The Supreme Court upheld bigotry before. Its Muslim ban ruling does it again

Moustafa Bayoumi writes: The US supreme court has decided that the Trump administration’s Muslim ban can proceed in full, even as legal challenges to the ban continue. What a terrible and portentous decision not only for citizens from the banned countries but also for the very health and future our own nation.

With their short and unsigned orders, the supreme court appears now to be favoring the government’s argument, suggesting the court will rule with Trump when the legal challenges to the ban are finally heard. This may be unsurprising when considering the traditional deference the court has afforded the executive branch in matters of immigration, but it is no less infuriating.

After all, the constitution forbids discriminating on the basis of religion, and the Immigration and Nationality Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of nationality and place of birth. It would be a travesty of justice to enshrine this kind of official bigotry against Muslims due to the separation of powers doctrine.

But the supreme court has made many wrongheaded decisions in the past. In Dred Scott v Sanford (1857), the court ruled that African Americans could not become citizens, further enshrining slavery into the American system.

The case of Plessy v Ferguson (1896) upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation. In Buck v Bell (1927), the court sided with eugenics (yes, eugenics!) by legally upholding the forced sterilization of people with intellectual disabilities. Fred Korematsu challenged the constitutionality of Japanese internment in Korematsu v United States (1944) and lost. Will we soon be adding the Muslim ban cases to this shameful list? [Continue reading…]

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Supreme Court allows full enforcement of Trump travel ban while legal challenges continue

The Washington Post reports: The Supreme Court on Monday granted President Trump’s request to fully enforce his revised order banning travel to the United States by residents of six mostly Muslim countries while legal challenges to it proceed in lower courts.

It was a victory for the White House, which has seen the courts trim back various iterations of the travel ban, and it bodes well for the administration if the Supreme Court is called upon to finally decide the merits of the president’s actions.

Two lower courts had imposed restrictions on Trump’s new order, exempting travelers from the six countries who had “bona fide” connections with relatives — such as grandparents, aunts or uncles — or institutions in the United States. Those exemptions to the president’s order, issued in the fall, were along the lines of those imposed by the Supreme Court last summer on a previous version of the travel ban.

But in an unsigned opinion Monday that did not disclose the court’s reasoning, the justices lifted the injunctions, which had been issued by federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor noted that they would not have lifted the restrictions. The new ban also bars travelers from North Korea and Venezuela, but they were not affected by the injunctions. [Continue reading…]

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The right’s Islamophobia has nothing to do with national security

Peter Beinart writes: Increasingly, the Trumpian right’s anti-Muslim bigotry conforms to the templates established by anti-black racism (Muslims are violent, lazy and a threat to white women) and by previous anti-immigrant scares (Muslims are disloyal and incapable of upholding democratic norms). [Ann] Coulter often conflates the threat from Muslims and Latinos, both of whom contribute to the “browning of America.”

For years, liberals have argued that the American right’s obsession with terrorism (as opposed to, for instance, gun violence, which kills many more Americans) fuels Islamophobia. But more and more, the causality runs the other way: The American right’s Islamophobia fuels its obsession with terrorism. Thus, in terrorism’s absence, pro-Trump conservatives simply demonize Muslims for other things. [Continue reading…]

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Britain furious, Trump unapologetic as fallout swells from anti-Muslim videos

The Washington Post reports: The British revolt against President Trump swelled Thursday with Parliament members openly deriding him and Britain’s prime minister standing by her denunciations of Trump’s retweets of a fringe group’s anti-Muslim videos.

Prime Minister Theresa May blasted Trump for crossing a line by posting the inflammatory videos on his Twitter page Wednesday — and then warning May to essentially mind her own business and focus on Islamist terrorism instead of him.

But officials were careful to note that ties with the United States are stronger than the current flare-up with the White House.

“It’s increasingly clear that any official visit from President Trump to Britain would not be welcomed,” tweeted London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim to hold the office. Khan has repeatedly called for Britain to withdraw an invitation for Trump to visit — and his stance appeared to gain backing amid the outrage against the president.[Continue reading…]

 

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How Trump is stoking Britain’s political fringe

Alex Massie writes: Britain First is a fringe organization even by the standards of fringe organizations. In 2011, the movement broke off from the far-right British National Party. Today, Britain First exists to stoke outrage and a sense of dread, promoting the concept of an unavoidable clash of civilizations between white, Christian Britons and the non-white, immigrant, often Muslim population. It is not, at heart, a political party so much as it is a movement of racist alienation. As Britain First sees it, the “native” British are losing, betrayed by a feckless elite who know little and care less about the future health of their country. Indeed, the elite are a subset of the problem itself, selling the true-born Britons’ birthright for a mess of multicultural pottage. Last year, Fransen warned that the organization’s “pro-EU, Islamist-loving opponents” were “ruining our country.” Britain First, she vowed, “will not rest until every traitor is punished for their crimes against our country. And by punished, I mean good old-fashioned British justice at the end of a rope.” This, then, is the company the president of the United States of America now keeps.

Accurate estimates of Britain First’s membership are hard to come by, though most suggest it has no more than 1,000 active members. It specializes in provocative stunts such as carrying crucifixes through heavily Muslim neighborhoods or asking mobs of Union Jack-waving patriots to “invade” and occupy mosques. As an electoral force, Britain First is close to an irrelevance. Last year, its leader, Paul Golding ran in London’s mayoral election and won just 1 percent of the vote. Like Fransen, Golding is due in court later this month on further charges of religiously inspired hatred and harassment. Last year, he was jailed for four months for breaching the terms of a court order banning him from entering mosques. When Fransen stood in a parliamentary special election in 2014, she won just 56 votes.

Social media remains a land of opportunity for organizations such as Britain First, however. Golding has boasted that “we’re looking forward to all the new followers and support we’ll get from Trump’s publicity.” In a video message to Trump, recorded on Thursday, Fransen appealed for Trump’s help in advance of her next court appearance. Complaining that Britain has become “Sharia compliant,” she said she was speaking “on behalf of myself and every citizen of Britain and for everyone, every man and woman that has fought bled and died for us to have to have the freedom of speech.” One analysis of Britain First’s social media reach, done by a Scottish investigative outlet, reported that from February 2016 to January 2017 the group’s Facebook posts earned more than a million “reactions”—almost four times as many as on the Conservative Party’s official page. While this partly reflects Britain First’s high volume of posting, it’s still disturbing to think the audience for the group’s provocations is so widespread. [Continue reading…]

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Donald Trump is a merchant of hatred who stews in his own toxicity

Brendan Cox, whose wife Jo was murdered by a supporter of Britain First, writes: If you’re like me, you check the news each morning with the worry that Donald Trump might have tweeted his way to the third world war. So in some ways, the fact that “all” he did this morning was to retweet the world-view of a far-right extremist from the organisation Britain First is something of a relief. At least we’re not waking to gifs of mushroom clouds over Korea. But that is to take false comfort. That shouldn’t be where we set the bar for the president of our closest ally.

It is fair to say that all of us who spend too much time on social media have probably retweeted people we might not be aware of, or who have dubious views on other issues. If this were a one-off, I might give President Trump the benefit of the doubt. But it’s not. Trump, from the beginning, throughout his campaign and since the election, has used hatred and bigotry to mobilise support.

He’s done so from calling Mexicans rapists to pledging a ban on all Muslims entering the country, to failing to disavow the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville. On Twitter he’s retweeted far-right activists following Charlottesville, shared antisemitic memes against Hillary Clinton and shared content from @WhiteGenocideTM – an account featuring dozens of racist memes.

In short, what his track record shows is that this isn’t a mistake, it’s a strategy. The impact of this strategy is to legitimise those driven by hatred. It makes them think that their views are mainstream, when in fact they are not – and makes those already driven by hatred more likely to act on it. [Continue reading…]

Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of Britain First tweeted:

THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, DONALD TRUMP, HAS RETWEETED THREE OF DEPUTY LEADER JAYDA FRANSEN’S TWITTER VIDEOS! DONALD TRUMP HIMSELF HAS RETWEETED THESE VIDEOS AND HAS AROUND 44 MILLION FOLLOWERS! GOD BLESS YOU TRUMP! GOD BLESS AMERICA!

Former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke tweeted:

This is why WE LOVE TRUMP and WHY the FAKE NEWS MEDIA HATES TRUMP. He brings to light what the lying, Fake News Media Won't. The truth is the media covers up horrific numbers of racist hate crimes against White people!

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, tweeted:

Britain First is a vile, hate-fuelled organisation whose views should be condemned, not amplified. https://t.co/Qf8plF4wOx

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, tweeted:

I join the urgent call for President @realDonaldTrump to remove his Britain First retweets and make clear his opposition to racism and hatred.

These are the neo-fascist Islamophobes that Trump is promoting:

 

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It’s the kultur, stupid

Timothy Garton Ash writes: “The reason we are inundated by culturally alien [kulturfremden] peoples such as Arabs, Sinti and Roma etc. is the systematic destruction of civil society as a possible counterweight to the enemies-of-the-constitution by whom we are ruled. These pigs are nothing other than puppets of the victor powers of the Second World War….” Thus begins a 2013 personal e-mail from Alice Weidel, who in this autumn’s pivotal German election was one of two designated “leading candidates” of the Alternative für Deutschland (hereafter AfD or the Alternative). The chief “pig” and “puppet” was, of course, Angela Merkel. Despite the publication of this leaked e-mail two weeks before election day, adding to other widely publicized evidence of AfD leaders’ xenophobic, right-wing nationalist views, one in eight German voters gave the Alternative their support. It is now the second-largest opposition party in the Bundestag, with ninety-two MPs.

Xenophobic right-wing nationalism—in Germany of all places? The very fact that observers express surprise indicates how much Germany has changed since 1945. These days, we expect more of Germany than of ourselves. For, seen from one point of view, this is just Germany partaking in the populist normality of our time, as manifested in the Brexit vote in Britain, Marine le Pen’s Front National in France, Geert Wilders’s blond beastliness in the Netherlands, the right-wing nationalist-populist government in Poland, and Trumpery in the US.

Like all contemporary populisms, the German version exhibits both generic and specific features. In common with other populisms, it denounces the current elites (Alteliten in AfD-speak) and established parties (Altparteien) while speaking in the name of the Volk, a word that, with its double meaning of people and ethno-culturally defined nation, actually best captures what Trump and Le Pen mean when they say “the people.” In Angst für Deutschland, her vividly reported book about the party, Melanie Amann, a journalist at the weekly news magazine Der Spiegel, notes how some of its activists have appropriated the slogan of the East German protests against Communist rule in 1989: Wir sind das Volk—We are the people. Like other populists, Germany’s attack the mainstream media (Lügenpresse, the “lying press”) while making effective use of social media. On the eve of the election, the Alternative had some 362,000 Facebook followers, compared with the Social Democrats’ 169,000 and just 154,000 for Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU). [Continue reading…]

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Trump promotes Islamophobic videos on Twitter

The New York Times reports: President Trump shared videos supposedly portraying Muslims committing acts of violence on Twitter early Wednesday morning, images that are likely to fuel anti-Islam sentiments popular among the president’s political base in the United States.

The White House did not immediately respond to questions about the videos. Mr. Trump also took a shot at CNN and praised his administration for a strong stock market in other Twitter posts Wednesday morning.

Mr. Trump retweeted the video posts from an ultranationalist British party leader, Jayda Fransen, who has previously been charged in the United Kingdom with “religious aggravated harassment,” according to news reports. [Continue reading…]

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The Nazi sympathizer next door

The New York Times reports: Tony and Maria Hovater were married this fall. They registered at Target. On their list was a muffin pan, a four-drawer dresser and a pineapple slicer.

Ms. Hovater, 25, was worried about Antifa bashing up the ceremony. Weddings are hard enough to plan for when your fiancé is not an avowed white nationalist.

But Mr. Hovater, in the days leading up to the wedding, was somewhat less anxious. There are times when it can feel toxic to openly identify as a far-right extremist in the Ohio of 2017. But not always. He said the election of President Trump helped open a space for people like him, demonstrating that it is not the end of the world to be attacked as the bigot he surely is: “You can just say, ‘Yeah, so?’ And move on.”

It was a weeknight at Applebee’s in Huber Heights, a suburb of Dayton, a few weeks before the wedding. The couple, who live in nearby New Carlisle, were shoulder to shoulder at a table, young and in love. He was in a plain T-shirt, she in a sleeveless jean jacket. She ordered the boneless wings. Her parents had met him, she said, and approved of the match. The wedding would be small. Some of her best friends were going to be there. “A lot of girls are not really into politics,” she said.

In Ohio, amid the row crops and rolling hills, the Olive Gardens and Steak ’n Shakes, Mr. Hovater’s presence can make hardly a ripple. He is the Nazi sympathizer next door, polite and low-key at a time the old boundaries of accepted political activity can seem alarmingly in flux. Most Americans would be disgusted and baffled by his casually approving remarks about Hitler, disdain for democracy and belief that the races are better off separate. But his tattoos are innocuous pop-culture references: a slice of cherry pie adorns one arm, a homage to the TV show “Twin Peaks.” He says he prefers to spread the gospel of white nationalism with satire. He is a big “Seinfeld” fan.

“I guess it seems weird when talking about these type of things,” he says. “You know, I’m coming at it in a mid-90s, Jewish, New York, observational-humor way.”

Mr. Hovater, 29, is a welder by trade. He is not a star among the resurgent radical American right so much as a committed foot soldier — an organizer, an occasional podcast guest on a website called Radio Aryan, and a self-described “social media villain,” although, in person, his Midwestern manners would please anyone’s mother. In 2015, he helped start the Traditionalist Worker Party, one of the extreme right-wing groups that marched in Charlottesville, Va., in August, and again at a “White Lives Matter” rally last month in Tennessee. The group’s stated mission is to “fight for the interests of White Americans.’’ [Continue reading…]

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Homeland Security appears to be slow-walking critical report from its own Inspector General on confusion caused by Trump’s Muslim ban

Politico reports: The Department of Homeland Security’s official watchdog is accusing his own agency of slow-walking the public release of a report about confusion that ensued earlier this year after President Donald Trump issued his first travel ban executive order.

The still-unreleased inspector general report found that senior managers at Customs and Border Protection were “caught by surprise” by Trump’s order and that agency officials “violated two court orders” limiting implementation of Trump’s directive to suspend travel to the U.S. by citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries, according to a letter sent to lawmakers Monday and obtained by POLITICO.

The report’s conclusions appear to be sharply in tension with the picture the White House tried to paint of the execution of Trump’s Jan. 27 order, which led to confusion throughout the air travel system, protests at airports and delays at ports of entry to the U.S.

“It really is a massive success story in terms of implementation on every single level,” a senior administration official told reporters two days after Trump ordered the move.

The unusual missive to Congress on Monday from Inspector General John Roth said his 87-page report was sent to DHS leadership Oct. 6, but officials have declined to authorize its release over the past six weeks. [Continue reading…]

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‘White Europe’: 60,000 nationalists march on Poland’s independence day

The Guardian reports: Tens of thousands of nationalist demonstrators marched through Warsaw at the weekend to mark Poland’s independence day, throwing red-smoke bombs and carrying banners with slogans such as “white Europe of brotherly nations”.

Police estimated 60,000 people took part in Saturday’s event, in what experts say was one of the biggest gathering of far-right activists in Europe in recent years.

Demonstrators with faces covered chanted “Pure Poland, white Poland!” and “Refugees get out!”. A banner hung over a bridge that read: “Pray for Islamic Holocaust.”

The march organised by far-right groups in Poland is an annual event originally to mark Poland’s independence in 1918. But according to Nick Lowles, from UK anti-extremism group Hope Not Hate, it has become an important rallying point for international far-right groups.

“The numbers attending this year seem to be bigger and, while not everyone on the march is a far-right activist or fascist, it is undoubtedly becoming more significant and is acting as a magnet for far-right groups around the world.”

Some participants marched under the slogan “We Want God!”, words from an old Polish religious song that the US president, Donald Trump, quoted during a visit to Warsaw earlier this year. Speakers encouraged attendants to stand against liberals and defending Christian values. [Continue reading…]

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We’re sick of racism, literally

Douglas Jacobs writes: Estifanos Zerai-Misgun, a black Brookline, Mass., police officer, pulled up in an unmarked car and greeted his superior, a white lieutenant. He wasn’t prepared for the response by the lieutenant, who said, as he gestured at the vehicle, “Who would put a black man behind one of these?”

“I was shocked,” the officer later told a Boston news station about the experience. It was one of several derogatory racial comments he would hear on the job. It got so bad that he and a black colleague walked away from the force in 2015.

The statements they’d heard were offensive and at times threatening in the moment, but they also made the men fear for their safety at work in a broader sense: The black officers weren’t sure that the white colleagues who were so willing to antagonize them would back them up if they were attacked on patrol.

Even if Mr. Zerai-Misgun and his colleague were never directly physically harmed, the experience probably took a toll on their bodies. Perceptions of discrimination like those the officers experienced, as well as those that are less direct, may make us sick. And in the current political environment, with its high-profile expressions of racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia and xenophobia, along with widely covered acts of hate and bigotry, countless Americans are at risk of this type of harm. [Continue reading…]

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Marine drill instructor sentenced to 10 years in prison for targeting Muslim recruits

The Washington Post reports: A military jury sentenced a former Marine drill instructor to 10 years in prison and a dishonorable discharge from the service Friday for subjecting Muslim recruits to verbal and physical abuse, including one young man who committed suicide after an especially troubling encounter.

The eight-member jury issued its sentence a day after it found Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Felix guilty of maltreatment for terrorizing three Muslim men at the Marines’ storied boot camp in Parris Island, S.C. Felix also will have his rank reduced to private.

Prosecutors had asked for a seven-year prison term. Felix faced a maximum possible sentence of more than 21 years. It’s not immediately clear why the jury elected to exceed what the prosecution had requested.

The military justice system requires automatic appeals for all prison sentences consisting of a year or more and all dishonorable discharges. Felix will be held at Camp Lejeune’s brig until his expected transfer to a larger prison.

One of Felix’s victims, 20-year-old Raheel Siddiqui, died at Parris Island last year when he fell 40 feet onto a concrete stairwell. Prosecutors said Felix forced Siddiqui to run back and forth in the recruits’ squad bay and then slapped him in the face just before the recruit suddenly sprinted from the room and jumped to his death. Two other Muslim recruits accused Felix of putting them in an industrial clothes dryer and, in one instance, turning it on. [Continue reading…]

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Lindsey Graham’s ‘religious war’

Peter Beinart writes: On Tuesday night, hours after the terrorist attack in New York City, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham went on Fox News to express his gratitude that, at times like these, Donald Trump is president. “The one thing I like about President Trump, he understands that we’re in a religious war,” Graham declared. “Here’s what I like about President Trump,” he added later, “the gloves are off.” Trump, Graham explained, “is right to make sure when somebody comes into the country from a place where radical Islam [flourishes] … we’re going to ask extra hard questions.” And Trump is—you guessed it—“right to slow down who comes into this country.” When the Fox anchor turned to Robert Mueller’s indictment of two former Trump campaign officials, Graham’s enthusiasm didn’t flag. “If I’m the Trump team,” Graham declared, “I’d rest pretty good tonight.”

Graham’s comments illustrate one of the most fascinating dynamics of the Trump era: Trump exposes the character of the politicians around him. As a political force, anti-Trump conservatism is dead. That means GOP members of Congress who consider Trump an ignorant, narcissistic, lying, authoritarian bully (and according to Bob Corker, many do) face a choice between their principles and their jobs. Corker and Jeff Flake have chosen the former. Most of their colleagues have chosen the latter. But none has done so as loudly as Lindsey Graham. [Continue reading…]

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Will anyone protect the Rohingya?

By Vincent A. Auger, Western Illinois University

Since August, the Rohingya, an ethnic minority in Myanmar, has faced what a United Nations official called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

Recent reports describe a campaign by Myanmar security forces to drive the Rohingya from the country permanently. Hundreds of thousands have fled to camps in neighboring Bangladesh, creating a new refugee crisis.

This is exactly the type of atrocity that the United Nations vowed to combat in 2005, when it asserted a “responsibility to protect” civilian populations from genocidal violence. Yet, little has been done.

Why has “the responsibility to protect” failed, and can the Rohingya be helped?

[Read more…]

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Czech mogul faces tough cabinet talks after election triumph

Bloomberg reports: Czech billionaire Andrej Babis hit his first obstacle to forming a new cabinet after dominating the country’s parliamentary elections, with potential coalition partners declining to join him in government as long as he’s facing criminal fraud charges.

After promising to run the state like a business, fight Muslim immigration and oppose deeper integration with the European Union, Babis’s ANO party won 29.6 percent of ballots on Saturday. The euro-skeptic Civic Democrats were second, followed by two anti-establishment parties, the Pirates and the anti-Muslim SPD. Mainstream and pro-EU political forces suffered heavy losses.

As the second-richest Czech, Babis has drawn comparisons to Donald Trump and Silvio Berlusconi. He took credit for one of the fastest economic expansions in the EU and the bloc’s lowest unemployment, but his opponents have accused him of conflicts of interest tied to his agriculture and media businesses. A month before the vote, he was charged with fraud. He has rejected the allegations, but his current coalition partners, the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats, said they won’t join him in power as long as the case remains open. [Continue reading…]

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In center of Europe, politics takes a Trumpian turn with rise of anti-immigrant billionaire

The Washington Post reports: The man poised to lead the Czech Republic following elections this week is a polarizing billionaire who vows to drain the swamp of this capital city’s politics, run his country like a business and keep out Muslim immigrants.

He casts himself as the straight-talking voice of the common man and derives support from the country’s forgotten communities. He makes a sport of attacking the European Union and says NATO’s mission is outdated. He pledges to put his own nation’s interests above all else but is dogged by investigations into alleged shady dealings that threaten to cripple his political career.

Andrej Babis is so similar to the U.S. president in profile and outlook that he feels compelled to offer at least one key distinction.

“I was never bankrupt,” the 63-year-old says mischievously in an interview at his featureless office park on the outskirts of this gloriously gargoyle-and-spire-pierced city. [Continue reading…]

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Second judge rules against latest travel ban, saying Trump’s own words show it was aimed at Muslims

The Washington Post reports: A federal judge in Maryland early Wednesday issued a second halt on the latest version of President Trump’s travel ban, asserting that the president’s own comments on the campaign trail and on Twitter convinced him that the directive was akin to an unconstitutional Muslim ban.

U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang issued a somewhat less complete halt on the ban than his counterpart in Hawaii did a day earlier, blocking the administration from enforcing the directive only on those who lacked a “bona fide” relationship with a person or entity in the United States, such as family members or some type of professional or other engagement in the United States.

But in some ways, Chuang’s ruling was more personally cutting to Trump, as he said the president’s own words cast his latest attempt to impose a travel blockade as the “inextricable re-animation of the twice-enjoined Muslim ban.” [Continue reading…]

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