President Obama

A Set of Experiences, President Obama: Trayvon Martin

Pundits across the Left, Right and Centre have discussed the Trayvon Martin case. Far from the US, in Europe and Britain it has not escaped comment.

Yet few have put their finger on the issue as President Obama does. This short clip touches on one neglected aspect: experiences.

An extract:

“I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.

There are very few African American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me. There are very few African American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me — at least before I was a senator. There are very few African Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.

And I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear. The African American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws — everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case. “

Update 1: Trayvon Martin’s parents show immense dignity at this harrowing time.

Update 2: Huff Post has a poll on the outcome of the trial.

Update 3: Many see this latest injustice as another Emmett Till, Blair L.M. Kelley explains:

“This time we are mourning for a boy from Miami, visiting his father in Sanford, Florida, unaware of the racial terrain in a neighborhood with some crime and an overzealous neighborhood watchman, driven by assumptions. While I am almost sure Trayvon Martin’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sabrina Fulton, talked with him about being cautious and respectful if approached by the police, I’m sure none of their advice prepared him for being followed by George Zimmerman.

We are mourning because Martin’s death at the end of Zimmerman’s gun was initially dismissed by the police as a “Stand Your Ground” case of self-defense, Florida’s version of an ALEC-sponsored law that, unlike most self-defense laws does not require that self-defense is the last resort of someone who cannot escape the altercation. We are mourning that any fistfight might turn into justifiable homicide.

We are proud that Martin’s parents had the courage to publicize their son’s death in order to push for a trial, but we are mourning because unequal justice still seems to be the norm. We are disheartened because we know a Florida woman, Marissa Alexander, is not allowed to stand her ground against an ex-husband with a documented history of abuse, but Zimmerman was found by the court to be justified in believing he needed to kill an unarmed stranger.

And sadly, despite all the changes that have occurred over the past five decades, many of us are mourning, worried about what we should tell to our children that might just keep them safe, as if some set of behaviors could prevent them from being perceived as a threat. We mourn for all our boys.”

Boycotting Israel, Banning Women And The Crazed Right Wing

There is an up-and-coming election in Israel, and my bet is that many Western “anti-Zionists” would pick Benjamin Netanyahu, if they had a vote.

They must positively love Israel’s politically clumsy and callous Prime Minister.

Ever opportunistic those actively behind the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) see a marvellous opportunity, after the recent bloodshed in Gaza and the proposed building of settlements in the E1 area of Jerusalem.

Pro-boycotters are planning to make another move to foment more hostility towards Israelis.

It has to be said, the evidence suggests that pro-boycotters are not terribly concerned with human rights in the wider Middle East, as can be seen by Western attitudes to 20+ months of slaughter in Syria.

The conflict in Syria has resulted in some 40,000 dead Syrians, millions displaced and hundreds of thousands injured, yet not one Western organisation has ever demonstrated outside any Syrian embassy. Not one. Let alone proposed a boycott of Assad’s murderous government.

A similar complacency has been shown towards the imprisonment and torture of human rights activists in Bahrain. Not a single demonstration by Westerners or a proposed boycott of the awful Bahraini regime. And so on.

Across the Middle East in the last few years there have been numerous, hundreds of instances of human rights abuses by the various monarchies, potentates and dictatorships but you would not find an instance of a proposed boycott against them. Not a single demonstration by Westerners outside their embassies.

However, that is not true when Israelis pop into the picture.

Once that happens Westerners become extremely indignant, passionate and will organise demonstrations outside Israeli embassies at the drop of a hat. There is a sense that Western activists are concerned with the Middle East, but only a small part of it.

Still, we should not object to Westerners when they point out human rights abuses, even if it is obviously rather selective and particular. Highlighting abuses of human rights is good, even if certain obsessive Westerners mostly tend to focus on one country in the region.

- – -

Elsewhere, the Church of England has a serious problem with women, or at least putting them in positions of power. Therefore, we should not be too surprised when these poor misogynist attitudes are reflected in the activities of their co-religionists.

As Huff Post reports:

“A university’s Christian society has banned women from speaking at events and teaching at meetings, unless they are accompanied by their husband, it has been revealed.

The Bristol University Christian Union (BUCU) had originally decided women would be allowed to teach at meetings after their international secretary resigned in protest, the group changed its policy. “

- – -

Right Wing Watch has a good page on the crazy antics over at WorldNetDaily:

“5. Obama is a Gay, Secret Muslim, Foreign-Born Imposter

The group’s most well-known “reporter,” Jerome Corsi, believes that President Obama wears a Muslim ring (confusing loops with Arabic), was married to his male Muslim roommate, orchestrated the murder of his gay ex-lovers, was born somewhere outside the United States and his father may be Frank Marshall Davis.

6. Gays Behind the Holocaust and Preparing to Lead the Next One

WND columnist Scott Lively, who is best known for his work in shaping Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, is the author of the book, The Pink Swastika, about how gays were behind Nazism and the Holocaust in order to have “vengeance against the people whose moral laws had relegated pagan homo-occultism to obscurity and ignominy.” WND Super Store sells his bizarre book and WND editor Joseph Farah eagerly endorsed Lively’s claim while warning that the gay rights movement may bring Nazism to America. Another WND columnist, Erik Rush, even maintained that gays are planning a Holocaust against Christians, and WND commentator Judith Reisman argued that gay-straight alliances are modeled after the Hitler Youth. WND’s Molotov Mitchell has also praised Uganda for making homosexuality a capital offense because the founders would’ve agreed.

7. Obama is Orchestrating the Next Holocaust

If gay people don’t do it first, then President Obama must be the one behind the next holocaust. Farah claimed that he discovered proof that Obama wants a new Holocaust in a speech he delivered at Buchenwald where he used the line, “We are here today because we know this work is not yet finished.” Farah admitted that he is taking the line, which was about the need to combat Holocaust denialism, out of context. But since Obama has a tendency of “speaking in code” to Muslim audiences, Farah explained, then he must be sending a secret message to Muslims to kill Jews: “So, I ask you, am I really taking Obama’s words at Buchenwald out of context? Or am I the only one seeing them in context?

8. Secession Now

WND is extremely sympathetic to the secessionist movement, they only differ on the reasons. Farah believes that America may be forced to “literally…break-up” the nation if states continue to legalize same-sex marriage and WND columnist Vox Day called for a white supremacist secession movement to repel the “African, Asian and Aztec cultures” and “immigrants from various non-European nations.” Mitchell even released a video criticizing Abraham Lincoln for his stance against secession. “

There is a peculiar commonality between these attitudes, one that thinks engendering hostility towards Israelis is going to help peace in the Middle East? How treating women as second-class citizens is the way to run an organisation in a modern society? Or that bigoted stupidity aimed at President Obama is convincing?

In all these instances there is a detachment from reality, a falling back on hostile, essentially reactionary attitudes and we should think on, how terribly misplaced they are in the 21st century.

Not that I expect any these points to reach home or resonate with their proponents.

From experience, I have found that those who have, er, issues with Israelis, women or President Obama are generally not amenable to reason or intelligent discussion, on these topics. Pity though.

The Anti-gay Pastor, Partisans And Brands

I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised when another religious leader comes out with hate speech against Gays, but it is really part of an old 17th century mentality.

I wonder if Pastor Charles L. Worley dreams of burning witches too? The  Long Island Press has more:

“A North Carolina pastor outraged by President Obama’s recent support for same-sex marriage stirred up controversy with an sermon on May 13 in which he suggested gays and lesbians be penned in and made to die off.

“The bible’s against it, God’s against it, I’m against it, and if you’ve got any sense you’re against it,” the pastor, who is identified in the video caption as Pastor Charles L. Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church, told his congregation.

He then enlightened his listeners on how he would opt to get rid of gays and lesbians.

“Build a great, big, large fence,  150 or 100 mile long, put all the lesbians in there,” he said. “Do the same thing for the queers and the homosexuals and have that fence electrified so they can’t get out and you know what, in a few years, they’ll die.”

“They can’t reproduce,” he said. Of course, straight couples have gay and lesbian children all the time, so the pastor’s idea wouldn’t really kill off all the gays and lesbians, if he somehow managed to build such a concentration camp.

The pastor added that he won’t be voting for Obama, and described him as “a baby killer and a homosexual lover.” “

(more…)

Gay Marriage, Politics And the Congo

I suppose one of the rules of politics is never to admit anything, but I confess I had never thought of Gay marriage as such a political issue.

Granted, in parts of puritanical America (or backward bits of the Home Counties) it might cause convulsions or foaming at the mouth, but you might imagine by now most people, most adults, intelligent adults would have got over their hangups about homosexuality.

In the wake of President Obama’s support for Gay marriage I had noticed increasing commentary on this topic.

An Australian couple went all the way to Argentina to get married, because they couldn’t do it in Australia.

The Huff Post reports that 4 Gay men are soon to be hanged.

Pew Research shows changing attitudes in the US.

Norm on Gay marriage and Post-modernism, who else could combine the two? Great linkage and a good point.

Even Israel’s right-wing Vice Prime Minister says the State must recognize gay marriage.

An Oxbridge student makes a very pertinent point on societal racism:

“The fact is that society is self-perpetuating. These inequalities of access and opportunity exist and take their toll long before a black (or, for that matter, ‘relatively disadvantaged’) potential applicant even comes to think about applying. “

The Tablet looks at racism in an Israeli football club, Betar Jerusalem.

Last month Doug Saunders suggested that the US is more progressive than you might think.

A Green argues Gove and Hague: The Contradictions of Social Darwinism.

This Obama ad takes on Mitt Romney.

The Israeli military show how stupid they can be, effectively closing a Palestinian school.

Whilst in the Middle East, I had intended to write a long post on the Palestinian hunger strikers and how the Israeli government should try to come to some accord with them, and get around to implementing habeas corpus, but events passed me by and it seems a deal has been done.

Good for the moment but unless there is solid evidence leading to a trial then those under administrative detention should be released.

Habeas corpus is not a luxury, we cannot go back to the era of lettre de cachet. Habeas corpus needs applying, be it in the Middle East, Guantánamo Bay or Northern Ireland.

Dr. Nabeel Hameed, a Bahraini physician on CNN.

The ADL looks at antisemitic text books:

“The books contain passages contrasting Islam with “the Jews and the Nazis,” as well as descriptions of Jews as a “racist,” “treacherous” and “crafty” people.

The books, A Glance at the life of the Holy Prophet of Islam and Prophet Muhammad: A Brief Biography, justify engagement in violent acts of jihad “whenever the time comes for it,” and claim that the Jews of Medina “conspired to kill Prophet Muhammad” after signing covenants with Muhammad and his early followers.

One of the books even highlights to the reader that the very name “Jew” has become “synonymous for treachery” and “the slaying of prophets.” “

Finally, 7 UN peacekeepers were shot in the Congo. Maternal care and mothers in the Congo.

Joking Obama, Lenin’s Demise And Elections.

I haven’t done a round-up of news snippets for, what seems like, ages.

President Obama jokes.

More than 70 years on and people are still concerned about Lenin’s demise.

Why I can’t really say, but had Lenin stayed in Switzerland then conceivably millions might not have been murdered or Russia not run by dictators and kleptomaniacs. Speaking of which, Putin was re-elected as President of Russia.

Be afraid, exultant Greek neo-Nazis warn rivals.

Not forgetting the other election, in Serbia.

Arrested by a robot? Almost.

Opposing the State in China is costly, emotionally, physically and has a toll on families.

Cheerful news from Hope NOT Hate.

These military tribunals might have the trappings of legalism, but they are wrong and ultimately detrimental. The New Yorker has the lighter side of them.

Will Straw’s take on election techniques over at Labour list.

Syrians vote in election dismissed as a sham.

HMG’s continued negligence towards those affected by Thalidomide.

Finally, the CST on Lessons From Nick Griffin and Jeremy Corbyn.

Sudan, Syria, London and Election Bits.

So much happening across the world and so little (infinite) blogging space to put it into.

The Sudanese government seems to be itching for a war in the region and it is the people that really suffer, the Indy reports from Yida:

“On the outskirts of Yida where this month’s 5,000 new arrivals are camping there are hundreds of severely malnourished children. Medical staff at the camp reported twice the normal monthly total of malnutrition cases in the first three weeks of April suggesting a sharply increasing hunger crisis across the border in Khartoum-controlled Southern Kordofan. Refugee leaders at Yida have refused to be relocated further south to the capital of Unity State, Bentiu, complaining the land allocated to them is a “malarial swamp” with no trees. The UN said talks are “ongoing” with the hope of persuading some refugees to relocate to camps further inside South Sudan.

The divorce of the two Sudans last year, which followed a long civil war, left several divisions of what was the southern guerrilla army, the SPLA, inside the interim borders of the new Sudan. The government in Khartoum has accused the south of conspiring with these civil war allies in areas like the Nuba Mountains and launched a brutal offensive against them, which has been marked by the bombing of civilian areas.”

The world looks on as the Syrian government continues to kill people, the BBC on events around Aleppo:

“Live ammunition was reportedly used to disperse an anti-government protest outside dormitories adjacent to Aleppo University’s campus late on Wednesday.

As many as 200 students are thought to have been arrested during the raid.

Aleppo has so far not experienced the violence and large-scale protests seen in other cities during the uprising.

But there have been almost daily demonstrations by its students.”

Apparently, there are elections on for the London Mayor and London assembly, HOPE Not Hate has some sensible advice.

James Bloodworth at Huff Post reminds us of what British fascism could look like. Personally, I feel he’s understates it, but it is worth a read.

I am glad that President Obama has done the right thing.

(more…)