The Alt-Right Starter Pack

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Photo/Los Angeles Times

 

The racist, white nationalist alt-right fringe movement has been thrust into the spotlight in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s inflammatory campaign and tainted win. A loose umbrella term that captures 4Chan trolls, academics, militia-types, neo-Nazis, and just general racists, alt-right was definitely the buzz term of the 2016 election. In an effort to understand the movement, I’ve been doing some preliminary research and have compiled an introductory list of fundamental alt-right reads.

 

  1. Party Like it’s 1933-The Washington Post

“For us, as Europeans, it is only normal again when we are great again!” he shouted. “Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!”

  1. Meet The White Nationalist Trying to Ride The Trump Train to Lasting Power-Mother Jones Magazine

 Spencer believes that Hispanics and African Americans have lower average IQs than whites and are more genetically predisposed to commit crimes, ideas that are not accepted by the vast majority of scientists.

  1. An Alt-Right Makeover Shrouds The Swastikas-The New York Times

“The political establishment has made an entire generation of young white men and women into fascists, and that’s a beautiful thing!”

  1. What The Founders *Really* Thought About Race-Radix Journal

Lincoln opposed the expansion of slavery outside the South, but was not an abolitionist. He made war on the Confederacy only to preserve the Union, and would have accepted Southern slavery in perpetuity if that would have kept the South from seceding, as he stated explicitly.

  1. An Establishment Conservative’s Guide To The Alt-Right –Breitbart

The amount of column inches generated by the alt-right is a testament to their cultural punch. But so far, no one has really been able to explain the movement’s appeal and reach without desperate caveats and virtue-signaling to readers.

 

Speaking “Alt-Right”: Terms used in the movement

 

  • Red Pill: General term concerning the dissemination of “truth” about the crisis of white masculinity and dominance in American life. Essentially, women, minorities, and Jews are targeted as attempting to weaken or subvert the natural dominance of white men in America. Getting “red pilled” means to be exposed to this theory.

 

  • Lugenpresse: German for “lying press”. A Nazi-era throwback term for the mainstream media. Now used by extreme right groups in both Europe and America.

 

  • PePe the Frog: Bizarre internet meme of an anthropomorphic frog often seen in alt-right forums and Twitter accounts. Now considered a hate-symbol by the Anti-Defamation League

 

  • Ethno-State: Future vision held by many white nationalists of a country totally dominated by whites, and void of racial minorities and other ethnic groups.

 

  • Fashy: Short for fascist. Refers to a haircut worn originally by the Hitler Youth, and more recently appropriated by alt-right figureheads such as Richard Spencer.

 

  • Cuck: Short for “cuckservative”, a pejorative used to describe conservatives who are not sufficiently committed to alt-right views.

 

 

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We Are All Donald Trump

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Donald Trump is the manifestation of our most ginned up nightmares. His relentless march to the fore of the post-Tea Party GOP should’ve been entirely predictable to anyone paying attention during the age of Obama. White Americans that have been losing economic (although the certainly not social) power through the inexorable destruction of the middle class have formed an increasingly paranoid contingent of voters fueled by anxiety and racism.

Trump’s blinding ginger halo of celebrity, combined with his slimy assertions of his penis size, and grade school attacks on women, has lowered the level of political discourse to that of a rundown Applebee’s bar in Nowhere, Idaho. Nakedly racist commitments to build a wall on the border and ban all Muslims serve to bolster the grievances of a population betrayed by the capitalist system it voted for. A shrinking population that is also entering its demographic sunset. The Bud Light crowd cheers Trump for giving a loud voice to their deepest fears and desires. As factories, mills, and coal mines shutter, legions of men and women have become displaced vagabonds in their own land.

Things just don’t make sense anymore. There’s a black president, Mexicans beset them on all sides, and the Islamists are determined to see them dead. Any way you slice it, good ol’ America has lost her way. But Trump is gonna put her back on course.  He’s a billionaire, after all. Just the type of man needed in the White House.

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Dying of Thirst in Flint: On the State-Sponsored Poisoning of an American Community

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Jake May/ The Flint Journal

 

Fecal chloroform, rust, sediment, and lead flowed from thousands of taps for months before local government issued a boil order. Patients complained of rashes and hair loss. Children with signs of lead poisoning crowded clinics while Legionnaire’s disease reared its ugly head. Dramatic reports of water with a funny smell, a sick yellow hue, and a foul taste hummed in the background of this dying industrial city. Physicians such as Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha sounded the alarm about lead poisoning ruining the potential of Flint’s children, while the Snyder administration studiously denied the grim reality on the ground. While this disaster unfolded, Flint’s residents, largely poor and black, languished under the supervision of a parade of emergency managers solely focused on the bottom line. Access to clean water is a fundamental human right. $5 million was the price to revoke that right in Flint, Michigan.

Flint is a city choking on the decay of post-globalization capital flight. The closure of several GM plants in the 1980s devastated the “Vehicle City”. The resultant disappearance of stable, middle-class manufacturing jobs precipitated a cycle of population flight and deindustrialization that continues to haunt the area today. With a population nearly 60% African-American, and a 42% poverty rate, the city was ripe for governmental schemes aimed at stripping away basic services in order to keep a fingernail’s hold on solvency. Enter the era of emergency management.

The saga of Flint’s water crisis is rooted in the destruction of local democracy in favor of an anti-democratic, top-down approach in which citizens aren’t afforded the right to influence public policy. In 2012, the Michigan state legislature passed Public Act 436, a law designed to rescue financially distressed municipalities from themselves. What the law achieved in fact was the creation of the legal and political space for an unelected official, referred to as an emergency manager, to dictate public policy with zero democratic accountability. The language of PA 436 is quite explicit in neutering the power of local elected officials. Section 141.1549 reads:

Following appointment of an emergency manager and during the pendency of receivership, the governing body and the chief administrative officer of the local government shall not exercise any of the powers of those offices except as may be specifically authorized in writing by the emergency manager…

This passage effectively smothered the democratic institutions of Michigan’s most troubled cities by disenfranchising their most vulnerable population, poor blacks. The denizens of Flint, Detroit, and several other poor municipalities with majority-minority demographics have shouldered the devastating effects of this state-sponsored dislocation from democracy.

In the face of lawsuits and heated criticism of PA 436, officials in Lansing called into question local representatives’ capacity to negotiate the terrain of their most pressing public policy challenges. In an almost dismissive defense of local concern, Terry Stanton, of the Michigan Department of the Treasury, was quoted, “making difficult political decisions can be very trying for local officials.” Stanton’s response betrays a noxiously paternalistic view of local elected officials. Wrestling with tough political decisions is  the mandate for city representatives. Should the aftermath of their decisions prove unproductive, residents can petition the institution, hold a referendum, or simply vote officials out of office. Unfortunately, by focusing on the deficiencies of local governing bodies, Lansing failed to take advantage of the opportunity to attack the structural issues that hinder Michigan’s progress.

In 2013, Snyder-appointed emergency manager Ed Kurtz, in cooperation with the Flint city council, backed a vote to sever ties with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department as a cost-cutting measure. It was decided that the Flint River—a notorious dumping ground—would hydrate city residents until the completion of the Karegnondi water pipeline in 2016. Kurtz’s successor, Darnell Earley, rebuffed offers to extend Flint’s contract with DWSD, instead preferring to collaborate with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to obtain the permits needed to switch the city’s water supply to the local river. April 25th, 2014 marked the beginning of Flint’s dance with environmental racism.

Nearly two years later, the national media has turned their spotlight on Flint. Although local media such as the Detroit Free Press and Michigan Radio reported on the crisis from the outset, national outlets focused their human rights reportage on Syria and the various refugee crises gripping Europe. The pace of national coverage of the poisoning of Flint has moved from a localized trickle to a flood of bleeding-heart outrage on the editorial pages of the big players. The unfolding scandal is a study in how the paucity of political influence opens the door to stunningly racist public policy. The majority-black demographics of Flint (and other black cities in Michigan under emergency management) are an inescapable fact that must remain in the forefront of any serious analysis of this tragedy. It’s incredibly difficult to insist that the white residents of say, Grand Blanc, would be stonewalled in the face of pointed questions about local water quality.

After months of what the Flint Water Advisory Task Force characterized as state agencies’ “…aggressive dismissal, belittlement, and attempts to discredit these efforts [to expose lead contamination] and the individuals involved,” Governor Snyder finally requested a federal declaration of emergency last month. President Obama quickly signed the declaration, which will free up $5 million in federal aid for the next 3 months. In a bid to influence the optics, Snyder also activated the Michigan National Guard to distribute bottled water and filters to desperate residents. He gave a speech apologizing to Flint residents, and then released 274 pages of emails related to the disaster. Snyder’s emails provide a window into the state’s stubborn refusal to acknowledge that the Flint River is toxic. In fact, concerned residents and groups were accused of using reports of lead poisoning as a “political football”. One email from a local pastor even warned of the potential for civil unrest.

Governor Snyder has released an estimate of $60 million to replace all of the lead piping in Flint. If the project is fully funded, total replacement would take at least 15 years. The logistics and financing of such a massive undertaking have yet to be ironed out. As of today, Flint has to get by with bold declarations of support that are paper thin. The House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform has heard testimony from Flint officials and one resident on the disaster in their city. Governor Rick Snyder and Darnell Earley were notably absent from the hearing. Snyder was not invited to attend, and disgraced former emergency manager Earley defied a congressional subpoena.

There was the trademark outrage from ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings (Md.), who quoted song lyrics and implored the witnesses to reflect on the devastating impact on Flint’s children. Meanwhile, partisan fissures emerged over two issues—first, House Republicans did not invite Snyder to testify at the hearing (nor did he volunteer to show), and second, Senate Democrats blocked an energy bill because it doesn’t earmark funds for disaster relief in Flint.

 

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Courtesy of Mlive.com

Although Flint switched back to the Detroit water system in October, the decaying infrastructure of rusted out piping continues to present a health hazard. Lead continues to leach into the water from local pipes. Recent testing by researchers with Virginia Tech found lead levels that meet the threshold for hazardous waste. In another blow to relief efforts, the EPA has notified the city that the consumer-grade Brita and Pur water filters being distributed are not up to the task of blunting the flow of lead that in some areas exceeds 150 parts per billion. Thus, residents will need to continue to rely on bottled water for cooking and bathing. Because Flint is a food desert, residents are particularly dependent on sustained governmental action to provide clean water. They can’t simply roll into the nearest Wal-Mart to stock up on water. There are quite literally, no other options.

Governor Snyder needs to resign effective immediately. The Michigan State Legislature should immediately repeal that odious law, PA 436. Finally, Senate Republicans should open the purse and fund extended disaster relief for Flint. Anything less is yet another tragedy.

 

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#AssaultAtSpringValleyHigh

My stomach turned when he violently slammed her desk backward. I could feel my heart rate slow nearly to a stop as he dragged her five feet across the grimy linoleum of the classroom floor. She was young, female, and black. He was older, male, and white. At issue was teenage insouciance. She wouldn’t give up her damn cell phone.

I avoided watching that video for a week. I didn’t want to read the hashtags on Twitter. I didn’t want that weary, impotent rage to blanket my mind once again. I simply wished it wasn’t real.

Why is it that mild rebellion becomes a kindling for violence when it features a black cast? What element comes into play that transforms routine encounters between law enforcement and commoners into theaters for racial animus? What made this particular 16-year-old such a looming threat?

These are the facts: A black female student at Spring Valley High School in South Carolina was glued to her cellphone during class time. After refusing to heed the demands of both her teacher and an administrator to leave the class, a School Resource Officer was called in. The officer, Ben Fields, is seen on cellphone video immediately escalating the situation.

After the student refuses to comply with Officer Fields’ demand to follow him out of the classroom, the video clearly captures him grabbing her by the neck, slamming her backwards while she is still seated at her desk, and finally dragging her to the front of the room. Her fellow classmates are shown taking pains to stare at their desks in an effort to avoid witnessing the brutal scene.

Following the incident, the student was released to her parents. Although some students argued in defense of Fields, his brutal tactics led to his termination. Officer Fields has faced lawsuits for excessive force and violation of civil rights. One suit was largely dismissed in 2007. A second suit, filed by a former student at Spring Valley High, will be heard in January 2016.

As I’ve written before, the presence of video thrusts the public into the heart of the assault. The existence of the video shot by the student’s classmate obviates the public’s reflexive need to pretend the officer couldn’t have possibly been that brutal. The dispassionate oculus of a zoom lens is a necessary tool in the fight to expose the heady reality of race and policing in American classrooms.

In widening the scope of the analysis, it becomes easier to understand how punitive educational policies strangle the potential of black students to fully engage in and benefit from school. The ability to test the boundaries of acceptable behavior has become a privilege reserved for white kids merely deemed to be going through a “phase”.

At the heart of this brutal incident is the introduction of school policies that effectively criminalize students for bad behavior. Resultantly, unacceptable behavior is met with criminal liability instead of course correction and empathetic guidance. The pivot toward early criminalization of students is exemplified in South Carolina by the Disturbing Schools Law. This 1962 statute makes it unlawful “for any person willfully or unnecessarily to interfere with or to disturb in any way or in any place the students or teachers of any school or college…” Conviction leads to a misdemeanor charge and a fine.

This disturbingly vague law opens innumerable pathways to the criminalization of a significant portion of the 59% of black students served by the school district encompassing Spring Valley High. Indeed, recent studies conducted by the Department of Education bear this out. The data is clear. Black students are 3 times more likely than their white peers to be subject to disciplinary action that separates them from a learning environment. Add to that the introduction of police officers in schools, and the inevitable result is a punitive atmosphere in which disadvantaged students face early forays into the penal system for petty rebellions.

Officer Fields has been fired. Both the F.B.I. and the Justice Department are investigating the assault. Unfortunately, the individual fate of Officer Fields will have a net zero impact on the multitudes of black children navigating an educational system that is not built for their success.

She was young, female, and black. Why did she have to be that?

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Hillary Clinton vs. Black Lives Matter

Just watched this two-part video of a backstage meeting between 2016 Democratic Candidate Hillary Clinton, and several activists from the #BlackLivesMatter Movement.

I actually garnered a lot more respect for Clinton after seeing this exchange. Her focus on relentlessly tackling policy changes was spot on. Obviously, her family’s complicity in promoting race-based mass incarceration is noxious, and her current bid for the presidency is troubling.

I respect the #BlackLivesMatter movement and believe that their existence is critical to spurring the sort of “national conversations” that the corporate media always insists we need. However, we can recite stats about prison populations, the vestiges of slavery, a lack of adequate education and housing, institutionalized racism, micro-aggressions, and anti-black police violence all day long (and those conversations will never stop). The movement is hyper-intellectual, which is critical to its current success and national legitimacy. We know our shit. It’s not simply a swarm of black people running around incoherently yelling about “the man”.

But, what I’m ready to see is a platform. A draft bill. A candidate. A policy roundtable. A white paper. Something more tangible that catalyzes forward movement on the legislative side.

We have the intellectual butter. We need the policy guns.

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