Sunday, October 30, 2022

In News: "Till" Film Released; True History and Actual True History; Rising Antisemitism; Twitter Takeover Consequences

Photo of stack of newspapers by Daniel R. Blume, Wikimedia Commons

This weekend, Chinonye Chukwu’s film "Till" has been released nationally after limited-viewing showings on 14 October. Join the Movement Toward Racial Justice summarizes why this film telling the story of the 1955 murder of 14-year-old African-American Emmett Till Jr. remains critically important for Americans to hear today:

[W]e are experiencing in new ways organized efforts to maintain a whitewashed story of the past by suppressing and eliminating cultural historical education.  We are being encouraged, pressured even, to turn our faces away from the demanding historical truths that live in and around us

The recently released movie Till issues a different invitation – the call to face the past and change the present.

Speaking of whitewashing the past, historian Heather Cox Richardson comments on the recent grotesque attempt of Michigan Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon to reshape real history as she claims that Democrats have planned to topple the US after having lost the Civil War, and that the Republican party is the party fighting for the rights of African Americans. Dixon calls this balderdash "true history."

Historian Richardson reminds white supremacist ideologue Dixon of an inconvenient little thing — a  matter of fairly recent history, so how could Dixon possibly not know about this? — called Nixon's "Southern strategy," in which he courted Southern white supremacist voters, Democrats to a man and woman. She writes,

This "Southern strategy" worked. [South Carolina white supremacist Strom] Thurmond publicly backed Nixon.

From then on, white supremacists made up a key part of the Republicans’ base, and the party increasingly pushed on old racial themes—Ronald Reagan’s welfare queen, for example, or George H.W. Bush’s “Willie Horton” ad, or the trope of “makers” and “takers”—to keep them on board. 

The parties had switched positions over equality and hierarchy. Since 1964, Republicans have always won the majority of the nation’s white vote, while Democrats rely on Black voters, especially Black women. 

And that is the actual true history of how it happened that a Republican candidate for office, representing a party that once defended civil rights, made white power rants on public media.

As Richardson notes, Dixon says she wants "true history." As an historian, Richardson gives Dixon what she wants: actual true history. The very idea of claiming with a straight face that the Republican party stands for the rights of racial minorities….

Eva Wiseman reports about the rising wave of antisemitism of which Kanye West is the most recent noteworthy exemple:

According to research by anti-fascist group Hope Not Hate in 2020, it is people aged 25-34 who are most likely to believe conspiracy theories about Covid, and vaccines, and about the Satanic "elite cults" that rule the world. They are also five times as likely as those aged 65-74 to believe that "Jews have disproportionate control of powerful institutions and use that power for their own benefit and against the good of the general population."


Antisemitism is not simply prejudice against Jewish people, it’s a medieval ideology about who runs the world, which explains why such disparate groups of people can regularly find common ground hating Jews and, also, why it has persisted. 

As Dana Milbank notes, for American Jews, who are 2% of the population but targets of 55% of reported religiously motivated hate crimes, the situation is appearing increasingly ominous. He observes:

The United States has until now been different because of our constitutional protections of minority rights: our bedrock principles of equal treatment under law, free expression and free exercise of religion. Now, the MAGA crowd is attacking the very notion of minority rights. Ascendant Christian nationalists, with a sympathetic Supreme Court, are dismantling the separation between church and state. ...

Without these protections, there is no safety in the United States for Jews — or, really, for any of us. In a perverse sense, Trump’s MAGA movement shares the fear of becoming a persecuted minority. The whole notion of the bogus "great replacement" conspiracy belief is that some nefarious elite is scheming to import immigrants of color to marginalize White people.

In the ongoing story of what's happening with Twitter after the Musk takeover, Shanti Das and Dan Milmo report

Key figures on Britain’s far right who were previously banned from Twitter have been able to open new accounts, apparently without restrictions, after the platform’s takeover by Elon Musk.

Britain First, an extreme group whose leader has spent time in jail for hate crimes against Muslims, rejoined the social media network on Friday. It had been banned in 2017 under Twitter’s hate speech rules after posting inflammatory anti-Muslim videos. Some videos posted by its then deputy leader were retweeted by US president Donald Trump.

And Robert Reich explains why we're nowing to see "things" happening on Twitter: 

Make no mistake: this is not about freedom. It’s about power.

In Musk’s vision of Twitter and the internet, he’s the wizard behind the curtain – projecting on the world’s screen a fake image of a brave new world empowering everyone.

In reality, that world is coming to be dominated by the richest and most powerful people on the globe, who aren’t accountable to anyone for anything — for facts, truth, science or the common good.

That’s Elon’s dream. And Trump’s. And Putin’s. And the dream of every dictator, strongman, demagogue and modern-day robber baron on Earth.

For the rest of us, it’s a brave new nightmare.

Wishing a good finish to this weekend to friends far and near.

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