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Razan al-Najjar

Razan al-Najjar (1996-2018), an unarmed Palestinian nurse from Gaza, was shot dead by the Israeli army on June 1st 2018. A picture taken just moments before show her with her hands in the air and wearing a white lab coat clearly marking her as a medical worker:

Al-Najjar shown at right.

She was just 21.

She was shot while approaching the border fence between Israel and Gaza to help someone wounded by the army. A sniper shot her right through the chest from over 100 metres away.

Great March of Return: The fence has been the scene of largely non-violent protests by thousands of Gazans every week since March 30th. They demand that they be allowed to return to Israel where their families were pushed out 70 years ago. Some still have the keys to their old houses. Israel has made Gaza into an open-air prison for the past 11 years.

By the numbers: Since March 30th:

  • 0 Israelis killed
  • 4 Israelis wounded

compare that to:

  • 118 Gazans killed:
  • 3,895 Gazans wounded by live ammunition (40 of which lost a limb)

Of the dead, 14 are children, 2 are journalists and 2 are medical workers.

How far gone do you have to be to shoot at children, much less medical workers?

Al-Najjar, a nurse, had been at the protests since the beginning and said she would be there till the end. She worked some 13 hourse a day, providing first aid so that the wounded could live long enough to reach a hospital.

Al-Najjar:

“people ask my dad what I’m doing here without getting a salary. He tells them, ‘I’m proud of my daughter. She provides care to the children of our country.'”

The Israeli army, just like the police in the US:

  • Says it was following proper procedures.
  • Promises to do a thorough investigation.
  • Is unaccountable: the United Nations’ attempt to condemn the violence and protect Palestinians was blocked by the US. The US gives more military aid to Israel than to any other country.
  • Smeared the character of its victim. They put out a video edited to make it seem like al-Najjar was acting as a human shield.

meanwhile the press:

  • Repeats the army’s lies without fact-checking them: the video that was taken out of context was right there on YouTube.
  • Leaves the army out of the headlines: “A Woman Dedicated to Saving Lives Loses Hers in Gaza Violence.”

And when I say “the press” I mean not the Israeli press but the New York Times!

Netanyahu and Trump

The policy to use live ammunition on protesters goes straight to
the top:

  • Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot,
  • Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

International law: UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials applies here. Live ammunition is only to be used as a last resort to prevent “the imminent threat of death or serious injury” or “the perpetration of a particularly serious crime involving grave threat to life.”

Most of the world is repelled by Israel’s behaviour, but not the US, which aids and abets it.

– Abagond, 2018.

Source: mainly Google Images; Human Rights Watch; Heavy.

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the 1960s

May 20th 1962: Diahann Carroll on “What’s My Line”

This is my master post for the 1960s. It should have all the main posts I have done – or should do – on the 1960s, especially in regard of US Black history. Add your own suggestions!

1960Nigeria, Niger, Gabon, Somalia, D.R. Congo, Cyprus, Sharpeville massacre, SNCC, SDS, neocolonialism, CFA franc.

1961: John Kennedy, Freedom RidersLumumba, Trujillo, Bay of Pigs, Berlin Wall, Brown Corpus.

  • book: The Wretched of the Earth (Frantz Fanon); Nobody Knows My Name (James Baldwin); Black Like Me.
  • film:
  • television:
  • music: 
  • word:
  • invention: man in space (Yuri Gagarin), UTC.

1962: Algeria, Uganda, James Meredith, Cuban Missile Crisis, Vatican II, Warhol.

  • book:
  • filmJames Bond
  • television:
  • music:
  • word:
  • invention: Telstar

1963: Lyndon Johnson, Kenya, Martin Luther King JrMalcolm X, Medgar Evers, Birmingham protests, Letter from Birmingham JailBaldwin-Kennedy meetingMarch on WashingtonThe 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.

1964Vietnam War, War on Poverty, Tanzania, Muhammad AliFannie Lou Hamer, Freedom Summer, Schwerner-Chaney-Goodman, Civil Rights ActThat Norman Rockwell painting“Racism is dead”, John Powell (killed by NYPD), gentrification.

1965SelmaVoting Rights Act, Immigration Act, Moynihan Report, Black illegitimacy argument, affirmative action, Watts riot, Northeast blackout, Asian brain drain, Indonesian mass killings, Ford LTD,

1966Black Power, Stokely Carmichael, Black Panther Party, Afros, model minority stereotype, Donyale LunaTwiggy, Cultural Revolution (China), Indira Gandhi, Peace Corps in Niger.

1967: Flower Power, Loving v Virginia, Thurgood Marshall, Biafra, Six Day War, Gaza, Holocaust denial, Huey P. Newton, H. Rap Brown, Detroit riotRiverside speech, Poor People’s Campaign, Noam ChomskyThe Responsibility of IntellectualsMcLuhanWhite ethnographic gaze.

1968: Red Power, The Southern strategy, George Wallace, RFK, MLK killedRFK killed, Kerner Commission, “Black is beautiful”, Naomi SimsJohn Carlos, Fair Housing Act, blue-eyed/brown-eyed exercise, Orangeburg Massacre, My Lai, the whole earth, Christie (Barbie’s friend), tokenism, Prague.

1969: Richard Nixon, Fred HamptonCointelpro, The Occupation of Alcatraz.

– Abagond, 2018.

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On May 24th 1963 Robert Kennedy met with James Baldwin to discuss race in the US. I already did a post on the meeting itself. This one is mainly about what Kennedy and those who knew him said about it afterwards.

Baldwin brought at least 15 people. Among them were Lorraine Hansberry, Lena Horne, Harry Belafonte, and Kenneth Clark (he of the Doll Experiment). This was just weeks after the Birmingham protests – fire hoses, police dogs, Bull Connor, King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, all of that.

Enter Jerome Smith: The “cocktail-party patter” was soon swept away by the fury and anger of Jerome Smith. He was a Freedom Rider and CORE activist whose face and jaw had been badly beaten by police.

Kennedy tried to shut Smith down.

Blacks closed ranks behind Smith. Then came the flood: they spoke like it was their one chance to tell Robert Kennedy what they truly thought, their rage running free. He had never seen so much naked, Black pain before. It shook him.

Tone argument: After the meeting Kennedy was in a rage:

“They don’t know what the laws are. They don’t know what we’ve been doing or what we’re trying to do. You can’t talk to them the way you can talk to Martin Luther King or Roy Wilkins. They didn’t want to talk that way.

“It was all emotion, hysteria – they stood up and orated – they cursed – some of them wept and left the room.”

Ad hominem: Baldwin, Kennedy noted, was a homosexual (using an impolite word for that) and a “nut”. And:

“[A] number of them … I think, have complexes about the fact that they’ve been successful, they’ve done so well and this poor boy had been beaten by the police.”

Kennedy said they felt guilty that:

“they really hadn’t done their best … hadn’t done what they should have done for the Negro. So the way to show that they hadn’t forgotten where they came from was to berate me and berate the United States government.”

No ghetto pass for Kennedy: Nicholas Katzenbach, who was not at the meeting but who worked under Kennedy at the time as deputy attorney general (the Rod Rosenstein of his day), said:

“Bobby expected to be made an honorary black. [The meeting] really hurt his feelings, and it was pretty mean. But the fact that he thought he knew so much – and learned he didn’t – was important.”

From Baldwin’s FBI file, which even lists his extracurricular activities from high school. (Via MuckRock)

FBI surveillance for Baldwin and friends: Kennedy started or continued FBI surveillance on many of those who came to the meeting – even Rip Torn, who was White. Much of the 1,884 pages in Baldwin’s FBI file are from after the meeting.

In the long run, though, Robert Kennedy had enough honesty and empathy to understand that what they told him was more or less the truth:

“I guess if I were in his [Jerome Smith’s] shoes, if I had gone through what he’s gone through, I might feel differently about this country.”

Robert Kennedy five years later: May 15th 1968 in Detroit. One month later he would be dead. (Andrew Sacks/Getty Images, via NPR)

– Abagond, 2018.

Source: Google Images; “What Truth Looks Like” (2018) by Michael Eric Dyson.

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Leon Bridges: River

Remarks:

This was on his “Coming Home” (2015) album. The video came out a year later. The song never charted but the video was nominated for a Grammy. It lost to Beyonce’s “Formation” (2016). It was shot in Baltimore not long after the riots – a clip of which you can see playing on the motel television at the beginning.

See also:

Lyrics:

Been travelling these wide roads for so long
My heart’s been far from you
10 000 Miles gone

Oh, I wanna come near and give you
Every part of me
But there is blood on my hands
And my lips are unclean

In my darkness I remember
Momma’s word reoccur to me:
“Surrender to the good lord
And he’ll wipe your slate clean”

Take me to your river
I wanna go
Take me to your river
I wanna know

Dip me in your smooth water
I go in
As a man with many crimes
Come up for air
As my sins flow down the jordan

I wanna go wanna go wanna go
I wanna know wanna know wanna know
Wanna go wanna go wanna go
Wanna know wanna know wanna know
Wanna go wanna go wanna go
Wanna know wanna know wanna know

Take me to your river
I wanna go
Lord please let me know
Take me to your river
I wanna know

Source: letras.com.br.

Sean Hannity

Sean Hannity (1961- ) is a presenter on Fox News, a right-wing US cable television news channel. He has the ear of President Trump and has become a shameless Trump apologist who flat-out lies.

Audience: He has the most watched show on US cable news, getting 3.3 million viewers a night (February 2018). By day he is on right-wing talk radio where he runs a close second to Rush Limbaugh, getting 13.5 million listeners a day.

Ted Koppel in March 2017, interviewing Hannity:

“[You are] bad for America. … You have attracted people who are determined that ideology is more important than facts.”

Geraldo Rivera to Hannity in February 2018:

“[President] Nixon never would have been forced to resign if you existed back in 1972, ’73, ’74.”

President Trump:

“Sean Hannity is a great, great person.”

Opinion shouter: Hannity does not have a journalism degree, or any university degree for that matter. He came up through talk radio in the 1980s and 1990s. He has been with Fox News since the beginning in 1996, but laboured long in Bill O’Reilly’s shadow – till O’Reilly was felled by scandal in 2017.

Conspiracy theorist: Hannity spends more time pushing conspiracy theories than anyone else on US cable news. Fox News lets him rant on and on about conspiracy theories that even they know are false, like about Seth Rich, Uranium One, and Spygate. All that keeps Hannity from going full tin hat like Alex Jones on YouTube are the advertisers.

Fascist propaganda: Hannity places Trump above the law: Trump should be allowed to pardon himself, he should be allowed to interfere in an ongoing criminal investigation of himself, he should not have to answer questions about possible crimes, etc. Hannity undermines faith in any source of truth other than Trump: the FBI and the Department of Justice are dismissed as the “deep state”. The press is dismissed as “fake news”. The truth is whatever Trump says it is.

Racism/Nativism: And, like a Nazi propagandist, Hannity also whips up fear, hatred and prejudice against people of other races and religions, like Muslims, Latinos, and Blacks. He does that mainly by the way he talks about terrorism, immigration, and crime. Hannity is Irish Catholic.

Clinton Derangement Syndrome: Hannity is obsessed with the Clintons, both Bill and Hillary. He rehashes their scandals endlessly, even when there is nothing new to say about them. Since he makes stuff up, it is hard to know how much of it is even true. He gets most upset about the Clintons when bad news breaks about Trump.

Business model: Since March 2016 Fox News has found itself in the business of delivering ads to Trump supporters. To remain in business they have to please both advertisers and Trump supporters. Sean Hannity walks right up to that fine line between the two. He is such a full-throated Trump apologist that he defended Roy Moore, an accused paedophile – that is, until advertisers made him back away from Moore.

Net worth: Hannity was worth $80 million in 2017. Alex Jones: $10 million.

– Abagond, 2018.

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Muslim Americans

Muslim Americans (1500s- ) are the 3.45 million people in the US who are Muslim by religion. They make up 1% of the country and were there before the Mayflower.

By the numbers:

  • By race:
    • 41% White
    • 28% Asian
    • 20% Black
    • 11% Latino, Other
  • By birthplace:
    • 42% US
    • 20% South Asia
    • 14% MENA (Middle East/North Africa)
    • 13% Other Asia/Pacific
    • 6% Black Africa
    • 5% Other
  • By citizenship:
    • 82% US citizens
    • 14% foreigners
  • By seats in Congress: 2

When they came: in three main waves:

  • 1517-1808: from West Africa as slaves
  • late 1800s-1924: mainly from Lebanon and Syria to the Midwest
  • 1965-present: mainly from Asia, some as refugees, many as part of the Asian brain drain.

Famous sons and daughters: Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Betty Shabazz, Akon, Busta Rhymes, Casey Kasem, DJ Khaled, Dave Chappelle, Dr Oz, Fareed Zakaria, Huma Abedin, Ice Cube, Iman, Jermaine Jackson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Johnson, Lupe Fiasco, Mike Tyson, Mos Def, Q-Tip, Reza Aslan, Snoop Dogg, T-Pain, Tsarnaev brothers.

Multinational: Just like the pilgrims at Mecca, Muslim Americans come from all over the world, from some 75 countries. In some places, though, most Muslims might come from one particular country. In Minneapolis, for example, most Muslims are from Somalia.

Arab Muslims: Most Arab Americans are Christian, not Muslim. Likewise, most Muslim Americans are not Arab. Foreign-born Muslims are more likely to come from South Asia than from the Middle East or North Africa. The idea that most Muslims are Arabs comes from Hollywood and US news, not from real life.

Black Muslims: Between 10% to 20% of Blacks who came as slaves were Muslim. They could only practice their faith in secret, so it largely died out. Islam made a comeback in Black America the 1960s. Many but not most are part of the Nation of Islam. About 30% are foreign-born, like Somali Americans.

No hive mind: Just like with Christians, some Muslim Americans are dangerous nutcases, some are merely devout, some practise their religion only on religious holidays (Ramadan Muslims), some are nominal or secular, and some have fallen away.

The good: One of the best things about the US is its religious freedom. As Bakri Musa, a Malaysian American doctor in California, put it:

“This is the place to be Muslim, scholarship without intervention. In Malaysia I could go to jail because I have Shiite literature in my house, and in Malaysia that’s the equivalent of being a commie in America.”

The bad: One of the worst things about the US is its rampant, violent Islamophobia, which has been growing worse and worse, first in 2001 with 9/11, and then in 2016 with the rise of Trump.

Mosque burning: Before 2015 only about ten mosques a year were bombed, burned, vandalized or threatened. Since then it has jumped to over a hundred a year.

Terrorists: Some Muslim Americans are terrorists – but so are some Christian Americans. On US television news from 2008 to 2012, 81% of terrorists were Muslim – but in FBI reports from the same period only 6% of domestic terrorist suspects were in fact Muslim.

– Abagond, 2018.

Source: mainly Google Images; “Being Muslim in America” by Leila Fadel in National Geographic (May 2018); White American terrorists (2015).

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Composite picture by Gordon Belray of moments after the assassination. Click to enlarge.

On June 5th 1968 Robert Kennedy was shot dead. It was right after he had won the California primary, putting him in a good position for the Chicago convention where the Democratic Party would choose who to run for US president.

At 10.30pm California time, Black and Latino votes from Los Angeles came in. They went hard for Kennedy. It put him well ahead of Eugene McCarthy, enough for CBS to declare him the winner.

At 11.45pm, sure of his victory, he came down to the ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles where he was staying. The television networks were about to go off the air on the east coast where it was almost three in the morning.

Kennedy in his victory speech:

“What I think is quite clear is that we can work together in the last analysis, and that is what has been going on within the United States – the division, the violence, the disenchantment with our society; the divisions, whether it’s between blacks and whites, between poor and more affluent, or between age groups or on the war in Vietnam – is that we can start to work together. We are a great country, an unselfish country, and a compassionate country.”

After thanking his campaign workers, he said:

“So my thanks to all of you, and on to Chicago and let’s win there.”

Now 12.15pm, Kennedy made a V sign for victory and then took a shortcut through the kitchen. There, as he reached out to shake hands with a busboy, Juan Romero, a man standing next to the ice machine stepped forward and pointed his ugly little .22 calibre pistol at Kennedy’s head and started shooting, shooting him right behind his right ear (1 cm off and Kennedy would have lived).

Everyone ducked as Kennedy and Paul Schrade of the UAW fell. Schrade and four others were injured – they all lived.

Rosey Grier, former defensive tackle for the LA Rams, and some other men pinned the gunman and took his gun. The gunman looked Mexican, which did not make sense.

Romero put his rosary in Kennedy’s right hand and prayed. Kennedy’s wife Ethel took his other hand and said, “I’m with you, my baby.”

Photographers and cameramen were trying to get a good shot. “This his history!” one of them said.

Kennedy was in and out. From the look on his face it seemed he understood that what he had long feared had at last taken place. He asked if everyone was all right.

In the ballroom there was shrieking, feinting and crying. One woman was sobbing:

“My God, my God, what kind of country is this?”

Sirhan Sirhan was the gunman, an Arab Christian from Jerusalem who had lived in the US since age 12. He said he shot Kennedy because of his strong support for Israel.

The television networks back east in New York, Chicago and Dallas were still live on air.

Kennedy blacked out.

A few hours later the east coast woke up to the terrible news.

– Abagond, 2018.

Sources: mainly “The Last Campaign” (2008) by Thurston Clarke; “Robert Kennedy and His Times” (1978) by Arthur M. Schelesinger, Jr.; “85 Days” by Jules Witcover (1969); The New Yorker (June 15th 1968). 

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