News & Updates
The Issue That’s Tearing Us Apart
Posted by Johnny Wang · January 11, 2023 8:27 AM
UCLA.edu - UCLA’s new Initiative to Study Hate represents a critical effort to root out what’s causing the alarming rise in hate across the country — and what we can do to stop it.
As a scholar of Jewish history, David Myers has more than a passing interest in the mechanisms of hate.
For years, the distinguished professor of history and founding director of the UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy has studied antisemitism and the persistence of anti-Jewish sentiment. But he’s also looked beyond those boundaries.
“I’ve been repeatedly struck by the seemingly endless transmission of hate toward Jews, including in places where there are no Jews,” Myers says. “What gives rise to that hate? How does it take root not just in an individual, but in a group of individuals brought together by a shared sense of history or common destiny? How important is hate as a cohesive agent for that group?”
Such questions take on greater urgency at a time when long-simmering manifestations of hate seem to be increasingly pervasive. The U.S. Department of Justice has seen steady rises in hate crimes nationwide from year to year. News reports on any given day carry stories about white nationalist rallies, physical attacks against Asian Americans, violence against LGBTQ people, and vandalizing of Latino- or Black-owned businesses. Bombings, shootings and other acts of hate are taking place around the world.
It all leads to the question no one seems able to tidily answer: What can we do about it?
The seeds for UCLA’s new Initiative to Study Hate were planted about three years ago, when Myers and Chancellor Gene Block began engaging in a series of conversations in the wake of protests and student activism around outbreaks of violence in Israel and Palestine.
“This was a source of considerable tension on campus. At various points, the chancellor called to ask, ‘What’s your sense of the temperature on campus? Do you sense that antisemitism is part of this?’” Myers says. “These happen to be very tricky questions that rest in part on how you define antisemitism. After several rounds of conversations, the chancellor asked what I thought there was to be done. I responded that what we do at UCLA is study things, so perhaps we could set up a program to study antisemitism.”
That initial plan was soon modified. “We thought, ‘What about Islamophobia? What about anti-Black racism, which is so deeply entrenched in American society? What about anti-LGBTQ+ expression or anti-Asian hate? How could we undertake an initiative to bring together the resources of the university to study hate and exclude these cases?’” Myers recalls. “That’s really the moment at which we took a significant imaginative leap. We asked ourselves: What if we started an initiative to study hate writ large? First, we thought about hate as it takes rise in groups — and then, when we recalled new advances in brain sciences, we thought about the prospect of studying hate as it takes rise in individuals.”
The Initiative to Study Hate was born.
Proud Boys, white supremacists protest of canceled drag story time event in Ohio among several across country
Posted by Johnny Wang · December 10, 2022 11:40 AM
Twitter Blesses Extremists With Paid 'Blue Checks'
Posted by Johnny Wang · December 01, 2022 1:19 PM
SPLC - Dozens of extremists on Twitter now sport the “blue check” once reserved for verified accounts, after signing up for the paid Twitter Blue service under policies instituted by the platform’s new proprietor, Elon Musk.
Previously, verification was carried out at no cost to users in order to authenticate accounts belonging to public figures, news outlets, government agencies and reporters.
Between Nov. 9-11, however, users were able to sign up for a paid tier of the service – Twitter Blue – which for $7.99 per month would add to their profile a “blue checkmark, just like the celebrities, companies and politicians you already follow.” Twitter prevented new signups to Twitter Blue late on Nov. 11 after a rash of impersonator accounts, including one targeting Musk’s other company, Tesla, created an impression of chaos on the site.
The vast majority of Twitter users passed up this offer, and reports on Twitter’s internal discussions put the number of subscribers at just 140,000 of Twitter’s 450 million active users signing up. But dozens of extremists acquired blue checks during the two-day window of availability.
Hatewatch’s investigation of extremists’ use of Twitter Blue, based in part on a third-party public list of paid blue-check accounts, found that white nationalists, anti-LGBTQ extremists and other far-right individuals and groups now sport what was once a symbol of credibility on the platform.
The rush for blue checks is just one indication of Musk’s apparent lack of interest in policing hate speech on the social media platform he acquired for some $44 billion last month.
Hatewatch identified extremist blue-check accounts by consulting the list of paid accounts made by software developer Travis Brown and checking these against live Twitter accounts.
Brown has developed several tools for monitoring extremists online. He told Hatewatch in a telephone conversation that the latest version of the list shows accounts that have paid for blue checks ranked “by their centrality in far-right Twitter networks,” so that accounts with more connections with other far-right accounts receive a higher ranking in the list.
Using this method, Hatewatch found that many white nationalists, white power activists and others committed to racist political ideologies have paid for blue checks.
White nationalists with blue checks include fired Trump staffer and junk-news purveyor Darren Beattie; podcaster Henrik Palmgren; and Dave Reilly, who marched with the “Unite the Right” protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, and has used his fake-news site, the Idaho Tribune, to mobilize the far right against such events as the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Pride Festival in June.
Another white nationalist account sporting a blue check was the one associated with Antelope Hill Publishing. In June, Hatewatch identified Vincent Cucchiara, Sarah Cucchiara and Dmitri Loutsik as three of the principals of the company, which is closely aligned with the pro-Hitler National Justice Party.
Stephen Miller Mails “Race-Baiting Misinformation” to Asian American Voters
Posted by Johnny Wang · November 17, 2022 8:23 AM
Intercept - Asian American Voters, who could decide close elections in states like Pennsylvania, are being deluged with incendiary, misleading ads sent to their mailboxes, phones, and screens by former Trump aides, including Stephen Miller, in the closing days of the campaign.
Leaders of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in Pennsylvania have denounced the flood of digital ads and direct mail from Republican groups — which seek to blame Democrats for the spike in anti-Asian hate crimes since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and cast efforts to combat anti-Black racism as a form of discrimination against white and Asian communities.
“Asian Americans, like many other communities of color and immigrant and refugee communities have had to fight through many barriers to vote — especially misinformation,” Wei Chen, an organizer in the Chinese American community in Philadelphia said in an interview on Friday. “The ads are new; the tricks are not.”
Chen, who co-founded the state’s Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance, or API PA, said that mailers from Miller’s group America First Legal, falsely claiming that the Biden administration discriminates against Asian Americans, have started appearing in the Philadelphia suburbs.
The flyers, which rely heavily on misleading headlines and text from right-wing news outlets, appeared after former Trump aides, who also work with Miller’s foundation, produced a deeply dishonest digital ad. That ad sought to blame President Joe Biden for the rise in racist attacks on Asian Americans, which first spiked in March 2020 when then-President Donald Trump started calling Covid-19 “the Chinese virus” and “the kung flu.”
The flyers from Miller’s group have been mailed to Asian American households in other states too, but the effort seems particularly intense in Pennsylvania, where more than 250,000 Asian Americans are eligible to vote, and turnout among the heavily Democratic community spiked to over 75 percent in 2020. Asian Americans are the fastest-growing demographic in the United States and make up 45 percent of newly naturalized citizens in Pennsylvania, according to data from Chen’s group.
Black Americans Have a Clear Vision for Reducing Racism but Little Hope It Will Happen
Posted by Johnny Wang · November 08, 2022 8:56 AM
Pew - More than a year after the murder of George Floyd and the national protests, debate and political promises that ensued, 65% of Black Americans say the increased national attention on racial inequality has not led to changes that improved their lives. And 44% say equality for Black people in the United States is not likely to be achieved, according to newly released findings from an October 2021 survey of Black Americans by Pew Research Center.
This is somewhat of a reversal in views from September 2020, when half of Black adults said the increased national focus on issues of race would lead to major policy changes to address racial inequality in the country and 56% expected changes that would make their lives better.
At the same time, many Black Americans are concerned about racial discrimination and its impact. Roughly eight-in-ten say they have personally experienced discrimination because of their race or ethnicity (79%), and most also say discrimination is the main reason many Black people cannot get ahead (68%).
Even so, Black Americans have a clear vision for how to achieve change when it comes to racial inequality. This includes support for significant reforms to or complete overhauls of several U.S. institutions to ensure fair treatment, particularly the criminal justice system; political engagement, primarily in the form of voting; support for Black businesses to advance Black communities; and reparations in the forms of educational, business and homeownership assistance. Yet alongside their assessments of inequality and ideas about progress exists pessimism about whether U.S. society and its institutions will change in ways that would reduce racism.
These findings emerge from an extensive Pew Research Center survey of 3,912 Black Americans conducted online Oct. 4-17, 2021. The survey explores how Black Americans assess their position in U.S. society and their ideas about social change. Overall, Black Americans are clear on what they think the problems are facing the country and how to remedy them. However, they are skeptical that meaningful changes will take place in their lifetime.
This is what white supremacy looks like in 2022
Posted by Johnny Wang · November 03, 2022 8:53 AM
Fast Company - In the past several weeks, Kanye West—or Ye, as he is now known—has come under fire for anti-Semitic remarks released on his social media as well as in a string of news interviews. Despite the indignant cries of Kanye West fans and apologists, who cite his mental illness as an excuse for this behavior, hate groups like the anti-Semitic Goyim Defense League were quick to capitalize on the massive social media reach of the musician and parade their hate on- and offline.
The signs in the image above hung over the 405 freeway in Los Angeles, a typically liberal and progressive city. It sent shockwaves through the country as yet another reminder that white supremacy is alive and well in pockets of the country. But it’s also a reminder to me that “white supremacy,” as an ideology, has a much longer and more complex history than the blatantly racist pageantry of hate groups would suggest.
What is white supremacy?
White supremacy is a term that tends to offend people’s sensibilities much more immediately than the word racism. That’s because white supremacy today presents itself to the American consciousness in offensive, alienating forms. The KKK, hate crimes, neo-Nazis, and now the Goyim Defense League in the photo above—these are the proud examples of white supremacy in the 20th and 21st centuries. Most people condemn them unequivocally, and they have become a sort of sinister “other,” against which non-racist people may define themselves.
The truth is, white supremacy has a much longer, much uglier history than contemporary white supremacists would suggest. As a pseudoscientific theory of race, a justification for worldwide colonialism and imperialism, and eventually an explicit call to mass genocide, white supremacy has been responsible for some of the most heinous crimes against humanity in modern history.
As a result, it leaves behind an ugly legacy that stretches across much of our society, including law, politics, economic policy, education, arts and culture, and even language. White supremacists may have diminished in number, but the historical effects of white supremacy have a much longer tail.
White supremacy todayThe history of white supremacy runs long and deep. And even though the ideas behind it are no longer socially acceptable, it still guides racially biased thinking in almost every field of human experience. The strength of its influence on earlier periods in history is reflected in the ubiquity of its legacy today.
Cultural white supremacy
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the cultural white supremacy implicit in the backlash against a Black actress playing the live-action Little Mermaid in 2023: Halle Bailey. To me this is a subtle example of white supremacist gatekeeping when it comes to arts and culture. Even fictional characters have to adhere to our very real sense of racial hierarchy. But in this domain, you could also think about our Eurocentric approach to history, literature, and art in schools and museums, which inevitably privilege Western art. Even tokenism—the practice of symbolically adding characters of color into works of art as a superficial nod to racial equality—could be viewed as an aftereffect of white supremacy.I’ve also written about cultural appropriation in the past—to me, the practice of borrowing or stealing from other cultures’ artistic output for profit is a perfect example of white supremacist imperialism still in action. Western (and particularly American) culture remains globally dominant: to assimilate other cultures into its systems of power without due credit or profit-sharing is a practice steeped in white supremacist ideology.
The economics of white supremacy
As an ideology that privileges whiteness and white people’s well-being, white supremacy has also had economic effects on our society. The old practice of “redlining” is a classic example: Mortgage lenders used to (literally) outline African American neighborhoods in red and mark them as higher risk. These neighborhoods did not receive comparable benefits from the various housing and mortgage programs of the New Deal in the 1930s. As a result, Black neighborhoods stayed Black, relatively poor, and unable to access good credit. Discriminatory lending of this kind was one of the major issues addressed by Civil Rights legislation in the 1960s, and it originates in a white supremacist logic of economic exclusion.I myself have experienced this as a Black founder; just this past quarter, Black founders received a paltry $187 million in funding (0.43% of the $43 billion deployed in Q3 2022). There are many reasons behind this kind of inequity, but most of them are rooted in disparities of access to capital, education, wealth, and entrepreneurship—most of which trace their roots back to white supremacist ideas as well. Perhaps the most significant of these is the continued wealth and income inequality between Black and white people, which has barely changed since the 1950s, when white supremacy supposedly came to an end.
White supremacy in politics and law
From a legal perspective, white supremacy was coded into Jim Crow laws almost as soon as the Civil War ended. These laws created a different America for Black people, in which it was far easier to be criminalized and much harder to gain wealth or access education. Segregation ended formally with the legal victories of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, but it continues in schools and housing up to the present day in more covert forms. The idea that Black and white people cannot share space is obviously a direct corollary of the white supremacist belief that white people are superior.Politically, white supremacy has shown up more, and more overtly, since the growth of the Tea Party and its conversion into Trump’s presidential base of support. “Make America Great Again” is only the most memorable example. Trump calling COVID-19 the “Chinese” virus was equally white supremacist—not just because it’s a racist taunt, but because it designates Covid-19 as the creation of a foreign, hostile power rather than a globally shared public health crisis. The implication, of course, is that America—white America—was blameless in its response to COVID-19; all culpability lies with the unknown, but probably malicious, Chinese “Other.”
by Kathleen Davis for Fast Company
Anti-Asian hate crime drives spike in number of incidents reported to Dallas police
Posted by Johnny Wang · October 25, 2022 2:06 PM
Dallas Morning News - At a heated town hall meeting in May, Caroline Kim stood in front of city leaders and some of the highest-ranking officers at the Dallas Police Department and called on them to do more to keep the Asian American community safe.
Just a few days before, a man who later shared with police investigators that he had racist delusions about Asian Americans targeted a hair salon in Dallas’ Koreatown, a neighborhood that Kim’s family has contributed to for more than two decades.
“If you are truly representing us in this neighborhood, if you’re truly here to help our safety, we need you to recognize and know the leaders in this community, you need to know who the small-business owners are, and you need to ask us if we see something and you need to help us find resources proactively,” Kim said.
Dallas police Chief Eddie García initially said no evidence showed the shooting was a hate crime, a move that caught the ire of many local Asian American advocates. He reversed course after evidence surfaced that the van used in the shooting matched the description of a suspect vehicle in at least two other incidents.
At the time of the town hall meeting, García recognized the rise in anti-Asian hate incidents reported across the country, but contended that it was too early to say whether the trend had reached North Texas. Recent data from Dallas police, however, shows a dramatic increase in hate crimes.
Kristin Lowman, a Dallas police spokeswoman, said there were 17 total hate crime incidents in 2021 that affected 19 victims, as some incidents have multiple victims. This year so far, there have been 27 incidents and 38 victims linked to hate crimes. Those are the crimes that were reported and vetted by police to be prosecuted as hate crimes.
But more incidents were reported to police as hate crimes. Between January to October last year, Dallas police investigated 14 potential hate crime offenses, according to department data. In the same time span this year, there were 39 possible hate crime offenses, according to the department, and 15 were related to anti-Asian and Pacific Islander incidents.
Police say their efforts to educate and improve communication with the community contributed to the increase in reported hate crimes, but they stopped short of recognizing the spike as part of a trend that has been seen across the country in the past two years.
Antisemitic Flyers Appear In Concord, Walnut Creek Driveways
Posted by Johnny Wang · October 19, 2022 11:43 AM
Patch - Concord resident Tammy Helman's grandfather was an Auschwitz survivor. Her other grandfather hid in an attic while he watched his family taken by Nazi soldiers.
"As Israeli-born and raised, it's heartbreaking to see that hatred and lies that people in the U.S. still believe in," Helman said Wednesday. "It's very concerning to see that people, even though they are (an) extremist minority, still believe that, and even more when they pass this to the next generation."
Last week, Helman found antisemitic leaflets on her driveway and around her neighborhood, packed in plastic bags.
"People around the neighborhood didn't even want to see them," Helma said. "For me, silence is a kind of violence."
Walnut Creek City Councilmember Kevin Wilk brought up the leaflets at Tuesday's council meeting. The flyers were left near the Walnut Creek/Concord border near Oak Grove Road.
Wilk — Walnut Creek's first Jewish mayor and city councilmember — said the literature was left in the neighborhood sometime during Sept. 27-30, during the Jewish High Holidays between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Wilk called them "awful, vile leaflets" and said he mentioned them because "we must unite as one community to push back on this."
"We've made great strides in our city to be inclusive and all-welcoming, and we refute this kind of anti-Semitic and any hate material in every way, shape and form," Wilk told the council. "There's more work to be done, but we as a council need to expose racism, ant-Semitism and hate crimes for what they are."
The flyers say "every aspect of the Ukraine-Russia War is Jewish," speculate Jews were responsible for 9/11, blame Jews for slavery, and say they control the United States government and media, among other claims.
Similar leaflets have been found in Danville, Palo Alto and Berkeley earlier this year. Marin County District Attorney Lori Frugoli on Monday released a statement saying she wanted to assure the public that appropriate action is being taken following similar flyers appearing in her county.
Support for Confederate symbols and monuments follows lines of race, religion, and education rather than geography.
Posted by Johnny Wang · October 11, 2022 6:09 PM
The United States of Confederate America
The Atlantic - Several years ago, I was driving on a rural road when I came up behind a pickup truck with a Confederate-flag sticker on the back window. This isn’t such an unusual sight in some parts of the United States, but this instance surprised me: The truck had Pennsylvania plates, and the road was in Gettysburg, where an invading force of tens of thousands of Confederates, formed to defend Black slavery, arrived in summer 1863 on a pillaging expedition.
But though the Civil War was a battle between two regions of the country, sympathy for the Confederacy is no longer confined to states that seceded and border states. Support for Confederate symbols and monuments now exists across the country, following lines of race, religion, and education rather than geography. This is one of many ways in which the South is no longer simply a region: A certain version of it has become an identity shared among white, rural, conservative Americans from coast to coast. That’s one takeaway from a new survey about Confederate symbols from the Public Religion Research Institute and E Pluribus Unum.
“We’ve had hints of this in the ways that campaigns get run: It used to be that all politics are local, and it’s seeming more like all politics are national,” Robert P. Jones, the president and founder of PRRI, told me. “When you look at the predictors on Confederate monuments, they are much more about race and partisan affiliation and education levels than they are about region.”
Some of the survey’s findings are unsurprising: Southerners are more likely to report Confederate monuments or displays of the flag in their community; Black southerners report especially acute awareness of such monuments. White Americans are more likely than Black Americans to see Confederate symbols as expressions of southern heritage rather than racism.
Where things get interesting is when the survey measures support for reforms, whether destruction of these markers or removal to a museum: Across race, party, and education levels, numbers diverge, but views about reform are nearly identical in the South and in the rest of the country. Nearly identical portions of southerners and Americans elsewhere (22 percent versus 25 percent) back reform, and nearly identical portions oppose it (17 percent versus 20 percent). The remainder are split between leaning one way or another, again closely mirrored. In other words, non-southerners feel the same way about Confederate monuments that southerners do.
This would surely come as a surprise to the men who professed fidelity to state and region above national identity when they sided with the Confederacy in 1861. But it’s the product of a dynamic in which white, rural Americans around the country have adopted the culture of white, rural southerners. This is only one piece of the region’s heritage, a rich, cosmopolitan, and multiracial mix that has shaped the entire country’s music, food, and culture, though it is also the one that has become the go-to stereotype of the region’s identity.
Little progress combating systemic racism against people of African descent: UN report
Posted by Johnny Wang · October 03, 2022 7:19 AM
More than two years since the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in the United States sparked the global Black Lives Matter movement, there’s been only “piecemeal progress” in addressing systemic racism, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) said on Friday, in a new report.
While more people have been made aware of systemic racism and concrete steps have been taken in some countries, the Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights called on States to demonstrate greater political will to accelerate action.
“There have been some initiatives in different countries to address racism, but for the most part they are piecemeal. They fall short of the comprehensive evidence-based approaches needed to dismantle the entrenched structural, institutional and societal racism that has existed for centuries, and continues to inflict deep harm today,” said Nada Al-Nashif, who will present the report to the UN Human Rights Council on Monday.
She specifically pointed to key recommendations made in OHCHR’s Agenda towards Transformative Change for Racial Justice and Equality.
The report describes international, national and local initiatives that have been taken, towards ending the scourge of racism.
These include an Executive Order from the White House on advancing effective, accountable policing and criminal justice practices in federal law enforcement agencies; an Anti-Racism Data Act in British Columbia, Canada; measures to evaluate ethnic profiling by police in Sweden; and census data collection to self-identify people of African descent in Argentina.
The European Commission has issued guidance on collecting and using data based on racial or ethnic origin; formal apologies issued, memorialization, revisiting public spaces, and research, to assess links to enslavement and colonialism in several countries.
‘Barometer for success’
The report notes that poor outcomes continue for people of African descent in many countries, notably in accessing health and adequate food, education, social protection, and justice - while poverty, enforced disappearance and violence continues.
It highlights “continuing…allegations of discriminatory treatment, unlawful deportations, excessive use of force, and deaths of African migrants and migrants of African descent by law enforcement officials”
“The barometer for success must be positive change in the lived experiences of people of African descent,” continued Ms. Al-Nashif.
“States need to listen to people of African descent, meaningfully involve them and take genuine steps to act upon their concerns.”