Category Archives: Racism

How Australia ended up with a neo-fascist propounding his views on immigration on national television – Jason Wilson. 

Australia doesn’t need a Breitbart, our conservative media does the job just as well.
Australia’s ‘African gang crisis’ has been brewing for years.

How do you end up with a neo-fascist propounding his views on immigration on national television? To answer this question, you need to understand how a racially motivated moral panic has brewed in right-leaning media over months, and even years. You then need to see how such a panic is part of a political project, which includes state and federal politicians.
The panic over Sudanese immigrant gangs has reached fever pitch in this new year of 2018. Even though it’s rooted in selective distortions, both of crime rates, and the concept of a “gang”, it’s triggered a hasty policy response.

This month, it has dominated the news in Victoria to such an extent that it seems that premier, Daniel Andrews, is unable to talk about much else. After his immigration minister, Peter Dutton, inflamed the situation, the prime minister has recently chosen to weigh in on an issue which is clearly not on his constitutional patch.
But if the panic has only come into bloom in recent weeks, it has been nurtured like a delicate sapling for two years. This long-term effort has been made by the rightwing outlets that still dominate print and online media in Australia.

If you search Australia’s news archives, there are relatively few mentions of the “Apex gang”, a group which has increasingly come to stand in for the Sudanese-Australian community as a whole, before 2016. On 13 March that year, people identifying as members of the group were involved in a brawl in Melbourne’s CBD, during the Moomba Festival.

That led to an initial flurry of coverage. Some of this was in the Age, but the story was led by News Corp’s Melbourne tabloid, the Herald Sun, and the Australian edition of the Daily Mail, which presented the brawl in populist terms.
By 14 March, the Mail and the Hun had established the habit of referring to the young men in these groups as “thugs”, a term which has, in the USA, been described as a “nominally polite way of using the N-word”.

The same day, Andrew Bolt wrote in a column that “there seems almost a conspiracy to stop the public knowing that our refugee and immigration policies have become a threat, introducing new levels of violence and gun crime to our cities”.
This take was dutifully, and approvingly, reposted on several far right forums. That’s unsurprising – the idea that refugees are in themselves social poison, and that this is being covered up, is a central claim of the contemporary far right.

From this moment on, the “Apex gang” became a way for right-leaning media to establish a connection between crime, immigration, race, and even terrorism.
While Fairfax, the ABC and Guardian Australia gradually turned to other matters, rightwing outlets continued their focus on the gang over the succeeding two years.

According to Nexis searches, the Australian edition of the Daily Mail has published the largest number of articles on the “Apex gang”, with 344 in the last five years. But the Herald Sun is close on its heels with 320. Each have run more than four times the number of articles that the Age has run, with a mere 76. The Age only just beat out News Corp’s national daily, the Australian, with the quantity of its coverage.

Many of the Age’s articles came around specific incidents. But the combined News outlets and the Daily Mail kept things bubbling along even when there was little to write about.

News and MailOnline breathlessly reported run of the mill property crimes as the work of “Africans”. The Australian took the opportunity, to try to connect the Flinders Street car attack to Sudanese youth, as did Peta Credlin in News tabloids. Stories about ”African” crime persisted in the face of efforts by police to point out that the story had been blown out of proportion, and the refusal of local residents to say there was a problem.

On the other hand, the same outlets soft-soaped far right vigilantism when it emerged in 2016. When the Soldiers of Odin, a white supremacist group, announced that they would be the patrolling Melbourne’s CBD, the Daily Mail ran their comments uncritically, including the idea that they were representing “old-school Aussie values”.

In a way, Channel Seven’s uncritical interview with Blair Cottrell was just following the precedent set in moments like this, and in the fawning coverage given to Milo Yiannopoulos late last year.

Rightwing politicians picked up this ball and ran as far and fast as they could with it. Their interventions show the symbiotic relationship between racial politics, ginned up in conservative newspapers, and conservative politics. Last November, federal liberal MP Jason Wood was calling for 16 year olds who had offended to be deported to their home countries. In December, Liberals worked hard to insert a discussion of Sudanese crime into a parliamentary committee report on immigration late last year. So the ground was well prepared for Peter Dutton to threaten deportation of young offenders, too.

This is all part of the normal, repetitive functioning of Australia’s conservative media and its conservative politics. The reason Australia has never given birth to a Breitbart-style far right outlet is that there is no niche for them to occupy. The country’s print media market is dominated by outlets whose politics – on immigration, culture wars, and the “war on terror” – are indistinguishable from websites that elsewhere, dwell on the margins.

So we shouldn’t be shocked when far right ideologues, whose views on immigration don’t really differ much from the conservative consensus in Australia, get on TV. Tabloids and mainstream politicians have worked long and hard to push ideas that, as a by-product, accord legitimacy to the far right. All sides benefit from a project that leads to heightened fear, demands for a crackdown, and political problems for a Labor government.

The reason that Channel Seven felt that Blair Cottrell’s views on Sudanese crime needed to be aired – despite his history of far right street activism, and his criminal history – is that by degrees, Australia’s right-leaning media have come to frame the issue in terms of reactionary populism for some years.

This is what they do.

The Guardian 

    How Black Businesses Helped Save the Civil Rights Movement – Louis Ferleger and Matthew Lavallee. 

    News that Montgomery police had arrested Rosa Parks on December 1, 1955 for refusing to give up her seat on a bus spread quickly. Within twenty-four hours, leaders of the city’s black community called a meeting to propose a bus boycott. The next evening, leaders in the African American community gathered in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. The leaders included small business owners, lawyers, clergy, teachers, postal workers and union leaders. Though all agreed on the necessity of a boycott, alternate transportation lingered as the final question of the meeting. The city’s relatively large network of black-owned taxi companies – eighteen companies operating approximately 210 cabs – provided the first solution. Each small taxi business eagerly offered its assistance, lowering its fares so that passengers paid the same as they would to ride the bus, lending critical tactical support to the early days of the boycott.

    But when city authorities learned that this network of small black-owned businesses was providing critical organizational support to the protest, the police began enforcing a minimum fare law, prohibiting the cabs from offering the same low fare as the busses. But this did not hinder the boycott in the way that white city leaders hoped because a volunteer carpool replaced the cheap taxi service. And with this solution, too, the assistance of the organizational network of small businesses proved vital. Black pharmacist Richard Harris worked tirelessly to orchestrate the carpool and offered his drugstore as a makeshift dispatch hub. Although city authorities prohibited one sector of small businesses from supporting the protest, another black-owned business filled the taxi companies’ void.

    The story of the Montgomery bus boycott usually focuses on two key figures: Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King. But without the development of car pools and the support of small businesses, the boycott could not have succeeded. These stories demonstrate that the support of small black-owned businesses helped the civil rights movement to succeed in a variety of ways. King, for example, traveled widely during the civil rights movement. One magazine estimated that King travelled nearly 780,000 miles per year in the late 1950s as he preached against segregation. Such wide travel would have necessitated considerable material support. Local businesses played a key role.

    In Mississippi, black business owners were also on the front lines, enduring pressure from the white community. In addition to preaching at four different congregations, Reverend George Lee ran a prosperous printing business and a grocery store, positioning him as a prominent leader in Belzoni, Mississippi’s black community. He was the first African American in Humphreys County to get his name on the voting list and organized the Belzoni, Mississippi branch of the NAACP in 1953 along with his friend Gus Courts, another grocery store owner. Lee and Courts registered hundreds of black voters in a county where no black person had voted since Reconstruction. In 1955, after regularly receiving telephone threats that said, “You’re number one on a list of people we don’t need around here anymore,” Lee was shot and killed while returning from picking up his preaching suit at the dry cleaners. The investigating sheriff dismissed the death as merely an automobile accident and said the lead pellets lodged in what remained of his jaw were just dental fillings. Gus Courts then endured threats that wholesalers would not deliver goods to his grocery store and a local bank refused to do business with him unless he handed over NAACP records. But this did not deter Courts.

    Despite threats that he would face a similar fate as Lee, he continued to push for voter registration. In response, white-owned gas stations stopped selling gasoline to him. Recognizing the power of black-owned enterprise, Courts started pooling money within the black community so that it could purchase its own gas station. After refusing to remove his name from the voter registration list, Courts was shot twice while standing inside his store, but survived.

    Black small business-owner George Washington refused to stop supporting the civil rights movement, leading a local oil supplier to remove the pumps at his gasoline station and distributors to refuse to deliver groceries to his store. In retaliation, his property was bombed and police arrested Washington for “failing to report the bombing.” As in other states, Mississippi’s black community developed effective measures to counter such economic pressure thanks to the power of black-owned enterprise. In response to the economic reprisals conducted by the Citizens’ Councils, the national office of the NAACP established a war chest at the black-owned Tri-State Bank of Memphis. These funds could be lent to Mississippi activists to help evade the possibility of losing their homes, farms, or businesses.

    Amzie Moore, a World War II veteran, owned a gas station in Mississippi. He also endured frequent threats and a reporter in 1964 noted that Moore would receive three calls threatening his life in an evening. Moore developed a relationship with Bob Moses when Moses was recruiting SNCC volunteers from Mississippi. But Moore flipped the recruitment drive on its head. Moore felt that, while it was fine for SNCC to recruit young people from Mississippi as it was doing, it would be even better if SNCC sent students into Mississippi to register voters.

    Moore’s position in the community as the owner of a gas station also enabled him to assist with logistics, such as transportation for the volunteers. Moore even presented his proposal for SNCC students to assist voter registration to the SNCC conference and hosted meetings of leaders of the voter registration drive at his home in Cleveland, Mississippi.

    Histories of the civil rights movement that emphasize the glory and successes of charismatic leaders only tell part of the story. Small black-owned businesses were critical because they were empowered to engage in civic participation. These businesses were uniquely situated to support the civil rights movement and also parted the waters.

    Institute For New Economic Thinking 

    BEHIND THE MASK OF CHIVALRY. The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan – Nancy MaClean.

    “Back of the writhing, yelling, cruel-eyed demons who break, destroy, maim and lynch and burn at the stake is a knot, large or small, of normal human beings and these human beings at heart are desperately afraid of something.”  W. E. B. DuBois

    This book is about the most powerful movement of the far right that America has yet produced: the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s.

    The story it tells is disturbing. For it has to explain, among other things, how it was that sane, ordinary men came to believe that Catholics were stockpiling weapons to take over the country, that a cabal of Jewish bankers controlled world affairs, and that white people must ready themselves for an imminent race war with people of color.

    By mid-decade, well over a million, perhaps as many as five million, white, native-born, Protestant men had paid their dues and pledged their loyalty to the order’s leaders and its program. The Ku Klux Klan of that decade recruited more members and amassed more power in communities throughout the United States than any Klan before or since.

    Since its first incarnation after the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan has occupied an enduring place in American politics. Like the proverbial phoenix, the Klan has died in one setting, only to be reborn in another. The key themes of Duke’s recent campaigns in fact echoed the appeals of the second Klan: a form of populism that combined hostility to established élites with dedication to white supremacy, support for conservative family values, enthusiasm for “old-time religion,” and antipathy to welfare recipients, trade unionists, immigrants, liberals, and leftists.

    Understanding the drawing power of such themes in the past can help us see why they still pull in our own time.

    One has to give up the notion of the essential otherness of the kind of men attracted to it. In the 1920s at least, Klan members were not the deranged outcasts of popular imagination. A score of historians have now painstakingly researched the membership and activities of Klan chapters in localities across the nation. And they have found that most often the men who donned the order’s robes and assembled beneath its flaming crosses were, as one contemporary put it, “if not the ‘best people ,’ at least the next best . . . the good, solid middle -class citizens.

    Not only did the Klan draw from the broad middle of the nation’s class structure, but it most commonly mobilized support through campaigns waged on the prosaic theme of upholding community moral standards.

    Without attention to how notions of proper manhood, womanhood, and parenting infused Klan thought and action, no analysis would be complete. For the Klan’s conservative ideology was a deeply gendered phenomenon. Klansmen could not discuss issues of race, class, or state power apart from their understanding of manhood, womanhood, and sexual decorum.

    This fusion of private and public imparted to Klan prejudices much of their peculiar force. Yet, as the classic example of the plantation mistress and the female slave illustrates, and as black feminists have argued most eloquently, it is impossible to understand ideas about gender or the sexual politics they inform without attention to their class and race moorings.

    The Klan’s hostility to such things as teenage sexuality and birth control both emerged from and contributed to the racism, anti-Catholicism, and opposition to labor struggle it is conventionally and rightly known for.

    So many scholars of the second Klan seem to assume that church-going, civic minded middle-class men would never have espoused the views or conducted the deeds the Klan is commonly associated with.

    It was at once mainstream and extreme, hostile to big business and antagonistic to industrial unions, anti-élitist and hateful of blacks and immigrants, pro-law and order and prone to extralegal violence.

    This study aims to demonstrate the basic consistency of their motives and positions. The source of that consistency was a world view and politics best characterized, in my view, as reactionary populism. In it, the anti-élitism characteristic of populism joined with the commitment to enforce the subordination of whole groups of people.

    The appeal of this politics was rooted deep within American society and culture : in the legions of middle-class white men who felt trapped between capital and labor and in the political culture they inherited from their forebears.

    Fearful for the future, Klan leaders drew from the wellsprings of American politics to fashion an ideology that would enable them to hold on to their basic values, make sense of rapidly changing social relations, and fend off challenges to their power. They drew from classical liberalism their ideas about economics, and from republicanism their notions of citizenship and the commonwealth, in particular its long exclusion from the right to participate in political affairs of economic dependents, whether slaves, free women and children, or propertyless men.

    The synthesis Klan leaders fashioned extended and modified, but by no means contradicted, values widely held in American society. It proved compelling enough to attract millions.

    My emphasis is on how Klansmen understood their world, why they thought the way they did, and what moved them to action. Such an understanding can only be developed through a sustained examination of Klan ideology.

    This work employs a local case study to anchor its analysis of the Klan’s ideology and practice nationwide. The site of the study is Clarke County , Georgia, home of the University of Georgia and, in the 1920s, of Athens Klan Number 5. Once described by W. E. B. Du Bois as the “Invisible Empire State,” Georgia was the birthplace and national headquarters of the second Klan.

    In one respect the Athens Klan was unique in the South, and rare in the nation. Unlike most of their peers, its leaders failed to hide or destroy their chapter records. They left behind a rich cache of materials that found their way into the archives.

    If white Southerners’ racism was less unusual than most white Northerners like to admit, other aspects of Southern life at the turn of the century were distinctive: the prevalence of sharecropping, tenant farming, disfranchisement, and lynching, to name but the most obvious. These regional traditions influenced the Klan’s development in the South. Their sway was most obvious in Southern Klansmen’s more frequent indulgence in vigilante violence and in the tacit consent, if not outright support, that violence gained from regional élites.

    What proved most striking in the research for this study was less the differences between Southern Klansmen and their counterparts elsewhere than how much they all shared. The assumption of Southern distinctiveness with which the author embarked on this project gradually had to be shed in the face of compelling evidence to the contrary.

    In their basic values, as in their targets, the area of agreement between Klansmen in different parts of the country proved wide. Where they diverged, the differences tended to be of degree, not character, or in focus or tactics, not principles. In key ways, in fact, like the election of the Southerner Woodrow Wilson to the presidency not long before, the Klan of this era was both effect and cause of the reconciliation of North and South.

    The expanding powers of the federal government and the changes in the structure of power at all levels of the state affected citizens in every area. The plight of agriculture in the 1920s ruined farmers in the Midwest and West as well as the South. The powerful image of the “New Negro” resonated among racists nationwide as Southern blacks moved north in record numbers, while Harlem’s radicalism filtered outward. And the youthful pioneers of modern morality drank, danced, drove, and necked from one end of the country to the other. So it is not surprising that white men around the country rallied to Klan appeals with common core elements.

    The goal of this study, then, is to situate Klan members in the world of their day, to take seriously what they did, and to listen carefully to what they said. In this way, we can learn a great deal about what made them tick.

    ***

    BEHIND THE MASK OF CHIVALRY. The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan – Nancy MaClean.

    get it at Amazon.com 

    New Zealand can stand up against racism – Dame Susan Devoy, NZ Race Relations Commissioner. 

    New Zealand can stand up against racism.

    Race Relations Commissioner Susan Devoy has called on New Zealanders to stand up against racist taunts and attacks, drawing an apparent contrast with President Donald Trump’s America.

    “The world is at a crossroads when it comes to race relations. The way we treat each other will decide what path New Zealand goes down,” she said, marking Race Relations Day today.

    She said people from ethnic minorities reported an increase in the number of personal racist attacks in recent times, “in step with events taking place overseas”.

    “What we do now matters and that’s why we want people to be prepared to stand up for what they believe in. Whether we let our country become a place where abusing someone because of their race is normal or not, that part is up to us, all of us,” she said.

    “We want people to record attacks, to support people who are being attacked and to ensure attacks are reported.

    “When we see yet another racist attack on the news we need to ask ourselves: is this us? Is this the kind of country we want to be? If the answer is no, then we need to do something.

    “What we do today is our insurance policy for the future of our nation.

    “This year we are focused on encouraging New Zealanders to answer these two questions: what do you stand for? What do you stand against?”

    Race Relations Day marks the Sharpeville Massacre when 69 black South Africans, including 10 children, were shot to death by police for protesting against apartheid laws on March 21, 1960.

    A series of events in provincial and urban communities to celebrate Race Relations Day are being held throughout this month.

    The Human Rights Commission has produced a short video highlighting what people can do if they experience or witness a racist attack.

    Simon Collins, NZ Herald

    I’m a rabbi, and I’m applying for a German passport. Here’s why. 

    Why on earth would I want a German passport? My feelings about Germany were pretty negative for the best part of 50 years. Most of my mother’s family, from Heilbronn in southern Germany, perished. Some of my father’s family perished too, including his beloved grandmother.

    I have felt enormous admiration for Chancellor Angela Merkel, for her open arms to the refugees from Syria and elsewhere, which is in deep contrast to the meanness shown by our own government – with the enormous effort needed even to persuade it to take a few hundred children from Calais.
    Britain took 10,000 Kindertransport children before the second world war, and many others, my mother included. Why could we not do the same now?

    The Guardian 

    You have a special responsibility as a white person. – Michael Moore. 

    White people, no matter how painful, have a responsibility to reject anybody who stands in front of a camera who spews racism. Who spews sexism, misogyny. Who brags about being a sexual predator. I don’t care what your race is, but especially if you’re white. Because that means that you belong to the race that’s been in power forever.

    This a country that was founded on genocide and built on the backs of slaves.

    So you have a special responsibility as a white person to always object to anybody who uses racism, who spews this hatred.

    And do not call yourself a Christian if you are not willing, literally, to put your body in front of whoever is coming to hurt the other — the people who are not you.