Sunday, July 1, 2018

Last Call For Hook 'Em While They're Young

The backlash against same-sex marriage and the nation's first black President has caught Generation Z squarely in its crosshairs, and America's colleges are being bombarded with hate speech that is increasingly finding purchase among a group that has never had their worldview challenged.
“Not Stolen. Conquered,” a flier found in a music building at San Diego State University read. “Your professor is scared of this book,” read a sticker outside a building at New York’s Baruch College, referring to a work by white nationalist Jared Taylor.

White supremacist propaganda on college campuses is on the rise, according to a report by the Anti-Defamation League. The nonprofit found 292 occurrences on campuses located in the District and 47 states, a 77 percent increase, compared with the 2016-2017 school year. The ADL relied on news reports, community complaints and extremist sources to complete the report, according to Oren Segal, director of the group’s Center on Extremism.

The propaganda typically appeared on stickers, posters, banners and fliers, and it varied from “veiled white supremacist language to explicitly racist images and words that attack minority groups, including Jews, Blacks, Muslims, nonwhite immigrants, and the LGBTQ community,” the report said.

“College campuses and their communities should be places for learning, growing and the future, not close-minded racism and hate-filled rhetoric from the past,” the ADL’s national director, Jonathan Greenblatt, said in a statement. “We’re concerned to see that white supremacists are accelerating their efforts to target schools with propaganda in hopes of recruiting young people to support their bigoted worldview.”

[Hate groups make unprecedented push to recruit on college campuses]

The report highlighted Identity Evropa, an organization founded in 2016 that recruits college-age people though banners, stickers and online propaganda.

These Identity Evropa guys are 100% bad news, and in the era of Trumpian propaganda, they're going for broke with an audience that has never even considered building up a resistance to it.

The group was responsible for 48 percent of reported incidents in the past two years, the report found. In January, members posted fliers over historically significant African American images outside the black studies department at the University of South Carolina at Columbia, the report said.

“The ADL is clearly reporting in error or negligence, as the blanket allegations reflect neither Identity Evropa nor any statement from a current representative,” spokesman Sam Harrington said in an email. Harrington said the group is “seeking a better future for European Americans” and does not advocate for “supremacy, violence or illegal activity.”

“The ADL, and organizations like it, are attempting to stifle free debate and will continue to lose trust with the thinking public,” Harrington added.

The nonprofit describes Identity Evropa as a white supremacist group that avoids recognizable language and imagery on its symbols in an attempt to enter mainstream conservatism.

Members were present at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference and last year’s Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. The night before the protest turned deadly, participants chanted their mantra, “you will not replace us.” The chant, Harrington said, refers to people “who believe there is something to be gained from demographically replacing European Americans through immigration [to the United States] and globalization

These guys grew up on FOX News and Alex Jones, mistaking shock value contrarianism for intellectual prowess.  It's not that they lost trust in government and institutions, it's that they never had it in the first place.  They grew up on rampant Islamophobia, conspiracy theories, racism, bigotry, and hatred.

And then they got to college and found an all-you-can-eat bigotry buffet and a kindred spirit in the White House.  It's been a long time coming, but it's here.  America's in serious danger of going 25, 50, 100 years backwards.

We have to fight it every step.

The Roe Tradeoff Begins

Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins is shopping her no vote on Trump's SCOTUS pick to Blue Dog Democrats in the Senate who will almost certainly vote yes in order to maintain the moderate line, even though Trump will repeatedly attack them by name and encourage his supporters to do the same over the next four months, as this is how the Senate works in 2018.

The Republican senator, a supporter of abortion rights, said Roe v. Wade is settled law that has been established as a constitutional right.

"A candidate who would overturn Roe would not be acceptable," she said.

Collins added that she urged the president to expand the number of people he is considering for the high court beyond his initial list.

She said there are people on Trump's list she could not support "because I believe that they have demonstrated a disrespect for the vital principle of stare decisis," which is Latin for judicial precedent.

The Maine Republican added that "it would be inappropriate" to ask a judicial nominee how they are going to vote on a future case.

"A discussion of precedent, however, is very important," Collins said. "What I want to see is a nominee who, regardless of his or her personal views on the very difficult and contentious life issue, is going to respect precedent, regardless."

Collins said, "A number of judges [have told her] that good judges are always unhappy with some of their decisions but they make the right call regardless of their personal views. And that’s what I want to see in this nominee."

Collins also left herself an out with weasel words over "respecting precedent", but the other four conservatives on the court, including Trump's first pick, Justice Neil Gorsuch, have shown no problem destroying precedent in the most recent term when it comes to serving corporations and the culture war on the right.

Also, let's remember Susan Collins had zero problems confirming Gorsuch, neither did John McCain, and Democratic Blue Dogs Joe Donnelly, Heidi Heitkamp, and Joe Manchin all voted yes too. I expect an almost identical vote despite Gorsuch's many promises in early 2017 that he would respect precedent.  In his first term, he helped destroy decades-long precedents in labor union law, voting rights, and separation of church and state.

Whoever Trump picks will be willing to overturn precedent.  It will be obvious from their judicial opinions what they are going to do, which is why Trump is going to pick them.  Sometime in the next 12-24 months, there will be a 5-4 decision to overturn Roe and leave abortion decisions up to states.  Most likely, same-sex marriage will follow.  A lot of federal rights will be returned to states, and a lot of states will say no to these rights.

It's not going to be a fun time for America.  And it won't be entirely Susan Collins's fault, but she's playing her part right now.  Don't be fooled for a moment.

Sunday Long Read: A Neighborhood In Canada

Before Fred Rogers changed American television forever with his PBS show, he appeared on Canadian TV for the CBC in a very similar show a few years earlier called Misterogers, and Soraya Roberts at Hazlitt Magazine has this look at his days as our northern neighbor.

This is the Fred Rogers we know: a thin, wholesome man straight out of a small-town pulpit, with a gentle manner, who looks directly at us, speaks slowly and tells us that he likes us just the way we are. This is the man Canadians have been watching since October 1963, when Misterogers was a fifteen-minute black-and-white children’s program on the CBC that lasted nine months. The show ended four years before the power of American broadcasting would crack it in two. The host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was almost identical to this one. Almost.

In the archives of the CBC’s headquarters in downtown Toronto, there is a longer master recording of a Christmas eve episode of the Canadian series. In it, guest Tom Kneebone finishes a discussion with the puppet X the Owl, who has been peeking out of a tree trunk, animated by the arm of Fred Rogers. The host only appears in this “neighbourhood of make-believe” in marionette form. The camera remains trained on the scene, when, suddenly, the illusion is broken as Rogers’s head emerges on the other side of the wall by the tree. He appears to be attempting to swiftly and unobtrusively make his way to another location. Owl still on his arm, a rushed-off-his feet Rogers turns to the camera and says, exasperated and apologetic, “I’m sorry, you’ll just have to…” motioning for either a cut away or another take.

This outtake from the prototype of one of the most popular children’s shows in the world recalls an aphorism from Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s Le Petit Prince, which would later appear in calligraphy form on the wall of Rogers’s office: “L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux,” which reads in English, “The essential is invisible to the eye.”

Visiting the archives of Canada’s public broadcaster this past May was more complex than usual due to increased security in the building. Five days after Alek Minassian had killed ten people and injured multiple others by driving a white van through a crowd, Canadaland reported that a post had appeared on the message board with the subject, “[Serious] our next task: shooting up CBC headquarters.” The post has since been removed, but reportedly called for “killing as many of those evil whores and normies reporters as possible.” The term which gives the message board its name refers to “involuntary celibates,” men who make up the misogynistic online subculture Minassian is believed to have been a part. The poster used Minassian’s image as an avatar. It was a disconcerting feeling, sitting in that office, watching archival footage of Fred Rogers, while being closely monitored by security, and wondering if some guy might enter the room and shoot me because he felt he had been overlooked by my entire gender.

The van attack was the sort of event that Rogers, were he alive, would be called to speak about. On the first anniversary of September 11th, he recorded a message which included the words, “I’m so grateful to you for helping the children in your life to know that you’ll do everything you can to keep them safe and to help them express their feelings in ways that will bring healing in many different neighborhoods.” We continue to feel comforted by Rogers, even after his death. His quote about helpers—“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping’”—has gone viral after various school shootings and, more recently, the Manchester attack. “The underlying message of the Neighborhood is that if somebody cares about you, it’s possible that you’ll care about others,” he told Christianity Today. “‘You are special, and so is your neighbor’—that part is essential: that you’re not the only special person in the world.”

What prompted his desire to deliver this message to children? Maxwell King, author of the forthcoming The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers, thinks it was rooted in Rogers’s own experience growing up. Though he was brought up in a wealthy family in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, Rogers was often isolated. “I had every childhood disease that came down the pike,” he told Wigwag magazine in 1989, “even scarlet fever.” Boys in the ’30s were expected to get “their hands dirty,” according to Canada’s first research chair in Masculinities Studies, University of Calgary’s Michael Kehler, but Rogers’s various ailments may have afforded him a pass for being unlike the others. “Sad though it is, you would get more sympathy for being a little more emotional, a little less aggressive, because it would be explained away as, ‘well, he’s not right,’” says Kehler. Opposing the era’s favoured seen-and-not-heard approach to children, Rogers’s family gave him “a lot of very careful attention, they took him very seriously, they listened to him, they talked to him a lot,” says King. “I think he wanted in his work to provide some of that for children but also to do work that parents could learn from.”

His guardians provided powerful examples. Fred’s grandmother, Nancy McFeely, bought him a piano, which encouraged him to express his feelings through music. Though it was his grandfather, also his namesake, who would leave the biggest impression, telling him , “You made this day a really special day. Just by being yourself,” a sentiment Fred would later repeat on Misterogers. It was a small statement, but a radical one considering boys then were not encouraged to be themselves. “Childhood at that time was a grooming to be just like your dad,” Kehler explains, what he calls “lock-step masculinity.” And while Fred’s father was powerful—he was an affluent brick manufacturer—his son was not. A chubby child, Fred was one day chased down the street by a bunch of kids taunting him with the nickname Fat Freddy. “I resented those kids for not seeing beyond my fatness or my shyness,” he wrote in his memoir, Life’s Journeys According to Mr. Rogers. “And I didn’t know that it was all right to resent it, to feel bad about it, even to feel very sad about it.” He was sad for years, according to friend Amy Hollingsworth in the documentary Mister Rogers & Me, but then one day he made a decision: “He would always look for what’s not apparent to the eye.”

The Focus Features documentary of Fred Rogers, his life, and his work, Won't You Be My Neighbor, is currently in theaters.  I have some time next week and hopefully I'll get to see it.  I grew up with Mr. Rogers in the 80's and the lessons he taught stayed with me: be a good neighbor, be a good friend, be a good person.

We need that lesson more than ever in 2018.

The Blue Wave Rises, Con't

Don't look now, but the lock on Miami-Dade County's commission District 5 seat by Cuban-American Republicans in Little Havana was broken a couple weeks ago when Democratic candidate Eileen Higgins won and won big.

Eileen Higgins’s surprise victory in a heavily Hispanic district has deeply unsettled Republicans in South Florida, where local elections have long been determined by ethnicity. Now, some Republicans worry that her win portends more losses for the party in November. Democrats have won three consecutive special elections in Miami-Dade County over the past nine months.

The blue wave is not coming,” said Jesse Manzano-Plaza, a veteran Republican political consultant who said he had been doubted by many in his party when he warned that Ms. Higgins could pull off an upset. “The blue wave came.”

Ms. Higgins’s win cemented the belief held by Democrats — and, privately, by many Republicans — that the 27th Congressional District, a Republican-held seat that includes all of Ms. Higgins’s county commission district, is likely to flip. But strategists from both parties see a far more significant development: a fundamental realignment of South Florida politics, which could in turn have consequences for all of the state.

For years, South Florida’s Cuban community voted reliably for Cuban-American candidates in local elections. Most often, those candidates were Republican: Three Hispanic-majority congressional seats are held by the party. The county mayor, perhaps the most powerful local official, is also a Republican.

But if Hispanic voters can no longer be counted on to favor Hispanic candidates, Mr. Manzano-Plaza said, then an increasing number of districts here might start performing as they do in state and national elections: blue. The presumed front-runner in the 27th District, the Democratic-leaning seat being vacated by Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican who is retiring, is Donna Shalala, a Democrat who is not Hispanic. Another non-Hispanic Democrat, Mary Barzee Flores, is challenging Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, a Republican, in a safer Republican seat.

“I don’t know if we want to call it a sign of maturity, but for many years in Miami-Dade County, ethnicity trumped party,” said Mr. Manzano-Plaza, who is Cuban-American. “We ran this town for 30 years like that. Now, potentially, we’re about to have a congressional district from South Florida that has a majority-Hispanic seat represented by an Anglo. I don’t think we’re understanding the impact that this has.” 
Turning around the once-hapless Democratic Party in Miami-Dade, Florida’s most populous county, could go a long way in allowing Democrats to win control in Tallahassee and Washington, said Christian Ulvert, a Democratic political consultant who ran Ms. Higgins’s campaign. Republicans control the governor’s mansion and State Legislature, and a majority of congressional seats.

“If you go back in history, it was the rise of the Cuban-American base in Miami-Dade that propelled the Republican Party of Florida to get power,” Mr. Ulvert said. “History is repeating itself — it’s the changing of the guard in Miami-Dade that’s likely going to propel the rise of the Florida Democratic Party.”

You have to go no further than Trump's policy towards Latinx folks in America to see why this is happening.   His reversal of relations with Cuba, his dereliction of duty towards Puerto Rico, calling Central American asylum-seeker criminals and vermin, putting kids in cages?

Did anyone think that would help the GOP in Florida with Cuban-American voters?

Republicans in Florida are in full panic mode.  If the state goes blue, and every indication is we've reached that inflection point heading into 2018 and 2020, then the GOP is done and they know it.  Without Florida, they cannot take the White House.

The blue wave hits hardest here.
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