishment of a viable Palestinian state on those territories side by side with Israel, both with secure borders.

We in South Africa had a relatively peaceful transition. If our madness could end as it did, it must be possible to do the same everywhere else in the world. If peace could come to South Africa, surely it can come to the Holy Land?

My brother Naim Ateek has said what we used to say: "I am not pro- this people or that. I am pro-justice, pro-freedom. I am anti- injustice, anti-oppression."

But you know as well as I do that, somehow, the Israeli government is placed on a pedestal [in the US], and to criticise it is to be immediately dubbed anti-semitic, as if the Palestinians were not semitic. I am not even anti-white, despite the madness of that group. And how did it come about that Israel was collaborating with the apartheid government on security measures?

People are scared in this country [the US], to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful very powerful. Well, so what? For goodness sake, this is God's world! We live in a moral universe. The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic, and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust.

Injustice and oppression will never prevail. Those who are powerful have to remember the litmus test that God gives to the powerful: what is your treatment of the poor, the hungry, the voiceless? And on the basis of that, God passes judgment.

We should put out a clarion call to the government of the people of Israel, to the Palestinian people and say: peace is possible, peace based on justice is possible. We will do all we can to assist you to achieve this peace, because it is God's dream, and you will be able to live amicably together as sisters and brothers.

Desmond Tutu is the former Archbishop of Cape Town and chairman of South Africa's truth and reconciliation commission. This address was given at a conference on Ending the Occupation held in Boston, Massachusetts, in April 2002. Published by The Guardian on April 2002.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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PPP cant make Sindhs residents its slaves, say PSP and ANP – The News International

Leaders of the Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) and Awami National Party (ANP) on Saturday criticised what they said ongoing discrimination against certain citizens in Sindh regarding issuance of domiciles and computerised national identity cards (CNICs).

The two parties were of the view that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) could not make residents of Sindh its slaves.

A delegation of the PSP led by its central leader Syed Hafeezuddin met ANP leaders, including Sindh Secretary General Younas Bunariee, at the latters provincial headquarters to discuss the controversial law on local government bulldozed by the PPP government in the Sindh Assembly despite opposition by all the major opposition parties in the province.

Hafeezuddin said the PSP and ANP had same views against what he called a black law on the chapter of local government in Sindh. He added that the PSP had opposed the controversial bill and condemned the reduction of powers and authorities of the city government setups.

ANPs Bunariee said that all opposition parties had the same opinion on the recently passed local government bill but they were following their own course of action. Opposition parties must first come to the same page so that they all together fight for an empowered local government system that is necessary for resolving the citys civic issues, he said.

Earlier on Friday, PSP chief Syed Mustafa Kamal said it was high time that the people should come out of their homes and stand against the perpetual tyranny of the PPP as silence was no longer an option. Silence on oppression is tantamount to supporting and strengthening the oppressor, he said while addressing a meeting with the partys office-bearers of District East.

The PPP will make it difficult for those who remain silent in oppression to survive. We believe that those who remain silent will have to suffer in this world and in the hereafter, Kamal said.

From Karachi to Kashmore, Sindh is a victim of the PPP's democratic terrorism, he said. The PPP wants to make Sindh the personal dynasty of Asif Ali Zardari which will be thwarted together with all the patriotic Pakistanis.

The PSP chairperson said the Sindh LG Amendment Act 2021 was a conspiracy against Pakistan. Such laws were not made by India in the Occupied Kashmir and by the British in the occupied Subcontinent, he said.

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PPP cant make Sindhs residents its slaves, say PSP and ANP - The News International

‘My wife, my sons and my daughter all drowned. They left because life here is so bad with no electricity, no jobs and no salary’ – Morning Star Online

THEY were trying to escape from them, Mohammad says as the Kurdistan Regional Government announced that the bodies of 16 people who drowned in the channel in Novemberwere being returned home.

Now it is the Barzanis that are bringing them back. Even in death they cannot get away from them, he tells me, his voice tinged with sadness.

His best friend is one of the thousands who have fled Iraqi Kurdistan in recent months, desperate to escape a brutally oppressive regime and deepening poverty that has blighted the region.

Having made it from Belarus to France via Germany, his friendis one of the many Kurds camped in Dunkirk waiting to make the crossing.

He didnt make the boat. They had to wait because of the waves. But he says he is still going to try, he tells me. I tried to talk him out of it, told him it is not safe. He will not listen.

Mohammad was one of many I spoke to in Iraqi Kurdistan and was part of the student protests that erupted across the semi-autonomous region in early December.

Their action, which was met with a violent crackdown from Kurdish authorities including allegations of torture, is symptomatic of the deepening crisis across the region.

Many students approached me to say they planned to leave as soon as they could, hoping to make their way to Europe, with London a favoured destination.

I want freedom. This country is like a prison, the people here arent free, one of them explained as they blocked the road outside the university on the outskirts of the city.

I trained as an engineer, a female student says as she walks past. I will be lucky to work in a kitchen.

They feel a sense of hopelessness in a region where there are severe electricity and water shortages and public-sector workers have gone for months without being paid.

Last year at least 13 people, including children, were shot dead during similar protests which saw party offices set on firein anger at a corrupt and undemocratic political system.

Britains Home Secretary Priti Patel says that the country needs to eradicate the so-called pull factors that she insists are the reasons migrants risk their lives on flimsy boats.

What sheand many others continue to ignoreare the many push factors that see thousands of people fleeing Iraqi Kurdistan in sheer desperation.

The region is a war zone, a powder-keg waiting to explode. In the northern Duhok province thousands of villagers have been forced from their homes due to an eight-month bombing campaign by Turkey.

The Nato member state has established around 80 military bases and a military airfield from where it launches drone strikes and missiles that terrorise the local population in an occupation that is aviolation of Iraqs sovereign territory.

Iranian forces are waging war against a US troop presence, launching missile attacks against its compound close to Erbilinternational airport, along with other targets.

Isis has made a resurgence, with security forces telling me that there are thousands of cells taking advantage of instability in the areas contested between the Iraqi federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government.

The village of Liheban near Kirkuk was recently evacuated because of the renewed threat from the jihadists, whichsecurity forces told me was linked to Turkeys increased presence in the region, which has expanded roughly 20 milesinto Kurdish territory.

Added tothe toxic brew is a brutal internal regime under whichdissent is not tolerated and government critics are jailed, disappeared or even killed.

Once heldup as a beacon of stability and regarded by many liberals as perhaps the only success story of the illegal US invasion and occupation of Iraq which ousted Saddam Hussein, the reality of life under the grip of the Barzani family is very different.

Far from being a model for the rest of the Middle East, the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq has become a deeply divided society riven with corruption and divided into two spheres of influence ruled over by just two families.

The Barzani familys Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) dominates Erbil and Duhok provinces in the north, along with the Kurdistan Regional Government, while the Talabani-run Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) rules in Sulaymaniyah and Halabja.

Both parties operate a feudal-style system of patronage. Jobs in both the public and private sector depend on loyalty to either clan and a corrupt political system that has enriched both families leaves no room for democratic reform.

The media is also controlled by the main parties. Rudaw and Kurdistan 24, the main news sources, are owned by the Barzanis while others are owned by the PUK, with any critical media organisations pushed to the margins.

Those that report on alleged government corruption face closure while their journalists are jailed on spurious charges.

Last week the New Generation-affiliated NRT TV reported 441 million attacks on its website after interviewing US journalist Zack Kopplin following his report on alleged corruption by Masrour Barzani.

It is frequently targeted by the authorities, with its offices even burned to the ground in 2013, and it is often taken off air on spurious grounds and its headquarters stormed by security officials.

At least 81 government critics known as the Badinan activists and journalists were handed lengthy prison sentences earlier this year on espionage charges based on secret evidence and confessions extracted through torture, with the trials slammed by human rights organisations.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Kurdistan Region is the fourth-worst jailer of journalists in the world per capita.

If the Baathists were to stand today, they would win around 80 per cent of the vote, 95-year-old former communist peshmerga leader Abdul Qadir tells me as we sit in his Darbandikhan home in Sulaymaniyah province.

It is a bold claim, I tell him, especially in a region that suffered so much under Saddams tyrannical rule at least 185,000 Kurds were killed in his Anfal campaign alone.

Under Saddam Hussein we had jobs and roads, he says. Now we dont even have those. We are only left with the oppression.

I remember being shocked when I first heard similar sentiments in Halabja earlier in the year.

The town close to the Iranian border is best known in the Western world as the site of a gas attack in which 5,000 Kurds were killed in 1988.

Then, as now, a brutal regime continues to be propped up and supported by Western governments who continue to turn a blind eye to the internal oppression which they tolerate or even encourage for their own interests.

It was certainly these push factors that led the family of Rizgar Hussein to attempt the perilous crossing from France to Britain last month. It was a journey that ended in tragedy.

My wife, my sons and my daughter all drowned. They left because life here is so bad with no electricity, no jobs and no salary.

He first met his wife Khazal Hussein in a refugee camp just outside the city of Kermanshah in Rojhilat, the name for Iranian Kurdistan.

They married and moved to Darbandikhan in Iraqi Kurdistans Sulaymaniyah province in 2004 where they had their children; daughter Hadia who was 22, son Mubin, 16, and younger daughter Hasti who was just seven.

She was my best friend, he says tearfully. As were my children. Every day with them is now just a happy memory.

He has been living with his father-in-law in the southern city of Kalar since the tragedy and thinks about his family every day.

Left with nothing after selling his house he has had no contact from the Kurdistan Regional Government nor the French authorities where the bodies of his loved ones were held in a morgue.

Rizgar did not even know the fate of his family, waiting anxiously for news but fearing the worst after his daughters mobile phone lost signal and eventually its battery.

But he knows they waited for hours in the freezing cold water of the Channel for someone to rescue them and had been rebuffed by the British authorities despite a number of phone calls pleading for help.

He shared images showing the location of his family in the boat when they called the British coastguard. His daughter was told while the cold gripped their bodies that they were not their responsibility.

Officials allegedly insisted that they were in French waters and Rizgar says that they were simply left to drown.

They were not in French waters, Rizgar said. You can see clearly that they were close to Britain. Someone should have rescued them.

This has been confirmed by the only two survivors from the fateful trip along with geolocation data shared by other passengers.

His anger is directed at both British and French authorities and he wants them to be charged with neglect a case was lodged by an NGO on behalf of two of the families earlier this week.

He is waiting to be reunited with his loved ones, never imagining that he would never see them alive again after they began the journey to start a new life.

But nobody would help him other than the Foundation for Refugee and Displaced Affairs who asked him for a sample of DNA to match with the bodies that had been recovered.

I tried to go to France so I could see my family and identify them, he explained. But they refused to give me a visa.

In this country [Kurdistan] visas are only for the rich and corrupt people, not for the poor like me.

He begged the British people to hold the government to account and show support for the people of Iraqi Kurdistan, especially those who lost so much in the freezing waters of the Channel.

The silence of the all-party parliamentary group for Kurdistan is perhaps not surprising considering its history of funding by Barzani-linked oil companies, which pay tens of thousands to provide secretarial support.

That tale of corruption is a story for another day.

But while it acts as the regimesmouthpiecein Westminster it will be up to the people of Britain to be the voice of the Kurds on the streets and in their communities.

It will be here that the fight for justice for Rizgar and those that drownedwill be won.

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'My wife, my sons and my daughter all drowned. They left because life here is so bad with no electricity, no jobs and no salary' - Morning Star Online

China’s oppression of Tibetans serves as warning to Taiwan: Exiled Tibetan official – Devdiscourse

Representative of the Tibetan government-in-exile Kelsang Gyaltsen Bawa on Thursday lambasted Beijing for its atrocities on Tibetans and said that this "oppression should serve as a warning to the people of Taiwan." Kelsang is representing the exiled Tibet government in Taiwan.

During a book launch event in Taiwan, Kelsang also said that "Intellectuals from Tibet have either been forced into exile or they face brutal crackdowns in their homeland by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and their suffering continues to the present day," as reported by Taiwanese news agency Focus Taiwan. He also pointed to the 'Seventeen Point Agreement' that affirmed China's sovereignty over Tibet but promised Tibetans a high degree of autonomy. "The signing of a peace treaty between the Dalai Lama's government and CCP in Beijing in 1951 was "seven decades of blood and tears shed by Tibetans," he added.

Meanwhile, Taiwanese Legislator Freddy Lim also said that Taiwanese should cherish freedom of expression and fight for democracy, Focus Taiwan reported. Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, a democracy of almost 24 million people located off the southeastern coast of mainland China, despite the fact that the two sides have been governed separately for more than seven decades.

Taipei, on the other hand, has countered the Chinese aggression by increasing strategic ties with democracies including the US, which has been repeatedly opposed by Beijing. China has threatened that "Taiwan's independence" means war. On June 1, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to complete reunification with self-ruled Taiwan and vowed to smash any attempts at formal independence for the island.

Reacting to Xi's remarks, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) accused the CCP of tightening its dictatorship in the name of national rejuvenation internally and attempting to alter the international order with its hegemonic ambitions externally, Focus Taiwan reported. (ANI)

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China's oppression of Tibetans serves as warning to Taiwan: Exiled Tibetan official - Devdiscourse

Republicans cornering the market on freedom and oppression | TheHill – The Hill

Freedom is good policy and good politics,saidSen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzPoll: Americans favor diplomatic engagement with Cuba Republicans cornering the market on freedom and oppression As Biden falters, a two-man race for the 2024 GOP nomination begins to take shape MORE (R-Texas) this week while addressing the supposed threat of mask mandates that might otherwise stem the spread of COVID.In recent decades, Republicans have been adept at latching onto issues that can be construed as both good policy and good politics.Because often the two are intertwined.If you can sell the public on a policy regardless of whether its inherently good then you have achieved both aims.

On style, the modern-day GOPs personal freedom movement can be traced back, in part, to the supposedly good policy / good politics family values movement, which reached its apex more than a generation ago, but which is still very much with us.

Both fight on puritanical grounds.

Family values is code for an imagined 1950s TV-style Christian morality when people didnt cheat on spouses, when no one was gay, and when certain people knew their place and knew better not to challenge canonical hierarchies.This crusade of rightness leaves no wiggle room for nuance or differing opinions. Absolutism is the key to absolution.

Similarly, todays personal freedom movement is code for Make America Great Again.Advocates seek to restore Americas revolutionary spirit.If you oppose freedom, you support tyranny.There is no wiggle room for nuance or differing opinions.American and God-given rights are intertwined and inalienable.

On substance, however, these two movements reside on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum.

Family values proponents seek societal control.Individual responsibility is irrelevant. Plenty of their members fall short of their moral standards.That doesnt matter.The government must do more to curb the scourge of rap music.Politicians must enact laws to discourage out-of-wedlock births.Guns on the street are sanctified, while fake guns in video games are satanic.The nation must capitulate to the most just among us, as defined by the most just within the movement.The political power they have wielded is as impressive as it is oppressive.

But personal freedom fighters in the COVID era believe individual opinions regardless of their truth matter more than those of experts, of politicians, or of the dying lying in hospital beds.All levels of government constitute the swamp.Dont tread on me has devolved into No more rules.It is the antithesis of the state control sought by family values.It is instead a battle against society against the essential frameworks on which civilizations are built.This is a point of anarchical pride for the personal freedom brigade, because it doesnt matter who gets hurt, as long as its not them.

Of course, many of the family values and personal freedom advocates are thesame people.

They just wear different hats on different days and for some, in different eras.

The family values contingent has splintered in recent years on a number of topics, such as drug legalization and gay marriage.Their embrace of one of the most ethically flawed presidents in generations diminished the movement further. This is not a joyous time for a group with declining membership and influence.

So it should be no surprise that from the gathering ashes of family values, a new cause has arisen.Not that personal freedom is new, but rarely has it been tested under such hostile conditions, as the worst global pandemic in a century ispoisedto become the worst in our countrys history.

Historically, America would rally to defend itself.Personal safety would be sacred.Loving thy neighbor would be second nature.

But for the family values crowd, theres no political benefit to that approach.Instead, a 180-degree ideological turn marked the easiest path for maintaining political relevance.Better to be on the wrong side with millions of people who adore you, than to be on the right side with millions of people who dont.

We are left with two diametrically opposed movements led by the same political party.

Family values surfaced to combat personal freedoms.Personal freedom surfaced to upend family values.They dont agree on much, and for a party seeking to win over a majority of the electorate, thats the point.

B.J. Rudell is a longtime political strategist, former associate director for Duke Universitys Center for Politics, and recent North Carolina Democratic Party operative. In a career encompassing stints on Capitol Hill, on presidential campaigns, in a newsroom, in classrooms, and for a consulting firm, he has authored three books and has shared political insights across all media platforms, including for CNN and Fox News.

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Republicans cornering the market on freedom and oppression | TheHill - The Hill

OPINION | LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Were delight to read | Sacrifices public good | Have to accept reality – Arkansas Online

Were delight to read

I have been a reader of, and subscriber to, this paper and its predecessor publications for over (gasp) 60 years. In recent years I have submitted letters for the editors to consider publishing. This is the first, as I recall, in which I have opined about columnists.

Without discussing specifics, I was delighted to read in your Saturday issue the writings of Terry Mattingly, Marie Mainard O'Connell, and the editorial writer who gave the senator from Jonesboro a primer in constitutional law. When considered together, these pieces presented your readers a nearly perfect explanation of the various thoughts surrounding the divisive issue of vaccination against the covid virus.


Little Rock

Sacrifices public good

I would like to respectfully but strongly disagree with the recent guest piece by state Sen. Dan Sullivan that argued that it is a government "overreach" to mandate masks in schools or for employers to be allowed to mandate vaccinations for their employees.

I believe it is well-established and commonly accepted that a major role of the government is to protect the common good and to pass laws that protect public health and safety. Individual freedom ends where the practice of that freedom endangers others. Examples of this common-sense approach to living in society with each other include traffic laws, laws against criminal actions such as robbery and murder, and even laws which require certain health precautions are followed by children in schools. Examples of the latter include vaccinating against many illnesses that, if left unchecked, would harm many others. Being "mandated" to stop at a stop sign is not government oppression or overreach; it is best for that decision to not to be left up to the individual. Nobody would argue this.

Senator Sullivan might argue that it's not government's place to require us to protect ourselves, which holds true only if his behavior doesn't harm me or my children. As a family doctor, it causes me great distress to see how willing people can be to sacrifice the public good upon the altar of "freedom."


Little Rock

Have to accept reality

For my own mental health, I have tried to stay out of all of the crazy debates and arguments going on for the last several years. But the other day, on the news, I saw an anti-vaxxer protest sign showing a hand-drawn medical syringe, and the slogan said, "My body, my choice."

This has also been used in reference to abortion, by pro-choice, in disagreement with restrictions. How does this work both ways?

Democracy means that sometimes we have to accept what we don't like, such as taxes, military drafts or vaccines to keep us all safe and our "great experiment" functioning. Freedom means that after accepting these requirements to live the way we do, we have the right to criticize and protest, and also have to accept election results or legislated deals with which we don't agree.

It is time to come to our senses. Reality is not an adversary.


Little Rock

Were anxious to serve

I just walked out of the living room, after watching a special TV broadcast of the arrival of the 13 young warriors who lost their lives to a suicide bomber in Kabul, Afghanistan. President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden and a host of other older dignitaries were there to greet the remains of these willing sacrifices as their caskets were rolled off the aircraft that brought them to Dover Air Force Base.

The broadcast was just another special news report until pictures of the 13 were shown on my TV screen. The oldest was only 31 years of age, with the lowest end of the range ending at 20. Understandably, the images showed no wrinkles, no gray hair, no outward signs of bountiful wisdom that oftentimes come with age. These weren't seasoned warriors who had been hardened like iron against iron. Even so, as the reporter shared some biographical information about them, there was a common theme that applied to all: They were anxious to serve their country.

Many will reflect on this atrocity and ask themselves why. I wish I could come up with an answer to that question other than that they answered the call to serve, but maybe that's answer enough. I still can't excise the feeling from my gut that this is the senselessness of war: We invest our most valuable resource somewhere over there, rather than in the future that's closer to home. The world is a complicated place. I realize that and my wonderings are limited in their ability to comprehend it all.

Thanks for your service, young ones.


Little Rock

Mask-mandate ban

I noted my state Sen. Trent Garner's op-ed published this past Sunday regarding the issue which has consumed him--the bill he sponsored and which subsequently passed, prohibiting mask mandates in public schools. I would propose this for Senator Garner: If he's right, the worst thing that could happen is that children would have needlessly worn masks in public schools. If he's wrong, some children will end up on vents, or worse.

A thoughtful person would choose to err on the side of safety. But we have Trent Garner.


El Dorado

The Electoral College

John Brummett says, "The California recall system is somehow even less democratic than the Electoral College that devalues California's votes for president."

Doesn't California have 55 electoral votes compared to seven states which have only three each? Perhaps John will tell us how 55 electoral votes devalues California's votes for president.


Hot Springs Village

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OPINION | LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Were delight to read | Sacrifices public good | Have to accept reality - Arkansas Online

Oppressed Tibetans are warning to Taiwan: Tibetan representative – Focus Taiwan News Channel

Taipei, Sept. 2 (CNA) The decades-long Chinese oppression of Tibetans should serve as a warning to Taiwanese, Kelsang Gyaltsen Bawa, representative of the Tibetan government-in-exile to Taiwan, said Thursday during a book launch event at the Legislative Yuan.

Over the years, intellectuals from Tibet have either been forced into exile or faced brutal crackdowns in their homeland by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and their suffering continues to the present day, the representative said.

What came after the signing of a peace treaty between the Dalai Lama's government and CCP in Beijing in 1951 was "seven decades of blood and tears shed by Tibetans," Kelsang said.

He was referring to the Seventeen Point Agreement that affirmed China's sovereignty over Tibet but promised Tibetans a high degree of autonomy. However, following an uprising by Tibetans in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, in 1959, the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama escaped to India, where he formed a Tibetan government-in-exile.

Tibet's experience should serve as a warning to Taiwanese that the country's freedom and democracy is in their hands, he added.

The Tibetan representative assumed his post in January as the chairman of the Tibet Religious Foundation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the representative office of the Tibetan government-in-exile in Taiwan.

He was joined by several Taiwanese lawmakers Thursday at a launch event for a book about the peace treaty that was published under the sponsorship of his foundation.

While supporting Tibetans who have faced oppression, Taiwanese should cherish freedom of expression and fight for democracy, said independent Legislator Freddy Lim (), who also heads the Taiwan Parliament Group for Tibet.

Fan Yun (), a legislator from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said Taiwanese should be wary of the threat from China because Beijing has stepped up military exercises near Taiwan.

However, Fan went on to say, people in Taiwan should also keep faith in important values that the country shares with the international community, including freedom, democracy and human rights.

Another DPP Legislator Hung Sun-han () said China has shown what it would do after a peace treaty is signed.

What happened in Tibet should be a wake-up call for Taiwanese when they think about the future of the island, Hung added.

(By Fan Cheng-hsiang and Teng Pei-ju)


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Oppressed Tibetans are warning to Taiwan: Tibetan representative - Focus Taiwan News Channel

Taliban Expected to Announce New Government in Afghanistan – International Christian Concern

09/03/2021 Afghanistan (International Christian Concern) The Taliban are expected to announce a new government in Afghanistan today following their capture of the countrys capital and the complete withdrawal of US troops. Some reports have indicated the Talibans co-founder, Mullah Baradar, will be tapped to lead the new government faced with ruling the war-torn country.

According to reports by the AFP, a government cabinet could be presented by the Taliban in the hours following morning prayers. Ahmadullah Muttaiq, a Taliban official, said on social media that a ceremony was being prepared at Kabuls presidential palace.

Prior to the invasion of US-led forces, the Taliban ruled Afghanistan through an unelected leadership council that brutally enforced the groups fundamentalist interpretation of Shariah. Many hope the Talibans new government will soften its stance on Shariah and form a more inclusive government.

We are not taking them at their word, were going to take them at their deeds, US Undersecretary of State, Victoria Nuland, told the Guardian. European Union leaders have said they will not recognize the Talibans new government unless they form an inclusive government that respects human rights and provides access to the country for aid workers.

Experts around the world are concern Afghanistan is facing a humanitarian catastrophe. With the economy in freefall and the countryside affected by a sever drought, many fear food insecurity will quickly become an issue for the thousands who have been displaced by the last 20 years of fighting.

For the countrys religious minorities, the official establishment of the Taliban government has them bracing for increased oppression and persecution. Afghan Christians in particular fear the Taliban governments likely enforcement of Shariah.

Afghanistans Christian community is almost exclusively comprised of converts from Islam. Some estimate the Christian population to be between 8,000 and 12,000, making it one of the countrys largest religious minority groups. However, due to extreme persecution, the Christian community remains largely closeted and hidden from the public eye.

Their status as converts makes Afghan Christians direct targets for persecution by both extremist groups and society in general. In Afghanistan, leaving Islam is considered extremely shameful and converts can face dire consequences if their conversion is discovered.

In many cases, known Christians must flee Afghanistan or risk being killed.

According to the Talibans ideology, Afghanistan is a Muslim country and non-Muslims must leave Afghanistan or accept second class status. For Christians, coming from convert backgrounds, the Taliban will consider them apostate and subject to Shariahs most brutal punishments.

For interviews, please contact Addison Parker: press@persecution.org.

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Taliban Expected to Announce New Government in Afghanistan - International Christian Concern

What the winner of this election must do about China, Meng and the two Michaels – Maclean’s

One thousand days.

Thats how much time has passed since Xi Jinpings Ministry of State Security kidnapped Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in a hostage-diplomacy bid to force Canadas release of the jet-setting Vancouver socialite, Huawei billionaire heiress and Chinese Communist Party princess Meng Wanzhou.

Sunday marks that 1,000-days milestone, and no matter who ends up the winner after the votes are counted in the Sept. 20 federal election, the capitulation Beijing is attempting to extract from Canada in their case will overshadow every other foreign-policy tangle the Prime Ministers Office faces.

Thats is because this isnt just about a kidnapping.

Its about untangling a catastrophe of cascading political misjudgments, sordid big-money relationships and an approach to the Chinese corporate state going back years that have ended up combining to isolate Justin Trudeau and an inner circle of old friends and advisers from Canadas allies; from the overwhelming opinion of the majority of Canadians; and even from much of Trudeaus own House of Commons caucus.

Meng was detained on a U.S. Justice Department extradition warrant while checking through Customs in Vancouver to pop into one of her Vancouver mansions during a Dec. 1, 2018 stopover on a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to Argentina, via Mexico. Meng is facing charges of bank fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy in what Justice Department lawyers in New York called a strategy of lies and deceit going back a decade, aimed at covering up Huaweis evasions of U.S. sanctions on business dealings in Iran.

Its worth remembering here that Meng is of that Liberal-friendly class of wealth-migration beneficiaries whose investments in Vancouver real estate have so distorted Vancouvers housing markets in a spiral of unaffordability that successive federal governments have ignored. Far from being the mere passing-through traveller the Chinese embassy would have you believe is being victimized on behalf of Canadas American overlords, Meng acquired permanent resident status in Canada 20 years ago, acquired a variety of properties, enrolled her children in Canadian universities, and generally enjoyed the high life here. Although she abandoned her permanent-resident status a decade ago, Meng has remained a fixture in Vancouvers super-rich Chinese expatriate social scene. And since her arrest, shes back full-time, with generous bail conditions allowing her to live in the luxury of a family-owned mansion in Vancouvers posh Shaughnessy district.

Ten days after her detention at Vancouver International Airport, Kovrig, a diplomat-on-leave working as a researcher with the International Crisis Group, was picked up in Beijing. Spavor, an entrepreneur who focused on cultural and business exchanges in North Korea, was detained in Dandong. It took five months before the pair were formally arrested. By the time they were brought up on charges of espionage more than a year after that, in June, 2020, theyd already endured 557 days of interrogation and privation in special prison blocks where the lights were kept on 24 hours a day.

Spavor was convicted on espionage charges last month on evidence that is reported to consist of images of military aircraft that show up in photographs hed taken at airports. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison. Kovrig was subjected to a similar day-long trial last March. The verdict in his case hasnt been handed down.

For all the governments brave talk about how the case of the Two Mikes has been its first and foremost foreign-policy priority ever since they were first abducted, the facts are unimpeachable: Its been 1,000 days, and nothing Canada has done has slowed the descent of the two Michaels down the throat of Beijings justice system, which boasts a conviction rate approaching 100 percent.

Within months from now, if not weeks, the Meng Wanzhou melodrama will be moving past its B.C. Supreme Court phase. When that happens, the federal cabinet will come to a politically opportune moment, provided by a 1999 amendment to the Extradition Act, to bail from its necessarily non-interventionist the courts must decide standpoint. Trudeaus circle is teeming with Beijing-friendly grandees who have been fiercely lobbying and making the rounds of the opinion-pages circuit to argue for Ottawa taking that opportunity to pay Beijings ransom, on the pretext that it might mean Kovrig and Spavor could get sprung from prison.

As cold as this must seem, Ottawa needs to hold to a standpoint that it adopted only reluctantly at the outset: the courts and the courts alone should decide Mengs fate. Once Justice Heather Holmes has rendered her verdict in Vancouver and Mengs legal options are exhausted, Ottawa should leave it to the courts, regardless of whether Meng is committed for extradition or not. And Canadas political leaders, including the Conservatives Erin OToole, should say this out loud, now.

Its none of Canadas business anyway. Its Beijing and Huawei and Meng that have put Canada in this bind, not the other way around. From the beginning, Meng has been free to leave and face an American judge any time she wants. If the courts end up declining the U.S. extradition request, then fine, let her go home to Shenzhen. But for Ottawa to step in and game the system in Mengs favour, Canada would be playing by Beijings rules. Instead, Canada should make it clear that this country will not sacrifice its sovereignty, or abandon its commitments to the principles established in international extradition law, or offer any ransom whatsoever, no matter how its framed or spun, to secure the Mikes release.

As for OTooles Conservatives, at least they have a policy on how to cope with China. Cleaning up the mess of Canada-China relations is a line of work that dominates the Conservatives foreign policy platform.

Canada would strengthen its ties with Taiwanthe liberal-democratic state Xi keeps threatening to invadeand take up the cause of the Tibetans and the Uyghurs, whose brutal oppression the Trudeau government has been loathe to even notice. Other China measures a Conservative government would adopt include: restraints on the operation of Chinese state-owned enterprises in Canadas economy; a law barring senior Canadian officials from the commonplace practice of kick-starting their careers by jumping over to lucrative Chinese sinecures; collaboration with countries like Australia, South Korea and Japan as mutual defence against Beijings trade bullying; a ban on Huaweis participation in Canadas 5G internet connectivity rollout; a crackdown on the Chinese Communist Partys infiltration of Canadian institutions and its persistent intimidation of Chinese-Canadians; a suspension of the Canada-China Legislative Association.

As for a specific response to the Mikes imprisonment, OToole says a Conservative government would draw up a sanctions list under Canadas Magnitsky law targeting the Xi Jinping himself, along with Chinese premier Li Keqiang, the chair of the Standing Committee of the Chinas National Party Congress and the President of the Supreme Peoples Court.

The Liberal platform is silent on China.

The Trudeau government first promised a new framework with cornerstones and principles governing new rules of engagement with China in December 2019. It never materialized. Theres no sign of it in the 82-page Liberal campaign platform Trudeau released this past Wednesday, either. The names Kovrig and Spavor appear nowhere in it. The word China occurs only once in the Liberal document, where the platform proposes that Canada should work to protect Canadians and work closely with our friends, allies, and partners to respond to illegal and unacceptable behaviour by authoritarian states, including China, Russia and Iran.

But thats something the Trudeau government can claim its already doneto no effect at all. Around the 800th day of the Mikes captivity, Ottawa won the backing of nearly 60 United Nations member states in a declaration that condemns hostage-taking as a tool of diplomacy. It was a kind of petition. The word China doesnt even appear in it.

Beyond paralysis, everything the Trudeau government has done on the China file suggests a policy of appeasement and issues-management. Its been as though Beijings outrage against international norms is just an unpleasantness we need to somehow put behind us so that the Liberals conventional enthusiasm for deeper intimacies with the Chinese regime can resume in the work of enriching the corporations affiliated with the Canada-China Business Council.

Meanwhile, Kovrig and Spavor remain behind bars in China, while Meng Wanzhou shows up cheerily every now and then at the B.C. Supreme Court, which her blue-chip team of lawyers has been bogging down with a slew of legal challenges that have thus far proved as unsuccessful as anything the Trudeau government has done to secure the release of the Two Michaels.

It cant go on like this. Canada needs to show the Xi regime that it can no longer expect to buy off Canadians, bully Canadians, and kidnap Canadians when it doesnt get its way. It is tragic and viciously unjust that this burden is being borne by Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. A thousand days is 999 days too long.

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What the winner of this election must do about China, Meng and the two Michaels - Maclean's

Does the US have any real leverage over the Taliban? – Yahoo News

The 360 shows you diverse perspectives on the days top stories and debates.

Whats happening

Since retaking control of Afghanistan, the Taliban have tried to assure the rest of the world that their new government will be different from the brutal, oppressive regime that ruled the country in the years before the American invasion. They have vowed to respect womens rights to some degree, forgive those who had allied with the U.S. military and prevent terrorist groups from using Afghanistan as a staging ground for attacks. We want the world to trust us, a Taliban spokesperson said.

Unsurprisingly, the notion of a kinder, gentler Taliban has been met with deep skepticism. The Biden administration has, however, expressed confidence that the Taliban can be compelled to keep their promises not out of the goodness of their hearts, but out of sheer self-interest. The Taliban seeks international legitimacy and support, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday. Our message is, any legitimacy and any support will have to be earned.

After 20 years in exile, the Taliban now control a country devastated by war that finds itself in the midst of a deepening economic crisis. It is also home to extremist groups that oppose their rule. Perhaps sensing this precarious position, the Taliban have sought to create friendly diplomatic ties with the U.S. and other major world powers as they work to establish a new government.

Why theres debate

Story continues

Optimists say the U.S. has enormous leverage to hold the Taliban to their commitments. For years, the Afghan government has relied heavily on foreign aid in order to function. That inflow of funds has now dried up. The U.S. has frozen $9.4 billion in Afghan central bank assets, and European governments have suspended development aid. Unless America is satisfied with the Talibans leadership, some experts argue, the country could soon face a catastrophic economic collapse that may threaten the Talibans ability to retain control.

Beyond economic pressure, the U.S. can also use the threat of military reprisal to force the Taliban to keep their promise to root out terror groups, others say. The Taliban may also seek support in combating its own terror threat from groups like ISIS-K, which some experts believe will create another point of leverage for the U.S.

Others are skeptical about Americas ability to keep the Taliban in line. While the group aided the U.S. withdrawal from Kabul, there are already reports of killings and human rights violations in other parts of the country. Many have expressed concern that oppression and violence will once again become the norm once the eyes of the world shift away from Afghanistan.

The Taliban could also seek support from countries like China, Russia and Pakistan, which could limit their reliance on U.S. financial ties and add complexity to American diplomacy with Afghanistan. Others say the Taliban have limited room to moderate even if they want to, since they could risk losing the backing of hard-line factions in the country if theyre seen as being too friendly with perceived enemies like the U.S.

Whats next

The Taliban will reportedly name Sheikh Haibatullah Akhundzada, the groups top religious leader, as Afghanistans supreme ruler in the coming days. More details on the structure of the countrys new government including whether it will be inclusive, as promised by the Taliban are also expected to be announced soon.


Afghanistans dire circumstances mean the Taliban will have no choice but to play along

However fierce in battle, the Taliban seem to understand that governing an impoverished, war-ravaged nation is a very different challenge for which it needs economic and diplomatic support, both of which it is already seeking from the United States. Max Fisher, New York Times

The U.S. has enormous power over Afghanistans economic viability

Any Afghan government especially return acts with an unflattering past will come to realize that the U.S. is key to financial and economic security. Daniel Moss, Bloomberg

Two decades in exile has made the Taliban much more pragmatic

The Taliban of 2021 are not those of a generation ago. Consistency marks their ideological position today as in the past. But that consistency goes along with a high degree of pragmatism. Now that they have won the war, they can afford to be realistic about how they govern. David J. Wasserstein, The Hill

The Taliban know that terror groups pose an existential threat to their rule

The most important issue, of course, is protection for international terrorists based in Afghanistan. ... The Taliban can probably be trusted on this for several reasons. ... A new terrorist attack on the United States would not lead to a new U.S. invasion, but it would certainly lead to bombardment by U.S. missiles and strong U.S. support for armed uprisings against Taliban rule. Anatol Lieven, Foreign Policy

The U.S. has leverage but must be realistic about its limits

The balance that must be struck now is extremely sensitive. If Afghans compromise too much in believing the Talibans excuses, or the United States and its allies make their expectations of the Taliban too idealistic, an emboldened Taliban would drive the country toward dark days. The price of a failing and isolated Afghanistan will be paid by common Afghans. Obaidullah Baheer, Washington Post


American leaders will ignore Taliban offenses as long as they stay out of the spotlight

The Americans are hoping that the Taliban will relieve them of the burden of the Afghan problem: as long as the Taliban is willing to manage the internal affairs of the country, as the Saudis do, the US is happy to focus on its own domestic affairs. Nelofer Pazira, Irish Times

The Taliban dont have the luxury of being too friendly with the U.S.

If the Taliban embraces a more pluralistic and inclusive political system with fundamental human rights, especially with respect to women, it may face opposition from its more radical factions and rank-and-file members, who have spent years fighting to restore its emirate. Niamatullah Ibrahimi and Safiullah Taye, Conversation

The Taliban are just as brutal as theyve always been

Those who wish to avoid being force-fed their own testicles should probably not read too much into the kinder, gentler Taliban initiatives currently being implemented in Kabul. The Taliban are cruel, but they are not fools, and magnanimity early in their rule does not mean that they will be any less vengeful than they were at the height of their power. Graeme Wood, Atlantic

The Biden administration is naive for thinking it can control the Taliban

U.S. officials have staked the success of their Afghanistan withdrawal strategy on the premise that they can convince the Taliban to live up to commitments they have made in public and private on letting people leave the country, human rights, and other thorny issues. The Biden administrations approach has long sounded credulous to just about anyone without a vested interest in spinning President Bidens chaotic withdrawal effort as a strategic triumph. Jimmy Quinn, National Review

Other world powers could undercut Americas leverage

The administrations repeated threats to turn Afghanistan into a pariah state if the Taliban commits human rights abuses could be undermined if Beijing and Moscow dont cooperate and if a Taliban-led government strengthens ties with Pakistan and Iran. Michael R. Gordon and James Marson, Wall Street Journal

Is there a topic youd like to see covered in The 360? Send your suggestions to the360@yahoonews.com.

Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

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Does the US have any real leverage over the Taliban? - Yahoo News

The Taliban get a Chinese friend – The Sunday Guardian Live – The Sunday Guardian

Dealing with a global crisis like Afghanistan allows China to tell the world that it has the political ambition to work with the Taliban and also tame the Taliban to its terms.

Taliban has found a new friend in need. Only time will tell whether it is a friend indeed.

In a recent press conference, Taliban spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, said, China is our most important partner. He further stated that the Taliban support Chinas One Belt, One Road initiative that seeks to link China with Africa, Asia and Europe through an enormous network of ports, railways, roads and industrial parks. Mujahid said, China is our most important partner and represents a fundamental and extraordinary opportunity for us because it is ready to invest and rebuild our country.

Interestingly, the Taliban spokesperson also elucidated that it is looking at China to rebuild Afghanistan and exploit its rich copper deposits. There are rich copper mines in the country, thanks to the Chinese, can be put into operation and modernized. In addition, China is our pass to markets all over the world.

Even as early as July, Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen noted, We care about the oppression of Muslims, be it in Palestine, in Myanmar, or in China, and we care about the oppression of non-Muslims anywhere in the world. But what we are not going to do is interfere in Chinas internal affairs. During their first-ever press conference on 16 August after seizing power, the Taliban spokesperson said, We want to reassure that Afghanistan will not be used against anybody.

China too has been warming up to the Taliban, stating that China respects Afghanistans sovereignty and will not interfere and follow the friendship with entire Afghan people; Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said that facts show that in realising economic development we need an open inclusive political structure, implementation of moderate foreign and domestic policies and clean break from terrorist groups in all forms.

On 16 August, one day after Kabul fell, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) spokesperson Hua Chunying was asked about potential recognition. She said, We hope the Afghan Taliban can form solidarity with all factions and ethnic groups in Afghanistan and build a broad-based and inclusive political structure.

On the same day, Chinese United Nations envoy Geng Shuang echoed the statement but also noted, Afghanistan must never again become a haven for terrorists. We hope that the Taliban in Afghanistan will earnestly deliver on their commitments and make a clean break with the terrorist organizations.

Two days later, on August 18, there came the strongest hint yet at official recognition of the Taliban by China. It is a customary international practice that the recognition of a government comes after its formation, MFA spokesperson Zhao Lijian said. Most recently, on 25 August, an MFA spokesperson, when asked about a reported meeting the previous day between the Taliban representatives and the Chinese ambassador to Afghanistan, said Beijing stands ready to continue to develop good-neighbourliness, friendship, and cooperation with Afghanistan and play a constructive role in Afghanistans peace and reconstruction.

According to Centre of Foreign Relations in the article by CFR expert, Ian Johnson, it stated, The relationship with the Taliban will be twofold. First, it will be mercantilistic. China will seek to revive business ventures inside Afghanistan, which the Taliban is likely to support because investment will provide badly needed revenues. The Afghan economy is fragile and highly dependent on Western donors foreign aid, which will almost certainly be cut off. So any sort of investment, especially if it is not accompanied by lectures on human rights, will be welcome.

Second, the relationship will depend on each side not interfering in the others internal affairs. For Beijing, that means the Taliban cannot export extremism into Chinas troubled Xinjiang region, which shares a tiny border with Afghanistan, or condemn the Chinese governments abuses against Uyghur Muslims in that region. For the Taliban, it means China will not question the groups human rights abuses unless Chinese citizens are involved.

Derek Grossman, a senior defence analyst at the RAND Corporation in his article on China and the Taliban stated: This new transportation infrastructure, including planned thoroughfares through the narrow Wakhan Corridor that links the two countries, would significantly enhance Beijings ability to access Afghanistans natural resources. According to a 2014 report, Afghanistan may possess nearly $1 trillion worth of extractable rare-earth metals locked within its mountains.

Beijing further has its eye on projects that languished under the previous Afghan government due to a combination of obstacles including archaeological discoveries, security issues, and social impact. Under the Taliban, the future of these projects may be brighter. For example, in 2016, the Taliban offered protection for Chinese workers at the Mes Aynak Copper Mine near Kabul. If Afghanistans new masters are so inclined, Beijing may finally get long-sought-after benefits from a major oil project in northern Afghanistans Amu Darya basin.

Developments since the fall of Kabul strongly suggest China and the Taliban have started off on the right foot. This week, the Taliban spokesperson confirmed the two sides are actively discussing their bilateral relationship, including Chinese humanitarian assistance.

China, has positioned itself as a new great power in competition with the United States, and it will want to demonstrate its way of handling world crisis.

Perhaps most importantly, recognizing Taliban-run Afghanistan would contribute to the perception that it is Beijingand no longer Washingtonthat is now setting the agenda and shaping the future regional order according to Derek Grossman in his analysis on China and the Taliban relationship.

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and the pathetic manner in which the United States handled the Afghan crisis give China a point to rub into the US government, that when push comes to shove, the United States is unreliable and that it fails to walk the talk when it matters most.

China, recognizing the Taliban makes for strange optics: fighting Islamists at home but embracing them abroad. But it shows that China could be the ultimate politics playing nation.

As, Derek Grossman expressed, its still the early days under Taliban rule, so China is understandably cautious. Beijing is concerned the Taliban may reengage in illegal narcotics trafficking to fund their government and return to supporting terrorist attacks outside Afghanistan. Beijing worries the Talibans spectacular success might embolden alleged members of the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, which Chinese authorities have controversially designated as a separatist and terrorist threat in the northwestern Xinjiang province. To date, China has predominantly relied on its ironclad brother Pakistan to do the heavy lifting to prevent fighters from entering Xinjiang or otherwise supporting the outlawed group.

China and the Taliban make strange bedfellows according to most defence analysts, but I do not see it as strange bedfellows. It is merely a relationship of bare necessities.

China wants to establish itself as a global power centre. Dealing with a global crisis like Afghanistan allows for China to tell the world that it has the political ambition to work with the Taliban and also tame the Taliban to its terms. China will play the friend of the Taliban till such time Taliban and its government benefits China. Having Pakistan on its one-side and Afghanistan on the other, with the Taliban gives it a strong and indisputable leverage not only in the region but the world but most all over India.

With the United States being an eagle with its wings clipped by the Taliban, the dragon will roar in Afghanistan while it will let the hyenas enjoy their prey.

Savio Rodrigues is the founder and editor-in-chief of Goa Chronicle.

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The Taliban get a Chinese friend - The Sunday Guardian Live - The Sunday Guardian

What is Owed – The Nation

Freed slaves, 1863. (Bettmann / Getty images)

Reparations are having a moment. This march, Evanston, Ill., became the first government in the United States to attempt to address racial inequality by providing mortgage assistance and $25,000 homeownership and improvement grants to descendants of residents harmed by discriminatory housing policies in the city. Soon afterward, the US House of Representatives began hearings on HR 40, which would create a commission to study reparations for slavery and other forms of discrimination against Black people in the United States. President Biden expressed support for the study and reiterated that support at the commemoration of the 1921 race massacre in Tulsa, Okla., in May. Meanwhile, California became the first state to initiate an official task force to study and develop a reparations plan for African Americans harmed by slavery and its legacies. Books in Review

Bolstered by the Black Lives Matter movement and last summers protests following the murder of George Floyd, support for reparations has also been aided by a growing awareness of the history of slavery and other forms of racial exploitation in the United States. In the past decade, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Nikole Hannah-Jones, and other Black journalists have exposed a broad readership to the question of reparations as well as to the scholarship on slaverys importance in the development of capitalism and American democracy, the racial inequalities inherent to New Deal social policies, and the causes and effects of mass incarceration. By doing so, they helped shift the discussion about racial inequality from a question of marginalization and oppression to a focus on the central role that Black people have played in the economic and political history of the United States. Despite the increasing awareness of this history, however, nearly two-thirds of Americans still oppose federal payments to Black people whose ancestors were enslaved. Opposition is strongest among Republicans, who view reparations as overly divisive and unjustified, but barely half of all Democrats, and only a third of white Democrats, support them.

In From Here to Equality, William A. Darity Jr. and A. Kirsten Mullen draw on both journalistic and scholarly sources to make a strong case for cash payments to Black descendants of slaves. To those who dismiss reparations as a recent claim for an ancient crime, they point out that African Americans have been demanding compensation since the end of slavery and that the debt has been redoubled by officially sanctioned violence and discrimination since abolition. Likewise, to the alarmingly large numbers of Americans, both white and black, who do not believe that racial inequality and discrimination continue to exist, Darity and Mullen provide a detailed analysis of the deep disparities in wealth, income, education, and other measures of well-being that have persisted since emancipation.

Yet despite their clear evidence of the lingering effects of slavery and Jim Crow, Darity and Mullen isolate African American reparations from claims for compensation by Native Americans, immigrants, and others. Not only does this risk alienating potential allies, it also narrows the scope of what the Black freedom movement has almost always pursued: A radical program for economic and racial justice for all Americans.

The core of From Here to Equality is a rich historical account of how the economic inequalities between Black and white Americans were created and perpetuated through centuries of slavery and the legally enforced systems of discrimination and political disfranchisement that followed. Drawing on the work of Anne Farrow, Craig Wilder, Joel Lang, and Jennifer Frank, Darity and Mullen explain that slavery was integral to the nationalnot just the Southerneconomy, and that its proceeds therefore helped establish some of the nations most prominent banks, insurance companies, and universities.

Emphasizing several periods when the United States might have taken a different path, they show how slavery became more durable and racialized in the colonial era and then expanded rapidly in the South after a brief period of ambivalence about it during the Revolution. They also explain how Abraham Lincoln and other Northern politicians sought to avoid conflict by appeasing Southern slave owners, and how their hands were forced by the recalcitrance of the Confederate states, rising opposition to the war among Northern whites, and the insistence of African Americans on turning the war into a fight against slavery.

In Darity and Mullens telling, the Civil War was a critical moment not just because it ended slavery but because it also raised the question of how the formerly enslaved would be compensated for centuries of unpaid labor. They cite the testimony of the formerly enslaved minister Garrison Frazier in 1865, who explained to Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton that the freedom, as I understand itis taking us from under the yoke of bondage, and placing us where we could reap the fruit of our own labor, take care of ourselves, and assist the Government in maintaining our freedom. Current Issue

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This testimony was the inspiration for Shermans famous Field Order No. 15, which would have distributed over 5 million acres of plantation land to formerly enslaved families along the Atlantic coast. A version of Shermans order was taken up by Congress, but in yet another missed opportunity to repair the damage done by slavery, Andrew Johnson vetoed it and returned the land to former slave owners.

But the Civil War was not the last missed opportunity, and a key component of Darity and Mullens case is that the plunder of Black America, as Ta-Nehisi Coates dubbed it, continued unabated throughout the 20th century and into the 21st century. Drawing on the work of Coates and other journalists, sociologists, and historians who have charted this pillage over the past century and a half, Darity and Mullen offer a story of dispossession, exploitation, and disfranchisement whose devastating costs, they argue, also make the case for reparations.

Having explored the centuries of injustice that now demand compensation, Darity and Mullen turn to the most common objections that they have encountered in the 15 years that they have spent researching and developing their case.

Over that period, Darity and Mullen explain, increased awareness of racial inequality has led to a multiplicity of reactions, from challenging the legitimacy of reparations to asking questions about the logistics of a reparations plan. Most of these objections are answered in previous chapters, but they also examine the claims that past injustices were addressed by emancipation, 20th-century social welfare policies, and affirmative action, and they show why all of these are clearly unsatisfactory in the face of the history they have recounted. Indeed, they argue, many of those initiativesin particular welfare and affirmative action programsnot only failed to end racial inequalities but at times deepened them.Related Article

In the final chapters of the book, Darity and Mullen lay out a program for determining who is responsible for paying reparations, who would be eligible, how much would be paid, and how the funds would be distributed.

The detailed history Darity and Mullen present supports the moral and economic claims for reparations. Yet given the persistent opposition, it is puzzling that they describe the potential constituency for reparations in the narrowest possible terms. In written testimony submitted to a congressional hearing on HR 40, Darity suggested that the bill be amended to clarify that it would benefit only people who identify as black, Negro, or African American and have at least one ancestor who was enslaved in the United States. Acknowledging that this excludes post-slavery immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean, whose own ancestors are likely to have been subjected to enslavement and colonialism elsewhere, he suggested they could make their claims against the United Kingdom or France, but not the United States.

In addition to alienating potential allies, the exclusion of Black immigrants from reparations obscures not only the consequences of racism and segregation in the aftermath of emancipation but also the inherently international character of slavery and the inequalities it forged. The scholarship that Darity and Mullen draw on emphasizes the centrality of racial exploitation to the development of the United States, but it also demonstrates that the national story was, as W.E.B. Du Bois put it, but a local phase of a world problem.

The historian Ana Lucia Araujo, in her transnational and comparative history Reparations for Slavery and the Slave Trade, shows that the demand for compensation in the United States has always been related to reparations movements in the Caribbean, South America, and Africa. That tradition is carried on today by the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America, which links demands on the US government with a transnational movement seeking reparations for people of African descent.

To limit the scope of what could be an international movement is a missed opportunity, but it also overlooks the influence of the United States and its role in international slavery and racial inequality. As Araujo explains, the US governments refusal to recognize Haiti weakened the Black-led republic at a time when it was attempting to establish economic independence from Europe and was revised only out of hope that African Americans could be resettled in the Caribbean after the Civil War. Since then, US political, military, and economic power has undermined the economic status of former slaves and their descendants in the Caribbean and Central America and led many of them to seek refuge and opportunity through migration to the United States. Certainly, the US government bears some responsibility for those affected by its imperial power.

And that responsibility does not end with people of African descent. Darity and Mullens account of slaverys centrality to the economic development of the United States includes frequent references to Negro, mulatto and Indian slaves, and as Tiya Miles and other historians have shown, African American history has long been deeply intertwined with that of Native Americans. Commenting on the anniversary of the Tulsa massacre, Robin D.G. Kelley noted, Any discussion of repair and reparations, of grieving and mourning the events of 1921 and its aftermath, must grapple with the colonial violence that made Tulsa or Oklahoma and its settler regime possible.

Darity and Mullen acknowledge that Native Americans could make a far more costly claim on the American government than black Americans, potentially including the entire territory of the United States. Yet rather than casting Indigenous people as potential allies in the demand for reparations, they insist that such claims are irrelevant to the specific urgency of the black reparations claim.

Black West Indians and Latin Americans are not the only immigrants with a potential interest in reparations. Emphasizing the whiteness, education, and wealth that some immigrants have brought with them to the United States, Darity and Mullen conclude that voluntary immigrants who arrived after the end of slavery have benefited from Americas Jim Crow regime and its established and ongoing racial hierarchy and therefore share responsibility for reparations. But what of the Chinese and other Asian immigrants who were deprived of legal protections, landownership, and citizenship by racist exclusion laws; refugees from US military interventions in Afghanistan, Southeast Asia, and Central America; and Mexican guest workers and undocumented migrants who powered the internal colonialism that, according to the historian Mae Ngai, was also central to the economic development of the southwestern United States? As Erika Lees recent history of xenophobia shows, anti-immigrant sentiment has often been closely linked to anti-Black racism.

These histories may help explain why Asian and Latino Americans are far more supportive of reparations for slavery than white Americans, and why, rather than dismiss all immigrants as beneficiaries of racial inequality, we should ask which among them might find common cause in a movement to end it.

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In the context of an increasingly racially diverse United States, the need for allies is an issue of strategy as much as of justice. Acknowledging that not enough Americans support reparations, Darity and Mullen caution that their proposals will not be possible without a dramatic change in national leadership and an inspired national movement dedicated to the fulfillment of the goal of racial justice. With African Americans holding steady at roughly 12 percent of the population, it is difficult to see how they could build such a movement on their own. Darity and Mullen suggest that support could also come from whites descended from slave owners who are seeking atonement, but guilt seems a weak foundation for a political alliance. It seems more feasible to build a coalition of those with an interest in repairing the damage done by slavery and other forms of racial exploitation.

But if we are to build such a movement, its demands have to go beyond just one groups claims and one policy program alone. Darity and Mullen describe the goal of reparations as sharp and enduring reductions in racial disparities, particularly economic disparities like racial wealth inequality, and corresponding sharp and enduring improvements in black well-being. These are admirable objectives, but even with reparations and the reduction of these racial disparities in wealth, African Americans would still face other falling standards of well-being endured by Americans as a whole. For example, if Black families were equal to white ones, their median net worth would increase from $23,000 to $184,000, but most of their gains would go to a few wealthy households: 10% of Black families would control 76% of Black household wealth while just 1% would go to the poorest half of Black families. To use another metric, in an economically equal United States, African Americans would likely still be killed by police and be incarcerated at far higher levels than citizens of nearly every other nation in the world. Likewise, they would still likely fall victim to a health care system that prioritizes profit and a labor market that values productivity over humanity. Yet Darity and Mullen assert that once the reparations program is executed and racial inequality eliminated, African Americans would make no further claims for race-specific policies on their behalf from the American governmenton the assumption that no new race-specific injustices are inflicted upon them.

In his opening address at the 1963 March on Washington, A. Philip Randolph characterized the Black freedom movement as a massive moral revolution aimed not only at securing equal access to voting rights, government services, public accommodations, and jobs, but also at creating a society where the sanctity of private property takes second place to the sanctity of the human personality. Americans of all races had a stake in that transformation, he explained, but it falls to the Negro to reassert this proper priority of values, because our ancestors were transformed from human personalities into private property. Darity and Mullen draw a far more modest lesson from the African American struggle against slavery, Jim Crow, and other forms of racial exploitation. Their demand for repayment of the wealth and income taken since the nations founding is worthy in its own right and would help address the deep economic disparities between Black and white Americans. Yet as Randolph suggested, the legacy of these freedom struggles is far more ambitious and revolutionary than the simple calculus of compensation.

Any political movement powerful enough to secure policies sufficient to repair the damage inflicted by centuries of slavery and other forms of racial oppression in the United States will also have the power to secure a more radical and enduring transformation of our social and political order, and it should do so for practical and moral reasons. To win reparations will require allies who have a shared interest in addressing the countrys history of racial exploitation, but it will also need more expansive forms of solidarity and systemic change. As Randolph observed over 50 years ago, Black people are in the forefront of todays movement for social and racial justice, because we know we cannot expect the realization of our aspirations through the same old anti-democratic social institutions and philosophies that have all along frustrated our aspirations.

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What is Owed - The Nation

[Visual History of Korea] Worlds first case of press oppression – The Korea Herald

Ven. Jibong, the founder of Yeongcheon History Museum, speaks about Minganinswaejobo, the worlds first commercial newspaper, at Yonghwasa temple in Yeongcheon, North Gyeongsang Province.Photo 2020 Hyungwon Kang

King Seonjo, the 14th king of the Joseon Kingdom, clearly understood that newspapers write the first draft of history, during what was to be the worlds first case of press oppression in 1577.

The first commercial newspaper printed with movable types was in Korea during the years of King Seonjo, said the Ven. Jibong of the Yeongcheon History Museum.

Following three months of the historic printing of the worlds first commercial newspaper in 1577, 30 entrepreneurs and their families mysteriously vanished from Seoul.

The Joseon Wangjo Sillok, or the Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty, which is the most detailed historical record of any kingdom in the world, listed on UNESCOs Memory of the World registry, recorded the historic feat by a group of entrepreneurs and their subsequent torture, followed by their disappearance in 1577.

The Nov. 24, 1577, edition of the Minganinswaejobo, the worlds first daily commercial newspaper printed with movable types, shows the use of both metal and wooden types. The wooden types print bolder while metal types print with finer lines.Photo 2020 Hyungwon Kang

Because of that incident, records of King Seonjo are thinner than those of other kings, and are supplemented with contemporaneous notes, called Sukdam diary. It contains interactions with the king by Yi Yeul-gok, one of the two most prominent scholars of all of Joseon period, who taught kings.

The Joseon Kingdom released a daily handwritten government communique, called Jobo, which included vast information about the palace, and governmental personnel appointments for the entire country.

Representatives from regional areas posted in the capital city would hand-copy information relevant to their respective regions, allowing the news from the capital to be delivered to far corners of the land within days. It would be read by a select few educated scholars and officials who needed to stay informed of the kingdoms affairs.

Because the handwritten Jobo was written in extreme cursive, intended only for the esoteric and select few readers, it did not serve the wider public.

Even though Korea had already invented movable metal type printing during the Goryeo Kingdom (918-1392), the printing technology was the exclusive domain of the government and of Buddhist temples.

In 1577, a group of entrepreneurs, who had received official permission, started printing a daily newspaper summarizing the vast amount of communique from the government and translating the difficult cursive into a legible format.

The printed newspaper was quite popular among the government officials and noblemen, wrote Yi in the Sukdam diary.

It was about two months after that King Seonjo got wind of the news.

King Seonjo, who was sensitive to his less-than-perfect royal lineage, was enraged to learn that in addition to his governments handwritten daily communique, private newspapers were being printed, featuring news from the palace, including about the health of Queen Inseong, also known as Queen Dowager Gongui, the widow of King Injong, the 12th King of Joseon and King Seonjos uncle.

Even though private citizens were publishing the newspaper using a private printing press, with permission from two of the highest branches of government, a modern-day equivalent of the Chief of Staffs office and the Constitutional Court office, King Seonjo was furious that citizens were publishing their own newspaper.

Is it not the same as setting up another National Archive Bureau when people are selectively printing the news? King Seonjo was quoted as saying in the records.

King Seonjo ordered the metal and wooden types carved by the entrepreneurs for printing the newspaper to be confiscated.

He had all the involved parties imprisoned and suspects tortured to get to the bottom of who organized the so-called crime.

Since the rise of modern newspapers in the 19th century, historians have been searching for physical evidence of the first commercially and privately printed newspaper with movable type, but for centuries it was never located, until the 21st century.

Ven. Jibong, the director of Yeongcheon History Museum, is an art historian who identified the printed newspaper from 1577 when it appeared on an internet auction site trading in rare books.

The November 1577, newspaper, which is the worlds first daily commercial newspaper printed with movable types, shows several variations of the Hanja character horse () in varying sizes and style. Photo 2020 Hyungwon Kang

The newspaper clipping had references to Queen Inseong, the widow of King Injong.

Ven. Jibong knew about the queen through a painting that was commissioned and installed at the Dogapsa Buddhist temple in South Jeolla Province. The 1550 painting, which was commissioned in King Injongs honor by his widow, has since been stolen, and is now being kept at a temple in Kyoto, Japan.

The Placenta Chamber of King Injong, whose reign lasted only eight months and seven days, the shortest of all Joseon kings, was the other clue that led to the missing newspaper from 1577.

Two Hanja characters sang () are printed with movable wood type (top) and metal type (bottom) in this close-up image of the Nov. 24, 1577, publication of the worlds first daily commercial newspaper.Photo 2020 Hyungwon Kang

The private newspaper that ran an article documenting Queen Inseongs health must have troubled King Seonjo. One day before her death, he asked for everyone to pray for the Queen, granted pardon to King Injongs uncle, and asked his ministers not to make any issue of the granting of the pardon in the future.

King Injongs uncle was killed by a brother of infamous Queen Munjeong, stepmother of King Injong. She was suspected of murdering King Injong and ruled the kingdom as the regent for her son, King Myeongjong, who succeeded King Injong, at age 12, as the 13th King of Joseon.

For many years, Queen Inseong had pleaded with King Seonjo to pardon her husbands uncle who was murdered under infamous Queen Munjeongs rule. But King Seonjo could not restore honor to a man whose family had feuded with Queen Munjeongs family, when Queen Munjeong enabled King Seonjo to become the first King of Joseon from a nonmain bloodline of the royal family.

Joseon-period handwritten government issued communique (right) and the worlds first daily commercial newspaper printed with movable types, the Minganinswaejobo, are on display side by side in Yeongcheon, North Gyeongsang Province.Photo 2020 Hyungwon Kang

By Hyungwon Kang (hyungwonkang@gmail.com)

Korean American photojournalist and columnist Hyungwon Kang is currently documenting Korean history and culture with images and words for future generations.

By Korea Herald (koreaherald@heraldcorp.com)

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[Visual History of Korea] Worlds first case of press oppression - The Korea Herald

Guest View: Rise of the Taliban and defeat of the U.S. – The Register-Guard

M. Reza Behnam| Guest View

The most powerful military in the world has been defeated by men in sandals in a desperately impoverished country about the size of Texas with a population of more than 37 million. The Taliban victory has also dealt a blow to Americas pursuit of hegemony in the Middle East and to its power globally.

The chaos at the airport in Kabul, caused by Americas sudden withdrawal from Afghanistan, has not shifted attention away from the fact that the Taliban have won a decisive military and political victory over the foreign invaders. In addressing the nation, President Joe Biden stated that he had factored in chaos in his withdrawal plans a remark that runs counter to his promise to adhere to a humane foreign policy.

Americas 20-year occupation of Afghanistan has ended. President George W. Bushs war on terror, which began with the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, was built on lies. At home, the absence of truth has given rise to distrust of government and has further weakened the political and social fabric of the country.

Reflection has not been Americas, especially Washingtons, mtier. It is important to weigh the reasons behind Americas colonial adventure in Afghanistan and why it was destined to fail.

Guest view: Military may be climate's biggest enemy

The military mission in Afghanistan has been about defending U.S. geopolitical and economic interests in the region. It has not been, as we have been told, about democracy, freedom and defending human rights.

To understand Washingtons interest in Afghanistan, it is important to recognize the countrys strategic geographical location. Afghanistan at the crossroads of Asia connects the Middle East with Central Asia and India. It is near the Caspian Sea region, reported to contain the second largest reserves of petroleum and natural gas in the world.

Opinion: We can still show strength in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is well-situated for oil and gas pipelines pipelines that can bypass Iran and Russia. Since the 1980s, Washington has fashioned numerous pipeline plans that have been delayed or canceled due to political, military or financialproblems.

In 1979, the United States established a military presence in Afghanistan in order to keep the Soviet Union out of the oil-rich Persian Gulf. In that year, the United States armed and financed the mujaheddin which included young Pashtun Taliban to overthrow and fight the Kremlin-supported Communist government in Kabul. In so doing, the United States successfully lured the Russians into a 10-year military quagmire in Afghanistan.

The collapse of the Communist government in 1989 paved the way for Taliban control of Afghanistan in 1996. And in a twist of fate, Washington found itself fighting the Taliban forces it had helped create.

During the 1990s, the United States was willing to overlook the repressive practices of the Taliban government in order to maintain a presence in Central Asia and to move ahead with pipeline access through Afghanistan.

The United States has established military bases throughout the Arab Middle East, Israel, Turkey, Central Asia, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Forced to exit Afghanistan, the United States has been deprived of its Afghan base in Central Asia. A lingering question is whether Washington negotiated some future pipeline security with the Taliban before withdrawing.

The Taliban have derailed Washingtons hegemonic plans for the Middle East and Central Asia. China and Russia are now positioned to solidify their presence in the region and to acquire the pipeline access, which has been so coveted by the United States.

It is contrary to reason for Washington to claim that it has been in Afghanistan to benefit the people when tens of thousands of Afghans, who had nothing to do with 9/11, have suffered profoundly because President Bush decided to invade and build a nation transform the government and society in Americas image.

The oppression of women under former Taliban rule is often cited to defend Americas occupation of Afghanistan. U.S. bombs, however, have not discriminated they have been gender-neutral.

That 34 Afghan provinces fell to the Taliban without a fight is evidence that no guerrilla insurgency can win victories without popular support. As the only organized force fighting the American occupation, Afghans turned to the Taliban to provide peace, order and security. They chose the Taliban over foreign occupation. Ultimately, the United States was defeated by the injustice, corruption, inequality and violence brought by the war and their occupation of Afghanistan.

M. Reza Behnam, Ph.D., is a political scientist whose specialties include American foreign policy and the history, politics and governments of the Middle East.

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Guest View: Rise of the Taliban and defeat of the U.S. - The Register-Guard

Political thought The threat from the illiberal left – The Economist

Sep 4th 2021

SOMETHING HAS gone very wrong with Western liberalism. At its heart classical liberalism believes human progress is brought about by debate and reform. The best way to navigate disruptive change in a divided world is through a universal commitment to individual dignity, open markets and limited government. Yet a resurgent China sneers at liberalism for being selfish, decadent and unstable. At home, populists on the right and left rage at liberalism for its supposed elitism and privilege.

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Over the past 250 years classical liberalism has helped bring about unparalleled progress. It will not vanish in a puff of smoke. But it is undergoing a severe test, just as it did a century ago when the cancers of Bolshevism and fascism began to eat away at liberal Europe from within. It is time for liberals to understand what they are up against and to fight back.

Nowhere is the fight fiercer than in America, where this week the Supreme Court chose not to strike down a draconian and bizarre anti-abortion law. The most dangerous threat in liberalisms spiritual home comes from the Trumpian right. Populists denigrate liberal edifices such as science and the rule of law as faades for a plot by the deep state against the people. They subordinate facts and reason to tribal emotion. The enduring falsehood that the presidential election in 2020 was stolen points to where such impulses lead. If people cannot settle their differences using debate and trusted institutions, they resort to force.

The attack from the left is harder to grasp, partly because in America liberal has come to include an illiberal left. We describe this week how a new style of politics has recently spread from elite university departments. As young graduates have taken jobs in the upmarket media and in politics, business and education, they have brought with them a horror of feeling unsafe and an agenda obsessed with a narrow vision of obtaining justice for oppressed identity groups. They have also brought along tactics to enforce ideological purity, by no-platforming their enemies and cancelling allies who have transgressedwith echoes of the confessional state that dominated Europe before classical liberalism took root at the end of the 18th century.

Superficially, the illiberal left and classical liberals like The Economist want many of the same things. Both believe that people should be able to flourish whatever their sexuality or race. They share a suspicion of authority and entrenched interests. They believe in the desirability of change.

However, classical liberals and illiberal progressives could hardly disagree more over how to bring these things about. For classical liberals, the precise direction of progress is unknowable. It must be spontaneous and from the bottom upand it depends on the separation of powers, so that nobody nor any group is able to exert lasting control. By contrast the illiberal left put their own power at the centre of things, because they are sure real progress is possible only after they have first seen to it that racial, sexual and other hierarchies are dismantled.

This difference in method has profound implications. Classical liberals believe in setting fair initial conditions and letting events unfold through competitionby, say, eliminating corporate monopolies, opening up guilds, radically reforming taxation and making education accessible with vouchers. Progressives see laissez-faire as a pretence which powerful vested interests use to preserve the status quo. Instead, they believe in imposing equitythe outcomes that they deem just. For example, Ibram X. Kendi, a scholar-activist, asserts that any colour-blind policy, including the standardised testing of children, is racist if it ends up increasing average racial differentials, however enlightened the intentions behind it.

Mr Kendi is right to want an anti-racist policy that works. But his blunderbuss approach risks denying some disadvantaged children the help they need and others the chance to realise their talents. Individuals, not just groups, must be treated fairly for society to flourish. Besides, society has many goals. People worry about economic growth, welfare, crime, the environment and national security, and policies cannot be judged simply on whether they advance a particular group. Classical liberals use debate to hash out priorities and trade-offs in a pluralist society and then use elections to settle on a course. The illiberal left believe that the marketplace of ideas is rigged just like all the others. What masquerades as evidence and argument, they say, is really yet another assertion of raw power by the elite.

Progressives of the old school remain champions of free speech. But illiberal progressives think that equity requires the field to be tilted against those who are privileged and reactionary. That means restricting their freedom of speech, using a caste system of victimhood in which those on top must defer to those with a greater claim to restorative justice. It also involves making an example of supposed reactionaries, by punishing them when they say something that is taken to make someone who is less privileged feel unsafe. The results are calling-out, cancellation and no-platforming.

Milton Friedman once said that the society that puts equality before freedom will end up with neither. He was right. Illiberal progressives think they have a blueprint for freeing oppressed groups. In reality theirs is a formula for the oppression of individualsand, in that, it is not so very different from the plans of the populist right. In their different ways both extremes put power before process, ends before means and the interests of the group before the freedom of the individual.

Countries run by the strongmen whom populists admire, such as Hungary under Viktor Orban and Russia under Vladimir Putin, show that unchecked power is a bad foundation for good government. Utopias like Cuba and Venezuela show that ends do not justify means. And nowhere at all do individuals willingly conform to state-imposed racial and economic stereotypes.

When populists put partisanship before truth, they sabotage good government. When progressives divide people into competing castes, they turn the nation against itself. Both diminish institutions that resolve social conflict. Hence they often resort to coercion, however much they like to talk about justice.

If classical liberalism is so much better than the alternatives, why is it struggling around the world? One reason is that populists and progressives feed off each other pathologically. The hatred each camp feels for the other inflames its own supportersto the benefit of both. Criticising your own tribes excesses seems like treachery. Under these conditions, liberal debate is starved of oxygen. Just look at Britain, where politics in the past few years was consumed by the rows between uncompromising Tory Brexiteers and the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn.

Aspects of liberalism go against the grain of human nature. It requires you to defend your opponents right to speak, even when you know they are wrong. You must be willing to question your deepest beliefs. Businesses must not be sheltered from the gales of creative destruction. Your loved ones must advance on merit alone, even if all your instincts are to bend the rules for them. You must accept the victory of your enemies at the ballot box, even if you think they will bring the country to ruin.

In short, it is hard work to be a genuine liberal. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, when their last ideological challenger seemed to crumble, arrogant elites lost touch with liberalisms humility and self-doubt. They fell into the habit of believing they were always right. They engineered Americas meritocracy to favour people like them. After the financial crisis, they oversaw an economy that grew too slowly for people to feel prosperous. Far from treating white working-class critics with dignity, they sneered at their supposed lack of sophistication.

This complacency has let opponents blame lasting imperfections on liberalismand, because of the treatment of race in America, to insist the whole country was rotten from the start. In the face of persistent inequality and racism, classical liberals can remind people that change takes time. But Washington is broken, China is storming ahead and people are restless.

The ultimate complacency would be for classical liberals to underestimate the threat. Too many right-leaning liberals are inclined to choose a shameless marriage of convenience with populists. Too many left-leaning liberals focus on how they, too, want social justice. They comfort themselves with the thought that the most intolerant illiberalism belongs to a fringe. Dont worry, they say, intolerance is part of the mechanism of change: by focusing on injustice, they shift the centre ground.

Yet it is precisely by countering the forces propelling people to the extremes that classical liberals prevent the extremes from strengthening. By applying liberal principles, they help solve societys many problems without anyone resorting to coercion. Only liberals appreciate diversity in all its forms and understand how to make it a strength. Only they can deal fairly with everything from education to planning and foreign policy so as to release peoples creative energies. Classical liberals must rediscover their fighting spirit. They should take on the bullies and cancellers. Liberalism is still the best engine for equitable progress. Liberals must have the courage to say so.

This article appeared in the Leaders section of the print edition under the headline "The threat from the illiberal left"

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Political thought The threat from the illiberal left - The Economist

Afghanistan and the colonial project of feminism: dismantling the binary lens – EUROPP – European Politics and Policy

Afghan women are not just victims of conflict but also of rhetoric.Ruhi Khan, ESRC Researcher at LSEs Media & Communication department, argues that we need to break away from binary viewpoints on Afghanistan, probe deeper into coloniality and the history of feminism in the global south and include it into the larger geo-political feminist epistemology.

A young woman just 27 years old was beaten to death in the centre of Kabul by a mob. Her crime? She called out a religious vendor (mullah) selling holy verses on paper which he promised were powerful spells promising the hearts desires. The mullah was agitated that a woman had challenged him and falsely accused her of desecrating the Holy Quran. Soon a mob joined the chorus and started pelting her with stones and sticks, kicking her and hitting her. They tied the badly beaten woman to a car and drove it around until she succumbed to her injuries. Her broken body was thrown along the riverbank and torched.

This was not a witch hunt in the remote hamlets of Afghanistan. Nor did this happen under the Taliban rule. This crime happened in March 2015 in the liberalised Afghanistan under the watch of the allied forces and close to the palace of a progressive President.

Farkhunda Malikzadas story is important to understand the perils of the binary viewpoint that the world has of Afghanistan. When America sold the justification for the war in 2001, women became the central focus. How the Afghan women were subjugated and oppressed by the Taliban made global headlines. Their only savour, we were told, were the Western forces that would set them free by establishing a government that looked out for the women and a rule of law that protected them. We were given only two choices oppression by the Taliban or freedom by the Western invasion. There was no room for an alternative.

Farkhunda was a student of Islamic law and wore the veil, but she was also brave enough to stand up to a man against what she believed were un-Islamic practices. The barbaric actions of the mob captured on video, the incompetence of the Afghan police who stood by and watched the attack, the indifference of the hundreds who cheered or mutely witnessed the atrocities unfold, the sheer brutality of this gendered violence shows that little had changed in Afghanistan when it is not looked at through the rose-tinted glasses of the Western aid agencies.

When America sold the justification for the war in 2001, women became the central focus.

Farkhundas killers were not the Taliban, but city folks from the custodian of a religious shrine to street vendors, from the Afghan police to a 16-year-old boy who was part of the bloodthirsty mob. Many did not don religious attire or sport turbans and long beards, but were clean shaven and wore jeans and tee shirts, some were educated and some grew up in a US-occupied Afghanistan with its liberal dose of womens rights. Yet they were culpable of committing a murder over a rumour. The new Afghan legal system failed to give Farkhunda justice.

However, in an unprecedented display of feminist solidarity, Farkhundas burial saw women carrying her coffin chanting We are all Farkhunda and over 1000 people both men and women attended the funeral. But the spectacle of her murder, the re-enactment of the crime, the twist and turns of the narratives around it, the global outrage (however meagre) propelled this story to be exploited by many for their own socio-political gains, with little focus on structural changes that could prevent another Farkhunda.

If Farkhundas murder teaches us one thing, it is that there are no binaries in Afghanistan: The West is not the saviour of Afghan women. And the Taliban is not the only monster.

If Farkhundas murder teaches us one thing, it is that there are no binaries in Afghanistan: The West is not the saviour of Afghan women. And the Taliban is not the only monster.

The binary thinking of the saviour and the monster can be traced to colonial discourses dominated by what is often termed the white saviour complex. This sentiment was clearly evident in the American First Lady Laura Bushs radio address to her country in November 2001: Because of our recent military gains in much of Afghanistan, women are no longer imprisoned in their homes. They can listen to music and teach their daughters without fear of punishment. The fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women.

By terming the American military attack as heroic and a much-needed intervention to protect the women of Afghanistan from the men within their fold, the First Lady affirmed the subjectivity of the White western male saviour by exploiting the psychological subjugation of the Brown Afghans. Indeed, here the subjects of the Global South the Afghan women and girls are simply used as objects to confirm the White subjectivity through a sense of gratefulness to the White Saviour.

This also exemplifies a clash of civilisations discourse, which is aided by creating a visual palette in the form of photographs and videos that juxtapose the self with the Other. Womens oppression served as an excellent marker to constitute this visual binary. Images began floating in newsprint and television of Afghan women in short skirts alongside those now in full burqa, or of Western women enjoying a music concert with veiled young girls huddled together outside a closed school.

The struggles of the white, heterosexual, elite, western woman have gained currency as the only history of feminism setting itself up as a role model for the rest of the world. Any woman who does not fit this image is deemed oppressed and in need of saving, making her a white mans burden and the white feminists cause clbre. Hence it is important to deconstruct the normative western feminist notions of gender and bring into focus indigenous understandings of gender from the global south and include it into the larger geo-political feminist epistemology.

The struggles of the white, heterosexual, elite, western woman have gained currency as the only history of feminism setting itself up as a role model for the rest of the world

The image of the Afghan woman draped in the head-to-foot burqa became the justification of a military action. The idea that Afghan (read Muslim) women needed saving became the central focus. The identity of global south women is constructed through the western lens and their agency disavowed within a global discourse. This is highly problematic if not understood in a historical and contextual framework. It also reinforces a sense of Western arrogance that their way of life is superior and unchallenged. This binary of the West and global south is simplistic in its construction as it fails to consider that the West is also shrouded in intersectional structural inequalities and gendered violence.

Few understand the country of Afghanistan its demography, politics or culture. The US and the Taliban were not always pitched on opposite sides. The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in 1979 got American presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan supporting and arming the resistance fighters (mujahideen) who have now become the Taliban. In fact one of the USs closest ally was mujahideen leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, infamous for throwing acid on the faces of women who did not wear the burqa, while the US turned a blind eye.

Many of the Afghan population live in villages and hamlets where the tribal leaders hold a huge sway. Occupation by one foreign force after another British, Russians, US and its allies has only fuelled a revival of extreme religious bigotry as a mode of what they term self-preservation. The foreign occupying army has been equated with liberal thought and the resistance against both has been building. The global discourse (or lack of) on Afghanistans economy and politics coupled with corruption and disregard for the rural poor has left a gaping hole that the militant Taliban filled.

To many women living in the remote mountainous hamlets of the ravaged country, food and healthcare are priorities over education and employment. Mini-skirts and music concerts are not the aspirational goals for many Afghan women. And not all women who wear the veil are subjugated. Making it the central focus of liberation of the Afghan women alienates those who find comfort behind the layers of the garment. Issues around womens education and employment opportunities were largely focussed on select cities while corruption and unfair practices in the government were widespread.

It is impossible to isolate gender from the many cultural and political intersections through which it is constituted and maintained, and it is therefore important to understand and include the complexities of compoundness to explore the diverse experiences of differently positioned women and to make visible the collaboration that exists between systemic gender violence and the power equations that exist between individuals and groups for or against feminist causes and their intersectional differences.

The binary of the white men saving brown women from brown men (as scholar Gayatri Spivak eloquently puts it) is a narrative that needs to be challenged as it erases the history of feminisms within the global south.

Independence belongs to all of us that that is why we celebrate it. Do you think, however, that our nation from the outset needs only men to serve it? Women should also take their part as women did in the early years of our nation and Islam. From their examples we must learn that we must all contribute toward the development of our nation and that this cannot be done without being equipped with knowledge. So, we should all attempt to acquire as much knowledge as possible, in order that we may render our services to society in the manner of the women of early IslamAfghan Queen Soraya Tarzi, 1926

These words of Soraya Tarzi (1899-1968), Queen consort to King Amanullah Khan but better known as the Human Rights Queen of Afghanistan, paved the way for a new Afghanistan in the 1920s. She was born in the Ottoman-controlled Syria to exiled parents Asma and Mahmud Beg Tarzi, who in the early 20th century returned to Afghanistan at the behest of King Habibullah and started the first modern newspaper- Seraj-ul-Akbhar. It gave voice to women under the banner Celebrating Women of the World, edited by Asma. Ideas of womens education and liberty were often discussed. King Habibullahs son Amanullah fell in love and married Soraya in 1913.

After Habibullahs assassination in 1918, Amanullah took to the throne and successfully defeated the British in the third Anglo-Afghan war in 1919. The newly liberated Afghanistan saw a new constitution one that also saw women being liberated from the regressive traditional cultural norms. Amanullah treated Soraya as a partner in his endeavours to modernise the country.

In a dramatic public event, the royal couple introduced the idea of popular feminism. King Amanullah made a powerful speech stressing that Islam did not ask women to wear the veil, at the end of which Queen Soraya publicly tore her veil. Many other women then followed suit. New reforms made wearing the veil optional in Afghanistan.

Reforms by Amanullahs government included abolishment of slavery and the banning of child marriage, polygamy, revenge killing and bride prices. Soraya was the first woman minister for education, started a school for girls and sent her two daughters to it. She also began the first womens magazine in Afghanistan called Ershad-I-Niswan (Guidance for Women). She founded a grievance centre for women suffering from domestic violence and created a special task force a kind of an all-women secret service- to monitor men who abused women. One of Amanullahs sisters founded a hospital and another started an organisation that supported women suffering from oppression. In the 1920s, none other than the Royal family of Afghanistan sowed ideas of feminism by leading from the front.

It is little wonder that women in Afghanistan earned the right to vote after the country won independence from Britain in 1919,one year before women in the United States were allowed at the polls and almost a decade before women in the UK gained the same voting rights as men. Amanullah also introduced a social insurance to provide pensions linked to old age and disability, sickness and maternity benefits and workers compensation (a decade before the US).

To encourage womens education, the royal couple helped facilitate 15 women to go to Turkey to study in 1928. In fact, the King and Queen received honorary degrees from University of Oxford during their tour of Europe in 1927-1928. However, this tour also backfired. It was widely suspected that the British leaked photographs of the tour to the traditionalists in Afghan villages, who used them to instigate the rural masses against the royal couple.

More reforms on the return and in particular a separation of the state and church (mosque in this case) and a Western judiciary (instead of the Shariah law) led to more angst against the monarchy by the traditionalists. Amanullah soon faced a coup by the tribal leaders and the royal family had to flee to Europe in 1929. Soon all their reforms were reversed and the new patriarchal ruler stripped women of their hard-earned rights.

Soraya and Amanullahs story and those of others like them are often lost in grand Western narrative of feminism that has always only visualised global south women as subjugated and oppressed, and men as tyrants and barbaric.

In 2020, Time magazine posthumously put Soraya Tarzi on the cover of the 1927 edition calling her a progressive royal acknowledging her contributions to the womens cause in Afghanistan. But Soraya and Amanullahs story and those of others like them are often lost in grand Western narrative of feminism that has always only visualised global south women as subjugated and oppressed, and men as tyrants and barbaric. The two Afghan Royals were forging a path of progress for women in Afghanistan, yet it was a journey cut short, not just by the religious bigots but also by the British whose political interests superseded women reforms.

It is heart-breaking to know that the generation of girls that grew up believing that they were free to pursue their dreams and realise their potential will now have to hide their degrees and give up their professions as their futures remain uncertain.

By occupying Afghanistan for two decades, the US, UK and allies are duty bound to save the Afghans. A deal has been struck between the Taliban and the US that benefits their political and economic interests, but does this include safeguarding the rights of women and the vulnerable not just on paper but in practice? What would be the consequences should the Taliban renege on its promises? Who will be held accountable?

The Western leaders who once rallied support for the invasion of Afghanistan on the womens liberation card, now seem to have abandoned those very women who were promised safety and security as they enrolled in education institutions, joined the workforce and took up political positions. Today as the expats flee, many natives are left behind, waiting to be killed.

As Taliban establishes its rule in Afghanistan, the future of the country is unpredictable and the situation for women is frightening. Many are expecting to be at the end of a barrel of a patriarchal gun both figuratively and literally. Remember Malala Yousufzai? The next one may not be a survivor.

We, as global citizens, need to rally our support, pressure our governments and the international agencies to protect the Afghan women and other vulnerable citizens. We need to open our borders and our minds to break through the binaries of rhetoric thrusted on us and demand a better outcome an outcome that enables an orderly transition, safeguards the vulnerable and does not turn back the clock on gender reforms.

Women in Afghanistan are counting on our support. We cannot abandon them now.

This article givesthe views of the author and does not represent the position of theMedia@LSE blog, nor of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Image credit

Image 1: Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona via Unsplash

Image 2: Andre Klimke via Unsplash

Image 3: Isaak Alexandre Karslian via Unsplash


Afghanistan and the colonial project of feminism: dismantling the binary lens - EUROPP - European Politics and Policy

The unjust war in Afghanistan and the continuing people’s struggle against oppression – Davao Today

A friend and colleague jokingly asked if the Bangsamoro people are celebrating the August 15 victory of the Taliban over the US-trained Afghan National Defence Security Forces and the US-installed and backed Afghan puppet government.

Based on the social media posts and messages and the talks in the streets, I would say that fellow Bangsamoro are very careful of their opinions, lest they be accused of harboring terroristic ideas again.

Harboring terroristic ideals was an accusation hurled by President Rodrigo Duterte at the Meranaw people to justify the Philippine governments military airstrikes in Marawi City and his declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao in May 2017.

Not to mention that the Muslim communities here in the Philippines have been perenially accused of harboring terrorists, and during the Operation Enduring Freedom was dubbed as the second front of the war on terror which led to the deployment of US soldiers in Mindanao for military exercises on a rotational basis.

But how can we celebrate, when weve seen what we have been warning the world about during our protests against the US-led global war on terror, the consequent US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and the continuing military occupation of Afghanistan? That this would only lead to un-peace and destruction of Afghanistan.

The International League of Peoples Struggle (ILPS), the network our group belongs to, has said that the fall of the US-installed and US-backed Ashraf Ghani regime not only exposed the defeat of US imperialism but also how unjust the US war and occupation was.

The US military invasion, occupation and intervention was unjust because the Afghan people bore the brunt of the military operations and encounters with the Taliban. There were 2.7 million Afghans who were forced to seek refuge in other countries while 4 million were internally displaced due to incessant military airstrikes in areas they believe were hideouts of the Taliban, Osama Bin Laden and the Al Qaeda network.

The US government created a condition for the Taliban to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people. Decades of political and economic intervention by the US government in Afghanistan has pushed the Afghan people to see the Taliban as their liberators. ILPS chair emeritus Jose Maria Sison even said that in the absence of a capable revolutionary party, the Taliban group played a progressive role in fighting imperialism and the brutal puppet regime.

There were numerous reports of civilian casualties and human rights violations during the whole decade of US military intervention. According to the Cost of War Project by Brown University, 157,000 people died throughout the US occupation of Afghanistan and civilian casualties reached 47,245.

The project also reported that the number of civilians killed due to military airstrikes by US forces and its allies has increased to 330% since 2017.

The Human Rights Watch had a report about civilians bearing the brunt of night raids by CIA-backed Afghan Strike Forces from the years 2017 to mid-2019 due to mistaken identity, poor intelligence or political rivalry.

In her book Drones and Targeted Killing, law professor and former deputy secretary-general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers Marjorie Cohn wrote that the US government has killed more civilians with the use of targeted killings drone strikes, manned bombers and military raids.

A United Nations data cited by the International NGO, Save the Children, showed that at least 26,025 children were killed or maimed in the years 2005-2019 and that this was due to the attacks on schools by military airstrike of the US and Afghan forces and suicide attacks by the Taliban insurgents.

It is important that we be reminded of these reports because until now, no one from the proponents or architects of the US-led invasion and military occupation in Afghanistan were held accountable. No tribunals were held for war crimes against the people of Afghanistan.

Ive been hearing from CNN the word democracy and the death of it due to the takeover of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Was the US-controlled Afghan government democratic? Was the US invasion and decades of intervention in Afghanistan democratic?

Years of occupation and installing puppet regimes also failed to bring the much-touted democracy, development and genuine peace in the country.

According to the Asian Development Bank, people who live below the national poverty line in Afghanistan reached 47.3% out of 39 million last year while the unemployment rate was at 11.7%.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2020 Afghanistan Humanitarian Needs Overview, posted at the USAID website, 8.2 million people in Afghanistan are in need of emergency food and agricultural livelihoods assistance while 11 million Afghans are acutely and severely food insecure or lacked access to affordable and healthy food.

The continuing struggle against oppression

The news footage played over and over again in the US mainstream media of Afghans attempting to hold on to a US military plane as it took off from the Kabul airport does not only show the desperation of the Afghan people who figured in the US occupation and the puppet government to get out of Afghanistan and escape the Talibans reprisal.

To many, it only shows the true colors of the US government, that in times of crisis they are the first to get out of the country and leave all the mess behind. An opinion in the Wall Street Journal pointed out that the US government had no treaty obligation to protect the Afghan government from its enemies.

Imperialist powers should be reminded that the Afghan people have long fought wars of aggression from the British and Russian empires to the Soviet Union and the US-led invasion and occupation. The persistence of the Afghan people will once again be tested under the Taliban government.

The Talibans history of imposing an ultra-conservative and often puritanical interpretation of Islamic laws, especially with women and minorities, is forever embedded in the minds of the Afghan people and the world as abusive and oppressive.

However, we should be reminded that not all Muslims adhere to these strict views, as there are several Islamic thoughts and schools of interpretations of Islamic laws. But we are united in the idea that Islam encourages Muslims to fight all forms of oppression and emphasizes justice for the people.

But we also cannot forgive the US government and its allies for using the propaganda of emancipating women, or for some was reduced to lifting the burqa, as the reason behind their invasion in 2001.

We are hopeful and, at the same time, wary of the Talibans assurance that there will be changes in their attitude towards women. Afghanistan has already experienced the liberation of women in the past and the strength of Afghan women in the struggle against colonialism and occupation.

In some conferences and speaking tours that I have participated in, which were protests against the US-led global war on terror, I have met Afghan refugees and activists who were critical of the Taliban regime but were also against the US-led invasion. They said that there were Afghan activists who had participated in the jihad (struggle) against the Soviet Union, but were critical of the Taliban and were threatened when they took over.

In Afghanistans history, it is the US government and other imperialist countries who benefited from the Taliban.They backed the Taliban in their fight against the Soviet Union, supported its previous regime in the 90s, and wooed the Taliban government into entering business contracts for the construction of oil pipelines, despite reports of abusive leadership and human rights violations.

That is why the Afghan people also need to watch out for negotiations made by the US government and the Taliban forces outside of what was laid down during their peace negotiations last year. The US and other imperialist countries have already benefited during the two decades of war in Afghanistan, securing contracts for reconstruction, defense and security, and mining.

I cannot help but suspect that US interests in the region are still protected. If the Afghan puppet government cannot deliver, the assumption is that the Taliban can.

Afghanistan is rich in minerals like coal, copper, natural gas, petroleum, gold, lithium, uranium, gold and rare earth elements. Add to this the Afghan people who are a potential productive force for agriculture and industry.

We should not be fooled by the for democracy mantra of the US government and its allies. We should open our eyes to the real terrorists and their wars of aggression in the name of profit and securing their political and economic interests.

The fight for democratic rights of the Afghan peoples should not be viewed in the lens of the occupying forces and imperialist countries but the Afghan people themselves. It is in the hands of Afghan people to truly fight for their genuine liberation.

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The unjust war in Afghanistan and the continuing people's struggle against oppression - Davao Today

Critical race theory bans in schools are making teaching harder – Vox.com

This year, American history might look different in Iowa classrooms.

In early June, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed a bill that restricts what teachers can teach in K-12 schools and at public universities, particularly when it comes to sexism and racism. It bans 10 concepts that Republican legislators define as divisive, including the idea that one race or sex is superior to another, that members of a particular race are inherently inclined to oppress others, and that the U.S. and Iowa are fundamentally racist or sexist.

The law, which is already in effect, has sparked confusion and distress among educators, some of whom say it is so broad and the language so ambiguous, they fear they might face consequences for even broaching nuanced conversations about racism and sexism in the context of US history.

Teachers need to know what the legislation means for us, and they have been asking, Is the district going to support us and have our back? Monique Cottman, whos taught elementary school and middle school for 15 years in the state, told Vox.

Cottman is a teacher leader with the Iowa City Community School District, a role that requires her to regularly coach about 50 teachers on classroom instruction strategies, curriculums, and lesson plans. This year, it involves the added work of creating a comprehensive list of FAQs for teachers about the new Iowa law because there are a lot of questions.

Since at least 2014, when students went to the school board to demand an ethnic studies course, Cottman and other teachers in the district have worked to make anti-racism part of the curriculum, but with the new law, a lot of the momentum they have built has been undercut. Teachers who would have thought about me last year arent listening to teachers like me at all because of fear, she said.

Cottman isnt alone in her predicament. Educators across the country are figuring out how to navigate laws like Iowas that have turned anti-racist education often lumped together under the catchall term critical race theory, an academic framework scholars use to analyze how racism is endemic to US institutions into a boogeyman. While critical race theory opponents fear that the framework places blame for inequality on all white people, proponents argue that their goal is to use the lens to identify systemic oppression and eradicate it. Educators who want to teach with an eye toward anti-racism say that their lessons simply reflect an honest history of the countrys founding and development including the contributions of and the discrimination against marginalized people which has traditionally been glossed over in textbooks and curriculums.

But in the past six months, seven other states Idaho, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, New Hampshire, Arizona, and South Carolina have already passed legislation similar to Iowas, and 20 others have introduced or plan to introduce similar legislation, according to a new report from the Brookings Institution. Meanwhile, in states such as Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Kentucky, state boards of education and local school boards have denounced, if not totally banned, teaching critical race theory and/or the 1619 Project, a collection of essays that examines the foundational contributions of enslaved Black people to the US.

Teachers are already facing consequences, too. While debates over critical race theory were going on in the Tennessee state legislature, a high school teacher was fired after teaching Ta-Nehisi Coatess essay The First White President and playing the video of the spoken-word poem White Privilege. A Black principal in Texas was recently suspended without explanation after a former school board candidate complained that he was implementing critical race theory, promoting extreme views on race and the conspiracy theory of systemic racism.

In higher education, entire courses that grapple with inequity were dropped from course rosters or made optional. And even in states where anti-critical race theory legislation hasnt been passed, education leaders are facing pressure.

The first Black superintendent in a Connecticut district resigned after parents and community members complained to the school board that he was trying to indoctrinate students with critical race theory. (According to reports, he had been championing diversity and inclusion training and spoke out against conspiracy theories surrounding the US Capitol insurrection.)

The country is only just beginning to see this culture war play out, educators and curriculum specialists told Vox. On one hand, there will be many teachers, particularly in states where the bills havent passed, who will continue to do justice work in their classrooms, said Justin Coles, a professor of social justice education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. But others are going to resort to glossing over key issues in our history that are deeply intertwined with race and racism, overlooking nuance.

While teachers like Cottman will continue to teach with an anti-racist lens despite these laws, more teachers are expected to be silenced. Because of the current social climate, Coles said, it will be more acceptable to manipulate the truth and denounce folks who make deep conversations about oppression part of their classrooms.

Ultimately, the laws, and the discussions around them, have created chaos for teachers who dont know what they should and shouldnt be teaching. A lot of the anti-racist discussions that educators had brought into the classroom following the uprisings of 2020, and even prior, could be in danger of being removed. And the people who will feel the greatest impact are students.

With these bans, learning will be incomplete since [children are] only being taught half-truths, Coles said. The classroom will become unsafe spaces for marginalized students since they cant discuss their lived experiences. These bans make it harder for our country to change.

The pushback to anti-racist teachings began shortly after last summers social justice protests that swept the country, when many Americans started to grapple with the racism embedded in institutions like policing. In August 2020, conservative activist Christopher Rufo declared a one-man war against critical race theory, appearing on Fox News and claiming that federal diversity trainings (which he wrongly identified as critical race theory) were dividing workers and indoctrinating government employees.

It didnt take long for then-President Donald Trump to seize on Rufos narrative, going as far as issuing an executive order that banned racial sensitivity training in the federal government. When Trump lost the presidential election a few months later, Republicans in state legislatures picked up the cause, drafting and introducing bills that placed limits on government agencies, public higher education institutions, and K-12 schools teaching harmful sex- and race-based ideologies.

At the core of these state bills is the desire to prevent discourse about Americas racist past and present. Last year, amid a deadly pandemic and social justice protests, students had questions about the police shootings of Black and brown civilians and why the coronavirus was disproportionately impacting Black and brown communities, and teachers couldnt ignore talk about a president who threatened when the looting starts, the shooting starts. As Texas high school teacher Jania Hoover wrote for Vox this July, The reality is that kids are talking about race, systems of oppression, and our countrys ugly past anyway from media coverage to last summers protests to even this very controversy itself, my students are absorbing these conversations and want to know more.

The past year, and the social justice movements leading up to it, left a lot of teachers rethinking how they taught history, challenging the colonialist narratives long embedded in elementary and high school curriculums. For example, a third-grade textbook Cottman was required to use only tells a partial story of Ruby Bridges, the first Black child to desegregate an all-white elementary school in Louisiana. Bridges was 6 years old when federal marshals escorted her and her mother into the school building as mobs of white people surrounded them, rioted, and yelled threats and racial slurs.

The textbook states that the marshals protected her from angry people who lined the streets and stood outside the school. It makes no mention of why those people were angry or who they were, leaving out the key context that white people fought for decades to keep Black children from schools because of the belief that Black people were inferior, a detail that Cottman needed to bring forward during classroom discussions.

Another story in a similar textbook tells about a girl who was kidnapped from Greece and sold into slavery in ancient Rome; according to the text, she chose to remain enslaved because her owners treated her well and they all felt like family. Students kept taking away that as long as slave owners are nice to their slaves, theres nothing wrong with slavery, Cottman said.

If teachers continue to do what theyve been doing, no one wins, Cottman added. They need to be interrogating why some of their lessons are problematic.

As bills opposing critical race theory made their way to state legislatures this spring, confusion over what the theory was and what the bills meant overshadowed Americans desire to have nuanced classroom discussions about race. A July Reuters/Ipsos poll found that fewer than half of Americans (43 percent) said they knew about critical race theory and the surrounding debates, with three in 10 saying they hadnt heard of it at all. Respondents were even less familiar with the New York Timess 1619 Project (24 percent). Yet a majority of Americans said they support teaching students about the impact of slavery (78 percent) and racism (73 percent) in the US. State laws banning critical race theory in public schools received less support (35 percent). On all fronts, there was a partisan divide, with Republicans more interested in banning talk about slavery, racism, and the teaching of critical race theory and the 1619 Project.

In Iowa, Cottman, also a co-founder of Black Lives Matter at School Iowa, says a handful of parents in support of the ban have already reached out to teachers about the 2021-22 curriculum, but they are not the majority. Parents in support of anti-racist education have also voiced their support at school board and community meetings.

But the vocal minority, coupled with the new law, weighs on teachers and administrators. Though Iowa City is known as the bluest part of the red state, Cottman says she has talked to a number of teachers who are fine with the curriculum as is; she has also spoken to those who are concerned about losing their jobs if they talk about race.

One group of high school teachers decided to stop teaching Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walkers short story The Flowers (a story about a young Black girl who comes across a dead body, presumably a Black man who had been lynched, while picking flowers in the woods) after parents were up in arms about it on social media, for fear of further controversy.

Last fall, Cottman says her school ordered 1,000 copies of Ibram X. Kendis book Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You in an effort to improve their American history coursework. But once some parents got wind of the effort, the book became optional, most teachers chose to not use it, Cottman said.

Teachers in other states are also dialing it back. Joseph Frilot, a middle school humanities teacher, learned from his curriculum manager that all of the content he developed about Black Lives Matter and the civil rights movement wont be part of his lessons this year in light of the Texas law that limits discourse on racism and sexism. A huge chunk of the curriculum that I created was about oppression and resistance, so all of that will be excluded from our curriculum, Frilot told EdWeek. Am I allowed to be the transparent and honest educator that Ive been over the years?

In Tennessee, where one of the first anti-critical race theory bills was passed, teachers have requested guidance on how they should reframe their lessons and leading class discussions. The guidance from the education department, released in August, clarifies that teachers can introduce topics like racism and sexism as part of discussion if they are described in textbooks or instructional material, but teachers remain concerned that the law limits them from teaching the true history of the state and country. The states guidance also lays out major consequences for schools and educators found in violation: Schools could stand to lose millions in annual state funds, and teachers could have their licenses denied, suspended, or revoked.

Some teachers, though, plan to keep anti-racist lessons alive despite these new laws. Cottman tells teachers that even under the new law they arent required to say anything to parents, nor are they obligated to solicit parents feedback before lessons, but she reminds them that it is vital to make sure that parents feel welcome and that two-way communication is established early in the school year. When teachers have expressed worry about their classroom libraries, Cottman said she tells them they do not need to remove any books from their classrooms. If theres an anti-racism book on the shelf, a student has the choice to read it.

Lakeisha Patterson, a teacher in Houston, said she plans to continue to talk about how African Americans were considered less than human, and the social justice caucus of the San Antonio teachers union is encouraging lessons that foster inclusion and nonwhite perspectives on history.

For many Black teachers, we arent even expressing financial concerns, Cottman said about the possibility of getting fired for incorporating race discussions in classrooms. Were just pissed off that were constantly being silenced.

States and districts without anti-critical race theory legislation have greater latitude to experiment with anti-racist teaching. For Jesse Hagopian, a high school history and ethnic studies teacher in Seattle, the moment is ripe and long overdue. Beginning in September, Hagopian will be co-teaching the schools two-year-old Black studies course, the result of organizing in the wake of the police shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling in 2016.

If anyone is asking, the answer is yes, we are teaching critical race theory, Hagopian said. Most educators didnt know what critical race theory was until Republicans made it their main reelection vehicle. But many of them are now looking it up and realizing how it is aligned with their principles, which I think is wonderful.

On Hagopians syllabus is a wide array of texts to help students center the contributions that Black people have made throughout history, including Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America, A Different Mirror, excerpts from A Peoples History of the United States, Jazz and Justice, and the YA version of The Rebellious Life of Rosa Parks. Each text will help bring nuance to the Black experience. Were going to learn about Black intersectional identity all Black people dont have the same experiences so its important to understand sexism, ableism, and all forms of oppression, Hagopian said.

He has also made clear what his class is not about. Im not teaching white kids to hate themselves. Im teaching them to understand how racism is systemic and that they can be part of a multiracial struggle to bring about change, Hagopian said. Thats empowering to white students, not shaming them.

Hagopian is not alone in his efforts. While some states are trying to repress anti-racist education, others are mandating that teachers expand on it: The California Board of Education approved a statewide ethnic studies curriculum for high school students this March, and Indian Education for All standards will go into effect in Wyoming schools next school year. Meanwhile, in July, Illinois became the first state to mandate Asian American history for elementary and high school students, and Connecticut required all high schools to offer African American studies and Latino studies by 2022, with Native American studies being required in all schools beginning in the 2023-24 school year.

While anti-racism education advocates see these initiatives as promising steps forward anti-critical race theory laws are also facing legal challenges teachers in less progressive districts still face an uphill battle if they want to include nuanced discussions of race in their classrooms. For many of these teachers caught in the culture war, what they want most is to give children an education that reflects Americas true, complicated history.

As a Black woman in Iowa public schools, this is my calling as a teacher and as an advocate, Cottman said. I believe fundamentally that students, and teachers, need to know the truth.

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Critical race theory bans in schools are making teaching harder - Vox.com