At least four high-profile attacks involving blacks and Asians have occurred since January in San Francisco and Oakland, including the beating death of Tian Sheng Yu, 59, last month. Two 18-year-old men have been charged with the murder.
Rongshi Chen, 64, was assaulted last fall in San Francisco’s Visitacion Valley by a pair of men Chen could only identify as “young and black”. They kicked his ribs, broke his collarbone and made off with $200, credit cards and Chen’s identification. No one caught the attackers.
When I lived in Berkeley a while back, I moved in to a sublet where my roommates were predominantly Asian. Growing up a good liberal in Seattle, I didn’t have any stereotypes and was very open to them. In return, I got treated like a second-class citizen with all of them giving me stares and ignoring me. The landlord even refused to take my rent money and wouldn’t answer my requests to see my mail. He evicted me with a bunch of made-up claims, saying that I had failed to pay rent and literally threatening me with violence if I didn’t leave.
Once I got out of that scary situation, I told the police. They said they’d keep tabs on it but said I didn’t have enough for an arrest or anything like that.
I think stories like mine and the one above go to show that racism is a recurring facet of human society, not caused by whites in the south, reclusive Asians or angry blacks but what I believe is our shared tribal nature with primates.
Howard Zinn passed at the beginning of this year, and I will admit part of me was saddened at his passing. My mother owned his People’s History of the United States, and my fellow students at college seemed to adore his work. My best friend is a Zinn fanatic, bringing him up nearly every time politics comes up.
Now that months have passed since he died, the second-hand positive notions are gone and the real nature of Zinn’s career can be assessed. Reason wrote an appropriate article following his passing, concluding that Zinn was “a master of agitprop, not history.”
The absolute worst of Zinn came on his deplorable misinformation regarding the totalitarian state in Cuba and the rise of political Islam, both of which placed Zinn on the wrong side of history. That Zinn’s nonsense is regularly repeated by fairly intelligent people is sad phenomenon, indeed. From Reason:
Just how poor is Zinn’s history? After hearing of his death, I opened one of his books to a random page (Failure to Quit, p. 118) and was informed that there was “no evidence” that Muammar Qaddafi’s Libya was behind the 1986 bombing of La Belle Discotheque in Berlin. Whatever one thinks of the Reagan administration’s response, it is flat wrong, bordering on dishonest, to argue that the plot wasn’t masterminded in Tripoli. Nor is it correct to write that the American government, which funded the Afghan mujahadeen in the 1980s, “train[ed] Osama bin Laden,” a myth conclusively debunked by Washington Post correspondent Steve Coll in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book Ghost Wars.
Of Cuba, the reader of A People’s History is told that upon taking power, “Castro moved to set up a nationwide system of education, of housing, of land distribution to landless peasants.” Castro’s vast network of gulags and the spasm of “revolutionary justice” that sent thousands to prison or the executioners wall is left unmentioned. This is unsurprising, I suppose, when one considers that Zinn recently told an interviewer “you have to admire Cuba for being undaunted by this colossus of the North and holding fast to its ideals and to Socialism….Cuba is one of those places in the world where we can see hope for the future. With its very meager resources Cuba gives free health care and free education to everybody. Cuba supports culture, supports dance and music and theatre.”
ZINN:Not much alone, individually. The only time citizens can do anything is if they organize, if they create a movement, if they act collectively, if they join their strengths. The trade union movement, of course, is an example of that. The trade union movement is weak, and the trade union movement needs to become stronger. Citizens need to organize in such a way that they can present the members of Congress with demands and say, “We are going to vote for you if you listen to us,” or “We’re not going to vote for you if you don’t listen to us.” In other words, people have to organize to create a citizens movement. We have to think about the 1930s as a model; people organized in the face of economic crisis—organized into tenants’ movements and unemployment councils and of course they organized a new trade union movement, the CIO. So we need people to organize. Of course, this is not easy, and it won’t happen overnight. Because it’s not easy the tendency is to throw up your hands and not do anything, but we have to start at some point, and the starting point is people getting together with other people and creating organizations. For instance, people can get together to stop evictions. Neighbors can get together. This is something that can be done at a local level. This was done in the 1930s when neighbors got together to stop the evictions of people who weren’t able to pay their rent and the 1930s were full of such incidents. Tenants’ councils had been formed and when people were evicted from their tenements, their neighbors gathered and put their furniture back in the house.
That sort of nonsense about collective action being the only means of change is just that: nonsense. George Orwell alienated many of his friends on the left, who he made in his criticism of colonialism and fascism, by taking on Stalinism in Animal Farm and 1984. Malcolm X was murdered by his former friends at the Nation of Islam when he revealed the hypocrisy of its leader, Elijah Mohammed, and renounced extremism in favor of racial reconciliation. Oskar Schindler saved 1200 Jews by employing within his own factories. The list goes on, as does the list of those who were manipulated due to their unwavering allegiance to a collective of any kind. Fresh-behind-the-ears college students who take Zinn’s words to be the truth run the risk of becoming exactly what Zinn was: a tool of propaganda.
I can almost guarantee that the overwhelming swap of Liberty Papers readers were sympathetic to the creators of South Park in the recent controversy. In fact, I’m sure some of you are planning on participating in Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.
Given that, I have to request reader thoughts on the French ban of the burqa (a Muslim face-covering for women). My first intuition is a firm “no” against the ban, simply based on my strong emotional attachment to the tenets of freedom of religion as expressed in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Christopher Hitchens makes the case over at Slate that the ban isn’t a ban at all, but actually a sort of state-mandated liberation of women from the tyranny of Islamic theology:
The French legislators who seek to repudiate the wearing of the veil or the burqa—whether the garment covers “only” the face or the entire female body—are often described as seeking to impose a “ban.” To the contrary, they are attempting to lift a ban: a ban on the right of women to choose their own dress, a ban on the right of women to disagree with male and clerical authority, and a ban on the right of all citizens to look one another in the face. The proposed law is in the best traditions of the French republic, which declares all citizens equal before the law and—no less important—equal in the face of one another.
After reading the article, I’m not sure what to think. Hitchens makes a strong case, but he is a master manipulator of words and verbal gymnastics are on full display in “In Your Face.” What do you think?
“In the grand scheme, it has not been successful,” drug czar Gil Kerlikowske told the AP. “Forty years later, the concern about drugs and drug problems is, if anything, magnified, intensified.”
That’s certainly good to hear, but here’s the chief problem:
This week President Obama backed up that rhetoric by announcing a new national policy that treats drug use as much as a public health concern as a criminal issue.
That seems like Obama is just heightening the drug war while not militarizing it. If he were to take slow steps to rescinding the whole failed enterprise, he would be treating drugs as a public health concern and less as a criminal issue.
An old-fashioned adventure epic weighed down by overly simplistic, quasi-populist dialogue,Ridley Scott‘s Robin Hood plays like a rousing love letter to the Tea Party movement. Instead of robbing from the rich to give to the poor, this Robin Hood (Russell Crowe) preaches about “liberty” and the rights of the individual as he wanders a countryside populated chiefly by Englishpersons bled dry by government greed. Stumbling across King Richard the Lionheart’s corpse and the King’s dying sidekick, Robert Loxley, Robin agrees to take the Loxley family sword back to papa Walter Loxley (Max Von Sydow) in Nottingham, only to discover that Walter lives with Marian (Cate Blanchett), the headstrong woman Robert married on the eve of decamping for war a decade earlier. The film’s second act is largely taken up with the budding relationship between Robin and Marian. Just as this union is on the verge of consummation, the landowners threaten to rise up against the royals, the French army storms…something, and the English king has to make political concessions to his people so that they’ll march for him instead of against him in a great, partially underwater battle. Robin Hoodseemingly seeks to wow through assault—the soundtrack is loud and extraordinarily dense, the pace is relentless, the battle scenes choreographed for total sensory disorientation, and the war of the story is too convoluted to keep track of without the aid of press notes.
If Hollywood is trying to tap into Tea Party sentiment, that’s really interesting. A horde of leftist films came out during the Bush years, but those were typically cast aside as purely ideological. Perhaps Hollywood executives are more business conscious than political.