You are viewing blog items for July 2016.
posted by: Joe Mulhall | on: Wednesday, 20 July 2016, 15:58
Those who believe themselves to be self-styled ‘counter-jihadists’ (part of what we define as the counter-jihad movement, or CJM) are forever telling us that they are not racist. They only target Islamic extremists, they maintain. Of course, anyone who monitors them, as we do, knows that is a willful flight from reality. More often than not they target all Muslims.
Recently that mask has slipped even further. While the CJM is not an orthodox far-right movement, some CJM leader’s reactions to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in America has revealed a number of stark parallels.
Unsurprisingly it has been the notorious Robert Spencer who has been at the forefront of the CJM attacks on Black Lives Matter. Spencer has written of the ‘myths of Black Lives Matter’ which are ‘not only widely perpetuated but politicized by the worst leftists, and manipulated by jihadists.’ Instead of discussing the very real anger over police shootings that is driving BLM, Spencer instead encourages people to look at ‘the social ills within the black community’.
He claims that: ‘Jihadists have been promoting a dangerous alliance with blacks’. On his website Jihad Watch he posted a video by ‘Understanding the Threat’, which used footage provided by Frank Gaffney’s Centre for Security Policy called ‘Black Lives Matter: Hamas Pawn’. Under the video Spencer wrote: ‘An alliance of terrorist organizations’.
Spencer’s sentiments have been strongly echoed by his friend and comrade Pamela Geller who wrote: ‘American terror-tied groups like Hamas-CAIR support and agitate for the Black Lives Matter movement.’
When writing of the supposed Islamist/BLM alliance, her staggering anti-Muslim racism and ignorance is laid bare. ‘It’s ironic, of course, because blacks (abeed in Arabic, meaning slave) are held as slaves in Muslim countries’. Here she is likely referencing shocking slavery that exists in Mauritania, though she is of course happy to insinuate to her ill-informed readers that this is the case for all Muslim countries.
Geller has long had a problem with BLM and when DeRay McKesson, a BLM leader, received a guest lectureship at Yale she wrote an entire article about how it was ‘still more of the poison fruit of the decay and decline of American universities into indoctrination camps for the far-left.’ Her anger over his appointment (considering that it has nothing to do with Islam or Islamic extremism) is indeed telling and shines a light on Geller’s wider views about race.
The Centre for Security Policy (CSP), led by Frank Gaffney, a leading American CJM member and key influence on Trump’s anti-Muslim outbursts, has also sought to draw links between Islamists and BLM. An article on the CSP website by Kyle Shideler states that: ‘Islamist organizations in the West, including leaders from Muslim Brotherhood groups like The Council on American Islamic Relations, and the Muslim American Society have repeatedly engaged in rhetoric bordering on incitement to violence in their endorsement of the Black Lives Matter movement. Al Qaeda, Al Shabaab and other jihadist groups have also weighed in in favor of the anti-police campaign.’
Other leading CJM organisations in America have also been outspoken in condemning BLM. Elizabeth Ruiz, writing for the David Horowitz Freedom Centre website in the wake of Baton Rouge police shooting, argued: ‘… murdering police officers has long been encouraged by activists with the Marxist, anti-American, revolutionary Black Lives Matter cult, with the support of the activist Left and financing from speculator George Soros.’ Also on Horowitz’s website Ruiz wrote about: ‘… supporters of the violent Black Lives Matter movement and its dirty, body-pierced, communist, socialist, and anarchist allies.’
Of course, Horowitz himself has form in this area. Chip Berlet writing for the Southern Poverty Law Centre has shown how Horowitz:
has blamed slavery on "black Africans ... abetted by dark-skinned Arabs" — a selective rewriting of history. He also claims that "there never was an anti-slavery movement until white Christians — Englishmen and Americans — created one." That, of course, is false. […] He has attacked minority "demands for special treatment" as "only necessary because some blacks can't seem to locate the ladder of opportunity within reach of others," rejecting the idea that they could be the victims of lingering racism.
It is perhaps no surprise then that Horowitz is happy to publish the hate-filled articles of Elizabeth Ruiz.
The reactions of these key CJM activists are revealing in a number of ways. They once again expose the conspiratorial and obsessive nature of counter-jihadists, who tend to see Islam as the root of all evil and imagine its tentacles at work everywhere. They take the most perfunctory connections and extrapolate them out to full-blown alliances; anything they dislike is secretly driven by an Islamist cabal. Here we see striking parallels with traditional antisemitic conspiracy theories that see the ‘hidden hand’ of Judaism everywhere.
Also similar to the Jewish conspiracy theories is the way counter-jihadists continually bemoan the supposed secret alliance between Marxists, the far left and (in this case) Muslims (rather than Jews). The only difference being is that Bernard Baruch, the traditional bogyman of antisemitic conspiracies, has been replaced by George Soros.
However, most telling about the reactions among the CJM to Black Lives Matter is the instinctive, unthinking and reactionary hostility which has been displayed, despite the BLM movement having nothing to do with Islam. Here we see the racism of the CJM laid bare. They may wrap it up in anti-Islamist conspiracies but the truth is more simple: people who are racists are very rarely only racist towards one community, and the counter-jihadists’ reactions to Black Lives Matter proves that once again.
Posted: 20 Jul 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Joe Mulhall | on: Sunday, 17 July 2016, 13:35
Americans are famous for their optimism. As far back as the start of the 19th century the French political thinker and historian Alexis de Tocqueville noted how Americans ‘have all a lively faith in the perfectibility of man […] and they admit that what appears to them to be good to-day may be superseded by something better to-morrow.’ More recently, in the face of economic turmoil Obama declared that Americans still have the, ‘innate optimism required to shape another American Century.’
From a British perspective, a country where moaning is something of a defining national characteristic, the seemingly eternal optimism of our American cousins is often mocked or even ridiculed. However, like so much else, you don’t half miss it when it’s gone.
A Week of Shootings
This weekend saw three police officers being shot dead and another three injured in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This comes just days after the death of five police officers in Dallas, Texas who were shot by Micah Johnson who told the police negotiators that ‘he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers’.
The deaths of these eight policemen comes in the wake of a number of high profile shootings of black men at the hands of American police. Last week saw Alton Sterling from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile from Falcon Heights, Minnesota both shot dead by police.
Their deaths are just the latest in an increasingly long list of people killed by law enforcement that includes Michael Brown and Eric Garner and have brought thousands onto the streets around the country under the banner of #BlackLivesMatter.
The anger is palpable and in certain areas it feels as though the trust between the police and the community has totally disintegrated.
However, speaking at the memorial for the police officers killed in Dallas, Obama, with traditional American optimism, said: ‘I'm here to insist that we are not as divided as we seem’. Yet, despite his oratorical skill his words rang hollow, his sentiments, while noble, don’t seem to echo the prevailing national mood.
When watching the TV, listening to the radio and speaking to people in bars and restaurants there is a sense of confusion, anger, helplessness and yes, that most un-American sentiment, pessimism. America feels divided.
A Racist President?
This week of killing comes during an ugly, identity based Presidential race that has been marred by Trump’s racism. Many in Europe have watched aghast and open mouthed as Donald Trump made the transition from a bad joke to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
‘How could this happen?’ has been the oft-repeated refrain. How can a demagogic, xenophobic, misogynist bully with verbal diarrhea and a seeming-compulsion to lie be the nominee of the Grand Old Party of American politics?
Well, the truth is that Trump is a symptom of a problem rather than the cause of it. As Jonathan Rauch put it in The Atlantic magazine, ‘Trump […] didn’t cause the chaos. The chaos caused Trump.’
Drivers of Trump Support
In seeking to understand the rise of Trump many have drawn parallels with Europe, pointing to the scapegoating of immigrants among economically deprived constituents on both sides of the Atlantic and the resulting effect on far-right and populist political parties and candidates.
This may well help to explain some of his support among white working class voters. As in Europe, whole communities have felt the negative effects of deindustrialisation and globalization and, while many economists believe immigration boosts the wages of native-born Americans, it likely depresses the wages of those without high-school degrees. Whatever the truth of the matter, immigration is certainly perceive by some as the cause of their economic predicament.
This fear and anger has been compounded by a failure by mainstream political elites and social democratic parties to address the needs of these communities, sometimes resulting in a rejection of traditional/professional politicians.
It’s for these reasons that, while unlikely, if Trump is to stand a chance of winning in November his road to the Whitehouse will have to pass through the big Rust Belt states like Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Iowa and Wisconsin.
Scream of a Dying People
However, the left-behind communities finding hope in Trump’s message are not just hurting economically but also physically. While American’s from other racial, ethic and economic classes are living longer than ever before, poor white people are dying faster.
Two Princeton economists have found that this rise in death rates is not driven by big killers like diabetes and heart disease but rather by an epidemic of suicides and illnesses that result from substance abuse. Is the cry of ‘TRUMP, TRUMP, TRUMP’ at rallies across the country actually the scream of a dying people?
Yet, economics alone cannot explain the rise of Trump and some evidence questions the correlation all together. A 2015 Pew study asked whether immigrants make America better or worse in the long run and the results showed a distinctly partisan split between Democrats and Republicans; Democrats replied ‘better’ by a margin of 31 points while Republicans answered ‘worse’ by a margin of 22 points.
In addition, exit polls conducted in 23 primary states showed that Trump voters’ median income exceeded the overall statewide median in all 23 states. Also, Trump supporters earn more than supporters of Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. Such findings undermine the notion that economic deprivation is the primary driver of anti-immigrant feeling.
Clearly race plays a central role in American politics and in addition to economics and health some have pointed to a perceived decline in white dominance as an additional driver of Trump’s support.
Other political scientists and psychologists highlight innate authoritarian personality tendencies in a portion of the public as a contributor to Trump’s success. And of course, you can’t rule out plain old racism.
Over the next few months HOPE not hate will be exploring the drivers of Trumps support and speaking to Trump voters across America. As always, when we find racism we will condemn and challenge it and when we find legitimate anger and fear we will listen and try to understand.
Check back regularly for more from HOPE not hate in America!
Posted: 17 Jul 2016 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Joe Mulhall | on: Friday, 15 July 2016, 15:21
Last year when Donald Trump announced he was running for President we all laughed. ‘What, the guy with the funny hair off of American apprentice?’ we all sniggered. Well, the laughing has stopped and this week’s polling shows Trump is now tied with Hillary in the race for the White House.
You don’t have to look hard to find blogs, newspaper articles and op-eds ridiculing Trump supporters for their stupidity, backwardness and ignorance. It’s easy to poke fun at a caricature-esq slack jawed yokel in a ‘Make America Great Again’ baseball hat, but it’s not helpful.
The truth is Trump’s rise is the result of a lot of fear and anger and just as we found in Dagenham in 2010, when people are scared, feeling ostracized from the political process and lashing out, it’s better to listen and try to understand. One thing is for sure, you can’t cure something without properly diagnosing it.
Trying to understand what is causing people to support trump is just one of the many questions that HOPE not hate’s new American blog will set out to explore this summer. We will be bringing you all the latest news from the elections, analyzing events and drawing parallels with phenomenon in the U.K. and Europe.
However, the HOPE not hate team is also going to hit the road to seek out new, interesting and exciting stories from a new perspective. Over the next four months a HOPE not hate team will be travelling across America giving tell the story of the United States in a way you will often not see in the mainstream British press.
Expect short news blogs, longer reportage, video interviews, pictures and mini-documentaries. In short, doing what HOPE not hate does best, going into communities and listening to people.
Stay tuned and check back regularly!
Posted: 15 Jul 2016 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments