Sunday, August 14, 2022

Last Call For What Real Censorship Looks Like

A horrific reminder this weekend to the whiny incel neckbeard kids on the right: having a death sentence over your head for three decades because of your writings and being stabbed and critically wounded on stage is what actual persecution of your free speech looks like.

“The Satanic Verses” author Salman Rushdie was taken off a ventilator and able to talk Saturday, a day after he was stabbed as he prepared to give a lecture in upstate New York.

Rushdie remained hospitalized with serious injuries, but fellow author Aatish Taseer tweeted in the evening that he was “off the ventilator and talking (and joking).” Rushdie’s agent, Andrew Wylie, confirmed that information without offering further details.

Earlier in the day, the man accused of attacking him Friday at the Chautauqua Institution, a nonprofit education and retreat center, pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and assault charges in what a prosecutor called a “preplanned” crime.

An attorney for Hadi Matar entered the plea on his behalf during an arraignment in western New York. The suspect appeared in court wearing a black and white jumpsuit and a white face mask, with his hands cuffed in front of him.

A judge ordered him held without bail after District Attorney Jason Schmidt told her Matar, 24, took steps to purposely put himself in position to harm Rushdie, getting an advance pass to the event where the author was speaking and arriving a day early bearing a fake ID.

“This was a targeted, unprovoked, preplanned attack on Mr. Rushdie,” Schmidt said.

Public defender Nathaniel Barone complained that authorities had taken too long to get Matar in front of a judge while leaving him “hooked up to a bench at the state police barracks.”

“He has that constitutional right of presumed innocence,” Barone added.

Rushdie, 75, suffered a damaged liver and severed nerves in an arm and an eye, Wylie said Friday evening. He was likely to lose the injured eye.

The attack was met with shock and outrage from much of the world, along with tributes and praise for the award-winning author who for more than 30 years has faced death threats for “The Satanic Verses.”

Authors, activists and government officials cited Rushdie’s courage and longtime advocacy of free speech despite the risks to his own safety. Writer and longtime friend Ian McEwan called Rushdie “an inspirational defender of persecuted writers and journalists across the world,” and actor-author Kal Penn cited him as a role model “for an entire generation of artists, especially many of us in the South Asian diaspora toward whom he’s shown incredible warmth.”
I hope Mr. Rushdie is able to recover and it looks promising, but he's also a 75-year-old man who suffered grievous injury and has been man wanted dead by Iran for a third of a century now.  Your Trumpian bleating about how everyone is mean to you because the civilized universe thinks you're a fart in the wind is not "persecution". This is.

An Elegy For Hillbilly Elegy

For the right-leaning Cincinnati Enquirer to even publish this op-ed from former Rob Portland aide John Bridgeland on why Democratic US Senate candidate Rep. Tim Ryan should be Ohio's next senator over Republican author JD Vance is a hell of a thing, but the op-ed itself makes a pretty good case as to why nobody should be voting Republican in 2022 in the Buckeye State.

The 2022 election for U.S. Senate in Ohio calls the question on what kind of representatives we seek and nation we want to be. I have the privilege of knowing both candidates and am forming “Republicans for Tim Ryan.

I’m a Republican because I believe in big citizenship rather than big government, in respecting individual rights as well as responsibilities, and in tapping the goodness and entrepreneurial spirit of Americans to solve problems rather than relying on distant government bureaucracies.

It has been the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and many others who served in times of national crisis. The party has had leaders who both represent the American people and inspire the better angels of our nature. Many Democrats and independents also share these values.

Over the last 20 years, I have worked to address the high school dropout crisis. In the process, a U.S. congressman from Ohio I didn’t know called my cellphone and spent 45 minutes talking about how we could improve outcomes for children in low-performing schools. He listened, probed for evidence of effective reforms and remains a national champion for boosting the life prospects of children. I was struck by this congressman’s character, intelligence and passion for helping people. His name is Tim Ryan.

In recent years, dear friends of mine joined forces with the author of a book called "Hillbilly Elegy" to boost entrepreneurship across America. I was interested because my father grew up in poverty in Akron and Bellville, Ohio. I invited the author to join me as a keynote speaker at a national conference with the country’s public media stations. He was smart and shared thoughtful insights. His name is JD Vance.

Since then, as I have followed Ohio’s Senate race, I have been alarmed that Vance has become unrecognizable to me and many who know him much better. After calling candidate Donald Trump “reprehensible” and an “idiot” and comparing Trumpism to opioid addiction, he reversed course when running for the Republican nomination for Senate.

Vance then promoted the myth that Trump won the presidential election, even though Republican reviews of court cases show no consequential evidence of fraud.

Vance also said that he did not care one way or another what happened to Ukraine as millions suffered. I know of the suffering, because we organized the Ukrainian-American community to help find sponsors for those fleeing Ukraine.

Vance went on to do anything to win an endorsement from a former president who incited an insurrection to overthrow the will of the people and undercut our democracy. Lives were lost, including police officers who defended our Capitol.

The test of our character is found not in times of comfort, but in times of challenge. Running for public office is such a test.

If Vance is willing to undermine his own integrity and character for public office, imagine what he might do if he were a U.S. senator – I fear whatever it took to remain in office.

Vance’s campaign has also been anemic, lacking the energy of the U.S. senator he is trying to replace – Rob Portman, who worked hard in every county in Ohio and brought people together instead of tearing them apart.

In contrast, I have been impressed by Ryan’s energy on the campaign trail, his love of our democracy, many of his policies and his good character. The same man who reached out to a Republican like me 10 years ago is reaching out to Ohioans across politics and other divisions – to farmers, small-business leaders, veterans, parents, teachers, students and people in heavily Republican counties – to understand their concerns.
Ohio Republicans don't do this. The Ohio GOP has become one of the most corrupt, lawless, greedy, hateful and bigoted state parties in America, more than happy to lock in their own power regardless of the law and the state's constitution, and to use that ill-gotten power against Black, brown, and Asian folk and everyone else in-between. 
Even more so than Florida or Texas, Ohio's Republican party is deliberately breaking the law every day and getting away with it because they have near-supermajorities in both chambers and can do whatever they want without any accountability.

And yet here we have a legitimate argument that JD Vance is a step too far. He's a parsec too far, frankly, but Tim Ryan picking up this seat would be massive.

Here's hoping.

Sunday Long Read: Separation But Unequal

Make some time for this week's Sunday Long Read, The Atlantic's Caitlin Dickerson investigation of the Trump regime's vile family separation policy at the border, ripping away kids from families and caging them like animals. It was hell, a hell that the Biden administration is still struggling to fix, and a hell that will be exponentially worse if Trump or DeSantis or any Republican claims the White House in 2025.

As a therapist for children who are being processed through the American immigration system, Cynthia Quintana has a routine that she repeats each time she meets a new patient in her office in Grand Rapids, Michigan: She calls the parents or closest relatives to let them know the child is safe and well cared for, and provides 24-hour contact information.

This process usually plays out within hours of when the children arrive. Most are teens who have memorized or written down their relatives’ phone numbers in notebooks they carried with them across the border. By the time of that initial call, their families are typically worried, waiting anxiously for news after having—in an act of desperation—sent their children into another country alone in pursuit of safety and the hope of a future.

But in the summer of 2017, Quintana encountered a curious case. A 3-year-old Guatemalan boy with a toothy smile and bowl-cut black hair sat down at her desk. He was far too little to have made the journey on his own. He had no phone numbers with him, and when she asked where he was headed or whom he’d been with, the boy stared back blankly. Quintana scoured his file for more information but found nothing. She asked for help from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer, who came back several days later with something unusual: information indicating that the boy’s father was in federal custody.

At their next session, the boy squirmed in his chair as Quintana dialed the detention center, getting his father on the line. At first the dad was quiet, she told me. “Finally we said, ‘Your child is here. He can hear you. You can speak now.’ And you could just tell that his voice was breaking—he couldn’t.”

The boy cried out for his father. Suddenly, both of them were screaming and sobbing so loudly that several of Quintana’s colleagues ran to her office.

Eventually, the man calmed down enough to address Quintana directly. “I’m so sorry, who are you? Where is my child? They came in the middle of the night and took him,” he said. “What do I tell his mother?”

that same summer, Quintana was also assigned to work with a 3-year-old Honduran girl who gave no indication of how she’d gotten to the United States or where she was supposed to be going. During their first several sessions, the girl refused to speak at all. The muscles on her face were slack and expressionless. Quintana surmised that the girl had severe detachment disorder, often the result of a sudden and recent trauma.

Across her organization—Bethany Christian Services, one of several companies contracted by the American government to care for newly arrived immigrant children—Quintana’s colleagues were having similar experiences. Jennifer Leon, a teacher at Bethany, was at the office one day when the private company that transports children from the border delivered a baby girl “like an Amazon package.” The baby was wearing a dirty diaper; her face was crusted with mucus. “They gave the baby to the case manager with a diaper bag, we signed, that was it,” Leon recalled. (Leon rushed the baby to the hospital for an evaluation.)

Mateo Salazar, a Bethany therapist, went to his office in the middle of the night to meet a newly arrived 5-year-old Honduran girl. At first, the girl was stoic, but when the transportation-company employees started to leave, the girl ran after them, banging on the glass doors and crying as she fell to the ground. Salazar sat with her for two hours until she was calm enough to explain that her mother had made her promise—as Border Patrol agents were pulling them apart—to stay with the adults who took her no matter what, because they would keep her safe.

For more than a year, Quintana and her colleagues encountered cases like this repeatedly. To track down the parents of children in their care, they would scour American prisons and immigration detention centers, using clues from social media or tips from friends inside the government. They would struggle to explain to parents why their kids had been taken away or how to get them back. The therapists, teachers, and caseworkers would try to maintain their composure at work, but they would later break down in their cars and in front of their families. Many debated quitting their job. Though they were experts in caring for severely traumatized children, this was a challenge to which they did not know how to respond.

“I started questioning myself,” Quintana said. “Am I doing the correct thing by serving these kids, or am I contributing to the harm that’s being done?”

“It just seemed unreal to me,” she said of the moment she understood that these were not one-off cases. “Something that was not humane.”

during the year and a half in which the U.S. government separated thousands of children from their parents, the Trump administration’s explanations for what was happening were deeply confusing, and on many occasions—it was clear even then—patently untrue. I’m one of the many reporters who covered this story in real time. Despite the flurry of work that we produced to fill the void of information, we knew that the full truth about how our government had reached this point still eluded us.

Trump-administration officials insisted for a whole year that family separations weren’t happening. Finally, in the spring of 2018, they announced the implementation of a separation policy with great fanfare—as if one had not already been under way for months. Then they declared that separating families was not the goal of the policy, but an unfortunate result of prosecuting parents who crossed the border illegally with their children. Yet a mountain of evidence shows that this is explicitly false: Separating children was not just a side effect, but the intent. Instead of working to reunify families after parents were prosecuted, officials worked to keep them apart for longer.

Over the past year and a half, I have conducted more than 150 interviews and reviewed thousands of pages of internal government documents, some of which were turned over to me only after a multiyear lawsuit. These records show that as officials were developing the policy that would ultimately tear thousands of families apart, they minimized its implications so as to obscure what they were doing. Many of these officials now insist that there had been no way to foresee all that would go wrong. But this is not true. The policy’s worst outcomes were all anticipated, and repeated internal and external warnings were ignored. Indeed, the records show that almost no logistical planning took place before the policy was initiated.

It’s been said of other Trump-era projects that the administration’s incompetence mitigated its malevolence; here, the opposite happened. A flagrant failure to prepare meant that courts, detention centers, and children’s shelters became dangerously overwhelmed; that parents and children were lost to each other, sometimes many states apart; that four years later, some families are still separated—and that even many of those who have been reunited have suffered irreparable harm.


Heartbreaking doesn't begin to describe this account, and those that follow.  These were human rights violations of the most hideous nature, and the people behind these policies need to rot in the hot sun in a metal box. But I believe we all have to face it, that this has to be taught to future generations the way we teach the Trail of Tears today.

Well, in most states, anyway. And should Trump and/or the GOP get hold of the country again, your kids won't learn about this, either.

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