Cultural Diffusion and Cultural Appropriation

From Frontier Centre:

Philip Salzman
August 24, 2017

Anthropologists have long known that one of the major origins of culture is diffusion, the spreading of culture from one place, one population, one society to another.[i] Since the beginning of mankind, every culture developed and evolved through both internal innovation and borrowing from outsiders. This is not debated; it is a fact of human history. It can easily be illustrated by well-known historical examples.

The languages we know as Spanish and French are classed together as Romance languages, because they were adopted and adapted from the Latin of the Romans who conquered the tribes of what is now Spain and France. What we know now as English, is a result of the mixing of Germanic Anglo-Saxon and Norman French. The home of the Semitic language Arabic is the Arabian Peninsula, but its spread throughout Egypt, and North Africa, followed Arab conquests, with Arabic being adopted by the subject populations, while Egyptian and Berber fell into eclipse.  The spread of English around the world, now as the language of science and business, followed the expansion of the British, but the adoption of English continues long after the retreat of the British. Russian was established throughout Central Asia by the expansion of the Russian and later Soviet empires. Today, some Central Asian republics, such as Kyrgyzstan, maintain Russian as an official language. Chinese is the dominant language of the Chinese heartland, but now the language used by Mongols, Turks, and Tibetans under the sway of China. Imperial conquests were not chosen by their recipients, but the imperial languages often were, in some cases entirely superceding local languages.

Religions are not all local inventions, but often are borrowed. Christianity was born in ancient Israel, and originally seen as another form of Judaism, which is not surprising, because Jesus and his followers were all Jews, and the basic ideas of one God and a messiah were integral parts of Judaism. Islam adopted Jewish monotheism and the entire list of Jewish prophets, plus Jesus and Mary, all of whom are claimed to be Muslims, as well as many Jewish customs such as  circumcision and the ban on pork. Christianity and Islam have been adopted in many parts of the world. In the East, there have been adoptions and borrowing among Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Jainism, among others.

Although all cultures include practical knowledge and applied technology, modern science and industry were developed in Western Europe during the Enlightenment and agricultural and industrial revolutions. Other European countries followed to a greater or lesser degree, as did the Americas, borrowing the knowledge generated by these revolutions. The demonstrated superiority of science and industry in technology led to them being adopted widely in the world. Asian countries such as Japan, Taiwan, and Korea, have borrowed and mastered both science and industry, with China and India rapidly catching up. Science and industry serve as examples of culture evolved in one culture centre defusing around the world, borrowed by other peoples and cultures to improve and enrich their lives.

People around the world have borrowed from each other’s cuisine. Hamburgers, pasta, pad thai, bagels, frankfurters, pizza, Chinese, curry, and barbeque have been integrated into popular consumption in many cultures. All of these “foreign” foods are what we serve regularly in our home. Styles of clothes are also widely borrowed. I usually wear an Australian, kangaroo skin hat. Music too is inspired by others’ music, synthesized, and then borrowed and transformed by others. Western music from European classical to American rock and roll has been adopted around the world. Rock and roll and jazz drew on black music, which included elements carried from Africa. Dance too: Latin dances, Scottish dances, Western dances, Irish dances, all danced by anyone and everyone. Our daily life is rife with examples of cultural borrowing.

Recently, a moral or moralizing approach has been taken to cultural borrowing by various commentators and social critics, an approach which deems some borrowing bad, or even evil, and labels it “cultural appropriation.”[ii]

The examples are myriad, creative, and in some cases, surprising.

According to a piece written by a student at Louisiana State University, white women styling their eyebrows to make them look fuller is an example of cultural appropriation. “Current American eyebrow culture also shows a prime example of the cultural appropriation in the country,” Lynne Bunch writes in an article for the Daily Reveille, the school’s official student newspaper.[iii]

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Would Impeaching Trump Truly Lead to Civil War? | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann

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The Test of Nazism That Trump Failed

From The New York Times:

By Timothy Snyder
Aug. 18, 2017

“No. 1, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. No. 2, racism, the least racist person.” So the president said at a news conference in February. These words left me uneasy. A moment ago, as I was looking at photographs of young men in Charlottesville, Va., who were from my home state, Ohio, and thinking about the message “Heil Hitler” on the T-shirt that one wore, it dawned on me why.

I spent years studying the testimonies of Jewish survivors of the Holocaust and the recollections of their rescuers. When the rescuers were asked why they did what they did, they usually avoided the question. If they ventured a reply, it was simply to say that they did what anyone would have done. Historians who read sources develop intuitions about the material. The intuition I developed was that people who bragged about rescuing Jews had generally not done so; they were, in fact, more likely to be anti-Semites and racists. Rescuers almost never boast.

I write these lines in Poland, where the Holocaust is present in every absence, in a house where the Polish Nobel Prize-winning poet Czeslaw Milosz spent his summers when he was the same age as the young men I see in those photographs. In 1943 in Warsaw, he watched as the wind that blew the ash over the wall of the burning ghetto caught the skirts of girls riding a carousel. He noticed how people reached out to catch bits of ash floating through the air like “dark kites.”

I found myself thinking also of another Polish Nobel Prize-winning poet, Wislawa Szymborska. She memorably described a seemingly normal woman who was caught up in her daily cares but, when the moment arrived, ran headlong into a burning building to save children who were not her own.<

“We know ourselves,” Ms. Szymborska wrote, “only insofar as we have been tested.”

Until we have been tested, there is no sense in boasting of our goodness; afterward, there is no need. After Charlottesville, President Trump faced an easy test, and failed. When presented with an obvious opportunity to condemn the evil that was and is Nazism, he first waited, then equivocated, then read from a teleprompter, then relativized. He spoke of “very fine people on both sides.”The Nazi groups that marched in Charlottesville cannot be considered a “side.” When they carry torches, they imitate Nazi rituals. When they perform the call and response of “Trump! Hail” and “Victory! Hail!” they are translating Nazi performances that we know better in German: “Hitler! Heil!” and “Sieg! Heil!” In Charlottesville, American Nazis shouted “Sieg! Heil!” as they passed a synagogue.

The Nazi groups that marched in Charlottesville cannot be considered a “side.” When they carry torches, they imitate Nazi rituals. When they perform the call and response of “Trump! Hail” and “Victory! Hail!” they are translating Nazi performances that we know better in German: “Hitler! Heil!” and “Sieg! Heil!” In Charlottesville, American Nazis shouted “Sieg! Heil!” as they passed a synagogue.

When the supporters of the alt-right chant that “Jews will not replace us,” they recapitulate the Nazi idea of a world Jewry that stifles the master race and must therefore be removed from the planet. When they shout “Blood and soil,” they repeat a Nazi slogan signifying that races will murder races for land without mercy and forever.

These views do not define a “side,” but rather a worldview in which the United States of America, with its Constitution and laws, and with its hard-won daily understandings of rights and responsibilities, would no longer exist.

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Transgender ban in military may begin in months, say reports citing White House memo

From Navy Times:

August 24, 2017

A ban on transgender service members in the military may begin within six months, according to a White House memo cited in news reports Wednesday night.

Within days the White House is expected to give the Pentagon guidance on banning transgender people from serving in the military, and to cease spending on medical treatments for transgender service members, according to information first reported by The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, citing U.S. officials familiar with the memo.

According to the report, the new policy would give Defense Secretary Jim Mattis some discretion in considering a service member’s ability to deploy when deciding whether that person should be separated from the military.

President Donald Trump first announced his intention to ban transgender individuals from serving in the military on July 26 in a series of tweets. Since that time, the Pentagon has sent staff to assist the White House in turning the tweet into policy, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters earlier this month.

A Pentagon spokesman said as of Thursday morning it had not received any official guidance from the White House.

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Why we fell for clean eating

From The Guardian UK:

The oh-so-Instagrammable food movement has been thoroughly debunked – but it shows no signs of going away. The real question is why we were so desperate to believe it.

Friday 11 August 2017

In the spring of 2014, Jordan Younger noticed that her hair was falling out in clumps. “Not cool” was her reaction. At the time, Younger, 23, believed herself to be eating the healthiest of all possible diets. She was a “gluten-free, sugar-free, oil-free, grain-free, legume-free, plant-based raw vegan”. As The Blonde Vegan, Younger was a “wellness” blogger in New York City, one of thousands on Instagram (where she had 70,000 followers) rallying under the hashtag #eatclean. Although she had no qualifications as a nutritionist, Younger had sold more than 40,000 copies of her own $25, five-day “cleanse” programme – a formula for an all-raw, plant-based diet majoring on green juice.

But the “clean” diet that Younger was selling as the route to health was making its creator sick. Far from being super-healthy, she was suffering from a serious eating disorder: orthorexia, an obsession with consuming only foods that are pure and perfect. Younger’s raw vegan diet had caused her periods to stop and given her skin an orange tinge from all the sweet potato and carrots she consumed (the only carbohydrates she permitted herself). Eventually, she sought psychological help, and began to slowly widen the repertoire of foods she would allow herself to eat, starting with fish. She recognised that the problem was not her veganism, per se, but the particularly rigid and restrictive diet regime she had imposed on herself.

As Younger slowly recovered from her eating disorder, she faced a new dilemma. “What would people think”, she agonised, “if they knew the Blonde Vegan was eating fish?” She levelled with her followers in a blogpost entitled Why I’m Transitioning Away from Veganism. Within hours of announcing her new diet, Younger was receiving irate messages from vegans demanding money back from the cleanse programmes and T-shirts they had bought from her site (featuring slogans such as “OH KALE YES”).

She lost followers “by the thousands” and received a daily raft of angry messages, including death threats. Some responded to her confession that she was suffering from an eating disorder by accusing her of being a “fat piece of lard” who didn’t have the discipline to be truly “clean”.

For as long as people have eaten food, there have been diets and quack cures. But previously, these existed, like conspiracy theories, on the fringes of food culture. “Clean eating” was different, because it established itself as a challenge to mainstream ways of eating, and its wild popularity over the past five years has enabled it to move far beyond the fringes. Powered by social media, it has been more absolutist in its claims and more popular in its reach than any previous school of modern nutrition advice.

At its simplest, clean eating is about ingesting nothing but “whole” or “unprocessed” foods (whatever is meant by these deeply ambiguous terms). Some versions of clean eating have been vegan, while others espouse various meats (preferably wild) and something mysteriously called “bone broth” (stock, to you and me). At first, clean eating sounded modest and even homespun: rather than counting calories, you would eat as many nutritious home-cooked substances as possible.

But it quickly became clear that “clean eating” was more than a diet; it was a belief system, which propagated the idea that the way most people eat is not simply fattening, but impure. Seemingly out of nowhere, a whole universe of coconut oil, dubious promises and spiralised courgettes has emerged. Back in the distant mists of 2009, James Duigan, owner of The Bodyism gym in London and sometime personal trainer to the model Elle MacPherson, published his first Clean and Lean book. As an early adopter of #eatclean, Duigan notes that he “battled” with his publisher “to include ingredients like kale and quinoa, because no one had ever heard of them”. Now quinoa is in every supermarket and kale has become as normal as lettuce. “I long for the days when clean eating meant not getting too much down your front,” the novelist Susie Boyt joked recently.

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Anti-Defamation League head says violent ‘alt-left’ is a right-wing media lie: ‘It’s not comparable’

From Raw Story:

David Ferguson
20 Aug 2017

Jonathan Greenblatt — CEO and National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) — told MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts on Sunday that the idea of a violent “alt-left” is a right-wing myth and that there is no equivalency between the violent hate groups of the right and the people who resist them.

In response to President Donald Trump’s assertion that there are “fine people” on both sides of the neo-Nazi question, Greenblatt said, “There are no fine people among the ranks of Nazis. Then they tried to divert the conversation to the quote-unquote ‘alt-left,’ but look, there is no comparable side on the left to the ‘alt-right.’”

The alt-right, he said, “are white supremacists who amass with an idea of pushing a nationalist agenda that pushes out minorities based on how you pray, who you love or where you’re from. So, it’s really not comparable.”

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How Trump’s Homophobic USDA Chief Scientist Pick Directly Threatens LGBTQ People

From Huffington Post:

Sam Clovis’ bigotry is dangerous to LGBTQ workers in agriculture.

By Michelangelo Signorile

Donald Trump’s grotesquely homophobic choice for chief scientist at the United States Department of Agriculture holds a bachelor’s degree in political science, a master’s in business and a PhD in public administration. In other words, he has no qualifications to serve in a scientific capacity at the USDA. He also is a climate change denier, and he helped stoke the racist birther lie about President Obama. Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer yesterday called on Trump to immediately withdraw the nomination, calling Clovis “wildly unqualified.”

As reported this week by CNN’s KFile, Clovis peddles junk science about LGBTQ people: Specifically that homosexuality is a “choice” and that legalizing same-sex marriage would lead to pedophilia. His views are not just an insult to queer Americans: They are a direct threat to those who benefit from USDA efforts aimed at aiding LGBTQ farmers and others in the industry who’ve struggled with discrimination for many years, and who will likely be harmed if Clovis is put in such a prominent position.

As a radio host and blogger, Clovis, who was a co-chair of the Trump-Pence 2016 election campaign and is currently a temporary advisor to the USDA, has argued that LGBTQ people should not be protected under civil rights laws. At one campaign stop during his failed 2014 run for the U.S Senate in Iowa he stated:

“There’s no equivalency there between the civil rights issue associated between those protected classes and the civil rights of someone who engages in a particular behavior Follow the logic, if you engage in a particular behavior, what also becomes protected? If we protect LGBT behavior, what other behaviors are we going to protect? Are we going to protect pedophilia? Are we going to protect polyamorous marriage relationships? Are we going to protect people who have fetishes? What’s the logical extension of this? It can’t be that we’re going to protect LGBT and then we’ll pull up the ladder. That’s not going to happen, it defies logic. We’re not thinking the consequences of these decisions through.

Some people might believe that even though no one with such beliefs has any place in government, Clovis couldn’t do much harm to LGBTQ people at the USDA, a department of the government that one doesn’t associate with civil rights. But in fact, under President Obama, discrimination in all aspects of society and governmental agencies was addressed over time, including at the USDA. The USDA’s non-discrimination statement includes sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. Those protections extend to some (though not all) USDA-funded private programs.

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The Real American Heritage

From The New York Times:

Aug. 18, 2017

Before they die, before they disappear into the opaque mist of history, the last Americans to fight Nazi Germany have to face one more blast of something they thought they’d eliminated in the bloodiest war of all time.

Every day we lose an average of 362 World War II veterans — the boys from the Bronx, the farmers from Nebraska, the kids yanked from late-adolescent languor to fight a monster. I asked one of them, Caesar Civitella, Nazi-killer and son of an Italian immigrant, how it felt to see Hitler’s flags paraded over our soil last weekend.

And make no mistake, those were the flags of a genocidal force at the Charlottesville, Va., rally last weekend, the one in which some “very fine people,” in President Trump’s infamous words, participated. The polo-shirt fascists were brandishing Othala rune and Black Sun symbols — both used by the SS, the paramilitary muscle behind the slaughter of six million Jews.

“These neo-Nazis, whatever you call them — I thought we’d ended all that,” Civitella said, sounding both mournful and feisty. “These people have nothing to do with American values.”

I found this soldier of World War II at his home in St. Petersburg, Fla., where he is a local hero for living a life that deserves a movie. He will be 94 on Aug. 21, the day of the total solar eclipse — “Jesus Christ’s way of saying happy birthday,” he said.

Within a generation’s time, nearly all of the 16 million American veterans who served in World War II will be gone. And the biggest insult, the gravest disservice of Trump’s giving comfort to Hitler sympathizers, is to those who fought to save the world from evil more than 70 years ago.

“Because I’m old, now 94, I recognize these omens of doom,” wrote Harry Leslie Smith, a Royal Air Force veteran, in an essay this week in The Guardian. “Chilling signs are everywhere, perhaps the biggest being that the U.S. allows itself to be led by Donald Trump, a man deficient in honor, wisdom and just simple human kindness.”

To those grave deficiencies, you can add one more: historical illiteracy. In his grievance-burst of a news conference this week, Trump had this to say about those who showed up to protest the neo-Nazis and neo-Confederates: “You are changing history, you’re changing culture.”

In truth, it was the raising of statues in the early 20th century — when the Lost Cause whitewash of the confederacy of slaveholders was in full swing — that was an attempt to change both culture and history. George Washington will be next, Trump said, using a line that neo-Nazis throw around at their hatefests.

The founders, flawed but brilliant men, put their lives at risk to create a nation built on principles that took a long time to realize. Robert E. Lee was a traitor, the best general of a war that killed more Americans than any other. His statue no more belongs on a pedestal than does that of Hitler’s most proficient military man.

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Before you get too worked up, keep this in mind about today’s trans military ban rumor

From LGBTQ Nation:

Thursday, August 24, 2017

LGBT media has exploded after a Wall Street Journal report that the White House may be ready to send the Pentagon guidance on how to implement Donald Trump‘s nonsensical ban on transgender people in the military. But before we hit peak outrage, it’s important to remember something.

Issuing a guidance memo is not the same as setting official policy. The memo gives Defense Secretary Jim Mattis six months to come up with a formal policy. After that policy is actually written, it could still take months to implement. By that time, Trump might not even be president (although Mike Pence would surely continue the ban).

The newspaper also notes that Trump’s guidance would give Mattis the decision on whether or not to discharge currently serving service members based on “deployability.” As the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy was winding down, a similar measure was implemented and discharges more or less stopped. With Mattis in opposition to the policy and already on record saying that trans soldiers do not affect military readiness, chances are high that he won’t discharge anyone. This could change under a new Defense Secretary, of course, but if the guidance actually says that, it’s (somewhat) good news for trans service members.

And finally, keep in mind that a “religious freedom” executive order has been rumored to be released “soon” twice now. It has never actually been realized. While the Wall Street Journal reports that they’ve seen the guidance, until it’s actually delivered to the Pentagon, nothing has changed since Trump announced his ban on Twitter. Earlier this month, after all, the same story (a guidance policy has been written and will be sent to the Pentagon soon!) circulated based on anonymous sources, but nothing happened.

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The Nazis This Time

From The Tablet:

“I grew up in America in late forties, and if we said the word Jew, we whispered it. This will not save us in the 21st century.”

By Anne Roiphe
August 17, 2017

This is not social anti-Semitism. I don’t want you in my club. I don’t want you dating my daughter. I don’t want you in my hotel. This is the more murderous kind. I don’t want you to breathe. I don’t want your children to eat. I want you gone. “Jews will not replace us.” Is the call of the rabid wolf in the forest. We have heard it before. The angry faces, the Nazi symbols, intended to frighten, intended to warn away the faint of heart, these we saw a few days ago in Charlottesville. How many of those young men had actually ever met a Jewish person I don’t know, but it seems unlikely that their schools, neighborhoods, and jobs were being overrun by hungry Jews. The Jew is then a symbol of a different America, a tolerant and educated America, an America that still dreams of better lives for all. These white polo shirted torch bearers are the people whose right to bear arms is protected by our government and they want us dead which is the most efficient way to have us gone. I am certainly not the only Jew who has nightmares that cannot be put to rest.

There has been a backlash against Donald Trump’s support of Nazi groups. But in all the talk I have hardly heard the word Jew. And it is important that we say it aloud. It is African Americans they despise. It is Jews they fear. We all know where this talk can lead. We saw it in Germany 1940-1945. We saw it the lynchings and the grim faces of those who tried to prevent small black children from attending decent schools.

As I watched on television the stream of torches and shouts of hatred pass by I thought of the Thanksgiving Day parade with balloons of beloved animals. I thought of the churches and synagogues across America where the services end in a prayer for America, not an America that belonged to one group or another but all of our Americas, bagels and borscht, pork chops and brisket, turkey and yogurt, petit fours and birthday cake. I thought of all the Jewish soldiers fighting in France, in Okinawa, in Kabul. Can it be that we are replacing anyone?

We need Jewish leadership to speak out now. We shouldn’t assume this will pass. It won’t pass because it is buried in the bone of the country. It is not a majority view and no Jew should be packing up just yet, but it is a very unsettling echo of other places and times. We need politicians to say the word Jew, my Jewish friend, my Jewish colleague, my son’s Jewish college roommate. We need to assert our own American presence and not be silent, hoping for the cloud to pass.

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Bannon, Mattis and the fate of the trans military ban

From The Los Angeles Blade:

by Karen Ocamb
August 18, 2017

Former White House strategist and Presidential advisor Steve Bannon is out. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement Friday saying: “White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day. We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.”

Pressure from human rights organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, had been mounting on the administration to fire populist Bannon after Trump’s full-throated defense of white supremacy in the aftermath of violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“The president, who continues to sow hate and division, clearly did not fire [Steve] Bannon because of his white supremacist views and ties to the so-called ‘alt-right,’” Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said in a statement. “Unless and until the president calls out evil; disavows neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and white supremacists; fires these staffers; and abandons his administration’s anti-civil rights agenda, he will continue to have no moral credibility.”

What Bannon will do next is fodder for rampant speculation.  Several media outlets have reported that he will return to Breitbart News or he may launch his own media outlet with backing from billionaire Robert Mercer.

Jonathan Swan from Axios reports: “A source familiar with Breitbart’s operations told me they would go ‘thermonuclear’ against ‘globalists’ that Bannon and his friends believe are ruining the Trump administration, and by extension, America. Watch for Breitbart’s Washington Editor Matt Boyle to be a central figure in this war — which has already begun — against White House officials like HR McMaster, Dina Powell, Gary Cohn, and Jared and Ivanka.”

Others think Bannon will side-step a war on Trump and only go after the “globalists,” which includes the generals: retired four-star Marine Corps general Sec. John F. Kelly, now Trump’s chief of staff, who fired him and National Security Advisor Army Lt. General H.R. McMaster, who pushed Bannon off the national security council and the subject of a relentless Breitbart attack.

The tension between McMaster and Bannon got so bad at one point that Sec. of Defense James Mattis had to intervene. Mattis, a retired four star Marine general, has also not escaped Bannon’s ire, albeit more subtly, as noted in a surprising interview with the liberal American Prospect magazine.

Bannon, the co-founder and co-editor Robert Kuttner wrote, was in “high spirits” during the interview, asserting that he knew better about trade and military policy in Asia than the professionals. “But what about his internal adversaries, at the departments of State and Defense, who think the United States can enlist Beijing’s aid on the North Korean standoff, and at Treasury and the National Economic Council who don’t want to mess with the trading system?” Kuttner asked.

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‘We’re Not Non-violent, We’ll F***ing Kill These People’: Alt-right Leader Issues Terrorist Threat

From Political Dig:

Aug 16, 2017

Shocking footage has been released by Vice News, offering a chilling look at the white supremacists involved in the violent Charlottesville rally – and a disturbing prediction that more people will die.

A Vice News camera crew followed a racist alt-right leader Christopher Cantwell and fellow bigots as violence erupted in the streets, leaving an anti-racism activist dead.

As clashes broke out between counter-protesters, Cantwell declares: “We’re not non-violent, we’ll f***ing kill these people if we have to.”

Cantwell anticipated more violence at the white supremacists’ next rally, saying: “I think a lot more people are going to die before we’re done here.”

The 22-minute documentary is filled with chilling declarations and warnings from white supremacists, including Robert Ray, who says: “We’re starting to slowly unveil a little bit of our power level, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

The video offers an insight into the racist minds of the rally’s organizers and supporters, who were flanked by a heavily-armed militia.

Cantwell, smirking, predicted further protests and more violence, adding: “I’d say [Charlottesville is] going to be really tough to top but we’re up to the challenge.

“I think a lot more people are going to die before we’re done here, frankly. Why? Because people die every day.

“People die violent deaths all of the time, this is part of the reason we want an etho state.”

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The far right has declared cultural war – we have to stop them now

From The Guardian UK:

For some in the US, the civil war never really ended. The violence seen in Virginia this weekend must serve as a wake-up call to progressives the world over

Monday 14 August 2017

The memoirs of Union general William Tecumseh Sherman make uncomfortable reading. In among the battle orders and the racist depiction of freed slaves, he switches occasionally to reminiscences of the post-war era, and amicable meetings with former Confederate enemies. Over cards and supper, he accepts their assurance that, if anybody ordered the massacre of all-black units during the fighting, it wasn’t them.

Sherman opposed the emancipation of the slaves, sabotaged his own troops efforts to free them and used slave labour on his fortifications. Yet he did one thing that, in light of the fascist march in Charlottesville, we can learn from today. He waged total war on his enemies. He ordered his troops to rip up miles of rail track, torch the farms of slave-owners who resisted and burn Atlanta. Then he set off for the sea, pledging famously, that since war was the remedy the south had chosen, “I say let us give them all they want.”

Nobody, seeing the militias parading with assault rifles and Kevlar this weekend, wants the US to descend into conflict. But the low-level political violence and severe cultural dislocations of the US today contain obvious parallels with the years before the American civil war.

As the historian Allan Nevins observed, by the late 1850s white America had become “two peoples”, whose radically different cultural identities could no longer be contained in one polity.

Then, the “two peoples” were shaped by rival economic models: industry and the free market versus sharecropping and slavery. But the concepts the Confederates took into battle with them have survived: states’ rights versus the federal government; white supremacy; the concept of an ethnically defined nation with a destiny nominated by God.

And they have not survived by accident. The statue of Confederate commander Robert E Lee, which Charlottesville’s city council voted to remove, is one of a string of monuments that have become icons of resistance for the rightwing cultural movement now energised by Donald Trump’s victory.

Nathan Bedford Forrest, the southern cavalry commander who massacred black soldiers and went on to found the Ku Klux Klan, is celebrated not only by an official statue in Memphis, but an unofficial gold one on private land in Nashville, surrounded by Confederate flags. Forrest was a military genius whose guerilla tactics are studied in US military academies to this day. But so was Wehrmacht Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. They were both fighting for genocide and racial supremacy.

So with Confederate flags mixed with swastikas on the streets of Charlottesville, it is not just the US but progressive people across the world who have to ask a tough question: what are we prepared to do to defeat the racist right?

They have declared cultural war on us. “This entire community is a very far-left community,” Jason Kessler, the organiser of the Unite the Right march, told the media, adding that Charlottesville’s residents had “absorbed these cultural Marxist principles advocated in college towns across the country, about blaming white people for everything.”

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For Whom Has Trump Made America Great? | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann

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British PM says ‘no equivalence’ between fascists and their opponents

From The Times of Israel:

In implicit criticism of US president, Theresa May insists it’s ‘important for all those in positions of responsibility to condemn far-right views wherever we hear them’

August 16, 2017

LONDON — Far-right views should always be condemned and there could be no equivalence with opponents of fascism, British Prime Minister Theresa May said Wednesday in comments that implicitly criticized US President Donald Trump.

In the Virginia college town of Charlottesville on Saturday, a rally by neo-Nazis and white supremacists over the removal of a Confederate statue erupted in clashes with counter-demonstrators.

Trump has sparked a political firestorm by reiterating his views Tuesday that there was “blame on both sides” for Saturday’s violence.

The melee ended in bloodshed when a 20-year-old suspected Nazi sympathizer plowed his car into a crowd of anti-racism protesters, leaving one woman dead and 19 people injured.

Asked about Trump’s comments in the wake of the Charlottesville violence, May said: “I see no equivalence between those who propound fascist views and those who oppose them. I think it is important for all those in positions of responsibility to condemn far-right views wherever we hear them.”

“I absolutely abhor the racism, the hatred and the violence that we have seen portrayed by these groups,” she told reporters in Portsmouth on the southern English coast.

“The United Kingdom has taken action to ban far-right groups here, we have proscribed certain far-right groups,” she added.

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‘Antifa’ Grows as Left-Wing Faction Set to, Literally, Fight the Far Right

From The New York Times:

OAKLAND, Calif. — Last weekend, when a 27-year-old bike messenger showed up at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., he came ready for battle. He joined a human chain that stretched in front of Emancipation Park and linked his arms with others, blocking waves of white supremacists — some of them in full Nazi regalia — from entering.

“As soon as they got close,” said the young man, who declined to give his real name and goes by Frank Sabaté after the famous Spanish anarchist, “they started swinging clubs, fists, shields. I’m not embarrassed to say that we were not shy in defending ourselves.”

Sabaté is an adherent of a controversial force on the left known as antifa. The term, a contraction of the word “anti-fascist,” describes the loose affiliation of radical activists who have surfaced in recent months at events around the country and have openly scuffled with white supremacists, right-wing extremists and, in some cases, ordinary supporters of President Trump. Energized in part by Mr. Trump’s election, they have sparred with their conservative opponents at political rallies and college campus speaking engagements, arguing that one crucial way to combat the far right is to confront its supporters on the streets.

Unlike most of the counterdemonstrators in Charlottesville and elsewhere, members of antifa have shown no qualms about using their fists, sticks or canisters of pepper spray to meet an array of right-wing antagonists whom they call a fascist threat to American democracy. As explained this week by a dozen adherents of the movement, the ascendant new right in the country requires a physical response.

“People are starting to understand that neo-Nazis don’t care if you’re quiet, you’re peaceful,” said Emily Rose Nauert, a 20-year-old antifa member who became a symbol of the movement in April when a white nationalist leader punched her in the face during a melee near the University of California, Berkeley.

“You need violence in order to protect nonviolence,” Ms. Nauert added. “That’s what’s very obviously necessary right now. It’s full-on war, basically.”

Others on the left disagree, saying antifa’s methods harm the fight against right-wing extremism and have allowed Mr. Trump to argue that the two sides are equivalent. These critics point to the power of peaceful disobedience during the civil rights era, when mass marches and lunch-counter protests in the South slowly eroded the legal enshrinement of discrimination.

“We’re against violence, just straight up,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, which tracks hate groups. “If you want to protest racists and anti-Semites, it needs to be peacefully and hopefully somewhere away from where those guys are rallying.”

Antifa adherents — some armed with sticks and masked in bandannas — played a visible role in the running street battles in Charlottesville, but it is impossible to know how many people count themselves as members of the movement. Its followers acknowledge it is secretive, without official leaders and organized into autonomous local cells. It is also only one in a constellation of activist movements that have come together in the past several months to the fight the far right.

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Who’s Backing Away From Trump? Everyone. | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann

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No, Mr Trump, we’re not the same as the neo-Nazis

From The Guardian UK:

In Charlottesville I faced off with men bearing torches and swastikas shouting ‘Jews will not replace us’. Yet the president thinks both sides are to blame

Tuesday 15 August 2017

The president of the United States called a mob of people marching with torches and chanting Nazi slogans “very fine people”. Fine people don’t chant Nazi slogans. Fine people don’t surround and attack college students. And fine people don’t stand with those who do.

I was there that night in Charlottesville. I can say with certainty that the only fine people I saw were the young students who stood outnumbered and ready to defend their campus and their beliefs against an onslaught of demagoguery.

I know some of those students. They were ready to die for what they believed in. I was prepared to die, too. A man wearing a swastika pin shouted transphobic and racist vitriol at me, inches from my face.

The only fine people that night were those sprayed with mace and doused with lighter fluid from the torches that they were beaten with, afraid of being burned alive. Fine people don’t wear swastikas. Yet President Trump blamed both sides, despite the fact that only one side was run down by a terrorist.

I was there when the attack happened. Despite the president deeming me – a transgender woman – unfit for military service, I ran toward the attacker with a weapon. I was ready to engage him if he tried to hurt more people.

I reached out to groups attending this event from the left, right and center to urge nonviolence. Meanwhile, the “unite the right” marchers said things like “we’ll fucking kill them if we have to” on camera.

The president can think “both sides” are to blame as long as he wants – but only one side beat a black man nearly to death with poles in a parking garage while hurling racist insults. It wasn’t our side. So why is the president blaming us along with the neo-Nazis?

It wasn’t the Ku Klux Klan and those who wave flags from the Third Reich who were urging nonviolence and trying to save lives in Charlottesville. It was leftist activists like me.

There is no room at the table for both you and decency, Mr President. As someone who stood face to face with men bearing torches and swastikas shouting “Jews will not replace us,” as someone who saw the blood spilled in Charlottesville first-hand, I can tell you this: you aren’t on my side. You aren’t on America’s side. You are on the wrong side.

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The Klan Comes for Me.

From This is Queerish:

That we would still be fighting the Civil War over 150 years after that surrender is either a great shock, or entirely predictable, depending on whom you ask.

Jenny Boylan
Aug. 18, 2017

Boothbay Harbor, Maine

The Burnt Island Light stands at the entrance to Boothbay Harbor. Built in 1821, it’s the second oldest lighthouse in Maine, and it’s one of the things that makes this town postcard pretty — along with its rocky shores and hushed coves. At this time of year, the streets are full of tourists and “summerpeople,” folks who’ve travelled here from around the country to enjoy — as our state bumper stickers say — “the way life should be.”

On Wednesday morning, fliers for the Ku Klux Klan appeared in town. This was the day after the President allowed as how some of the Neo-nazis in Charlottesville “were good people.”

That white nationalists, Klansmen, and Nazis live in Maine should surprise no one. The Klan thrived in this state in the 1920s, and in large measure was responsible for the election of Ralph Brewster, of Gardiner, as Governor in 1922. Back then, the victims of the Klan’s hate were the usual targets — immigrants, people of color, and Catholics.

But the fliers appearing this week have a new target.

TRANSGENDER IS AN ABOMINATION, they read, and quoted Deuternomy 22:5 (the one in which the Lord takes a very particular interest in what you’re wearing.) This was accompanied by a ripped photograph of a creepy dude with a beard and a bad wig looking menacingly at a terrified schoolgirl. THEY ARE JEOPARDIZING THE SAFETY OF BATHROOMS ACROSS THE NATION FOR OUR WOMEN AND CHILDREN, it continued. This was followed by a website URL for the Klan.

That website urged people to call the 24-Hour 800 number Klanline, where a recorded voice urged callers to “have a great white day.”

I’ve lived in Maine for just shy of thirty years now, sixteen of those years as an out trans woman. I’d be lying if I said that everyone I’ve encountered was universally accepting, but mostly people have been pleasant enough — and indeed, earlier this very day someone who’d seen me on television stopped me on the street to tell me her “heart had opened.” On another occasion, a conservative friend of mine (who’d been worried about my appearance pre-transition as I unexpectedly became more willowy) discussed the denouement of that transformation with his brother. “I finally found out what was wrong with Boylan,” he said.

When his brother asked him, “What?” my friend replied, with a grin: “Not a goddamn thing.”

And yet, here we are, in 2017, with a president allowing as how both Nazis and those who oppose them are morally more or less the same. Meanwhile, our Tea Party governor, Paul LePage, said on the day after the KKK flyers appeared that taking down Confederate statues was the same as taking down monuments to the victims of 9/11. (He also said that he didn’t hear anything about the disaster in Charlottesville until Tuesday because he doesn’t watch television or read newspapers. He calls journalists “pencil terrorists.”)

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‘They’re freaking chanting Jews will not replace us!’: Cooper corners guest for downplaying neo-Nazi rally

From Raw Story:

15 Aug 2017

When a guest on Anderson Cooper 360 tried to dismiss the neo-Nazis and klansmen at Saturday’s “Unite the Right” rally as a few bad apples, both the host and other guests were not having it.

“Today he’s saying that the people who were rallying around the Robert E. Lee statue on Friday night, with tiki torches of all things, chanting ‘Jews will not replace us’ and ‘blood and soil,’ calling the small group of counterprotesters who were there, calling them faggots — how do you defend that?” Cooper asked former George W. Bush staffer and current President Donald Trump supporter Paris Dennard.  “How do you defend the president for what he said today? Those people — he was saying that they were just quietly protesting the statue.”

“There were people on the other side chanting ‘Black Lives Matter,’” Dennard began, attempting to claim that not all the people present at the rally were violent white supremacists.

In a bizarre inverse of Trump’s claim of record-breaking crowds at his inauguration, Dennard continued his line of pursuit by claiming the majority of the crowds in Charlottesville weren’t violent bigots.

“What you’re saying literally makes no sense,” Cooper retorted. “I’m not characterizing the Black Lives Matter people as neo-Nazis — there was a small group of them, of mostly UVA students and their supporters, around the statue when the neo-Nazis arrived. It’s the people with tiki torches that the president is talking about as just being quiet, good people there just to protest the [removal of the] statue. They’re freaking chanting ‘Jews will not replace us’ on the streets of America.”

Even Dennards fellow guests took issue with his line of reasoning.

“The event said it was a pro-white demonstration,” CNN analyst Kirsten Powers said. “That’s what those people were there to do. Why are you acting like it’s just a few random bad apples?”

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