Monday, October 19, 2020

No, the Proud Boys are not white supremacists

There are good reasons to dislike these 'Western chauvinists'. But racism is not one of them.

I can’t say there’s a hill I’m willing to die on. But there are hills I am willing to walk away from with a limp.

I received my latest limp on behalf of the Proud Boys. And I’m not even a member. I just had the temerity to point out that Antifa’s archnemeses, the Fred Perry-wearing Western chauvinists, are not white supremacists.

What I’ve learned is this: if you are convinced the Proud Boys are white supremacists, you won’t care to find out that they’re not. That certainly seems to be the case for assorted news–media outlets, not to mention some of my friends on Facebook.

The link between white supremacism and the Proud Boys was established during the first presidential debate of 2020, when Fox News moderator Chris Wallace asked Donald Trump if he would condemn white supremacists and militia groups, and Joe Biden followed up by asking him to condemn the Proud Boys specifically. Thus linked to white supremacists and militia groups, the Proud Boys were found guilty by association.

Admittedly, Trump’s response – ‘Proud Boys, stand back and stand by’ – didn’t help. Although in a follow-up interview Trump denied even knowing who the Proud Boys were, and edited his command to ‘stand down and let law enforcement handle things’.

That debate feels like forever ago now. Since then, Trump has contracted and defeated Covid-19. He is now apparently ‘feeling so powerful’ that he was up for kissing ‘the guys and the beautiful women’ at a recent rally in Florida. There was even a vice-presidential debate along the way.

So you might have expected that brief Proud Boys moment to have faded into the infinite scroll of social-media history. But like the fly that outshone Mike Pence and Kamala Harris in the vice-presidential debate, the Proud Boys continue to buzz around my social-media feeds.

On the Proud Boys’ official website, ‘white supremacy’ is not listed among the group’s tenets. In fact, according to the website, the ‘core values of the Proud Boys’, include ‘anti-racism’ and, in clearly stated language, a refusal to ‘discriminate based upon race or sexual orientation / preference’. I guess one could argue that this is exactly what a group of white supremacists would put out if it didn’t want the world to know its members were a bunch of white supremacists. But then how would said white-supremacist group attract further white supremacists to its cause?

The Proud Boys are not relying on their website to set the record straight. In Salt Lake City, Proud Boy Thad spoke ‘on behalf of the entire national organisation’, and said the Proud Boys ‘denounce white supremacy’. This was during a joint news conference with a leader of a local Black Lives Matter chapter. The international chair of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, has also been vocal about the group’s anti-white-supremacy stance.

Tarrio is Afro-Cuban and, while I don’t know how Thad identifies, he certainly doesn’t look white. If you search for photos of Proud Boy members you’ll notice that there sure are a lot of black, brown and Asian men in their ranks. Perhaps even white-supremacist groups have diversity-and-inclusion quotas.

When I’ve brought this up with Proud Boy truthers, I’ve been met with some of the most torturous twists of logic and analogies. Didn’t I know that the Aryan Brotherhood will sometimes work with Mexican cartels on drug deals? Hadn’t I read that article in the Daily Beast about ‘Why young men of colour are joining white-supremacist groups’?

One guy I was arguing with went so far as to share a picture of a black Confederate soldier, and followed that up with an article about Jews who collaborated with the Nazis during the Second World War. It is as if they believe racist history is repeating itself, albeit in the form of a diverse group of men who voluntarily get together to drink beer, get into street fights and try not to jerk off. I wonder what the #NoWanks equivalent was for the Southern slave who, in the last days of the Civil War, was forced to don the grey uniform and fight for the Confederacy?

I wish people would try unsheathing Occam’s razor every once in a while, and accept that the reason for the Proud Boys not being discernibly white supremacist is that, well, they’re not white supremacist. This group you so dislike does not have to hold every hateful belief for you to dislike it.

If you’re so inclined, I’m sure you can find plenty about the Proud Boys to hate without having to make shit up about them. They don’t have to be white supremacists or homophobes for you to think they’re dicks. That way, if you’re ever called upon to condemn them, at least you’ll be condemning them for the right reasons. Then it’s up to you whether to die on that hill.

Federal Judge Allows 21 Businesses to Sue Seattle Over Harms Caused by CHOP

On Friday, a federal district court judge allowed a lawsuit brought by 21 businesses against the city of Seattle to proceed, despite the city's attempt to have it dismissed.

The lawsuit accuses the city of harming local business owners by allowing the existence of Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP), a self-declared autonomous zone that was established and occupied by racial justice protestors from June 8 to July 1.

The occupied zone blocked all car traffic, reducing the businesses' access to customers, vendors and revenue, the lawsuit says. The lawsuit further alleges that city police largely neglected the zone, allowing protesters and others to damage business property and threaten business owners without punishment.

Lastly, the lawsuit states that the city provided concrete barriers, medical supplies, washing and sanitation facilities, portable toilets, lighting and other material support, including the use of Cal Anderson Park to CHOP occupiers, and told police to adopt a "no response" policy wherein officers wouldn't arrive unless a 9-1-1 caller reported "significant life safety issues."

In his decision, Judge Thomas S. Zilly of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington wrote, "Plaintiffs plausibly allege that the City's actions—encouraging CHOP participants to wall off the area and agreeing to a 'no response' zone within and near CHOP's borders—foreseeably placed Plaintiffs in a worse position."

While Zilly dismissed the plaintiffs' claim that the city violated their constitutional rights to equal protection by treating them differently from other city residents or CHOP occupiers, he allowed the plaintiffs' three other legal claims to proceed.

The plaintiffs' three other claims allege that by allowing CHOP to operate for a month before police eventually shut it down, the city unlawfully took their private property for public use with no compensation, restricted their ability to fully use their property to conduct business and failed to protect the businesses from a danger of the city's own making.

The CHOP zone was first established in June 8 after officers abandoned the Seattle Police Department's (SPD) East Precinct in an effort to de-escalate a week's worth of conflicts between racial justice protesters and police.

Afterwards, CHOP's occupiers demanded that the city release all arrested protesters and slash its $409 million police budget in half in order to donate the other half to services within the city's Black communities.

The occupiers also painted a block-long "Black Lives Matter" mural, set up spaces for free music performances and political discussions, constructed a community vegetable garden, erected a tent city and established a "No Cop Co-op" with food, medical supplies and other shared resources.

However, city police eventually dismantled the CHOP zone after two Black teenagers were shot dead, four victims were injured in shootings and multiple residents reported violent assaults, harassment and threats.

Amazon Censors a Black Conservative

Amazon is known as "The Everything Store," and for good reason: There just aren't a lot of things we can't buy from the online retail colossus. A box of bacon-strip bandages, a mini jail cell for our mobile phones, even a harness and leash for our beloved pet chicken.

Yep, the online retail juggernaut will sell us just about anything. Anything, that is, except a new documentary by esteemed scholar, author, and Hoover Institution senior fellow Shelby Steele. Apparently, Steele's film, "What Killed Michael Brown?" falls short of Amazon's "quality expectations."

Quality expectations? Right. This from a company that sells toilet paper with President Donald Trump's face on it, and, even worse, sells the autobiography of Hanoi Jane Fonda. But a film that thoughtfully explores the truth behind one of the most racially charged and consequential news stories of the decade? A story that began the fictitious "hands up, don't shoot" narrative that even Barack Obama's Justice Department debunked? A story that was the catalyst for starting Black Lives Matter? That's a bridge too far.

Steele's film, which he wrote and narrated, and which his son Eli directed, "doesn't fit the dominant narrative of white police officers killing young black men because of systemic racism," writes the Wall Street Journal's editorial board. "As a result, says the younger Mr. Steele, Amazon rejected it for its streaming service. 'We were canceled, plain and simple.'"

The film speaks "plain truths," as reviewer Jason Riley writes, but it isn't one-sided. Al Sharpton has his say, as does the NAACP. That's not good enough for the cowardly censors at Amazon, though, who informed the Steeles via email "that their film is 'not eligible for publishing' because it 'doesn't meet Prime Video's content quality expectations.' Amazon went on to say it 'will not be accepting resubmission of this title and this decision may not be appealed.'"

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who owns The Washington Post and whose net worth is now just over $200 billion, may think he has a license not only to print money, but also to gag renowned scholars and social commentators like Shelby Steele. He should think better. Censorship is cowardice, Jeff. If you're afraid of a physical fight, you run. If you're afraid of an intellectual fight, you censor.

Longtime civil rights activist and community development champion Robert Woodson tweeted out a novel idea: "Amazon refused to stream Shelby Steele's documentary, 'What Killed Michael Brown?,' b/c they say it 'doesn't meet Prime Video's content quality expectations.' Why not let Americans decide for themselves if the film has merit?"

Indeed, we're adults. Why not let us decide?

"It's sadly telling about elite political conformity," the Journal's editors continue, "that an intelligent film that gives voice to a variety of people, almost all black, who would otherwise not be heard is somehow deemed unfit for polite company. As Eli Steele puts it, 'When Amazon rejected us they also silenced these voices and that is the great sin of a company that professes to be diverse and inclusive.'"

Perhaps there's something more insidious at work here, something that Amazon's speech stiflers have yet to think through. Their claim about the inferior quality of Steele's work is ridiculous; he's an award-winning author and filmmaker. So their refusal to allow him into their marketplace of ideas is about something else entirely.

Steele isn't a bomb-thrower, but he is a black conservative. As such, he's what former Democrat President and "Great Society" architect Lyndon Johnson might've called "uppity." And Amazon's efforts to silence him sounds awfully intolerant, even Jim Crow-ish. This here streamin' service is for members only ... boy.

Shelby Steele's ideas pose a mortal threat to the Left's most loyal voting constituency. And he's being denied access to Amazon's marketplace either because of the color of his skin or the content of his character.

Neither reason is legitimate, but both are bigoted.

Anti-vaxxers don’t deserve to be on ballot says Australian conservative State leader

LNP leader Deb Frecklington has lashed anti-vaxxer candidates, saying they do not deserve to be on the ballot paper.

The criticism follows the LNP’s move to preference a renowned anti-vaxxer party below Labor after originally saying it would put the ALP at the bottom of the ballot in all electorates.

Ms Frecklington said she was unashamed about putting anyone who risks the safety and health of children last. “They don’t deserve to be on the ballot paper,” she said.

Ms Frecklington had committed to preferencing Labor last due to the Palaszczuk Government’s uncertainty around approvals for an expansion of the New Acland coalmine on the Darling Downs, but left wriggle room, saying a final decision would be made after candidates had been finalised.

An LNP spokesman told The Courier-Mail the party had made an exception to put the IMOP party below Labor because it fundamentally disagreed with its position on vaccines




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