White people really don’t like being called racists

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In his defense of Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani declares, “To call anyone a racist is outrageous.”

Comedian Louis CK has a bit about white privilege that includes a riff on the lack of effective racial slurs against white people. “Ruined my day,” he mockingly complains after being called a cracker. It’s an interesting observation, but CK overlooked one word that does cause white people to become uppity: the word “racist” itself. For many white people, it has become a slur in its own right. Continue reading

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Why we can expect political violence in the Trump era

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Neo-fascist and alt-right figurehead Richard Spencer was punched in the face at Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Last week, ultra-right radio host Michael Savage was involved in a physical confrontation in a San Francisco-area restaurant. No one was charged, but Savage insists he was assaulted because of his political beliefs. He might well have been. A prominent Donald Trump supporter who interviewed the candidate several times during the campaign, Savage is infamously outspoken about three issues: borders, language and culture. Like so much of the far-right, Savage is a crypto-white nationalist.

The incident recalls President Trump’s inauguration when Richard Spencer, the white nationalist who coined the term “alt-right,” was punched in the face by a protester. Later that month, riots shut down a speaking engagement by disgraced Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos at Berkeley. Mainstream commentators argue these incidents stifle free speech. But what’s so often left unsaid is that Savage, Spencer, Yiannopoulos and others are figureheads of American fascism, the most violent movement in the country today. Continue reading

America was not ready for a black president

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President Obama convened his controversial beer summit in 2009, after the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates.

During Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, pundits spent a great deal of time on the question, “Is America ready for a black president?” The question seemed both deeply racist – as though black people had to wait for white America to be ready for them – and insulting to all Americans’ intelligence. But after two terms of President Obama and the rise of Donald Trump, the answer in hindsight seems to have been a decisive “No.” Continue reading

White supremacists go PC for Trump

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At a Florida rally, Trump implores supporters to raise their right hands and promise to vote for him. (Photo by Jenna Johnson/Washington Post)

Once upon a time a white supremacist could be relied on to be, if nothing else, upfront. They weren’t shy about their worldview that whites are being systematically driven to extinction by mixed marriages, street crime and liberal politics. But now that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has popularized racist identity politics, some white supremacists are seizing on the opportunity to reach a nationwide audience by toning down their rhetoric and going politically correct. Continue reading

Trump’s extremism further divorces Republican base from reality

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After being ganged up on by civilian Trump supporters, a Black Lives Matter activist is ejected from a Trump campaign event.

When Donald Trump formally launched his presidential campaign on June 16, he brought out a seemingly contradictory response in commentators. The most straight-faced of news commentators thought he was a joke and didn’t expect him to last. Only the cynics, Sarah Palin fresh in their memory, worried that he had a real chance. Five months later and the cynics were right: Trump remains on top in the GOP primary.

According to Nate Silver, the analyst who famously predicted nearly every state in the 2008 and 2012 elections, Trump’s prospects of actually winning the nomination – let alone the presidency – remain slim. Silver may well be right, but it doesn’t mean Trump will be disappearing off American TV sets anytime soon. His mere presence in the race has already done enormous damage to our national conversation. Continue reading

Ohio rejects historic marijuana legalization initiative

Medical marijuana growing at a facility in Denver. (Anthony Souffle/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

Medical marijuana growing at a facility in Denver. (Anthony Souffle/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

Citizens of Ohio overwhelmingly rejected Issue 3, a proposal that would have legalized marijuana for both medicinal and recreational use. The results are a textbook example of the messiness that ensues when business, interest groups and government all get together in the legislative process. Squirrely as Issue 3 and its corollary, Issue 2, were, the state still missed an opportunity to set a historic precedent. Continue reading

#BoycottStarWarsVII is the dumbest hashtag activism yet

John Boyega is set to star in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

John Boyega is set to star in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

You’ve really got to feel bad for white people. At one time, they controlled 100 percent of the nation’s political seats, ran all the biggest business enterprises, and enjoyed a media that only cared about them. Now, they control only 80 percent of Congress, 96 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions, and have only FOX News to cater to them. They’re slipping.

Worst of all, Hollywood cast a black man as a lead in the upcoming Star Wars movie. When The Force Awakens hits theaters December 18, John Boyega will play a Storm Trooper who, presumably, leaves the dark side to become a Jedi. This means Darth Vader is more racially progressive as an employer than many Americans are in real life. From the moment Boyega lifted his helmet to reveal a black face in the film’s newest trailer, segments of white America were outraged. Continue reading

Stop trying to change the name of Black Lives Matter

Protesters carry signs insisting all lives matter.

Protesters carry signs insisting all lives matter.

Since it became a national movement, Black Lives Matter has been met with antagonism for its name alone. The phrase “black lives matter” is seen by some as divisive, confrontational and perhaps even racist. It reveals a great deal about the struggle black Americans face that controversy arises when they assert the value of their lives.

But there’s an important reason why the name shouldn’t be changed: In our criminal justice system, black lives are not treated like they matter. The name is therefore both an expression of what we wish reality to be and an exposé of what reality isn’t. Continue reading

Political correctness is now part of the conservative victimhood complex

In the eyes of his fans, this Trump gesture can turn any idiotic statement into a fearless declaration of a hard truth.

In the eyes of his fans, this Trump gesture can turn any idiotic statement into a fearless declaration of a hard truth.

Across political spectrums, the belief that political correctness is pushed on the country primarily from the left has taken hold. From “courageous” conservatives like Donald Trump to liberal comedians like Bill Maher, the new narrative holds that speech censorship is a left-wing enterprise.

But like so many facets of American life, political correctness is divided along racial, ethnic, political and social lines. Each side has their own ideas about what is and isn’t proper to say. Almost every politically correct issue depends on your vantage point. It takes two to do the dance: one to insist on a thing, and another to be offended by it. Either side can be accused of being politically correct. Continue reading

Despite murder indictment, Cincinnati still reveals the deep roots of police state

Samuel DuBose argues with Officer Ray Tensing, whose hands are seen here on his body cam. Moments later, Tensing shot DuBose as he began accelerating.

Samuel DuBose argues with Officer Ray Tensing, whose hands are seen here on his body cam. Moments later, Tensing shot DuBose as he began accelerating.

A routine traffic stop in Cincinnati quickly escalated into yet another chapter in the ongoing American saga, “Cop kills unarmed black man.” University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing’s body camera shows the July 19 encounter between himself and the victim, Samuel DuBose. In the video, DuBose becomes somewhat evasive when Tensing asks for his ID, suggesting he had a license but not on him. When DuBose did not immediately comply with Tensing’s follow-up command to exit the vehicle, Tensing reached into the car, DuBose accelerated, and Tensing shot him in the head.

Unlike countless other officers in similar situations, Tensing was charged with murder for his actions. That’s a small measure of justice, but there is still plenty about the incident that speaks to the monstrousness of the police state and the judicial protections that insulate it from scrutiny. Continue reading