All posts by shabbycheek

Maorr he Gou de Melbourne

It is time to plan our Melbourne world.

The area just south of Mebourne cbd, on the bend of the Yarra river, includes Southbank and South Melbourne. It might be the best area for our Melbourne living.

We stayed here before.

southbankjiacoffee

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We found some pretty mall in the city …

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Pretty Cat in Melbourne mall

And Cat found some …

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Cake!!!

This apartment is in the same Southbank area and maybe feels similar to our holiday apartment (light, glass, city views)

woshi
woshi
lounge
lounge
woshi2
Woshi2
chufan
kitchen diner
cesou
nan pengyou hao kan
balcony
courtyard balcony
floorplan
73sqm + car bay

The apartment is listed at 709,000 AUD, which converts to approx 3.35 million CNY.

At street level, its building looks like this …

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60 Kavanagh street

The location is good for a simple and pleasurable everyday life. Below are some examples of things that are in easy walking, cycling or tram distance.

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Market and supermarket nearby …
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fruit pies at south melbourne market
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Chinese vegetable groceries stall at south melbourne market
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Southbank pedestrian bridge … also known as …
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Cat’s bridge … leads to cake shops …
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route to City Baths for swimming … via Melbourne shops
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walk or ride to the swim centre by Albert Park lake
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the state theatre and National art gallery just a few minutes away
kx
the Botanical gardens are also just a few minutes away
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dog can watch the Australian open tennis close by … via a nice river walk
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the beach is just a flat short ride away
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Chinatown is within easy walking distance too …

 

 

The wrong borders: Anglo-liberal populism and its misrecognized others in the UK, US and Australia (Draft book)

Introduction: the invisible violence of Anglo-liberal populism.

Part One: the wrong borders: Crime, asylum immigration, welfare, intimate violence (care/domestic).

Part two: actual borders: Tax and the class-race game, ‘fairness’ versus equality’, the il/legitimacy of resistance

Make American Great Again. Political Discourse and the principle of difference

Nimen Hao,

today we going to talk about Donald Trump’s political discourse, the ideologies it is based on and the effects of some of that discourse in society.

First a few loose/broad definitions

  • Discourse: a way of talking about things (political discourse, a way of talking about politics)
  • Counter-discourse: an oppositional way of talking about something.
  • Ideology: a social belief system
  • hegemony: dominance by consent. A discourse is hegemonic when most people believe in it/agree with it. A politics is hegemonic when it rules by majority consent/with majority support. An ideology is hegemonic when most people believe in it.
  • Myth: imagined form of reality.

For example, The American Dream is a myth, containing the idea that anyone can make it in America if they really try (we talked about this last semester).

  • A myth is not necessarily false, in fact it isn’t really accurate to talk about a myth being true or false. The American Dream true or false? is a nonsensical question precisely because myths are imagined;  the myth itself is not trading in empirical facts subject to truth claims and their measurement.
  • The valency of a myth, the degree to which it is live and meaningful for people, however, does bear a relationship to facts.

Q: Is the American Dream really meaningful for American citizens in general?

A1: Well, yes, if you mean its an aspiration that many American believe in. Studies suggest many Americans continue to believe in the idea of the American Dream (I can have my own rags to riches success).

A2: But no, if you measure it in terms of the degree to which people doing realize their American dream. Why? Because since the 1980s American has become increasingly inequitable.

The chances of people progressing from rags to riches have got smaller and smaller.

The chances of a small minority of very wealthy people dominating society by virtue of the power gained through their wealth, of arranging society to maintain their power (keeping thins radically inequitable) has increased and become entrenched.

How do they do that?

Well, they use their money to influence politics. Wealthy individuals like the Koch Brothers make massive donations to political parties or individual politicians and those politicians support their interests. They pay consultants to lobby politicians to vote in accordance with their interests.

So for example, the wealth behind the gas and oil industry has a massive effect on American politics and society.

Q: Should America recognize the dangers of global warming and enact a radical green revolution right now?

A: Yes, if we want a chance of avoiding climate catastrophe.

Q: Do the politicians know this?

A: Yes.

Q: Do they say that they know this?

A: No. Politicians like Donald Trump claim global warming is ‘fake news’.

Q: So will they enact a Green Revolution, changing power and transport to renewables?

A: Well, not Donald Trump and the Republican party, no.

Q: Why not?

A: Not because they don’t believe in the reality of global warming (Trump previously admitted he did, before running for President). But because they owe a lot of their political power to the wealth and influence of the gas and oil lobby.

How do citizens read/understand political discourse.

Citizens access the discourse of politicians through the media (including, for example, tv news, newspapers in print and online, social media like Twitter).

The mainstream media is dominant in America, and is owned by just a few very wealthy individuals (like Rupert Murdoch, Ted Turner). They way the media asks its questions/tells its stories of or about politicians is dominated by their views. Often, in recent times, that has meant that the questions are asked or the stories told in a way that supports Donald Trump and his discourse claim the he is “Making America Great Again”.

There are also many media outlets not owned by these wealthy Trump supporting individuals. We could say they are representing a counter discourse: something like, “Trump is Making America Worse Again”. Donald Trump counters this counter-discourse in a variety of ways. One of those is the claim that the counter-discourse is ‘fake news’.

Q: How does this work in practice?

A:Let’s take the example of the Paris Climate Agreement. Barack Obama signed it in 2016, thus requiring America to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, along with many other countries. Donald Trump withdrew Americas signature, thus allowing America to continue with high greenhouse gas emissions. When he was criticized for damaging the environment by un-signing, he argued that global warming is ‘fake news’.

Making American Great Again: some strands of Trump’s political discourse

Mexicans

  • “When Mexico sends it people, they’re not sending their best. … They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people” (Trump, 2016).
  • Trump blames undocumented (Mexican) immigrants for “the American family that loses their jobs, their income, or their loved one”.
  • At rallies and in TV interviews, Trump charged that Gonzalo Curiel, the Indiana-born federal judge presiding over the Trump University fraud case, was incorrigibly biased against him because “we’re building a wall. He’s a Mexican.”

Trump, Muslims

 

Black people

I think it’s a terrible thing, and you know, maybe he should find a country that works better for him, let him try, it’s not gonna happen.”

  • Barack Obama

Trump repeatedly suggested that Obama was not American (not one of us), but African.

He has held Barack Obama responsible for black crime, explicitly because Obama is black. “President Obama has absolutely no control (or respect) over the African American community” Trump wrote in 2014 during the riots in Ferguson, Missouri. A year later, Trump jeered, “Our great African American President hasn’t exactly had a positive impact on the thugs who are so happily and openly destroying Baltimore!”

  • Black people from other countries

Trump complained that Haitians coming to the United States “all have AIDS.”

He also warned that people from Nigeria, if they were allowed into our country, would never “go back to their huts.”

trevornoah
Trevor Noah responds to the President

During a discussion about migrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and Africa, Trump fumed: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” He specifically asked, “Why do we need more Haitians?” He demanded that Congress “take them out” of a list of immigrant populations temporarily allowed to stay in the United States. Instead, he said the United States should accept more people from countries such as Norway.

USA would be forced to take large numbers of people from high crime countries which are doing badly,” he wrote. “I want a merit based system of immigration”. What Trump is proposing, as sketched in his own tweets, is not a merit-based system. Trump is saying that applicants should be accepted or rejected based on country of origin. He’s saying that the individual should be judged by the group.

  • Trump on White Supremacists
  • David Duke (former leader of the Ku Kux Klan)

When asked to criticize the KKK leader for his racism Trump refused to comment

  • People joining with the Charlottesville white supremacist rioters

‘Some very fine people”

Discussion 1. Characterize Trump’s political discourse

  1. Using these examples, how would you characterize these examples of Trump’s political discourse.

2. If these statements indicate ways of making America Great again, what kind of America is trump trying to make?

Discussion 2. Discussing American terrorism

1. What kind of terrorist threats do you think America suffers from? Which kind of terrorist threats are most dangerous? How dangerous are they compared to other forms of violent death and injury in America?

2. What do you think of Trump’s discourse in relation to the threat of terrorism?

3. Now read the articles I will send you on Wechat. Consider your answers to q1. and q2. Is your opinion the same, or has it changed?

Discussion 3: find a topic for your podcasts discussions on the theme of representation.

Time permitting today you should work in your small groups and begin to choose a topic for your end of year assessment piece.

You are going to provide an informative and critically reflective (not just descriptive) discussion of the way something is represented. Your range of choices for a topic are unlimited, but I will give you guidance on whether an idea seems workable or not once you’ve developed your idea (or ideas).

Three themes that we’ve talked about so far in the semester are race, gender and class. You might want to use them for discussing your specific text/object/event of discussion. For example, you could discuss how women are represented in games, or how class is represented in Chinese romance movies, or how race/class is represented in American movies about Chinese/Asian people. You don’t have to use these categories of analysis, but they might be good to work with as tey provide a lot to talk about.

Each speaker should contribute between 3-6 minutes (no longer than 6 minutes please) to your discussion.

You can send me the recordings and the transcript on wechat, by or before June 14.

The American Dream

Nimen Hao,

today’s class is a “challenge to speak” (thoughtfully) about “the American Dream,” one expression of which is the song I want to live in America from the 1960s musical, West Side Story.

We’ll discuss some of the contests and conflicts of American’s own dreams of what their country means to them, and Chinese ideas (or dreams) of America.

Class Discussion one: What is America to you?

First though, let’s have a quick discussion. What do you think when you think of America? What does America represent to you? How would you describe America and American people/s?

Founding myths: the American Dream

In American mythology, the U.S. is, as the national anthem puts it, “the land of the free / And the home of the brave!””

It’s a land in which in which all citizens are thought of as being equal and free. As Thomas Jefferson wrote

We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  (Declaration of Independence, 1776).

The American dream is encapsulated in the idea that every individual American should have an equal right right to become her or his best self. Citizen’s have the right to try to realize their hopes.

In a common sense (or everyday) kind of understanding, the American dream involves the idea that if an individual puts in the effort then they should be able to achieve the success they deserve. Individual responsibility is a key idea: if someone suceeds, it is attributed to their individual efforts, they are regarded as having made the best of their talents (whatever their talents are). Conversely, if someone fails, then it is their fault (they didn’t work hard enough to realise their dream).

This idea is sometimes referred to as meritocracy (society is ruled by the principle that people get what they deserve). The idea of meritocracy is sometimes applied to whole groups, such as racial and ethnic groups.

Meritocracy goes along with the United States long-held and exceptional tolerance of income inequality, explained by its high levels of social mobility. This combination underpins the American dream – … conceived of by Thomas Jefferson as each citizen’s right to the pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Jefferson believed an “aristocracy of talent and virtue” was replacing the aristocracy of birth, the old world order where aristocrats inherited power and wealth.

This dream is not about guaranteed outcomes, … but the pursuit of opportunities.

The dream [was popularized] in the fictional characters of the 19th-century writer Horatio Alger Jr – like the New York shoeshine “Ragged Dick [1867/8]” [who went] from rags to riches … in part due to entrepreneurial spirit and hard work (Carol Graham, “Is the American Dream Really Dead?” The Guardian, 2017/06/20).

Give Me Your Weak Quote Give Me Your Tired Your Poor Your Hudd Emma Lazarus Like

Historically, a key element of the American myth of a land of hope and freedom is the idea that America gave welcome to the world’s migrants. For many foreigners, the idea of American freedom has been a magnet attracting them to migrate to the United States.

One expression of the immigrants’ dream is the song I want to live in America from the 1960s musical, West Side Story. [ see above video]

New York’s Statue of Liberty is a famous icon that represented welcome to the 19th century immigrants who later became American citizens.

liberty-030

For generations, America has served as a beacon of hope and freedom for those outside her borders, and as a land of limitless opportunity for those risking everything to seek a better life. (U.S. Congressman Spencer Bachus).

Some would argue that the Congressman’s story of American welcome is a myth.

Myth and history are not always the best of friends. for example, just as America was welcoming masses of European migrants in the 19th century, it designed measures to exclude Chinese migrants, including most famously the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882). So the idea that all men were created equal didn’t include Chinese people (until 1943).

Just as the Statue of Liberty is an icon of the myth of welcome to the land of the free, San Fransisco’s Angel island immigration prison is a historical symbol of one of the gaps in American equality.

angelislandchinesebittermemories
Chines women in an immigration holding cage, Angel island.

The American Dream in sport and advertising

Let’s move into the present. We’ll use some contemporary sports advertising and film as discussion texts to think about the American dream in some of its current forms.

We’ll start by watching a little of American football.

 

 

OK, so that’s Colin Kaepernick doing what he did so well as Quarterback for the San Fransisco 49ers.

Good quarterbacks have to be strong, fast, brave and smart. Kaepernick has all of those attributes, and is also articulate and charming. Those qualities are some of the reasons that Nike have chosen him as the face of their Just Do It advertising campaign.

ckjdi

Have a look at this recent Nike commercial starring the footballer.

 

 

Class discussion two

Let’s talk about what the commercial, part of Nike’s Just Do It campaign represents in relation to the American dream.

  • Describe the representations in the commercial: what happens?
  • Who are the actors? What do they do?
  • What are the messages being communicated? How do they relate to the American dream?

The Hate U Give and the American Dream

Actually, Nike’s commerical is deliberately controversial in its choice of Colin Kaepernick, as he is famous not just for being a great footballer, but for the being one of the leaders of the bend the knee campaign in American football, which is strongly linked to the Black Lives Matter campaign. We;re going to talk about how these three things, the American Dream, bend the knee and black lives matter are related by looking at some representations of the latter in the film The Hate U Give.

First a quick movie synopsis: Starr Carter, a teenage girl living with her parents and two brothers in the tough (fictional) neighbourhood of Garden Heights. Her father Maverick is a former gang member turned community leader keen to impress on his children both the importance of black pride and the dangers of being a person of colour in an institutionally racist nation. Starr is a high-performing student at an elite and mostly white high school [one of her friends is the blonde girl Hailey]. When she becomes involved in a police shooting she learns how difficult it is to negotitate her way through the different worlds of Garden Heights and the elite school.

Let’s watch some scenes from the movie, pausing for a brief discussion after each of them.

Scene 1: Maverick gives his children “the talk” (to be played in class)

 

 

Class discussion three.

Scene 2: Starr and Khalil get stopped by a policeman.

 

 

Class discussion four.

Scene 3: Starr’s uncle (a policeman) explains how police think when stopping black and white suspects.

 

 

 Class discussion five.

Scene 4: Starr and her friend Hailey fall out.

 

 

Class discussion six.

Black Lives Matter and the Bend the Knee Campaign: confronting racial inequality and police brutality

Let’s watch a short video giving a little about social context. . What is “bending a knee”? Why are Colin Kaepernick (and many others) doing it?

 

 

What are the links between bend the knee and black lives matter?

Well the black lives matter campaign is all about police brutality (including shootings) of black people in the US, as shown in the second scene from the movie The Hate U Give.

  • Black Lives Matters = campaign against police brutality (against Black Americans)
  • Bend the Knee = sporting protest; sportswomen and spectators stand for the national anthem at sports events; the campaigners kneel down instead to protest against discrimination against Black Americans (especially police brutality).

Kaepernick, in the interview above, goes on to say that ‘cops are getting paid leave for killing people… that’s not right by anyone’s standards’.

Let’s watch one more video to help us think about the relationships between the American dream, Nike’s Just Do It advertising campaign and the two anti-racist campaigns. This one discusses some of the reaction to Nike’s decision to use the spokesman of the Bend the Knee campaign as the face of its Just Do It campaign.

 

 

 

Fact check: meritocracy, racial inequality and discrimination?

  • Black Americans are far more likely than white people to be stopped, frisked, arrested, jailed, shot and executed by the state, while the racial gaps in unemployment are the same as 40 years ago, the racial disparity in wealth and income is worse than 50 years ago. They have the right to eat in any restaurant they wish; the trouble is, many can’t afford what’s on the menu

(Gary Younge, “Remember this about Donald Trump. He knows the depths of American bigotry”, The Guardian, 2017/09/26).

Class Discussion seven (in your small groups then together)

  • What do you think?
  • Is Colin Kaepernick right to bend the knee? Or, is his protest unpatriotic?
  • Is the character Hailey (the schoolgirl in The Hate U Give) right to argue that “Police Lives Matter” just as much as “Black Lives Matter”?
  • Is the meritocratic American Dream (of equal opportunity for all) damaged by racism, or are criminalized Black Americans responsible for their own situation? Could they succeed through hard work and talent?
  • Do you have any other critical reflections on the American Dream, race/racism and protest in America?

 

 

Liberal populism and the glocal politics of precarity

A rise of illiberal populism?

Chinese diplomats have been having a bit of fun with human rights discourse recently, effortlessly batting away US criticisms of the forced assimilation of Uighur Islamic people by pointing to historical and ongoing US abuses of African Americans (from slavery to Jim Crow to contemporary inequality and overcriminalization). To rub salt into the wounds they’ve been using the Trump-favored Twitter as their platform. For Western critics and Occidentalist Chinese, the fact that the platform is banned in China functions an icon of the Communist Party’s abuse of political rights. However, for the Party and many mainland Chinese the diplomatic use and domestic ban of Twitter exemplifies China’s increasing ability to manage not just the message but the medium too.

The language of rights in this time of Chinese ascendancy and Western precarity isn’t what it used to be. We are a long way from the last Cold War in which the US enjoyed great political mileage in using refugee rights as a means of battering the legitimacy of the Soviet Union without and socialism and communism within. Western states are suffering from a rights-credibility deficit. The nationalist anti-immigrant discourse of MAGA and Brexit are pretty much incompatible with the post-war ideological rights game. Alongside transformations in discourse and norms are changes in structures and practice. The US has withdrawn from the UN Human Rights council and made a travesty of its obligations under the Refugee Convention. England’s (read ‘the UK’s’) attempted withdrawal from the EU is strong motivated by a desire to end the extension of residence rights to European migrants, and its tradition of bashing China for its human rights abuses has been muted if not totally abandoned.

liberal multiculturalism, liberal pluralism, …

So if rights discourse and liberal multiculturalism are becoming dud currencies then who or what is to blame?

Liberal commentators are pointing the finger at myriad forms of retrogressive populism. Politicians like Trump and Johnson are represented as manipulating the resentments of those who feel disenfranchised by an established liberal hegemony and its norms of globalist tolerance. A key part of the way that this is said to work is through an affective transformation in political discourse and performance.

The uncensored character of Trump’s discourse, for example – the tearing down of the ‘fake news’ of ‘political correctness’ – appeals to his supporters in part because it creates a dialogic space for the previously unspeakable. The politician has unleashed, for his base at least, a pleasurably transgressive carnival of misrule with claims that it is time (or way past time) that ‘we’ should feel free to speak and take action against the undeserving who threaten our way of life. Part of the fun is identifying the others.  Immigrants – especially impoverished and Islamic immigrants from ‘shit-hole’ states – threaten from without. Dissenting people of colour, feminists, socialists, liberals and queers threaten from within,1 in part through efforts to facilitate the threats from without. The performance of re-bordering America, appearing to fight to make the US a gated community replete with its own material-symbolic wall is crucial to this discourse of xenophobia and symophilia, along with practices of exclusion and expulsion (these more politically visible than the underlying practices of adverse inclusion and containment).

Send them home. The iconic moment that many commentators identify as the basis of the president’s 2020 re-election strategy had been trialed with some success against Colin Kaepernick’s bend the knee protests. The San Francisco 49ers quarterback refused to stand for the national anthem, his protest supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and their campaign against police shootings. The president found tweeting that Kaepernick should try to find a country that works better for him energized his base, the negligible liberal accusations of racism feeding into a storm of Blue Lives Matter patriotism.

Send them home. Democrats representatives Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.  In early July 2019, they escalated their campaign for improved treatment of migrants by taking part in a Congressional Hispanic Caucus visit to a detention facility at Clint, on the Texan-Mexican border. The CBP (Customs and Border Protection) agency had recently been subject to criticism for its abusive treatment of migrant children at the facility. After the visit, Ocasio-Cortez described the treatment of the detainees as ‘horrifying’,  involving ‘systemic cruelty [with] a dehumanizing culture that treats them [migrants] like animals’. Female detainees told the visitors of staff calling them whores, of being kept in cells with no water and told to drink from the toilets if they were thirsty.

On a Sunday when another round of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) raids were about to commence, after a week when the progressive Democrats were embroiled in disagreement with the party’s Pelosi-led moderates over issues including funding for the border security bill the president tweeted

Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime[-]infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough.

The squad were targeted for symbolic deportation. The president believed that their prominent criticism of the border regime, their feminism, Congresswoman Omar’s Islamic faith and criticisms of US policy on Israel and the distance of their socialist politics from those of the moderate Democrats could damage the party in the 2020 elections. He chose that particular moment to escalate a campaign of racialized red-baiting because the squad’s house committee testimony resonated with many viewers. Congress had already learned of children separated from their parents and caged in detention camps, of children deprived of sleep, denied access to blankets or mattresses, not allowed to wash their hands or brush their teeth; left alone on cold, hard floors, traumatised, silent and, in some cases, suicidal. Homeland Security secretary Kevin McAleenan complained. The department had emerged from the official reports of mistreatment relatively unscathed, but the Congresswomen’s ‘unsubstantiated’ allegations had ‘created a sensation’.

Trump calculated that the squad’s use of affective politics could be turned against them. Several days day later he stokes the xenophobic passions of a crowd at the North Carolina political rally. The president weighs in on Congresswoman Omar, evincing and endorsing catcalls from the crowd like a modern day Arturo Ui, commentating as they cheered the spectacle of a protester being forcibly evicted – ‘He goes home to mommy, to mummy to get reprimanded.‘ Segues from the live expulsion to the virtual.  Representative Ilhan Omar. Trump pauses for a full 13 seconds of sustained booing. Omar has a history of launching vicious anti-Semitic screeds. Discontented rumblings morph into a chant ‘send her back, send her back, send her back’.  He builds on their theme. ‘[L]et ’em leave. They’re always telling us how to run it, how to do this, how to do that. You know what? If they don’t love it, tell ’em to leave it.” The president looks on approvingly as some chant Send them home, send them home. He doubles down on the support shortly afterwards, calling the chanters ‘incredible patriots,‘ using the media spotlight to further demonize the squad: ‘They’re incapable of loving the US‘.

The culture of targeted hatred Trump orchestrated at North Carolina was well established by the summer of 2019, in part through the administration’s symbiosis with Fox News. Murdoch’s media giant had consistently supported Trump’s xenophobic discourse from the time of their enthusiastic backing of his 2016 campaign scapegoating Mexican immigrants and promising to end Islamic immigration.  Presenter Tucker Carlson contributed to the summer’s escalation with a vitriolic diatribe on Congresswoman Omar: ‘A living fire alarm‘ possessing ‘antithetical values’ and ‘undisguised contempt for the American people‘. The US cannot expect to survive, he warned, if it continues to ‘import large numbers of the people who hate it‘.

Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez encountered some of the culture’s more subterranean social media in the lead-up to the Clint facility visit. Facebook chat among CBP (Customs and Border Protection) staff involved “sharing memes about dead migrants and discussing violence and sexual misconduct towards members of Congress.” One  fake image of the president pressing the congresswoman to a submissive act showed the group members clearly saw Trump as a leader of their pussy grabbing alien hating culture.2 Ocasio-Cortez focused on the implications for the detained migrants. The culture of the staff involved being incompatible with the humane care of refugees.

White House spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway later defended the president and the CBP officers with an aggressive diatribe:

(Conway) He’s tired, a lot of us are sick and tired of this country, of America coming last, the people who swore an oath of office, sick and tired of our military being denigrated, sick and tired of customs and border patrol people, protection people I was with who are overwhelmingly Hispanic, by the way (she smiles) in McAllen Texas, sick and tired of them being —

(Journalist Andrew Feinburg) I understand —

(Conway) No, you don’t understand because you didn’t go, of them being criticized, being doxxed, by a bunch of Hollywood D Listers, who have nothing else to do but sit on their asses on Twitter all day and try to doxx brave men and women who are diving into the Rio Grande to save people who are drowning, who are taking other people’s babies into custody and diapering them and feeding them and looking the other way while people are running across with drugs –that’s happening!

The exasperated, aggressive style worked as part of an affective politics of resentment. It gave emotive resonance to her triangulation between border staff, foreign threats, and border regime critics. Conway represented border staff as heroic and compassionate, patriots protecting American borders regardless of their ‘Hispanic-by-the-way‘ ethnicity. The foreign threats figured as drug and migrant trafficking, the migrants as irresponsible vulnerabilities –  drowning themselves, losing or neglecting their babies, causing officers to have to take them into custody, disabling their fight against drugs. Conway’s vitriol was saved for those who would facilitate the foreign risks, the superficial, unimportant critics of the border protection regime. The spokeswoman later explained the acceptable approach for Americans of mixed heritage is her own. ‘I am proud of my ethnicity, love the USA and grateful to God to be an American’. The denigration of which she, the president and their audience are sick and tired of is unpatriotic, its speakers lacking the virtues of love and gratitude.

Conway’s speech here, consistently with much of the president’s discourse, worked to other the border regime critics via selective rather than blanket cultural racism, rendering them undeserving, illegitimately ethnic Americans. Borrowing from the satirical trope about over-criminalization … found guilty of being Black while driving, we could say Trumpians targeted the squad for the crime of dissenting while being women of colour, and particularly, for putting the interests of foreigners above those of Americans. Conway’s speech works to widen the xenophobic appeal beyond the white supremacist base. Hispanic Americans, Irish-Italian Americans, Americans-regardless-of-ethnicity should love and not denigrate those who serve to protect their American way of life (in this speech CBP and military staff, in Trumpian discourse more generally, the police).

Incapable of loving America. In the president’s discourse of cultural racism and xenophobia congresswoman Ilhan Omar serves as a particular foil for the targeting of Islamic people and particularly Islamic asylum seekers. Trump portrays the Minnesotan Representative as someone who blames the US for terrorist attacks in America, has compassion for ISIS terrorists, and slanders peace keeping American troops. The image of the Representative as an (Islamic) enemy of the state is supported by several American-liberal tropes. Trumpians slate Omar as a freedom hating socialist for her criticism of US policy on Venezuela, and as an anti-Semitic racist for her criticism of the government’s policies on Israel and Palestine. The icing on the demonizing cake is Trump’s claim that the congresswoman practiced incest, and that she did so in accordance with the illiberal un-American culture of her ethnicity and faith.

The North Carolina performance of this scapegoating portrayal of a hate filled extremist built and elicited the now infamous 13 seconds in which the president milked the crowd’s hatred: send her back, send her back, send her back.’ The president quickly made use of his invented demon, Omar a synecdoche for not just the Congresswomen Trump calls Radical Left and Communist Democrats, but for a wider social threat: send them back, send them back, send them back. As Ilhan Omar famously said: I am the president’s nightmare for being part of the diverse mosaic of America.

Trumpian politics: populist, illiberal and anti-social

19th Century political theorists had not discovered the term ‘populist’ but the liberals among them would have loved it. J.S. Mill, for example, had a visceral hatred of common people, viewed them as ignorant and irrational and vulgar and greatly feared democracy’s potential for the rule of the mob.

American liberalism is a broad church with a stratifying history and political philosophy. For Ian Hanley Lopez, its consists of freedom from interference by government (negative liberty), freedom to participate equitably, and thus have the conditions that enable participation (positive liberty), and freedom to exclude so that the environment can actually support the practices of freedom (protective liberty). For J.S Mill, the enjoyment of negative liberty required empathasis on protectively positive liberalism. The working class, to take the infra-national example, should undergo the tutelage of education and work in order to raise their capacity (or quality [suzhi]) to a level at which they could participate in liberal society (gaining the franchise, for example). Savages, to take an extra-national example, might need to undergo a period of slavery, learning the lessons of obedience, discipline and work on their longer journey towards sufficient capacity. Like the vulgar mob in their unreasoning passionate natures they could be yet be expected to rule themselves, but had to be ruled, the gentle yet firm hand of government, which would have to be despotic when the passions of the mob or of savages became too heated or violent. Mill’s liberalism clearly involves negative, positive and protective freedom, and its teology works across a continuum of civilizational development, with savages and mob at the bottom and propertied and educated English men at the top. At the very heart of English liberal philosophy we find a combination of what came to be known as racism and elitism.This structure of political belief and practice has been highly influential, forming the basis of not just the English political system, but also those of the Anglo settler colonies, New Zealand, Australia, Canada among others.

The race- and-class phobism of Mill’s political theories was not exceptional among the architects of classical liberalism. Gholam Khiabany (3/282) notes that liberal thinkers were united by contempt for colonial peoples and working class people. Political philosopher Phillip Cole argued that liberalism’s exclusions need to be understood historically. Domenico Losurdo (2011, 20) noted that liberal thinkers including Locke, Smith and Franklin endorsed slavery and the ‘systemic expropriation and practical genocide first of the Irish and then of the Indians’. Classical liberals shared a belief in Anglo-European superiority, and in the superiority of educated and propertied elite men over working class men and women (even when these were also Anglo-European). Racism was cultural and inferiority ascribed to whole groups with abject equivalence. Irish were, for example, regarded as little more civilized than African Americans, and the uneducated mob was seen as little better. All of them posed savage or barbaric risks to the civilised  sphere of liberal individualism. Their rule could therefore, as Mill argued, be despotic, and the treatment of such people should be both educative (progressing them towards higher states of civilisation) and expropriating (benefiting the progress of civilised society).

Liberal inclusions were conditional and graduated. Democracy, self-rule and suffrage were limited to those deemed capable of rational participation. Adverse inclusion was endorsed for some groups as part of their tutorage and as a necessary contribution to development. African Americans were deemed to benefit from the benevolent education in work and discipline provided by slavery. White colonial laborers were deemed to benefit from the wages set too low to allow them to set up their own small-holdings, tying them into debt-bondage and the building of profitable colonial economies from which they would, eventually, benefit as citizens. Emancipated West Indian plantation workers were to be prevented from fleeing to their hillside smallholdings in order to ensure the ongoing viability of the sugar industry, no matter how low the wages or poor the conditions. Emancipated African Americans in the US southern states were to be criminalised under the Jim Crow laws, ensuring the ongoing supply of a cheap and docile workforce. Each of these moments of inclusion in the sphere of liberal democracies was posited as a step up on the ladder of civilised life even as those subject found the freedom proffered to be a mirage, and nothing like the individual agency allowed the propertied and educated Anglo-European elites.

The socio-economic stratfications of liberalism in practice ave rise to visceral investments and disinvestments in relation to ones place along the contiuum that ran from the abject unfreedom of enslavement to the ambivalence subjectivity of debt bondage through to the agent autonomy of propertied individualism. In the US, emancipation of Afro-American plantation workers brought with it the invention of ‘white’ Irish workers. Irish worker identity was defined by virtue of not being a ‘nigger’ identity. Colonial white Australian settlers defined themselves by virtue of not being the abject Aboriginals and Chinese. White master workers defined themselves as respectable, refining themselves through education, skill and culture as a class distinct from the uneducated rougher sorts.

Populism has become a keyword for the new politics of post-globalist times. It is taken to mean politics by appeal to the crowd’s baser instincts. …

Racism, cultural racism, sexism, xeno, Islam, pink and red phobias. In the liberal logic Trumpians are populists cynically exploiting public ignorance and anxieties, stoking speech, beliefs and actions that can be characterized as illiberal. The appeal of this politics is said to rely on misinformation and irrational emotion, as opposed to credible information and rational objectivity.

Clinton and Obama: affective and violent propensities of liberal politics

The seeds of the Trumpian universe lies in that of the Clintons. Rather than viewing an opposition between nationalist fascism and globalist liberalism it might be better to view these as variations on a theme and oscillations in a pattern.

Trumpian logic leads to violent dichotomies of good selves and bad others, while liberal logic is supposed to leads to to the tolerant co-mingling of diverse groups.

affect and violence

As if liberalism was free of affective investment

Objective, universal position

Not equal but fair, equal opportunity, not equal outcome

Imperative: That things should be fair

Character/quality/capacity

Illiberal populism

The populism of liberalism

Disguised violence through capacity stratification.

Manifold violence, perpetuation of Hobbesian micro-implosions re failures of meritocratic performance

sadistic enjoyment of justice. Kamal Harris, Clinton’s, criminalization, corporate lobby dependent led inequality

Historical example; abjection, working class whites, Indigenous (Australia), African Americans, hierarchies of colour and class.

Biden  Harris Omar for President

affective politics of empathy … Jacinda Arden …Popular affective politics in Western countries does not have to rely on Orientalist othering. The groundswell of support for the politics of the squad has the potential to expand beyond its base. New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Arden’s affective politics of empathy provides one example. …

Endnotes

1. Connolly, 2018. 67/115.

2. Connolly, 2018. 70/115.

References

Connolly, W. 2018. Aspirational Facism.

Hanley Lopez I. Dog Whistle Politics.

Fox News’s star names excuse the inexcusable after Trump’s latest racist attack

Crowd chants ‘send her back’ as Trump attacks Ilhan Omar – video

“Send her back! Send her back!” The chant from a largely white crowd at Donald Trump’s campaign rally on Wednesday, was aimed at a black refugee from Somalia who became a US congresswoman. And it caused politicians, media pundits and millions of American citizens to recoil in horror.

Then there was Fox News’s reaction.

Prime time host Sean Hannity praised the president’s “massive rally in Greenville, North Carolina, where he had a very special message for the new radical leaders of this Democratic extreme socialist party”.

Hannity played a clip of Trump lambasting four congresswomen of color, eliciting boos and jeers from his supporters.

An hour later, host Laura Ingraham did address the “Send her back!” chant – but not to blame Trump.

“The media is of course quick, like this pavlovian response, to frame the entire rally around this one section of the crowd’s reaction,” she told viewers. Ingraham condemned what she called “the four congresswomen of the Apocalypse” and said of the rally: “The president was on fire.”

Once again, Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News has been a crucial component of the outrage in Washington this week. Its leading voices have, in the eyes of critics, gone all out to excuse the inexcusable, although some critics of Trump had appeared on the network.

It is also suspected by some that Fox News triggered the president’s racist tweets in the first place. The episode appears to be the latest example of the Trump-Fox symbiotic relationship, one constantly feeding off the other, with items on the channel rapidly finding their way into the president’s Twitter feed, creating news events and then circling back to being discussed on Fox News in turn.

On 9 July, Fox News host Tucker Carlson, known to have a strong influence on Trump, delivered an on-air diatribe about congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who was born in Somalia and is now a US citizen. “After everything America has done for Omar and for her family, she hates this country more than ever,” Carlson said.

He added: “Ilhan Omar is living proof that the way we practice immigration has become dangerous to this country.”

The following night, Carlson angrily denied charges of racism and again hammered Omar, who fled civil war in Somalia with her family in 1991. This may have given Trump talking points as he idled Sunday morning away on Twitter and ignited a firestorm.

Matt Gertz, a senior fellow at Media Matters for America, a watchdog that frequently criticizes Fox News, wrote in a blogpost on Thursday: “You don’t get frothing crowds chanting ‘send her back’ without Fox News. This is clear on the micro level.”

He said: “You can draw a straight line from Tucker Carlson’s xenophobic attacks on Omar last week to Trump’s racist Sunday tweets – likely spurred by a Fox & Friends segment that morning – that Omar and three other Democratic congresswomen (all women of color born in the United States) should ‘go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,’ then ‘come back and show us how it is done.”

Those tweets had also caused widespread revulsion, but not on Fox. The hosts of Fox & Friends laughed and joked about Trump’s posts. One presenter said: “Someone’s feeling very comedic today.” There was more levity on the afternoon show The Five.

Earlier in July Tucker Carlson delivered an on-air diatribe against Ilhan Omar.
Earlier in July Tucker Carlson delivered an on-air diatribe against Ilhan Omar. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

It was not all one-way traffic. Fox News contributor Jessica Tarlov called Trump’s comments “disgusting,” “racist tropes” and “the next round of birtherism”. Network regulars Geraldo Rivera and Ari Fleischer joined the condemnation. Host Steve Hilton, a Briton who was director of strategy for prime minister David Cameron, compared Trump to a bigoted character from a British sitcom by tweeting “you’re the president not Alf Garnett”.

But the star names that Trump follows most closely were silent or egged him on as he continued to play white identity politics. They also promoted a line that Trump has embraced, suggesting the four, dubbed “the Squad”, have become the face of the Democratic party.

On Monday, Carlson presented carefully handpicked clips from the congresswomen’s joint press conference on Capitol Hill while adopting a supercilious, mocking tone. He accused Omar of repeating a “conspiracy theory” that Trump colluded with Russia and ignored their pleas to ignore distracting tweets and focus on policy.

The morning after the Greenville rally, it was business as usual . Host Jesse Waters played down “Send her back!” by comparing it with sport: “Now I don’t know about you guys, but have you guys ever been to a football game? They chant some pretty bad stuff at a football game. Politics is a tough sport.”

Fox News seems to have hardened its pro-Trump stance over the years. Brian Stelter, chief media correspondent at cable news rival CNN, used his nightly newsletter to highlight a tweet by Murdoch from four years ago that said: “When is Donald Trump going to stop embarrassing his friends, let alone the whole country?” It was a response to a Trump spat with war hero John McCain.

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly also took Trump to task over the comment, Stelter noted. “Compare that to how Murdoch’s outlets have covered Trump’s racist comments,” he added. “Fox’s opinion stars have defended Trump’s comments, even at times laughing them off. It’s even possible Tucker Carlson’s commentary on Rep Ilhan Omar led to Trump’s racist outburst.”

Dan Cassino, a political scientist at Fairleigh Dickinson University and author of Fox News and American Politics: How One Channel Shapes American Politics and Society, said: “I think the tweets were driven by the amount of coverage. We know President Trump watches a lot of Fox News and in the past couple of weeks Fox has spent a lot of time talking about the four Congresswomen.”

He said: “Fox has chosen them as the people they’re going to demonize; a few years ago it was Hillary Clinton.”