Are men seen as ‘more American’ than women?

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Protesters hold signs at the Chicago Women’s March in January 2017.
John W. Iwanski, CC BY-NC

By Laura Van Berkel, University of Cologne; Ludwin Molina, University of Kansas, and Sahana Mukherjee, Gettysburg College

Women make up 50.8 percent of the U.S. population and have equal voting rights, yet are politically underrepresented. The country has never had a female president or vice president. Only 3.5 percent of Supreme Court justices have been women, and women make up only 20 percent of Congress.

Studies have shown that within a country, groups with more power often feel greater ownership over it. Because they control actual resources, like money, and symbolic resources, like writing history, they’re better able to shape the culture in their image. For example, because Christianity is the most prominent religion in the United States, Christmas is a federal holiday.

Because men hold more power than women in the United States, we wanted to explore a simple question: Would people tend to think of men as “more American” than women? And, if so, how does this influence the way American women identify with their country?

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The alt-right stands at a crossroads

The Atlantic reports: Members of the alt-right like to depict their movement as an irreverent response to political correctness.

On Saturday, in Charlottesville, Virginia, James Alex Fields Jr. drove a car through that façade, in a terrorist attack that killed Heather Heyer and injured 19 others who had gathered in opposition to the white-nationalist movement.

It was a defining moment, but not a moment for a pause. More alt-right rallies are scheduled for the coming Saturday, in at least nine cities. These events will provide an important barometer for the future of this movement, depending on how many people turn out, who those people are, and how they conduct themselves. For the alt-right, the coming weekend represents a critical test—which may reveal it gathering force, dissipating, or changing in significant ways. By Saturday night, it may be clear where it’s headed.

The alt-right has become an umbrella community for the American far-right, a loosely defined movement with a strong center of gravity online and which encompasses a large number of subnetworks.

Some of these subgroups identify primarily as the alt-right, but many are affiliated with more specific strains of white-nationalist ideology—including the Ku Klux Klan, Odinists, Neo-Nazis, and more, many in full regalia lest anyone miss the point. [Continue reading…]

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Charlottesville and America’s long history of homegrown fascism

Joshua Zeitz writes: These people are not from here,” Rep. Thomas Garrett affirmed in the wake of an American Nazi and Klan rally that descended into smoke and violence in his Virginia congressional district on Saturday. “It blows my mind that this many racist bigots actually exist in this country.” White supremacists, he continued, do not reflect “who we are as Americans.”

It’s a little surprising that Garrett is surprised. Even as he spoke, a photograph circulated of the congressman meeting recently with Jason Kessler, a white supremacist from Charlottesville who organized the rally. The purpose of the meeting, Garrett’s office insisted, was unrelated to yesterday’s rally; the two men discussed a range of issues, including President Donald Trump’s anti-terrorism and immigration restriction initiatives.

To be fair, Garrett might not perceive the tight spectrum that runs between between racialist policies and white supremacist violence. He may also genuinely believe that aggrieved white men marching in lock step by torchlight do not reflect “who we are as Americans.” Indeed, many public figures on both the left and right—people like Sally Yates, Tim Kaine and Ana Navarro, whose anti-racist and anti-fascist credentials are unimpeachable—echoed this well-meaning sentiment.

But as the historian and New Yorker staff writer Jelani Cobb observed, “The biggest indictment of the way we teach American history is that people can look at #Charlottesville and say ‘This is not who we are.’” It is part of the myth of American Exceptionalism that blood and soil movements like Nazism are foreign to the United States—that jackbooted fascism of the variety that infects democratic institutions is an invasive weed that can be easily plucked out of our national garden.

To affirm that this is not who we are, one has to erase the history of American race relations from our very recent, collective past. [Continue reading…]

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Charlottesville and the effort to downplay racism in America

Jia Tolentino writes: In 2005, I moved to Charlottesville for college, and felt that I’d landed in paradise. Back in Texas, where I grew up, the captain of my cheerleading squad had a Confederate flag hanging in her bedroom; Virginia at first seemed very liberal to me. I had such low standards for moral decency that frat boys drawling about the “War of Northern Aggression” seemed innocuous, almost quaint. The University of Virginia fetishizes its past—people refer to Thomas Jefferson, the school’s founder, as “T.J.,” and a popular dress code for football games was “guys in ties, girls in pearls.” The official culture of the school positions American history and institutional convention as deeply and exclusively charming, and it relies on a mask of gentility to keep this story up. There were blatantly racist incidents at U.V.A. shortly before I arrived and while I was there: two of the richest frats had “blackface incidents” in 2002; the next year, a black woman running for student office was attacked near the Rotunda by a white man who reportedly said, “No one wants a nigger to be president.” In 2006, a local establishment instituted a dress code with the intended effect of keeping black people out of the bar. But these things were played down as impolite and anomalous, with the same sort of “This is not us” language that’s circulating today. Charlottesville was a beautiful town full of good white people who believed in political progress, and if people of color could just hold tight and respect that, we wouldn’t have to make anyone uncomfortable. Everything would be just fine.

We are seeing now what emerges from the American fetish for tradition, which is, in part, a fetish for the authority of the rich white male. While I was at U.V.A., the fact that slaves had built the school was hardly discussed, and the most prominent acknowledgment that Jefferson was a slave owner came on Valentine’s Day, when signs went up all over campus that said “TJ ♥s Sally.” The town has been repeatedly, publicly wracked with awful tragedies—murders, kidnappings—centering on white female victims, but when the same things happen to black women in town, it barely makes the news. (In the exhaustive aftermath that followed Rolling Stone’s discredited story of fraternity gang rape at the University of Virginia, hardly anyone thought to mention that the first rape known to have occurred on the campus was the gang rape of a seventeen-year-old slave.) There is a racial slant in Charlottesville’s policing: consider the department’s stop-and-frisk numbers, or the brutal assault by Alcohol and Beverage Control officers on a man named Martese Johnson, in 2015. And yet, for much of Saturday, as white men carried assault weapons and brandished symbols of catastrophic violence, the police stood by calmly; at one point, they retreated from the fray. In this respect, the spectacle succeeded in proving the ongoing reality of white supremacy in America. The message is sickening and unmistakable. Black demonstrators protesting the murder of teen-agers are met with tanks and riot gear; white demonstrators protesting the unpopularity of Nazi and Confederate ideology are met with politesse. [Continue reading…]

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The disastrous consequences of basing politics on what you are against, not what you are for

David Miliband writes: For many years Britons and Americans have been proud of the quality of their governance. Yet today our politics and government are setting new standards for dysfunction. Rather than stability and global leadership there is confusion.

The US is suffering from a serious inability to legislate. There is a genuine risk of the country defaulting on its debts. Jeb Bush called Donald Trump the “chaos candidate”, but as the American writer Jonathan Rauch has pointed out the Trump candidacy was the product of political chaos – in campaign finance, for example – not its cause.

Meanwhile, Britain is suffering its own governability crisis. Leaving the EU was mis-sold as a quick fix. Now it looks like a decade-long process of unscrambling the eggs of national and European legislation. Ministers cannot even agree among themselves the destination, the route map or the vehicles to get us there.

This transatlantic malaise has a common root: politics based on what you are against, not what you are for. Look at the campaigns against the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and against the EU. There is a common trope: the politics of grievance.

Complaints about individual policies became attacks against a whole institutional architecture. There were outright lies in both campaigns. And there was a complete (and effective) refusal to describe, never mind debate, what would replace the status quo. [Continue reading…]

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A majority of Americans favor deploying U.S. troops if North Korea attacks South Korea, poll finds

The Washington Post reports: A large majority of Americans consider North Korea’s nuclear weapons program a critical threat toward the United States, according to a new poll.

However, they remain divided on which policy would best contain that threat — and, for the first time in almost 30 years, a majority of Americans were found to support military action if North Korea attacked South Korea.

The poll, conducted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, offers a glimpse of how Americans are responding to the rapidly evolving tensions with Pyongyang. Just two years ago, 55 percent of Americans listed North Korea as a critical threat facing the United States. Now 75 percent do, making it among the greatest perceived threats in the poll. [Continue reading…]

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Double standard decried as Minnesota mosque bombed

Al Jazeera reports: Social media users have voiced frustration at what they described as a double standard after a mosque was bombed in the US.

The explosion at around 5am local time (09:00 GMT) at the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota, caused damage but did not cause any casualties.

Worshippers had been preparing for the dawn prayer when the attack happened.

There were between 15 and 20 people inside the building at the time, according to Star Tribune, a local newspaper. [Continue reading…]

The Washington Post reports: Rick Thornton, the FBI’s special agent in charge of the investigation, told reporters Saturday afternoon that the blast was caused by an “improvised explosive device” but offered no further details about its composition or possible suspects. Neither the FBI nor the Bloomington Police Department, which initially responded to the explosion, speculated on a motive for the incident.

“At this point, our focus is to determine who and why,” Thornton said at a news conference. “Is it a hate crime? Is it an act of terror?…Again, that’s what the investigation is going to determine.”

The attack was quickly condemned by religious leaders and politicians. Hussein said a “standing opposition group” has regularly protested against the mosque — and sometimes its mere existence — since it opened in 2011.

“Hate is not okay,” Asad Zaman, executive director of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, told reporters, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “We need an America where people are safe with their neighbors.”

If the attack was motivated by anti-Muslim bias, it would represent “another in a long list of hate incidents targeting Islamic institutions nationwide in recent months,” CAIR-MN civil rights director Amir Malik said. CAIR said in a report last month that anti-Muslim hate crimes in the United States nearly doubled in the first half of this year over the same period in 2016. At least 35 anti-mosque acts — including vandalism and arson — were reported during the first three months of this year, the organization has said. [Continue reading…]

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How American racism inspired Hitler

Jack Gross writes: Amidst a string of pat introductory reflections to his recent book, Hitler’s American Model, which tracks the influence of American race law on the drafting of the Nazi Nuremberg Laws, James Q. Whitman makes one that is revealing. The crimes of the Nazis, he writes, are the “nefandum,” a Latin word that denotes the unsayable, by which he means unfathomably evil. According to Whitman, the function of this unsayability is the maintenance of a “dark star”—his image, not mine—against which modern liberal democracies orient their own actions and histories. The point of Hitler’s American Model, then, is to bring the very often spoken horrors of the Holocaust—in this case the legal apparatus that enabled a genocidal state—into contact with the also unsayable, and surely less said, international influence of United States race laws.

Comparisons of things that aren’t fascist dictators to fascist dictators are made as commonly as they are condemned. When it comes to comparing people to Hitler, there is a rule of internet discourse that strongly discourages it. In liberal media outlets, with pseudo-earnest concern—Is Trump like Hitler?—the comparison is both energizing and reassuring: energizing because it denotes the clear radicality of Nazi evil, comforting because of the implicit anticipation of the triumph of liberal norms. The impulse to make the Nazi comparison is so common in part because it is understood almost invariably to be hyperbolic. (No, or at least not yet, is the most frequent response.) What is less common are claims to the messier truth of continuity, which fail to offer the sharp and spectacular relief that separates the horrors of the Nazi regime from the more common pace and texture of devastation by state violence. On one side of the comparison is generational immiseration, imprisonment, exile and death tempered by civility; on the other, the right-angled arm-band and the death camp.

Whitman’s history of influence contributes to a growing body of work that demonstrates links between America and Nazi ideology: most commonly cited are the prominent role of Americans in the global eugenics movement and Hitler’s admiration for the slaughter of indigenous people central to westward expansion. Before the Nazis had gripped complete control of Germany, America was receiving world-historical praise from German historians. Albrecht Writh, for example, understood the founding of the United States to be a key achievement in “the struggle of the Aryans for world domination”; in a volume titled The Supremacy of the White Race, Wahrhold Drascher wrote that, if not for America, “a conscious unity of the white race would have never emerged.” [Continue reading…]

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Is the noose, a symbol of racial terrorism, returning?

Kevin C. Peterson writes: According to the Huffington Post, the use of the noose is becoming a nauseating national trend: “Nooses were also found at a frat house at the University of Maryland, a middle school in Florida, and at two high schools in separate incidents in North Carolina. A Walker, Louisiana, police officer resigned in March after leaving a noose in the department’s squad room.” In May, less than a day after Taylor Dumpson because the first black student president, several bananas hanging from nooses appeared on the American University campus.

The lynching noose is a blatantly offensive artifice, especially to generations of African-Americans who are aware of its history. The noose is a symbol of an odious ideology of human hierarchy that denotes domination of one group of people over the other, namely whites over blacks.

Between 1882 and 1968, at least 3,446 black people were lynched in the United States, according to the NAACP. Stated more dramatically, blacks accounted for 72.7 percent of all recorded lynchings, even while they represented no more than 12 percent of the population during that period.

Called the “Negro holocaust,” the extended practice of lynching in America was a cultural policy performed through varying methods that included shooting, strangulation, stabbing, drowning and especially hanging. Few have captured the tragic dimensions of lynching in the broader popular culture than the jazz singer Billie Holiday, whose performance of the song “Strange Fruit” in the 1940s shocked the nation to its spiritual core and galvanized sentiment against the brutal practice.

Lynching represents white supremacy, which the theologian Drew Hart has described as a “sociopolitical collective that created [an] artificially constructed group … ” Yes, racism is a social construction and as such, it is also evil.

The irony of America under its first black president is that the country had seemed to reverse itself on matters of race. While many of us thought that the Obama presidency would bring about racial advances, it appears that the opposite has occurred. We have backslidden on race, reversing the slow, inexorable progress we seemed to make since the civil rights movement.

It seems that our racial healing is not quite at hand. In fact, on matters of race, things may get worse before they get better. The use of the lynching noose seems to indicate that racial resentment and animus still smolder on the periphery — if not the very center — of public life in America. Irrepressible and persistent, racism remains prominent in the public imagination of the country. It clings within the culture with undiminished tenacity. [Continue reading…]

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Going around Trump, governors embark on their own diplomatic missions

The New York Times reports: Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, a Democrat, huddled with the leaders of Mexico and Canada in the space of 48 hours this spring, racing to Mexico City from Seattle for back-to-back discussions on climate change and trade.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, a Republican, toured Europe last month to deliver what he called a “reassuring” message to business leaders, declaring that Americans would not “retreat” from international commerce.

And Gov. Pete Ricketts, Republican of Nebraska, recently announced he would visit Canada this summer with a message of thanks — for the North American Free Trade Agreement, a pact that President Trump has harshly criticized and says he intends to renegotiate.

In ordinary times, most American governors tend to avoid international exploits, boasting of their consuming interest in balancing budgets and operating the machinery of state government. When they venture abroad, it is mainly to hawk products manufactured in their states.

But under the Trump administration, that has begun to change: Leadership at the state level has taken on an increasingly global dimension, as governors assert themselves in areas where they view Mr. Trump as abandoning the typical priorities of the federal government. They have forged partnerships across state and party lines to offset Trump administration policies they see as harmful to their constituencies. [Continue reading…]

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U.S. cities, states and businesses pledge to measure emissions

The New York Times reports: A coalition of American states, cities and businesses that have pledged to stick with the Paris climate pact will team up with experts to quantify their climate commitments and share their plans with the United Nations, vowing to act in spite of the Trump administration’s exit from the accord.

President Trump said last month that the United States would withdraw from the Paris deal, isolating the United States on the world stage. At a Group of 20 summit meeting last week, world leaders agreed to move forward collectively on climate change without the United States, declaring the landmark 2015 pact “irreversible.”

But the coalition, called America’s Pledge — which now includes 227 cities and counties, nine states and about 1,650 businesses and investors — is moving to uphold the United States’ commitments under the Paris deal. The country had committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025, compared with 2005 levels.

The group, led by Gov. Jerry Brown of California and Michael R. Bloomberg, a former New York mayor, plans to work with outside experts to measure the effects of their pledges, and to announce an early tally at a United Nations climate conference this year. The coalition is set to outline the new steps on Wednesday. [Continue reading…]

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The country’s first Somali-American legislator and her politics of inclusivity

Pacific Standard reports: Two days before the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump stepped out of his personal jet and into a hangar at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport to promise a crowd of more than 9,000 supporters that, if elected, he would halt arrivals of Somali refugees. Minnesota has the largest Somali population in America—estimated to be around 46,000—as well as comparatively large populations of Ethiopians, Liberians, and Nigerians. “You’ve suffered enough in Minnesota,” Trump told the audience, referring to Somali immigrants as a “disaster.”

Two days later, on November 8th, a majority-white district in Minneapolis elected Ilhan Omar to the Minnesota House of Representatives, making her the country’s first Somali-American legislator. Omar’s win—in a district that includes both a portion of University of Minnesota and an immigrant neighborhood known as Little Mogadishu—represented a clear rejection of Trump’s rhetoric. And even while the incoming administration planned to reverse years of progressive policymaking, the rise of an optimistic immigrant politician served as a reminder that our country’s unique promise to newcomers was still alive.

At Omar’s election-night celebration, her husband, Ahmed Hirsi, saluted the diversity of Omar’s campaign. “Look around,” Hirsi said, waving his arms to the corners of a ballroom filled with hijab-wearing Millennials and balding brown and white heads. “This is what this country’s all about. This is America. Folks from different backgrounds, different faiths, different cultures, coming together for one good cause. So, for those who believe that Somalis are a disaster, I say you are delusional. That is not, let me tell you, that is not what this country is about.” Wearing an ivory hijab pinned with a glittering brooch, the 34-year-old Omar beamed from the front row, one of her three children perched on her lap. [Continue reading…]

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‘Trump has pressed fast-forward on the decline of the United States as a global leader’

Chris Uhlmann, reporting for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation from Hamburg on the G-20 summit:

 

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U.S. officials say Russian government hackers have penetrated energy and nuclear company business networks

The Washington Post reports: Russian government hackers were behind recent cyber-intrusions into the business systems of U.S. nuclear power and other energy companies in what appears to be an effort to assess their networks, according to U.S. government officials.

The U.S. officials said there is no evidence the hackers breached or disrupted the core systems controlling operations at the plants, so the public was not at risk. Rather, they said, the hackers broke into systems dealing with business and administrative tasks, such as personnel.

At the end of June, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security sent a joint alert to the energy sector stating that “advanced, persistent threat actors” — a euphemism for sophisticated foreign hackers — were stealing network log-in and password information to gain a foothold in company networks. The agencies did not name Russia.

The campaign marks the first time Russian government hackers are known to have wormed their way into the networks of American nuclear power companies, several U.S. and industry officials said. And the penetration could be a sign that Russia is seeking to lay the groundwork for more damaging hacks. [Continue reading…]

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225 years ago Alexander Hamilton anticipated the rise of Trump and the subversion of American democracy

On August 18, 1792, Alexander Hamilton wrote: The truth unquestionably is, that the only path to a subversion of the republican system of the Country is, by flattering the prejudices of the people, and exciting their jealousies and apprehensions, to throw affairs into confusion, and bring on civil commotion….

When a man unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents, having the advantage of military habits—despotic in his ordinary demeanour—known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty—when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity—to join in the cry of danger to liberty—to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion—to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day—It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may “ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.” [Continue reading…]

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Russians are suspects in nuclear site hackings, sources say

Bloomberg reports: Hackers working for a foreign government recently breached at least a dozen U.S. power plants, including the Wolf Creek nuclear facility in Kansas, according to current and former U.S. officials, sparking concerns the attackers were searching for vulnerabilities in the electrical grid.

The rivals could be positioning themselves to eventually disrupt the nation’s power supply, warned the officials, who noted that a general alert was distributed to utilities a week ago. Adding to those concerns, hackers recently infiltrated an unidentified company that makes control systems for equipment used in the power industry, an attack that officials believe may be related.

The chief suspect is Russia, according to three people familiar with the continuing effort to eject the hackers from the computer networks. One of those networks belongs to an aging nuclear generating facility known as Wolf Creek — owned by Westar Energy Inc., Great Plains Energy Inc. and Kansas Electric Power Cooperative Inc. — on a lake shore near Burlington, Kansas.

The possibility of a Russia connection is particularly worrisome, former and current officials say, because Russian hackers have previously taken down parts of the electrical grid in Ukraine and appear to be testing increasingly advanced tools to disrupt power supplies. [Continue reading…]

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Jerry Brown to announce a climate summit meeting in California

The New York Times reports: Even before President Trump took office, Gov. Jerry Brown of California let it be known he was ready to do battle over climate change, vowing in December that California would launch its own satellite if Mr. Trump cut funding for federal space missions.

On Thursday evening, Governor Brown will mount a new challenge to the administration on climate change. In a videoconference address to a global citizen festival in Hamburg, Germany, where President Trump and other officials will negotiate wording of a statement on the Paris climate change accord, Governor Brown will issue a sweeping invitation to a global “climate action” summit meeting in San Francisco.

“Look, it’s up to you and it’s up to me and tens of millions of other people to get it together to roll back the forces of carbonization and join together to combat the existential threat of climate change,” Brown will tell the thousands of people expected to attend the festival. In the message, a preview of which was provided by aides, he will invite “entrepreneurs, singers, musicians, mathematicians, professors” and others who represent “the whole world” to the September 2018 conference in San Francisco. [Continue reading…]

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