Category Archives: Interviews and News Articles

News Flash: Opposing Israeli Policies is Not the Same as Opposing God

shrinking_map_palestine_two_state_solution1

This week, Republican extremist Dr. Laurie Roth wrote on the right-wing blog site Barbwire.com, “Anyone or anything connected with the God of the Holy Bible will be attacked and bypassed by Obama and his progressive robots…Obama is most certainly against Netanyahu because he represents the Jews and Israel and won’t be intimidated into giving away more land…”

News Flash: Opposing Netanyahu and Israeli policies is not the same as opposing Jews, Israel, the Holy Bible, or God. Since when did unquestioning loyalty to a foreign government become patriotic or righteous?  And what land has Israel given away? Above is a map that shows how Israel’s illegal settlements have been systematically stealing land from the Palestinians.

Pro-Israeli propagandist have long pushed these myths in a few different variations. The most common attack by the right-wingers is just to claim that those that opposed to Israeli policies are opposing the God and Jews and therefore anti-Semitic.

Jewish Israeli scholar Norman Finkelstein’s book, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, documents the pro-Israeli right-wing extremist campaign to redefine the word “anti-Semitism” in a way that would label anyone that disagreed with them as an unholy bigot. Finkelstein writes, “Practically, this meant pinning the epithet “anti-semitic” on domestic challenges to Jewish class privilege and political power as well as on global challenges to Israeli hegemony.”

From a humanitarian and human rights perspective, there is plenty of reasons to oppose the Israeli governments settlement policies. First, there is the obvious and well known fact that the Israeli settlements are illegal Israeli settlements are illegal and in violation of international law. Second, accord to U.N. reports on settler violence that monitor the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, Israeli settlers have indiscriminately attack Palestinians and their property on a daily bases.  And the situation is only getting worse.

The United Nations Human Rights Office of High Commission writes, “Comparing figures recorded during the same period (January to August) in previous years, since 2009, the number of settler-related incidents resulting in casualties has more than doubled, and the number of casualties caused by settlers has increased by 30%; whilst the number of settler-related incidents resulting in property damage has more than tripled, and the number of trees destroyed or damaged has increased almost four-fold.”

Other reasons to oppose Israel’s settlement policies would be you oppose ethnic cleansing, collective punishment, and a long list of other  crimes against humanity. Why would God want you to support such horrific acts?

Palestinian+Sunset

In reality, it is simply flat out lie to suggest opposing Israel’s right-wing extremist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s human rights violations is in any way anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, or anti-God. Just ask your American Jewish friends if they unconditionally support Israel and Netanyahu. If you think they all love Netanyahu and support Israel’s illegal settlements you might be surprised at the polling data.

According to prominent Israeli newspaper  Haaretz, “American Jews overwhelmingly reject settlements; Netanyahu’s government aggressively promotes settlement expansion. Even during the last round of talks with the Palestinian Authority, Netanyahu refused to halt or curtail settlement expansion, consistently humiliating American mediators…American Jews are serious about giving diplomacy with Iran a chance; Netanyahu has consistently denigrated the Iran talks and seems determined to prevent and undermine any deal that Iran might accept…Most crucially, American Jews overwhelmingly favor a two-state solution; Netanyahu has made it clear that he is unwilling to make the necessary compromises to bring it about…”

New Flash: You can oppose Israel’s illegal and immoral settlement policies and still support Israel’s right to exist within it’s legal borders. You can love God, advocate for human rights, support the rule of law, and still oppose Netanyahu’s war mongering and creeping campaign to wipe the Palestinians off the map.

To learn more and to take action consider joining the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.

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Radical Right-wing Incites Ranch Violence

Bundy militia

Over the course of the last couple weeks, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s fight with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has become a cause célèbre for the radical right-wing media and militias.

The Bundy Ranch dispute with goes back to 1993 when Bundy claimed he “fired the BLM” because the federal lands his cattle has been grazing on for several generations was modified to protect an endangered tortious. Fed-up with the Federal government, Bundy decided he had the right to fire his landlord and continue to graze his cattle on the restricted land without paying another dime in grazing fees. This in spite of the fact that by grazing on federal lands Bundy receives huge federal subsidies. Which makes Bundy nothing more than a dead-beat welfare cowboy.

Bundy took his case to the local, state and federal courts and each time he lost. Yet, he managed to prolong any consequences for his illegal actions until this past week. In the meantime, Bundy managed to run-up back taxes and legal fees of more than $1 million.

In August of 2013, a federal judge warned Bundy that the BLM would confiscate his cattle if he did not remove his cattle and start paying his land use fees. The local sheriff tried to work things out with Bundy and the BLM, but Bundy refused to move his cattle back onto the modified land.
Instead, Bundy went to the local paper to plead his case to the “court of public opinion”. Bundy and his wife shared their struggles with the federal government and talked about owning guns. They vowed to “do whatever it takes” to protect his cattle from seizure. Bundy pronounced, “I’ve got to protect my property…I abide by almost zero federal laws.”

Anti-Patriot/anti-government militias quickly found a kindred spirit in Bundy. Glenn Beck, Alex Jones, Breitbart.com, and even Fox News’ Sean Hannity began touting this guy as some kind of anti-hero fighting against a big government takeover. Apparently, they only care about welfare fraud when it’s committed by a poor person.

Bundy-Ranch-Riots

Blog sites and comment threads from my Libertarian friends filled with gushing support for their new found anti-hero. Hannity promoted Bundy’s violent anti-government rhetoric in an interview by stating, “I’m just afraid of what this government is capable of doing. I mean we saw what happened in Waco,” to which Bundy responded, “We have to have faith that America will stand. You know we would never won any of these wars from the Revolutionary War on up if we didn’t have faith and courage and fighting for something.”

Hannity continued, “This can spiral out of control. You get one wrong person out there, this can spiral out of control really fast,” and “If it keeps going, this is going to end very, very badly.” Hannity then demanded, “The government needs to stand down” because “this is only a symptom of how one person, standing up to the government, I’m telling you, [it is] my opinion that this crisis could come to a head, and lives could be lost.”

On Wednesday, April 9, 2014, a day of reckoning for the Bundy’s appeared. As employees from the BLM began rolling into the restricted land to seize Bundy’s cattle so did armed militia members arriving to help Bundy stand their ground against “tyranny”. Local, state and federal law enforcement quickly began beefed-up their presence in the interest of both protecting the BLM workers and deescalating the tensions coming from the Bundy family and a growing number of armed protesters. Patriot members lined-up and pointed their guns at federal rangers. Corporate militia thugs willing to intimidate and even kill their fellow Americans for just doing their jobs.

Last week, the Bundy’s invited the militia members to set-up camp on his sprawling 150 acre ranch, which they chooses not to graze their cattle on due to the personal cost. On Wendesday, Bundy family members and supports got into a scuffle with federal rangers as the agitated protested block vehicles and disrupted law enforcement officials. Bundy’s sister was thrown to the ground an officer and one of Bundy’s sons was Tasered, but the federal rangers decided not to press charges on the unruly mob.

As the week progressed, the size of the militia grew, as did the presence of law enforcement. On the one side, a mob of supporters number in the low hundreds with hand guns, assault weapons and snipers on embankments. On the other side, a few dozen federal rangers with hand guns, assault weapons, snipers on embankments, snipers in helicopters, and an Apache helicopter fly-over just for good measure.

I talked to several Bundy supporters before writing this article and asked them about the tyranny they were opposing. First they stated the federal government had no right to own the land, because it belonged to the state. They asserted the federal government was overstepping their authority.

I pointed to Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution (otherwise known as the Property Clause) which clearly states, “The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.”

The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the authority to own and manage federal land. When presented with that fact, the so-called “patriots”, go to the argument of State’s rights and link to some right-wing propaganda sites about Utah bill HB 148, which attempts to claim all federal land within its borders as State land. What Utah’s land bills have to do with Bundy’s ranch in Nevada is anyone’s guess?

Nonetheless, Utah’s HB 148 bill is both a violation of both the U.S. Constitution and the State’s own Constitution. The Utah Constitution states that under no uncertain terms that the people of Utah “forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within the boundaries hereof.” Likewise, Section 3 of Utah’s Enabling Act, the legislation which led to Utah’s birth as a state, contains this same disclaimer.” States can’t just go appropriating federal lands.

The right-wing’s next line of attack came after the BLM and federal law enforcement agent moved into the area. The new tyranny became the ever growing militarization of the police and federal government. Never mind the fact that Bundy and his supporters were amassing an armed militia a few hundred strong in order to protect a business owners imagined right to exploit and desecrate our common public lands.

This is one of several great ironies with the right-wing’s reasoning for supporting the Bundy family. As soon as the BLM employees showed-up with federal rangers to protect them, images of armed federal agents were all over the internet. As if this was some kind of proof we are living in a police state?

Bundy Ranch militia snipers

Think about it, an unruly mob of angry criminals and armed anti-government militia members come to protest the lawful seizer of cattle illegally grazing on our commons land. The entire mainstream right-wing media apparatus has rallied on the side of the violent ranchers with their armed militia, setting-up with snipers on the embankments, yet according to the Bundy supporters the federal agents are being tyrannical?

This is the new stage in the Koch brother oligarchical plan to turn America into a tyrannical fascist state. Essentially, the fascist right-wing wannabe oligarchs have been dumping hundreds of millions of dollars in fake belief tanks and astro-turf organizations, like Americans for Prosperity (AFP). This past week, two AFP affiliates placed social media adds in support of anti-Patriot Cliven Bundy and his growing militias.

This should come as no surprise to those that follow the Koch brothers would want to support homegrown anti-Patriot militias, given their financial support for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is an organization where corporate oligarchs get together sold out members of congress. After wining and dining your congress, ALEC “provides model bills” for their puppet legislator.

When you look at a story, it is often said, “follow the money”. The Koch bothers clearly have a financial interest. According to the Associated Press, ALEC has been instrumental in shopping around in Western states their model bill called the “Sagebrush Rebellion Act,” which was “designed to establish a mechanism for the transfer of ownership of” non-state lands “from the federal government to the states.”

The Koch brothers know it is easier to buy-off politicians and grab public land on the state level rather than on the federal level. They, like most Libertarians I’ve talked to, wholeheartedly believe it is a corporation’s right to exploit and desecrate our common public lands. This is why Cliven Bundy Ranch fight and the thieving Koch brothers are a perfect fit.

The Bundy Ranch standoff is a serious escalation in right-wing/Libertarian oligarchical tyranny. Bundy, his anti-patriot militia, Sean Hannity, and the Koch brothers believe they have a right to threaten the lives of federal workers if they don’t win in court or at the ballet box. They have no concern over the morality in this issue, the rule of law or the U.S. Constitution (which they ironically claim they wrap themselves in)

This is a critical conflict in right-wing tyranny. Americans need to say no to the right-wings anti-patriots claim to the right to threaten the lives of federal workers if you lose their case in a court of law. No to the extremists that believe they have a right to incite violence at a protest. No to radicals amassing armed militias against the militarization of law enforcement. Their actions only give those that support the militarizing of police a powerful reason to further arm themselves with an even larger arsenal, thus counter-productive. And finally, we need to say no to these corporate criminals sending in armed thugs to protect the flawed belief in their imagined right to exploit and desecrate our common public lands for their own personal gain.

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Community Keeps Pressure on D.A. over Child Shooting

Andy Lopez poster

On Sunday afternoon I received a text message from Michael Rothenberg of 100 Thousand Poets (100TPC) for Change, “What do you know about Andy Lopez?” I wrote back that English professor and writer Shepherd Bliss and I had written a couple of articles and we planned to follow the story. Andy Lopez is the 13-year-old Santa Rosa boy shot by a sheriff while carrying a replica AK-47 airsoft BB gun down the street.

Rothenberg got onto the phone with me and asked if I wanted to join him on Tuesday for a rally and march to the Sonoma County D.A.’s office. He told me 100TPC had been organizing with other community organizations to keep Andy Lopez’s story on the front pages of the newspaper. He informed me their intentions on Tuesday were to petition Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch to create an independent “Blue Ribbon” panel or a “civilian review board” made up of outside experts and civilians to investigate the circumstances of the shooting.

The day before the protest Andy’s parents Sujey Lopez Cruz and Rodrigo Lopez filed a federal civil right lawsuit accusing Deputy Erick Gelhaus of acting recklessly in the shooting death of their son. According to the local paper The Press Democrat, their lawyer, Arnoldo Casillas, claimed their suit will “ensure critical review of the Oct. 22 shooting. Casillas accused investigators with the Santa Rosa Police Department of accepting the deputy’s version without question”. Casillas is quoted as saying, “It’s a done deal, folks …They have already concluded it was justified. Shame on them”.

Many at the protest on Tuesday had also already concluded the current investigations into the shooting by the Santa Rosa Police, the Sonoma County Sheriffs Department, and the FBI are all going to be simply another example of a government cover-up. They have also concluded Erick Gelhaus is guilty of both racial profiling and murder.

In a fiercely worded petition to the D.A. the protest organizers state, “The so-called ‘investigation’ conducted to date constitutes a negligent white wash, lacks transparency and has accomplished virtually nothing to satisfy the righteous anger of the Santa Rosa community and the nation…It is virtually impossible for the Santa Rosa Police Department and the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department to conduct an impartial investigation of one of their own officers. Such a flawed investigatory process is equivalent to assigning the fox to guard the chicken house”.

Andy Lopez Swat

According to the most recent addition of the local weekly paper the Bohemian, this is not the first time community activists have called for independent civilian review of law enforcement. In 2000, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission recommended a civilian review board for Sonoma County. Local law enforcement was opposed such a board as unnecessary.
The Bohemian cites police-accountability activist Robert Edmonds who points out that in, “the 26 officer-related fatal shootings that have occurred since 2000 (in Sonoma county) –a number that includes deaths caused by Taser- no officer has been convicted of any wrongdoing”.

Rothenberg and the other community leaders and protesters make a strong argument for at least a civilian review board to add transparence in what appears to by a highly flawed process of local law enforcement departments investigating each other. Clearly conflicts of interest can arise which will inevitably cast doubts among the victims and their communities.

Andy Lopez marchers

On Tuesday, I marched alongside the community, my community, and listened to the activists working against police brutality and the entrenched racism in the criminal justice system. As we made our way from the Santa Rosa Square to the courthouse and D.A’s office the protested shouted “No Justice, No Peace”, and “Jailhouse for Gelhaus”.

I listened to the dozens of teenagers wearing tee-shirts with pictures of Andy Lopez silkscreened on the front. I heard friends and neighbors of Andy Lopez talk about how Andy was just a kid and the police should have known better. Mostly, I heard the anger and fear in the community. Angry at the fact that another person, a child no less, has been gunned down by the folks charged with serving and protecting our community. And fear that Andy Lopez’s death will be just another shooting swept under the run by yet another whitewashed internal investigation without transparency.

Andy Lopez protesters

Rothenberg and other community activists have promised not to let that happen. They are organizing another rally this Saturday in Santa Rosa. They are calling on the Santa Rosa City Counsel to purchase the vacant lot where Andy was gunned down and create a park in his name.

Most importantly, the Lopez family, community activists, and the community at large are called for an independent investigation into the shooting. Given the county’s history their demands seem reasonable.

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Don’t Blame the Cops

Santa Rosa shooting JOHN BURGESS

I’m going to be the least popular person in this debate. I’ve already being criticized by my Facebook friends on both the political left and right. Of course both the far right and the far left have a deeply rooted distrust in the government. That is especially true of law enforcement.

This past week we have seen a string of horrific killings committed by armed gunman and kids.

On Monday, October 21, 2013, a 12-year-old student armed with a handgun opened fire at his Nevada middle school killing his math teacher and critically wounding two of his classmate before shooting himself in the head.

On Tuesday, October 22, 2013, a 14-year-old high school student was arrested in Massachusetts. He was charged with the beating death of his math teacher and hiding her body in the woods.

On Wednesday, October 23, 2013, a member of the National Guard opened fire in Tennessee at an armory just outside a U.S. Navy base, wounding two soldiers.

Also on Tuesday, not far from my own home, in Santa Rosa, California, Andy Lopez, a 13-year-old carrying toy gun was shot and killed by a veteran Sonoma County deputy.

According to local papers the teenage boy was carrying an airsoft BB gun that resembled an AK-47. I live with my girlfriend and her two boys. One is 16-years-old and the other just turned 18-years-old. The oldest one just purchased his first real firearm.

He also owns two airsoft toy guns. One looks like a hunting rifle and the other AK-47. Both of the toy guns have bright red tips on them.

According the reports, Andy Lopez’s gun did not have the red tip on it. Without the red tip, the gun Lopez was carrying looks very similar to an actual AK-47. So my first question is, why do we allow toy manufactures to make BB guns that look like actual firearms in which the red tip can be easily taken off? Is the toy manufacture somewhat liable for this dangerous “toy”?

Second, it was reported that Andy Lopez’s BB gun was actually his friends. Are the parents that purchase such products responsible for how their children play with such toys? Of course when kids do stupid things parents can be held libel.

Most of my friends want to point the blame squarely on the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department. A large and rowdy protest at Sonoma County Sheriff’s offices took place yesterday. Protesters shouted and held up signs that read, “No justice, no peace”, “A badge is not a license to kill”, and “He should have known. He is a sheriff. He should have known that it was fake”.

Reports indicate when the sheriffs saw Lopez walking down the street with the weapon they pulled their patrol car over, opened the doors to provide themselves protection, and several times ordered Lopez to put the gun. At which point Lopez swung around and pointed the barrel of the AK-47 looking gun in the direction of the sheriffs.

Multiple experts point out, the veteran sheriff was following protocol widely used by law enforcement agencies nationwide.

Everyone agrees Andy Lopez’s death was a horrible accident. However, folks and both the far left and far right have been quick to immediately assign blame on the sheriff. I’m not going there. I reserve the right to change my mind. I’ll wait to read the results from both the local and federal investigation into the matter before I draw any conclusions on the sheriff’s conduct.

If you don’t trust the police or any government official in general, then it is easy to quickly attack the sheriff and the entire U.S. law enforcement apparatus. It just fits in nicely with a political ideological narrative that must be maintained at all costs. However, in the case of the tragic death of Andy Lopez I believe it is just too easy and early to blame the cops.

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Historical Stupidity by NRA Supporters

hitler-gun-control425x320

It should surprise no one that reads my articles when I say I get hateful attack messages, emails, and comments from rightwing nutcases on a regular basses. After all, I often write despairingly about political extremists, especially Teabaggers. However, the Teabaggers and radical rightwing deserve national scorn. They have been shown at times to be racist, homophobic, bigoted, pathologically lying fear mongers. They have mocked disabled people at town-hall meetings and spit on politicians. Additionally, they routinely threaten liberals, progressives, and minorities with violence.

I’ve documented all of these behaviors in numerous articles the past. As far as I am concerned, Tea Party members are some of the most despicable characters participating in American politics today.

Earlier this week, I posted an article pointing-out key facts the NRA doesn’t want Americans to know. As is normal practice for me, my research and cited sources included non-partisan fact-checking sites like Politifact.com, non-partisan political watchdog organizations like OpenSecrets.org, and authoritative studies, including one by the American Public Health Association.

In spite of the research and links provided in the article, after posting I once again was almost immediately (and predictably) called a “liar”. Typically, if a rightwinger wants to attack me on a comment thread I will leave it up. The other day, I received a couple similar attacks including this most common rightwing NRA propagandist comment from MikeN. This response is so common, (Hitler and all) that I thought I would finally address it point by point in an article.

So, here is MikeN’s comment to my pervious article:

MikeN: “One lie after another. Want an unbiased report on gun violence? Read the report that Obama himself ordered the CDC to conduct. He did not like the results so the report has been given no publicity by the Obama-loving media. The author of this blog is obviously a left wing radical as evidenced by HIS hateful rhetoric and characterizations of conservative groups. Nowhere in the world has gun banning and confiscation led to decreased crime. It HAS however, led to murderous dictators slaughtering their own people to rise to and keep power. That has been demonstrated many times over throughout history. Just look to the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Castro, Pol Pot, Amin, and too many others to fit in this column. Read the CDC (a non- biased government agency) then we can talk about guns and violence.”

I’m not sure if MikeN actually read my article? Had he read my article he would have discovered I wrote about the NRA working for nearly two decades to cut-off funding for the CDC and other government agencies doing research on gun violence. I pointed-out that in April of this year President Obama ended the spending freeze. Now the CDC has released its first report.

In his comment to me, MikeN makes the same mistake CNN’s Crossfire host S.E. Cupp made. According to Politifact.com , “Cupp (and the majority of the rightwing mainstream media) exaggerated the findings of the CDC report, which merely rounded up studies as it argued for more and better research. In most cases, the report was intended to spur more research, not settle controversial claims once and for all.”

S.E. Cupp and MikeN want to pretend like the CDC report states gun control policies don’t work. When in fact, the report states we don’t have enough data to make a determination on what policies work and which ones don’t seem to have a positive effect in reducing gun violence. That’s a very big difference from the intentionally misleading rhetoric coming from the pro-NRA propagandists.

In fact, if anything the CDC report, which MikeN suggests we read (and “then we can talk about guns and violence”) repeatedly supports the point I make in my pervious article. By cutting-off CDC funding the NRA’s paid legislators left our nation woefully lacking vital information about gun violence.

According to this new CDC report, “Whether gun restrictions reduce firearm-related violence is an unresolved issue…A paucity of reliable and valid data, as discussed in the sections above, is a major barrier to the development of the most effective policies, strategies, and interventions for prevention of firearm violence…Nonetheless, many interventions have been developed and studied, and they point to areas requiring important additional research.”

Yep, what the CDC report actually states is that (thanks to the NRA and their paid-off legislators) there is an astonishing dearth of information on gun violence and gun control policies in the U.S.

MikeN goes on, “Nowhere in the world has gun banning and confiscation led to decreased crime”.

However, whether gun restrictions reduce firearm-related violence is not really an unresolved issue. If there are zero guns around gun violence will reduce to zero. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to understand that Japan has fewer gun related deaths then the U.S. because they have fewer guns. This is just common sense.

The recent American Public Health Association study’s data (not included in the recent CDC study) indicated, “for each percentage point increase in gun ownership, the firearm homicide rate increased by 0.9%.” Add suicide and accident shooting and an ordinary person of common sense can understand sensible gun control measures can decrease gun fatalities.

MikeN’s next comments  about Hitler and other dictators are actually one of the most commonly repeated lies told by the NRA and rightwing pro-gun radicals. At first, this is one that should seem to be easily dismissed. However, many radicals on the right truly believe this myth.

Some claim Alex Jones started this lie. Or that he just told this lie the best. Certainly MikeN’s version of the myth is nearly a repeat of Jones’ version verbatim. An older connection to this claim goes back to the early 80’s and a rightwing Jewish organization. The graphic in this article shows this theme used by the group in a poster.
hitler-gun-control425x320

Here again is MikeN’s claim, “It HAS however, led to murderous dictators slaughtering their own people to rise to and keep power. That has been demonstrated many times over throughout history. Just look to the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Castro, Pol Pot, Amin, and too many others to fit in this column.”

Here is the problem with the above claim. None of it is true. It is complete revisionist history. University of Chicago law professor Bernard Harcourt detailed in a lecture the entire historical bunk behind Hitler and gun control. At the end of World War I, one of the conditions of the Versailles Treaty was for Germany to surrender all their weapons.

This happened well before Hitler came to power. Hitler opposed the Versailles Treaty and the gun control laws. Once he gained a small amount of power, he quickly armed his storm troopers (S.A.). The S.A. were a militia that roamed the streets of Germany attacking unionists, socialists,  and Jews. Today’s radical rightwingers attack unionists, socialists, immigrants and minorities.

Once Hitler suspected his storm troopers might be going rogue and plotting his overthrow, Hitler quickly had the S.A  leadership wiped-out and replaced with his dreaded S.S. units. The event was called “The Night of the Long Knives”  but the entire S.A. leadership was actually gunned down. Both Hitler and Mussolini used armed rightwing militias to brutalize and intimidate socialists, unionist, teachers, and others leftwing leaning organizations.

Summarizing Harcourt’s lecture Mother Jones points out, “In 1938, under Nazi rule, gun laws became significantly more relaxed. Rifle and shotgun possession were deregulated, and gun access for hunters, Nazi Party members, and government officials was expanded. The legal age to own a gun was lowered. Jews, however, were prohibited from owning firearms and other dangerous weapons.”

Still to this day, American neo-Nazi organizations are often seen at gun show and gun rallies. On their websites and in their literature images of gun paraphernalia is proudly displayed next to swastika. As Harcourt points out, the White supremacists are not hanging out with the pro-gun control hippie liberals.

Hitler used his brown shirts and the threat of violence not unlike the Teabaggers and the NRA supporters want to do in the U.S. The Southern Poverty Law Center provides on their website a “detailed listing of major terrorist plots and racist rampages that have emerged from the American radical right in the years since Oklahoma City. These have included plans to bomb government buildings, banks, refineries, utilities, clinics, synagogues, mosques, memorials and bridges; to assassinate police officers, judges, politicians, civil rights figures and others; to rob banks, armored cars and other criminals; and to amass illegal machine guns, missiles, explosives and biological and chemical weapons. Each of these plots aimed to make changes in America through the use of political violence. Most contemplated the deaths of large numbers of people — in one case, as many as 30,000, or 10 times the number murdered on Sept. 11, 2001.””

The list is staggering. Ironically, every day we hear on the rightwing radio shows and read on their blogsites folks like Glenn Beck making statements about  “hunting down progressives” make them sound more like then Nazis than Nazi hunters. NRA zealots like Ted Nugget joked about killing 450 pigs from a helicopter in Texas and then followed up by saying, “And now if they would just take me to South Central. … Okay! I kid.”

Folks like Nugget claim they are only entertainers and are not responsible for unbalanced people taking their words seriously. Yet, there are unbalanced folks will take their words seriously. A couple years back, not far from my house,  a radical rightwing listener of Glenn Beck named Bryon Williams loading up his pick-up truck with a couple of guns, put on a bullet proof vest and headed out to the offices of the liberal environmental organizations the Tides Foundation and the ACLU. His plan was to kill as many liberal progressives as possible and help start a homegrown war against the U.S. government, Obama, and his liberal supporters.

Fortunately, the California Highway Patrol pulled Williams’ truck over before he reached his intended targets and a shoot-out erupted.  Williams received a couple minor injuries before surrendering.

As the SPLC report documents, this is not an isolated incident. Rightwing hate groups, including Republican Fascists  are on the rise.  Violent attacks on unions, supporters of affordable health care, environmentalists, immigrants and minorities are all on the rise. Rightwing militias all across our country dream about becoming the “patriotic” jackbooted thugs of America. We can not let stand the revisionist history coming like the NRA, MikeN, and the Teabaggers. Nor can we let stand the deliberate distortions, misinformation, and general denial of facts coming from the dishonest rightwing.

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Hurricane: A Collection of Poems

Hurricane A Collection of Poems

I am pleased to announce Expats Publishing’s first ebook, “Hurricane: A Collection of Poems” by Dean Walker (me). Edited by Expats Founding Member Melody Haislip.

Proceeds from this book goes to fund the websites ExpatsPost.com, ExpatsPoetry.com, and ExpatsArt.com.

Here is what another Expats Founding Member and successful published author has already said about the book:

“Dean, congratulations on the book. I have just read it and won’t be asking for money back. That was amazing, brought up so many emotions. You totally hit the nail on the head with these poems about the feelings, the low points as a relationship breaks down and the aftermath. Tomorrow I will Sing, Suicide Watch, Wild Geese and Lost were just a few of the ones where I was like ‘woh, these are really good’ and ending it with Voluptuous Cool Breath’d Earth was just a lift after plummeting those previous depths. I’m going to read this again this weekend as it definitely deserves more than one read (I was only going to read a few before bed but ended up reading the entire book). Superb Dean truly. As honest as it gets in writing, and I don’t even read that much poetry, was like one song after another or a set of stories. An accomplishment, and an inspiration towards honest writing from the heart, not to mention beautifully written and I’m looking forward to reading it again.” – Garry Crystal

Help Expats Media continue to pursue its mission to “promote writers and artists working outside the mainstream media” by purchasing this book. Money back guarantee!

Pick-up the book for only $4.99 at Amazon.com. That’s just $1 per chapter. A great deal that helps out a valuable media project.

Buy your copy today: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EP6TCUE

Thanks,

Dean Walker

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Bill O’Reilly’s Irresponsible “Talking Points” on Race

O'Reilly buffalobeast Blacks

Perhaps the only thing positive about the mass media’s obsession with the killing of Trayvon Martin has been the quasi national dialog on race and racism in the U.S. Quasi, unfortunately, because most of the time the political left and political right seems to be talking past each other.

I went to high school in Georgia and even though I’m clearly a progressive liberal, I know a lot of folks on the political right.  One of my high school friends recently sent me a link to a video clip of Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly commenting on some recent criminal cases and comparing them to the pervasive media coverage of the Trayvon Martin case.

O’Reilly begins his segment by stating, “The issue that is really dividing the country, that is the subject tonight…whether it’s Obamacare, the food-stamps explosion, the punishment of convicts, or a myriad of other social issues, the big chasm amongst Americans is between (those like me) who believe in personal responsibility and self-reliance and those who don’t want to take care of themselves and what the federal government and support a … (nanny state)”.

Of course O’Reilly would never admit that what is really dividing this country is the constant rhetoric from both the leftwing and rightwing meant to, distort, demonize, and damage all those that disagree with them, let alone something as scary to comprehend and admit like institutional and systematic discrimination.

O’Reilly’s false portrayal of liberals as a segment of society that doesn’t support “personal responsibility and self-reliance”, he clearly meant to demonize those that don’t agree with him and his loyal viewers. Ironically, the “Individual Mandate” in Obamacare was actually written by Republicans advocating personal responsibility. Yet, the rightwing now opposes personal responsibility when it comes to Obamacare.

O’Reilly goes on to talk about a couple of recently criminal cases committed by blacks in the news as examples of the mainstream media’s complicity in covering up the real story (at least has he sees it).

The first example was of 14 year old Shaaliver Douse who was shot and killed at 3 AM on August 4, 2013. Douse was allegedly involved in a shooting spree include at least three rounds directed to the police. O’Reilly points out that Douse was a troubled youth from a broken family. He then goes on the blame Douse parents for leading their son into the circumstances that ended this poor boy’s life.  O’Reilly essentially blames liberals and the liberal media for not wanting to talk about this.

O’Reilly goes on to provide a second example, quote: “Last month, in Gulfport Florida three black kids, all 15 years old, attacked a 13 year old white boy on a bus, beat a white boy on a school bus.” O’Reilly then showed a clip of the boys ruthlessly attacking the young victim as the bus driver is overheard pleading with the police dispatcher to come quickly and the boys to “leave the boy alone” and stating “You know you’re all going to jail, y’all going to jail”.

O’Reilly then cut back in and stated, “The victim had a broken arm, multiple other injuries. The attackers were charged with aggravated battery and likely fact an adult court. Few national media even covered the story because it was blacks attacking a white. In the wake of Trayvon Martin, if it had been three white boys attacking a black there would have been massive media coverage. So why the double standard? The politically correct and cowardly media is the answer to that question.”

So, in this segment of O’Reilly’s “Talking Points”, we see Bill making a comparison between the media coverage of the Trayvon Martin case with this most recent Gulfport school bus beating. O’Reilly thesis is that if this was a white on black beating the media would be all over the story. However, because it was a black on white beating the story didn’t meet the liberal narrative and therefore it was not worth mainstream media covering it.

However, there are a number of problems with this thesis and in fact, O’Reilly himself destroys his own thesis with a follow-up statement, “By the way, no fair minded person, no fair minded person should believe that most black persons want to hurt whites, they don’t. That bus attack was about three thugs beating up a kid who objected to their behavior. There is no evidence the crime was any more than that”.

You see, the bus beating was all about three teenagers retaliating against the thirteen year old boy who “objected to their behavior. There is no evidence the crime was any more than that.” There was no evidence of race being a factor in the school bus beating.

In addition, In the case of the killing of Trayvon Martin there was a hell of a lot more to the crime than a retaliatory beating by a group of teenage boys. In the case of the Gulfport school bus assault, the boys were taken from the bus and immediately arrested. In the case of the Gulfport school bus assault the fifteen year old kids are likely to face adult courts.

In the case of George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin’s killer, the police let Zimmerman walk free.  Zimmerman had only been arrested after the Governor stepped in and took the case out of local jurisdiction after receiving an immense amount of political pressure that grew out of a grassroots movement for justice. In the killing of Trayvon Martin, affidavits and other court documents referring to Zimmerman’s “racial profiling” and generally “profiling” Martin.

In the killing of Trayon Martin, Zimmerman (a twenty-nine year old adult) was armed, disobeyed police instructions, and stalked Martin (a fifteen year old unarmed youth) before ultimately confronting the child and killing him.  In the Trayvon Martin case, the killer walked free and at least one jury claims “Zimmerman got away with murder”. In the Trayvon Martin case, Zimmerman is still under federal investigation for violating Martin’s civil rights.

O’Reilly conveniently fails to point-out that in his first two examples race had nothing to do with the crimes. O’Reilly claims, “Few national media even covered the story because it was blacks attacking a white. In the wake of Trayvon Martin, if it had been three white boys attacking a black there would have been massive media coverage.”

In O’Reilly’s first example, given the circumstances, had Douse been a white boy killed by two black police officers after shooting at them, I seriously doubt the news coverage would be anything more than another tragic local NYC gun violence story. Certainly the Douse shooting is not a story of national importance, like the Trayvon Martin Killing. O’Reilly’s second example might be a different story if the three white kids (in Bill’s hypothetical reverse race scenario) hurled racial slurs and were acting out of racial animus.  However, Bill debunks his own thesis when he admits there is no evidence the school bus beating was anything more than a retaliatory attack.

O’Reilly claimed the national media ignored the Douse and Gulfport school bus events because, unlike the Martin killing, their stories didn’t meet liberal press narrative. Never mind the fact that the national media didn’t cover the Douse and Gulfport school bus events because neither of the events were racially charged criminal acts. In addition, in both cases the perpetuators did not walk away scot-free.  O’Reilly never seems to mentions these giant, uber, most important facts. I wonder why? Perhaps the racist element in Trayvon Martin’s story didn’t fit into his narrative?

O’Reilly suggests the roots to all these stories (plus Obamacare, food stamps, and myriad of other social issues) is the lack of personal responsibility, self-determination, love for the nanny state, and the “destruction of the traditional family”.

O’Reilly intentionally distorts the belief of those he disagrees with. Most liberals believe in a balance of both personal responsibility and social responsibility.

O’Reilly wants to skip over the issue of race in the Martin killing because if American took a close look at our society they would find institutional and/or systemic racism in housing, employment, education, voting rights, and a myriad of other public and private institutions. But perhaps most significantly the U.S. has yet to deal with the institutional racism in our criminal justice system.

If O’Reilly were a responsible and honest commentator, he would not only talk about personal responsibility but also talk about the systematic injustice people of color are routinely subjected to. Studies have shown, with all things equal, if you are black you are more likely to be arrested after being stopped by the police for a minor criminal offense. If you are black, you are also more likely to be convicted and receive much harsher sentences than their white peers. In addition, a U.S. District Judge ruled New York Cities “Stop and Frisk” police policy was unconstitutional and an “indirect form of racial profiling”.  Even the U.S. Supreme Court, in their short-sighted ruling overturn part of the Civil Rights Act stated systematic racial discrimination still exists in the U.S.

O’Reilly irresponsibly wants to paint all of America’s problems on a lack of personal responsibility. He intentionally leaves out the mountain of data that actually paints a very bleak picture of widespread racial discrimination that still exists in nearly every corner of U.S. society.  O’Reilly claims he wants to talk about the roots of the problem and what divides our nation. He wants to talk about the personal responsibilities of an individual without considering the historical context or social conditions which makes a person who they are and the circumstances they may find themselves in.

Like in the Douse and Gulfport school bus case, O’Reilly’s analysis proves simplistic, inaccurate, and irresponsibly misleading.

Further suggested reading and a source for the “mountain of data” on this subject read, The New Jim Crow by Michele Alexander. Here is a link to the introduction to the book.

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Maker Media Makes Work Look Fun

crop Make logo

Ever wonder what it’s like to work at a really cool tech/media company? My girlfriend just landed such a job. A few weeks ago she was hired full-time at Maker Media.  Earlier this year, Maker Media spun off O’Reilly Media to form its own company.

In a statement from Tim O’Reilly announcing the new company, “Many of the most interesting technologies of the next decade will involve innovations in hardware, not just software. The Maker movement, like all enthusiast movements, is a harbinger of deeper change.

What Dale Dougherty first recognized in 2005 when he published Make: Magazine and began Maker Faire was that there was a new upwelling of interest in making things, embracing everything from new technologies like 3D printing and other forms of advanced manufacturing, robotics, sensor platforms, to crafting and older hands-on technologies. The early projects in the magazine — aerial photography with kites, a programmable cat feeder made out of an old VCR, hacked robot dogs sniffing out environmental toxins — may have seemed trivial at the time, but they were a sign of things to come.”

This afternoon, my girlfriend showed me around Maker Media’s offices, workshops, and (yes) game room. Don’t you wish every office had a pinball machine?

crop Make game room

The most impressive part of the tour included looking at all the different 3D printers. For those of you who have not heard of 3D printers before, they are pretty amazing machines. Wikipedia provides a simple description of the process, “Additive manufacturing or 3D printing is a process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model. 3D printing is achieved using an additive process, where successive layers of material are laid down in different shapes. 3D printing is also considered distinct from traditional machining techniques, which mostly rely on the removal of material by methods such as cutting or drilling (subtractive processes).”

In the workshops of Maker Media, young engineers and their interns are seen tinkering around with perhaps a couple dozen small 3D printers. Many of these “home” printers are rather affordable (a few thousand dollars) while others are out of the price range of most individuals. Here are a few photos of some 3D printers I saw.

crop made 3D 2crop make 3D 1crop make 3d 3crop make 3D 4crop make 3D 5

Interns were seen typing in code and programing software to create a wide variety of plastic items.

crop make bust crop make crystal ball crop make flower crop make octo

Make: Magazine is a Do-It-Yourself guide to creating all kinds of fun and often useful things. You don’t have to be rich to be a maker. In the most recent edition of Make: Magazine you will find nearly two dozen projects to build. Often the parts can be found in your garage, attic, or picked up at your local hardware store and retailers like Radio Shack.crop make coffeebotcrop make music

Aside from putting out an extremely cool magazine, Maker Media hosts the Maker Faires. Billed as “The Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth—a family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement.”

According to their website, the Maker Faire is, “Part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new, Maker Faire is an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors. All of these “makers” come to Maker Faire to show what they have made and to share what they have learned.

The launch of Maker Faire in the Bay Area in 2006 demonstrated the popularity of making and interest among legions of aspiring makers to participate in hands-on activities and learn new skills at the event. A record 165,000 people attended the two flagship Maker Faires in the Bay Area and New York in 2012, with 44% of attendees first timers at the Bay Area event, and 61% in New York. A family event, the vast majority attend with children. In 2013, over 60 community-driven Mini Maker Faires are expected around the world, including Tokyo and Rome.”

crop make toy truck crop make truck logo crop make truck

I have to admit, I’m a little jealous of girlfriend’s workplace. Maker Media makes work look like fun…or at least worth doing.  Check out Makezine.com. It’s exciting to see a company on the cutting edge of both technology and media.

Later this week I plan on going back to Maker Media to create my own 3D object. What shall I make? Ideas welcome.

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Spirited Debate Ends in Dissonance

Lauren Green Ashan

Part One of a new series, You Don’t Know Jack!

This weekend Buzzfeed.com asked, “is this the most embarrassing interview Fox News has ever done?” The post followed a segment from Fox News’ weekend show Spirited Debate, with host and “religion correspondent” Lauren Green.

In the interview, Green repeatedly asked noted religious scholar Reza Aslan, “So you’re a Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?”  Aslan tries to explain to Green, “Well, to be clear, I am a scholar of religions with four degrees including one in the New Testament and fluency in Biblical Greek, who has been studying the origins of Christianity for two decades, who also just so happens to be Muslim. So it’s not that I’m just some Muslim writing about Jesus. I am an expert with a Ph.D. in the history of religions.

Green: “Well it still begs the question why would you be interesting in writing a book about Christianity?”

Aslan; “Because it’s my job as an academic. I’m a professor of religion, including the New Testament. That is what I do for a living…”

This line of attack goes on throughout most of the nearly ten minute interview. Aside from Green falsely accusing Aslan of attempting to hide his faith, (which Aslan quickly points out he writes about his religious beliefs on the second page of his book and is talked about in every interview he has been asked to do.)  In the middle of the segment, Aslan attempts to change the direction of the conversation,

Aslan: “I’m more than willing to talk about the arguments of the book itself. But I do think it is perhaps a little bit strange that rather than debating the arguments of the book we are debating the right of the scholar to actually write it.”

But Green persists in this line of questioning by blindly pushes-on with the reading of an online chat comment from a Fox News viewer.

Taylor:  “So your book is written with clear bias and you are trying to say it’s academic. That’s like a Democrat writing a book about why Reagan wasn’t a good Republican. It just doesn’t work.”

Green: “What do you say to that?”

Aslan: “Well it would be like a Democrat with a Ph.D. in Reagan, who has been studying his life and history for two decades, writing a book about Reagan.”

Green: “But then why would a Democrat want to promote democracy by writing about a Republican?”

Aslan: “It’s unfair…I think that the fundamental problem here is that (you believe) I have some sort of faith based bias in this work that I write. I write about Judaism, I write about Hinduism, I write about Christianity, I write about Islam. My job as a scholar of religions with a Ph.D. in the subject is to write about religions. And one of the religions I have written about is the religion that was launched and founded by Jesus.”

Green: “But Aslan you are not writing about it from the point of view of an observer.”

What Green and most Fox News viewers can never understand is that unlike the right-wing, most people can use rationally fact-based evidence and come up with an understanding that is not tainted with their own personal beliefs.

However, the right-wing, and that includes most Fox News viewers, have fallen victim to a vast web of conspiracy theories that no longer permit them to look at anything that might cause dissonance. In the case of the above interview, we have no less than three conspiracies at work.

The first conspiracy is blatant. It’s the Islamophobic notion that all Muslims are out to kill Christians and that no Muslim can write an honest book about Christianity. Not even a scholar with a Ph.D. in historical religion. According to this conspiracy, only Christians can write an honest book about Christianity. And only Christians that support their particular strain of Christianity are truly believable.

The second conspiracy is just below the surface. It is widely believed by the right-wing that left leaning ivory tower academia is simply a tool for the greater liberal agenda. In spite of the fact that Aslan continued to insist he was simply an historical religious scholar writing about historical events, his argument fell on deaf ears with Fox News viewers. The simple reason why is that the right-wing will only listen to those they perceive as “not bias” and capable of promoting their right-wing agenda.

Which gets us to the third conspiracy, Aslan’s book is promoted by the liberal media and that is why the right watch Fox News in the first place. Fox viewers want to watch Green on air attack Aslan as a bias charlatan. Only Fox News will do this. To the right, Fox News is providing “Fair and Balanced” news as opposed to All other media sources on T.V. who refuse to attack Aslan. To loyal Fox News viewers, CNN, CBS, ABC, and NBC are all corrupted by liberal bias and therefore not valid news sources.

This past April, Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, a cognitive scientist at the University of Western Australia, published a paper in the journal Psychological Science. His work looks at the thinking behind conspiracy theories.  Soon after, Salon.com posted an interesting interview with Lewandowsky. Here is just one question in this most fascinating interview. I would encourage interesting in politics to read the entire interview.

Salon:What are the psychological forces at play in conspiracy thinking?”

Lewandowsky: “Basically what’s happening in any conspiracy theory is that people have a need or a motivation to believe in this theory, and it’s psychologically different from evidence-based thinking. A conspiracy theory is immune to evidence, and that can pretty well serve as the definition of one. If you reject evidence, or reinterpret the evidence to be confirmation of your theory, or you ignore mountains of evidence to focus on just one thing, you’re probably a conspiracy theorist. We call that a self-sealing nature of reasoning.”

In a recent study in PLOS One, an online academic journal, the psychologist Jay Van Bavel and his colleagues at New York University tested whether the political right or left wing thinkers were more likely to avoid cognitive dissonance.

In the experiment they asked supporters of George W. Bush and Barack Obama to write essays supporting the president they opposed. The test was designed to study, “the ability to craft logical arguments arguing positions you may not personally endorse.”

In the end, not a single Bush supporter would write a pro Obama essay while 28% of Obama supporters were willing to do so.  The study posted some of the comments by conservatives that refused to write a pro Obama article like: “Not for all the tea in China would I write that.” In contrast, the study suggests the Obama supporters who wrote pro Bush essays suggested, “This was fun!”

The following is an important excerpt from the above Van Bavel study at New York University:

“Although motivated avoidance of unwelcome or contradictory information is quite common, there are cross-cultural and inter-individual differences in the ways in which people respond to dissonance-arousing situations [31], [32], [33] and engage in selective exposure [34]. Individuals who are dispositionally high (vs. low) in the need for consistency are especially likely to report psychological discomfort in response to conflicting cognitions [35]. In addition, it appears that threat causes individuals who are high in authoritarianism to exhibit an even stronger preference for exposure to one-sided, pro-attitudinal information [36]. Low authoritarians, by contrast, prefer two-sided information even under conditions of threat.

Given that political conservatives possess stronger needs for order, structure, consistency, and closure and weaker tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity [21], it is plausible that they would be more strongly motivated to avoid the arousal of cognitive dissonance (and perhaps even the potential for dissonance arousal), in comparison with liberals. Consistent with this notion, a few studies indicate that selective exposure is more prevalent on the political right than the left [11], [13], [14].”

What happened on Fox News’ program Spirited Debate was simply yet another example of media organization pandering to their religiously bias, and increasing conspiratorial minded audience? While Buzzfeed.com might suggest Lauren Green’s interview this past weekend was Fox News’s most “embarrassing interview…ever.” I have a feeling we have a lot more embarrassing interviews to come.

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Conservatives Declare Open Season on Blacks

https://deanwalker.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/bloodformoney2.pdfAnn Coulter

My advice to young Black men: “If you live in one of the twenty-six “Stand Your Ground” states you should legally buy a gun. White people will confront you and kill you if you don’t shoot them first.  If you fear bodily harm (they don’t even need to lay a finger on you), shoot first and ask questions later. It is reasonable to believe your life is in danger. Shooting first might be the only reasonable course of action in a state bought and paid for by conservative ideologues and the gun manufacturers.

But can you please do us a favor? Shoot your White suspects in the arms and legs first. Please treat us better than we might treat you.”

Upon hearing the news of George Zimmerman’s acquittal for the shooting death of the seventeen year-old Trayvon Martin, White conservative pendant and lawyer Ann Coulter tweeted, “Hallelujah!”  Coulter, like other conservatives, is now celebrating Zimmerman, their model gun owner, confronting and  killing of a young Black boy and walking free. All thanks to the Conservative push for their radical “Stand Your Ground” laws.

During the trial, Coulter pointed out, “It’s as if they think what has to be shown in this trial is George Zimmerman has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he did not engage in racial profiling… It’s not illegal for a private citizen to racially profile. It’s not illegal to follow someone. It’s certainly is not illegal when you have a concealed carry permit in Florida to have a gun on you. And by the way the burden of proof is 100 percent on the prosecution. They have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the self-defense claim was not legitimate. You do not need to have a scratch on you to fear death or imminent harm…If he was in fear of … bodily harm, Trayvon doesn’t have had to have laid a finger on him.”
Ted Nugent, Board Member of the NRA, confessed pedophile, and spokesperson for all things crazy spewed out by the rightwing, also made the case for Zimmerman’s acquittal celebration, “Smart and honest America rejoices that the jury got it right…This was the purest case of self-defense you could have ever asked for.”
In other words, Coulter, Nugent, and a host others on the right are saying that it is okay to celebrate the Zimmerman verdict because even though Zimmerman racially profiled the boy, stalked him, confronted him with a weapon, and then killed the poor child, simply because Zimmerman believed he was in imminent harm he had a right to self-defense. Even if Zimmerman could have walked away, Zimmerman also had a right to stand his ground and kill the guy he just stalked and confronted. Coulter, Nugent, and their ilk find this behavior perfectly reasonable and thus good reason to rejoice over what they believe was the justified killing of yet another unarmed Black child.

Coulter, Nugent and their ilk have the law on their side. Next to fourteen year old girls, Nugent’s favorite love child (the NRA) has been directly responsible for pushing these horrific “Stand Your Ground” laws (also known as “Shoot First”, “Open Season”, or the “Castle Doctrine Act”).

Along with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a rightwing organization that brings together corporations and legislators to form “model legislation” behind closed doors and without the input of the public, the NRA has contributed millions of dollars to push “Stand Your Ground” laws in now twenty-six states. Florida was the first state to pass this NRA created travesty. In addition, according to the Center for Media and Democracy, one corporation stands out on the forefront of NRA’s/ALEC’s open season gun laws. Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest seller of riffles, chaired ALEC’s task force that helped spread these misguided laws across half our nation.

Crony capitalism created groups like the NRA and ALEC. Crony capitalism is at epidemic levels in the U.S. Simply stated, crony capitalism is poisoning our Democracy. While both the Republicans and Democrats are beholden to their corporate masters, in the case of promoting the “Stand Your Ground” laws, which encourage people to “Shoot First” in the name of self-defense, rightwing corruption has run rampant.

Here is how it works, the enormous resources harnessed by the weapons manufacturing industry is funneled into gun lobbying groups like the NRA and secret legislative committees like ALEC. They in turn fund legislators election campaigns and wine and dine them in fancy locations for these private little meet and greet with corporation elites.

Coincidentally, the good ol’folks at Wal-Mart and the NRA just so happen to have all kinds of bills (both legislative and greenbacks) ready to hand-over to their friends. Aside from presenting the bill, the legislator doesn’t have to do anything else except vote for the “model legislation” when it comes up. Nice work if you can get it. Republican legislators have been getting a lot of ALEC’s “model legislation” passed. That is how we ended-up with the “Stand Your Ground” laws the let Trayvon Martin’s killer walk free.

From Wal-Mart’s perspective, having millions of young White and Black man running to their stores to buy guns is great for their business. If a bunch of Black folks start arming themselves with guns then of course a bunch of White folks will feel less safe and want to buy more guns as well. This is all great news for the gun manufacturers that donate to the NRA and in turn ALEC.

BloodforMoney

With the “Stand Your Ground” laws, the jury in the Zimmerman case had no other choice but to acquit. Here are the instructions they were given, “If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in any place where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

Many conservatives have bought into so much hype about Black people being dangerous that they “reasonably believe” Blacks are endangering society. All one needs to do is spend some time on some of the racist’s rightwing websites and the racist fear mongering becomes apparent. Last year, (I kid you not) I was invited to spend an entire hour debating  with a popular rightwing blog radio personality whether Black “flash mobs” and other like events indicated a real threat to White people. This gentleman (and he is a true gentleman) truly believes Whites are under threat by Blacks in America.

It doesn’t take a genius see some folks will take misguided rhetoric by my radio personality friend, Nugent, and Coulter and come to the conclusion that killing Blacks is nothing more than an act of “self-defense” under the current “Stand Your Ground” laws.

Last week, in a Washington Post interview, Nugent jokingly compared shooting hogs in Texas to shooting Black folks in “South Central” California.  “Lots of places have a hog problem,” Nugent said. “In Texas, the hogs have a Ted problem.” He described the giddy joy of shooting from the open copter with an M4 machine gun. “And four hours later I had 450 dead hogs,” he said to loud applause. Then he added an afterthought that produced ample laughs: And now if they would just take me to South Central. … Okay! I kid.”

So, my advice to Black men in conservative states with “Stand Your Ground” laws is to not trust strange White people. If you live in a “Stand Your Ground” state, any strange person can come up to you, pick a fight, and kill you. Heck, as Ann Coulter pointed out, they don’t even have to wait till it comes to blows before they can shoot you dead. All they need to do is claim that they feared for their life and they will go free. That’s the law, according to the NRA/ALEC written “model legislation” on the books red state. Don’t let that happen to you. Arm yourselves. And remember, it’s better to shoot first and ask questions later. You may end up in jail, but at least you won’t end up like Trayvon Martin.

Okay! I kid. Perhaps Black men shouldn’t legally arm themselves out of a real fear of White strangers? Perhaps it would be better to organize, write letters, and protest yet another Black boy killed? Perhaps it would be better to put pressure their legislators to pass grass-roots “model legislation” that repeals the insane “Stand Your Ground” laws?

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July 16, 2013 · 4:43 pm