“Clearly white Americans see the broader significance of Michael Brown’s death through radically different lenses than black Americans. There are myriad reasons for this divergence, from political ideologies—which, for example, place different emphases on law and order versus citizens’ rights—to fears based in racist stereotypes of young black men. But the chief obstacle to having an intelligent, or even intelligible, conversation across the racial divide is that on average white Americans live in communities that face far fewer problems and talk mostly to other white people.”—Self-Segregation: Why It’s So Hard for Whites to Understand Ferguson
“I think a lot of this connects all the way back to when we chose to move away from an economy of abundance and toward an economy of wealth. In that one decision, there are seeds for so much inequity, envy, resentment and even violence”—Is Capitalism Un-Biblical?
“Between 1945 and 1973, Smith notes, U.S. workers’ productivity grew by 96 percent, and they were rewarded with a 94 percent increase in their wages. Between 1973 and 2011, years that parallel a collapse of the middle class, U.S. workers’ productivity grew by 80 percent, yet those evermore-productive employees saw only a 10 percent increase in their wages. Millions who created that wealth were thus pushed into poverty or to its precipice, while those who fancy a neomedieval economic system transferred billions in profits, generated by that labor, upward to themselves.”—Poverty Is Not Inevitable: What We Can Do Now to Turn Things Around
The Economic Policy Institute stated, “The United States stands out as the country with the highest poverty rate and one of the lowest levels of social expenditure.” It’s a national disgrace that we allow just a few people to take more of the country’s wealth than the millions of productive people who can’t find living-wage jobs.
Just two menmade more investment income in 2013 than the entire year’s welfare budget (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), commonly referred to as ‘welfare’).
Just 400 individualsmade more investment income in 2013 than the entire safety net (SNAP, WIC (Women, Infants, Children), Child Nutrition, Earned Income Tax Credit, Supplemental Security Income, TANF, and Housing).
And the richest 1% made more from their investments in 2013 than the total cost of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the entire safety net.
“Imagine a world with unlimited resources where any industrious individual or group could conceivably work their way into any market on a competitive basis. But to the contrary we live in a finite world where the majority of the U.S. population is actually being excluded from participating as capitalists. It’s true many do work in competitive capitalist industries of one sort or another. However, the people at the bottom and middle levels of the wage scale often earn only enough, or less than enough, to do little more than get by. These people are not practicing capitalists themselves but are merely employed by capitalist companies. Many in our economy have neither the means nor the opportunity to move up the ladder, and for them the capitalist system might as well be non-existent; calling those people capitalists themselves is little more than a mind bending exercise holding them personally responsible for a system which is unable to deliver the advocated promises. Almost all are slaves to the system if they want to maintain their current standard of living. While they do have a great potential for moving down, and even being forced down by circumstances beyond their control, in all reality there is very little room for the vast majority to move up. And, of course, those at the very bottom of our economic pyramid have no choice but to solicit or accept charity and government handouts with the possibility of being forced into crime. No matter how you classify the people at the very bottom they’re not capitalists themselves unless you consider soliciting handouts and criminal activities as the endeavors of productive capitalists. And speaking of soliciting handouts, isn’t that what big business does with all the campaign funding and lobbying in D.C. to effectively pass laws purely for their own benefit while putting the rest of us under their thumb? I suppose in their case, propaganda must take exception and mislabel undue-influence as capitalism.”—Modern Capitalism: Wide Open for Anyone to See
So, what to do? My take, generally, is that Facebook is a terrible place to change minds or worldviews in the midst of developing news events. Everyone’s emotional. Everyone’s defensive. Nobody keeps the debate on track.
But here’s what Facebook comments are good for: revealing data about whether you want your “friends” to be your friends any longer. That is, of course, if you believe, as I do, that the way someone responds to other people’s pain and mistreatment—including the systemic mistreatment of entire groups of people—is a perfectly fine way to decide whether he or she is someone you like or want to continue to interact with.
Call me intolerant, but my view is that, if someone’s reaction to an unarmed black teenager being killed is to announce that he probably deserved it, that person is not someone I’m interested in being associated with, and I won’t miss him or her a bit after I hit “block.” There are too many compassionate and smart people in the world for me to waste even a fraction of my social media scrolling time on interactions with people who are either racist or unintelligent and insensitive enough to appear so.
“Not even academia is safe. At Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Arab students received death threats, hateful slogans were sprayed in dormitories calling for “Death to Arabs. Long live Israel.” Numerous Facebook pages have recently been to publish the personal information of Palestinian citizens of Israel who expressed solidarity with Palestine and Gaza; opinions that do not fit the Israeli consensus. A campaign was launched to locate Palestinian students from Tel Aviv University who expressed opposition to Israel’s latest assault on Gaza and then have them expelled from the university. The fact that these Israeli students felt comfortable enough to target us and threaten our right to education is deeply worrying.”—Israel’s other war: Silencing Palestinian citizens
“Gullible Americans have been trained to be fearful of crime, blacks, Muslims, terrorists, “domestic extremists,” and now Russia. These fears result in the public accepting illegal, unconstitutional, and immoral actions by police and government. With the passage of time the wrongful police and government behavior become institutionalized as the young are born into the system and know no different and the old who remember accountable government and liberty pass away. This is how liberty and freedom die, citizens become serfs, and the rise of tyranny is accomplished. The transformation of the US into a tyranny is far advanced. It is a revolution that owes its success to the gullibility, ignorance and unconcern of the majority of the American people and to a corrupt and cowardly national media that betrays liberty and fosters tyranny.”—How Tyranny Arises
“The founding fathers warned against allowing US military forces to be deployed against the American people, and the Posse Comitatus Act prevents the use of military forces against civilians. These restrictions designed to protect liberty have been subverted by the George W. Bush and Obama regimes. Today Americans have no more protection against state violence than Germans had under National Socialism.”—Paul Craig Roberts
“God, the lord and father of all has given no one of his children such a property in his peculiar portion of the things of this world, but that he has given his needy brother a right to the surplusage of his goods, so that it cannot justly be denied him when his pressing wants call for it, and therefore, no man could ever have a just power over the life of another by right of property in land or possessions, since it would always be a sin in any man of estate to let his brother perish for want of affording him relief out of his plenty.”—John Locke
“I am thinking about feminists of all sorts—and how so many of us are anti-racist and anti-militarist. HRC as president will be used to disguise militarism with a friendly white female face, read as feminist. “We” -– women — will be told that the glass ceiling has been broken. “We” will hear that we are now in a post-feminist era. But this particular “we” remains too rich, too white, too imperial, too capitalist, too… And, it is not enough to hope that this elitism will resolve itself. It is crucial for U.S. women to say no to these policies of mass destruction, incarceration, and militarization, even if the strategy for doing so seems unclear. Not in our Name.”—Zillah Eisenstein
“We live in a new era of neoliberal savagery. Life has become cheap, emptied of its integrity and worth and reduced to the metrics of profit and a ruthless form of market fundamentalism. America occupies a historical moment characterized by market genocide - a time in which entire populations are considered disposable, left on their own to barely survive or die. Refusing Medicaid expansion by right-wing politicians such as Rick Perry is only one example of the death march at the heart of the politics of disposability and the culture of cruelty.”—Henry A. Giroux
The problem, rather, is that greater St. Louis is locked into a pattern of inequitable development. Iowa’s Gordon writes that St. Louis is “by any measure, one of the most depopulated, deindustrialized, and deeply segregated examples of American urban decay.” Fragmentation “is not the principal cause, but it certainly fed into what’s happening in Ferguson,” says Robert Cohn, author of The History and Growth of St. Louis County, Missouri.
“[What Americans should know is] that the country of Israel is against international laws and human rights. We [Palestinians] are not slaves–we are people. Americans should stop supporting a criminal state. Through your tax dollars you are killing a child; you are destroying a school; you are poisoning our dreams. You are investing in war. If you love Israelis that is fine. But don’t forget that there is a Palestinian child without a school or that he doesn’t have food or that he is without house. By the way, more than 500 house or more was destroyed [based on when this response was originally written]. We need Americans to support our freedom, justice, peace and reconciliation. We need your voices to end occupation and this apartheid system. The two nations are tired from fear, hate, and violence. We want to move freely in our countries and not to feel that we are unwelcome or foreigners. We are tired from negotiation and peace processes. We want real steps toward peace. If violence will bring our peace, we all will go for it, but we know that it isn’t the solution. As Martin Luther King Jr. said: I have a dream. We’ve been dreaming for almost 64 years. To seek nonviolence we need courage, hope, faith, and salvation. We need love and reconciliation. We need humbleness and the occupation needs to end.”—Milad
“…let’s not forget the Christian demand of discipleship: “Love your enemies.” Central to the Gospel announcement of Jesus is the nonviolent love of those who would oppose us: sometimes physically and other times ideologically. At the center of discipleship is love–love for God and for neighbors. And lest we forget the criteria for a “neighbor,” Jesus makes that clear in the story of the Good Samaritan: a neighbor is the person we naturally hate. For a Jew in the first century to even acknowledge a Samaritan as anything but a despised traitor to the God of Israel was unthinkable! Yet that is exactly what Jesus called his hearers to–to equate enemies to the status of neighbor. Therefore, a neighbor is any and every person on the face of this earth that we like, dislike, or would even consider an enemy. We are called to love our enemy-neighbors.”—The Israel-Gaza Conflict has Names and Faces: Hearing Voices from Both Sides of the Wall
“Once upon a time, monopoly and oligopoly were illegal in America. Our ancestors believed, correctly, that concentrated economic power was incompatible with democracy in all sorts of ways. Since the days of Ronald Reagan, however, every succeeding administration has chosen to enforce the antitrust laws only if the monopoly or oligopoly in question threatened to cause big price increases for consumers— and sometimes not even then. This has come to mean that nearly all mergers and takeovers are permitted, and that achieving monopoly has once again become the obvious strategic objective of every would-be business leader.”—Can The Democrats Win Back The House In November? Probably But It Would Take The Kind Of Bold Thinking And Bold Action They Fear
“But Israel’s latest war on Gaza mounted to a genocide. Israel’s argument that it was “defending itself” was no longer a sufficient excuse. No amount of hasbara was enough to explain the burying alive of entire families, the summary execution of civilians, the pulverizing of entire neighborhoods, the gunning down of fleeing children playing at the beach during a deceptive moment of “lull,” the destruction of dozens of mosques and churches, the killing of civilians hiding in UN schools-turned temporary shelters.”—Gaza Changed Everything
“The outside agitator charge is one that has historically been invoked by authorities with bad arguments. Whatever misdeeds they have committed to provoke protest are indefensible, so they resort to canards. Usually the target is some sort of lefty agitation. Any fool should know that an unimpeachable movement, for civil rights, was fueled by outside agitators, as well as inside ones. Civil rights workers came to the South from all over the U.S. to help register black people to vote. Union organizers often come into places they’ve never lived in before. So to suggest there is something inherently bad about outside agitators is usually reactionary bullcrap.”—Agitators, inside and outside
“Reparations are not a radical idea; they’re considered a basic tenet of social and political policy throughout the world. Why should America not pay reparations to the descendants of slaves who were brought to America against their will, used as slaves to build the Southern economy into a huge economic force, and then freed into a culture of further violence perpetrated against them? It’s not as though all that’s over now; if anything, the problem has grown within the cells and psyches of every generation since. America will continue to waste money on relatively limited fixes, until we buck up and pay this debt in a real way once and for all. Millions are indeed wasted if the billions we owe here are not paid. A Reparations Plan would provide a massive investment in educational and economic opportunities for African Americans— rendered as payment for a long overdue debt. Until that debt is paid, the cycle of violence that began in the 1600s and continues to this day will continue to haunt our psyche and disrupt our social good. It is time for America to atone for our past in both word and deed, and to heal our weary soul.”—Marianne Williamson
“The trouble with purely racial explanations of police using excessive force is that cops don’t limit their excesses to racial minorities. White people suffer them also. Remember the recent case of Cecily McMillan, an Occupy protester who was brutalized by a white good thug with a record of using excessive force. McMillan is a young white woman. Her breasts were seized from behind, and when she swung around her elbow reflexively and instinctively came up and hit the goon thug. She was arrested for assaulting a police officer and sentenced by a jury to a term in jail. The prosecutor and judge made certain that no evidence could be presented in her defense. Medical evidence of the bruises on her breast and the police officer’s record of police brutality were not allowed as evidence in her show trial, the purpose of which was to intimidate Occupy protesters. In America white jurors are usually sheep who do whatever the prosecutor wants. As Cecily McMillan, a white woman, could not get justice, it is even less likely that the black family of Michael Brown will. Those who are awaiting a jury’s verdict to decide Michael Brown’s case are awaiting a cover-up and the complicity of the US criminal justice (sic) system in murder.”—Ferguson: No Justice in the American Police State
Is there a particular time that people go for more in-depth news, beyond the headlines? Overall, 4 in 10 Americans report that they delved deeper into a particular news subject beyond the headlines in the last week. When they did, that in-depth reading, watching, or listening followed a similar pattern to news consumption generally, with a plurality (34 percent) saying there is no particular time they prefer to read in-depth news. That finding challenges the notion that while Americans may get headlines continuously, they reserve the evening for learning more.
“The ease with which certain liberal bloggers at venues like the Daily Beast and Gawker use the terminology of racists, bigots, and violent segregationists should give everyone pause, and it should tell leftists that we have a long way to go towards building a truly progressive media.”—Love Me, Ferguson, I’m A Liberal
No one needs to eat livestock to survive. Yet meat is almost universally the focus of the Western diet. When you go to a restaurant and the waiter asks you what you’ll have, you respond with the meat or fish entree. You don’t say, “the asparagus” or “the rice” or the “mixed veggies.” Everything else on the menu is known as a “side dish,” or is even regarded as an afterthought. Arby’s even advertises “Mega Meat Stacks” and “Meats Upon Meats Upon Meats.” And this is pure insanity - on a global scale.
The average American eats between two and five times more protein than they actually need. Basically, we eat animals because we want to, or because we’re duped into it by the Big Ag Empire.
“American exceptionalism when it comes to income distribution – our unique suspicion of and hostility to social insurance and anti-poverty programs – is, I and many others would argue, very much tied to our racial history. This does not, however, explain in any direct way why we should misperceive real inequality: people could oppose aid to Those People while understanding how rich the rich are. There may, however, be an indirect effect, because the racial divide empowers right-wing groups of all kinds, which in turn issue a lot of propaganda dismissing and minimizing inequality.”—Inequality Delusions
“Rather than asking the deeper questions concerning the root level causes of the over-representation of black men within the criminal justice system, we have become conditioned to sit back and watch the dehumanization of this segment of the population, while remaining silent to their plight. It was our silence that allowed police forces to occupy our poorest communities since the start of the so-called war on drugs. It was our silence that opened the door to the militarization of our police forces. It was our silence that allowed them to purchase military grade equipment and to increase surveillance on citizens in the name of the war on drugs. It was our silence that allowed our prisons to swell beyond capacity and our criminal justice budgets to take priority over spending in other key areas, such as education and healthcare. And it was our silence that allowed and continues to allow for the targeting, profiling, and execution of unarmed young black men in our communities, as we saw with Emmett Till, Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Ezell Ford, and most recently, Mike Brown of #Ferguson. As Dr. King once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” #OurLivesMatter”—Nekima Levy-Pounds: Our Silence on the War on Drugs & Mass Incarceration Lead to the Insanity in #Ferguson
“I am convinced that the soul of the white church has yet to be ashamed. It is not ashamed of slavery- it only dismisses it. It is not ashamed of Jim Crow - it only claims credit for ending it. It is not ashamed of incarceration rates - it only excuses it. It is not ashamed of ghettos - it pretends to have nothing to do with them. It is not ashamed of segregation - only silently benefits from it. There is no shame for who America has been. I believe that until there is collective shame for who white America has been to people of color, white America will not choose to be something else. If it is fine with who it is, it will continue to do what’s always done. Far from being offended by its own actions, instead white America- Christians included- remain offended by black bodies. This is what killed Trayvon and Renisha and Jordon and Eric and Michael. How dare black bodies resist the white will. How dare they fight back when a stranger chases. How dare they knock at 4am. How dare they not turn down the music when told. How dare they sell some cigarettes. How dare they walk in the middle of the street. How utterly offensive for black bodies to disobey whiteness.”—Austin Channing Brown
People of privilege, aka white people, aka my friends and family,
I know you might think your comments are harmless, or maybe you think it is fun to debate or “play the devil’s advocate,” but please keep in mind that in a land not so far away, people…children even, are actually dying over this.
You might mean well but many your comments have the distinct flavor of someone who is not willing to listen and entertain the thought that perhaps it really is “that bad.” At best, you are coming off as ignorant, at worst, racist.
By saying, “you do not have all of the facts” we are essentially saying “I don’t believe that you are smart enough to know what is happening right in front of your face.”
By saying, “this isn’t a race issue” we are saying “I know more than black people about what it feels like to be black.”
By saying, “I’m sad about this too but…” we are saying that there is really an ending to this sentence that rectifies a mother losing a child.
By saying, “let’s see what the autopsy says” we are saying, “I need a white doctor to tell me what really happened because I’m not going to believe the eye witness accounts of a bunch of black kids.”
By posing a hypothetical scenario about a white victim being shot without cause, you are just confused.
By saying, “it’s a lot better these days than it used to be” we are not acknowledging the current pain that racism causes.
By blaming the victim, we are — well, blaming a victim.
By saying, “this discussion doesn’t really apply to me,” we are saying black people are not as human as you.
“And the Christians, with their horses and swords and pikes began to carry out massacres and strange cruelties against them. They attacked the towns and spared neither the children nor the aged nor pregnant women nor women in childbed, not only stabbing them and dismembering them but cutting them to pieces as if dealing with sheep in the slaughter house. They laid bets as to who, with one stroke of the sword, could split a man in two or could cut off his head or spill out his entrails with a single stroke of the pike. They took infants from their mothers’ breasts, snatching them by the legs and pitching them headfirst against the crags or snatched them by the arms and threw them into the rivers, roaring with laughter and saying as the babies fell into the water, “Boil there, you offspring of the devil!” Other infants they put to the sword along with their mothers and anyone else who happened to be nearby. They made some low wide gallows on which the hanged victim’s feet almost touched the ground, stringing up their victims in lots of thirteen, in memory of Our Redeemer and His twelve Apostles, then set burning wood at their feet and thus burned them alive.”—Bartolomé de Las Casas
“Americanism has a way of reading the Bible (with America sometimes playing a prominent role in the biblical story as the “new Israel”), an eschatology (America is the “new order of the ages” and the “last best hope of mankind”), a doctrine of political salvation (everyone becomes like us, and all will be well), and, since the civil war, a view of sacrifice (American soldiers give their lives, and take the lives of enemies, to make the world peaceful and free).”—Peter Leithart
“Palestinians are already in camps, open-air prison camps like Gaza, tiny, beleaguered cantons that lack access to drinkable water or transportation infrastructure, blockaded from receiving food and essential supplies, prevented from fishing their own waters, their movements harshly restricted, forced to go through humiliating and threatening checkpoints to get to work. They travel in segregated buses. They are frequently denied access to Eastern Jerusalem, the center of Palestinian commercial and cultural life. They endure constant calls for “Greater Israel,” the call for ethnic cleansing to establish a unitary ethno-nationalist state. They live in unrecognized villages in the Negev and the North which the Israel state provides no services for. They, unlike Israeli Jews, have no “right to return.” They endured the Nakba.”—Palestinians Live What Israelis Fear
The emails filling my box about Israel function as a remarkable document. They are a record of seemingly reasonable people who have completely lost track of basic moral reasoning. And that represents itself nowhere more consistently or powerfully than here: treating what could possibly happen to Israelis as more important than what already is happening to Palestinians. It’s such a profoundly bizarre way to think, that only this maddening issue could bring it about.
“Hamas denies Israel’s right to exist!”
Indeed– and Israel not only denies Palestine’s right to exist, it has achieved the denial of a Palestinian state in fact. What kind of broken moral calculus could cause someone to think that being told your existing state should not exist is the same as not having a state of your own?
“Israelis will become second class citizens!”
Arab Israelis already are second class citizens, and Palestinians in the territories no citizens at all. They are denied freedom of movement, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly. They are systematically discriminated against for jobs, especially in government. They lack adequate representation in government. Their leaders are kicked out of Knesset meetings for questioning the IDF. Racist, ultra-nationalist mobs marched through their streets, chanting “death to Arabs!” Their weddings to Jews are the subject of vicious protests. They live side-by-side with racist teenagers who unashamedly trumpet ethnic warfare. They must live in a society where men like Avigdor Lieberman, an explicit racist and literal fascist, serves in a position of power and prominence. Where Meir Kahane is memorialized by groups receiving state funds, where the JDL’s thugs march, where Lehava preaches against miscegenation. A society where the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset openly calls for ethnic cleansing. Palestinians live in a society where a tiny fraction of government funding is spent on their communities or their people. Where human rights organizations like B’Tselem are oppressed by the state. Where they have to endure Kafkaesque application processes to prevent their homes from being bulldozed, if they are given that opportunity at all. Where they live under fear of reactionary, fundamentalist Orthodox settlers who call for death to the Palestinian race.
“Since the late 1970s, American society has been transformed in ways that point to the abandonment of liberal democracy and the welfare state while social policies have been promulgated that egregiously serve the interest of global markets. Within this period during which the liberal market gave way to a punitive form of casino capitalism or, as some call it, neoliberalism, the collective sense of ethical imagination and social responsibility towards those who are vulnerable or in need of care has been increasingly viewed as a scourge or pathology. One consequence is that within this new historical conjuncture, the practice of disposability expands to include more and more individuals and groups who have been considered redundant, consigned to zones of abandonment, surveillance and mass incarceration.”—Henry A. Giroux