Monthly Archives: September 2008

gassing muslim children in Ohio “not a hate crime”

Apparently, Dayton, Ohio, officials think that tossing pepper spray* into a mosque nursery, filled with infants and directly in the face of their ten-year-old babysitter, is nothing more than a random chance chemical irritant attack. Certainly not a hate crime. In fact, it was probably motivated by love — James Dobson-style “tough love” for those youthful infidels. It should be called a “love crime” but our politically correct bureaucrats would never consider tracking crimes of love.

* a pepper-spray-ish substance, anyway

By some bizarre coincidence it happened after the DVD “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” was mailed to local homes and inserted as an ad in the Dayton Daily News and 70 other newspapers in the midwest. It’s weird how coincidences happen like that, but it certainly doesn’t suggest the mosque was targeted after locals were inundated with anti-Muslim information.

According to the Dayton Daily on Monday (9/29), a cop still had to determine if a crime even happened. Three days after the attack incident, which took place Friday 9/26. There’s no need to rush because, you know, who even knows if a crime took place? I mean, so often people sneak up to open windows where religious minorities have gathered and spray cans of noxious substances directly into the faces of children. Heck it happens all the time that cans like that just happen to fall into people’s hands when they’re standing by open windows, and they’re so startled they just accidentally press the button, and somebody’s gonna get sprayed. By accident. Or out of love. Or whatever, but certainly not out of any malicious motive. And if you’re standing by an open window of a mosque and a can falls into your hand — by accident — what the heck else is going to happen?

Dayton Daily News 9/27 via daily kos via pharyngula

disappointed in dahlia

Ah, generally I am always happy to read a Dahlia Lithwick piece. She’s insightful, and a clear writer. But she blew it on her recent piece on affirmative action, “The Downsides of Diversity: What Clarence Thomas might have to say about Sarah Palin” (Newsweek; Slate, 2008/8/29).

In the article, she reminds the reader, bemused by McCain’s obviously demographically-influenced selection of Palin as his VP candidate, of Clarence Thomas’ position on affirmative action. Thomas has repeatedly excoriated affirmative action as a humiliation for its intended beneficiaries, placing a permanent mark of stigma on them. He couches his opinions in the strongest language possible, deliberately echoing the stirring phrases that condemned the injustices of segregation and Jim Crow.

Lithwick then looks at Palin’s selection by the McCain campaign, and her treatment both by the campaign and the media at large. No surprise that she observes that this appeal to diversity is better called tokenism, and correctly equates tokenism with (in this instance) sexism. The irony of the Republicans’ copping to the language of diversity is not lost on her, as she observes, “[Diversity is] certainly a noble goal, but it’s one most conservatives have disparaged for decades.”

And then the conclusion:

Liberals inclined to blindly support affirmative action would do well to contemplate the lessons of Sarah Palin and Clarence Thomas. Although the former exudes unflagging self-confidence and the latter may always be crippled by self-doubt, both have become nearly frozen in a defensive crouch, casualties of an effort to create an America in which diversity is measured solely in terms of appearance.

Ah. Oh, no. Christ. This completely confuses the actual goals of affirmative action and diversity with conservative critics’ misapprehension of those goals.

The effort to measure diversity solely in terms of appearance — that’s the conservative myth about diversity. And McCain’s gambit exemplifies the conservative myth about affirmative action: substituting “diversity” concerns for good judgment and a well-rounded selection process that is merit-based. This kind of diversity is better described as an ugly tokenism. It’s certainly not affirmative action, a process of selecting qualified candidates by including considerations of past discrimination that may disguise actual abilities, experience, and potential; as well as considerations of the larger social realities of the harms and goods that flow from perpetuating or failing to remedy past discriminatory behaviors.

As my partner observed, no wonder conservatives hate affirmative action, if they think this is what it is.

But I’m disappointed to see Dahlia Lithwick accepting this strawman’s affirmative action.

bad ideas like bad pennies keep turning up

A Louisiana state Representative is considering a plan to pay poor women to have their tubes tied, to stave off additional reproduction by undesirables.

One wonders just how bad history classes have to be in Louisiana for John LaBruzzo to have actually failed to learn about the many, many times governments have tried programs like this based on bizarre ideas about biology and economics — and let’s please not forget the unbelievably asinine and heinous beliefs about race and class and gender that underlie such proposals. (My partner points out that actually this history wasn’t in any of our primary school history classes — she learned about Puerto Rico, Native Americans, laws of dozens of American states, and on, and on, from independent reading. “And you too, Laura — you didn’t learn that shit in Alabama.”)

Honestly it just makes me tired. What the fuck is wrong with people? Why do people not have any more self-knowledge and/or humility than to at least understand how pig-ignorant they are, before attempting to set social policy?

seen on broadsheet

energy “expert” à la William Carlos Williams

Sarah Palin recently made a strange and nearly incoherent comment about US energy policy when asked about keeping domestic oil production in the US (WarRoom 9/19):

Of course, it’s a fungible commodity and they don’t flag, you know, the molecules, where it’s going and where it’s not. But in the sense of the Congress today, they know that there are very, very hungry domestic markets that need that oil first. So, I believe that what Congress is going to do, also, is not to allow the export bans to such a degree that it’s Americans who get stuck holding the bag without the energy source that is produced here, pumped here. It’s got to flow into our domestic markets first.

WarRoom linked to Obsidian Wings’ interpretation of this comment, which appears to be (mostly) a suggestion that Congress would ban exports of oil. There’s good analysis of why this is a bad idea — such a bad idea that it really ought to be obvious to our energy “experts”.

Of course, according to McCain, his VP candidate is an expert (but not one of those elitist experts) who “knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America”, probably because her state is in charge of producing 20% of the nation’s energy needs — no, that’s not right: 20% of the nation’s oil and gas production — no, not quite: 20% of the nation’s oil? — no, try again: around 18%, but falling to 13% during the first two years of Palin’s gubernatorial administration. Yes, there we go. Which is of course a decent amount, if only the McCain team didn’t lie about it.Gary Farber’s comment on same post.

Anyway, MaryL on the comments thread had this retake which I thought deserved a bit more attention:

This is Just to Say

I have flagged
the molecules
that were in
Alaska

and which
you were probably
saving
for Canada

Forgive me
they were fungible
so sweet
and so cold

Chortle. I love WCW and literary mashups and political absurdity — to have all together at once made a very pleasant start to a Saturday otherwise full of work.

saying goodbye to sivacracy

Siva is shutting down Sivacracy. From the inside, it feels right. There are lots of voices talking about copyright and information policy now, and all of us Sivacracy bloggers have enough other balls to juggle.

From the outside, though, the other part of me is saying, “hey but I’m going to be reading blogs again, sometime! and when I do I won’t have Sivacracy!!! Dammit!”

It’s true that all good things come to an end and it’s such a rare pleasure to find closure on the Internet and someone who knows how to wrap things up (god knows that’s not my strength). But no Sivacracy. Damn. The Internet will be a poorer place.

Below is my farewell to Sivacracy, cross-posted, of course, on Sivacracy:

see you all at the sivacracy reunion

It’s just like Siva to wrap things up in style. Book-ending the blog officially.

Over the years, Sivacracy has been literally one of the only blogs that I read every day — multiple times a day — and starting my day at Sivacracy brought new insights, new ideas, new analyses, new arguments. It has always been such a pleasure to have a place to read cutting-edge opinion and news on issues that mattered so dearly to me: information policy, feminism, culture, education, science, politics.

And always quirky and humorous, and open. Many blogs have comments enabled, but few blogs are truly open for dialog. Sivacracy was, for me, a model of committed, activist academic blogging.

So I was truly honored when Siva asked me to participate, and although I joined the blog just as my blogging energies were waning, every time I made a post I felt a warm glow. Posting to other Sivacracy readers felt like an “oh by the way” to other people — not an anonymous blog readership — but intelligent, questioning, curious folk, who share a lot of peculiar passions, and would be fun to have dinner and a few drinks with.

It’s been a pleasure. Let’s have that dinner party sometime. A Sivacracy reader/blogger reunion sounds like a blast.

Cheers,

Laura Quilter

science & politics of reporting protests

Reading this account of a large “Alaskan Women Reject Palin” rally — reminds me of the massive anti-Gulf War protest in San Francisco in the early 1990s. Almost no media coverage for that protest. Almost no media coverage for this one. And yet, apparently the smaller pro-Palin rally did receive media coverage. I get “if it bleeds it leads”, but are there reasons beyond naked bias and politics for these kinds of disparities in coverage of protests?

wtf with st. paul?

This is un-fucking-believable: Amy Goodman and producers were arrested at the RNC protests. Arresting an award-winning journalist for inquiring about her arrested producers. The video of Goodman’s arrest (“Update II”) should be watched along with the SF Chronicle‘s interview of her on her release (“Update VII”). See also Washington Post. An AP reporter was arrested later, and there were various other police actions against journalists.

Glenn Greenwald said at the beginning of this column:

Beginning last night, St. Paul was the most militarized I have ever seen an American city be, even more so than Manhattan in the week of 9/11 — with troops of federal, state and local law enforcement agents marching around with riot gear, machine guns, and tear gas cannisters, shouting military chants and marching in military formations.

See also this video of a peaceful protester being tear-gassed at close range (second video; at pharyngula).

As with the Chicago DNC in 1996, and many other political party meetings in the intervening years, activists’ homes were raided before the protests began.

Reporting of interest:
* Glenn Greenwald at salon.com
* The Revolution Will Be Twittered – firedoglake / jane hamsher
* raid on an anarchist art production in a theater – The Uptake
* ColdSnap Legal Collective – updates on arrests etc.
* house arrests of journalist group “iwitness”
* interview with st. paul officials – mayor, chief of police, police PR
* Minnesota Independent coverage
* cell phone video of police firing what may be smoke bombs & in general acting like the protesters are enemy combatants — following after a retreat
* “inside an RNC raid” – a house of legal observer coordinators was raided & folks detained.