Parens-thetical Racism: It’s All Fun & Games Until Someone Gets Beaten Up in An Alley

The excitable fella with all the emoticons is probably, one hopes, just another Reddit-fueled edgelord trolling for lulz. The problem is, how do the rest of us tell them apart from the genuine racists and psychopaths? Here’s the Guardian‘s explanation of the extra parentheses now being sported by all the best twitter handles:

US antisemitism watchdog, the Anti-Defamation League, has added the “(((echo)))” symbol, used online by white supremacists to single out Jews, to its online database of hate symbols.

The group’s decision comes days after Google removed a Chrome extension that was being used by antisemites to add triple parentheses around the names of prominent Jewish public figures including Michael Bloomberg and New York Times journalist Jonathan Weisman….

The intersection of old-fashioned white supremacy and antisemitism with tech-savvy online groups centred around websites such as 4chan and Reddit has given rise to a movement loosely termed the “alt-right”. The echo symbol is just the latest artefact of that group’s thinking to burst into the mainstream, thanks largely to an article in late May from the NYT’s Weisman highlighting its use.

But the denigration of Jews online extends beyond the Trump supporters highlighted by Weisman. An investigation by Mic revealed how widespread the symbol’s use has become, largely below the radar of the mainstream.

“To the public, the symbol is not easily searchable on most sites and social networks; search engines strip punctuation from results,” wrote the publication’s reporters, Cooper Fleishman and Anthony Smith. “This means that trolls committed to uncovering, labelling and harassing Jewish users can do so in relative obscurity: No one can search those threats to find who’s sending them.”

The pair trace the origins of the symbol back to far right blog Right Stuff. “In Right Stuff propaganda, you’ll often read that Jewish names ‘echo’. According to the blog’s lexicon page, ‘all Jewish surnames echo throughout history’. In other words, the supposed damage caused by Jewish people reverberates from decade to decade.” The parentheses are used to imply that same echo textually…

Of course, the people who hate “Jews” this much aren’t any too happy about people of color (especially the one now occupying “their” White House), foreigners (especially the ones with ‘funny names’), “sexual deviants”, uppity women, or anyone otherwise “Aryan” who chooses to support the untermenschen. (Hillary’s “mixed blood” grandchildren are deplored as one more example of her perfidy; but then, Trump has Jewish grandkids too… )

If you’re curious, Jeff Goldberg (yes, I know), at the Atlantic, has “A Brief Introduction to the Pro-Holocaust Twitterverse”:

mengelematters troll via atlantic

Monday Morning Open Thread: Blessed Ramadan!

The month of fasting and reflection has already begun for many of our overseas observers, of course. Per the Washington Post:

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Millions of Muslims around the world will mark the start of the holy month of Ramadan on Monday, a time marked by intense prayer, dawn-to-dusk fasting and nightly feasts.

Saudi Arabia’s state TV announced the new moon of Ramadan was spotted Sunday evening. Local media in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, also said Muslims there would begin fasting Monday, as will Muslims in Singapore, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories, among others.

Following these announcements, a mosque in Tampa, Florida announced to its followers that they too would celebrate the first day’s fasting Monday…

The faithful spend the month of Ramadan in mosques for evening prayers known as “taraweeh,” while free time during the day is often spent reading the Quran and listening to religious lectures.

Each day for the month of Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset. Even a sip of water, coffee or a cigarette can invalidate one’s fast. There are exceptions to fasting for children, the elderly, the sick, women who are pregnant, nursing or menstruating, and people travelling…

The fast is intended to bring the faithful closer to God and to remind them of the suffering of those less fortunate. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the Muslim declaration of faith, daily prayer, charity and performing the hajj pilgrimage in Mecca…

Britain’s Independent posted “Five ways to show solidarity and respect to people observing the Islamic holy month,” which seems sensible.
Apart from the holiday, what’s on the agenda as we start another week?

An Op-Ed, a Tweet About the Op-Ed, and the Massive Racist, Xenophobic, and Anti-Semitic Response

———–Updated at 12:55 PM on 20 May 2016———-

I’ve gone back in and replaced the crude copy and paste of Jonathan Weisman’s twitter timeline from yesterday with a screen grab saved as a pdf. This will make it easier on the site and on the eyes, but if you haven’t looked and want to, or want an easy way to save this for posterity, there are 14 pages in a pdf file below the fold.


Earlier today The Washington Post published a very thoughtful essay by Brookings Institute Senior Fellow Robert Kagan. The New York Times Deputy Washington Editor, Jonathon Weisman, tweeted about it. A short time later all hell broke lose on his twitter timeline. While several mainstream news outlets have picked up the story, the majority of them in Israel, I think its important to capture some of this stuff. While it is impossible to prove much about people using nyms on the Internet and Twitter, many of the folks sending this stuff to Weisman are also claiming to be Trump supporters. Regardless of whether Donald Trump and his campaign want this type of support and supporters, this is more evidence of a very disturbing trend that has been developing through the 2016 presidential primary season. I’ve copied and pasted/screen grabbed all of the offensive material, which is after the page break.

And you are all warned, some of it is very, very vile. But it goes right to our past discussions about destroying the Grey Zone/the civil space that we all live in as citizens regardless of our ethnicities, religions, places of origin, etc. These types of expressions are an attempt to draw hard and fast lines around what is an American and who can be one. Moreover, they seek to push others into either choosing sides or to shake their heads and go along to get along out of fear of losing whatever safety, security, and prosperity they have. In many ways the response that Mr. Weisman received on twitter is a perfect example of what Dr. Kagan wrote about in his op-ed.

It also goes to the core theme of the Trump campaign: “I, we, America will be treated well… (Or else!)” The Trump campaign, and specifically Donald Trump’s on the stump, at debates, and during interviews rhetoric is setting the conditions to fully transform the Republican Party from the Grand Old Party to the Herrenvolk Party whether he intends to do so or not. Herrenvolk democracy is a populist, using Seymour Martin Lipset’s four typology description of political/civil society, form of government and governance. In a herrenvolk democracy one party, usually the majority party, but not always so, defined by ethnic or racial categorization dominates the state, society, economy, and usually religion too, over all other parties, movements, groups, and sub-cultures. The latter are tolerated at best and actively persecuted at worst. What Weisman’s twitter feed demonstrates is that those with the impulse towards herrenvolkism are feeling especially confident right now. And the potential danger that poses to America should be taken very, very seriously.

(If anyone can get a better/proper screen grab, which I’m having trouble with in Chrome, please grab all of it and email it to me and I’ll update it.)

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Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: Christianist Hypocrites Embrace the Combover Caligula

Or, as the Grey Lady mealymouths it, “Social Conservatives, However Reluctant, Are Warming to the Idea of Trump”

Activists and leaders in the social conservative movement, after spending most of the past year opposing and condemning Donald J. Trump, are now moving to embrace his candidacy and are joining the growing number of mainstream Republicans who appear ready to coalesce around the party’s presumptive nominee…

“Oh, my, it’s difficult,” said Penny Nance, the president of Concerned Women for America, a group that has openly campaigned against Mr. Trump. “He’s not my first choice. He’s not my second choice,” she added. “But any concerns I have about him pale in contrast to Hillary Clinton.”

And Mr. Trump — whose litany of offenses against cultural conservatives include support of Planned Parenthood, past positions on abortion rights and his more accepting views on gays and lesbians — is winning over this once deeply skeptical constituency.

He has made overt moves, such as suggesting last week that he would name Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, and sent subtle signals, like employing people for his campaign who are well known in the movement.

Mr. Trump has, to a large extent, placated a vocal and powerful element of the Republican Party’s base, whose backing he will need if he wants to wage a general election campaign leading a united conservative movement.

The support of social conservatives is not just symbolic. It means getting assistance from groups that plan to spend millions of dollars mobilizing voters, people who lead influential faith-based organizations and Republican activists who will help craft the party’s platform at the national convention this summer…

“They love a convert because it’s what their faith is all about,” said Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith & Freedom Coalition and a friend of Mr. Trump.
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Iraqi State of Emergency: The Parliamentary Occupation

Yesterday a large number of Iraqi Shi’a stormed into the Green Zone in protest and occupied the Iraqi Parliament. The immediate driver of this activity was a call by Muqtada al Sadr for the Iraqi Parliament to actually convene and take a vote on pending legislation to force Iraqi Prime Minister al Abadi to replace ministers with non-partisan technocrats. The real cause of the unrest is with the way power is currently portioned out within the Iraqi government, which is partially done by sectarian allotment among Sunni Arabs, Shi’a Arabs, and Kurds. When the current Iraqi government’s institutions and structures were being rebuilt one of the reforms was a very, very soft form of consociational (confessional) representation. Perhaps the best known example of this type of system is in Lebanon where certain numbers of seats in the Lebanese Parliament and certain ministerial and military positions are reserved for members of specific Lebanese sects in order to force power sharing, compromise, and the creation of a functional civil space among the often hostile and antagonistic Lebanese sects.

Iraq’s system isn’t a full consociational system as the elections to Parliament are based on party lists, not sectarian quotas regarding seats. Though in practice the party lists have produced a Shi’a majority bloc, with both Kurdish, Sunni, and mixed sectarian minority blocs within the Iraqi Parliament. Iraq’s consociational system instead focuses on having some ministerial positions allotted in a consociational manner to force power sharing and compromise. It has, unfortunately, not always worked effectively, and has been a source of serious contention, and a conduit for corruption. One of Prime Minister al Abadi’s goals has been the reform of this system by transitioning it away from consociationalism based on sectarian confession (Shi’a and Sunni) and ethnicity (Kurd) and towards a technocratic form of government. Unfortunately this has been stalled out; largely because those currently benefiting from the consociational system don’t want to give up those benefits so the legislation is stalled and a quorum cannot be produced in Parliament. The longer it drags on, the more the frustration grows. And today a lot of that boiled over. The good news is that the Iraqi Security Forces are not treating this as a type of activity that requires a counterterrorism response. This is a very good sign and watching the response of the Iraqi Security Forces and the Interior Ministry will provide us with important information going forward.

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Late Night Open Thread: Utah in Play… Maybe

Sometimes progressives assume — not without reason — that calling oneself a “religious voter” really means “I’m a narrow-minded bigot looking for an excuse to feel all superior about my racism and misogyny.” But there are people who won’t vote for Donald Trump because his loudly professed xenophobia is contrary to the teachings of their religion, and some of them are Christians.

On the other hand, since I’m not well-versed in Mormon theology, I’m not sure how Ted Cruz’s oleaginous Domininism measures up, or fails to, for Latter-Day Saints less bipolar than Glenn Beck…

Late Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread, Christianist Edition

This tweet has been bouncing around the ‘tubes, but since it’s Dinesh D’Souza, who knows whether “marrying” is a verb that applies to the present or the indefinite future? Wikipedia links to a wingnut-welfare-sponsored YouTube clip of D’Souza’s marriage proposal to Deborah Fancher, “conservative political activist and mother of two”, so at least she should have a pretty good idea of what she’s signing up for. Note, this is not the young groupie blogger for whose charms D’Souza divorced his first wife and ended his career with King’s College; perhaps Ms. Joseph failed to sever ties with her existing husband, or maybe she didn’t care to marry a convicted felon?
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