We Legitimize the ‘So-Called’ Confederacy With Our Vocabulary, and That’s a Problem

From Smithsonian:  https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/we-legitimize-so-called-confederacy-vocabulary-thats-problem-180964830/

Tearing down monuments is only the beginning to understanding the false narrative of Jim Crow

By Christopher Wilson
Smithsonian.com
September 12, 2017

As the debate escalates over how we publicly remember the Civil War following the tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia, the passionate and contentious disputes have centered on symbols like monuments, street names and flags. According to a study by the Southern Poverty Law Center, at least 1,503 symbols to the Confederacy are displayed in public spaces, mostly in the South and the Border States, but even in decidedly Yankee locales like Massachusetts. Most of these monuments sprang from the Lost Cause tradition that developed in the wake of the war, during the establishment of white supremacist Jim Crow laws around 1900, and as a response to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Those artifacts are not the only way we legitimize and honor the deadly and racist 19th-century rebellion against the United States. Much of the language used in reference to the Civil War glorifies the rebel cause.

The language we turn to in describing the war, from speaking of compromise and plantations, to characterizing the struggle as the North versus the South, or referring to Robert E. Lee as a General, can lend legitimacy to the violent, hateful and treasonous southern rebellion that tore the nation apart from 1861 to 1865; and from which we still have not recovered. Why do we often describe the struggle as between two equal entities? Why have we shown acceptance of the military rank given by an illegitimate rebellion and unrecognized political entity? In recent years, historians in academia and in the public sphere have been considering these issues.

Historian Michael Landis suggests professional scholars should seek to change the language we use in interpreting and teaching history. He agrees with people like legal scholar Paul Finkelman and historian Edward Baptist when they suggest the Compromise of 1850 be more accurately referred to as an Appeasement. The latter word precisely reflects the sway that Southern slaveholders held in the bargain. Landis goes on to suggest that we call plantations what they really were—slave labor camps; and drop the use of the term, “the Union.” A common usage in the 19th century to be sure, but now we only use “the Union” in reference to the Civil War and on the day of the State of the Union address. A better way to speak of the nation during the war, he argues, is to use its name, the United States.

In the same way, we could change the way we refer to secessionist states. When we talk of the Union versus the Confederacy, or especially when we present the strife as the North versus the South, we set up a parallel dichotomy in which the United States is cast as equal to the Confederate States of America. But was the Confederacy really a nation and should we refer to it as such?

The language we turn to in describing the war, from speaking of compromise and plantations, to characterizing the struggle as the North versus the South, or referring to Robert E. Lee as a General, can lend legitimacy to the violent, hateful and treasonous southern rebellion that tore the nation apart from 1861 to 1865; and from which we still have not recovered. Why do we often describe the struggle as between two equal entities? Why have we shown acceptance of the military rank given by an illegitimate rebellion and unrecognized political entity? In recent years, historians in academia and in the public sphere have been considering these issues.

Historian Michael Landis suggests professional scholars should seek to change the language we use in interpreting and teaching history. He agrees with people like legal scholar Paul Finkelman and historian Edward Baptist when they suggest the Compromise of 1850 be more accurately referred to as an Appeasement. The latter word precisely reflects the sway that Southern slaveholders held in the bargain. Landis goes on to suggest that we call plantations what they really were—slave labor camps; and drop the use of the term, “the Union.” A common usage in the 19th century to be sure, but now we only use “the Union” in reference to the Civil War and on the day of the State of the Union address. A better way to speak of the nation during the war, he argues, is to use its name, the United States.

In the same way, we could change the way we refer to secessionist states. When we talk of the Union versus the Confederacy, or especially when we present the strife as the North versus the South, we set up a parallel dichotomy in which the United States is cast as equal to the Confederate States of America. But was the Confederacy really a nation and should we refer to it as such?

Continue reading at:  https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/we-legitimize-so-called-confederacy-vocabulary-thats-problem-180964830/

White supremacists fly into white-hot rage at news some Vikings may have been Muslim

From Raw Story: https://www.rawstory.com/2017/10/white-supremacists-fly-into-white-hot-rage-at-news-some-vikings-may-have-been-muslim/


13 Oct 2017

On Friday, word of an Uppsala University study suggesting that some ancient Vikings were Muslim converts went rocketing around the Internet and hit Twitter like a bomb.

Uppsala researchers found Vikings buried in Sweden with cloth inscribed with the word “Allah,” the Muslim word for “God,” suggesting that as they roamed the world, Vikings encountered adherents to Islam and perhaps some of them converted.

Vikings are one of white supremacists’ most favorite things, embodying the “racial purity” and ferocity in war that thousands of 4chan keyboard warriors aspire to. Nazi websites like The Daily Stormer regularly truck in Viking imagery and Norse myth when appealing to disaffected whites, so the news that some Vikings could be Muslim was bound to hit some racists pretty hard.

Indeed, reactions on Twitter broke down into two categories, gleefully cackling liberals and dubious, skeptical people with “Deplorable” in their screen name or tiny U.S. flags next to their avatars.

The conservative consensus on the news was that Vikings might have plundered some Muslim fabrics to take back home, but that Vikings would never, ever, ever worship those brown people’s God, what are you thinking?

Continue reading at:  https://www.rawstory.com/2017/10/white-supremacists-fly-into-white-hot-rage-at-news-some-vikings-may-have-been-muslim/

Margaret Atwood: Rise of Trump Brings Echoes of 1930s Europe

From Common Dreams:  https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/10/14/margaret-atwood-rise-trump-brings-echoes-1930s-europe

Author made remarks ahead of receiving award for “political intuition and clairvoyance when it comes to dangerous underlying trends and currents.”

Andrea Germanos, staff writer
Saturday, October 14, 2017

Noted author Margaret Atwood said Saturday that “it’s a moment of turmoil everywhere” and that the election of Donald Trump has brought echoes of 1930s Europe.

“It feels the closest to the 1930s of anything that we have had since that time,” she aid from Frankfurt, where she will receive Sunday this year’s Peace Prize of the German Book Trade.

“People in Europe saw the United States as a beacon of democracy, freedom, openness, and they did not want to believe that anything like that could ever happen there,” she said.

“But now, she continued, “times have changed, and, unfortunately it becomes more possible to think in those terms.”

The head of the German Book Trade, Heinrich Riethmueller, said the 77-year-old Canadian was receiving the accolade for “political intuition and clairvoyance when it comes to dangerous underlying trends and currents.”

Indeed, the television adaptation her 1985 dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, a show that recently captured eight Emmys, was dubbed by Rolling Stone as “TV’s Most Chilling Trump-Era Series.”

“It’s always been timely,” said the star’s show, Elisabeth Moss, of the work. “It’s just that now there are actual things happening with women’s reproductive rights in our own country that make me feel like this book is bleeding over into reality.”

Atwood is also being awarded this month a lifetime achievement award by PEN Center USA. She will be introduced at the event by Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, who said, “It’s fitting that the author of The Handmaid’s Tale is being honored at a time when women’s rights are under attack like never before.”

Hightower: The Next Wave of the Tech Revolution Will Wipe Out Millions of Jobs—Maybe Even Yours

From Alternet:  https://www.alternet.org/labor/robots-taking-over-jobs

It sounds like science fiction, but automation is closer than you think.

By Jim Hightower
October 12, 2017

Industrial automatons have been on the march for years, devouring the middle-class job opportunities of factory workers. But this time is different.

If you think your family’s future is safe because you don’t rely on factory work, think again. Rapid advances in AI have already turned yesterday’s science fiction into today’s brave new “creative destruction”—the constant churn of economic and cultural innovations that destroy existing ways of doing things. A network of inventors and investors, hundreds of university engineering and math departments, thousands of government-funded research projects, countless freelance innovators and the entire corporate establishment are “re-inventing” practically every workplace by displacing humans with “more efficient” AI robots.

This mass-scale deployment of robots has already ushered in a whole new world of work. It’s a CEO’s capitalist paradise, where the workforce doesn’t call in sick or take vacations, can’t file lawsuits, doesn’t organize unions, and is cheap.

As a result, robots are rapidly climbing the pay ladder into white-collar and professional positions that millions of college-educated, middle-class employees have wrongly considered safe, including:

Doctoring

Robots have long served as surgical assistants, but today’s robotic sawbones can be the primary slicer-dicers, operating with more precision than humans. Robots are now performing millions of surgeries every year. Moreover, advanced doc-bots increasingly diagnose and choose treatments based on their ability to digest thousands of scientific articles, medical reports, patient records, etc. In 2012, Vinod Khosla, billionaire co-founder of Sun Microsystems, noted: “Much of what physicians do … can be done better by sensors, passive and active data collections, and analytics.” His stunning conclusion was that computers will eventually replace 80 percent of what doctors now do.

Delivering the goods

While online retail giants have already eliminated hundreds of thousands of sales clerks by radically restructuring how consumers make purchases, AI systems are poised to gobble up the jobs transporting those products. The first big targets are America’s truckers, who number 1.8 million and have some of the few remaining, decent-paying jobs not requiring college degrees. Engineers at Google, Uber, et al. are rolling out prototypes for driver-less trucks that can crisscross the country without rest breaks, sleep, or days off.

Amazon

This corporate behemoth’s focus on workplace “efficiency” has made it the poster-child job disrupter in the retail economy, maximizing robots to displace as many humans as possible, as soon as possible. Their massive warehouses are already buzzing hives of robots plucking millions of products from miles of shelves to fill online orders. More are coming. While Amazon staged a PR show in August around its nationwide “Job Day” event to hire 50,000 human workers, it has been expanding its current swarm of full-time robots. In 2012, it bought an artificial intelligence developer, now named Amazon Robotics, to breed its own line of androids, and by August had added another 55,000 of these creatures to its 100,000-strong warehouse workbot-force. Amazon is also pushing regulators to let it replace delivery workers with drones and is testing a chain of “Amazon Go” convenience stores “staffed” almost entirely by AI systems. And it just swallowed Whole Foods grocery chain, loudly promising lower prices but whispering the method: replacing clerks, stockers, et al. with robots.

Continue reading at:  https://www.alternet.org/labor/robots-taking-over-jobs

Donald Trump is F*cking Crazy | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann

Pope Blasts Gender-Confirmation Surgery

Sex Reassignment Surgery or GCS doesn’t make gender a choice.  I helps make being born trans more bearable.

From The Advocate:  https://www.advocate.com/religion/2017/10/05/pope-blasts-gender-confirmation-surgery

Pope Francis today denounced gender transition procedures, saying they make gender a choice.

By Trudy Ring
October 05 2017

Pope Francis’s remarks today opposing “the biologic and psychological manipulation of sexual difference” show that he doesn’t understand the situation of transgender people, say LGBT Catholic groups.

The pope made the comments while addressing the Pontifical Academy for Life’s general assembly in Rome. “The biological and psychical manipulation of sexual difference, which biomedical technology allows us to perceive as completely available to free choice — which it is not! — thus risks dismantling the source of energy that nurtures the alliance between man and woman and which renders it creative and fruitful,” he told members of the academy, which was created by Pope John Paul II in 1994 to deal with bioethical concerns.

“By referring to transgender people’s desires to transition as ‘manipulation’ and a ‘free choice’ Pope Francis shows that he does not understand that for transgender people, a transition is a discovery and affirmation of who God created them to be,” said a statement issued by Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, which works for LGBT equality within Catholicism. “Gender is more than a biological reality.  It also includes psychological, emotional, cultural, and spiritual dimensions. When some people seek surgery to confirm their gender identity, they are celebrating their God-given identities. A decision to transition is often made after many years of confusion and turmoil, as well as many forms of discernment with medical, psychological, and spiritual authorities.”

DignityUSA, another LGBT Catholic group, released a similar statement, saying in a press release, “Pope Francis’s statement denouncing technologies that support gender confirmation demonstrates the pontiff’s tragic ignorance on the challenges faced by transgender people, and puts this population at risk of increased discrimination and violence.”

In the release, DignityUSA executive director Marianne Duddy-Burke added, “The reality is that transgender people experience tremendous stress in trying to live as who the world believes them to be. It takes incredible strength and commitment for them to risk living as who they are. Not all transgender people can or want to access technological supports that confirm their true genders. Throughout history, we have seen our transgender neighbors use whatever tools are available to live in their truth. Technology that makes this easier should be embraced as a blessing.” She noted that Francis’s words affect trans people’s lives in many ways. “Here in the U.S., where one in six hospital beds is in a Catholic hospital, it is difficult for transgender people in some areas to get the respectful, informed, appropriate care that they need,” she said.

Far from denying the significance of gender, DeBernardo said, “Transgender people actually acknowledge the importance of gender since they recognize how important it is for them to live as their authentic gender, not by the gender assigned to them at birth which was based on the minimal evidence of external genitalia. … Their quest for authenticity is a quest for holiness. They seek to ‘honor the care’ of the identity and life that they have been given. To say that transgender people are acting against the plan of God is actually itself a rejection of God’s plan for these sacred human beings.”

Complete article at:  https://www.advocate.com/religion/2017/10/05/pope-blasts-gender-confirmation-surgery

Vietnam antiwar movement had a bigger voice than portrayed in PBS documentary

From The San Francisco Chronicle:  http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Vietnam-antiwar-movement-had-a-bigger-voice-than-12250664.php

By Steve Ladd
October 3, 2017

The PBS series “The Vietnam War” presents a devastating history of the war, showing it to be ill-conceived and a major human tragedy for both America and Indochina. It clearly validates that the peace movement was right to oppose the war and call for the withdrawal of American troops and air power.

But, despite that, in its 18 hours, the series falls seriously short in how it portrays the peace movement. While segments do present some major antiwar events, the series misses its full scope, significant impact, and lessons for today. In the last episode of the series, the producers chose to include two antiwar voices who both apologize for their actions and the movement, rather than take credit for turning the public against the war.

I was part of that historic movement, starting in 1968 as a freshman at UC Berkeley. My opposition to the war led me to file for conscientious objector status when I registered for the draft at 18.

When draft resistance leader David Harris and others spoke at UC Berkeley in 1969, I was challenged to take a further step: refuse to cooperate with the Selective Service System in an act of outright resistance. He and others were traveling and speaking around the country to build support for a mass draft resistance movement that would make it harder to continue fighting an unjust and unnecessary war.

Harris already had refused to be inducted and was facing several years in federal prison.

It wasn’t an easy decision for me, considering the possibility of prison.

But I returned my draft card because contributing to the growing draft resistance movement was a powerful way to help end the ongoing slaughter in Vietnam.

The draft resistance movement grew. Nearly 200,000 young men were cited for draft violations, 25,000 sent to trial, and 4,000 sent to serve an average of two years in federal prison. Eventually, the scale of draft resistance made it harder for President Richard Nixon to escalate troop levels. He ended draft calls in 1972.

The courage of draft resisters also inspired Daniel Ellsberg to risk life in prison and release what became known as the Pentagon Papers, revealing the secrets and lies of the war, another critical factor in turning the public against it.

Despite the significant impact of draft resistance, there is nothing about it in the PBS series. Instead, the series features two men who evaded the draft by going to Canada. But draft resisters were not draft evaders. Resisters publicly refused to be drafted and were willing to face the consequences. The series falls short in several other ways to portray accurately the multifaceted peace movement, including how grassroots lobbying in the early 1970s led to Congress finally cutting off war funding in 1973.

Continue reading at:  http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Vietnam-antiwar-movement-had-a-bigger-voice-than-12250664.php