Posts Tagged ‘Michael Brown’

by lizard

The Times of Israel has done critics of the Israeli apartheid state another favor. The first favor was allowing Yochanan Gordon’s piece “When Genocide is Permissible” see the light of day. Sure, it was quickly removed, but if you’re interested in exploring the ugly depths of the racism that permeates Zionism, you can read it at Mondoweiss. If you can’t handle the whole thing, just read his concluding question:

I will conclude with a question for all the humanitarians out there. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu clearly stated at the outset of this incursion that his objective is to restore a sustainable quiet for the citizens of Israel. We have already established that it is the responsibility of every government to ensure the safety and security of its people. If political leaders and military experts determine that the only way to achieve its goal of sustaining quiet is through genocide is it then permissible to achieve those responsible goals?

I actually appreciate this explicit grappling with permissible genocide because it states clearly what many Zionists and their American counterparts privately agree with, but have to use crafty rhetoric and euphemisms to dance around stating outright. Bravo Yochanan Gordon!

That favor was gifted to us last August. December’s gift is a helpful guide to the 9 (racist) similarities between Palestinians and Black People in Ferguson. This piece was also removed, so here’s Electronic Intifada providing the online capture of this gem.

EI also takes a look at the Palestinian/Ferguson comparison Palestinian activists started making early on, when the unrest in Missouri first erupted:

Zionist organizations are rattled by the growing displays of solidarity between people in Ferguson, Missouri, and Palestine, but until Wilkes’ outburst they generally focused on slamming the Ferguson-Palestine connection as inaccurate and offensive.

This has been the preferred strategy of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the anti-Palestinian advocacy group that operates under the guise of fighting anti-Semitism and bigotry.

Soon after the Ferguson uprising began, the ADL accused Palestinian rights activists who demonstrated solidarity with Ferguson and Michael Brown of “trying to rouse support for an anti-Israel agenda by attracting like-minded activists.”

The group went so far as to compile lists tracking events and protests promoting unity between Ferguson and Palestine.

Not long after that, the ADL accused the Students for Justice in Palestine national conference of hosting panels that “conflate social justice with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” citing as an example a panel titled ”From Ferguson to Palestine: Resisting State Violence and Racism.”

After a grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson in a purposely defective process, Reggie Bush, running back for the Detroit Lions American football team, posted to Instagram a photo of a Palestinian man holding a sign that says, “The Palestinian people know what mean to be shot while unarmed because of your ethnicity #Ferguson #Justice.”

Damn, another uppity football player. No wonder the ADL is worried.

So what are the similarities you ask? Here’s more from EI:

Wilkes’ piece is as remarkable as it is vile in its appeal to anti-Palestinian and white American racism.

On African Americans and Palestinians, Wilkes writes, “Anger defines them, and anger keeps both mired in failure. Rather than make better choices they prefer to ride the ‘victim’ train to nowhere.”

He continues, “Both wish to undermine the state’s moral authority by provoking violent reactions, then portraying themselves as victims of oppression.”

Mocking Black American leaders as “con artists” and “race-hustlers in a ‘business’ fueled by anger,” Wilkes decries supposedly irrational Black and Palestinian anger as a product of inferior cultures that teach hate.

“Black problems in America,” he argues, “derive from the breakdown of family and unhealthy aspects of black culture.”

These are some of the most pernicious and cliché tropes long employed by liberal and right-wing racists to blame and pathologize people of color as being responsible for their own oppression and disadvantage.

“In both places, the innocent pay the price” for the supposed Black and Palestinian lust for violence, Wilkes claims. “The businesses destroyed in Ferguson belong to hard-working citizens who had nothing to do with the incident in which a policeman shot a robbery suspect in self-defense,” he says, justifying Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson’s August killing of Black youth Michael Brown.

But, Wilkes allows, “The Palestinians are, tragically, far more bloodthirsty.”

Wilkes ends his screed by praising the Israeli army and Missouri police for exercising restraint: “Authorities in both places have their hands tied by their high standards of human rights and reverence for the rule of law.” Of course this last point makes sense given that St. Louis-area police departments have received training from the Israeli security apparatus in recent years.

Tonight in America another grand jury issued another non-indictment on another police officer who killed another black man.

And so it goes.

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by lizard

Evil smelling trolls stink-up the Flathead Beacon’s comment section. That is a lovely title to this post from James Conner, lamenting that the Beacon hasn’t abolished anonymous racists from making their racist opinions known.

Featured is a screenshot of a comment from AndrewInterrupted: Those white guilty idiots in that Whitefish council meeting should take a bus ride to Ferguson for a little research.

Below this comment, this picture:

Censoring this comment does what exactly? Make obvious racists disappear? No, it just cleans up the aesthetics for someone like Conner who doesn’t want to think too much about the conditions black people deal with every day in places like Ferguson.

The “Evil Troll” post was put up November 21st. Three days later, this is the title of the post: Ferguson grand jury does not indict cop, lawlessness begins. Here is the opening paragraph:

Protests, some violent, began after the grand jury investigating the death of Michael Brown decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for murder or any other crime. Brown’s parents asked that protests be kept peaceful. So did Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama. Their words had little or no effect. The rampage began and is still on as of the time of this post.

Ah yes, the rampage of angry, vengeful black folks begins. It’s too bad they don’t act like those good negroes, Obama and Holder. Here’s more:

A good many of the protesters who are breaking windows, setting fires, tipping over police cars, and menacing reporters, tonight may say, indeed may even believe, they’re seeking justice. But they’re not. They’re seeking revenge. They want Darren Wilson punished regardless of whether he actually broke the law. They’re taking advantage of the situation to express outrage over grievances accumulated over years, placing their faith not in law or government but in hammers and torches and destruction. And some, I suspect, don’t much care whether anyone is injured or killed.

Whoops, sorry about the picture. It’s not of angry black people destroying their own community like a bunch of animals. It’s a picture from the pumpkin riots, where privileged young white people were just out having a little fun. From the link:

It’s easy to make jokes about what has already come to be known as the Great Pumpkin Riot of 2014. Events in Keene, New Hampshire this past weekend read like an Onion article: The annual Pumpkin Festival in the sleepy college town ended with riot cops and tear gas as students and young people flipped cars and started fires in the street. Pumpkin-spiced madness! Smashing Pumpkins!

But there’s good reason to take the riot seriously.

This was not a riot over pumpkins, of course. It was a riot over nothing, young people gathered in small town streets en masse and inebriated, then buoyed into further riotousness by overzealous SWAT policing. Mask Magazine rightly contextualizes the incident in the canon of nihilistic “party riots,” à la the Bellingham, Washington student riots last year, which featured a young woman twerking on a cop car. But just because these riots weren’t necessarily about anything — not pumpkins, not sporting events, and certainly not police shootings — is not evidence they’re devoid of content or meaning.

The playful levity with which the media, if not the local police, are treating the riot seems as much to do with who was behind the destruction as it does with the seasonal theme. It was white youth who pulled down street signs and flipped over cars, and as a result they were described as “rowdy” and “boisterous.” In Ferguson, where property damage and confrontations with cops were no more extreme, the rioters were deemed “violent” and “criminal.” Black riots, it seems, get read as somewhat more threatening.

The difference was adeptly highlighted by Twitter comments about how the platitudes typically applied to black communities following a riot seemed absurd when applied to the Keene riot. “Why are they tearing up their own community,” quipped one Twitter user. “Where are the leaders in the white community? They need to speak out #pumpkinfest,” wrote another.

These were pointed riffs on the charges leveled at black communities in the wake of protests turned riotous. They highlight how blacks are forced to account, as a whole, for unruly behavior in a way that is never demanded of whites as a community. Black behavior is scrutinized and vilified. When white youth behave the same way — even without the significant imprimatur of protesting the police killing an unarmed teen — the response is so different it is risible.

There is a sense of relief from some people that the righteous hopes of those who still see a need to fight for civil rights were placed on an un-perfect victim. Mostly it’s from conservative people, but James Conner has shown how even those who would prefer to expunge nasty, racist comments from online news stories are eager to use the grand jury’s decision not to indict as proof Michael Brown deserved to die.

by lizard

There is something comforting for those of us who benefit from our white privilege in pointing out obvious racism, like the Whitefish “anti-racist” battle Cowgirl covered a few days ago. What I thought a bit curious was the first comment, from James Conner, who argues for a more tolerant approach to white supremacy:

Richard Spencer’s views are reprehensible. He’s also a law abiding resident of Whitefish. Trying to run him out of town because he holds unpopular beliefs is an act of intolerance, not love.

The situation is approaching a point where some will think it wise to erect on the city limits a sign saying “Welcome to Whitefish — but only if you’re a liberal.”

Before getting to Conner’s views on Ferguson, I’d like readers to give some thought to what constitutes a law abiding person of any municipality. To achieve this status, does that mean one never jaywalks? How about running a red light, or speeding? There are a lot of laws on the books. At some point, even the most diligent citizen will find himself/herself in non-compliance of some law.

I bring up petty offenses because the chain of events that led to Michael Brown being shot dead in the street by officer Wilson was a petty offense. Whether or not Wilson addressed the two black youth walking in the street in a civil, professional manner is still contested. But James Conner is satisfied with the decision by the jury, comprised of 9 white people and 3 black people, as evidenced by this post, titled Ferguson: so far, no injuries or deaths, just vandalism:

President Obama called for calm. So did Attorney General Holder. The people protesting the grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson paid the President and his chief law enforcement and civil rights officer no heed. They took to the streets with their matchbooks and hatchets, breaking windows, setting fires, not just in Ferguson, MO, but around the country. So far, no one has been injured or killed, but that luck probably won’t hold.

There was always the possibility that the facts of the shooting in Ferguson would support the policeman’s version of the events. That seems to be the case. Reports in the New York Times and elsewhere suggest that Brown, a powerful young man who stood 6-foot-four and weighed almost 300 pounds, had just robbed a convenience store, roughing up the clerk, then swaggered down the middle of the street, where, confronted by Wilson and told to move to the side of the road, he slugged Wilson through the police car’s open window. Wilson, fearing great injury to himself, shot Brown in the hand. A few tens of seconds later, Brown, apparently amok, charged Wilson, who shot Brown dead.

I doubt the fact that Brown was black and Wilson white had anything to do with how the incident went down; that Brown said to himself, “I’m gonna punch-out that honky pig,” or that Wilson said to himself, “Gonna kill me a nigger; self-defense.” Brown’s color didn’t matter. He was a huge person, belligerent and enraged, who stupidly provoked a life and death confrontation with a man with a gun. No one should be surprised at the outcome.

Now I don’t think James Conner is an obvious racist, but this three paragraph reaction to the rage being expressed over the non-indictment of Wilson reeks of white privilege and perpetuates a willful, ignorant denial of the racial aspects of this shooting.

Conner is echoing the depiction of Brown by Officer Wilson, who described feeling like a 5 year old holding on to Hulk Hogan when he grabbed Brown’s arm. James Conner describes “a powerful young man who stood 6-foot-four and weighed almost 300 pounds” because it’s that mortal fear of Brown’s physical presence, combined with the allegation (disputed) that Brown “charged, apparently amok”, that ultimately convinced the jury not to indict.

Not mentioned by Conner is that the other party in this fatal altercation, Officer Wilson, is also 6-foot-four, and was inside a sturdy police car with his gun when whatever physical altercation initially took place.

I can’t for the life of me understand how Conner can say he doubts the fact that Brown was black and Wilson was white had anything to do with how the incident went down. Wilson’s own words literally demonizes Brown, bestowing super-human strength on this 18 year old to bulk up after being shot to charge like some crazed animal.

These are Wilson’s own words:

“He looked up at me and had the most aggressive face,” Wilson testified. “The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon, that’s how angry he looked.”

James Conner is usually capable of reasoned analysis, but his response to what’s happening in Ferguson and across the nation is truly reprehensible.

Bob McCulloch, the prosecutor who chose to give his disastrous press conference Monday night, provided a perfect example of exactly what not to do if one doesn’t want to exacerbate an already volatile, racially charged situation. Maybe there would have been property damage anyway, but McCulloch’s prosecutorial defense of Wilson, and his calling into question certain witness accounts of what happened, guaranteed it.

Racism isn’t just the obvious white supremacist stuff. It’s also the privilege of a white guy in Montana saying Michael Brown being black had nothing to do with how this incident went down.

by lizard

The New York Times has deliberately stepped in another steaming pile of ugly with a piece today declaring Michael Brown to be ‘No Angel’:

Michael Brown, 18, due to be buried on Monday, was no angel, with public records and interviews with friends and family revealing both problems and promise in his young life. Shortly before his encounter with Officer Wilson, the police say he was caught on a security camera stealing a box of cigars, pushing the clerk of a convenience store into a display case. He lived in a community that had rough patches, and he dabbled in drugs and alcohol. He had taken to rapping in recent months, producing lyrics that were by turns contemplative and vulgar. He got into at least one scuffle with a neighbor.

Now, before y’all go and jump on the outrage train, I think it’s important to acknowledge the New York Times has a point: rapping can make negro men unpredictable. Usually cash money and big asses can satiate the primal urges of the negro, allowing for the profitable commodification of their urban sound for the privileged white suburban demographic. But not always.

Two recent examples of off-leash rappers highlight this stark racial reality. First up, Talib Kweli went off on CNN’s Don Lemon for interrupting his critique of CNN’s reporting. Kweli expounded on his frustration and regret for joining the spectacle in a post that really should be read in full. Here’s an excerpt:

I was asked to do an interview with Anderson Cooper. However, when I got there it was Don Lemon on set instead. Apparently, he was filling in for Cooper who had another interview somewhere. Lemon, who I had never met, is a polarizing figure in the black community, you either love him or you hate him. Although I’ve never paid enough attention to him to form an opinion either way, I was impressed that he was on a skateboard. It made him seem down to earth, and I looked forward to the exchange.

I’ve been interviewed on the news many times. Each time the interviewer made sure to say hi, greet me and thank me for coming down. Lemon did none of these things, and I found that odd. Still, I didn’t take it personal. I am not a big mainstream artist, I don’t expect everyone to know or even care about who I am.

Many people were happy at how this interview went. They agreed with my point and my stance. There were also many who were incredibly disappointed with me and felt the interview was a wasted opportunity that became a competition of egos instead. I am disappointed in myself for allowing the interview to become a spectacle which further distracts from the execution style killing of unarmed teenager Mike Brown. Even though I went in with the best intentions, I became a part of the spectacle.

I can’t imagine why a conscious hip-hop artist would get frustrated with a good, upstanding negro news anchor like Don Lemon who, just last summer, offered a simple 5-step fix for struggling black communities. And here they are:

“Here’s number five. Pull up your pants. If you’re sagging, I mean — I think it’s your self-esteem that is sagging and who you are as a person it’s sagging. Young people need to be taught respect and there are rules. […]

Number four now is the n-word. I understand poetic license, but consider this: I hosted a special on the n-word, suggesting that black people stop using it and that entertainers stop deluding yourselves or themselves and others that you’re somehow taking the word back. […]

Now number three. Respect where you live. Start small by not dropping trash, littering in your own communities. I’ve lived in several predominantly white neighborhoods in my life, I rarely, if ever, witnessed people littering. I live in Harlem now, it’s an historically black neighborhood, every single day I see adults and children dropping their trash on the ground when a garbage can is just feet away. Just being honest here. […]

Number two, finish school. You want to break the cycle of poverty? Stop telling kids they’re acting white because they go to school or they speak proper English. […]

And number one, and probably the most important, just because you can have a baby, it doesn’t mean you should. Especially without planning for one or getting married first. More than 72 percent of children in the African-American community are born out of wedlock. That means absent fathers. And the studies show that lack of a male role model is an express train right to prison and the cycle continues. So, please, black folks, as I said if this doesn’t apply to you, I’m not talking to you. Pay attention to and think about what has been presented in recent history as acceptable behavior. Pay close attention to the hip-hop and rap culture that many of you embrace. A culture that glorifies everything I just mentioned, thug and reprehensible behavior, a culture that is making a lot of people rich, just not you. And it’s not going to.”

(full transcript and video here)

The other rapper (one of my favorites) fronting a genre-busting lyrical overthrow of the capitalist system with his crew, The Coup, had the pleasure of being interviewed by a local Fox affiliate. As Spin reports, it didn’t go as planned:

The Coup’s frontman and occasional Tom Morello collaborator Boots Riley is known for being something of a political firebrand, but, as Cleveland Scene points out, a local Fox affiliate seems to have been blissfully unaware of that fact. The Oakland outfit was set to appear at LKWD Festival in the city on Saturday and festival organizer Kelly Flamos brought him along for an interview during one of the station’s daytime shows. Things did not go quite as Fox planned.

When asked to describe the Coup, Riley outlined his long-running musical project as “a punk-funk Communist revolution band,” which drew a puzzled response from the reporter on hand. That alone might have been enough to upset the Fox honchos, but he continued saying that his goals are to “make everyone dance while we’re telling them about how we need to get rid of the system” and that “exploitation is the primary contradiction in capitalism.”

It all seems like relatively innocent stuff, delivered in an exceedingly calm and matter-of-fact manner, but Flamos later posted an email she received from the station saying that Riley’s “rant” (a loaded word and bald-faced exaggeration) had “not only hurt our station’s credibility, but also the festival’s.

Here is the full email:

 

“Kelly,

I wanted to talk to you about this morning. We set the interview times because have to (sic) hit specific times with live television. I had to get rid of the interview when you guys did not show on time, and now I regret putting it back in.

FOX 8 was not the time or opportunity for Boots to go on his political rant. With his statements he not only hurt our station’s credibility, but also the festival’s. I was looking to do a fun interview and it turned into something entirely different. We will not be reaching out for any interviews in the future.”

 

Boots Riley went to Twitter earlier today to further describe his understanding of the intentional marginalization of his perspective in a series of tweets you have to read:

The problem the FoxNews vid exposes is that it was a mistake4me2b on. MOST media outlets- music&news- dont have me on because of my ideas.

The letter from FoxNews producers exposes that the media forces ppl2edit the voicing of their opinion. “If u say XYZ, ur career will fail.”

If people dont get the message by reading between the lines, the gatekeepers will sometimes say it explicitly.

Some well-known friends of mine were told by music execs during Afghanistan bombing: if they spoke out against war- album wont come out.

The rationale was: speaking out against war would diminish record sales, &that media outlets wouldnt support, so the label couldnt risk it.

So if you wonder why more people don’t know about The Coup, that email gives you a glimpse as to why.

I mean, if ur a promoter, a media outlet threatening to blacklist you for facilitating The Coup is a damn good reason to not book The Coup.

There are MILLIONS of ppl in the US that think the way I do. U won’t hear them on media, so we have a distorted view of what ppl in US think

The reason that views like mine are kept from mainstream media is specifically so we don’t know how radical our own neighbors are.

Amen, Boots.

The New York Times No Angeling Michael Brown is disgusting. Meanwhile, Darren Wilson, the cop who shot Brown, is presumably still out of state, not indicted. Maybe, with reports that Wilson was previously employed in a police department that was DISBANDED because of racial tensions, the focus will shift to the dude who isn’t an unarmed black man shot six times and left to bleed on the street for hours before someone got a sheet to cover him. From the link:

The small city of Jennings, Mo., had a police department so troubled, and with so much tension between white officers and black residents, that the city council finally decided to disband it. Everyone in the Jennings police department was fired. New officers were brought in to create a credible department from scratch.

That was three years ago. One of the officers who worked in that department, and lost his job along with everyone else, was a young man named Darren Wilson.

This won’t go away because there will be more Michael Browns. More importantly this won’t go away because there is a tremendous accumulation of lesser indignities stemming from institutional racism that builds and builds and builds until something breaks.




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