It Is Journalism’s Sacred Duty To Endanger The Lives Of As Many Trans People As Possible (The Onion)
Good journalism is about finding those stories, even when they don’t exist. It’s about asking the tough questions and ignoring the answers you don’t like, then offering misleading evidence in service of preordained editorial conclusions. In our case, endangering trans people is the lodestar that shapes our coverage. Frankly, if our work isn’t putting trans people further at risk of trauma and violence, we consider it a failure.
We stand behind our recent obsessed-seeming torrent of articles and essays on trans people, which we believe faithfully depicts their lived experiences as weird and gross. We remain dedicated to finding the angles that best frame the basic rights of the gender-nonconforming as up for debate, and we will use these same angles over and over again in hopes that this repetition makes them suffer. As journalists, it is our obligation to entertain any and all pseudoscience that gives bigotry an intellectual veneer. We must be diligent in laundering our vitriol through the posture of journalistic inquiry, and we must be allowed to fixate on the genitals.
Jamelle Bouie: What if We Let Majoritarian Democracy Take Root? (NY Times)
If it were up to the national majority, American democracy would most likely be in a stronger place, not the least because Donald Trump might not have become president. Our folk beliefs about American government notwithstanding, the much-vaunted guardrails and endlessly invoked norms of our political system have not secured our democracy as much as they’ve facilitated the efforts of those who would degrade and undermine it.
Majority rule is not perfect but rule by a narrow, reactionary minority — what we face in the absence of serious political reform — is far worse. And much of our fear of majorities, the legacy of a founding generation that sought to restrain the power of ordinary people, is unfounded. It is not just that rule of the majority is, as Abraham Lincoln said, “the only true sovereign of a free people”; it is also the only sovereign that has reliably worked to protect those people from the deprivations of hierarchy and exploitation.
If majoritarian democracy, even at its most shackled, is a better safeguard against tyranny and abuse than our minoritarian institutions, then imagine how we might fare if we let majoritarian democracy actually take root in this country. The liberty of would-be masters might suffer. The liberty of ordinary people, on the other hand, might flourish.
Derecka Purnell: Kanye West keeps moving further and further to the right. Why? (The Guardian)
The problem is, Kanye behaves as if the only real and brave truth tellers today are conservatives with money. He acts as if the rich right wing holds a monopoly on criticisms of the Democratic party or liberal activists. This ignores a host of progressives and radicals – people like Cornel West, Nick Estes, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Mariame Kaba, Aja Monet, the Rev Jeremiah Wright, and too many artists and grassroots organizers to name who criticise the liberal establishment more fiercely than the right and with commitments to end oppression. In fact, entire progressive and radical traditions exist where people of all races offer vigorous critiques of the status quo with surgical precision. We need fewer “free thinkers” and more critical thinkers who ask about these traditions and find their places within them.
The question for me is whether billionaire Kanye can ever really know about these robust traditions. Not because he doesn’t already know or will never learn about them, but because to know them is to also learn their critiques of gross wealth accumulation, Black capitalism, desire for imperial leadership, and so much more of what Kanye currently represents. Supporting free thinkers with weak conservative analysis does not threaten his status, land, antisemitic views or bank account.
Robin James: SCOTUS to US: There is no such thing as civil society
Civil society was something that existed among white Europeans and which was supposedly lacking among indigeneous peoples across the rest of the globe. Because personhood and all the rights that go with that status were thought to exist only in civil society and not in the state of nature, it was then no violation to colonize land thought to be in the state of nature or to treat people thought to be in that state as property. Social contract theory used the idea of “civil society” to justify the colonial/racial project of excluding non-white people from personhood.
By de-funding public education, rendering public space inherently more risky, and eliminating the right to privacy in one’s sexual and reproductive choices, these three decisions all eliminate the existence of a key element of classically liberal social ontology: the civil private sphere (i.e., the realm of civil privacy, the private sector, etc.). Put simply, they’re reworking the way the U.S. Constitution models the relation between public and private from the classically liberal model the framers used in the 18th century into a neoliberal one premised on the idea that, as Margaret Thatcher infamously put it, “there is no such thing as society.” In this neoliberal model, there is no civil society (e.g., public space, the realm of individual civil privacy, etc.) and the state only exists to enforce the boundaries of the patriarchal racial capitalist framing of the domestic private sphere.
David Bentley Hart: Three Cheers for Socialism (Commonweal Magazine)
In the late modern world something like socialism is the only possible way of embodying Christian love in concrete political practices.
Americans are, of course, the most thoroughly and passively indoctrinated people on earth. They know next to nothing as a rule about their own history, or the histories of other nations, or the histories of the various social movements that have risen and fallen in the past, and they certainly know little or nothing of the complexities and contradictions comprised within words like “socialism” and “capitalism.” Chiefly, what they have been trained not to know or even suspect is that, in many ways, they enjoy far fewer freedoms, and suffer under a more intrusive centralized state, than do the citizens of countries with more vigorous social-democratic institutions. This is at once the most comic and most tragic aspect of the excitable alarm that talk of social democracy or democratic socialism can elicit on these shores. An enormous number of Americans have been persuaded to believe that they are freer in the abstract than, say, Germans or Danes precisely because they possess far fewer freedoms in the concrete. They are far more vulnerable to medical and financial crisis, far more likely to receive inadequate health coverage, far more prone to irreparable insolvency, far more unprotected against predatory creditors, far more subject to income inequality, and so forth, while effectively paying more in tax (when one figures in federal, state, local, and sales taxes, and then compounds those by all the expenditures that in this country, as almost nowhere else, their taxes do not cover). One might think that a people who once rebelled against the mightiest empire on earth on the principle of no taxation without representation would not meekly accept taxation without adequate government services. But we accept what we have become used to, I suppose. Even so, one has to ask, what state apparatus in the “free” world could be more powerful and tyrannical than the one that taxes its citizens while providing no substantial civic benefits in return, solely in order to enrich a piratically overinflated military-industrial complex and to ease the tax burdens of the immensely wealthy?
…where health care in particular is concerned, Americans are slaves thrice-bound: wholly at the mercy of a government that despoils them for the sake of the rich, as well as of employers from whom they will receive only such benefits as the law absolutely requires, as well as of insurance companies that can rob them of the care for which they have paid.
States depend upon capital for revenues, material goods, and political patronage. Without the support of an omnicompetent, vastly prosperous, orderly, and violent state, global corporate capitalism could not thrive. Without corporations, the modern state would lack the resources necessary to perpetuate its supremacy over every sphere of life.
The bleak spectacle of the Amber Heard-Johnny Depp trial
All of this — the bad-faith scrutiny, the obsession with minor discrepancies, the confidence that vast conspiracies can be discovered on Google — is instantly recognizable from previous explosions of internet-enabled misogynistic bullying. The “body language experts” that swarmed around Heard spent years applying the same junk science to Amanda Knox, Meghan Markle, and Carole Baskin. The gremlins who targeted Anita Sarkeesian during Gamergate pretended to be offended by the (extremely minor) technical errors in her videos rather than her presence in their boy’s-only treehouse.
The best evidence for the motivations behind the anti-Heard campaign is that while her every slip-up has been dissected ad nauseum, Depp’s far more numerous and consequential discrepancies have been all but ignored. His testimony that he was too high on opioids to attack Heard during the airplane incident, for example, contradicts his own text messages (“angry, aggro injun in a fuckin blackout”) from the day after. His absurd denials of his drug problem belie his own contemporaneous communications and bolster Heard’s account. In the final week of the Virginia trial, he bafflingly claimed that he hadn’t sent text messages from his own phone — I guess someone hacked into it and sent texts that sound exactly like him?
Heard is not a perfect victim and has never claimed to be. In her own testimony, she admitted to engaging in screaming matches, fighting back, and insulting Depp in the final year of the relationship. The judge in the UK trial said there was probably some truth in Depp’s accusation that Heard was condescending about his drug use, something that triggered his sense of internalized shame and, ultimately, his rage. The psychologist who saw them in 2015 said both partners had poor communication skills and weren’t able to de-escalate fights or have productive conflicts.
This is all damning evidence against Heard and I see no reason not to believe it. But remember: The relationship at the heart of this case was one in which the smaller, less powerful partner has evidence of at least 10 serious incidents of violence. Black eyes, bloody lips, trashed homes, chunks of ripped-out hair on the carpet. WHY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT WHETHER SHE WAS ANNOYING SOMETIMES?
If you entertain the possibility that Heard has not concocted an elaborate hoax but is in fact an actual domestic abuse victim, having an emotional reaction when her husband shows up and merrily announces that he has broken his promise to her — a broken promise which may put her safety at risk — her actions suddenly make more sense.
There is almost no evidence that the op-ed had any effect on Depp’s career. Over the previous decade, Depp had released a string of high-profile bombs (The Rum Diary, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Transcendence, The Lone Ranger, Mortdecai, Dark Shadows — I haven’t even heard of most of these) and had been the subject of numerous articles documenting his dimming star power. For years, set leakers reported that he showed up late and drunk and needed an earpiece to remember his lines (Depp says he used it to listen to music).
In hindsight, the verdict came down the minute the judge allowed the case to be televised. Jurors weren’t sequestered or sheltered from the internet in any way, meaning they were likely exposed to the same bad-faith memes and out-of-context clips as everyone else. Plus, this case has been swirling around the internet for years, making an impartial jury an impossibility in the first place. One man was allowed to stay in the jury pool after revealing a text from his wife that read, “Amber is psychotic.”
I have no idea what happens next, but I do know that Depp’s unbelievably cynical strategy to discredit his ex-wife’s abuse claims (Jessica Winter called it “a high-budget, general-admission form of revenge porn”) was a resounding success. Heard is now one of the most hated figures in America. Even if she overturns the decision on appeal, she will likely never be cast in a major Hollywood role again — what studio wants to risk a hostile internet campaign before they even start shooting?
Depp’s core claim — women advance their careers by accusing powerful men of abuse — doesn’t even hold up to the evidence of his own abuse accusation. Heard is ruined; Depp is in pre-production for his next role; other alleged abusers are already copying his legal strategy.
And outside the courtroom, America’s march backward toward the 1950s continues apace.
Rusty Foster: What Are You Willing to Do? (Today in Tabs)
The truth is, I don’t know what to do. I hugged my own third grader goodbye this morning and sent her off to school. The middle school she’ll attend in three years is remote today because they discovered “threats” in a bathroom. We live in a country where statistically, until age 19, she is most likely to die of a gunshot wound. So what am I willing to do? Anything.
Something About The Way Society Was Exposed As Complete Illusion Over Past Year Really Getting Man Down Today (The Onion)
VANCOUVER, WA—Unable to shake off an overall negative feeling he couldn’t attribute to anything in particular, local man Paul Carpenter confirmed Monday that something about the way society was exposed as a complete illusion over the past year was really getting him down today. “Maybe it’s just quarantine talking, but the reality dawning on me that American life is a fundamentally hollow cesspool of spectacle and misery is really bumming me out lately,” said Carpenter, adding that he had the vague idea that living in a social system based on brutal competition that made all human relationships transactional and perverted the very idea of community might have something to do with it. “I can’t put my finger on it, but maybe I’m just really tired of the coronavirus pandemic, which wasn’t mishandled as some people say but in fact shown to be rationally handled by a group of insulated wealthy individuals who can pursue their greedy desires with the full knowledge that a vast percentage of Americans are economically superfluous and thus willing to fight among themselves for scraps? On the other hand, though, maybe it’s the stress of a news cycle in which people from both political parties are invested in a series of increasingly baroque conspiracy theories guided by the grotesque and increasingly obvious lies we tell ourselves about American exceptionalism that’s making me feel kind of sad. There’s just this nagging feeling I have that it became very clear over the past 12 months that the basic building blocks of society are crumbling and there is absolutely no plan for changing anything at any level to avoid plunging the vast majority of humanity into cycles of ever-worsening suffering and violence. Maybe it’s just that being fundamentally powerless and living among other similarly disenfranchised, surveilled, and downtrodden people have made me feel completely alienated from any kind of community at all, or maybe I just need to get more sleep.” Carpenter added that he did plan to address the way he’d been feeling lately, perhaps by tuning out of the news and letting other people who weren’t ever even afforded the option to believe in the illusions of American society figure out what to do, or by trying to exercise more.
Stop asking sane people to lovingly accept those who cheered on a man who has done grave and permanent damage to this world. It’s outrageous that half the country should be asked to exhibit mercy while the other half is permitted to wallow in its criminality and ignorance.
Americans have a sliver of a chance to demonstrate that there is some conscience left among us by requiring those who did harm to apologize, and if they do not, to be denied any further role in public life. And obviously, it’s incredible that this needs to be said, but those who are guilty of crimes must be prosecuted (just for a change!) The absence of accountability means condoning wrongdoing, as a glance at cable TV news, with its parade of war criminal guests, can show you.
Demanding accountability is what being ‘reasonable’ requires of us. Being ‘empathetic’ means empathy for those who’ve been harmed, before we begin even to think of empathizing with those who’ve done harm. It’s an insult to every family broken by ICE, an insult to George Floyd, to ask that Trump voters be forgiven in the absence of a total and credible apology from them, and a repudiation of all the wrong they’ve done.
Jamelle Bouie: Don’t Fool Yourself. Trump Is Not an Aberration. (NYT)
Many of the worst things the president has said and done were said and done by his predecessors.
For as much as it seems that Donald Trump has changed something about the character of this country, the truth is he hasn’t. What is terrible about Trump is also terrible about the United States. Everything we’ve seen in the last four years — the nativism, the racism, the corruption, the wanton exploitation of the weak and unconcealed contempt for the vulnerable — is as much a part of the American story as our highest ideals and aspirations. The line to Trump runs through the whole of American history, from the white man’s democracy of Andrew Jackson to the populist racism of George Wallace, from native expropriation to Chinese exclusion.
And to the extent that Americans feel a sense of loss about the Trump era, they should be grateful, because it means they’ve given up their illusions about what this country is, and what it is (and has been) capable of.
There is very little about Donald Trump or his policies that doesn’t have a direct antecedent in the American past. Despite what Joe Biden might say about its supposedly singular nature (“The way he deals with people based on the color of their skin, their national origin, where they’re from, is absolutely sickening”), the president’s racism harkens right back to the first decades of the 20th century, when white supremacy was ascendant and the nation’s political elites, including presidents like Woodrow Wilson, were preoccupied with segregation and exclusion for the sake of preserving an “Anglo-Saxon” nation.
Jamelle Bouie: Why Coronavirus Is Killing African-Americans More Than Others (NYT)
To give just a few, relevant examples, black Americans are more likely to work in service sector jobs, least likely to own a car and least likely to own their homes. They are therefore more likely to be in close contact with other people, from the ways they travel to the kinds of work they do to the conditions in which they live.
Today’s disparities of health flow directly from yesterday’s disparities of wealth and opportunity. That African-Americans are overrepresented in service-sector jobs reflects a history of racially segmented labor markets that kept them at the bottom of the economic ladder; that they are less likely to own their own homes reflects a history of stark housing discrimination, government-sanctioned and government-sponsored. If black Americans are more likely to suffer the comorbidities that make coronavirus more deadly, it’s because those ailments are tied to the segregation and concentrated poverty that still mark their communities.
American capitalism did not emerge ex nihilo into the world. It grew out of existing social, political and economic arrangements, toppling some and incorporating others as it took shape in the second half of the 19th century.
White supremacy was one of those arrangements. The Civil War may have destroyed slave society, but the racial hierarchy that was central to that society survived the carnage and disruption of the conflict to shape the aftermath, especially in the absence of a sustained program to radically restructure the social and economic life of the South.
Which is to say that, as it developed in the United States, industrial capitalism retained a caste system with whites as the dominant social group. This wasn’t just a matter of prejudice. As it did under slavery, race under industrial capitalism structured one’s relationship to both production and personhood. Whiteness, the philosopher Charles W. Mills notes, underwrote “the division of labor and the allocation of resources, with correspondingly enhanced socioeconomic life chances for one’s white self and one’s white children.”
But if you look at the full picture of American society, it is clear that the structural position of black Americans isn’t so different from what it was at the advent of the industrial age. Race still shapes personhood; it still marks the boundaries of who belongs and who doesn’t; of which groups face the brunt of capitalist inequality (in all its forms) and which get some respite. Race, in other words, still answers the question of “who.” Who will live in crowded, segregated neighborhoods? Who will be exposed to lead-poisoned pipes and toxic waste? Who will live with polluted air and suffer disproportionately from maladies like asthma and heart disease? And when disease comes, who will be the first to succumb in large numbers?
If there was anything you could predict about this pandemic — anything you could be certain about once it reached America’s shores — it was that some communities would weather the storm while others would sink under the waves, and that the distribution of this suffering would have everything to do with patterns inscribed by the past.
As long as those patterns remain, there is no path to a better society. We have to break them, before they break us.
New data show that Americans are suffering from record levels of mental distress.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, roughly one in 12 American adults reported symptoms of an anxiety disorder at this time last year; now it’s more than one in three. Last week, the Kaiser Family Foundation released a tracking poll showing that for the first time, a majority of American adults — 53 percent — believes that the pandemic is taking a toll on their mental health.
This number climbs to 68 percent if you look solely at African-Americans. The disproportionate toll the pandemic has taken on Black lives and livelihoods — made possible by centuries of structural disparities, compounded by the corrosive psychological effect of everyday racism — is appearing, starkly, in our mental health data.
whentheycamedown is a project documenting the removal of statues representing white supremacy, oppression, genocide, colonialism, and racism throughout the world. This is a collaborative effort started by Emily Gorcenski, although the intention of the project is to open source contribution in the style of open knowledge.
This project takes the stance that the removal of statues represents an important and inextricable part of the history of the people, groups, and moments that those statues represent. Removing of statues, renaming of parks, and similar actions is not an act of erasing history, but an act of adding to history by capturing the spirit, beliefs, motivations, and actions of the people who lived during the times those statues stood. It is the goal of this project to document the people who aimed to remove the monuments more than the people represented by the monuments. The project seeks to document the history of the activists, their efforts to remove statues through proper and improper channels, and the history of the people oppressed by those who the statues represent.
Since the events in Charlottesville on August 11-12, 2017, a number of far-right fascists, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis have caught charges for violent crimes. These crimes range from misdemeanors to serious felonies, from state charges to federal charges, and possible penalties can include life in prison or even death.
Tracking these cases has given anti-fascist and anti-extremist researchers a wealth of information regarding the organizing methods, networks, and objectives of these groups. Tracking all of these cases, however, can be hard. So here is a resource that should hopefully compile that information for future work. Fascists are never on the side of truth, so sunlight can be a powerful tool to disrupt their organizing. It is with high hopes that this information is used to save lives. This is not an endorsement of the police, of state violence, or of state intervention. This is simply a repository of the most accurate possible information, culled from public records, newspapers, and court hearings.
Sam Levin: White supremacists and militias have infiltrated police across US, report says (The Guardian)
A former FBI agent has documented links between serving officers and racist militant activities in more than a dozen states
Michael German, a former FBI special agent who has written extensively on the ways that US law enforcement have failed to respond to far-right domestic terror threats, concludes that US law enforcement officials have been tied to racist militant activities in more than a dozen states since 2000, and hundreds of police officers have been caught posting racist and bigoted social media content.
Activists in Kenosha say police there have responded aggressively and violently to Black Lives Matter demonstrators, while doing little to stop armed white vigilantes. Supporting their claims is at least one video taken before the shooting that showed police tossing bottled water to what appeared to be armed civilians, including one who appeared to be the shooter, the AP noted: “We appreciate you being here,” an officer said on loudspeaker.
The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have directly identified white supremacists as the most lethal domestic terrorist threat in the country. According to German’s report, the FBI’s own internal documents have directly warned that the militia groups the agency is investigating often have “active links” to law enforcement.
And yet US agencies lack a national strategy to identify white supremacist police and root out this problem, German warned. Meanwhile, popular police reform efforts to address “implicit bias” have done nothing to confront explicit racism.
We, as a country, need to agree on something important: that the post office is not a business but a service every American directly benefits from, and therefore every American should pay into. In fact, it is difficult to imagine anything more deserving of tax dollars than a peaceful, civil service that binds every American together, promotes commerce, and serves as a link of last resort to vulnerable populations. Instead of feeding the good thing, we, as a country, have decided to starve it. Reversing this policy would require not just reversing a bad law, but admitting we were wrong about some very big ideas. That is what makes it so difficult, and also so important.
Zipporah Osei, Mollie Simon, Moiz Syed, Lucas Waldron: We Are Tracking What Happens to Police After They Use Force on Protestors (ProPublica)
These 68 videos show clear apparent instances of police officers escalating violence during protests. Most departments refused to share details about investigations and discipline or even officers’ names. Here’s what we learned about each case.
Rebecca Solnit: As the George Floyd protests continue, let's be clear where the violence is coming from (Guardian)
Using damage to property as cover, US police have meted out shocking, indiscriminate brutality in the wake of the uprising.
The distinction between damaging or destroying human beings and inanimate objects matters. But it’s not simple. People trapped inside a burning building break down the doors to escape; an estranged husband with a restraining order breaks down a door to further terrorise his ex-wife. The same actions mean different things in different situations. Martin Luther King famously called riots “the voice of the unheard” – and as the outcry of people who have tried absolutely everything else for centuries, property damage means something very different from merely malicious or recreational destruction. When they riot, the black people most impacted by police brutality and by four centuries of poverty, dehumanisation and deprivation of basic rights and equality, are more like people trapped inside that burning house trying to break out.
There is no easy way to distinguish between ardent white supporters of a black uprising and black bloc-style white people who revel in property destruction, taunting the police and escalating situations (before often slipping away before the police crack down). They are anti-authoritarians opposed to police brutality and the overreach of the state, and should not be confused with the rightwing authoritarians who many fear will use the pandemonium as cover for their own agenda, which could include creating more chaos.
The story of activist violence is often used to justify police violence, but damage to property is not a justification for wholesale violence against children, passersby, journalists, protesters, or anyone at all. It is the police who should have lost their legitimacy, over and over, after the many individual killings from Eric Garner to Walter Scott to Breonna Taylor to George Floyd. And after reckless, entitled, out-of-control violence in police riots like that on Saturday night. Perhaps the point of their action this week is that they don’t need legitimacy, just power.
There’s one more kind of violence to talk about, and that’s structural violence. That’s the way that institutions and societies are organised to oppress a group of people, and for black Americans, that’s included slavery, the long terrorism of Jim Crow and lynching, voter suppression from the 19th century to the present, redlining (denying or charging more for necessary services) and subprime mortgages, discrimination in housing, education, and employment and far more.
Right now, several forms of structural violence that particularly matter are the chronic stress and lack of access to healthcare, housing issues, and work situations that have made black Americans die of Covid-19 at far higher rates than other races.
Tamara K. Nopper: Abolition is Not a Suburb (The New Inquiry)
If anything, what Ocasio-Cortez is actually describing is the way that affluence and whiteness provide these communities the means to avoid consistent targeting by the police, to ignore laws, or to evade punishment. To be able to be the target of less policing, as well as to hire attorneys and use money and networks when accused, is a thing that white affluence provides — an affluence tied up in and made possible by the racist-classist financial infrastructure concealed by the suggestion that affluent, white suburbanites just have different budgeting priorities. In cases where harm might be perpetrated, using one’s resources in terms of money and connections to avoid criminalization and incarceration can be more an evasion of accountability than abolition.
I would never confuse captivity with the privacy, money, and racial status shielding an affluent, white suburbanite. But a shared dimension is that each approach tries to make people, when they have committed harm, be disappeared from public view and consciousness while the structural roots of harm go unaddressed and society operates as normal. Again, abolition involves figuring out what nonpunitive accountability looks like in public. Affluent, white suburbanites being shielded from the violence of carceral systems while others are not offered the same opportunity is not a model of abolition. It is just an expression of relative power and racism.
The racist double standard Ocasio-Cortez speaks of is not simply an issue of different budget priorities or treatment. The disparity in punishment is relational. When it happens, the different treatment of white people — even when they are found guilty — involves rescuing them from forms of carceral control and violent punishment deemed racially appropriate for others.
This is not a call for parity in punishment. An abolitionist project would never consider this justice, since punishment itself is at the heart of carcerality, and equal punishment means Black people — who, as Jared Sexton notes, are the “prototypical targets of the panoply of police practices and the juridical infrastructure” — will never be free. But what we get from the affluent, white suburb is less a model of abolition and more an evasion of accountability, which can rely on racialized tropes of innocence to avoid punishment — which only enforces carcerality against those who serve as the raced specter of criminality.
While discussing abolition during the Rising Majority panel, Ocasio-Cortez proclaimed, “And to say, you know, we not actually wanting anything different, the world that we’re fighting for already exists, it just exists for some people, and we want it to exist for all of us.” The world that already exists, according to Ocasio-Cortez, is the affluent, white suburb. Yet these suburbs are part of a spatialized racial-class design in which capitalism and anti-Blackness structure public finance. Affluent, white suburbanites may seek protection for their children in ways that legitimate carcerality for others who serve as the specter of criminality and “deserving” harsh punishment, and often use their money, power, influence, and racial status to evade accountability for real harms they commit. Taken together, this cannot be what abolition looks like. While we are told the suburb gives us a model of the world we’re fighting for, looking to the affluent, white suburb for quick inspiration can only work if we ignore the logic and design of racial capitalism and carcerality we seek to undo. Ultimately, the suburban frame, even when employed with the best intentions, works against what is required of abolition. As Ruth Wilson Gilmore tells us, “Abolition requires that we change one thing: everything.”
Angela Davis: Dems & GOP Tied to Corporate Capitalism, But We Must Vote So Trump Is “Forever Ousted” (Democracy Now)
AMY GOODMAN: We only have two minutes, and I want to get to the election. When I interviewed you in 2016, you said you wouldn’t support either main-party candidate at the time. What are your thoughts today for 2020?
ANGELA DAVIS: Well, my position really hasn’t changed. I’m not going to actually support either of the major candidates. But I do think we have to participate in the election. I mean, that isn’t to say that I won’t vote for the Democratic candidate. What I’m saying is that in our electoral system as it exists, neither party represents the future that we need in this country. Both parties remain connected to corporate capitalism. But the election will not so much be about who gets to lead the country to a better future, but rather how we can support ourselves and our own ability to continue to organize and place pressure on those in power. And I don’t think there’s a question about which candidate would allow that process to unfold.
So I think that we’re going to have to translate some of the passion that has characterized these demonstrations into work within the electoral arena, recognizing that the electoral arena is not the best place for the expression of radical politics. But if we want to continue this work, we certainly need a person in office who will be more amenable to our mass pressure. And to me, that is the only thing that someone like a Joe Biden represents. But we have to persuade people to go out and vote to guarantee that the current occupant of the White House is forever ousted.
Mariame Kaba: Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police (NYT)
Because reform won’t happen.
Congressional Democrats want to make it easier to identify and prosecute police misconduct; Joe Biden wants to give police departments $300 million. But efforts to solve police violence through liberal reforms like these have failed for nearly a century.
Enough. We can’t reform the police. The only way to diminish police violence is to reduce contact between the public and the police.
There is not a single era in United States history in which the police were not a force of violence against black people. Policing in the South emerged from the slave patrols in the 1700 and 1800s that caught and returned runaway slaves. In the North, the first municipal police departments in the mid-1800s helped quash labor strikes and riots against the rich. Everywhere, they have suppressed marginalized populations to protect the status quo.
Why on earth would we think the same reforms would work now? We need to change our demands. The surest way of reducing police violence is to reduce the power of the police, by cutting budgets and the number of officers.
We can build other ways of responding to harms in our society. Trained “community care workers” could do mental-health checks if someone needs help. Towns could use restorative-justice models instead of throwing people in prison.
When people, especially white people, consider a world without the police, they envision a society as violent as our current one, merely without law enforcement — and they shudder. As a society, we have been so indoctrinated with the idea that we solve problems by policing and caging people that many cannot imagine anything other than prisons and the police as solutions to violence and harm.
People like me who want to abolish prisons and police, however, have a vision of a different society, built on cooperation instead of individualism, on mutual aid instead of self-preservation. What would the country look like if it had billions of extra dollars to spend on housing, food and education for all? This change in society wouldn’t happen immediately, but the protests show that many people are ready to embrace a different vision of safety and justice.
Steven W. Thrasher: An Uprising Comes From the Viral Underclass (Slate)
And the Black Lives Matter movement could be the vaccine the country needs.
But both Floyd and Taylor are part of the viral underclass—a population harmed not simply by microscopic organisms but by the societal structures that make viral transmission possible. Viruses directly affect the lives of people who become infected. But the bodies of the viral underclass are made needlessly vulnerable, and that vulnerability shapes their lives and their communities, even if individual people ultimately don’t become infected or killed.
When we follow a virus—HIV, SARS-CoV-2, hepatitis B or C—we find all the fault lines of the society it is infecting.
Where you’d find policing, you’d find poverty, and Black people, and new cases of HIV, and untreated cases of HIV—which, untreated, proceeded to AIDS, and to AIDS deaths.
As Black people have organized against the connected crises of the virus and policing, they’re giving the viral underclass a map toward liberation. Facing the contagion of financial ruin and with time at home, many white people have realized (perhaps for the first time) that they have far more in common with other members of the viral underclass than they do with the ruling class.
We are roughly 5 percent of Earth’s population but account for 25 percent of the world’s prisoners and COVID-19 deaths. That the wealthiest nation on Earth has the most coronavirus deaths is because we put resources into policing, militarism, and punishment that we haven’t (yet) put into public health.
U.S. citizens have a hard time understanding that—while there’s a viral underclass within the country, the country might be the underclass of the world. We are a “failed social experiment,” as Cornel West put it. Other countries may treat the U.S. as pariahs for years because our society allowed for uncontrolled community spread, staggering unemployment, and horrific levels of death. The nation’s massive wealth was not used to provide prophylaxis from this virus for the many; it just concentrated upward.
Understanding and embracing this can lead us away from selfish politics and toward a new politics of communal care and understanding—to create the kind of multiracial, multinational uprising we have been seeing in the past few weeks.
In the past, when I’ve thought about what a world without AIDS would look like, I’ve thought about the words of the 1977 Combahee River Collective statement, which coined the concept of identity politics.* In writing about working in coalition, they wrote, “We might use our position at the bottom, however, to make a clear leap into revolutionary action.” This could benefit everyone, because, “[i]f Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression.” A world without AIDS would mean everyone had gotten the food, medicine, and shelter they needed and would, thus, be free.
A project by the Everytown for Gun Safety organization.
The Gun Violence Archive is an online archive of gun violence incidents collected from over 7,500 law enforcement, media, government and commercial sources daily in an effort to provide near-real time data about the results of gun violence. GVA is an independent data collection and research group with no affiliation with any advocacy organization.
The Gun Violence Archive is an online archive of gun violence incidents collected from over 7,500 law enforcement, media, government and commercial sources daily in an effort to provide near-real time data about the results of gun violence. GVA is an independent data collection and research group with no affiliation with any advocacy organization.
Lois Beckett: Anti-fascists linked to zero murders in the US in 25 years (The Guardian)
As Trump rails against ‘far-left’ fascism, new database shows leftwing attacks have left far fewer people dead than violence by rightwing extremists.
American white supremacists and other rightwing extremists have carried out attacks that left at least 329 victims dead, according to the database.
Daily interpersonal violence and state violence pose a much greater threat to Americans than any kind of extremist terror attack. More than 100,000 people have been killed in gun homicides in the United States in the past decade, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. US police officers shoot nearly 1,000 Americans to death each year. Black Americans are more than twice as likely to be shot by the police as white Americans, according to analysis by the Washington Post and the Guardian.