Tag Archives: racism

A Soundtrack for Black History Month: How Fares the Dream?

It’s that time of year again: Black History Month — and below is my updated playlist/soundtrack for the civil rights and black power movements… But first a few remarks.

Black History Month: the one month of the year when, traditionally, American school children get to learn about George Washington Carver (our “black Leonardo”) and Booker T. Washington, and maybe if they’re lucky W. E. B. DuBois and Thurgood Marshall.

Continue reading

Openbook – Privacy, Stupidity and Hate Speech on Facebook

“Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.
Whether you want to or not.”

Openbook is an online service that lets you quickly and easily search through public posts on Facebook. Even a few minutes playing with it will have you despairing for the future of America.

But Openbook has some positive uses – beyond revealing how appallingly lax and stupid so many people are about what they say in such a public forum. You can search on various derogatory terms and bits of hate speech, click over to the offending user’s profile, and then report them, using the Report/Block link along the left side.

It’s a very minimal form of cyberactivism, but something to do while stealing back your life from your bosses.

The BNP meltdown – Yay!

The BNP meltdown: “One of the arguments made on Pickled Politics and elsewhere was that while the BNP were great at exploiting people’s fears and casting themselves as insurgents, when it came to the pesky business of actual government they found now rather trickier. Now the electorate in Barking and Dagenham have demonstrated how they feel about the BNP’s record of governance on the local council by voting all twelve of them out. This capped a poor night for the party overall, which left them will only 19 councillors, down from 45.”

(via Pickled Politics.)

Big Brother – Arizona Parties Like It’s 1984


old state motto: “God Enriches”
new state motto: “ID Snitches”

Ariz. college to position sensors to check class attendance: “Devices would be installed in underclassmen lecture halls; some say infringes on privacy

Students at Northern Arizona University will have a hard time skipping large classes next fall because of a new attendance monitoring system.

The new system will use sensors to detect students’ university identification cards when they enter classrooms, according to NAU spokesperson Tom Bauer. The data will be recorded and available for professors to examine.

Bauer said the university’s main goal with the sensor system is to increase attendance and student performance.

‘People are saying we are using surveillance or Orwellian [tactics] and, boy, I’m like ‘wow,’ I didn’t know taking attendance qualified as surveillance,’ Bauer said.”

(Via Privacy Digest.)

How long before the best and the brightest there decide to combine the idea of ID sensing with illegal hunting under the new state law and require all Arizonans to carry IDs with RFID on them – and then install sensors everywhere to catch illegals without the ID cards?

And then there’s this..

Arizona Teachers With Accents and Ethnic Study Banned: “The Arizona Department of Education has told schools that teachers with ‘heavy’ or ‘ungrammatical’ accents are no longer allowed to teach English classes. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer by the state legislature Thursday, schools will lose state funding if they offer any courses that ‘promote the overthrow of the U.S. government…”

(via digg.com: Stories / Popular.)

Seriously?!? How about courses promoting the overthrow of the Arizona government? And no doubt they will be using “‘heavy’ or ‘ungrammatical’ accents” for their not-racial racial profiling as well.

But if you make it unmolested past the forces of Arizona’s Big Brother system, you can join them – as part of one of a variety of vigilante border watch groups, some with webcams that allow you to play along at home:

Cameras Allow Residents To Watch Mexican Border: “Illegal immigrants are the target of a new watch program that allows the public to participate from their own home.

Using a regular home computer with an Internet connection, in a matter of seconds a resident can be on the front lines in the war against illegal immigration.

This Web site allows users to watch the U.S. – Mexico border in the fight against illegal border crossings.

For $10, users have access to a remote-controlled camera located near the border of Arizona and Mexico. The camera can be turned left and right to scour the desert.

(via Nashville News Story – WSMV Nashville.)

Webcam Border Patrol: “When John Spears gets home from his sales job in New York, he sits down at his computer with a bottle of beer and starts patrolling the US border.

And to do it, he does not need to stir from his sofa.

He is one of tens of thousands of people around the world who are volunteering to patrol the 1250-mile long (2000 km) stretch between Texas and Mexico via the web.

(via DarkGovernment.)

Continue reading

The Best Anti-Arizona Protest Signs

“This past weekend rallies were held across the country protesting Arizona’s new immigration law. So what does that mean for you? A new batch of protest signs, of course! Enjoy.”

via The Best Anti-Arizona Protest Signs: Pics, Videos, Links, News.

(thanks to Boing Boing)

Read This: “Is it impossible to end racism and sexism?”

Is it impossible to end racism and sexism?: “Research strongly suggests that people conform to expectations. Perhaps that’s why legislation designed to end prejudice has only had limited success”

(Via Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.)

Arizona, Arizona Über Alles

Everybody gets so much information all day long
that they lose their common sense.
~ Gertrude Stein

A round up of recent headlines, ledes and soundbites from around the internet on Arizona’s new immigration law…

Continue reading

FaceBook and the McDonalds-izing of the Internet – plus Greece and Arizona

“Arizona is … a warning of what a state can look like when it’s run by talk-radio demagogues and their television cohorts.”
(Too bad they went with Rush Limbaugh and Chris Beck and not Jon Stewart.)

Here, for your horror and amusement, a roundup of some headlines and excerpts from the news of the last couple of days concerning FaceBook, Greece and Arizona – all in the one post as I am probably as sick of reading and writing about this stuff as you are of reading and thinking about it.

The truth is, I found the topics mostly either too aggravating (Arizona) or too complicated/outside my area of competence (Greece) to really have much worthwhile to offer beyond a handy crib sheet / set of links to what I found useful and interesting in my own reading.

I did feel that I might have something to offer on the matter of FaceBook. Most of the commentary I read focused on the threat to privacy angle or on FaceBook’s ambitious growth strategy – and covered these topics fairly well.

But I also thought these were not perhaps the most interesting or troubling aspect of FaceBook’s recent moves. The most interesting – and most negative – aspect was what I guess we could call the McDonalds-izing of the internet – which seems to be not just a scary scenario but actually the heart of their strategy:

McDonalds – it’s everywhere you go, from San Francisco to Shanghai to Skopje, from New York to New Delhi to Old Blighty, and everywhere pretty much the same. It’s unhealthy, bland, culturally and nutritionally denuded and pumped full of pretty packaging and preservatives, salt and sugar to make up for its lack of taste, appeal and interest. It’s very cheap, and not worth it – but nonetheless becomes a big part of the diet of people who are locked out, scared off or ignorant of better choices. McDonalds: bland, banal, unhealthy, homogenized, corporate, ubiquitous.

To the extent that FaceBook succeeds in its ambitions, the internet will become a blander, more homogenized, and more regimented and commodified experience.

The computer world has seen other monopolies and hegemonies come (and sometimes go): Windows is not quite the force it once was, though it’s still pretty powerful; likewise Microsoft Office. Google clearly has hegemonic aims and seems to be doing a good job of achieving them, but that battle is not yet over.

But somehow, the idea of a hegemonic FaceBook seems to me somewhat more serious. I suppose because it is a social network, and has to a large extent taken over from IMing and email as a central means of communication for many people. And also become a major force in organizing groups, inviting people to events, sharing photographs, indicating likes and dislikes in shopping and other forums, and so on.

These were all activities that used to be enacted through separate platforms, sites and applications. Smaller sites operating in more competitive arenas, and generally with more responsiveness to their users than FaceBook has shown. And in many cases, at least initially, much less commercial, much less “monetized” and surveilled.

FaceBook hopes to end all of that, bringing all of those activities into its grasp, and analyzing and monetizing our every activity, and targeting us with ads tailored to our precise demographics and desires.

“One Site to rule them all…”


Despite my personal apprehensions (which are, naturally, well-founded and not at all the paranoid fantasies of some left-wing conspiracy theorist), the rest of the blogosphere has quieted down a bit where FaceBook is concerned, after the first rush of responses – positive and negative – to announcements at FaceBook’s developers’ conference. The two main interests continue to be the privacy issue, on the one hand, and evaluations of the new developments from a technical and business perspective on the other; on both, we may have to wait a little while for more in-depth discussions.

In the meantime, here’s PC Magazine chiming it with its advice on securing some privacy in the wake of FaceBook’s changes:

Facebook Privacy: 8 Ways to Protect Yourself: pcmag.com — You want to use Facebook, but you also want to keep your private information from being spread all over the Internet. The key is to understand how Facebook works, where your information is going, and how to navigate the service’s labyrinth of privacy controls.

(via Digg.com.)

Early last month, before FaceBook’s developers’ conference, Bruce Schneier, one of the most respected commentators on computer security, wrote of the issue of privacy and control, specifically addressing FaceBook:

In January, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg declared the age of privacy to be over. A month earlier, Google Chief Eric Schmidt expressed a similar sentiment. Add Scott McNealy’s and Larry Ellison’s comments from a few years earlier, and you’ve got a whole lot of tech CEOs proclaiming the death of privacy — especially when it comes to young people.

It’s just not true. People, including the younger generation, still care about privacy.

Read the whole discussion of “Privacy and Control” in Schneier on Security.

An article in The New York Times on a new extreme sport fun run – “Tough Mudder” – parenthetically provided a concise picture of just how targeted FaceBook ads already were, how well they knew us, before this current round of changes:

The [Tough Mudder] Web site went online in early February, and $8,300 was spent on Facebook ads aimed at specific demographics — young professionals, runners and extreme athletes, police officers and firefighters, and those in the military who lived in the vicinity of Allentown and within 50 miles of New York and Philadelphia.

(via NYTimes.com.)

Imagine what they’ll be able to do once they know your every like, your every move.

Enough of that… Here’s what’s been happening in the less important realm of offline events. (For some reason, the mainstream news media has been paying a lot more attention to Greece and Arizona than FaceBook…)
Continue reading

Razing Arizona / American Apartheid

AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

Anger – even fury – over Arizona’s new immigration law has been spreading through the United States, with President Obama, a number of Congressmen, and various state and local officials and public figures issuing stern denunciations.

A movement to enact a boycott of the state – as was done before, when Arizona rejected the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday – is also spreading, with city officials in San Francisco now banned from travel to the state (except for law enforcement and public health matters).

I’m still waiting for a comprehensive boycott site to appear – a web site listing products and services from Arizona, to facilitate individuals and companies who want to participate in the boycott.

Meanwhile, another reaction to Arizona’s move is also spreading. Officials in other states are expressing concern that they will be flooded with undocumented immigrants fleeing Arizona in the wake of the new law, and are suggesting that they may be forced to enact similar laws to prevent such an outcome. This seems pretty bizarre and craven to me – and unlikely.

How many undocumented immigrants really stay in Arizona anyway, rather than just transiting through it to farms?

I feel a particularly personal connection to this issue, as for most of my childhood I was an undocumented immigrant – an illegal alien – in the United States, and living in a neighborhood that was predominantly Hispanic. But of course I’m white and a native English speaker, so I never had to worry about la migra.

It would be great to see a demonstration, protest, march in the Arizona capital of thousands, 10s of thousands of similar illegals – white, English-speaking sin papeles standing up against the law. Of course, they’d likely all get arrested and deported so I’m not going to hold my breath, but it would highlight the racist dimension of Arizona’s law – since I doubt any of them would be asked for their papers on the way to the demo – and would also draw attention to the fact that undocumented immigrants are not just Hispanic.

Below is a roundup of recent news item and blog entries from around the web on the situation…

Continue reading

Arizona’s anti-immigrant law: the inevitable result

Arizona’s anti-immigrant law: the inevitable result: “We can expect a deluge of stories such as this: only a matter of hours after Arizona’s borderline-racist and almost certainly unconstitutional law targeting immigrants was signed by the state’s governor, a US citizen is the first to experience life under the new law.

The man, a truck driver, was arrested and handcuffed in Phoenix after he was asked to produce identification.”

(via World news | guardian.co.uk.)

An increasing number of individuals and organizations – including the City of San Francisco – are calling for a boycott of Arizona.  Absolutely right.

Coming on top of earlier efforts by Arizona governors to get rid of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and to strip away gay and lesbian domestic partner benefits, Arizona is beginning to seem like a rogue state.

And check out the interesting debate and the new law over on The New York Times: Will Arizona’s Immigration Law Survive? – Room for Debate Blog.

BNP Protest | Demotix.com

UAF protest BNP in Croydon | Demotix.com.

Demotix is a citizen-journalism website and photo agency. It takes user-generated content (UGC) and photographs from freelance journalists and amateurs, and markets them to the mainstream media.

Hacktivism as Direct Action – Nazi Punks F**k Off [cont’d]

Previously, I discussed the neo-Nazi hate group/website Stormfront.org and possible responses to groups such as this – and to the growing use of the internet by such groups as their key recruitment, organizing and propaganda tool, more generally – including:

  • ignore them and hope they go away;
  • protest;
  • try to get them shut down, rounded up, put away, whatever, through official channels; and
  • take direct action against them.

Problems were raised with the viability and efficacy of each of the first three of these possible responses, and I concluded by briefly addressing the idea of “cyberwarfare” direct action as a response to the web presence of hate groups such as Stormfront.

Continue reading

The Compton Cookout: Racism, Resistance, and Backlash » Sociological Images

At the beginning of this month, I made a series of posts looking at issues around Black History Month – and in particular the idea that with Obama’s election, the United States has shown itself to be past the need for a Black History Month. Against this idea, I drew attention to, among other things, a racist party thrown (or at least scheduled) on a University of California campus.

Continue reading

Christian Warriors against the New World Order [UPDATED]

Nine members of a Michigan-based anti-government militia that posted its military exercises on the Internet and allegedly plotted to kill police officers were indicted in Detroit on Monday on conspiracy and weapons charges.
The indictment said the Hutaree, which describes itself as a “Christian warrior” group, viewed all law enforcement as the enemy. It said members planned a violent act to get the attention of the police, possibly by killing an officer at a traffic stop, then attacking the funeral procession with explosives.

via Militia members indicted on conspiracy, weapons charges – latimes.com.

Continue reading

Too Soon to End Black History Month

Bias incidents roil University of California

Swastikas, nooses, a KKK hood, graffiti, epithets and jeers.

An ugly spate of bias incidents has crossed several University of California campuses over the past month, causing consternation, outcry and fear that bigotry is alive among the young and educated…. Continue reading