I WOKE up today to find my Dutch morning paper, the Volkskrant, dominated by a full-page spread on the results of the independent autopsy on Michael Brown, the shooting victim whose death has plunged the town of Ferguson, Missouri, into protests and riots. The situation in Ferguson also headlined today’s editions of Spain’s El Pais, Portugal’s Publico, Denmark’s Politiken, France’s Liberation, and Germany’s Der Tagespiegel, Die Tageszeitung and Die Welt. The racially charged protests over police brutality in Ferguson are an important story, but the level of attention they are drawing in Europe is frankly bizarre. Police killings of unarmed black men occur regularly in America, and Ferguson is a small, faraway midwestern town. Yet the protests there are drawing more focused attention in northern European media than the anti-austerity riots in Greece did during the euro crisis. When Paris saw anti-Semitic riots following pro-Gaza demonstrations on July 13th, it did not even make a sidebar item on the front page of the next day’s Die Welt.
Part of the attraction of the Ferguson story for Europeans may be a bit ofSchadenfreude enjoyment of America’s racial woes. Europeans got tremendous political mileage out of America’s racial conflicts in the 1960s, using American racism as a negative pole to rally support for counter-American projects both on the Gaullist right and on the socialist left. In recent years it has been Europe that has struggled with anti-immigrant racism and an integration model that seems to work much worse than America’s. Europeans weary of criticism over rising xenophobia may be relieved to see that America still has its own troubles.
In a similar fashion, countries such as China, Russia, Egypt and Iran are exploiting the Ferguson riots to try to blunt human-rights criticism of their own repressive activities. “Obviously, what the United States needs to do is to concentrate on solving its own problems rather than always pointing fingers at others,” huffed an editorial published byXinhua on Monday. “We would like to advise our American partners to pay more attention to restoring order in their own country, before imposing their dubious experience on others,”Russia’s foreign ministry declared Friday.
That said, there’s another reason why the events in Ferguson are so interesting to a European public, and for that matter to everyone else. The confrontation in Ferguson, as many observers have noticed, looks uncannily like the ones in Ukraine, Gaza and Iraq. There is clearly some kind of a global blowback going on, in which military techniques of forcible population control developed for use at the periphery of states’ areas of sovereignty are now being applied at the centre. Leonid Bershidsky, a brilliant Russian journalist and editor, laid out the similarities in a fascinating column yesterday in Bloomberg View. “Police officers around the world are becoming convinced they are fighting a war on something or other, whether that’s drugs, terrorism, anarchists or political subversion,” Mr Bershidsky writes. “This mindset contrasts with the public’s unchanged perception of what the police should be doing, which is to keep the streets safe, a conceptual clash that can lead to unexpected results.”
The difference between these two kinds of policing, Mr Bershidsky writes, can be modeled as the division between the London Metropolitan Police Force established in 1829, which conceived itself as fighting crime in concert with the populace, and the repressive colonial police forces the British Empire employed in “colonies of rule” such as Ireland and India, who conceived of themselves as keeping potentially hostile local populations in line. He cites the argument of Emma Bell, a faculty member at France’s Universite de Savoie, that the colonial policing culture is now “coming home”, as local police forces come to see themselves as hostile to the populations they police. And he recalls how militarised police provoked the conflict in Ukraine.
I am not entirely convinced that Mr Bershidsky is right that increasing the level of militarisation of the police response in Ferguson will have the opposite of its intended effect. Ferguson’s own police force may have been heavily militarised, but they were also untrained and incompetent. Better trained and more efficient militarised police have been highly successful at containing and shutting down popular protests in New York, Moscow, Cairo and so on. The depressing reality is that, as repressive as modern police tactics of population control may be, they seem to be very effective, and the boundaries for autonomous civic action are growing ever narrower. Indeed, even as Ferguson was featuring on the cover of today’s Volkskrant, the paper was also reporting on efforts by the mayor of The Hague to ban an anti-ISIS march by Dutch right-wingers in a largely Muslim neighbourhood, after an earlier march led to violent clashes. Europeans are right to be riveted by what’s happening in Ferguson. It is in the same genre as the stories of protest and control we see playing out all over the world.
The Marriage Equality Map You Need To Know: A lot is happening as courts across the nation rule on same-sex couples’ marriage rights. Here’s where things stand as of March 12.
you know, guys
not all republicans
The only political thing I’ve agreed with on tumblr.
Alright, going to get some history nerd cred down here…
I’m not saying that all Republicans are evil, that would be hyperbole to the extreme— but one thing people need to understand is that the Republican Party of Lincoln was not the Republican Party of Teddy was not the Republican party of Mitt Romney.
It’s a little thing called realignment.
Realignment is a period where a party’s ideology, platform, and target audience shifts. There has been many periods of realignment, from early on in our history. The shift from the Federalist party to the Democratic-Republican party, the split of the Democratic-Republicans to the Democratic Party and the Whig Party, and the dissolution of the Whigs in 1852 and the founding of the Republican party of 1858- leaving us with the Democrat vs. Republican split we have today.
But the parties were not the same as they are now. The Democratic party was very much the party of the South at this point- states rights, anti-abolitionist and pro-slavery. Likewise, this early Republican party rose as the anti-slavery party, with Lincoln being the first Republican president under this platform (Their slogan was free labor, free land, and free men).
Eventually, as America moved away from the Civil War and into its industrial revolution, the Republican party began to shift towards industrial interests and the interests of “Big Business,” increasing tariffs and so on.
With the realigning election of 1896, electing William McKinley, the Republican party shifted to becoming the party of Big Business.
Moving on to the example of Roosevelt. When Roosevelt was made McKinley’s Vice President, NOBODY WANTED HIM TO EVER BECOME PRESIDENT. Especially the Republican Party. Good old Teddy was trying to dismantle the political machine of Tammamy Hall, local political bosses made sure he was nominated as the Vice Presidential candidate, to get him into what was widely viewed as a completely ineffectual position and out of their hair.
However, McKinley was shot, and Roosevelt became president for two terms. However, when he demanded to be nominated by the Republican party after the presidency of Taft, they refused— his political stance was not the same as the Republican party’s, and they renominated Taft.
At this point the Democrats were realigning too, to become the party of worker’s rights, as well as the party of the South.
Eventually, more and more African American voters broke from the Republican party and started to vote Democrat, because the Democratic party’s new stated aim of 1948 was civil rights. The so-called “Dixiecrats,” the Southern Democrats, didn’t like this one bit- which led to our next realignment period, signaled by the election of this man:
The Southern Strategy, pioneered first by Nixon, sought to realign these Dixiecrats with the Republican party, some analysts claim trying to appeal to their racist tendencies. Bob Herbert wrote in the New York Times:
“The truth is that there was very little that was subconscious about the G.O.P.’s relentless appeal to racist whites. Tired of losing elections, it saw an opportunity to renew itself by opening its arms wide to white voters who could never forgive the Democratic Party for its support of civil rights and voting rights for blacks.”
Analysts also claim that the South, with its new growing middle class, sought to vote with the party that more closely identified with its values. Whichever is the case, the predominantly WASP middle-class Americans of the South aligned with the Republican party during what was known as the neoconservative movement.
The neoconservative movement defined the modern Republican party, and the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s (especially under the work of President Lyndon B. Johnson) began to define the modern Democratic party.
So, now we have the Democrats and Republicans of today. Solid Republicans, tend to have deeply sincere religious beliefs and favor state’s rights and hands-off Government (i.e. Mitt Romney), while the Democrats tend to be the party of civil rights and strong government intervention.
The point of this post is not to call either side morally just or injust. It’s merely my attempt at a clarification about the nature of US political history that many people forget about, including Ann Coulter in her latest book, Mugged: Racial Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obama.
If you read this, congratulations! I know not many people are going to want to bother with this wall of text, but it’s a really common misconception that I’ve been seeing thrown around a lot lately.
Also, let’s not forget that neither of those presidents are without their own faults; Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of Habeas corpus during his presidency, and Teddy Roosevelt was a HUGE ole imperialist, and supported the forced sterilization of criminals and ‘feeble-minded persons’
It’s a document with a pretty intimidating name, that’s for sure. Obama’s trip to Afghanistan early Wednesday local time seemed loaded with mystery — few knew he was there until he was actually there. He was there to sign a document that many watching the news had no idea existed until today. And the document itself is the definition of how a long-standing war will finally end, thirteen years after it started — at least as far as combat troops go. This document, just eight pages, was so important that the White House had to release a fact sheet to explain it to the average joe. What does it mean to you, anyway? Here are three things you should take from the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement:
- one The U.S. government will continue to help the Afghan government train its security forces even after combat troops leave the country in 2014, with the goal of giving the entire region stability.
- two The U.S. will continue to fund security and development efforts in the country, but not by default — the president has to ask Congress for a new round of funding each year.
- three This effort goes both ways — Afghanistan is on the hook to improve the transparency and effectiveness of the government, while respecting the civil rights of its people. source
» So what’s the end date? The end of the document says this clearly: “It shall remain in force until the end of 2024.” (It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time this end date has been bandied about.) Which means, at that rate, the events around the Afghan War will be completely said and done 23 years after it started, though combat troops should be long gone. Hopefully.
- John Steinbeck
Obama will have to literally call him a “Whitey” on the podium to even have a CHANCE at losing this election
I wouldn’t go that far, even though that’s how it SHOULD be (IMO obviously).
A lot of people … I don’t know if it’s the majority, but it’s no small subsection of the country who really really blame him for the recession.
And the knee-jerk hatred in this country for anything resembling wealth redistribution (EVIOL SOCIALISM EVIOL) is … IDK, maybe it has to be seen to be believed.
There are so many many people who have suffered so much from this recession and still see Obama/the Democrats as thieves who want to steal people’s money, no matter that at best they want to “steal” it from 1% of the population and give it to those people who are suffering!
IDEK! It’s like. In America capitalism is God. I don’t even hate capitalism if you wanna know the truth, I just can’t wrap my mind around how it triumphs basically every other tenet imaginable. But it does!!!!
I can’t understand it!!!!!!!!!!
Can we say neither?
Sure, Congress & the administration have had a rough year trying to get along, but most of that hasn’t really affected our economic policy to a degree that it would really send us over the edge.
If you’re looking for someone to blame, we would start with the ten years prior at the Fed, then look at the banks and how they so poorly dealt with a rapidly collapsing housing market, and then Europe, which today is largely responsible for many of the fears and woes that things are going straight back to 2008. If you haven’t, we’d also recommend you listen to this This American Life podcast which really does a great job of explaining “The Giant Pool of Money.” It won a Peabody!