Category Archives: Prejudice

“Feeding a Bedouin”: Roy Oz and Israel’s Outrageous Racism 

On July 11, a video footage which showed a popular Israeli TV celebrity demeaning Palestinian children from the Bedouin community in the Naqab area, went viral on social media.

“Let’s feed a Bedouin. Don’t you want to feed a Bedouin?” Israeli Children TV host, Roy Oz, repeatedly asks his children, who were seated in the back seat of his car. Outside the vehicle, two Palestinian children were filmed as they stood waiting eagerly for the cookies promised to them by the Israeli driver.

Palestinian Bedouins are treated like “monkeys”, said Atia al-Asem, head of the Regional Council of Palestinian Villages in the Naqab, after viewing the disturbing footage.

Arab Member of the Israeli Parliament (Knesset), Ahmad Tibi, described Oz’s behavior as the “lowest of human behavior, racist and despicable brutishness.”

In truth, Oz’s actions were merely consistent with the very racist reality that governs Israeli society — its laws, political institutions, media apparatus, its economic sector and popular perceptions.

In particular, the thousands of Palestinians who are still living in the Naqab desert have been subjected to a relentless Israeli campaign of dehumanization, racism, and ethnic cleansing.

Racism and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian Bedouin communities go hand in hand.  Oz’s video cannot be viewed separately from the Israeli government’s plans to corral Palestinians in the Naqab into isolated and impoverished communities in order to make space for Jewish-only housing developments.

For this sinister scenario to succeed, the Palestinian Bedouins need to be dehumanized by the Israeli political and media establishments. Oz’s racist video is a mere expression of this outrageous reality.

However, the issue exceeds that of the devastation and racism underway in the Naqab, into all aspects of Israeli lives.

In July 2018, Israel approved a “basic law”, dubbed the “Jewish nation-state law” that gave ascendency to everything Jewish and denigrated all else. It was a desperate, and ultimately failed, attempt at reconciling between the “Jewishness” of the state with universal democratic ideals.

“The Land of Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people, in which the State of Israel was established,” the new law said, celebrating the country as “the nation state of the Jewish People, in which it realizes its natural, cultural, religious and historical right to self-determination.”

In accordance with the above assertions, the new definition grants the “Jewish people”, everywhere, the right to “exercise  … the right to national self-determination in the State of Israel.”

The millions of Palestinian Arabs — Muslims, Christians and Druze — who share that same piece of land, though not as equals, have no place in Israel’s undemocratic definition of itself. Needless to say, the nearly 7 million Palestinian refugees were also excluded from claiming any rights in “the State of Israel”, including their internationally-enshrined Right of Return.

The Israeli Nation-State Law, however, must not be seen as the event that ushered in institutionalized racism in this country. Israel was founded on the racist principle that it belonged to the “Jewish people” only, and no one else, not even the Palestinian Arab natives of the land.

However, the law is significant in the sense that it represents the final blow to the hope that Israel will eventually come to terms with its past, and embrace the humanistic principles of equality, justice and democracy.

That hope — really an illusion — was dashed, and irrevocably so, as there is little resistance within Israel itself by any significant political force that is capable of confronting and defeating the racist, chauvinistic and ultra-nationalist trends that have always dominated the country.

According to an election survey published in January 2019, those who identified as “leftists” have dwindled  significantly, as they now represent only 12 percent of all Israelis – a number that includes Arab communities, where the left has historically had a strong presence.

This realization might be one of the reasons that made some optimists imagine that the supposed next best thing — Israel’s centrist Blue and White Party coalition under Benny Gantz — was still able to, at least, slow down the advancement of right-wing and religious parties.

These hopes persisted over the course of a tumultuous political year that witnessed three major elections in a row, despite the fact that many of Gantz’s stances were equally — if not even more — hawkish than those of right-wing Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Unsurprisingly, on April 20, Gantz joined Netanyahu to form a coalition government that is arguably the most militaristic in the country’s modern history, as both camps are keen on a new military confrontation with Gaza and a massive annexation scheme of nearly 30 percent of the occupied West Bank.

Armed with constitutional racism, Israeli leaders can now justify, at least to themselves and their constituencies, any action that may be deemed abhorrent, illegal or racist by the rest of the world.

This is the very reality that allows racist ‘celebrities’, such as Roy Oz, to go on safari-like adventures with his well-fed children in their air-conditioned top model vehicles to hand cookies to malnourished and poor Palestinian Bedouin children in the Naqab.

For Israel, Oz is the epitome of the ultimate victory of the “Jewish people” — as defined by Israel’s racist Nation-State Law — over the alienated, corralled and victimized Palestinians.

But racism in Israel is not only the work of political institutions as a direct outcome of the disparities created by Israel’s military superiority and expansive colonial enterprises. It has long passed all of that into many other aspects of Israeli society, and can be felt in other sectors of law, economy, the health care system and education; especially education.

Aside from the “racist ideology” taught in Israeli public schools, which denies the historical roots of Palestinians in their own land, and often demeans the Palestinian natives in ways that violate the minimal standards of modern education — let alone human rights — the very set-up of the educational system is a testimony to Israel’s deeply entrenched racism.

Schools dedicated to Palestinian Arab children in Israel are “a world apart in quality from the public schools serving Israel’s majority Jewish population,” according to one Human Rights Watch report.

“Often overcrowded and understaffed, poorly built, badly maintained, or simply unavailable, schools for Palestinian Arab children offer fewer facilities and educational opportunities than are offered other Israeli children.”

Racism accompanies the average Jewish citizen of Israel from the hospital where he is born, to the iniquitous school system, to the discriminatory business sector, to the utterly racist fans at the soccer field, to the unruly, murderous army and beyond. And every step of the way, Palestinians are belittled, dehumanized, exploited, subjugated, confined, imprisoned and, in many instances, killed.

With that being the everyday reality in Israel and Palestine, should we really be surprised that a morally bankrupt fool like Roy Oz mistreated Bedouin children, offering them candy as if zoo animals?

The truth is, Oz is the actual face of Israel — privileged, entitled, racist and delusional. And the same way Israeli media — which gives the likes of Oz his celebrity status — should be shunned and boycotted, Israel should also be sanctioned and boycotted. Because, without international pressure, Israel will never, on its own, confront its demons of military occupation, apartheid and deep-rooted racism.

Racism: Are We All Prejudiced?

Loud acts of racism, like the atrocious killing of George Floyd by a US police officer; the disproportionate number of black men incarcerated in American prisons or the high percentage of young black or minority ethnic (BAME) men subjected to ‘stop and search’ by police in Britain are blatant and ugly. But an individuals ‘unconscious bias’ and the institutionalized racism festering deep within organizations is subtler, perhaps harder to recognize.

Racism is prejudice against BAME people/groups, it has deep historical roots within ex-colonial cultures (particularly in countries with large migrant populations, like Britain, France and the US), it is vile and abhorrent and it must be driven out of society. It is one of many forms of prejudice that exist all over the world. Prejudice against women, or LGBT individuals and groups, people with disabilities, tribal people and other minorities, prejudice against religious groups, certain nationalities and people of various ages. No matter how liberal minded and ‘progressive’ we believe ourselves to be, are any of us truly free from all forms of prejudice?

Learning to hate

Prejudice in all its foul forms, including racism, is not innate  – nobody is born a racist – it is learnt. It results from psychological and sociological conditioning, which is absorbed unconsciously from birth and for the most part is acted on habitually, without thinking or awareness. Decisions, choices and actions that proceed from this position are in some way or other limited, colored, and distorted by dogma, motivated by desire and fear.

Such actions take place all the time; most are petty and relatively limited in their impact. But when prejudice is involved and the action is constantly repeated or exercised from a position of power – an employer, government official, a parent, someone in uniform or education then the effects can have long-lasting detrimental effects. Worse still, when racism has seeped into the fabric of the perpetrator and turned to blind hate, allowing for abuse (like kneeling on a defenseless man’s neck while arresting him for a petty incident) to occur the results can then be much more serious: recurring mental health illnesses, physical injuries, and sometimes death, of an individual, or in the case of genocide (the organized expression of hate) the systemic annihilation of a whole community.

Prejudice then is a form of conditioning; it is discrimination or bias unconsciously expressed in varying degrees, fuelling hurtful destructive patterns of behavior and social division. This does not in any way legitimize or excuse acts of racism and prejudice, but if such actions are the consequence of conditioning we have a key to eradicating this poison from society.

Young children do not on the whole exhibit signs of prejudice. They see other children simply as children, they don’t see black, white, brown, Asian etc., children. That is, until they are conditioned into seeing ‘difference’, into dividing people based on race, gender, religion, nationality etc., and encouraged to make judgments based on that prejudice. The agents of conditioning are (most commonly) ignorant parents, peers who have already taken the poison, government policy (on immigration, for example) and the media.

In 1968 an exercise in racial conditioning was famously demonstrated by the schoolteacher and campaigner Jane Elliot (credited with inventing the concept of diversity training): On 5th April, the morning after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jnr, she segregated the 28 children (eight/nine year olds) in her classroom based on eye color, with one group adopting superior status to the other. The following day the roles were reversed. It was a brilliant exercise that aimed to show what it would feel like to be discriminated against and also to discriminate.

Once the seed of prejudice and division is planted, false notions of superiority and inferiority are fed and the belief that some people are ‘like us’ and some people ‘are not’ is adopted. The idea of ‘the other’ separate from me, potentially a threat to me, takes root, and this, if reinforced by competition and fear (as is commonly the case) leads to distrust, further division and hate. Allowing for the creation of a violent minority, and, in extreme cases the birth of a flag-waving, swastika-bearing racist or bigot. In the majority prejudice leads to what is commonly called ‘unconscious or implicit bias’.

How unconscious is Unconscious Bias

In October 1998 social psychologists from the University of Washington and Yale conducted the ‘Implicit Association Test (IAT)’. An online research tool designed to “measure implicit or unconscious evaluations and beliefs that spring from strong, automatic associations of which people may be unaware.” The study found that 90-95% of people held such unconscious prejudices. The researchers, including Mahzarin Banaji, professor of psychology at Yale, stated that unconscious prejudice “results from the culture they [people] live in and the culture’s attitudes towards stigmatized groups …a culture leaves an imprint on the mental structure, and most people have more or less the same mental imprint.” This is sociological conditioning.

Various studies since have revealed that unconscious bias affects a range of everyday decisions impacting on people from minority groups. Job prospects, education opportunities and health care, as well as prejudicial treatment by criminal justice systems. While it may be unclear just how ‘unconscious’ an individual’s bias is, what isn’t in dispute is that it exists, impacting on almost all of us, creating division and injustice. But, as Professor Banaji said “the same test that reveals these roots of prejudice has the potential to let people learn more about and perhaps overcome these disturbing inclinations.”

Action not words

As Jane Elliot said, ‘there is only one race, the human race’: humanity is one, brothers and sisters of one humanity. This has been proclaimed many times, most famously perhaps by Mahatma Gandhi. Yet, like peace, brotherhood and justice, equality is nowhere to be found. It remains a noble ideal, but ideals, which are not made manifest become tools of deceit, feeding complacency and apathy, allowing destructive attitudes and behavior to remain intact, and to proliferate.

In the years since the introduction of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in March 1966 attitudes have changed and much progress has been made. But there is a long way to go if we are to create a world that is completely free from all forms of discrimination. To rid society of racism and prejudice a number of things need to take place simultaneously.

Education, inclusion and awareness (de-conditioning) are key, together with the introduction of urgent practical steps within all areas where institutionalized racism exists. The essential element to individual liberation from prejudice is awareness; the unconscious impulse of discrimination needs to be brought into the light of awareness where, when seen, it can be rejected. Institutionalized racism collects out of the individual prejudice of people working within a particular organization, whether a police force, government department, school, university, corporation or small business. Eradicating prejudice from all such organizations and encouraging diversity and greater representation of minority groups must become a priority; more support needs to be given to children from BAME families (often among the poorest in society) to ensure equal education opportunities and, in order to limit prejudice by employers, schools, universities etc., the mandatory introduction of ‘blind CVs’ (without personal details concerning the applicant’s gender, age or ethnicity) should be brought about immediately.

The global response to the appalling killing of George Floyd and the widespread calls for fundamental change must not be ignored or the focus lost by distracting arguments about statues and artifacts. Certainly, following community debate, some statues should be removed – not torn down – and placed in museums, and items stolen by colonialists and now held in western museums returned.

But the primary issue is not what happened in the shameful past, it is changing existing attitudes and behavior. The momentum for change must not be lost as the mainstream media turn their attention elsewhere and politicians ruminate and set up yet more committees. Action is needed now, not endless speeches by duplicitous ambitious politicians. The rise of racism and all types of hate crime parallels the increase in political populism and tribal nationalism; these ideologies of division have stoked racial tensions and fed hate among the hateful. They are of the past and must be collectively rejected. The path to equality, social harmony and peace will come about through unity not division, cooperation not competition, tolerance not bigotry. It is these qualities that need to be adopted and cultivated, not as ideals, but as living principles animating and pervading all aspects of life.

Tomi Lahren Doesn’t Let Her Color Blindness Define Her

In 2016, Tomi Lahren, right-wing talk show host on Fox Nation, opened up during an emotional interview on The Daily Show With Trevor Noah and revealed a rare condition she’s lived with her entire life. “I don’t see color,” she told Noah, holding back tears during a poignant discussion about the Ferguson protests. Despite her impairment, Lahren has since courageously continued her work, delivering sharp opinions on American politics and inspiring her fellow visually-impaired fans to not let their conditions define them. We sat down with Lahren for an inside look into how she copes with her condition both personally and professionally.

JS: So, how are you these days?

TL: I’m good, clear-eyed as ever!

JS: Haha, it’s nice you still have a sense of humor about your condition.

TL: You know, it’s funny you say that. As someone who’s disadvantaged, humor plays a huge role in my life. Especially in my line of work. Like a couple months ago, I made a tweet about quarantining being like slavery. I find that jokes like these tend to bring people together rather than pull them apart. And I want to emphasize that last bit—that we’re all just people. One human race, really, because I for one do NOT see color. You know, some of my more conservative friends don’t even see shape. They just see people as amorphous grey ectoplasms, hovering from place to place without function or form. Think about that for a second. That’s how unprejudiced some of us right-wingers really are.

JS: Wow, that’s pretty inspiring. But surely you must find your condition frustrating at times, right?

TL: Of course. I mean, take the Black Lives Matter movement. I literally don’t see color. So when some liberal snowflake reminds me that black lives matter, I’m just like, wait, whose lives exactly? It makes me feel so isolated! I mean, I’m being shut out of an entire movement. Imagine that. Imagine going through your whole life feeling different. Feeling like you don’t belong. Feeling like you don’t have access to certain opportunities. Feeling like society is systemically rigged against you simply because of how you were born.

JS: That must be really hard for you.

TL: It’s something I have to live with every day. Luckily, there’s a pretty sizable colorblind community here in the U.S. Howard Schultz, Bill O’Reilly, Michael Scott from The Office—I have a really great support network as you can imagine.

JS: I’m sure it’s great to know there are others out there. Do you ever wish you weren’t colorblind?

TL: You know, I get asked that a lot. But I always have the same answer: I consider my condition a blessing. I mean, I’m literally biologically incapable of being racist. How great is that? Back in 2016, I wrote a tweet comparing Black Lives Matter to the KKK. Sure, I had to delete the tweet because it was deemed racist by the mainstream media. But nobody saw things from my perspective. I don’t see color. Color just seems so…trivial to me. So, Black Lives Matter, the KKK—they’re all the same. They all just need to stop focusing on race so much! Anyways, somehow, in all this controversy, the media tells people that I’m the enemy! That I’m the one who has to say sorry for having a post-racial perspective! At the end of the day, it’s stuff like this that just makes me stronger. I’m not defined by my condition.

JS: Wow, so would you say that you’re largely misunderstood, then?

TL: Oh, I’m definitely misunderstood. I mean, sure, my network may have a history of exhibiting a huge racial bias. And sure, I’m not really friends with any black people in my personal life. And it’s true, just last year, I might’ve interviewed one of the first black people I’ve ever interviewed in my media career even though I’ve been a political commentator for six years. But you have to understand: that’s all just a coincidence. I. Don’t. See. Color.

J.S. Right. Changing gears to a more news-related question. What are your thoughts on the George Floyd protests going on right now?

TL: A lot of people are neglecting that violence against police officers has gotten completely out of hand. The protests have turned into a war on cops. We need to start thinking more about how blue lives matter too—sorry, did I say ‘blue’ lives? I meant ‘all’ lives. Because again, I don’t see color. Even when it’s not race-based and purely serves as a metaphor for how it’s actually police officers who are being systematically discriminated against and police officers who have suffered a history of persecution that spans as far back as the creation of America itself.

JS: That makes a lot of sense since police departments grew out of slave patrols. Anyway, I think that’s all the time we have for today. I want to end on a fun note for readers—what’s your favorite color?

TL: Actually?

JS: Yeah!

TL: Haha, for real?

JS: Sure.

TL: …white.

Racism:  Another Crossroads

I am a white person. I am also male. Some people would immediately dismiss my opinion on that basis, but they would be wrong to because prejudice is wrong. Like all decent people, I am appalled by racism and prejudice in general, but I see the behaviour and reactions of many people (although well-intentioned rage) causing more division, not easing the problem.  In fact, they are only fanning the flames of conflict.

When I was six years old I kissed a girl – we climbed under a desk in the empty classroom.  We held hands and for a brief moment kissed. Her name was Serena. She was an Indian British girl.  She was dark brown with jet black hair, and I loved her. I didn’t care about the fact that she looked different from the other girls. Everything about her was wonderful and fortunately for me she liked me too. Less than a year later I moved to another county, a new school, got on with my life, and I never saw her again.

In 1990 I went to Connecticut, USA to work in a summer camp for 4 months just outside a minuscule rural town. During this time our sports coach, who was black, was refused service in the only decent diner available. Despite the disappointing loss of good food, every single person who attended the camp or worked there boycotted this diner from that day onwards. After the job ended, myself and several friends visited this same sports coach in Harlem at his home, which he had kindly invited us to do. What happened to him was not discussed again. There was no need to. We all understood.

Later that autumn I visited the King Centre in Atlanta – 4 white Europeans, feeling distinctly under-dressed amongst all the otherwise African American and mostly very smartly dressed people. I already knew a fair bit about Martin Luther King and his legacy but that day I learned that there had been 32 attempts to kill him over a 10 year period, the last, of course, which took his life. Despite the full knowledge that he would eventually be killed, MLK continued his work relentlessly for his people and for all people around the world who suffer injustice and prejudice. He refused to succumb to negativity, violence, vengefulness and retained his dignity to the end.

Even those who thought he was misguided such as Eldridge Cleaver and Malcolm X, respected his position. They were not filled with hate either. They sought freedom for the African American and all humanity. Listening to their speeches it becomes abundantly clear that their end goal was the same as King’s – the end of division, hatred, inequality, injustice and a unified future for humanity.

King’s predecessor, Mohandas Gandhi in India, was a exponent of non-violent resistance, which King enthusiastically took up. Years after King’s death, Nelson Mandela in South Africa, came to realise that he could not defeat a stronger enemy through force and went on to achieve his astounding success through non-violent resistance and a peaceful transition.

The civil rights movement of the 1960s was a crossroads for humanity but it only achieved a partial victory. King and his colleagues demonstrated to America and the world that African Americans were more civilised, more intelligent and more humane than the people that sought to destroy them. They met their oppressors with resistance but a resistance based in love of humanity, not the resistance of vengeance and hatred. The same crossroads was reached in South Africa – as with King, the dignity of Mandela and his colleagues was irrefutable but again this was not a total victory.

We are now at a crossroads once again – the tragic murder of an African American man by police, captured on video, has sparked outrage across the world, not just in America but everywhere and we are at a pivotal point where the civil rights movement could come to its conclusion or remain unresolved.

At this crossroads humanity can choose to tackle this ongoing disgrace or to ignore it. We can choose to tackle it with intelligence, compassion and dignity to achieve a new era of cooperation and understanding through non-violent resolution. We can also choose to tackle this through violent insurrection, looting, rioting, vandalism and murder. While vengeful behaviour may be totally understandable, we must ask will it achieve a fairer and more just future? Or will it just perpetuate negative cycles?

I do not believe that violent solutions will bring anything other than more violence, more hatred and continued conflict. We have an opportunity to make a real change at this point in time. All good people of conscience need to stand up and be counted for what is right and I believe that what is right is non-violent resistance to the failings of the system.  The heroes of the civil rights movement were largely non-violent but they were far from cowards; in fact, they were brave enough to risk their lives for freedom and justice and many of them lost their lives in that fight.

To undermine their work and sully their legacy with a wave of violence and retribution will not help those who suffer from racism or any form of oppression. We need to be smarter than that.  If we want a better future, a better world we need to achieve unity of purpose and mutual understanding. Resorting to the basest instincts of humanity will not elevate us to a better place, it will only bring more pain. This fight against racism must be won, but it can only be won by taking the higher ground and maintaining the dignity that all humans should aspire to.

DIGNITY

RESPECT

COMPASSION

UNITY

LOVE

When Racist Old White Guys with too Much Money are Allowed to Employ People

Say what you will about corporate human-resources departments, but the one thing they effectively do is keep low-grade morons with a propensity for power trips in line. Though managers and owners with inherent tendencies to be upright prick machines will always invent ways to be walking fingernails against a chalkboard, at least the specter of employees reporting them to the HR Manager looms over them like the ultimate check and balance, preventing their asshole propensities from going fully hemorrhoidal at any given time.

I’ve seen and participated in more fucked up shit in restaurants and retail stores than I can possibly remember or even care to. My current mom and pop scenario, however, has elevated certain aspects of fucked-upness to heights I’ve yet to have scaled until now. And without the HR stopgap, the shitstorm is randomly raining turd drops on whoever’s head happens to get caught under the crap cloud at any given time.

I answered a Craigslist ad placed by a couple of self-proclaimed “two old dudes that don’t surf” for an upcoming Hawaiian-themed burger joint looking for an experienced general manager to help them get their vision off the ground. Turns out they had amassed enough money from their respective careers in banking and real estate – with the help of a few investor friends – to realize their lifelong dream of opening a restaurant. After a few interviews I was brought on board and promptly began the hiring process.

So I’m sitting in a booth interviewing someone who appears to be a qualified candidate for a server position. Her resume includes several prior jobs at some well-known corporate chain restaurants who I know have great training programs and high standards, which is always something I look for. These are the individuals who usually bring to the table a high degree of maturity and experience regarding what the job entails and requires, meaning less potential drama out of the gate for me.

Oh yeah, she was also African-American. Like that or if she were blue or green or yellow should even fucking matter.

So as we’re sitting there interviewing, in walks Captain Curmudgeon, one of the owners. After giving us the once-over, he gives me the silent head nod toward the other end of the restaurant which is the universal non-verbal “get your ass over here” in owner/general manager speak. I excuse myself from the interview, and when I meet him in the kitchen the first words out of his mouth are, “You don’t plan to hire her, do you?”

“Uh…yeah, probably. She seems pretty qualified.”

“No. Absolutely not. You’re not hiring her.”

“Why not?”

“Because once you let those people in the door, you can’t get rid of them.”

And out the door he walked, smiling at my interviewee and wishing her a nice day as he left while leaving the sort of slimy trail that would make any snail jealous.

Cut to: the following day. A dude came in applying for a line cook position. Again, his last couple of jobs had included stints at what I considered to be reputable multi-unit restaurants that are known for high volume business levels. As a manager, you’re always on the lookout for workers, especially in the kitchen, who are used to orders rapid-firing at them and can kick the food out without getting all freaky-deaky in the heat of battle. Those are really valuable people to have in the trenches with you when the shit is hitting the fan on a Saturday night and the prick on table two is screaming because the chicken he ordered three minutes ago isn’t sitting in front of him yet, and you know you can run to the kitchen and ask the guy behind the line to kick it out quickly and he’s able to do it unfazed while keeping the rest of the 50 orders he’s working on moving out like clockwork as well. I was getting the vibe from him that he was that guy, and I was getting ready to make him a job offer.

When in walks Colonel Crustacean. I get the nod, and the next thing you know we’re huddled in the kitchen again.

“That’s an interesting one. You aren’t seriously thinking about hiring him, are you?”

“Uh…yeah. He’s exactly what we’re looking for.”

“No way. Absolutely not.”

“Why not?”

“You can’t tell? He looks like a Deadhead! The next thing you know, this place will be crawling with drugs.”

He shook the Deadhead’s hand on his way out, leaving me there to finish with the obligatory “we’ll give you a call if we’re interested.”

After that, I began scheduling interviews when I knew Sergeant Shitbag wouldn’t be showing up and was effectively able to bypass his inflammatory contributions and staff the restaurant with qualified individuals in spite of his efforts to otherwise prevent it. Once staff training began, however, he made his presence known and readily gave me his feedback regarding my hiring judgments.

“What am I running here, a Third World Country?”

“I sure hope that Chink doesn’t think we’re gonna be doin’ eggrolls.”

“Keep an eye on that Limey you hired…he might not be right in the head. They’re always a little on edge anyway.”

“I like that one waiter. You know, The Gay. He’s good regardless.”

“I can tell you right now that fat chick isn’t gonna work out. I don’t know what you were thinking with that one – damn, she’s frugly.”

“Keep an eye on that Sand Nigger. Make sure he doesn’t take anything. You know how they are.”

“Make sure the patio furniture is chained together every night, because if you don’t the Armenians will steal it. That’s what they do around here.”

“I expected more of you. From now on, I want to approve anyone you’re thinking about bringing on.”

And so it went. By the time he was through disapproving of and refusing to pay anyone who didn’t resemble his Anglo-prurient sensibilities, our turnover ratio during the first couple of months ran right at 70 percent. Like most racist fucks, his propensity to selectively target and pick on those he sensed were the least likely to fight back has thus far kept him from being sued or prohibited from employing anyone at all – as he should be.

Having a front seat as a witness to workplace discrimination and being able to prove it are two entirely different things, as navigating the law has often made discrimination the norm rather than the exception. Unfortunately, any pale-balled sploogewaffle with a sizable enough bank account can open a business and effectively abuse the people they employ as long as a lack of empiricism exists to put these fucktards out of business where they belong. There are situations that can happen in the workplace that are unfair, unjustified, demeaning and unpleasant. This however, does not make it unlawful discrimination. Discrimination in the workplace can be in your face and it can be hidden in the shadows. That’s what makes it so subtle, destructive and insidious.

Oh, fuck…I have an opening for a busboy and a qualified Buddaheaded-Chingchonged-Cameljockey just handed me his application. You’d think these people would learn…

Woked in Fright: The Brief Banning of Fawlty Towers

Fawlty Towers

It’s all getting nasty. The urge to remove statues in hurried indignation; the lust to censor programmes now deemed offensive; the erasure of history, which, any sensible sort should know, is often a panoramic account of crimes and slaughter worth knowing rather than banning and hiding. This is surely not what the late George Floyd intended, but it hardly matters anymore. His death has propelled a movement that has capitalised on a publicised event of police brutality in the United States to re-order matters and sort out grievance across the board.

Comedies have not been spared the punishing treatment. It was probably long time coming, but someone was eventually going to get at Fawlty Towers , which has previously received the undue attention of the cutters. After all, British comedies are falling out of wokeish favour and flavour. Netflix, BritBox and BBC iPlayer took the axe to Little Britain and Come Fly With Me, two productions that admittedly could, at times, be crass. “Times have changed since Little Britain first aired,” came the explanation from the BBC, “so it is not currently available on BBC iPlayer.”

Refreshingly shocking when it made an appearance in the 1970s, Fawlty Towers did contempt rather well. A hotel owner by the name of Basil Fawlty who hated his guests, a not unusual state of actual affairs in British tourism, presided over a chaotic series of episodes that delighted and appalled. You can’t have that sort of thing anymore. Be nice, Basil, be nice.

With that in mind, UKTV, which is owned by BBC Studios, got their censors to return to the show. Knives were deployed. One episode stood out: “The Germans”, duly removed from its Gold Box Set of available downloadable programmes. That particular bit of fun involved “racial slurs”, though officialdom refused to say what, specifically, was problematic about it. “We regularly review older content to ensure it meets audience expectations and are particular aware of the impact of outdated language,” came the Orwellian statement. “Some shows carry warnings, and others are edited. We want to take time to consider our options for this episode.” Truly sinister stuff.

Since we are not offered an actual explanation other than this atrociously woke sentiment, we must speculate. Was it the fact that John Cleese’s Basil Fawlty goosesteps and shouts “Don’t mention the war” before a group of visiting Germans? Probably not, since being racist about Germans or provocative about the Second World never seems to date for certain audiences. Or is it the unreconstructed Major Gowen, played by Ballard Berkeley, who makes reference to the West Indies cricket team? (The Major relates to Basil Fawlty that, in attending a test match with a woman who “kept referring to the Indians as niggers” he was adamant in correction. “‘No, no, no,’ I said, ‘the niggers are the West Indians. These people are wogs.’”)

Cleese was understandably exasperated in explaining the issue to The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald. “If I put nonsense words into the mouth of someone you want to make fun of, you’re not broadcasting their views, you’re making fun of them. The major was an old fossil left over from decades before. We were not supporting his views, we were making fun of them. If they can’t see that – if people are too stupid to see that – what can one say?”

These are points worth reiterating: that context is everything. The Major was a figure to be mocked, not celebrated. Mark Lawson, writing in 2013, reminded his readers that Cleese and co-author Connie Booth, in creating the character of Major Gowen, “were clearly not being unthinkingly racist; rather, they were satirising an English upper-class bigot.” The tendency to be easily outraged tends to destroy all context in favour of faux sensitivity, which leaves no room for humour, or, if it does, the sort of sanctimonious nonsense signed off by paper pushing clerks.

Cleese is far from oblivious of social movements. He was a Python, a member of that legendary troupe of comic actors who taunted the easily-offended establishment. He is more than discerning to the indignation across the pond. “At the moment there is a huge swell of anger and a really admirable feeling that we must make our society less discriminatory, and I think that part of it is very good.” The protests remembering Floyd “have been very moving and very, very powerful.”

Distinctly less than moving have been those in the bowels of BBC management. With scorn, Cleese took to the BBC’s management strategy, more bunker than brain. “A lot of people in charge now at the BBC just want to hang on to their jobs. If a few people get excited, they pacify them rather than standing their ground as they would have done 30 or 40 years ago.”

On Twitter, Cleese reiterated a point long lamented: that a once glorious corporation had gone to the dogs or, to be more precise, “a mixture of marketing people and petty bureaucrats”, the “cowardly”, the “gutless and contemptible.” Those actually making programmes were vanishing, leaving way for “persons whose main concern is not losing their jobs”.

In a matter of hours, those cowering in the offices of the UKTV did a volte face. The show was reinstated, but with a mighty health warning. “We already offer guidance to viewers across some of our classic comedy titles, but we recognise that more contextual information can be required on our archive comedy, so we will be adding extra guidance and warnings to the front of programmes to highlight potentially offensive content and language. We will reinstate Fawlty Towers once that extra guidance has been added, which we expect will be in the coming days.” A more measured approach might have been: “If you don’t like it, don’t watch it.”

Lenses on Riots, Murder, and Racism in the US and Hong Kong

The despicable police murder of a person, another Black person, who allegedly used a counterfeit $20 bill has caused widespread revulsion among Americans. This time, however, authorities acted relatively quickly calling in the FBI and firing all four police officers at the scene — Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J Alexander Kueng.

George Floyd, who did not resist, was forcibly extricated from his vehicle by police, handcuffed, whereupon officer Derek Chauvin knelt for 8 minutes on Floyd;s neck while he pleaded that he was unable to breathe. Floyd’s death was the result.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has called for the arrest of Chauvin, although not by the officer’s name. Said Frey, “If you had done it or I had done it we would be behind bars right now and I cannot come up with an answer to that question.”

In contradistinction protestors have been hastily arrested while protesting Floyd’s murder.

Even the media were not safe from being arrested for covering the story of another police murder of a Black man. The Save Journalism Project responded in a press release:

The arrest of CNN reporter Omar Jimenez and his crew on live television this morning simply for reporting on the protests of police violence in Minneapolis violates the most basic tenet of press freedom: the necessity of reporting what are at times uncomfortable truths for government authorities. The government possesses enormous coercive power, that as this episode clearly shows, can be all too easily applied to limit or prevent the press from reporting on their actions. The First Amendment exists precisely for this reason.

The arrest of Jimenez even underscores the reasons for the protests he was covering. No one has been arrested in the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. But Jimenez, who like Floyd is black, has been arrested. There was even another CNN crew near Jimenez at the time of his arrest, but Josh Campbell and his producers were, according to Campbell, “treated much differently,” and were obviously not arrested.

In the US, American journalists, especially if Black, can be arrested … for what? Reporting a live story? To curtail racism and prejudice from wider exposure? To protect the crimes of the US gendarmerie from becoming public knowledge?

Prejudice in US and China

Why did the police murder another black citizen. NBA star Lebron James had no doubt.

Despite rampant racism and racism-inspired violence in the US, the US continues to inveigh against the alleged Chinese maltreatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang and Tibetans in Tibet. It has been refuted by others, such as journalist Caleb Maupin, as propaganda that seeks to demonize the Chinese government.

Arresting versus expelling journalists

In mid-March, the Chinese government announced the expulsion of journalists from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post.

The US mass media struck back: “[N]ewsroom leaders criticized China’s move, which comes in the midst of a global public health crisis over COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.”

Trump said, “I’m not happy to see it. I have my own disputes with all three of those media groups — I think you know that very well — but I don’t like seeing that at all.”

The Chinese action comes after Washington imposed limitations on staff at Chinese state media outlets in the US.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said,

The United States cannot proceed from ideological prejudice, use its own standards and likes and dislikes to judge the media of other countries, let alone suppress the Chinese media unreasonably…. We urge the US to take off its ideological prejudice, abandon cold war mentality…. China is not one to start trouble, but it will not blink if trouble comes. We urge the US side to immediately stop suppressing Chinese media, otherwise the US side will lose even more.

Notably, Americans have also been prohibited from working as journalists in Macau or Hong Kong.

A Comparison to China’s Response to the Riots in Hong Kong

What about the protests/riots that have resumed in Hong Kong? What triggered those protests? Some citizens were opposed to extradition of alleged criminals? How has China responded to rioting, sabotage, terrorism, separatism, and even murders by the so-called protestors? Hong Kong is a territory having been a under British colonial administration from 1841 to 1997 when it reverted to mainland China as a special autonomous region; it must be noted that once the original demands for rescinding the extradition bill were met, the goal posts of the NED-supported protestors transformed into a purported democracy movement.

Has china responded with military force? No. With arrests of law-abiding journalists? No. With police brutality? Most observers will acknowledge that police have been incredibly restrained, some would say too restrained in the face of protestor violence.

The protestors, largely disaffected youth, as is apparent in all or most video footage, by and large employ random violence as a tactic, which they do not condemn. This was made clear by Hong Kong protest leader Joey Siu, during an interview with Deutsche Welle, who said she “will not do any kind of public condemnation” for the use of unjustified violence by protesters against residents who do not share their political views.

How has Beijing responded? Legislatively, by seeking to uphold the Basic Law, whose Article 23 mandated Hong Kong to enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the Central People’s Government. It is the normal case that nations everywhere protect their national security. Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post ran an opinion piece titled “If Hong Kong had enacted national security laws on its own, Beijing wouldn’t be stepping in” which pointed out:

Beijing trusted Hong Kong to implement Article 23, but its trust was misplaced. The Basic Law is a two-way street – it isn’t fair to accuse the central government of failing to comply with the mini-constitution when Hong Kong itself has not fulfilled its obligations.

Extradition for crimes committed versus extradition for exposing war crimes

The Hong Kong imbroglio stems from the attempt to enact a bill to permit extradition between Hong Kong, China, and Taiwan. This was given impetus when Hong Kong resident Chan Tong-kai, 20, murdered his girlfriend, Poon Hiu-wing, 20, while they were on vacation in Taiwan. To be convicted of murder, he’d have to return to the jurisdiction in which it occurred for trial. But there is no extradition treaty between Hong Kong and Taiwan. Chan did agree to return to Taiwan to face the charges, but Taiwan blocked his entry.

The absurdity of this extradition conundrum is laid bare by the fact that Hong Kong has an extradition treaty with Britain and the US and not with its motherland, China. Thus, the lack of an extradition arrangement prevents justice for criminal acts such as murder among certain regions of China.

Meanwhile another bombastic evidence of western infidelity to justice is the extradition that is sought for a man whose “crime” was to reveal to the world the war crimes of the US war machine. For this Julian Assange, a man who should be protected by all humanity, has seen his human rights obliterated and any shred of western adherence to the concept of justice obliterated.

UPDATE:

In the course of writing this article, Derek Chauvin was taken into custody. The other three officers who were aware of officer Chauvin’s brutal and lethal act are in essence accomplices and ought to be held culpable under the law for their roles.

Hating Arabs as a Common Ground: Why Israel’s Coalition Government is Likely to Survive

Shortly after an agreement to form a “national emergency government” in Israel, leader of the Blue and White (Kahol Lavan) party, Benny Gantz, tweeted triumphantly that ‘democracy’ in Israel has been ‘safeguarded’.

But how is a deal that would grant Israel’s right-wing Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, a veto power over the very judicial system which will determine his fate, a form of democracy?

In January, Netanyahu was indicted on multiple counts of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. His trial is scheduled for May 24.

By making such an assertion, Gantz is simply deluding himself, following one the most disgraceful acts of political betrayal in the country’s modern history. By agreeing to join Netanyahu’s Likud party, Gantz has demolished his own parliamentary group which unified several major parties in one single bloc, all with the aim of removing Israel’s longest-serving leader from power.

The Blue and White, which until recently consisted of three parties (Hosen Li-Israel, Yesh Atid and Telem), presented itself to Israeli voters as a political force that would finally restore some credibility to Israel’s ailing political institutions.

Clearly, Israel was not ready for such a mission.

It is convenient to blame Gantz for the collapse of Israel’s once-burgeoning opposition, but the problem with Israel’s political elites is far more complex than that of a single individual.

Israeli leaders insist that democracy, transparency, and inclusion are achievable, even when millions of the country’s Arab citizens are marginalized and continue to be victims of institutional racism that dates back to the very foundation of Israel.

In actuality, Gantz could have formed a government with the help of the Joint List, a coalition of Arab and progressive parties, which is the only Israeli political bloc that represents hope for a better, more inclusive future.

The supposed Israeli ‘centrist’, however, opted to join Netanyahu – and to, consequently, alienate his own allies, Yesh Atid and Telem – than meet the reasonable conditions of the Joint List.

The Joint List, which had eventually endorsed Gantz to form a government, had merely requested the removal of the Nation-State Law (which defines Israel as a Jewish State), the Kaminitz Law (which restricts building in Arab communities in Israel) and ending the Israeli occupation of Palestine, in accordance with international law.

The Arab parties’ demands were simply too much for Gantz to handle, for several reasons.

One, Gantz is essentially a right-wing politician and a military hawk, who favors the annexation of the occupied Palestinian territories and has called for even harsher wars on Gaza.

Two, the Blue and White would have never been able to build a wider coalition if it adhered to any of these demands. This much was made clear by the head of Yisrael Beiteinu leader, Avigdor Lieberman.

Three, Member of Knesset (Parliament) Zvi Hauser, one of the most influential figures of the Blue and White, is among the main forces behind the racist Nation State Law of July 2018. Expecting Hauser to cancel the jewel of his political achievements would be most unrealistic and would have further destabilized a party that has already lost nearly half of its supporters in a matter of days.

Hauser is an interesting character, an ambitious politician and a person to watch, as he will play an important future role in Israel’s coalition government.

Hauser will now become the “proverbial long arm of the Judicial Appointments Committee,” according to Yossi Verter, writing in Haaretz. This committee, in particular, was the main stumbling block in the difficult negotiations, which preceded the announcement of a government coalition deal between Gantz and Netanyahu.

According to the deal, Netanyahu can accept or reject any of Hauser’s future appointments. Hauser is unlikely to find Netanyahu’s interference unacceptable, simply because he is used to the idea of being Netanyahu’s point man.

Yes, indeed, Hauser entered public service in 1994 to serve as the Likud party’s spokesman under Netanyahu who, at the time, was the country’s opposition leader. In fact, Hauser’s political career throughout the years seems to be intrinsically linked to Netanyahu’s own.

And here, yet, is another common ground between the Likud and the Blue and White, which could make the planned annexation of parts of the occupied Palestinian West Bank and Jordan Valley very much possible.

The text of the coalition government agreement spoke of potential annexation of parts of the occupied territories as early as the summer, in accordance with the US President Donald Trump’s “Vision for Peace”.

This understanding was by no means a concession on the part of Gantz, who, too, supports some form of annexation.

That’s where Hauser’s role becomes vital once more, for it was Hauser himself who headed the ‘Coalition for the Israeli Golan’, which championed and promoted Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.

Hauser’s wish received a huge boost in March 2019, when Trump signed the order recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli.

Despite its difficult birth and the Blue and White setback, the Netanyahu-Gantz coalition has more in common than meets the eye:

For one, Gantz seems to have abandoned his strategy of getting rid of Netanyahu through the court system. With Hauser as a middle man, Netanyahu, at least for now, is somewhat safe.

Secondly, not only is the annexation of Palestinian territories (despite strong Palestinian and international rejection to such a move) not a point of contention between the coalition partners, but a point of agreement as well.

Thirdly, with Gantz’s rejection of a coalition that includes the Joint List, and Netanyahu’s complete disregard for the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinians are entirely erased from the political map of Israel’s ruling elites. This is unlikely to change in the future as well.

There is one positive aspect in Israel’s unpromising government coalition, and that is clarity. Knowing of Netanyahu’s anti-Palestinian, anti-peace, and anti-international law long legacy, we should have all the clarity needed to understand that no just peace can possibly be achieved when Netanyahu is still at the helm.

The same can be said of Gantz as well, who preferred to willingly shake the hand of the devil than to find common ground among the leaders of Israel’s Palestinian Arab community.

Even when Netanyahu’s eighteen-month term as Prime Minister expires, a Gantz-led Israeli government is unlikely to fare any better.

Can Racism not Beget Racism?

Paul Craig Roberts, a former official in the Ronald Reagan government, has his own popular website and his articles are frequently published at the progressive Information Clearing House. I like much of what Paul Craig Roberts has to say, but liking some of the positions staked out by a person does not necessitate that a person agree with all that another person states. One can accept what seems reasonable, logical, and moral and reject that which is illogical or immoral. This is a sine qua non of a critical and morally centered thinker.

Sometimes the sources and positions recommended by someone, even high-profile personalities, call for a public rebuke. This is the case with the email sent out by Roberts today (5 April 2020) that he captioned: “The Criminal Anti-Swede Government of Sweden Brought the Joys of Diversity to the Swedish People.”

A url takes us from Roberts’ site to the site of the Gatestone Institute. The title of the article is “F***ing Swede” by Judith Bergman. An overview of the writings by Bergman reveals her to be far-Right and anti-the Other.

In her article, she writes of a new type of crime in Sweden: förnedringsrån, which combines the Swedish words for “humiliation” and “robbery.” It speaks to an outbreak of name-calling, forcing victims to strip, urinating on victims, forcing victims to kiss the feet of their tormentors, etc: in one word, humiliation. And a large chunk of the förnedringsrån, according to Bergman, is committed by non-Swedes. To support this, Bergman cites a 2017 report by the Swedish media network Expressen on the 49 criminal networks in Sweden’s capital, Stockholm.

The report showed the networks consisted of between 500 and 700 gang members: 40.6% of the gang members that Expressen surveyed were foreign-born; 82.2% had two parents who were foreign-born. Their main country of origin was Iraq, followed by Bosnia, Lebanon, Somalia, Syria and Turkey.

Bergman also cites a 2007 book — Exit Folkhemssverige (Exit the Swedish Welfare State) — by four academics (Ingrid Björkman, Jan Elfverson, Jonathan Friedman, and Åke Wedin) who wrote:

80 – 90% of robbers have an immigrant background. The majority are 15 – 17 years…The victims are Swedish children and young people, primarily ‘Swedish guys from rich men’s schools’, as one robber put it…. The robberies usually follow a certain pattern: A group of immigrant boys approach a selected victim and convey a clear threat with their actions. A common scenario is that one of the robbers holds a knife pressed against the victim, while the others rob him of mobile phone, bank card, money. The victim… is frightened and dare not [do anything] but give up the requested items… If he doesn’t give up, he’ll be beaten, often very brutally. Humiliation of the victim is not infrequently included in the picture. If it is a boy, it is about breaking his self-esteem. He is forced to cry, give up his shoes, even undress naked, kneel and plead for his life, etc. For the girl victims, sexual humiliation applies. They get their clothes ripped off, the robbers grab them and call them “whores”.

Unequivocally, the criminal acts described in Bergman’s article are heinous and must be condemned. However, also heinous is the attempt by Bergman and, seemingly, Paul Craig Roberts to scapegoat people of other ethicities for crimes without any consideration for why people of these ethnicities came to be found in Sweden, and without asking why they committed these inexcusable crimes.

Do crimes occur in a vacuum? Should one not try and understand the etiology of the crimes? If one understands the causes, then it is theoretically possible to deal with the causes so as to eliminate the precipitating factors of the crimes.

All the countries cited in the Expressen report (Iraq, Bosnia, Lebanon, Somalia, Syria, and Turkey) are countries where western nations have militarily inserted themselves. Let’s leave Turkey out of this for the moment because it is a NATO member and a host of western military.1 Sweden has been militarily involved in all these aforementioned countries, as well as in other countries. Restricting ourselves to just the 21st century, Sweden has been militarily involved in the debellation of Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria.

When a country becomes militarily involved in a country that is not attacking it, especially when the casus belli that is demonstrably illegal, how should citizens of the attacked country regard the attacking nation? Illegal or not, it is morally questionable whatever reasons are proffered to explain such militarism.2 Thus when violence causes an efflux of refugees that seek asylum in the attacking country, how should the refugees feel about being in a country that contributed to creating the fear-evoking conditions that led them to leave their homeland?

Nonetheless, whatever the antecedents are, this does not excuse or exculpate the alleged actions of the miscreants detailed in the Bergman article. But it provides an elucidation. If Swedes are participating in foreign adverturism, what might that indicate about racist attitudes held by some Swedes?

Leila Ali Elmi is a Somali-born, raised in Sweden, hijab-wearing Swedish MP who has pointed to a structural racism embedded in Swedish society. Elmi is engaged in fighting rising support for the far right.

Returning to Bergman’s article: before emailing an article to one’s email list, doesn’t it behoove the emailer to ascertain the media source of the article?

A brief sampling of fare at Gatestone Institute led me to conclude that it is a right-wing, anti-China, Islamophobic website. Even Wikipedia states: “Gatestone Institute is a far-right think tank known for publishing anti-Muslim articles.” Researching a little deeper revealed that the notorious warmonger John Bolton was Gatestone Institute’s chairman from 2013 to March 2018. Wikipedia adds, “The [Gatestone Institute] organization has attracted attention for publishing false articles and being a source of viral falsehoods.”

It seems extreme caution is warranted for information emanating from Gatestone Institute.

Open-minded skepticism guards us from too readily accepting the word of whoever or whatever3 the source is. We all have the capacity for fallibility. Whenever one advocates a perspective or takes a position that upon further reflection strikes one as incorrect, then right-minded thinking demands that one adjust one’s perspective or shift one’s position accordingly.

If racism is to be understood and combatted, it must not be analyzed in isolation. Racism must be considered not just from the perspective of the victim but also of the perpetrator. After all, it may well be that it was the racism of the victim that filliped the racism of the perpetrator. Racism may often be a vicious, self-perpetuating victim-cum-perpetrator circle.

Pointing fingers at an ethnicity is myopic and strongly suggests an unrecognized, latent if not overt racist tendency. Therefore, an all-encompassing lens is needed to understand and defeat the scourge of racism.

We must deplore acts borne of racism, deplore the milieu that gives rise to racism, and deplore the very mindset of racism. Racism must be unambiguously held to be anathema.

After all, we are all human beings.

  1. But the fact that the average Turkish person is recognizably different than the prototypical blonde-haired, blue-eyed Swede makes for easy identification as the Other.
  2. E.g., the Swedish Communist media, Proletären, said Sweden played a “dirty role” in Syria.
  3. And behind every what is always at least one who.