Monday Reads: Cosby and Crimes Against Women and Children

new-york-magazine-bill-cosby

Good Morning!!

New York Magazine’s latest cover features 35 women who say they were drugged and sexually assaulted by Bill Cosby. At the moment the link to the “13-page photo essay” is unavailable–apparently the site has crashed.

From The Guardian: Bill Cosby accusers detail trauma and betrayal in magazine.

Thirty-five women who have accused Bill Cosby of raping them have spoken out in an explosive photo essay for New York magazine. More than 40 women have so far accused the comedian of sexual assault, but the cover story represents a sea change in how the comedian’s alleged victims have been publicly perceived.

On Sunday, the magazine published excerpts of interviews with each woman for a 13-page photo essay, covering accusations they have made against the comedian and the backlash they have faced.

“Listen, he was America’s favorite dad,” saidBarbara Bowman, who says she was raped as a 17-year-old actress. She made her case public in 2004, when testifying on behalf of Andrea Constand, who said she was also one of Cosby’s victims.

“I went into this thinking he was going to be my dad,” Bowman told the magazine. “To wake up half-dressed and raped by the man that said he was going to love me like a father? That’s pretty sick.

“It was hard for America to digest when this came out. And a lot of backlash and a lot denial and a lot of anger.”

Inside Higher Ed reports: Spelman Discontinues Cosby Professorship.

Spelman College announced Friday that it is discontinuing an endowed professorship named for Bill Cosby and his wife. “The William and Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Endowed Professorship at Spelman College has been discontinued and related funds have been returned to the Clara Elizabeth Jackson Carter Foundation,” said a statement from the college. A spokeswoman declined to comment further. Bill and Camille Cosby are major donors to Spelman and an academic building is named for Camille Cosby. The Clara Elizabeth Jackson Carter Foundation was created by Bill Cosby to provide grants to historically black colleges.

The hardest thing for many people to understand about this is the way Camille Cosby has stood by her husband through the many years it has taken for this entire ugly business to play out. Was she simply in denial? Was she reluctant to give up the money and fame that came with being the wife of a powerful man? We may never know, but she was apparently an active force in her husband’s defense.

Bill and Camille Cosby

Bill and Camille Cosby

From the July 12 New York Post: Bill Cosby’s wife says accusers ‘consented’ to drugs and sex.

Bill Cosby’s wife knows her husband is a serial philanderer, but believes his scores of accusers consented to drugs and sex, two confidants of the couple say.

Last week’s revelation that Cosby admitted during a deposition that he intended to ply women with Quaaludes before bedding them barely fazed Camille Cosby, the ­insiders told The Post.

“Camille still doesn’t believe that Bill provided drugs and had sex with women without their consent,” said a source employed by the Cosby family. “She’s well aware of his cheating, but she doesn’t believe that her husband is a rapist.”

Mrs. Cosby is “a proud, dignified but stubborn woman. You can say that she’s standing by her husband, but really, the more people stand against him, the more she perceives it as an affront to her and all that she’s done to make him a star,” said another source who’s done business with the ­Cosbys and remains close to them.

Camille Cosby, 71, who is also her 78-year-old husband’s business manager, demanded last week at a crisis meeting with advisers that their lawyers and p.r. specialists “get back out in front of this,” the business source said.

“I created him, I knew what I was getting and we’ll fix this,” she told the gathering at a meeting at the couple’s Shelburne Falls, Mass., home Tuesday night.

There’s more disgusting stuff at the link. According to the Post’s sources, Camille was also angered that longtime Cosby defenders have been changing their positions in light of recent revelations.

At Refinery 29, Kelsey Miller argues that women like Dottie Sandusky (wife of convicted child rapist Jerry Sandusky) and Camille Cosby can be simultaneoursly enablers and victims.

The Complicated Case Of Camille Cosby.

It is easy and tempting to make assumptions about Camille Cosby. “That poor woman,” some say. “That idiot,” say others. And, to some, she is “that monster.” Pity or vilification are the textbook responses to spouses in these cases. Watching and waiting for Camille’s next move, I’m reminded of last year’s TODAYinterview with Dottie Sandusky (wife of Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who in 2012 was found guilty of sexually abusing 10 boys)….

Last week, The New York Post shared a widely reported story that Camille (also her husband’s business manager) had held a crisis meeting with Bill’s team to discuss damage control. “I created him. I knew what I was getting, and we’ll fix this,” she was quoted by a source as having said. It was also alleged that she referred to the “infidelities” as an embarrassment she’d long since reconciled herself with, and emphasized them as just that — affairs, and not assaults.

Of course, reports like this should be taken with a hefty handful of salt, but it’s worth noting that Camille’s supposed remarks are certainly in keeping with Cosby’s own in the deposition. Both reveal the kind of psychological gymnastics that allow someone to leap over the evidence at hand — to find acceptable, ordinary dalliances where many would see something much more sinister….

To believe that Camille Cosby is an evil, calculating accomplice to the crimes her husband’s been accused of would be to ignore the possibility that she’s just another victim of those same alleged crimes.

Conversely, to believe that Dottie Sandusky is merely a naive grandma would be to ignore the magnificent power of deliberate denial. We know nothing of the internal lives of these women, nor can we speak to the dynamic of their marriages. Is it likely they knew of their husbands’ actions? Certainly. It is just as likely that they were subject to manipulation and abuse themselves.

The point being: One does not cancel out the other. It’s a cognitive dissonance that neither mainstream media nor its consumers can seem to resolve. We want clear answers and archetypes, and instead we’re stuck with real people, none of whom are entirely good or entirely monstrous.

I suppose Miller has a point, but it’s difficult for me to have much sympathy with either of these enabling wives. Each of these women appear to have actively covered up their husbands’ criminal behavior and allowed these men to damage the lives of so many young men and women.

Sandra Bland

Sandra Bland

Also in the news . . .

CBS Local 11: History Of Racial Tension Where Bland Died.

Waller County was named for Edwin Waller, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico in 1836, who four years later became the first elected mayor of Austin. Whites make up 44 percent of the 47,000 residents, Hispanics 29 percent and blacks 25 percent.

First settled in the early 1820s, the area became home to slave-labor cotton plantations. Hempstead was incorporated in 1858 thanks to a railroad terminus.

The plantations were dismantled with the end of the Civil War in 1865. Three years later, historical records report a race riot, followed by unrest in the 1880s, when a White Man’s Party was established to blunt active black political participation in the county where blacks outnumbered whites.

That’s when violence blamed on the Ku Klux Klan and other extremist groups gave it the “Six Shooter” sobriquet.

More recently, voter intimidation and voting-rights complaints have arisen from students at Prairie View A&M University, a college established in 1876 specifically to train black teachers.

The complaints led to a federal lawsuit. The district attorney at the time, in 2004, reached a settlement and apologized. But the issue resurfaced only two years later and again in 2008, when additional early voting sites in the county were established only after federal pressure.

“There’s a lot of prejudice going on,” said Eugene Hood, citing a history of police harassment as he cut hair at Chad’s Barber Shop on University Drive, just south of where Bland was arrested outside the main entrance to the university.

Marie Armstrong of Dallas, a Prairie View senior, remembers being pulled over and ticketed for a broken brake light and being forced to go court. She wished police would exercise some judgment.

More at the link.

A courageous woman who killed a man who was beating and trying to strangle her may have rid the world of a dangerous serial killer. David Lohr at Huffington Post:  Neal Falls, Man Killed By Escort, Had Cache Of Weapons And List Of Prostitutes, Police Say.

Neal Falls, the man shot to death by a prostitute after he attacked her on Saturday, had a cache of weapons and a list of online escorts inside his vehicle, police said Wednesday.

The items, as well as statements the woman said Falls made to her, led police to suspect he may have been involved in other unsolved crimes.

“He had a machete, shovel, two axes, a bunch of knives, a double-headed ax, a bulletproof vest, numerous sets of handcuffs, as well as the firearm used to kill him,” Lt. Steve Cooper of the Charleston, West Virginia, police department, told The Huffington Post.

Police also found a list containing the names of an unspecified number of women inside the man’s vehicle.

Photo of Neil Falls surrounded by photos of the "murder kit" police found in his car. (Source: Huffington Post)

Photo of Neil Falls surrounded by photos of the “murder kit” police found in his car. (Source: Huffington Post)

More details from a previous report by Lohr:

The man…was shot and killed in Charleston, West Virginia, on Saturday, according to WCHS-TV. The incident reportedly occurred after he met a female escort through Backpage.com, an online classified ad portal that is often used by men seeking prostitutes.

“The details that we’re able to release right now are that there was a struggle … that the man had beaten and strangled the woman and gotten her onto the ground, laid the gun down as he was dragging her back through the house, and she was able to pick the gun up and fire over her shoulder blindly, and the bullet did strike the man, killing him,” Charleston Police Lt. Steve Cooper told the Charleston Gazette on Saturday.

Police in nearby Chillicothe, OH, are looking into the possibility that Falls could be responsible for the disappearances of 6 Ohio women.

“We are in communication with Charleston regarding that situation,” Bud Lytle, a spokesman and crime prevention officer for the Chillicothe Police Department, told The Huffington Post. “Obviously, it’s not a great distance from us and it involved a prostitute and an individual known to pick up prostitutes.”

Falls, who was originally from Oregon, is also be investigated by authorities in Nevada, according to Lohr: Neal Falls Investigation Expands To Las Vegas-Area Dismemberments: EXCLUSIVE

“We received information that caused a conversation to take place between us and law enforcement in Henderson, Nevada,” Lt. Steve Cooper of the Charleston, West Virginia, police department, told The Huffington Post on Thursday.

Cooper said he couldn’t discuss specific cases Nevada authorities are now looking into because the investigation “is ongoing and we don’t want to risk comprising [sic] it.”

The FBI also is investigating, a law enforcement source told The Huffington Post on Friday. A spokesman didn’t immediately answer a request for comment.

CBS News: Woman who killed alleged serial killer recounts final fight.

Falls was answering an online ad for an escort, police said, when he showed up to a Charleston, West Virginia, home.

The woman, who wants only to be known as “Heather,” answered the door.

She said Falls, armed with a gun, asked her: “live or die?” Then he started choking her.

“When he strangled me, I grabbed my rake, and when he laid the gun down to get the rake out of my hands, I shot him,” Heather said. “I grabbed the gun and shot behind me.”

Heather ran out of the house and flagged down a neighbor, who called 911. The neighbor said she “had to defend herself,” and she had “cuts and stuff all over her.” ….

Police are not charging Heather for the shooting, which they say was in self-defense. “I knew he was there to kill me,” Heather said.

See a video of Heather describing her ordeal at WCHS ABC Local 8.

This turned into a post about crime, but–as I have written previously–for me rape and sexual assault are political issues. Crimes against women and children are often ignored and covered up in our society, with the media as enabler.

Movie shooter John Russell Houser

Movie shooter John Russell Houser

Just take a look at Dakinikat’s post from yesterday. She points out that the media are largely ignoring the fact that Louisiana mass shooter John Russell Houser specifically targeted women who were watching a movie created by a feminist.

So, let me address the mainstream media and police confusion about Houser’s “choices” of victim.  These are the same groups of people that rarely address the daily violence against and murder of women by the men in their lives. This is from a blog that tracks and monitors male misogyny called “We Hunted the Mammoth”. The author is David Futrelle.

Police in Lafayette, Louisiana are evidently struggling to understand why the outspokenly misogynistic, racist and anti-Semitic John Russell “Rusty” Houser murdered two women and wounded 9 other moviegoers at a showing of “Trainwreck,” a film written by and starring Amy Schumer, a feminist comedian with a Jewish father, known for joking frankly about sex.

Please check out Dak’s post if you haven’t read it yet.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a nice Monday.


Fat Tuesday Reads

Revelers toss confetti at float of Momus, patron god of Mardi Gras, in New Orleans in 1960.

Revelers toss confetti at float of Momus, patron god of Mardi Gras, in New Orleans in 1960.

Good Morning!!

Today is Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras in French, the last day to celebrate before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday fall on different days every year, depending on the date of Easter Sunday. It begins 46 days before Easter (Sundays aren’t counted). Lent in the Catholic Church was meant to be symbolic of the 40 days and 40 nights Jesus spent fasting in the desert while enduring temptations from the Devil. Traditionally Christians gave up meat during lent and spent time in prayer and meditation. As kids, we gave up candy or chose some activity to perform during the Lenten season.

So how is the date of Easter determined each year? You guessed it, it depends on the date of the Vernal Equinox–one more example of how Christians absorbed Pagan holidays into their calendar. Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday is the culmination of the celebration of the birth of Jesus, beginning on The Epiphany, January 6–the day of the supposed arrival of Three Kings (or Wise Men) bearing gifts of frankincense and myrrh for the newborn child. This year Easter falls on April 5.

From IB Times:

The time between Epiphany and Mardi Gras is commonly referred to as Carnival, during which parades take place in Catholic strongholds like Brazil, Venice, Uruguay, Trinidad and Tobago, and New Orleans.

Like many Catholic holidays, Mardi Gras bears resemblances to ancient pagan rituals, particularly Saturnalia and Lupercalia. The former honored the god Saturn, an agricultural deity, and was marked by gift-giving, revelry and gambling. The latter was conducted in mid-February to honor Faunus, the god of fertility, which involved feasting, drinking and debauched behavior.

When Rome was Christianized, the Catholic Church adapted popular pagan holidays into the new faith. Mardi Gras season became a time to celebrate before the 40 days of Lent marked by prayer, repentance and atonement. As Christianity spread throughout Europe and the New World, so did Mardi Gras traditions. The pre-Lenten festivals continue to be marked by drinking, dancing and feasting on fatty foods containing meat, eggs, milk and cheese – ingredients that are restricted during Lent.

Shrove Tuesday falls on the same day as Fat Tuesday. It is the day before Ash Wednesday when Christians are reminded they will soon enter a season of penance. “Shrove” comes from the word “shrive,” which means to confess. In the Middle Ages, Catholics began marking Shrove Tuesday as a time to confess their sins before Lent.

Rasberry pakzi

Rasberry pakzi

In places where many Polish immigrants settled in the U.S. Fat Tuesday is celebrated as “Pakzi Day.” From Michigan Live, Fat Tuesday means paczki: One generation prepares the next for the biggest day of the year at Davison Home Bakery.

DAVISON, MI — Lydia Herron is a bit nervous. And excited.

After about five months of working at Davison Home Bakery, she’s preparing for the biggest day of the year: Fat Tuesday.

“They tell me it’s going to be pretty insane,” she said, standing in the bakery the morning of Monday, Feb. 16, wearing a white baker’s apron.

Fat Tuesday is the day before the Christian tradition of Lent, when practitioners give up something for 40 days and 40 nights. Sweets are a common thing to give up, and for many, Fat Tuesday is one last chance to splurge. And the favorite way to splurge on Fat Tuesday?

Paczki.

Paczki are like doughnuts, if you’re the kind of person who thinks there just aren’t enough calories in cream- or jelly-filled doughnuts as it is.

Diane Henson, a baker at Davison Home Bakery, has been making paczki since 1972. The morning of Feb. 16, she and baker Mitch French had already made 200 dozen, having been there since 9 p.m. the night before. They plan on having 600 dozen baked by the time Fat Tuesday rolls around.

She said to make paczki,they use their doughnut batter but add more sugar, butter, and eggs.

Of course the biggest celebration of Mardi Gras is in New Orleans. Here’s a schedule of activities for today that includes links to watch video of the parade. I’m sure Dakinikat can also fill us in on what’s happening down there.

Time Magazine has an interesting article about how Mardi Gras was liberated from being a celebration only for the rich and influential people in New Orleans.

A float in the Krewe of Proteus passes down Napoleon Avenue during their Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans, Monday, Feb. 16, 2015.

A float in the Krewe of Proteus passes down Napoleon Avenue during their Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans, Monday, Feb. 16, 2015.

These days, Mardi Gras in New Orleans — which falls on Feb. 17 this year — is a party for all. But, not that long ago, Mardi Gras celebrations were more exclusive affairs.

As TIME reported in the Feb. 9, 1948, issue, balls and “krewes” were for the city’s elites only, and that situation lasted for decades after the first Mardi Gras parade was held in the 1850s. In the 20th century, however, the celebration expanded:

For half a century, New Orleans’ fantastic Mardi Gras balls were strictly for the upper crust. Nobody without money, blue blood, or both gained membership in the secret men’s clubs or “krewes” which staged them. Before 1900 there were only five clubs: Comus, Momus, Twelfth Night, Rex and Proteus. They culled guest lists with pernickety care, asked only the fairest of debutantes to serve as carnival queens. But times changed. The socially ambitious began forming their own krewes.

In 1928 New Orleans had 16 Mardi Gras balls. In 1946 there were 36. This year, a record-breaking total of 49 are being held. Last week, with Carnival Day (Shrove Tuesday) fast approaching, New Orleans’ social whirl had assumed the proportions of a maelstrom.

By the 1940s, there were krewe options galore. “Italian krewes, Irish krewes, German krewes… krewes for college men, businessmen, professional men,” TIME wrote. “To the horror of New Orleans’ old guard, there are even krewes for women.”

But that didn’t mean Mardi Gras was an all-inclusive celebration. The krewes may have multiplied, but they were still separated along racial and gender lines.

As recently as 1991, the relative exclusivity of the Mardi Gras krewes was a source of controversy in New Orleans. That December, the city council voted to require the krewes to integrate by 1994, or else lose the right to hold parades. (The krewes are private clubs, but the city controls the streets.)

Read more history at the link. The photo at the top of this post is from Time in 1960.

In winter weather news . . .

The latest winter storm hit the South hard yesterday. NBC News reportsIce Storm Coats South from Oklahoma to Carolinas, Heads to Northeast.

A band of snow and ice sliced across the South on Monday from Oklahoma to the Carolinas, cutting off power for more than a quarter of a million customers and threatening to paralyze major cities on its way to the Northeast.

For once, Boston wasn’t the center of the winter weather. Instead, New England-like snow fell on parts of Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia: 17 inches near Coleman, Kentucky; 15 inches in Logan, West Virginia; 14½ inches near Oceana, West Virginia; and 12 inches in Dickenson County, Virginia.

 At 3:45 a.m. ET, The Weather Channel reported that 26 million Americans were under winter storm warnings — with three million in Tennessee and South Carolina under an ice storm warning.

Ice coated power lines in Georgia where 174,000 customers were without power early Tuesday.

I sure hope JJ, RalphB, and Mouse are doing OK. Beata too–my sister reports that southern Indiana has been hit hard for the past couple of days.

At least 55,000 customers were without power in Tennessee, the state Emergency Management Agency said late Monday. It also declared a state of emergency late Monday.

Trees and power lines came down in Arkansas, where Entergy Corp. said about 17,000 customers were without power, and in Mississippi, where the state Emergency Operations Center said 10,000 customers were in the dark.

Power failures were affecting nearly 62,000 early Tuesday in South Carolina and an additional 19,000 in North Carolina.

The hardest hit areas, according to NBC today:

About 22 million people across parts of the South and the Mid-Atlantic are under winter storm warnings as a band of ice and snow continues its assault. More than 330,000 people across 13 states and Washington, D.C., are without power, according to The Weather Channel. Parts of Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia got the brunt of the snow Monday, including more than a foot in several areas. Now, as the system starts to pull away, forecasters say D.C. could see about 8 inches of snow, New York could get 3 inches and parts of New Jersey, 7 inches.

Take care, Janicen, Delphyne and Joanelle. For once, it wasn’t Boston in the eye of the storm. A man came to my door last night and offered to shovel my car out and clear off my sidewalk for $40, and I took him up on it. I don’t know if I can actually get out. He didn’t shovel down to the pavement, but at least I don’t have to deal with that wall the plows left at the end of my driveway. I’ll go out and look at it later on.

More news links

Judge Andrew S. Hanen

Judge Andrew S. Hanen

NYT, Obama Immigration Policy Halted by Federal Judge in Texas.  Sigh . . .

The White House responded with a statement explaining why the policy is constitutional.

The Supreme Court and Congress have made clear that the federal government can set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws—which is exactly what the President did when he announced commonsense policies to help fix our broken immigration system. Those policies are consistent with the laws passed by Congress and decisions of the Supreme Court, as well as five decades of precedent by presidents of both parties who have used their authority to set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws.

The Department of Justice, legal scholars, immigration experts, and the district court in Washington, D.C. have determined that the President’s actions are well within his legal authority. Top law enforcement officials, along with state and local leaders across the country, have emphasized that these policies will also benefit the economy and help keep communities safe. The district court’s decision wrongly prevents these lawful, commonsense policies from taking effect and the Department of Justice has indicated that it will appeal that decision.

IB Times, via Raw Story, Who is the Texas judge obstructing Obama’s immigration plan?

CNN, Poll: Most disapprove of Obama handling of ISIS.

Frankly, I doubt that “most” Americans have the slightest idea of what is going on with “ISIS” or a clue about how Obama his “handling” the “threat.”

Karoli at Crooks and Liars, The Islamophobia Fear Factory And The Billionaires Who Pay For It.

NBC News, The Chapel Hill shooter, Craig Hicks, has been indicted for murder.

Outspoken atheists Penn Gillette, Neill Degrasse Tyson,  Bill Maher,  Lawrence Krauss, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins,    Ricky Gervais, Aayan Hirsi Ali

Outspoken atheists Penn Gillette, Neill Degrasse Tyson, Bill Maher, Lawrence Krauss, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Ricky Gervais, Aayan Hirsi Ali

And speaking of Islamophobia, what’s with the supposedly intellectual “movement atheists” who are so obsessed with Islam? Amanda Marcotte, an atheist herself, writes: Time for atheists to take a hard look at ourselves.

One of the reasons that I was attracted to movement atheism was I believed that, by rejecting the gods-and-masters idea, it was inoculated against that knee-jerk tribalism that characterizes so many religions. Without a supernatural cover story for why we’re the chosen people/the righteous/the holy ones, I thought, we would have to rationally accept that we are nothing special. I thought it was protection against the special pleading you often see from people who are wed to conservative movements and institutions and identities. That hope of mine is being sorely tested in the light of Craig Hicks shooting, execution-style, his three Muslim neighbors that witnesses say he had an ongoing bug up his ass about. Hicks was an outspoken and aggressive New Atheist sort, but that’s all we really know about him, alongside his apparent gun-loving tendencies.

Yes, yes, I know we don’t know if it was over religion or a parking space, but it’s clear as hell that many in the atheist world are hoping—dare I say praying—that there’s some kind of exonerating evidence to show that he barely even noticed the headscarfs on the heads of two of his victims. To which I say, why? If we are, as we purport to be, rational people who are above the knee-jerk tribalism of our religious brethren, then we should be open, without any defensiveness, to an open and honest discussion about how the rhetoric of some of the big names in atheism—Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Bill Maher—treads past the ordinary criticisms of faith and turns into ugly and demonstrably silly arguments about how Islam is somehow uniquely poisonous as a religion. While claiming to oppose Christianity, these men have allowed themselves to be useful idiots for the cause of the Christian right, giving them an “even the atheists agree!” cover for their desire to stoke religious animosity and drumming up support for even more unnecessary wars in the Middle East.

Read the rest at the link.

Furthermore, what about the misogyny among these (mostly) male atheist obsessives? Here’s an earlier post by Marcotte: Atheism’s shocking woman problem: What’s behind the misogyny of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris?

At first blush, it would seem that an atheist movement would be exactly the sort of thing that would attract many women. After all, much of the oppression of women—from forced veiling to restricting abortion rights—is a direct result of religion. Unsurprisingly, then, feminism has a long tradition of outspoken atheists and religious skeptics within its ranks.Suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton preferred “rational ideas based on scientific facts” to “religious superstition.” Major feminist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir argued that belief in God exists in part to “repress any impulse toward revolt in the downtrodden female.” Modern feminist writer Katha Pollitt received the “Emperor Has No Clothes” award from the Freedom From Religion Foundation in 2001, where she said that religion is dangerous because “it connects with very terrible social energies that have lain in civilization for a very long time.”

But despite the natural and cozy fit of atheism and feminism, the much-ballyhooed “New Atheism” that was supposed to be a more aggressive, political form of atheism has instead been surprisingly male-dominated. The reason has, in recent years, become quite apparent: Many of the most prominent leaders of the New Atheism are quick to express deeply sexist ideas. Despite their supposed love of science and rationality, many of them are nearly as quick as their religious counterparts to abandon reason in order to justify regressive views about women.

Atheism needs some new spokespeople. These guys are nearly as ugly and nasty as their fundamentalist christian counterparts. I nominate Dakinikat.

So . . . what stories are you following today? Please share your links and storm updates in the comment thread, and have a great Fat Tuesday!!


Lazy Saturday Reads: Challenging Misogyny and Electing a Woman President

hillary-clinton-book-signing

 

Good Morning!!

A couple of days ago, Dan Murphy of The Christian Science Monitor tweeted a link to a 2013 post he wrote about on-line misogyny and noted that “It’s only getting worse.” It’s refreshing that some men recognize the problem. But why is it “getting worse” this week? I doubt if even Dan Murphy knows what’s driving the recent increase in on-line expressions of woman hatred.

Hint: A powerful woman released a memoir on Tuesday. There are now 552 customer reviews of the book on Amazon, most written by misogynistic Hillary-haters who obviously have not read even a single paragraph of Hillary Clinton’s Hard Choices. 

We watched it during the 2008 presidential campaign, and we always knew it would happen again if Hillary dared to run again. The truth is that misogyny is even stronger than racism in this country; hatred of women is so powerful that even pointing it out can unleash rape and murder threats. From Dan Murphy’s post from last year about misogyny in the UK:

Guardian columnist Hadley Freeman got the ball rolling this time by daring to write on Tuesday:

There’s been a lot of focus of late on the weirdy-weirdos who send rape threats on Twitter, and rightly so. But much of the coverage makes several misguided assumptions. First, that angry misogynists only communicate on Twitter (allow me to introduce you to something called Reddit). Second, that this is a man-versus-woman thing. Some of the angriest messages I’ve ever received on the Internet have come from women, usually telling me how ugly I am. Lovely to meet you, too! And third, that legislating against rape threats on the Internet is a contravention of freedom of speech. Seeing as legislation against hate speech in the real world has not, as far as I know, contravened anyone’s right to freedom of speech, this argument makes no sense, except, maybe, to people who make rape threats and whose grasp of logic is, perhaps, not whipsmart.

Ms. Freeman soon received a bomb threat on Twitter. Also in the UK last week feminist writer Caroline Criado-Perez and Labour Party politician Stella Creasy received rape threats via Twitter. After Ms. Criado-Perez complained to police she’d received dozens of sexual threats over the Internet, a 21-year old man was arrested.

Hillary cartoon

The Hillary hate has been building up for awhile now, ever since Hillary stepped down as Secretary of State and the media began shrieking from the dark heart of its collective fear of a woman president–especially *This Woman.* I don’t know how bad its going to get, but I’m already sick of it. I want so much for Hillary to stand strong and prevail over the fear and hatred of women that is and will be projected on her for the next couple of years.

Even I fell for it yesterday when we discussed Hillary’s interview with NPR’s Terry Gross. I said I thought Hillary had sounded defensive when she responded to Gross’s question about changing her position on same-sex marriage. Luckily for me, Fannie and Janicen were there to point out my mistake:

Fannie

I am glad Hillary asserted herself and her tone. I don’t know why Terry Gross didn’t do her homework, or why she took the path that lead to the “twisting of her comments, insisting it was politics”. Hillary wasn’t trying to jump her (or as the media said, Hillary was being testy), she was being spot on about her response. Get ready, now that her book is out, we are going to see underreactions, overreactions, the ups and and downs, and everything else they will thrown into the mix. Hillary will be up against the Ducks, the Rick Perry’s who thinks gays are alcoholics, the tea party candidate who says the Bible tells me to stone gay people to death, and Rich Gohmert who debates at congressional hearings about who is and who is not going to heaven. She’s been around the block a couple times.

BB, you remember when Chris Hayes was attacked by a republican woman, she hammered his ass, and it was all because they “disagreed”. Hillary was NOT being nasty like this woman. She handled it well, I thought.

Let’s get back to Hillary’s history. She was speaking out against the oppression by the Uganda Bill “Kill the Gays”. She gave a hell of speech at George University. That was early in 2009.

Did Chris and Terry forget 2009 when she said:
“On behalf of Department of State and USAID, I want to congratulate the gays and lesbians in foreign affairs agencies on winning the Employee Resource Group of the Year Award by Out and Equal Work Place.”

It was Hillary who changed the policy at the Dept. State, to help provide benefits for same sex partners of those work were in foreign service. It was after this that Obama followed with other federal agencies. Obama had been nodding his head, while she was actually changing the laws, and the records are there for everybody to see. Terry and Chris refused to see.

Hillary Clinton also developed policy on transgender employees at the state department. She said stand up and be who you are. Keep in mind, she said “the struggle for equality is never ever finished”…. and she is right.

Hillary has been advocate for LGBT community for long time. She knows that they (we) are all flustrated because change is slow to come. It coming but very slowly. It was Hillary who marched in Pride Parade when June was declared Pride Month, she was right there with them, while Obama was working out.

Chris is getting lazy, get up off his ass and speak to those she has helped for many many years.

janicen

June 13, 2014 at 11:55 am(Edit)

I have to disagree that she sounded defensive. I think she sounded decisive. Gross kept stupidly pushing her agenda again and again. Clinton was polite for as long as humanly possible and then she just had to put the idiot in her place. I’m glad she responded as she did. Until then she was sounding like a politician. Once she cold cocked her, Madame President sounded like a leader.

Thank you, my dear friends. That is a clear demonstration of the value of a community blog where we can argue share our analyses with each other. I’m so glad we are still hanging in there together!

Now a response to the chorus of media criticism of Hillary as “testy” (IOW *bitchy*) from Jeremy Holden at Media Matters: How NPR’s Terry Gross Created A False Impression That Hillary Clinton Stonewalled On Marriage Equality.

By repeatedly asking the same question, NPR correspondent Terry Gross created the false impression that Hillary Clinton was stonewalling and dodging over the issue of marriage equality, despite the fact that Clinton consistently and repeatedly answered Gross’ question.

As a senator and during her 2008 presidential run, Clinton supported civil unions for same-sex couples and opposed marriage equality. In a March 2013 statement, she announced that “I support marriage for lesbian and gay couples. I support it personally and as a matter of policy and law.” She explained that her travels as secretary of state and her daughter’s wedding had been key to her changing her opinion on the issue.

Gross’ central question was whether Clinton changed her publicly stated position and supported gay marriage out of political expedience, a question she asked seven separate times during an NPR interview. Clinton consistently rejected Gross’ characterization throughout the interview, instead saying that her views on the issue changed over time.

SONY DSC

To me it seemed that Gross wanted Hillary to say that she had always supported same-sex marriage, but had pretended to oppose it for political reasons. Of course if Hillary had said that, she would have been pilloried for lying about her position. The truth is, as she stated very clearly, that Hillary’s views on same-sex marriage changed as she heard the logical arguments for it from LGBT activists–whom she had long supported. Here is Hillary’s clear response at the beginning of the exchange.

TERRY GROSS: Were there positions you believed in as senator but you couldn’t publicly support because you felt that it wasn’t time yet? That the positions would have been too unpopular? That the public wasn’t ready in regards to LGBT rights? And, you know, I often think that there are politicians who, you know, in their heart really support it but don’t publicly support it.

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I was fully on board with ending discrimination in the workplace on behalf of the LGBT community. I did not support gay marriage when I was in the Senate or running for president, as you know, and as President Obama and others held the same position.But it, for me, became an opportunity to do what I could as secretary of state to make the workplace fairer – something I had always supported and spoke out about. And then when I was out of the secretary of state position and once again free to comment on domestic matters, I very shortly came out in favor of fully equality, including gay marriage.

Yet “progressives” like Chris Hayes writers at Firedoglake and Huffington Post ripped into Hillary for standing up for herself against Gross’s attempts to twist her responses.

Another defense of Hillary’s truthfulness–while expressing frustration with her positions–came from the Washington Post’s Johnathan Capehart: Gross misunderstanding of Hillary Clinton on gay marriage.

The history bears out Clinton’s contention. Her evolution on marriage equality was as irksome for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community as was President Obama’s. But what made Obama’s evolution especially painful to watch was knowing that as a candidate for state senate in 1996, he unequivocally stated, “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.” As I covered Clinton from first lady to senator to presidential candidate, I never detected a whiff of that kind of political calculation in her opposition to same-sex marriage. If anything, her march to “yes” was maddeningly slow.

Hillary profile

Here’s another interesting example of contrasting views on Hillary and her behavior. First The UK Guardian’s review of Hard Choices by David Runciman: Hard Choices by Hillary Clinton review – buttoned-up but still revealing.

If Hillary Clinton becomes the next American president she won’t just be the first woman to hold that office: she’ll be the first secretary of state to get there since James Buchanan in 1857. Unlike in Britain, where foreign secretaries and chancellors of the exchequer routinely go on to the top job, senior US cabinet positions are not seen as stepping stones to the White House. No secretary of the treasury has ever become president. Cabinet officers are meant to be functionaries: people whose job is to make sense of the world. Presidents are meant to be politicians: people whose job is to lead it. In this long, exhausting, faintly robotic but ultimately impressive book, Hillary makes her pitch to be both.

According to Runciman, Hillary’s book is way too cautious and “prosaic,” but still “an amazing story.

Above all, what comes through is Clinton’s sheer persistence. This is how she does politics, by keeping going and totting up the small victories so that they outweigh the defeats. Unlike Obama, who still appears to believe that politics is about rational argument, and unlike George Bush, who thought it was about vision, Hillary believes it is about breaking things down. She is a disaggregator, who can’t see a problem without trying to make it smaller, more manageable, and only then does she try to fit the pieces back together again. Peace, she tells us, doesn’t necessarily begin with a grand fanfare. Sometimes it comes out of the temporary ceasefire that holds just long enough to make a difference. Part of why this book is so exhausting is its thoroughness: she travels the whole world and tells us about the different challenges she faced, taking them all seriously. Early on she quotes approvingly a maxim from Deng Xiaoping: “Coolly observe, calmly deal with things, hold your position, hide your capacities, bide your time, accomplish things where possible.” The US could do worse than having Deng as its next president.

Perhaps that’s the only option for a powerful woman in the misogynistic rape culture of the U.S.?

Hillary Rodham Clinton Signs Copies Of Her Memoir "Hard Choices"

Here’s feminist writer Jessica Valenti, also from The Guardian: Hillary Clinton’s book is exactly as ‘safe’ as female politicians are forced to be.

Hillary Clinton’s new book, Hard Choices – a memoir of her time as secretary of state – is finally out, and the critical consensus is that it’s a snore. CNN’s conservative commentator Ana Navarro called it “50 shades of boring” while the network’s liberal contributor Sally Kohn called it “safe” and “dry” – and joked that the book should have been called “Boring Choices“. The New Republic criticized its “dullness and lack of critical energy”. Politico’s Mike Allen called the 596-page book a “newsless snore”.

I’m not exactly sure how action-packed the minutiae of a diplomat’s life is supposed to be, but the Hard Choices haters ignore that a “safe” book was Clinton’s only real choice. After all, whenever she’s hinted at being anything other than measured and guarded, Clinton has been attacked as hysterical, a ballbuster or worse. So if people are bored by Hard Choices, they should blame the misogynist expectations of Washington, not the careful crafting of a seasoned politician.

When then-presidential hopeful Clinton teared up on the campaign trail in New Hampshire in 2008, for example, Maureen Dowd penned a column in the New York Times that asked “Can Hillary Cry Her Way Back to the White House?”On CNN, Glenn Beck said, “After spending decades stripping away all trace of emotion, femininity, and humanity, Hillary Clinton broke down and actually cried. … I don’t buy the hype.” On Fox News, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol called the emotional moment “solipsistic and narcissistic”. Similarly, when Clinton got into a heated exchange during her Benghazi testimony, the New York Post ran a cover of Clinton yelling with her fists clenched; the headline: NO WONDER BILL’S AFRAID.

Any emotion that Hillary Clinton shows has always been used against her, and it has become a kind of stand-in for the many reasons women are said to be oh-so-unfit to lead. The building-up of her protective public armor, post- and potentially pre-White House, isn’t just smart for Clinton personally – it’s essential for the growing national image of women in politics.

It’s clear from reading Hard Choices that sexism – particularly during Clinton’s 2008 run for president – has taken a toll on her. “I knew that it arose from cultural and psychological attitudes about women’s roles in society, but that didn’t make it any easier for me and my supporters,” she writes. Indeed, the frenzy of misogyny was so intense that it’s hard to imagine enduring it all while vying for the most important job in the world.

After seeing the racism that has plagued Barack Obama’s presidency–and has, if anything, increased during his second term–we now know that the misogyny from the media and society as a whole would continue throughout a Hillary Clinton presidency. That is what it will take for a woman to break through that ultimate glass ceiling. If we are going to support Hillary in her fight to do just that we will need to stay awake and aware of the various forms the efforts to bring her down will take. I learned that lesson here yesterday, and I will rely on other Sky Dancers to keep me focused on the ultimate goal. I hope I’ll be strong enough to do the same in return.

Now, what else is happening in the world today? Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread.


Monday Reads

Good Morning!  Quelle Surprise! Pop Culture is still Misogynist, Racist, and Homophobic!

Pige-Manga-BWI found some interesting reads over the weekend so I hope you’ll enjoy them!   They are all sort’ve stories that actually reflect a lot of the things that fascinate and entertain me.  I love strategy games and have been playing them on line for quite some time  Actually, it’s been since the early 1990s when most of the games were simply text oriented.  I also love animation art, and books, and of course, music. So, here’s a little bit on that and a little bit of stuff that has to do with social justice too.  If I do a have a consistent train of thought here it is that so much of what should be entertaining and could be informative can sow bad seeds.  I’ve a few examples where the pop and geek culture are taking on hard topics. Some are  successful and examining crucial human stories.  Some rely on the same old misogyny, racism, and homobigotry.

Japanese Manga is a way many creative people in Japan explore how they feel about a variety of things. This article is about a new manga book on the lives of the Fukashima plant workers.

A manga that describes the reality of daily life at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant through the eyes of a worker is enjoying popularity.

“Ichiefu” (1F), written by Kazuto Tatsuta, 49, first appeared in autumn 2013 as a serial comic in the weekly magazine “Morning,” published by Kodansha Ltd. Ichiefu stands for the Fukushima No. 1 plant among locals.

The comic was published in book form on April 23. The publisher shipped a total of 150,000 copies of the first volume, which is an unusually large number for a little-known manga artist.

Tatsuta said he changed jobs repeatedly after graduating from university. At the same time, he also worked as a comic strip artist.

It was when he was considering another job change that the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami occurred, triggering the nuclear accident at the Fukushima plant.

While seeking a better-paying job, Tatsuta also wondered what part he could do as a citizen of Japan to help. As a result, he began to work at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant from June 2012 for a total of six months.

“Ichiefu” describes the situation at the plant in great detail. The descriptions of equipment, such as the masks and protective gear the workers used, and the procedures they took to measure radiation levels make readers feel as if they are there and reading actual worker manuals.

The comic also depicts intimate practices only workers there would know. For example, the workers always say “Be safe” to each other before starting their shifts.

Each of the workers was also required to stop working when his dosimeter issued a fourth warning sound.

I quit playing a few games last year that I had really grown fond of because of the rampant misogyny and homophobia of many of the white male manga-dark-warriorplayers.  I had repeatedly asked them to constrain their language, behavior, and what they posted.  I am fortunately playing a game right now where that’s not the case.  I am still one of the few female players in my alliance.  I believe I am one of two but I have found that I generally enjoy better game play if I am in an alliance where there are many openly gay men.  This NPR article summarizes a series of articles that are focused on white male privilege in the online game atmosphere.

In video games, sexism often comes in the form of male-dominated storylines and character archetypes. In the video game community, it takes a more menacing shape.

It ranges from attempts to silence female critics to the harassment of fellow players. Some harassment even goes so far as phone calls and rape threats, as one female game developer found out last year.

“The issue is often framed as a women’s issue, but sexual harassment, sexism and misogyny in gaming is not a women’s issue — it’s a gaming community issue,” says Jonathan McIntosh, a producer for the Tropes vs. Women in Video Games Web series.

Last week, McIntosh wrote a piece for gaming website Polygon about what he calls the “invisible benefits” that males experience while playing video games. In the post, he lists 25 effects of “male gamer privilege.” Here’s a sample:

  • I can choose to remain completely oblivious, or indifferent to the harassment that many women face in gaming spaces.
  • I am never told that video games or the surrounding culture is not intended for me because I am male.
  • I can publicly post my username, gamertag or contact information online without having to fear being stalked or sexually harassed because of my gender.
  • I will never be asked to “prove my gaming cred” simply because of my gender.
  • I will almost always have the option to play a character of my gender, as most protagonists or heroes will be male by default.
  • If I am trash-talked or verbally berated while playing online, it will not be because I am male nor will my gender be invoked as an insult.
  • My gaming ability, attitude, feelings or capability will never be called into question based on unrelated natural biological functions.

So far, the reaction to his post — both in the more than 700 comments on the piece and elsewhere — has been relatively civil. As McIntosh pointed out on Twitter, he doubts it would have been as civil if he had been a female writer raising the same points.

“I’m saying the same thing that women have been saying for years,” McIntosh says. “There’s nothing in my piece that’s really new, it’s just that it’s coming from me. If my name was Joanna McIntosh … I’d be called irrational, I’d be called hysterical and I’d be called too sensitive.”

One other thing that I did not mention last week but I would like to mention this week is the rape scene between the Lannister twins in Game of Thrones.  The same scene in the book actually was rough but consensual.  

There’s been a lot of discussion, Internet rage, and general overall hoopla following Sunday night’s episode of Game of Thrones, as the television show made the most shocking book-to-screen deviation to date. *Spoiler free for future books.*

Jaime and Cersei finally had their reunited love scene, and suddenly for book readers, Jeyne Westerling seemed like a small cinematic sacrifice to make in comparison. I don’t want to get into a philosophical discussion on whether or not this scene constitutes as rape. Smarter people than I have alreadydonethat.

What we have to work with in the scene is what the characters said and did because we can’t know how they felt. And whether or not the scene was intended to come across as consensual sex, the way the scene was cut by the director makes it definitive to the audience that it was not consensual. Cersei repeatedly said no while Jaime forced himself on top of her and answered that he didn’t care as his creepy voiceover carried out onto a shot of Arya staring at mountains. If that’s all we know about the scene, then yes, in the television show Jaime raped Cersei.

The “debate” about the rape has been nearly as upsetting as the rape itself.  I liked this take clearly stating that rape is not a “narrative device”.

In some ways, it’s useful for television shows to acknowledge the extent of sexual violence in our culture. These narratives allow necessary stories to be told. But the execution is too easy. From daytime soap operas to prestige cable shows, rape is all too often used to place the degradation of the female body and a woman’s vulnerability at the center of the narrative. Rape is used to create drama and ratchet up ratings. And it’s rare to see the brutality and complexity of a rape accurately conveyed on-screen. Instead, we are treated to an endless parade of women being forced into submission as the delicate and wilting flowers television writers and producers seem to want them to be.

download (9)I am still wondering why there seems to be a renaissance in misogny, racism and homobigotry.  You would think that the sports arena would have made better strides against racism given that teams and fans are fully integrated to the idea that there are players of many races.  However, it seems the real money and power behind the bread and circuses are still those rich, horrid, white men.  We talked about the Clippers’ owner last week.  There is, of course, more on that.

Deadspin has acquired an extended, 15-minute version of the conversation between Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his then-girlfriend V. Stiviano. If the original nine-minute tape acquired by TMZ left any questions about Sterling’s opinions regarding minorities, the audio here should remove all doubt that he’s a doddering racist with views not too far removed from the plantation.

The Clippers themselves showed some class this week in a protest that was priceless.  There will undoubtedly be more coming and hopefully the NBA can find a way to strip Sterling of the franchise.

The Clippers gathered at center court before a118-97 Game 4 loss in their first-round series against the Golden State Warriors and took off their Clippers warm-up shirts and left them there. They then warmed up wearing inside-out red shooting shirts that did not display the Clippers name or logo. During the game, players wore black arm or wrist bands and black socks.

In other news, water is still wet and Sarah Palin is still one of the dumbest people on the planet.  This is the money quote she gave the NRA: ‘Waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists’.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) defended the controversial enhanced interrogation technique of waterboarding this weekend, and implied that the practice would still be commonplace “if I were in charge.”

“They obviously have information on plots to carry out Jihad,” she said at the National Rifle Association (NRA) annual meeting on Saturday evening, referring to prisoners. “Oh, but you can’t offend them, can’t make them feel uncomfortable, not even a smidgen. Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.”

The remark stands in stark contrast to the opinion of her former running mate, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

The former Republican presidential nominee, who spent more than five years in a prison camp during the Vietnam War, has repeatedly denounced the practice, which he says is torture.

In her speech, Palin praised the NRA, a group whose members “are needed now more than ever, because every day we are seeing more and more efforts to strip away our Second Amendment rights,” she said.

I am still waiting for some examples of how any government in the US is stripping away the second amendment rights.  I do, however, have thousands of examples of how women are losing their right to self determination.

My last offering this morning is yet another in depth article on the demise of the middle class in the USA.  Middle class Americans are an endangered species.

Wages for millions of American workers, particularly those without college degrees, have flat-lined. Census figures show the median household income in 2012 was no higher than it was 25 years ago. Men’s median wages were lower than in the early 1970s.

Meanwhile, many of the expenses associated with a middle-class life have increased beyond inflation. This includes college tuition, whose skyrocketing cost has laid siege to a bedrock principle of the American Dream: that your children will do better than you did.

recent poll conducted by the Washington Post and the Miller Center at the University of Virginia found that 40 percent of those calling themselves middle class felt less financially secure than they were just a few years ago. Forty-five percent said they worry “a lot” about having enough money stashed away for retirement, and 57 percent said they worry about meeting their bills. Less than half said they expect their kids to do any better.

Fewer Americans find themselves in the heart of the middle class with every passing year.

In the mid-1970s, the majority of Americans were in the middle, with 52 percent earning the equivalent (in today’s dollars) of $35,000 to $100,000. Today, according to census figures, the share of households earning under $35,000 is virtually unchanged, 35 percent. The shift has occurred in the other two categories. Households with incomes over $100,000 have doubled, to 22 percent, while less than 44 percent are in the middle cluster.

So, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: Cliven Bundy and the Real Threat of Right Wing Domestic Terrorism

bundy1

Good Morning!!

 

What a difference a few days can make! Take a look at the transcript from Fox News host Sean Hannity’s show on Monday April 21:

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: The rhetoric from the left about Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his supporters is getting worse and worse by the day. First, as the country marked the 19th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing over the weekend, vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee Donna Brazile made this disgraceful comparison after talking about how the feds backed down. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THIS WEEK”/ABC)

DONNA BRAZILE, DNC VICE CHAIR: That was the right thing to do, to try to, you know, simmer things down. Remember, this is the 19th anniversary of the Oklahoma bombing. So this notion that Mr. Bundy has no other recourse but violence is — anti-government violence — is absolutely wrong. He’s been waging this battle for two decades. He’s lost. Everybody else is paying their grazing fees. He should pay his fees, as well.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we should be reluctant to compare Bundy to Timothy McVeigh.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: And that’s not all. Earlier today, runners embarked on the first Boston marathon since last year’s terror attack. And just days ago, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had this to say about Bundy family supporters. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. HARRY REID, D-NV.: These people who hold themselves out to be patriots are not. They’re nothing more than domestic terrorists.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Pretty unbelievable. Now, given the events in Oklahoma City and at the Boston Marathon, we really know what real domestic terrorists look like, and that’s not Cliven Bundy or his supporters.

That was  before Bundy gave a rambling press conference and let the world see exactly who and what he is. From The New York Times yesterday morning: A Defiant Rancher Savors the Audience That Rallied to His Side.

Armed supporters of Cliven Bundy wield weapons against Federal agents.

Armed supporters of Cliven Bundy wield weapons against Federal agents.

BUNKERVILLE, Nev. — Cliven Bundy stood by the Virgin River up the road from the armed checkpoint at the driveway of his ranch, signing autographs and posing for pictures. For 55 minutes, Mr. Bundy held forth to a clutch of supporters about his views on the troubled state of America…

Most of all, Mr. Bundy, 67, who was wearing a broad-brimmed white cowboy hat against the hot afternoon sun, recounted the success of “we the people” — gesturing to the 50 supporters, some armed with handguns and rifles, standing in a semicircle before him — at chasing away Bureau of Land Management rangers who, acting on a court order, tried to confiscate 500 cattle owned by Mr. Bundy, who has been illegally grazing his herd on public land since 1993.

Mr. Bundy’s standoff with federal rangers — propelled into the national spotlight in part by steady coverage by Fox News — has highlighted sharp divisions over the power of the federal government and the rights of landowners in places like this desert stretch of Nevada, where resentment of Washington and its sprawling ownership of Western land has long run deep.

Others who have loudly supported Bundy’s cause are Senators Rand Paul of KY and Dean Heller of NV. and Texas candidate for governor Greg Abbott. Claiming that the Feds wouldn’t come around to bother him again soon, Bundy took the time to share some of his opinions on other topics:

Next the NYT reported some remarks Bundy made on Saturday to a group of about 50 supporters along with one reporter and one photography

“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.

“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”

Whoops! Suddenly right wingers who had supported Bundy or just ignored his unlawful behavior did a 180 degree turn.  Here’s Sean Hannity on his radio show yesterday:

Conservative media titan Sean Hannity, formerly one of Nevada rancher Clive Bundy’sstrongest advocates, expressed his vehement disgust Thursday with the latter’s remarks on slavery.

Bundy’s comments “are beyond repugnant to me. They are beyond despicable to me. They are beyond ignorant to me,” Hannity said during his radio show.

Still, he claimed, Democrats are wrong to use Bundy’s racist, misogynistic remarks to attack Republicans.

“They want to say that conservatives are racist. Conservatives hate women,” Hannity said. “Conservatives want old people to die, granny over the cliff. They want the young people to fend for themselves. They want to poison the air and poison the water.”

“People that for the right reasons saw this case as government overreach now are branded because of the ignorant, racist, repugnant, despicable comments of Cliven Bundy,” he said.

Because Bundy was not sophisticated enough to wrap his racism in euphemisms as many Republicans do, his “mainstream” supporters will have to back off. But what about the militia types and their rifles? Will they be turned off by Bundy’s racist rhetoric? Not likely. From Think Progress:

James Yeager is calling from Cliven Bundy’s front yard, where he’s one of several (he won’t say how many) providing 24-hour security to the Bundy family. He and his friend packed up “a full medical kit and a camera” and drove 26 ½ hours from their home in Camden, Tennessee last week to document what he calls “a tremendous overreach of federal power.” He’s been posting daily videos to his YouTube site.

When asked if he also packed weapons, Yeager said, “of course. I’m always armed. This is not any different than any other day for me.”

Yeager is one of hundreds of supporters who journeyed to Bunkerville, Nevada in support of the rancher’s standoff with the federal Bureau of Land Management. Though federal agents released Bundy’s cattle over a week ago, many have remained on the ranch to protest and protect the rancher’s family. They’ve hailed Bundy — who owes the federal government over $1 million in unpaid grazing fees — as an “American hero.” The Mormon father of 14 has even inspired futuristic fan fiction from his most ardent admirers: “Yes, it’s been a great half-century for America, and we owe much of our good fortune to the bravery of Cliven Bundy.”

They call themselves militia members, oath keepers, protesters and patriots. Senator Harry Reid calls them “domestic terrorists.”

Eric Parker from central Idaho aims his weapon from a bridge as protesters gather by the Bureau of Land Management's base camp

Eric Parker from central Idaho aims his weapon from a bridge as protesters gather by the Bureau of Land Management’s base camp

Harry Reid is right. Check out these images and commentary by Reuters photographer Jim Urquhart:

“I’ve got a clear shot at four of them,” the man with a rifle beside me said, as he aimed his weapon in the direction of U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officers.

We were on a bridge in southern Nevada in the midst of a tense standoff between the BLM and a group of angry ranchers, milita-members and gun-rights activists. It seemed as if we were a hair’s breadth away from Americans killing Americans right in front of me.

This showdown had come after the BLM started rounding up cattle belonging to rancher Cliven Bundy, who had been letting his animals graze illegally on federal land for over 20 years….

I decided to leave the protesters’ rallying point and drive several miles to where BLM and National Park Service (NPS) officers were holding Bundy’s impounded cattle but when I got there, there didn’t seem to be anything new to report.

I was making my way back to the protest site when Jennifer called me. She said the demonstrators were coming in my direction to go to the BLM facility and demand that Bundy’s cattle be released. My heart skipped a beat and anxiety set in, as I realised the armed group was heading this way looking for a showdown.

The convoy arrived just a few moments after I did and began to clog lanes of traffic on the south side of the interstate, the opposite side to the BLM base

Read more at the link. I don’t know about you, but I find this entire episode frightening. Who are these angry, violent people in our midst?

Bundy2

And Cliven Bundy isn’t apologetic. He told CNN last night that he doesn’t regret his racist comments, “I think I’m right.”

Cliven Bundy — the Nevada rancher turned conservative folk hero for bucking the federal government’s attempts to stop his cattle from grazing on public land — admits he doesn’t understand the bipartisan uproar over his comments suggesting blacks might have been better off under slavery.

But he understands what he meant by those comments, and he’s not backing down.

“I don’t think I’m wrong,” Bundy told CNN’s Bill Weir on Thursday night. “I think I’m right.”

The rancher said he doesn’t feel “abandoned” by the uproar by the likes of right-wing radio firebrand and Fox News host Sean Hannity, who has ripped what he called the “ignorant, racist, repugnant, despicable comments.” [….]

He backtracked somewhat, insisting he “didn’t really mean it to compare (African-Americans’ current plight) with slavery. I meant to compare it with maybe life on the farm or life in the South, where they had some chickens and the gardens, and they had something to do.”

At the same time, Bundy stood by his general premise that blacks once had better lives — stating that, right now, “they don’t have nothing to do with their children, their family unit is ruined … That’s what I was referring to I don’t think they have the life that they should have” because of the government.

I admit I didn’t pay much attention to the Bundy story at first. I live in a city and community where I’m very insulated from people like this and where Republicans are a tiny minority. Of course we still hear ignorant remarks on talk radio, but on the whole people who are vicious racists have to tone down their rhetoric or be marginalized. But once I began reading about Bundy in JJ’s and Dakinikat’s posts over the past two days, I realized this is no joke.

Having a black man as a two-term president has terrified and enraged these racist militia types and brought them out of the woodwork to express their ugly opinions more blatantly than before. As Harry Reid has said, they are domestic terrorists and they must be brought under control. What will happen if we elect a women president?

These people are far more dangerous to our country than foreign terrorism. The FBI should be infiltrating milita groups instead of running stings on muslim-Americans if they want to minimize terrorism in this country. When we have a Supreme Court Justice advocating–even tongue-in-cheek–that unhappy taxpayers should overthrow the U.S. government, we have to understand right wing extremists are a serious threat to our country.

So . . . this ended up being a one-subject post. I know there are plenty of other things happening in the news. What stories are you following today?

 


Today’s GOP: Come for the Misogyny, Stay for the Racism

Okay, H/T to Lawyers Guns and Money…This entry on Andy Borowitz blog is exactly what the GOP final push needs. A new slogan!

G.O.P. Split Over Whether to Emphasize Misogyny or Racism : The New Yorker

With less than two weeks to go until Election Day, there is a deep divide among Republican leaders over whether to emphasize misogyny or racism as the campaign’s closing theme.

In one camp is the Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who says that his view that God is sometimes O.K. with rape is “gaining real traction with a key demographic: men who don’t like women very much.”

“I can’t tell you how many misogynists have come up to me at my rallies and said, ‘Thank you for saying what you said,’ ” he told reporters today. “I think they’re like, finally, someone’s taking a more nuanced position on rape.”

With the realization that 31 states allow rapist to take their victims to court to gain visitation or custody of those “gifts from god”  i.e. babies they produce, I think that Borowitz is on the right track.

But in the other camp is the former New Hampshire governor John Sununu, who worries that the Republican Party’s emphasis on misogyny is threatening to drown out its “winning message of racism.”

“I understand the appeal of Mourdock’s anti-woman theme, but I worry that it’s going to overshadow our core value of racism, which is still our best shot at winning this thing,” he said. “In politics, you’ve got to dance with the one who brung you.”

You know, that’s true, a recent poll from the AP is supporting Sununu’s stance.

Hoping to heal a possible rift with so little time left until Election Day, the R.N.C. chairman Reince Priebus said today that there is room for both views in today’s Republican Party: “Our ‘big tent’ message to voters should be this: come for the misogyny, stay for the racism.”

That is the perfect solution!

The GOP: Come for the Misogyny, stay for the racism.


Global Gender Violence Porn

So, I read this“Your Women Are Oppressed, But Ours Are Awesome”: How Nicholas Kristof And Half The Sky Use Women Against Each Other.

Now, it’s got me thinking about being part of the problem instead of supporting my goal to be part of  the solution.

The idea is that these types of programs seem to be gender activism but are portrayed in a way that is supportive of western patriarchal imperialism.  Okay, I just sounded like some kind’ve Marxist Feminist but it’s not all that cut and dried.  Let me try to explain.  These programs are akin to the idea of poverty porn.  I understand this because of how I felt watching people in tour buses gawk at my hurricane ravaged ninth ward neighborhood with their voyeuristic tut-tutting over the state of the damage and the slow recovery.  Big deal.  Now, they’ve seen it.  Does this change anything?  I just felt like some kind of passive object that made them think,” wow, glad that’s not me”.   It’s not a great feeling to be looked at like some kind of victim even when it’s the “oh, look, she’s doing something about it” vibe you get from them.

I’m one of the people that is highly concerned about the way the world treats women and girls.  Please note “the world” includes “the United States”.  This country is horrid to women and girls.  It becomes worse with every elected Republican and DINO.   I’ve also been extremely pissed at the way many so-called women and humanity friendly sites seem to shred other cultures’ treatment of women with sadistic, xenophobic, and high hatted-glee.   Should there really be a ruler for misogyny and oppression that lets us pull the ruler out on others to make us feel better about the treatment of women and girls here?  Do you really think we don’t have sex trafficking here in the US?  Do you think we don’t support a rape culture or encourage mutilation of women through plastic surgery or extreme dieting?

I’ve never been able to clearly express it, but,  I hate this concept of  “Look at how horrible these (fill in the blank) foreigners treat women” given we’ve got the likes of a Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney running for our highest offices and the Republican party has pretty much been over run by misogynists and religious fanatics.  Is there some kind of smug self-satisfaction people get by telling themselves that at least “We don’t (fill in the blank)  to women here”?   The recent spate of superiority hissy fits mostly applies to Arab/Muslim religions but it carries farther than that.  Do we really need to measure which country treats it’s child brides worse or isn’t it enough to see the entire practice any where is abhorrent and should be ended?  It happens to Catholic girls in Belize, Hindu girls in  India, Protestant girls in Kentucky, and Muslim girls in Nigeria.  Do we have to slice and dice their suffering by religion, country, or continent?

So, let me quote some of this essay.  It deserves consideration.

There are plenty of critiques I could make of Kristof’s reporting (in this film and beyond, see this great round-up of critiques for more). Critiques about voyeurism and exotification: the way that global gender violence gets made pornographic, akin to what has been in other contexts called “poverty porn.”

For example, would Kristof, a middle-aged male reporter, so blithely ask a 14-year-old U.S. rape survivor to describe her experiences in front of cameras, her family, and other onlookers? Would he sit smilingly in a European woman’s house asking her to describe the state of her genitals to him? Yet, somehow, the fact that the rape survivor is from Sierra Leone and that the woman being asked about her genital cutting is from Somaliland, seems to make this behavior acceptable in Kristof’s book. And more importantly, the goal of such exhibition is unclear. What is the viewer supposed to receive–other than titillation and a sense of “oh, we’re so lucky, those women’s lives are so bad”?

Makes you think doesn’t it?   The article is written by  Sayantani DasGupta who teaches at Columbia University.

The issue of agency is also paramount. In the graduate seminar I teach on Narrative, Health, and Social Justice in the Master’s Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University, I often ask my students to evaluate a text’s ethical stance by asking themselves–“whose story is it?” For example, are people of color acting or being acted upon? Although the film does highlight fantastic on-the-ground activists such as maternal-health activist Edna Adan of Somaliland, the point of entry–the people with whom we, the (presumably) Western watchers, are supposed to identify–are Kristof and his actress sidekick-du-jour.

In fact, many have critiqued Kristof for his repeated focus on himself as “liberator” of oppressed women.

This theme then carries over to the idea of  imperialism so omnipresent in western, white male cultures.  It creates a rescue theme and it justifies the idea that superior white men can go rescue oppressed women by any means including drones that murder them and their children and define them as collateral damage.

Although a few passing comments are made about rape, coerced sex work, and other gender-based violence existing everywhere in the world–including in the U.S., hello?!–the point that is consistently reiterated in the film is that gender oppression is “worse” in “these countries”–that it is a part of “their culture.” In fact, at one point, on the issue of female genital cutting, Kristof tells actress Diane Lane, “That may be [their] culture, but it’s also a pretty lousy aspect of culture.”

There’s nothing that smacks more of “us and them” talk than these sorts of statements about “their culture.” Postcultural critic Gayatri Chakrovorty Spivak, in fact, coined the term “white men saving brown women from brown men” to describe the imperialist use of women’s oppression as justification for political aggression.

Spivak was writing about British bans of widow burning and child marriage in India to make her point, we can see the reflections of this dynamic is the way that the US has justified wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as missions to “free Islamic women from the Veil.” (For a fantastic critique of this rationale, see Lila Abu-Lughod’s “Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving?“) According to Spivak, this trope of “white men rescuing brown women from brown men” becomes used to justify the imperialist project of “white man” over “brown man.”

And this formulation is consistent, pretty much across the board, with the film. White/Western dwelling men and women highlight the suffering, as well as local activism, of brown and black women. Brown and black men are portrayed consistently as violent, incompetent, uncaring or, in fact, invisible. And it’s only a small leap to realize that such formulations–of countries incapable of or unwilling to care for “their” women–only reinforce rather than undermine global patriarchy, while justifying paternalization, intervention–and even invasion of these “lesser” places–by the countries of the Global North.

So, the argument here is not that speaking out against violence and oppression is bad.  It’s the argument of what are you doing when you try to speak for others.  That isn’t empowerment of women. It also frequently is used to support the goals of patriarchies as they vie with each other for power.

As feminist philosopher Linda Martín Alcoff argues in her essay “The Problem Of Speaking For Others,” that part of the problem of speaking for others is that none of us can transcend our social and cultural location: “The practice of privileged persons speaking for or on behalf of less privileged persons has actually resulted (in many cases) in increasing or reinforcing the oppression of the group spoken for,” she writes.

So, take a look at the photo above.  It was part of the narrative of the essay.  Does it make you feel oh, so, good about the way we treat our women compared to the Taliban?   I saw this photo elseblogs and on Facebook.  It actually creeped me out.  I found it less empowering of women pilots for many reasons.   Why didn’t my gut tell me to feel all so superior?

First, look at the implication of  the words “OURS” and “YOURS”.   These words indicate possessions right?  OUR women?  YOUR women?

Second, let’s think about the actual life experience of women in the U.S.  military where rape isn’t just something you think about on your way to your parked care in the night.  These women are subjected to some pretty high powered sexism and risk rape by their fellow soldiers in a high powered rape culture.   Then, let’s also think about how these women can’t control their reproductive decisions because the congress refuses to let them make their own decisions about abortion. Get raped, sweetie?  Remember, Paul Ryan says that’s just another form of conception for those lovely little beans that prove his gonads work!

From the first link and The Guardian we learn:

new documentary by director Kirby Dick, The Invisible War, about systemic rape of women in the military and the retaliations and coverups victims face, has won awards in many film festivals, and recently even triggered congressional response. The examples of what happens to women soldiers who are raped in the military are stunning, both in the violence that these often young women face, and in the viciousness they encounter after attacks.

Yes, “our” women can fly planes in the military but they are also subjected to sexual assault, cover-ups, and poor treatment.  This is from the second link above at Jezebel.   Yes, “our” women can fly planes in the military but we’re not going to give them coverage of abortion services because “our” men in congress want them to goosestep to “their” beliefs.

The military reported 471 rapes of servicemembers in 2011, but the real number is probably higher, since the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office estimates that only about 13.5 percent of all rapes and sexual assaults in the military are actually reported. Several hundred women in the military become pregnant as a result of rape each year. Despite these statistics, the 200,000+ women serving on active duty are often prohibited from getting abortions in military health centers — even if they’re willing to use their own money — because it makes some conservative politicians at home feel all icky.

Yes, current Pentagon policy is even more restrictive than the 1976 Hyde Amendment, which prohibited federal funds from being used to provide abortion services except in cases of rape, incest, and endangerment of women’s life. The Department of Defense only provides abortion coverage if the life of the mother is at stake; if she’s raped but can survive giving birth, her right to choose essentially goes out the window. If she still wants an abortion, the military might generously allow her to pay for the service with her own money, but only if she can prove she was raped — which is extremely difficult to do, especially within a few months. Without a stamp of rape-approval from the higher-ups, servicewomen (including military spouses and dependents) have to venture off-base for services or fly all of the way back to the United States, all to assuage the fears of politicians — the majority of whom, it’s safe to say, are not overseas fighting for their country — that the government would be “endorsing” abortion if military facilities granted women the same rights they have back home.

Feel all warm and smug about not living among the Taliban now?  I’m ignoring all the coverage we’ve given all year to the likes of Todd Akin who probably would use more biblical punishments for women, gays, and lesbians if he thought he could get away with it.  Who doesn’t think that ol’ Todd secretly hopes some one blows up the local planned parenthood and takes out some doctors and nurses in the process?  Does lusting in his heart for right to life violence count? Surely, we can honestly attest to the fact that we have some extremely sick religious extremists of our own.   I wonder if the Swedes would like to come do a documentary on how women in the US are so far down the ranks of gender equality that we maybe deserve rescue too?

So, anyway, this made me think.  What does it make you think?