July 2009


After a winter and a spring marked by the rise of racism and gay-bashing, six months in a so-called post-racial world where instinctive and primal social conservatism is threatening to tear down the thin fabric of national cohesion, the House of Representatives passed a Hate Crime Bill, systematically vetoed under the Bush Administration, yet now a reality.

A hate crime is an attack – verbal or physical, assault – sexual or physical – or even murder based on the victim’s race, gender, sexual orientation, or mental/physical disability. A hate crime is exactly what it is: it is a crime, a severe threat and violation of one’s integrity, based on pure, unabashed hatred for what is different. Until today, a hate crime was not recognized as such in the United States, unlike most western countries; a specific intent on the defendant’s part could only contribute to a tougher sentence, but did not constitute a separate crime in itself.  If the law has to mirror the society in which it is developed in order to provide a more efficient protection, then there is no doubt the United States desperately needed the Federal Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.

Because hate crimes are dividing a nation and respond to different stimulus than a ‘regular’ crime, and because it is often symptomatic or a deeper social issue, Obama urged the House of Representatives to sign the bill into law. “I urge members on both sides of the aisle to act on this important civil rights issue by passing this legislation to protect all of our citizens from violent acts of intolerance”, he said. But as it often appears to be the case in the recent american political rhethoric, the question of equality seems to raise a serious concern for inequality on the part of opposing Republicans, who firmly convinced themselves that giving people rights would take theirs away. As if Proposition 8 was not enough to prove that civil rights still have a long way to march in the nation of Freedom, a handful of elected officials raised their concern: Lamar Smith, on the Representative Judicial Committee, believes the Hate Crime bill undermines the very core concept of US Justice. “Unfortunately, this bill undermines one of the most basic principles of our criminal justice system — ‘equal justice for all.'”

John McCain is simply upset that the Hate Crime Bill does not cover attacks against the elderly.

John McCain is simply upset that the Hate Crime Bill does not cover attacks against the elderly.

In an argument that seems to defy all logic, “”Justice will now depend on the race, gender, sexual orientation, disability or other protected status of the victim. It will allow different penalties to be imposed for the same crime.” Following that logic, creating a longer and tougher sentence for acts of pedophilia would make adults lesser than children, teachers lesser than students, and male lesser than women under the law. Following that logic, affirmative action would make white people lesser than black, hispanic, or asian people. Strangely enough, we have already heard that before, and it certainly feels as if whenever one part of the population finally accesses to what is duly and properly theirs to be reckoned with, the privileged pundits are jumping to their feet in an attempt to defend oligarchy.

Former presidential candidate John McCain, a seemingly permanent Washington DC resident and unsuccessful in the race to political credibility, objected to the Hate Crimes Bill on FoxNews.  According to McCain, the Hate Crimes Bill is stealing the spotlight of the Defense Budget discussion, a topic very close to his heart, the belligerent watchdog believes that bipartisanship, that Obama claimed to have owned during votes on the health care reform, is nowhere to be found and will not support another attempt to promote civil rights. Well, no one ever said that the Defense Budget was not worth a national debate, Mr. McCain. No one even believes that cookie-cutter clean cut bipartisan ship really exists, Mr. McCain. No one would ever deny the possibility of discussion among the Representatives of the people, Mr. McCain, and I do believe it took place before the vote. But here is the thing. Young Americans have been dying at the hands of other Americans, Mr. McCain. How long are we going to discuss this for?

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For the longest time the premisces of revolution have been attributed to left-wing extremists, communist extraordinaires and anarchist ideologists alike wishing to destroy oppressive governments in the name of equality and liberty. The other side of the political spectrum was reserved to military coups, endangering the civilian population with militia patrols and the downfall of democratic elections. Novelty has come to us from the land that has brought us everything the modern world is currently using: no, not Hong Kong – the United States is now not just embracing the renewal of white supremacy. After bringing a progressive candidate to the utmost position of leadership in a landmark democratic victory, the right-wing neoconservatives, safely positioned during eight years when one of their ilk managed to scoop the White House have decided they had enough.

It was indeed refreshing and somewhat entertaining to see those self-proclaimed “teabaggers” return to the very foundations of their State and claiming independance from a regime they consider restrictive. The conservatives’ support to the oppressed people of Iran has been just as surprising, considering their previous leader had propulsed himself to the Oval Office in suspicious circumstances. Far from us crazy liberals, dirty socialists and useless progressive to take a bit of joy away from the privileged white male population leading the North American continent.  Far from us to tell the neoconservative press to take it down a notch in order to honor what was a safe, uncontested landmark victory by opponent Barack Obama – let alone tell them that they should sit down and cooperate for the next three years and a half. We are upholding their freedom to express their opinions, and my, am I glad they are.

Jim Robinson (left) with another one of our famously idiotic political commentators, Ann Coulter.

Jim Robinson (left) with another one of our famously idiotic political commentators, Ann Coulter.

For anyone not familiar with the wonderful piece of political writing that is the Free Republic, this internet forum, using the American logo with the words “freedom, equality, justice” emblazoned around the victorious eagle, is full of what the internet is generally full of – random strangers posting random commentaries on random topics, under not-so-random screennames so as to never be identified as the author of those ideologies. A veteran website – it opened in 1997 – its articles have always been a delight to read and its creator, Jim Robinson, hailing from North California, became notorious for the website’s campaign to impeach Bill Clinton in 1998. Things remained relatively tame until their “no censorship” rule (it’s a free website!) started increasing its hatred through bigotry, racism, and overall attacks on civil rights, during the Bush years, that Robinson and his peers never necessarily spared either. All was well, both camps were reeled into the unviable corners of the Free Republic.

But Robinson is wanting more than an internet forum in which everyone can express their point of view. In a Twitter era when every opinion has to be reduced to 140 words or less, Robinson has penned a fine piece of socio-political commentary that the blogosphere has truly been missing since the invention of the Facebook statuses. See, Robinson is issuing a call to overthrow the government. Jim Robinson, from Fresno, California, and head guru of a neo-conservative internet forum, believes the United States are in severe danger and that democracy is pointless to the extent only revolution can serve the interests of the Constitution. If you find this sentence confusing, it’s normal. Here is an extract of his statement:

[…] Therefore, We the People of America choose to exercise our right to throw off and alter the abusive government by peacefully recalling and removing from office the President of the United States, the Vice President of the United States and all U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives effective immediately.

An interim provisional Chief Executive and congressional representatives will be established as follows: The Secretary of State shall immediately assume the office of interim Chief Executive. The Chief Executive shall appoint and the interim Senate shall confirm an interim Vice President. An immediate election shall be held within each state legislature to appoint two interim senators to represent each sovereign state. A special election shall be held by all states within 30 days to elect interim members of the House of Representatives. Elections for regular government offices shall be conducted in November, 2010 as previously scheduled, except that elections will be held for all elective offices, including President, Vice President and all U.S. Representatives. U.S. Senators will be elected per class schedule by the various state legislatures.

Emphasis mine. In short, Jim Robinson wants to “peacefully” remove Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and all members of Congress in order to temporarily nominate Hilary Clinton so she can organize new Senate and House elections.

Right.

Sadly, Robinson is not done with his complete overhaul. He believes amendments 16 and 17 of the Constitution (respectively the suppression of federal income tax, and no more direct election to the Senate), refuses the IRS, and believes all federal buildings and military aid should return to what he believes is the “rightful owner”, ie. the State. Less government, more local independance: this sounds like a call for secession. Texas Governor Rick Perry must be so proud his idea is finally taking root in the minds of the neo-con puppets firmly intending to destroy the last remaining bits of modernity and credibility the United States have left ever since George W Bush left the Office.


One of the most depressing and pathetic results of 9/11 was the manicheism brought upon by a Samuel Huntington-esque world view brought upon by the Bush Doctrine. Black against white, good versus evil and East versus West, every conflict, every social issue, every ideology was suddenly taken through a time warp. We woke up in 2002 presided over by McCarthy, doing fire drill exercizing leading us to the closest underground bomb shelter as if the Soviet were pointing missiles at our suburbian homes again, and every phone was tapped by our government for maximum safety measures. Thankfully, the world in itself is still as complex as ever, ideologies are still being brewed in the same religious blender they’ve always been meant to mix in, and common sense is still gravity-defying.

Take the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, for instance. Sixty years of anti-logic attitude on both sides, a cruel mistake performed by so-called peace-building international institutions, open-sky concentration camp in the Gaza Strip, and regular bombing tests by american weapons. Israel, the only western force in the Middle East, vs Palestine, a State that doesn’t even exist, backed up by religious extremism and the European Union: headache-inducing, as far from common sense as humanly possible, a textbook unresolvable conflict that has been testing the limits of diplomacy with every decade, is now adding more fuel to this already burning pan. On one hand, Holocaust survivors and their descendants are creating a supermax State with the help of 1.8% of american tax income. On the other hand, Palestinian and their democratically elected men-in-uniform Hamas leaders are struggling to stop colonization from the former. Jews versus Muslims, military task forces versus Intifada, and now, on top of it all, comes the orthodox Rabbis.

A member of Neturei Karta protesting against the violences inflicted on Palestinian civilians

A member of Neturei Karta protesting against the violences inflicted on Palestinian civilians

The ideology behind the creation of Israel was zionism, a very controversial branch of Judaism claiming that the Chosen People will live in the Promise Land – Israel – until Judgement Day, where God will recognize them as His faithful servants. Until then, most Jews did not have their own country. Hardly contained and confined to one specific corner of the universe, and evolving across continents through a process otherwise known as diasporas, Zionists believe that the anti-Jewish sentiment, from pogroms in the Middle Ages to the Holocaust, have been caused by the fact the Jews were basically nation-less. Zionism was brought to light by Theodore Herzl towards the end of the 19th century, thanks to his book Der Judenstaat, speaking of not only the creation of a Jewish state (Eretz Yisra’el), but its necessity in order to stop the diaspora. Soon enough this idea was both embraced by members of the Jewish community concerned by the rampant antisemitism in Europe, and by European and American scholars alike seeing in zionism a solution to “the Jewish question”. Herzl wrote,

“The Jewish question persists wherever Jews live in appreciable numbers. Wherever it does not exist, it is brought in together with Jewish immigrants. We are naturally drawn into those places where we are not persecuted, and our appearance there gives rise to persecution. This is the case, and will inevitably be so, everywhere, even in highly civilised countries—see, for instance, France—so long as the Jewish question is not solved on the political level”.

It is in this climate of divided Jewish ideology that the BBC reports the visit of four representants of orthodox Jewish movement Neturei Karta paid a visit to the Hamas headquarters in Gaza in order to discuss Israel. Hamas, currently in charge of leading the Gaza Strip and fundamentally opposed to the very existence of an Israeli state, claiming its destruction in order to retrieve what was once Palestinian land, seem to have a lot in common with those rabbis, heavily dressed in traditional and conservative Jewish habit, a peculiar sight inside Gaza, where over a million Palestinian are confined without no possible exit by air, sea or ground. To Neturei Karta, Israel can only be created by the Messiah – that does not have a seat at the Security Council just yet – and therefore the current Israel as we know it is heretic. Oddly enough, Hamas drew the same nuance those rabbis do: they reject zionism, not Jews themselves.

Neturei Karta embraced a pro-Palestinian stand. “It is your land, it is occupied, illegitimately and unjustly by people who stole it, kidnapped the name of Judaism and our identity.” The movement, which membership level rises up to a few thousand across the Middle East as well as in the United Kingdom and the United States, even attended the extremely controversial conference on the Holocaust held by Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, where negationism and other forms of denial of the genocide was discussed in harsh antisemitic terms. Ismail Haniya, the leader of Hamas, described those emissaries as “heroes”, extreme religious leaders willing to recognize the occupation as illegal and illegitimate and fight against Israel’s apparent determination to disperse Palestinians.

The importance of Jewish-Muslim and Israeli-Palestinian dialogue will never be stressed enough; informal and formal meeting between religious and political leaders must take place on a regular basis in order to create a comfortable and productive place for a peace process to be drafted. However, extremism seems to draw extremism as much as ever in the region. Although Neturei Karta’s rhetoric contains compassion and empathy for the plight of Palestinians, a feeling that’s more than welcome on this side of the Red Sea, they are also committed to the destruction of the State, with no regard to its inhabitants. Regardless of the side which everyone seems to inevitably lean toward, it seems one state will never be able to live alongside the other. Co-existence is constantly challenged to the point mutual destruction seems unavoidable. So contested is the existence of Israel, even within its own community, only Israel itself seems to hold the cards regarding its future in the Middle East.

Much ink and spit were spilled about the historical election that took place on November 4, 2008. It wasn’t just about the landslide that surrounded the Democratic Party’s victory, the biggest in decade, it wasn’t the celebration of a Bush era finally coming to an end. Barack Obama is black, forcing the United States to face its history with slavery. In truth, Barack Obama is half-black, and that noticeable half seems enough to proclaim the end of racism. One symbolic measure and all is healed forever: a new reconciliation technique, or the burial of centuries of segregation?

Nothing like a stark reminder to set the score. In case anyone thought that racism was dead and that Equality trampled the pathetic ghosts of division and white supremacy whilst riding the streets of New York on a glistening unicorns, Philadelphia is coming to the rescue by walking all over our beautiful new, post-race Utopia by throwing a 1950s theme party. Not the kind of bouffed-up hair and checkered shirts: the kind where black people are not invited. Allison Kilkenny reports that a Philadelphia-based private swim club has taken upon itself to kick out over sixty children from its pools, the reason being that they had apparently spent too much time in the sun. In the words of John Duesler, president of said club, “there was concern that a lot of kids would change the complexion… and the atmosphere of the club”.  Translation: if seen from the sky, the club would have looked like a melting pot of different races, instead of a homogenous white human sheet that would refract sunlight. John Duesler would have none of that.

The Valley Swim Club – let’s give names in case you want to know who you’re going to write an angry letter to – was kind enough to tell the black children, who had managed to come up with the inexplicable price of $1900 to use said pool, that the club “does not allow minorities” and that they were to “exit the pool immediately”. As a result of said black children goofing around in chlorine water like their civil and constitutional rights are supposed to allow them to, all the other little white kids, perfectly raised by their white parents in white schools with white teachers reading white books, all stormed off the pool, in the manner of an offended SS officer who just realised his right hand came in contact with that of a Jew. Such distinct and spontaneous behaviour coming from children is extremely suspicious when children are generally non-discriminative until they are told to be.

Obviously, one would expect that The Valley Swim Club would now be at the heart of a horrible Pennsylvania State Court controversy regarding their politics of segregation. Let it be known that in 2009, this is perfectly legal, and that John Duesler’s white supremacist pool is far from being the only one in the country. Kilkenny highlights that although some private clubs have been sued in the past for discrimination, their privacy – and the fact that their inner sanctum rules are therefore not part of public records – it is complex to stress the exact number of white-only private clubs, the secrecy surrounding enrollment policies being as thick as a toxic cloud.  This said, all-white golf tournaments do take place every year and are only spoken of when famous politicians participate in those shenanigans. From Bill Clinton to lawmaker Tom DeLay, The Valley Swim Club’s only mistake was to be a little more upfront about their policies than some other clubs claiming that “no black people have applied”.

Regardless of the pathetic excuses that The Valley Swim Club is attempting to put forward as some sort of exoneration for their obsolete and segregationist rules, discrimination against colored people or gay people needs to be highlighted and emphasized when it becomes so institutionalized. Telling children to not mix with other children because they are different is one horrid educative method. Having staff removing said children from the pool because of the same difference as it would allegedly cause other club members some distress is just as disgusting and backwards. Wear white cloth robes and burn crosses in your backyard if you believe it, but under no circumstances must a club, allowing other members and accepting outsiders under the paiement of a royal fee only to kick them out is the same principle than making them sit at the back of the bus. Money is no different regardless of the color of the hand it is coming from. Children’s innocence, however, is priceless.

From Allison Kilkenny’s Twitter, “Just received information that the law firm of Mildenberg and Stalbaum is filing a class action lawsuit against The Valley Club”.  Let’s hope that the price of progression and equality will finally reason John Duesler and his small-brained ways.

The summer of 2009 will be marked by two major events: the incredible and unsufferable rise in temperature overall, and the successive deaths of major names in pop culture one after the other, dropping like flies. From Farrah Fawcett to Michael Jackson, from Bill Mays to Ed McMahon, it is easy to say that the end of the first decade of the third millenium is pretty much about wiping the slate clean. In this spirit of cleansing and renewal, Sarah Palin is also helping the matters at hand by doing the undoable, once again pushing further the limits of what’s on her to-do list. Sarah Palin stepped down from her position of Governor of Alaska, for reasons that still remain unknown and will entertain the political mysteries of the New Continent for about as long as the debate surrounding her real, diagnosed IQ did.

buh-bye, sarah

buh-bye, sarah

In short, this means Sarah Palin is leaving her political position to pursue other aspirations that she would perhaps consider herself more qualified for. It means that we will not have to fear Sarah Palin until at least 2012, when things start feeling sour and bitter again. More importantly, it means that Sarah Palin will be nowhere near a position in which she will have to make decisions for the local or national majority. By deciding to step down from her governor seat, Sarah Palin decided to make the world a better, safer place – at least for the time being. We all know that the moose-hunter who got her diplomacy degree from the back of a Starbucks cup has more to offer than her square-rimmed glasses let us believe, and that she is not going to leave the comfortable red cushions of the GOP anytime soon. Despite the terrible punches and blows she received post-election from McCain’s camp, Sarah Palin is a trooper who was nicknamed after a Heart song. She does not give up that easily. I would have respect for it if I wasn’t so deeply concerned for the consequences.

Now the question on everyone’s lips revolves around the reasons why. Why would Sarah Palin abandon the State for which she’s done so much? Backing up the Bridge To Nowhere, letting down the Bridge To Nowhere, legalize moose-hunting, forcing sexually abused girls to pay for their own rape kit, being the first strip of land Vladimir Putin encounters when he raises his head over American airspace; the state of Alaska owes Palin, especially for helping to put the state on the map, and not be that crazy cousin no one ever comes to visit but still sends a Christmas card to because he has a lot of oil. Alaska has a lot to offer: from being the state with the highest rape statistics to being the last one in density of population, Alaska is full of contradictions, paradoxes, mysteries, conspiracies, and absolutely inintelligible concepts. Much like Sarah Palin herself, who claimed her resignation is due to being a “victim” (again) of a “violent political blood sport”.

Violent. Political. Blood Sport. Contrary to all blood sports that are not violent, or or to violent political sports that are not bloody, Sarah Palin is hammering the oxymoron nail in order to once again instill sympathy in various consistituencies, by playing her favorite card – the political damsel in distress, completely bemused by the horrid and mysogynistic ways of mainstream media, thrown out to the world by a predominantly male political party, and still confused as to what her role was in all this masquerade the 2008 election was. Sarah Palin believes she has been instrumentalized then abandoned on the side of the highway, and, well, there has been a little of that, but there has also been a lot of manipulaton on her part. From banking on the terrible condition of baby Trig in order to reach out to the broken hearts of all hockey moms nationwide, moving on to gag daughter Bristol after a oh-so-rare outburst of sincerity in the press, Palin may know the media way more than she first told us she did. Either she is one of the smartest women to have walked the rotten planks of conservative politics, or she has recently captured a leprechaun and tied it to her radiator to exploit his pot of gold. Either way, there is more to Palin’s story than we think.

Joe Biden, however, is nonplussed by the situation. To the Senate veteran, Sarah Palin’s decision has nothing to do with giving in on what an alleged conspiratorial liberal world has pressured her to do – he believes her own family and personal issues were the trigger of the resignation. “Those who’ve been deeply involved in politics know at the end of the day that it is really and truly a personal deal,” Biden said, “and personal family decisions have a real impact on people’s decisions.” It is unclear whether this is a real personal motive or a willingness to see a clear coast in the race towards the next presidential election, or even that of lurking over a Senate seat. Sarah Palin, once the shining star of the Republican Party, the beacon of hope for neo-conservatives, and an appealing role model to all the Elizabeth Hasselbeck of this world, is perceived as being a quitter, but not of the pathetic, loser kind. Baraccuda is not just denouncing the “superficial” aspect of politics by stepping down, she is also creating a controversy regarding the fact she is indeed abandoning her state, for which she’s fought throughout most of the year 2008 so it gets the proper recognition it deserved.  Using one of her run-on metaphors she’s become quickly accustomed to, she compared herself to a basketball point guard who according to her “knows when to step down so her team can win”.

Prophecy? Fortune telling? Conspiracy theory? We will never know, but as much as we all rejoice at the idea of seeing a Palin-less nation, it is easy to place bets on her big come-back – within the next few years, months, or even weeks. Sarah Palin has mastered the game of theater politics, and I am not sure she is that ready to leave center stage yet.