You’re Either With Me, Or Against Me: the Death of Healthy Debate Within The Modern Era of Mass Misinformation

Every morning I like to lay in bed reading the news of the day, enjoying the peace and quiet of my apartment before begrudgingly forcing myself out of bed to face the chaos of the outside world. I usually avoid scanning over the comments on these articles as they are often a place void of healthy debate and mostly full of immature tactics such as name-calling. Recently, I started to think that maybe I shouldn’t be ignoring what these people are saying. It demonstrates how much trouble we’re really in. To my dismay, the art of the healthy debate is dead.

My pessimism is generated not only from what is being discussed in the news, but how it’s being discussed by the public. From personal experience, it seems that this kind of toxic discussion is not only present in comments on articles online but has made a home in many other parts of political discussion. It appears both ends of the political spectrum, the left and the right, are alienating themselves. This “us-versus-them” dynamic is creating an aggressive political climate that is lacking constructive debate over policy.

People assign themselves as “left or right”. Then, rigid like the roots of a tree, “plant” themselves on one side of the political fence and refuse to move (all the while cursing those on the other side). In their unwillingness to allow their world view to be challenged by obtaining information from varied sources, people have made themselves vulnerable. Many people don’t demand better policies as they only care about the party itself. Blind faith has allowed citizens to fall into the popularity trap. It doesn’t matter what the right does because it’s not left, and vice versa.

Fake News Image

image source: HTTP://WWW.PHILLY.COM/PHILLY/OPINION/SIGNE/20161204_DAILY_SIGNE_CARTOON_12_04_16.HTML

Sure, politics has always been deeply dividing as a person’s political beliefs are often a large part of who they are. And true, disagreements over major political opinions have often created friction – but this over-aggressiveness seems to be preventing actual progress and change. But why is this occurring? Has this always been a consequence of democracy? Is this a recurring cultural phenomenon that has been placed under a magnifying glass by social media – and the ability to comment, sometimes anonymously, on news articles?

In their book, Liars! Cheaters! Evildoers! – Demonization and the End of Civil Debate in American Politics, Tom de Luca and John Buell discuss the rise of malice in current American political debate. They state that the growing divide between the left and right has its roots in the 60s. The Civil Rights Movement and the Cold War ear have had a major impact on political discourse. Minority groups have been gaining a platform on the political front and are challenging the historically “conservative” way of life.

The rise of movements like Black Lives Matter, the increase in LGBTQ rights, and a more sexually free and racially diverse Western society is pushing previous boundaries. This seems to have increased fear on both sides of the political spectrum: those who fear that their way of life is being threatened, and those who believe their rights are being denied by allowing the current way of life to continue. It doesn’t help that both sides are being radicalized by one another (If you support BLM you hate white people! If you support Trump you’re a bigot!).

I believe we are reaching a boiling point as society is coming to terms with the fact that these extremes cannot coexist. This paranoia has caused aggressiveness out of desperation, and this desperation has eroded the ability to see the “other” as a fellow human with a difference of opinion and unique perspective on life.

So where do we go from here? How can we create better political discourse if now all the other side has to do is scream “fake news” when they don’t like what they read? Is it possible for people to view political matters through an impartial lens, one that isn’t clouded by race or “left” and “right”? Many people are willingly keeping themselves in a bubble consisting of only information from their end of the political spectrum – how do we pop that bubble? How do we restore the art of healthy debate in modern society? If we can dissolve the tendency to reduce each other down to simply “left” or “right” stereotypes and attempt to look at the larger mechanisms at work, we might be able to create a future that is more inclusive and eradicate the recent trend of demonizing the “other”.

Censoring Public Symbols

          The names of roads, towns, buildings and clubs surround us with stories. In some places, governments try to have power and control over public spaces and media. According to democracy public spaces should not be controlled or censored, they should be shaped through public discourse, popular opinion and competitive politics. 

          The recent removal of the statue of Edward Cornwallis in Halifax, as well as the removal of many confederate monuments in America have sparked debate over the public sentiment towards these monuments and whether or not right to remove controversial symbols of history. Edward Cornwallis was the founder of Halifax and was also known to mistreat native people. He issued a notorious proclamation in 1749 which gave a reward for killing Mi’kmaq people.  Many people have called for the removal of these monuments due to their dark history, however many others feel these monuments are historical pieces of art and the way they have once been presented to the public is an important part of the story.

           The goal of history is to create the most holistic understanding possible in order to understand the circumstances of our present and future. In a way, the removal of monuments could send a message that these events should be remembered or memorialized in a different way.  The statues and their stories do not disappear when they are moved. Some monuments are moved to a new space where they can be re-contextualized, however some are stored away from the public eye. Is removing public monuments really the best way to appease public controversies? Like any government project, the removal and relocation of monuments is a costly affair. Perhaps it would be more positive to invest in the writing of wider and more holistic stories which address controversies. Or perhaps invest funding into modern groups and organizations to improve the rights and well being of citizens, especially those who have been mistreated.

            What is interesting in some cases such as Edward Cornwallis is that the monuments are being moved out of respect and in response to public outcry. The destruction sentimental belongings, buildings, homes, artifacts and monuments of nations around the world has been a common event in history. The National Capital commission has decided to take this statue down to avoid vandalism and violence. Ideally, critical and inclusive history would be easily accessible to all members of the population. The actors and events of history should speak for themselves, and people will continue to judge them based on their own moral standing. 

         Carleton University (CU) is named after Guy Carleton. Carleton came from Ireland to serve the military in British North America. He participated in gruesome warfare that killed many people, and trained other people to kill and conquer the enemy, for the ‘greater good of the nation’. In popular history written by the British empire, he is not condemned as a murderer, his memory is romanticized as working and sacrificing for the nation and the empire. The purpose of monuments is not only to celebrate the positive parts of history, but also to pay respect to those who have suffered, and to remember stories so we can avoid future suffering.

         When reading about Egerton Ryerson on the government funded website Historica Canada, the fact that the Ryerson University of Toronto, Ontario has been called to be renamed by activists is mentioned in the first paragraph. Egerton Ryerson was born in 1803 in upper Canada and was a methodist minister who is known as one of the founders of the public education system in Ontario. Students and activists have called for renaming of the school due to Ryerson’s involvement in the development of the residential school system. Does Carleton’s University’s name face a similar threat?

          Carleton lived over 200 years ago, yet his name still appears in hundreds of books, schools, towns and parks all across the country. Despite complicated and controversial history of the Guy Carleton, CU stands as strong and proud institution, while bearing the name of someone who participated in causing great and inhumane suffering. The truth is, not everyone knows where Carleton University got it’s name from or who Guy Carleton is. Perhaps this means the University could make a Guy Carleton history project to show students the history behind the name they wear. As time passes the places and institutions named after Carleton will bring new legacies and memories to his name. For many students, the name Carleton does not represent a British soldier, it represents passionate professors, classmates and friends. 

The Reality of Reality: Omarosa Manigault on Celebrity Big Brother

Since the explosion of reality television at the turn of the 21st century, they become perceived as a lighthearted form of entertainment lacking in any credibility whatsoever. However, with the election of reality star Donald Trump, reality shows have become more intertwined with politics than ever before. This is certainly evident with the appearance of Omarosa Manigault, former Director of Communications at the White House Office of Public Liaison, on Celebrity Big Brother.

Although this is the first American celebrity season, Big Brother has been on the air in the USA since 2000. The premise involves contestants being locked in a house under 24/7 surveillance. Every week they compete and one contestant is evicted, with the last remaining contestant winning a cash prize. Although the show has had its share of controversy (see: Big Brother 15 racism controversy), casting a celebrity with such a publicized political background is very new for the show. This has brought new interest, but also new problems of using a reality show as a source of political news.

Last week, news broke about a conversation Omarosa had in the house with fellow contestant Ross Mathews. In it, she described the current state of the White House, stating “it’s bad” and “It’s not going to be okay”. She has since warned fellow contestants that if Vice President Mike Pence became president, they would be “begging for the days of Trump” as Pence “thinks Jesus tells him to say things”.

The public has reacted to these claims with both concern and outrage on both sides of the political spectrum.

There are three main ways of looking at these statements: 1) she’s lying as part of the game, 2) she’s exaggerating, using the show to get personal revenge or 3) she’s telling the truth.

In my opinion, the reality is a combination of all three.

First of all, one has to remember that although Big Brother has 24/7 cameras, it is fundamentally a competition show.

Unlike U.K. version, the public has little impact on the game; essentially meaning only the other contestants matter. It is actually closer in format to Survivor in that lying is imperative for success. It it no coincidence that the most prolific players are noted primarily for being deceptive.

Therefore, the very nature of the reality show makes it a not very credible source. What is said on Big Brother is not the modern Watergate, considering the contestants signed up for the show and are aware of the cameras. It is more comparable to a traditional televised interview, except if the interviewee were also trying to compete with the interviewer.

Omarosa, a veteran of The Apprentice, is no doubt savvy to the gameplay aspect of Big Brother. Her only real chance in the game is to distance herself from Trump. The fact that her audience in the first conversation was Ross Mathews (of Rupaul’s Drag Race) who explicitly stated he didn’t understand people who support Trump, only supports the theory that she said it to play the game.

However, as reality show veteran, she must also be very aware of the consequences of such remarks. She may be currently isolated, but from her personal experience, she must know how one comment can ignite a firestorm. There is no doubt her remarks have done this.

Regardless of her intent, in the wake of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury her comments have gained traction to the point of even being addressed in White House press conferences. Once released from Big Brother, she has to defend what she said. Would she really risk her reputation over a lie in a reality show? I’d argue no.

While her comments certainly serve the purpose of gameplay and may be an exaggeration due to her uneasy relationship with the Trump administration, I don’t think she would go all in on such comments if they did not have at least some truth to them. The reality show context complicates the use of her comments as a source of information, but that does not mean they are completely invalid. Rather, in the era of “fake news,” we should just be even more careful to evaluate new sources of information than ever before.

North Korea uses unified Olympic hockey team as propaganda against the US: Op/Ed

This week in the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games, North and South Korea’s joint women’s hockey team will play, marking the first ever unified Korean team. After months of negotiation between both North and South Korea, this symbolic gesture is a diplomatic push by the North to ease tensions after a year of growing fears and war rhetoric.

While this gesture is meant to relieve pressure over North Korea’s nuclear weapon programme, we are seeing the presence of anti-unification protests in Seoul. Protesters worry that the show of unity will threaten South Korea’s democracy, and that the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un is only using the Olympics to politically advertise the two nations at peace. However this gesture is no more than an opportunity for North Korea to create a wedge between South Korea and the United States.

The Olympics offer North Korea a unique opportunity to boost its propaganda, and create an alliance with the south, making it more difficult for the US to continue their military threats.

To fully understand the gravity of this decision it’s important to look at why North and South Korea were separated in the first place.

Imperial Japan ruled over Korea from 1910 until 1945, when they were forced to surrender after World War II. Korea became a victim of the Cold War as it was divided along the 38th parallel, with US troops occupying the South, and the Soviet Union occupying the North. On June 25, 1950 North Korea launched a surprise attack on the South, starting the Korean War that would last three years, and cause US intervention. When an armistice was finally reached in July 1953, 2.5 million people had died. Since then, tensions between North Korea and the United States remain high, especially between President Trump and Kim Jong Un.

North Korea’s use of the Olympics as a political tool is not a new tactic. In 1980, the US boycotted the Moscow Olympics in protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In reaction to this, Pyongyang boycotted the 1984 California Olympics in solidarity with the Soviet Union.

Domestically, North Korea has used the Olympics as a propaganda tool for decades. They began competing in the Winter Olympic Games in 1964, and the Summer Olympic Games in 1972. They have earned 56 medals in total, 16 of them gold. However, sporting events in North Korea are almost always shown at a later time, so that the government can choose to only broadcast favourable games. When North Korea is not in a favourable position, the results are often never broadcast and the population left in the dark.

The unification of Korea is highly unlikely at this time due to cultural, historical and economic circumstances. Therefore this display is merely a show from North Korea to the US. This should come as no surprise from the vastly unpredictable country. North Korea’s radical nationalism and fascination with violence as a political strategy is an example of how fascist regimes are a danger. North Korea, as well as many other former fascist countries such as Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, have used propaganda as a political tactic. If the vital US ally South Korea begins seriously talking with North Korea, the US administration may be forced to soften their position on North Korea policy, even though the two countries are far from becoming a union. While Kim Jong Un seems to be offering olive branches to his neighbours, he makes no effort to show signs of denuclearization. Therefore, while spectators may cheer on the unified Korean athletes, it’s important to note the true political background of the situation.

Modern Fascism and Socailism

Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the idea of any major Western society choosing to adopt large-scale socialist policies, or any policies that fall left of the particular county’s ideas of neoliberalist capitalism, has felt unlikely. Although it is certainly debatable whether the Soviet Union even constituted a socialist or communist society, it was seen largely in the West as the epitome of Marxism, socialism, and left-wing politics as a whole. And so the idea of seeing these political ideologies rise in the West, particularly in the United States, the largest cultural influencer in the West, has seemed unlikely. In saying this, following the Second World War, it would have seemed crazy to imagine a similar ideology to what they just fought against would arise in the United States and the rest of the West, but it is completely legitimate to accept the ‘alt-right’ as a form of neo-fascism. If a form of fascism can rise following the Second World War, the Cold War shouldn’t stand in the way of a rise of socialism, especially considering far-winged emerging ideologies are often met with a rise of a contrasting ideology.

The Cold War was very much seen as a battle between both political and cultural ideologies. While the Soviet Union and the United State always portrayed the USSR as a socialist society and a self-proclaimed dictatorship of the proletariat, it truly was more of an authoritarian government that operated in state capitalism, particularly following the rise of Joseph Stalin in the 1920s. The dichotomy between American and Soviet societies created a significant resentment, particularly in the United States, towards socialism and other left-winged political ideologies. This resentment largely remains with those who grew up with it, but with the active population becoming ever-more populated with people who did not live during the Cold War, sympathy for these ideologies has risen.

While there certainly was some sympathy for Nazi Germany and their practices before, and presumably some after the Second World War, it is safe to say that fascism and Nazism were not well regarded in the West following the War. Despite this, seven decades later, there arses likeminded ideologies, both in Europe and North America, that can be considered modern versions of these WWII ideologies. While these people would still have likely grown up with an overall resentment towards fascists and Nazis around them, they did not experience or feel any direct affects from the War and the harm in which these ideologies directly affected. While there certainly are differences between the ways socialism and fascism were seen following the Cold War and Second World War respectively, there are similarities in the ways they can reappear in the public mindset, with younger people that didn’t perceive any negative experience from these ideologies.

In the past, a rise in a far-winged ideology has often been met with a rise in a contrasting far-winged ideology to oppose it. During the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, the Spanish Military, backed by a series of right-winged and far-right political parties, preformed a coup d’état on the Spanish government, which at the time was made up mostly of socialist and communists. The population was divided politically, with the backers of the military largely being fascists, and their opposers being backed largely by socialists, communists, and anarchists. Today’s West and 1930s Spain are most definitely very different places, but it is clear that these ideologies rose in opposition of the other. While fascism and socialism certainly aren’t polar opposite ideologies, and so a rise in a form of neo-fascism wouldn’t necessarily result in the rise of a neo-socialism, an overall rise in far-right ideologies could certainly result in an overall rise in farther-left ideologies, including socialism.

While in the many year during and since the Cold War many nations have instituted socialist or socialist-esque policies, its large-scale institution in the West has largely fallen out of favour. But, with the rise in youth who didn’t live during the Cold War and the rise of a somewhat contrasting ideology in the alt-right, socialism could rise to prominence in the West again.

Feminism is flourishing amid Trump presidency

In the context of populist regimes and movements, the role of women and their ability to engage with their surroundings has incredible historic repercussion in the growth and perpetuation of feminist ideals.

Women’s movements are nothing new. Women have been fighting for equal rights in many capacities since the suffrage movement. The interesting element is the ability for women to do that under populist regimes. This has benefits, and consequences. In the wake of the #MeToo movement addressing sexual assault and violence, the general public is starting to understand the power of mass female movements, and their influence in the larger political context.  

In the 1930s, the rise of Nazism gave way to a political climate of fear and violence. This was not only issues through the war, but also through the Holocaust.  Women under the Nazi party used the institutions in place to move their way through the ranks. At the time of Nazi power, women still did not have the right to vote, a symbol of their poor political and social status. Their ability to participate in the war greatly affected their ability to organize. This came in the form of working as secretaries, marrying high ranking officers, and serving as nurses or militia women.

Serving in the war came at a great cost to women in Germany. As explained in Wendy Lowler’s  Hitler’s Furies, women were expected to take on more responsibility in lieu of men going off to battle. By the end of the war, women made up 40% of the roles in high ranking Gestapo offices. Under the anti-Semitic regime of Nazi Germany, there were three main categories for women: witnesses, accomplices, and murderers. One of the testaments in Lowler’s novel, made by Erna Petri, stated that she justified the violent actions against the Jewish people as a desire to prove herself to the men, and to further advance her social status.

Parallels exist between female militancy in Nazi Germany and segregation movements in the United States. A women’s group in the United States known as Daughters of the American Revolution are a group of ladies responsible for the maintenance of American culture. Over the years there has been swirling controversy over their practices. Until recently, there was heavy segregation for black American women in the group, as well as the funding to preserve Confederate generals’ statues. In light of the neo-Nazi demonstrations in places like Charlottesville, these symbols and statues continue to promote pro-slavery rhetoric and fuel the overall segregated, populist sentiment.

The difference between movements of the past, and today, is the ability to resort to violence and exclusionary politics in the face of populism. While the women in the previous examples were able to use the political institutions for their own personal advancement, it was at a detriment to other individuals and social groups.

On the other hand, women during the Trump administration era today are supporting each other and using their stories to inspire. While the President is a known molester, women have come out in large crowds, of every race, creed, religion, and sexual orientation to march and protest for their basic rights. In 2017, just a few months after Trump was elected to office and cut programs like Planned Parenthood, over 500,000 women and supporters marched in Washington to advocate for legislation reform in support of women’s rights and social programs. The movement has grown to multiple cosmopolitan cities across the United States and worldwide, reaching numbers of marchers again in the hundreds of thousands.

This gives me hope because in the face of racist and hateful world leaders that are using populist rhetoric, women today are coming together and fighting for what is right and important, in a way that supports each other.

Featured Image from: CNN

Op-Ed: Even Trump’s Infrastructure Plan is Authoritarian

Trump has finally released his plan for infrastructure spending. He released it along with his budget proposal. In both documents, Trump suggests privatization of some public assets, which increases his similarity to other authoritarian figures.

While I am personally against privatization, I understand why some might believe it is beneficial in specific scenarios. However, I think Trump is using privatization in a more sinister way. He is attempting to use privatization to enhance his political power, and he is not the first leader to do so. After all, Hitler privatized when he got into power. Now usually comparing someone to Hitler is a cheap method to undermine them but in this scenario it has a purpose. Trump is nor merely attempting to privatize the International Space Station (ISS), or Dulles airport, or even air traffic control centres, he is acting more and more like an authoritarian leader.

Now do not misunderstand my point, wanting to privatize industry does not make one an authoritarian, a fascist, or a Nazi. It is the reasoning for the privatization that is important. The Nazi’s did not privatize enterprises for a single motive. According to Germà Bel, in his article Against the mainstream: Nazi privatization in 1930s Germany, the Nazi government privatized because they believed that it would give them more political power with industrialists and because they thought that it would aid Germany in its economic recovery. Bel states that “the Nazi government used privatization as a tool to improve its relationship with big industrialists and to increase support among this group for its policies.” Bel specifies that the economic context in the 1930s is very different from the one seen today and therefore it cannot provide us with understanding about the current privatizations. However, that is not what is important here. The critical issue is that the Nazis used privatization as a political tool. This tool allowed them to gain more support from the industrialists. And it would have been harder for the Nazis to govern without this support.

Thus, if we were confident that Trump’s reasoning was innocent, this topic would merely be about our economic difference. However, if we observe Trump’s record as president, there is a reason to be worried. Trump has attempted to befriend businesses since before he was inaugurated. It is true that most Presidents attempt to have good relations with business. Yet, most do not go to the extremes that Trump has. He keeps bragging that he has cut the most regulations of any administration at this point in their administration. He also passed a tax bill that gave huge tax cuts to businesses.

Furthermore, Trump has punished those companies that he believes have wronged him. For example, there are reports that the reason that the Trump administration is suing to block the merger between AT&T and Time Warner is because Time Warner owns CNN, a media company that Trump has derided as fake news many times. So, Trump is both aiding corporation and hurting those who he believes are against him. Thus, he has shown a history of using other political tools to win the support of corporations and we can assume that he is doing the same with privatization.

However, these actions in a vacuum would not be terribly worrisome. Trump is not the first president to privatize public assets. However, he is the first president with authoritarian tendencies to use privatization to gain political power from the most influential companies in the US.

Thus, in a time when Trump’s administration created scandal after scandal, it is important to remember that there is nothing new under the sun. Privatization was one of the tools that allowed Nazis to consolidate and grow their political power, and we must be vigilant that we do not let that happen again.

Donald Trump the Populist ?

In the face of seemingly endless blunders and national embarrassments it can be easy to lose sight of just how Donald Trump was able to win the White House. More importantly how the Democratic party and Hilary Clinton with their collective 1.4 billion dollars’ worth of fund raising were unable to address Trump’s populist rhetoric because of  their addiction to corporate funding and lost to a bombastic reality TV star.

Donald Trump’s State of the Union address put into focus the fear of American workers which handed Trump the same rust belt that had voted for the president Obama only 4 years earlier. Throughout the first year of his presidency Donald Trump abandoned his persona of the populist saviour of the common man in favour of the more comfortable role of the establishment Republican.

The man who had once railed against the influence Goldman Sachs, now fills his cabinet with their alumni.

The same man who had once preached against the wasteful neoconservative escapades in the Middle East has now escalated American military involvement in Syria and seven other nations to heights not even the Obama administration could reach.

With hypocrisy like this many could almost be fooled into thinking Ted Cruz or Jeb Bush had actually won the presidency if it weren’t for the consistent early morning twitter tirades. Despite this, the populist Trump was briefly resurrected for his State of Union address in order to remind both his supports and his detractors why so many Americans had fallen for him.

Throughout the hour-long speech three elements of the “Trump movement” came to light:
– The fear of the working class
– America’s desperation for solidarity

– The role of the saviour

Trump boasted his supposed efforts to save American manufacturing as well as to alleviate inner city poverty. At the same time, Trump condemned the sad state of America’s social safety net promising to invest in infrastructure and somewhat shockingly, fight for lower prescription drug costs and paid family leave. Trump’s populist rhetoric whether it is sincere or not, reflects the precarious state of American workers.

Wages haven’t risen in decades as unions were destroyed and replaced with precariously low paying part-time employment that lacks benefits which the American government uniquely fails to provide. This insecurity creates unimaginable terror amount working people and this fear creates the need for solidarity that Trump exploits. As Linda Gordan described in her examination of the Ku Klux Klan as a case study of right wing populism, populist movements are characterized by this designation of “the people” as victims, and the exploitation of the resulting anger and fear to demagogue against supposed threats.

The State of the Union reminded the America an “other” exists to fear which they must stand united against. In a particularly disgusting form of political theatre, Trump paraded the families of victims of gang violence during his speech showing his supporters that their fears are close to home and that they must stand in solidarity with their nation and their president. 

American society across political lines glorfies economic success and achievement of the “American Dream” as a sign of moral virtue. Trump exploits this fact by presenting himself as a virtuous saviour of the common man due to his position as a wealthy businessman.

In the face of the Trump movement, the establishment Democratic party is powerless to provide a meaningful resistance. Like its Republican counterpart the Democratic party is dominated by corporate and elite interests/money preventing it from serving working people. A Democratic supermajority under president Obama failed to provide Americans with paid maternity leave or universal healthcare. Instead the Obama administration bailed out the banks, expanded American military involvement to 7 countries, and made the Bush tax cuts permanent.

This leaves the Democratic party in a position where it has no answer to the fear of the American working class and can only figh Trump on his racism and incompetence. To the blue-collar worker who is crippled by fear the desire for solidarity trumps the natural sense of disgust towards Trump’s racism and to his most fervent supporters Trump’s flirtation with the alt-right is his greatest appeal.

 

Photos credited to Vox and Huffington Post respectively 

Bigger Than Watergate?

The memo that was released recently by the house intelligence committee headed by the member of congress Devin Nunes shows that the intelligence agencies of the United States used fake information to spy on a presidential campaign. These types of aggressive maneuvers have not been seen since the famous Watergate incident where president Richard Nixon was actively spaying on the Democratic National Convention (DNC). The only difference is that the memo realized on February 2, 2016, is much larger than Watergate and might include more than just high-ranking officials in the FBI.
The memo shows an active FBI, investigating a presidential campaign on no other basis than on lies that were paid for by the opposition (DNC). Furthermore, it was used to gather further research after the election by members of the FBI who were loyal to the opposition.
The memo provides an indictment of senior Republicans, Department of Justice (DOJ), and FBI officials of inappropriately and unlawfully using the biased and unreliable information to conduct surveillance and obtain warrants to violate the privacy of then-private citizen and presidential candidate Donald Trump. According to the memo, the data from the “Steele Dossier,” was essential to the acquisition of surveillance warrants on the Trump campaign.
It also claims that the FBI director, Andrew McCabe, told the committee that without the information from the “dossier,” no surveillance warrants for Carter Paige (member of Trump campaign and ex-FBI agent) would have been sought. Thus, indicating that the “dossier” was the sole basis of the investigation. The memo finishes by stating that the political origins of the “dossier” paid for by the DNC weren’t disclosed to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC or FISA) who signed off on the warrants.
Ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele compiled the “dossier,” that was used to obtain the warrants. The memo claims that the FBI had clear knowledge that Steele was profoundly biased and prejudiced against Trump. It even quotes Steele as saying that he “was desperate that Donald Trump not gets elected and was passionate about him not being president.”
The so-called “dossier,” should have never been considered legitimate or valid for purposes of granting the warrant. Even more shocking of all is that FBI without a mention of the origins of the document went to the federal judge when applying for the permit.
Even Vladimir Putin is left asking “where am I? Why am I not involved in the investigations? I bought some Facebook ads!”. The Democrats responded by saying that the memo was cherry-picked and that accusations were baseless and inaccurate with the intention to harm Robert Muller’s investigation. It is easy to see how concerned the democratic party was about the release of the memo. Instead of encouraging the unveiling of the document they went of full damage control. They desperately trotted out Rep. Adam Schiff out on CNN to explain how the record contained sensible material that the DOJ and FBI should have a chance to vet the report before release. They even began to suggest the Donald Trump hated the FBI. All to try to discourage and cover up the version.
In closing, the memo shows that high ranking members in the FBI let their political bias get in the way of their judgments. It will ultimately prove to be the nail in the coffin for those who were hoping to impeach president Donald Trump. Also, it puts doubts in the public’s mind about the reliability and the integrity of their institutions. What makes this memo even more damaging is that it gives credence to Donald Trump’s idea that he will drain the swamp of Washington D.C. The memo has wholly confirmed the re-election of Donald Trump for the upcoming 2020 race.

 

The Far Right’s Behavior Toward Women and Sex: Old Anxieties, Modern Settings

In the context of the worldview espoused through right-wing politics, women are definitely not valued to the degree that they ought to be. In the context of the worldview of the far right, the societal value of women amounts to little more than living property–house-bound baby-making objects of desire which need protection, especially from rape by men of other races. These attitudes are perfectly observable in the far right movements of the past as well as the present.

Let’s examine the word “cuck”, a popular insult among the alt-right. To be a cuckold involves deriving a masochistic pleasure from watching another man having sex with your wife. This concept is hardly a product of modernity, as we can find instances of cuckoldry in Shakespeare and Chaucer, but the meaning has been tweaked somewhat. In the context of modern pornography, cuckoldry involves a white woman having sex with a black man while her husband, who is almost always white, watches helplessly. Language being one of the many windows into the mind, this speaks volumes about the far right and alt-right’s mentality, especially about race–blacks being a threatening invasive species–perceived weakness–liberals being too weak to defend what is theirs, perhaps even enjoying the humiliation of it all–and women in general–helpless living sex dolls. This, of course, is hardly a new concept. Overblown (and propagandized) fears about black men raping white women can be traced back to the Ku Klux Klan.

The Klan, finding great inspiration in romanticized visions of medieval knights, believed in protecting the virtue of white women under their care, which meant protecting them from those depraved black animals that were roaming the streets. Heartfelt consent between two people did not mean anything to the Klan, especially with regards to interracial relationships, something which was only made legal in the United States in 1967. One example of the Klan taking it upon themselves to involve themselves in someone’s personal life took place in Canada, a country which had never taken a legal stand against interracial marriage, though it was frowned upon. In 1930, seventy-five hooded men marched through Oakville, Ontario and invaded the home of Ira Johnson and Isabel Jones–the former was a black man and the latter a white woman. The klansmen forced Ms. Jones into a car and delivered her to the doorstep of a Captain of the Salvation Army. Consider this section of the Canadian Klan’s creed:

“We believe that our white race has a ministry of supreme service to mankind, and that the introduction of elements which cannot readily be assimilated or fused into our racial stock will lead to the corruption of racial health and seriously impair the service we might render to our fellow men. We therefore avow ourselves to be ever true to the maintenance of our racial integrity.”

Such orders could have been found in the manifesto of an old knight order, perhaps even something more clerical or governmental. The unfortunate part is that despite the fact that Canada never had codified laws against interracial marriage, it was clearly considered taboo. The officer that was called to the scene of Ms. Jones’ kidnapping ultimately spoke highly of the Klansmen that kidnapped her and even shook hands with them. Making matters worse, the Mayor of Oakville, one A.B. Moat, complimented the Klansmen on how orderly their conduct was and that the town stood in objection to marriage between two people of different races.

Similar sentiments, though not always so bluntly stated, are still very much alive in racist and far-right groups and individuals as well. Take, for instance, Dylann Roof, the convicted ethno-nationalist terrorist who gunned down several African American parishioners during a Bible study.  Roof, who wore flag patches of the defunct Apartheid state Rhodesia on his shirt, who believed that current expressions of racial nationalist views and the Klan itself were inadequate, believed that blacks were taking over the world and “were raping our women”.

This obscene fixation on white women being raped by black men is a deeply rooted, arguably genetic (intellectually speaking) infection found only on the far right, whether they would like to admit as much or not. Proponents of the far right might look at this opinion piece and pull out one of their many buzz words–snowflake, libtard, perhaps even cuck, though that one does appear to have gone out of style. Such would be expected. Introspection is hard, I suppose.