Category Archives: “Race” (US)

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.”




The politics of white restoration has to ‘go back where it came from’

The west’s non-white Europeans will never accept supervision by angelic, loving white people, let alone evil, sleazy, racist ones


Trump rally

‘This white resurgence has all the hallmarks of a last hurrah.’ Photograph: Jonathan Drake/Reuters

“I got the ‘where are you from?’ treatment last night,” one of my PhD students said, speaking about a recent outing with other students to a bar in Melbourne.

My students from non-white European ancestry invariably hate being asked this question even though they recognise that, more often than not, the person asking it means no harm and is simply and genuinely – or thinks it’s polite to be – interested in where they are from.

We’ve often reflected together about this and about what bothers us about the question. We agree it would be different if the relationship between the questioner and the questioned was not as structured by racial relations of power to the extent that it was: more often than not the questioner is of white European ancestry and the questioned is of non-white European ancestry. And because of this, the question necessarily, and regardless of the intent, ends up carrying in it the power and entitlement of the questioner.

The simple question “where are you from?” becomes, again, regardless of the intent of the questioner, a declaration: “I am entitled, because of my white European-ness, to ask you where are you from.” The pathology becomes most apparent when the person being asked the question is Indigenous. Because of the sense of entitlement that oozes out of it – and that is what is often hard, but not impossible, for others to understand – the question becomes threatening: a person of non-white European ancestry can immediately discern in the power to ask “where do you come from?” the residual power to say: “go back to where you came from”.

It is in the very nature of this residual power to have a potential for “nastiness” (such as with “go back to where you came from”) at the very moment when it’s exhibiting “niceness” (such as with “where are you from”). This fact was at the heart of the radical critique of multiculturalism as it was formulated more than 20 years ago. It was at the core of my own critique of the discourse of tolerance. To have such a discourse circulating amid structural conditions of racial domination meant two things.

Firstly, it meant that it was always people of white European ancestry who ended up feeling entitled to do the tolerating, while the tolerated were always people of non-white European ancestry – what I called at the time “third-world-looking people”.

Secondly, and more important for our purpose here, when people experience themselves as entitled to be tolerant, they retain the residual power to be intolerant and deploy it when necessary. It went the same way for the multicultural discourse of “appreciating” ethnic cultures, which allowed white people to maintain the residual power to “not appreciate” ethnic cultures.

It is this residual power that was the prime target of the radical critique of multiculturalism. This aimed for a state of affairs where the status of the national belonging of people of non-white European ancestry would not be subjected to and affected by how people of white European ancestry felt about them. This was a state where it was no longer acceptable to give public space for people of white European ancestry who fantasised that it was up to them to judge who loved Australia, England or France enough and who didn’t, and who was American, Canadian or New Zealander enough and who wasn’t.

The critique was animated by a realisation that while multiculturalism dented a sense of white supremacy among some people, it did not dent it enough. And while it was clear that one could not help it if some white people felt they were entitled to decide who was and was not a good Australian, American, etc, the radical critique of multiculturalism aimed to further the process of white symbolic disempowerment that had already begun with the rise of multiculturalism. It hoped to see white entitlement become increasingly expunged from social and cultural institutions and be made politically irrelevant.

But, needless to say, things moved in the opposite direction. A constellation of cultural and political but chiefly economic interests aligned to support what became full-fledged politics of white restoration. Certain capitalist investors saw in the white supremacist refusal of the welfare state and any social, cultural or ecological thought a politics that was more conducive to the type of unchecked capital accumulation they hoped for.

And here we are today with such people not only having a public outlet but actually occupying the highest positions of power in various parts of the western world. And here we also are hearing the kind of things that we thought we would never hear again being openly proclaimed. And, sure enough, here we are having the president of the United States openly deploying the gutter racism of the “go back to where you came from”-type against his opponents.

What the politics of white restoration needs to make us ask is: how can the progressive social and cultural gains of the “liberal” era be rolled back so easily? If there is a failure of liberal multicultural politics here, it surely has to do with this. Small “l” liberals dismissed the radical critique of multiculturalism 20 years ago for all kinds of facile reasons.

However, this radical critique offered whites and non-whites the basis of a political future that highlighted the disempowerment of whiteness as a necessary accompaniment of multicultural politics. This would have at the very least made the descent into the kind of toxic racist politics we are seeing today more difficult. This radical critique could offer such a path precisely because it traced a politics centred on the removal of the above-mentioned residual power of white entitlement. At least that was and is one of its key objectives. And by all means, let’s all go back to where we came from in this regard, and restart that argument.

Even if the politics of white restoration is succeeding, a new politics is needed to replace it to mend some white people’s belief in their entitlement to rule. For this white resurgence has all the hallmarks of a last hurrah. On one hand, it is far from being the case that the majority of young generations of people of white European ancestry are seeking this type of entitlement. On the other hand, people from non-white European ancestry, especially the young, are fundamentally unwilling to accept the legitimacy of white entitlement.

Indeed, it is certain today, and as “the Squad” makes it clear, that the vast majority of people from non-white European ancestry inhabiting the west are too much at home here to ever accept a mode of belonging that involves white supervision. They don’t believe they need to be supervised and they don’t grant the self-appointed whites the right to supervise them. They will never accept a mode of belonging that involves being supervised by angelic, loving white people, let alone by evil, sleazy, racist ones.

Ghassan Hage is a professor of anthropology and social theory at the University of Melbourne

No, Not Everything Is Racist But Donald Trump is.

No, Not Everything Is Racist

But Donald Trump is.

I don’t like to accuse people of racism. That word is used far too often, unjustly, to smear good men and women. It has been thrown at House Speaker Paul Ryan, Sen. John McCain, former Gov. Mitt Romney, and other decent conservatives. It has been attributed to anyone who defends law enforcement or opposes a government program. When everyone on the right is a white nationalist or white supremacist, these terms lose their meaning.

But Donald Trump is a racist. He meets what Ryan himself once called the “textbook definition” of racism. Trump singles out particular ethnic, racial, and religious groups for suspicion. He holds all members of these groups responsible for the misdeeds of other members. He casts aspersions on individuals based on creed and background. And he explicitly advocates discrimination. If these behaviors don’t define bigotry, nothing does.

Let’s give Trump the benefit of the doubt in every case where his conduct could be explained, even implausibly, by something other than prejudice. Housing discrimination by his father’s company? Young Donald wasn’t directly involved. The Central Park Five? He thought they were guilty. Questioning Barack Obama’s birthplace? Trump just wanted to be thorough. His failure to denounce David Duke? Trump couldn’t hear the question. Calling the removal of Confederate statues an attack on “our culture”? He meant we should own our history. Calling Sen. Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas”? He’s being ironic. Hounding NFL players who kneel? He feels strongly about the national anthem.

Set aside all of that, and you’re still left with four patterns that can’t be explained away.

The first is Trump’s habit of associating certain ethnic or religious groups with violence. In 2013, he targeted blacks, writing on Twitter that “the overwhelming amount of violent crime in our major cities is committed by blacks and hispanics.” He also retweeted fake black-on-white crime data. In 2015, he kicked off his presidential campaign with a tirade against Mexican immigrants: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” Later that year, Trump claimed to have seen thousands of people cheering the 9/11 attacks in northern New Jersey, “where you have large Arab populations.” In each case, Trump imagined or misrepresented the threat. He never does this to whites.

Within these groups, Trump blames the innocent for failing to control the guilty. 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!” In 2016, after the Orlando massacre, Trump falsely charged that “the Muslim community does not report” its extremists. He concluded that Muslims should be punished collectively for such incidents: “The Muslims are the ones that have to report them. And if they don’t report them, then there have to be consequences to them.” Trump refuses to apply this policy of collective responsibility to whites. After Charlottesville, he argued just the opposite: that “very fine people” shouldn’t be faulted for rallying with Nazis.

Trump has persistently cast aspersions on particular people based on race, ethnicity, or religion. He suggested to evangelicals that they couldn’t trust Ted Cruz because Cruz’s family came from Cuba. He suggested to Protestants that they couldn’t trust Ben Carson because Carson is a Seventh-day Adventist. He retweeted an allegation that Jeb Bush “has to like the Mexican illegals because of his wife,” who is Mexican American. 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.”

The clearest standard of bigotry is advocating differential treatment based on race, sex, ethnicity, or religion. Trump has done that repeatedly. In 2013, he dismissed the military’s integration of women as a stupid mistake, arguing that it had led to sexual assaults. In 2015, he demanded a “complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” In 2016, he warned that Muslim migrants were too dangerous because once they were allowed into the United States, they might proselytize for Islam, and there was “no way” to “prevent the second generation from radicalizing.” In his attacks on Curiel, Trump reasoned that no judge “of Mexican heritage” could fairly preside over his fraud case, because such ancestry entailed “an inherent conflict of interest.”

This behavior has continued in office. During an Oval Office meeting last summer, according to the New York Times, 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.” Six weeks ago, Trump retweeted messages from a hate group, which by their plain language (“Muslim destroys a statue of Virgin Mary!” “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!”) sought to incite anger against all Muslims.

The White House denied the Times report about Haitians and Nigerians. But now there’s confirmation, from a Democratic senator, a Republican senator, and others who attended or were briefed, that Trump made similar remarks in an Oval Office meeting with lawmakers on Thursday. During a back-and-forth 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.

Trump disputes his exact language in the meeting. But on Friday morning, in a series of tweets, he affirmed his reasoning. “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 and people who will help take our country to the next level.”

What Trump is proposing, as sketched in his own tweets, is not a merit-based system. A merit-based system would accept or reject applicants based their own merits. 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. If you’re Haitian, you’re out.

That’s bigotry. It’s not some left-wing activist’s definition of bigotry. It’s the textbook definition. And while quotas by nationality are common in immigration policy, it’s hard to explain why Trump thinks and talks this way on so many other issues, not just about foreigners but about Americans. He has been doing it for years to every group with whom he doesn’t identify: blacks, Latinos, Muslims, Seventh-day Adventists, Cuban Americans, Mexican Americans, Arab Americans, Korean Americans, and women.

A president who keeps saying bigoted things and pushing bigoted ideas, despite repeated warnings, is a bigot. A party that continues to excuse him is a bigoted party. And a country that accepts him is a bigoted country. Don’t be that party. Don’t be that country.

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Americans are more likely to be attacked by far-right terrorists than Islamists

Americans are more likely to be attacked by far-right terrorists than Islamists

Trump says silent because “radical Islamic terrorists” aren’t part of his voting base – and “white supremacist terrorists” are.

Remember how Donald Trump used to accuse the Democrats of political correctness on the subject of terrorism? “These are radical Islamic terrorists and she won’t even mention the word and nor will President Obama,” declaimed the then Republican presidential candidate in his second debate against Hillary Clinton in October 2016.

But what about Trump’s own political correctness? Over the course of his 14 months in office, the president has pointedly refused to use the term “white supremacist terrorist”. He has turned a blind eye to a wave of shootings, stabbings and bombings carried out not by radicalised Muslims but by radicalised white men. He has ignored the fact – documented in a range of studies – that Americans are much more likely to be the victims of a “white supremacist terrorist” than a “radical Islamic terrorist”. (According to the Investigative Fund, an independent journalism organisation, “far-right plots and attacks outnumber Islamist incidents by almost two to one.”)

And the reason for Trump’s PC position? It’s straightforward – if scary. “Radical Islamic terrorists” aren’t part of his base. “White supremacist terrorists” are.

Don’t take my word for it. “Donald Trump is setting us free,” wrote a jubilant Andrew Anglin, founder of a neo-Nazi website, the Daily Stormer, last summer. “It’s fair to say that if the Trump team is not listening to us directly (I assume they are), they are thinking along very similar lines.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which monitors hate groups and extremists, agrees. “If 2016 was the year of white supremacists being electrified by the rise of Donald Trump, his inauguration in January sent them into a frenzy,” it noted. “They believed they finally had a sympathiser in the White House and an administration that would enact policies to match their anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and racist ideas.” The SPLC pointed out that “hate crimes in the six largest US cities were up 20 per cent from 2016”.

According to the Extremist Crime Database, the far right carried out nine fatal attacks in the US in 2017. In February of that year, Adam Purinton shot two Indian men, one of whom was killed, at a restaurant in Kansas, reportedly yelling “get out of my country” and “terrorist” before opening fire.

In March 2017, James H Jackson, an avid reader of the Daily Stormer, fatally stabbed an elderly African-American man in New York, after travelling from Baltimore to kill as many black men as possible and “make a statement”, according to the authorities.

In May, Jeremy Joseph Christian, an admirer of both Trump and the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh, was charged with stabbing two men to death on a train in Portland, Oregon, after they tried to prevent him from harassing two female passengers who appeared to be Muslim.

In August, James Fields Jr, a proud neo-Nazi, was charged with killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer after allegedly driving his car into a crowd in Charlottesville, Virginia, which had gathered to protest against a white supremacist rally. (“You also had some very fine people on both sides,” Trump would later remark .)

In December, a 17-year-old boy who had mowed a swastika into the grass of a community field was charged with murdering his girlfriend’s parents after they objected to their teenage daughter’s relationship with the youth because of his neo-Nazi views.

Yet hardly any of these fatal attacks by radicalised white men dominated the news headlines in the US in the same way that shootings or bombings by radicalised Muslims tend to. Aside from the killing of Heyer in Charlottesville, how many of these incidents had you even heard of? Researchers at Georgia State University found that terrorist attacks “by Muslim perpetrators received, on average, 449 per cent more coverage than other attacks”. Muslims were responsible for 12.4 per cent of the terror attacks in the US between 2011 and 2015 yet received 41.4 per cent of the news coverage. Is it any wonder that when most Americans think of terrorists they picture brown, not white, skins?

“Terrorism is one of the only areas where white people do most of the work and get none of the credit,” joked the comedian Ken Cheng in a viral tweet. But this is no joking matter for the Trump administration. Upon coming to office last year, White House officials briefed Reuters that they wanted to “revamp and rename a US government programme designed to counter all violent ideologies so that it focuses solely on Islamist extremism… and would no longer target groups such as white supremacists.”

By June, the administration had announced it would be revoking federal funding for Life After Hate, a non-profit dedicated to deradicalising right-wing extremists, and a project by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that was supposed to counter both violent Islamists and white supremacists.

Yet in May last year, an intelligence bulletin prepared by the FBI and the department for homeland security was obtained by Foreign Policy magazine, which warned that “white supremacists had already carried out more attacks than any other domestic extremist group over the past 16 years”. It concluded that white supremacists “likely will continue to pose a threat of lethal violence over the next year”.

And so they have. Just as George W Bush ignored intelligence about a growing threat from al-Qaeda in his first year in office, Trump spent 2017 ignoring warnings about the “persistent threat of lethal violence” from white supremacists.

“To solve a problem you have to be able to state what the problem is or at least, say the name,” declared Trump in his October 2016 debate with Clinton. Maybe, just for once, the president should take his own advice.