Here's former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on J.R.R. Tolkien, often seen as a reactionary but also the creator of a myth of Englishness completely opposed to fascism and other rotten boughs of capitalism.
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So, how do we now respond to Tolkien’s imagined world, a world that is hierarchical, notoriously short on female agents, and which was accused by the poet Edwin Muir of being populated exclusively by different-sized schoolboys? As with Lewis, the complaint about implied misogyny is regularly coupled with worries about racial stereotyping, the romanticising of violence and the reduction of moral issues to cosmic battles between absolutes.
It is worth noting that Peter Jackson’s superbly visualised film versions of Tolkien’s novels if anything intensify some of these problems. But things are not quite that simple. ...
...he ends up writing, despite himself, a story that is more of a novel than a myth. Myths have no authors, it has been said. Even with the apparatus of invented language and ethnography, Tolkien’s history and “legendary” are haunted by the self-awareness of a particular type of 20th-century author: English, Catholic, academic, intensely aware of the devastation of a very specific England by industrialisation and urbanisation, more stoical than optimistic, yearning for a shared social narrative that would reaffirm certain solidarities of faith and mutual respect; deeply conservative but just as deeply opposed to unexamined power and the tyranny of profit.
Part Four of SomeNews's series on Facism clearly shows how Trumpism is Facism. Read the rest
This past Friday, the citizens of Nicaragua declared a national strike in protest of their president, Daniel Ortega, and his oh-so corrupt government. In the city of Managua, pro-government paramilitaries and the police cornered roughly 200 protesters in a church and opened fire on the building. During the siege, the pro-Ortega forces murdered two of the unarmed protesters trapped inside of the church and wounded several others.
The Pro government El 19 called the protestors “terrorists” and “thieves”: in effect, they declared the people, brave enough to demand that a dictator return their country to them, an enemy of the people. This labelling of Nicaraguans who would dare to speak out against their government as terrorists, is kind of a thing now. According to El Nuevo Diario, Roger Martinez, a respected psychologist with a practice in the Nicaraguan city of Granada, has been given the same label. He was picked up, along with 23 others by, you guessed it, police and paramilitaries, during a national “cleanup operation.” At the time that this post was written, Martinez was still in prison. Yesterday, Dr. Blanca Cajina and Dr. Irvin Escobar, were whisked away from their lives as well. They’re the latest in the growing number of professionals and intellectuals and community leaders, to be accused of terrorism by the Ortega government. As this handy guide from the U.S. Holocaust Museum notes, cracking down on a nation's intellectuals is one of the signs that your nation is well on its way to being controlled by a fascist regime. Read the rest
Conservatives have been dealing with the horrors of "incivility" in the good old U.S. of A. for a long time. It's an American tradition to refuse service to fascists and their enablers. From a December 1, 1938 United Press article: Read the rest
Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini is what you’d call a renaissance bigot: He’s equally comfortable refusing safe harbor to migrants in desperate need of medical care as he is whipping off statements about the left wanting to keep migrants in his country to use as slave labor. Looking for ways to push a cultural minority out of his country? He’s all over that shit, too. Earlier this week, Salvini said that he would order a census of the Roma people currently living in Italy and expel those without residence permits. When asked about naturalized Roma residing in Italy, he answered, classy fucker that he is “...and Italian Roma? Unfortunately, we have to keep them.”
Originating in South Asia, the Roma, migrated to Europe hundreds of years ago. While some have integrated into the societies where they live, most live a nomadic lifestyle and keep their own customs. Having suffered generations of brutal discrimination, these itinerant communities tend to shun the communities and cities that they live near, in favor of keeping themselves to themselves, for safety’s sake. This preference towards exclusivist living in the name of safety has led to many ugly stereotypes over the years: that Roma are all criminals, don’t pay taxes, and are a plague on a productive society. Such false claims were used by the Nazis as an excuse to herd Roma into concentration camps. These same excuses have been used more recently to create areas of segregation where Roma are permitted to set up camp – often far from essential services such as schools and medical aid. Read the rest
This past weekend, a woefully overloaded rescue ship operated by SOS Méditerranée and Médecins Sans Frontières made its way across the Mediterranean Sea from Africa to Europe, looking for a safe port in Italy. Many of the 629 migrants on board of the ship, all of which were fleeing the horrors of war in Syria and Libya and the exploitation that displaced individuals often endure in Africa.
Among the 629 passengers are 123 unaccompanied minors, 11 kids who made the crossing with family members and seven pregnant women. Some of the ship's passengers are said to be injured from beatings and torture endured in the home countries. By Sunday, there were only enough provisions to feed those on board for another 48 hours. Italy’s response to the vessel’s request to dock in the country?
Nah, fuck those guys.
According to the Globe and Mail, Italy’s newly elected populist government acted in a manner that may be familiar to those under the yoke of a populist government here in North America. In a xenophobic fervor, instead of rendering aid or shelter to a group of people who were in woeful need of it, they turned them away. Matteo Salvini, the governing party’s deputy prime minister and minister of the interior, gave the order to keep the boat-borne individuals from stepping foot on his country’s shores.
From the Globe & Mail:
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Since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, and the Libyan civil war three years later, Italy has absorbed more than 600,000 undocumented or illegal migrants, most of whom arrived by sea from North Africa.
Handbook of Tyranny tells the story of human cruelty in a series of beautifully designed inforgraphics, like this chart showing methods of crowd control. Read the rest
No matter what else happens today, I've got enough joy to to see me through the weekend: According to Buzzfeed, professional fascist mouthpiece Richard Spencer has had his racist ass shown the door by GoDaddy. Were you to browse your way to his alt-right website right now, you'd find nothing there waiting for you but a 404 message. I just tried. It's glorious. Apparently, GoDaddy gave Spencer 48 hours to find a new host for his bigoted bullshit before they wiped it from his servers. At the time that this post was written, it seemed that no one else wants to give his site a home. I checked on it, multiple times, to see if the site would load. Nope.
Concerning Spencer's ejection from their servers and the topic of where their business sits on the topic of freedom of speech a GoDaddy representative told Buzzfeed the following:
"In instances where a site goes beyond the mere exercise of these freedoms, however, and crosses over to promoting, encouraging, or otherwise engaging in specific acts of violence against any person, we will take action," GoDaddy's statement read. "It is our determination that altright.com crossed the line and encouraged and promoted violence in a direct and threatening manner.
Kicked to the curb.
That said, it's hard to kill hate. I'm not so naive as to think that the take down of his website will be a serious blow to his efforts to spread his white-power rhetoric and calls to violence. It's only a matter of time until someone with servers in a more permissive part of the world, be it on the dark web or otherwise, will have Spencer and his goons up and running again. Read the rest
You may have noticed of late that things in America are becoming less, well, American.
A cruel misogynist with dangerously racist beliefs is running the show. Nazis and bigots of all stripes no long fear giving voice to their hatred in public. The nation's journalists and the free flow of information are under attack. The government is working hard to defund the healthcare apparatus designed to protect the country's most vulnerable citizens. Piece by piece, the country's institutions, its heart and soul are being torn asunder, paving the way for something new. After reading Timothy Snyder's most recent book, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, I gotta tell you, if you're scared of the outcome of all of this, chances are you're likely not scared enough.
Snyder is a scholar who specializes in the history of the the 20th century and, more pointedly, the holocaust. His knowledge of how a country's slow slide into fascism at the whim of a tyrant can occur is beyond reproach, given his academic street cred: he's the Richard C. Levin Professor of History at Yale, a Committee on Conscience member at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. What I'm getting at is that he knows from bad shit, how it starts and historically, how it's gone down. With the current political and popular climate in a number of nations around the world, he's concerned that the ugliest parts of humanity are ready to rear their heads once again.
On Tyranny's only 126 pages long. Read the rest
Details have emerged about Karen Smith, the teacher who allegedly assaulted a boy who did not stand for the pledge of allegiance. The BBC reports that she was charged with "child abuse - recklessly and with injury" and with third-degree assault after picking him up by the clothes and dragging him out of class.
Local school officials say students can sit or stand during the pledge. Federal law permits students to sit.
The school district released a statement to parents after the arrest saying they "are co-operating with the District Attorney's Office and respect their decision on this matter".
"We are unable to comment further because it remains a personnel matter that the school district is actively investigating."
If the reporting is true, it wasn't simply inappropriate or excessively physical discipline: Smith committed an act of political violence against a child. Read the rest
Donald Trump retweeted anti-muslim videos posted by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of far-right political group Britain First — and a criminal convicted of racially aggravated harassment who is currently facing more hate crimes charges in the UK.
The group, so reviled even prominent Trump supporters were critical of his choice to promote them, was made famous after a member assassinated MP Jo Cox, shrieking the party's name as he shot and stabbed her to death.
The group's leader, Paul Golding, was jailed after a series of "Mosque invasions" staged to intimidate UK muslims.
One of the video purports to depict a "Muslim immigrant" attacking a disabled Dutch boy, but local media reported that the attacker was neither. The other videos purportedly depict a Muslim man smashing a statue of the Virgin Mary and an "Islamist" mob beating that was actually filmed during Egypt's 2011 revolution.
“GOD BLESS YOU TRUMP! GOD BLESS YOU AMERICA!” wrote Fransen after Trump retweeted her to his 44 million followers.
Fransen was convicted of aggravated harassment after accosting a Muslim mother-of-four on the streets during a "Christian Patrol." She was arrested again two weeks ago following a fascist rally and charged with "threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour," with a hearing scheduled at Belfast Magistrates' Court on 14 December.
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Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, has been the source of many shocks since he took office last year: he admitted to murdering people as a teen gangbanger and then later as a public official; he zeroed out the budget for the National Commission on Human Rights, and announced that deposed mass-murdering dictator Ferdinand Marcos would be treated as a hero, even as he rolled out death squads that have murdered thousands in cold blood (he also hears voices from God).
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Jia Tolentino describes The Repressive, Authoritarian Soul of “Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends”, that most cosy and all-conquering example of English bullshit for children.
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through the dedicated and comprehensive Thomas the Tank Engine Wikia, as well as asmattering of critical assessments and message-board threads from dedicated viewers, I have become a little obsessed with the show’s repressive, authoritarian soul.
It is clear from his work that Awdry disliked change, venerated order, and craved the administration of punishment. Henry wasn’t the only train to receive a death sentence. In one episode, a manager tells a showoff engine named Smudger that he’s going to “make him useful at last,” and then turns Smudger into a generator, never to move again. (There are several “R.I.P. Smudger” tribute videos on YouTube.) In another episode, a double-decker bus named Bulgy comes to the station and talks about revolution—“Free the roads from railway tyranny!” he cries. He is quickly labelled a “scarlet deceiver,” trapped under a bridge, and turned into a henhouse. A recurring storyline involves the “troublesome trucks,” which are disciplined into fearful obedience through public, symbolic punishments. Their leader, S. C. Ruffey, is pulled in two different directions until he breaks into pieces—“I guess the lesson is that if someone is bullying you, kill them?” a YouTube commenter writes—and, in another episode, a “spiteful” brake van is crushed into bits.
By the time Awdry wrote “The Railway Series,” the railway industry had shifted away from steam and toward diesel and electric.
A Florida pastor who took his 11 year old daughter to see a Donald Trump campaign-style presidential rally said he'd hoped his kid would learn something, but instead witnessed that “demonic activity was palpable.”
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President Donald Trump went full Alex Jones Infowars conspiracy theory wingnut today, saying the American news media are conspiring to cover up a vast series of Islamic terrorist attacks in which innocent God-fearin' Americans have been killed.
Statements like this from authoritarian leaders are the sort of thing you hear when a regime is preparing to institute martial law. Perhaps that is where America is now headed. Hope not.
Today's wackadoodle Trump camp statement was yet another nutty lie, just like Trump's long-running racist birther campaign against President Barack Obama, whom we miss terribly, please for the love of God make this descent into national insanity stop. Read the rest
“I was threatened with arrest for filming this 3 minute short documentary film about @nobanjfk lawyers at NYC JFK airport on Sunday,” says filmmaker Aaron Stewart-Ahn.
Aaron wasn't the only one to report harassment, intimidation, and threat of arrest for photographing, filming or recording audio of the massive protests at this airport and others, as travelers officials scrambled to come to grips with Trump's sneak attack executive order.
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