Adam Serwer

"Rigorous Curriculum Standards"

Part of the Obama administration's counter-radicalization strategy released yesterday obliquely references the controversy over anti-Muslim terrorism "experts" who have received generous federal grants for Islamophobic "training" of local law enforcement: Government and law enforcement at the local level have well-established relationships with communities, developed through years of consistent engagement, and therefore can effectively build partnerships and take action on the ground. To help facilitate local partnerships to prevent violent extremism, the Federal Government is building a robust training program with rigorous curriculum standards to ensure that the training that communities; local, state, and tribal governments; prison officials; and law enforcement receive is based on intelligence, research, and accurate information about how people are radicalized to accept violence, and what has worked to prevent violent extremism. Misinformation about the threat and dynamics of...

Stealth Jihad Whoops

Nick Sementelli flags the testimony of Peter Neumann, director of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence at King's College in London, to Representative Sue Myrick's subcommittee hearing on domestic radicalization in the U.S. Myrick, as Sementelli points out, is a big believer in the stealth jihad conspiracy theory, so imagine her disappointment when Neumann said this: I've always thought that this idea of a "stealth jihad" and of a campaign to introduce sharia law in the United States of America was quite contrived. The people who argue that case believe that this conspiracy has been operating since 1962. Now, if there is a conspiracy -- and I don't believe there is one -- if there is a conspiracy it must be one of the least effective conspiracies modern history. 99% of the US population are not Muslim, of the remaining .8% the vast majority are totally committed to the U.S. Constitution. So the chance, the odds, of the remaining...6 people to...

Is Obama An Effective Politician?

Kevin Drum makes the case: What's more, Obama also won passage during his first two years of a stimulus bill, a landmark healthcare bill that Democrats had been trying to pass for the better part of a century, a financial reform bill, and much needed reform of student loans. And more: a firm end to the Bush torture regime, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a hate crimes bill, a successful rescue of the American car industry, and resuscitation of the NLRB. Oh, and he killed Osama bin Laden too. Sure, we all could have wished for more. Everyone has different hot buttons, and I particularly wish that financial reform had been stronger and that Obama had somehow managed to get cap-and-trade across the finish line. I'm also unhappy with the extension of the Afghanistan war and Obama's Bush-like policies regarding national security and civil liberties. Still and all, in two years Obama has done more to enact a liberal agenda than George Bush did for the conservative agenda in eight. That's...

No Country For Marriage-Equality Federalism

Not to be outdone by Rick Perry, Ben Smith reports that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has signed the National Organization for Marriage's pledge to "defend marriage" by supporting a constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality ( via Igor Volsky): The last part of the pledge commits Romney to undoing marriage equality in the nation's capital, which would leave the thousands of same-sex couples who have since been married in limbo. Republicans promised to force a referendum on the issue shortly after they took back the House but the effort was abandoned, likely because it would have led to a veto from President Obama. But with a President Romney in the White House, forcing a referendum on the city is a far more likely outcome than a constitutional amendment, given that amending the Constitution is in general a difficult process. D.C. isn't technically a state, of course, but that's a flimsy reason for Republicans to abandon their supposed commitment to decentralization...

Media Malpractice Of The Day

The American Family Association's Bryan Fischer is infamous among liberals for his views on race and gay rights, and for being someone GOP presidential hopefuls go to to shore up their social conservative bonafides. The New York Times , reporting on Fischer, shows the limits of faux objectivity: Perhaps most notably, Mr. Fischer trumpets the disputed theory that Adolph Hitler was a homosexual and that the Nazi Party was largely created by “homosexual thugs” — evidence, he says, of the inherent pathologies of homosexuality. Mr. Fischer has also said that no more Muslims should be granted citizenship because their religion says to kill Americans, and that welfare recipients “rut like rabbits” because of what he calls welfare’s perverse incentives. Ladies and gentlemen, this is why Americans stay misinformed. The Nazis hated gays almost as much as they hated Jews -- homosexuality was punishable by death under the regime. The notion that the Nazis were a "homosexual cabal" is based on a...

Fallout

The hidden history of ALEC and prison labor. Yearning for the old George Will. The abortion wars come to Maryland. Why are American evangelicals so afraid of Arab democracy? "Obama added that while it may look ugly at times, politics is about Democrats giving up what they want, as well as Democrats giving up what they want, until an agreement can ultimately be reached."

"Wigger Day"

Tanya Somanader looks at the "Wigger Day" lawsuit: For homecoming in 2009, the student council at Red Wing High School in Red Wing, Minnesota decided to go with a “tropical theme” for the dance. Instead, 60 students at the “predominantly white school” attended homecoming dressed for “Wigger Wednesday,” wearing costumes that “from their perspective” looked “black.” These included “oversized sports Jerseys, low-slung pants, baseball hats cocked to the side, and ‘doo rags’ on their heads.” The term “Wigger” is a pejorative slang term for a white person who mimics mannerisms, language, fashions, and stereotypes associated with black culture. It is “a portmanteau of either wannabee or white and nigger” and, here, is demeaning of African-Americans by mocking what the students interpreted to be their culture. By allowing a class to celebrate “Wigger” — or alternatively known there as “Wangsta” — Day, the high school has earned its very own federal class action lawsuit . Former Red Wing High...

Civil Rights vs. Preemption In Immigration Cases

Nicholas Mendoza looks at why the Obama administration has relied on arguments that the federal government has the authority to set immigration policy instead of challenging immigration laws on racial profiling grounds: Tumlin argues that the substantive differences between the two complaints have a lot to do with who the plaintiff is in each case. For example, while the Justice Department includes the challenge to the K-12 schooling provisions of the Alabama law (which require records be kept on undocumented children enrolled in Alabama schools), it does not challenge the law’s ban on undocumented students enrolled in public universities. The civil rights groups’ complaint (PDF) does, but Tumlin argues that it can do so more easily because some of the plaintiffs in their lawsuit are college students, teenagers planning on going to college or adults who are enrolled or plan to enroll in ESL classes at community colleges. Sam Brooke, a staff attorney with the Southern Poverty Law...

White House Counterradicalization Strategy: Don't Demonize Muslims

The White House released its strategy for countering violent extremism today, and while the use of that particular phrase may provoke howls of "political correctness" from conservatives, the strategy identifies "al-Qa’ida and its affiliates and adherents represent the preeminent terrorist threat to our country." The strategy also emphasizes the importance of local actors in resisting and identifying extremism, and contains an implicit rebuke to Republicans singling out the Muslim community as being full of potential subversives: This type of violent extremism is a complicated challenge for the United States, not only because of the threat of attacks, but also because of its potential to divide us. Groups and individuals supporting al-Qa’ida’s vision are attempting to lure Americans to terrorism in order to create support networks and facilitate attack planning, but this also has potential to create a backlash against Muslim Americans. Such a backlash would feed al-Qa’ida’s propaganda...

Glenn Beck: New Spider-Man "Looks Just Like President Obama"

Glenn Beck loses his cookies over the idea of a blatino Spider-Man, whom he says "looks just like President Obama." Beck explains this geek redistributionism by playing a clip of a Michelle Obama quote from 2008(!) saying "Barack knows that we are going to have to make sacrifices; we are going to have to change our conversation; we're going to have to change our traditions, our history; we're going to have to move into a different place as a nation." Isn't it obvious she was talking about Marvel introducing a blatino Spider-Man? Or the Affordable Care Act ? Or whatever generic threat to Real America conservatives are railing about on any given day? Beck doesn't actually read comic books; he calls them "stupid." It's just that the story is irresistible, because it reinforces his grand narrative of the Obama administration, which is one in which black people keep taking white people's hard-earned stuff. Now they're even taking your superheroes! When are you going to wake up, America?

Feminism, Steve King, And Birthrate Panic

Marie Diamond flags Iowa Representative Steve King's panic over the possibility that increased access to contraception could lead to the end of America: They’ve called it preventative medicine. Preventative medicine. Well if you applied that preventative medicine universally what you end up with is you’ve prevented a generation. Preventing babies from being born is not medicine. That’s not— that’s not constructive to our culture and our civilization. If we let our birth rate get down below replacement rate we’re a dying civilization. As Michelle Goldberg wrote in her book, The Means of Reproduction , fear of demographic decline is a kind of sweet spot for right-wing panic all over the world. Blending fears of "Islamization," arguments for curtailing women's access to contraception and abortion, and blocking LGBT rights, panic over birth rates provides a convenient narrative for pursuing the agenda conservatives would be pushing anyway. The irony, though, is that nations fixated on "...

Principles Of Unsurpassed Ugliness

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is taking legal advice from Robert Bork, the failed conservative nominee to the Supreme Court who says things like this about the 1964 Civil Rights Act: The principle of such legislation is that if I find your behavior ugly by my standards, moral or aesthetic, and if you prove stubborn about adopting my view of the situation, I am justified in having the state coerce you into more righteous paths. That is itself a principle of unsurpassed ugliness. Ian Millhiser points out that Bork actually subscribes to this "principle of unsurpassed ugliness" when it comes to pornography or sexual acts performed by consenting adults, he only thinks it's "ugly" when it comes to black people having a right of access to places of public accommodation. Setting aside the human capacity for "ugliness" displayed throughout human history, it takes an incredibly skewed moral perspective to look at the treatment of black people in the American South in the 1960s and...

Trying Mubarak

The trial of former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak began today. Mubarak is being tried in Egypt's regular court system, despite the existence of an alternate, military court system set up by his 1981 emergency law. Unlike the thousands of protesters who have since been tried in the military system, Mubarak will be getting a fair trial. Egypt's military court system has long been a target of human-rights activists, because it has tried civilians, sometimes dissidents, for "crimes" like " insulting the military " that aren't crimes in any recognizable sense let alone violations of the laws of war. Some of those criticisms can be extended to Guantanamo's military commissions, although that system, while still unfair, doesn't reach the kangaroo factor of Egypt's military courts. However, many citizens of Arab countries associate military proceedings with the railroading that occurs in courts set up by Egypt's emergency law. Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces presumably...

Fallout

Newt Gingrich doesn't read Paul Krugman. Not so many liberals . The sorry story of Central Falls, Rhode Island. The top five homophobic arguments in Boehner's DOMA briefs.

Possibilities

Ben Smith posts an e-mail from a "senior Democrat" who says liberals have long been fighting an uphill battle ideologically: We didn't lose this fight, Barack Obama was in law school when this fight was lost. The role of Democrats should not be to convince people that government is great, it should be to help people reach their potential -- and government is a tool to do that. There has been a strain of skepticism about the government in the American character since the founding, only the New Deal changed that significantly; but we have been returning to the norm ever since then. Like David Dayen , I wonder if a stimulus more appropriately tailored to the severity of the recession or a housing program that actually stemmed foreclosures could have changed some people's minds about that. I don't think liberals aren't aware of the ideological landscape of the United States, but part of the critique of Obama is that his presidency was a lost opportunity to turn the tide. After all, it was...

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