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Spyhopping the Right.

Updated: 2018-03-06T12:58:16.552-08:00


How Not to Normalize Nazis -- In Print, and In the Real World


The last days of the Aryan Nations compound near Hayden Lake, Idaho, in January 2000.[This is another op-ed I submitted recently to the New York Times and then to Columbia Journalism Review, both of whom declined it. Since the subject is now growing stale, I'm putting it up here so at least my readers can enjoy it. -- Dave]All reporting is like a mirror: If it’s distorted or at an odd angle, it’s not a true picture, even if it tells us something. Reporting on the American extremist right, especially its darker and more toxic corners, is an especially difficult thing, as the New York Times recently discovered, because it’s so very hard to focus on a movement that deals in shadows. There’s a lesson in this not just for the Times, but for us all. Because sometimes even a half-reflection can tell us more about ourselves than we want to know.My first lesson in the intricacies of balancing reportage about neo-Nazis and crypto-fascists came in the late 1970s, when I was the then-21-year-old editor of a small-town daily in the Idaho Panhandle, about 20 miles north of the just-established rural compound of the Aryan Nations near Hayden Lake. After consultations with my reporters and the publisher, we came to the joint decision to avoid providing the new arrivals with anything other than cursory coverage: Attention, we reckoned, was what they wanted, and it seemed wise not to give it to them.Yet within a few short years, the region found itself awash in a tide of hate crimes – Jewish businesses vandalized, mixed-race schoolchildren harassed by adults, and a host of other ugliness closely associated with the burning crosses and Klan outfits that were part of the scene outside Hayden. It all culminated in 1984 with the multistate crime-and-terror spree of the neo-Nazi gang The Order, which included the assassination of a radio talk show host in Denver. By then, of course, the Sandpoint Daily Bee had long disposed of its previous policy regarding coverage of the Aryan Nations and the extremists it attracted to the region. And it remained an important and essential lesson that led me to always take seriously the need to shine a spotlight on their activities, because they always interpret silence as tacit approval.Richard Faussett’s reportage for the Times (“A Voice of Hate in America’s Heartland,” November 25) clearly was in this spirit, intended to shine a light on the thinking that led a seemingly ordinary American to adopt such a radical belief system as white nationalism. Yet it failed signally to provide as whole and truthful, and thus accurate, a portrait of its subject as reportage like this needs to, in large part because it only looked at the individuals and not the movement they represented. Reporters experienced in dealing with radical racists know well this secondary pitfall: Giving them a soft-focus kind of exposure, the kind they are likely to hand you, only serves to enhance their toxic influence, both by “normalizing” them and by gliding over the nature of their ideology. If you’re going to report on them, you have to be not just precise but thorough.The mistake is an easy one to make, an aspect of the spotlight-shining nature of the enterprise, because it is easy at first to dwell too long on the surface of the subject, readily exposed by the light, and too little on the shadows that define its real shape. Context is everything in journalism, and especially when reporting on a subject with potentially dire consequences if mishandled.So the Times’piece told us the many ways in which Tony Hovater was an ordinary guy, but it told us very little about the ways in which he was anything but. Just giving us a taste of Hovater’s extremist social-media posts, many of them laden with bizarre conspiracism and overt racism, would have been helpful.Likewise, any historical context was missing. There was nothing explaining where Hovater’s ideas originated, what the history of the Traditionalist Workers Party was, or how these ideas dated back to the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s. Nor was there really even [...]

Fake News and 'Glorious Leader' Trump: The Key to His Authoritarian Following


Trump's authoritarian followers remain voluntarily within his alternative universe with the help of his press-baiting "fake news" claims, which drive a wedge between his True Believers and the reality the rest of us inhabit.[Note: I originally wrote this essay three weeks ago as an op-ed for potential use by newspapers. We approached several to see if we could raise interest in the issue. No one responded, so I am publishing it here.]There’s a reason Donald Trump bandies the term “fake news” about so readily and gleefully. It’s more than just a tic or a theme. It’s actually a tool he uses to drive a wedge between his followers and reality.This week he even seemed to lay ownership to the phrase. “The media is really, the word, one of the greatest of all terms I've come up with, is ‘fake’,” Trump told Mike Huckabee in an interview. “I guess other people have used it perhaps over the years but I've never noticed it. And it's a shame. And they really hurt the country. Because they take away the spirit of the country.”Fact-checkers such as PolitiFacthave observed that, beyond the extremely dubious notion he actually “came up with” the phrase, Trump’s use of it actually turns its original meaning on its head in a peculiarly self-serving way. Instead of describing fabricated content with no basis in fact, he uses it to mean any news that criticizes him – that is, any news he chooses not to believe because he does not like it.Any person using normative rules of factuality, evidence, and reason would defer to the original meaning of “fake news.” However, Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters, and many more similarly inclined, instead agree with him. Their version of reality, as such, becomes very different from the rest of us.It works, too: Recent polling found that 46 percent of all voters believe the media make up stories about Trump. Even 20 percent of Democrats believed this.This is what authoritarians throughout history have done: Set themselves up not only as the arbiters of right and wrong and other mainstream values, but of reality itself. They keep their followers close under their banner by creating a separate lived universe for them, an epistemological bubble that inevitably becomes a cult of personality and fanaticism. In the Trump era, I have dubbed this alternative universe “Alt-America.”Most Americans have a healthy skepticism about American news outlets, as our mainstream media landscape becomes increasingly littered with charlatans and corporate interests out to make a buck. But some Americans have elevated that skepticism to another and frankly unhealthy level, leading them to view anything produced by the mainstream media or official government or academic sources with an extreme form of “selective skepticism” – that is, they refuse to believe any kind of “official” explanation for events, actions, or policies, but instead go seeking any kind of alternative explanation for these. When this happens, their extreme skepticism is reversed into an extreme gullibility, so that they become vulnerable suckers for just about any kind of conspiracy theory or fantastic fabrication, so long as it confirms the narrative they want to believe. In this environment, conspiracists like Alex Jones of Infowars and a coalition of like minds calling themselves the alt-right have thrived, both politically and financially, peddling their own set of “alternative facts.”This gullibility shapes – or rather, distorts – people’s relationship to authority. Any kind of authority that exists outside of that person’s universe -- in the current Trump era particularly, anything with the taint of liberalism -- is innately viewed as illegitimate and untrustworthy and is to be vehemently rejected and ardently opposed. In the meanwhile, any authority within the “Alt-America” universe, especially political figures, conspiracist pundits, and Patriot movement leaders, are revered as absolute, and become objects of abject devotion. There is a reason that some o[...]

When white nationalists chant their weird slogans, what do they mean?


allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]Torch-bearing white nationalists led by racist "alt-right" figure Richard Spencer once again marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend, in a repeat of their appearance on August 11, when a similar polo-shirt-bedecked crowd carried tiki torches to the University of Virginia, chanting a variety of slogans and far-right catchphrases. “You Will Not Replace Us!” they shouted in unison Saturday. Later, they sang a rendition of the adopted Confederate anthem, “Dixie,” and also chanted, “Russia is Our Friend!” and “The South Will Rise Again!” The chants even included an odd attack on a fantasy fiction character: “Harry Potter is Not Real!” The rally occurred eight weeks after the August “Unite the Right” event that turned into a murderous melee the next day when an alt-right protester rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one person and maiming numerous others. Unlike the earlier torch-bearing rally, however, which saw an estimated 1,000 marchers with torches marching through the city, Saturday’s event only drew an estimated 40 to 50 participants. As with the earlier rally, however, the marching white nationalists shouted a variety of chants, all of them with very particular meanings to their movement. They enjoy wide circulation within the alt-right movement, particularly at online white-nationalist forums as well as chat sites like 4chan, but are unfamiliar to most of the general public. Here’s what they mean, beginning with the chants from the August 11 march on the Virginia campus: allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"> “You Will Not Replace Us!” This slogan was coined from a statement by Nathan Damigo, founder of the white-nationalist campus group Identity Evropa, who retorted to an anti-Donald Trump “He will not divide us” campaign by actor Shia LeBeouf on social media: “Shia LeBeouf, you will not replace us with your globalism.” The chant is closely related to the white-nationalist “White Genocide” meme, reflective of their fears that white people and white culture are under attack from multiculturalism and nonwhite races. According to the Anti-Defamation League, the slogan began appearing on white-nationalist fliers and banners in May, and has spread widely since then. (At times during the first Charlottesville march, the chant morphed into “Jews Will Not Replace Us!”)“Blood and Soil!” Possibly the most disturbing of all the chants heard in Charlottesville, this is the English rendition of Nazi Germany’s most fervent chant, “Blut und Boden!” Originally devised as a slogan of 19th-century German nationalists and popularized by Nazi ideologue Richard Walter Darre, the phrase is intended to invoke patriotic identification with native national identity, and built on a foundation of virulent anti-Semitism and racism. It later became a key component of Adolf Hitler’s “Lebensraum” program, seeking to expand territories occupied by Germans, that was a major factor in the Holocaust. The slogan has been adopted by the alt-right, particularly its openly neo-Nazi element, to emphasize its own nativist and eliminationist agenda.“White Lives Matter!” Ostensibly a retort to the anti-police-violence movement Black Lives Matter, this catchphrase very quickly morphed into both a slogan and the name of an outright white-supremacist movement aimed at attacking black civil rights, ostensibly “dedicated to promotion of the white race and taking positive action as a united voice against issues facing our race.” Numerous neo-Nazi groups around the country have reshaped themselves under the “WLM” banner, and the movement was designated a hate group in 2017.“Hail Trump!” This catchphrase needs little explanation, but its presence as a marching chant is significant. Donald Trump is[...]

In Wake of Las Vegas Massacre, Alex Jones Claims 'Democrats Are Going to Be Killing People'


"Democrats are going to be killing people, a lot of folks ... They are making their move for race war in America."The nation’s foremost conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones, jumped the shark years ago when it came to promoting crackpot ideas. But his rantings in the wake of Sunday’s horrific massacre in Las Vegas are treading from mere insanity into the realm of dangerously targeting his fellow citizens.The day after the massacre, Jones speculated that it had been perpetrated by his usual menu of favorite villains: Islamic State, antifascists, leftists, Communists, and globalists. On Tuesday’s Infowars show, Jones went even further, warning his audience that liberals were going to be killing them. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">The enemy’s engaging us. Everybody needs to be packing, like I told you on Friday and on Sunday. Get ready -- Democrats are going to be killing people, a lot of folks. And obviously, just like you don’t see conservatives going out and doing mass shootings, they don’t want to blame the Second Amendment, they don’t want to go out and kill people.It’s almost always drug-head Democrats, devil worshippers, you name it. That’s their M.O. The Democrats know when they mass-kill now, they know to not say they’re Democrat operatives. They just want to use that to get the Second Amendment and get a civil war going.According to Jones, the whole event is part of a scheme to cow the American public into accepting sweeping gun controls: With this event and this attack, the leftists, the globalists, the social engineers are going to use those dear lives of those poor people who were snuffed out to try to wound what’s left of our republic and complete our journey into disarmament. Jones claimed that comments after the shootings by Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton (Mrs. Obama actually was discussing the lack of trust in politics, while Clinton attacked the NRA) were proof they intended to start a “race war”: They are foisting this guilt down on all of us, and it’s a horrible assault, and Michelle Obama has come out and said white people are the problem, yes we have video, Hillary said the same thing. They are making their move for race war in America. It’s cold-blooded. It’s admitted in the Wikileaks. One of the apparent keys to Jones’ theory about Las Vegas is that the Southern Poverty Law Center is somehow central to the nefarious plot. Jones claims the shooter donated large sums to the SPLC, which he also blamed as being behind the plot to blow up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. This is not 1995, where they can carry out an event like Oklahoma City, which was a real bomb, but which was staged by criminal elements of the federal government working with German intelligence, and a major tax-free foundation who’s recently been caught with a lot of money overseas.Yes, the Southern Poverty Law Center was running Elohim City, where the attack came out of. They weren’t infiltrating it, they ran it. They commanded it. In reality, the SPLC indeed carefully monitored Elohim City and received information from informants inside the white-supremacist compound with which Oklahoma bomber Tim McVeigh was associated. However, as journalist James Ridgeway noted, even that information was second-hand. Later in the broadcast, Jones claimed that the Vegas shooter, Stephen Paddock, had been “giving massive amounts of money to the very suspect groups who had their hands in OKC and other events” – namely, the SPLC. For the record, there is no indication that Paddock ever donated anything to the center, nor ever indicated any affinity or affiliation with it. While Jones has been promoting the idea of a civil war for some time now, his projection-fueled rhetoric reached stochastic-terror levels as the broadcast went along: This is a leftist Democratic Party operation, with mainstream media, corporate media hyping the c[...]

At Seattle 'March Against Sharia,' Opposition Makes Islamophobes Look Small


The crowd reminded the anti-Muslim activists about the Portland train murders.[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]SEATTLE — A small gathering of less than a hundred ACT supporters showed up at Seattle’s City Hall Plaza on Saturday and soon found themselves outnumbered by a massive counter-protest of around a thousand people who showed up to voice their disapproval. The large crowd was deafening at times, though held back by a large police cordon, and various speakers inside the plaza had to shout to be heard. “ACT! for America is not an anti-Muslim organization!” asserted rally organizer Anthony Parish. “We are anti-radical Islam!” Meanwhile, ACT! supporters carried signs labeling the Muslim prophet Muhammad a pedophile; others denounced Islam and the supposed threat of Sharia law: “No Shitria” read one. Several Oath Keepers were present in the crowd, providing “security” by escorting random protesters from the plaza. The huge crowd across the street from the plaza, which called itself “Seattle Stands With Our Muslim Neighbors,” remained during the three hours or so the rally went on. A handful of fights broke out as the diminutive cluster of anti-Muslim marchers attempted to march from the plaza to Occidental Park in Pioneer Square, a few blocks away. Police said several protesters were arrested in the fighting. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="" width="500">More photos from the scene:This woman, from Spanaway, met with representatives from the Muslim communitybefore the rally; during the rally, she joined the anti-Sharia crowd in shouting at them.There were over a thousand people marching in support of Muslims.Various signs carried by alt-righters belied the claim their rally was not anti-Muslim.The sea of faces on one side.Rally organizer Anthony Parish.One of several alt-right banners making appearances at the rally.Wrapping himself in the flag.Flag waver.Portland alt-right organizer Josh Gordon was present.An exuberant alt-right supporter.Fighting Sharia, one flag at a time.More exuberance.Tusitala 'Tiny' Toese of Portland also made his presence felt.Community members remained defiant afterward.[...]

Defiant Alt-Right 'Patriots' Encounter Portland's Simmering Anger After Train Killings


'Based Stick Man' Kyle Chapman, at right, mugs with his alt-right fans.[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]PORTLAND, Ore. – The mood of the 300 or so Trump supporters and alt-right “free speech” defenders at Terry Schrunk Plaza in the heart of downtown Portland on Sunday was mostly defiant. After all, they were holding the event only a little over a week after a horrific hate crime committed by a white nationalist acting out alt-right talking points had shaken the city to its core. The city’s mayor had even taken the unusual step of requesting the federal government to revoke the permit for the rally, though that was refused. Yet the organizers and their “Patriot” movement supporters came anyway – some of them prominent alt-right and militia leaders from around the country. As it turned out, so did thousands of counter-protesters, angry over the week’s events, who vastly outnumbered the small crowd inside the park, chanting and shouting at them from all sides. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="" width="500">“It is so awesome that you guys came out here today, because you are challenging the corrupt belief system, I hope you understand that,” said Joey Gibson, whose Patriot Prayer organization was the event’s main organizer. “Think about the belief system in Portland. You’re not supposed to be here. And by challenging the current belief system, that is how revolutions begin!” Yet for all their bravado, the assembled “Patriots” could not escape the reality that they were heavily outnumbered, outprotested, and surrounded by the various factions of Portlanders who came out to protest their gathering and their message. To the west, a coalition of socialist and liberal organizations occupied the plaza in front of City Hall with a large banner reading, “Portland Stands Against Hate,” backed by a crowd of about 500. To the east, and within direct earshot, a collection of over a hundred labor union activists stretched along Third Avenue, their banner reading “Portland Labor Against the Fascists”. However, it was the collection of black-clad anarchists and “antifascist” activists who took up occupancy of Chapman Park, the large open space directly to the north of the alt-righters’ designated spot, that drew most of the attention and concern of the gathered Trump supporters, especially as the day wore on and they grew larger, louder and more raucous, numbering in the hundreds, many of them with their faces obscured by kerchief masks. Two alt-righters gave benign explanations for their Pepe banner to onlookers.Eventually, while the alt-right crowd listened to speeches and waved their Gadsden flags and Kek and Pepe banners, the antifascist crowd grew increasingly agitated. Police began arresting protesters, and then used flash-bang devices to clear them out of the park altogether. A large group of antifascist activists then marched en masse downtown along Fourth Avenue, their progress halted at the intersection with Morrison, where police in riot gear ordered them to disperse, and then began rounding up and arresting protesters who were caught within their cordon. By the day’s end, 14 arrests had been made. The dark shadow looming over the day was the shocking knife murders of two men on May 26, after they had attempted to intervene in the verbal harassment of two young nonwhite women, one wearing a hijab, aboard a commuter MAX train in northeast Portland. Both of the men had their throats cut in a sudden knife attack, and a third man suffered similar injuries but survived. The killer, 35-year-old Jeremy Christian, was arrested by police shortly after the attacks. His background revealed a political gadabout (he had earlier supported the presidential candidacy of Bernie Sanders) who, in the previous year, had become enamored of white-nationalist ideology and seized upon it obsessively on social media[...]

With DHS Position, Clarke Would Be the First ‘Patriot’ Leader to Hold a Federal Post


[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.] The apparent elevation of Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke to a position within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would mark another “first” of sorts for the Trump administration: It’s the first time any known participant in the antigovernment Patriot movement, let alone one of its leading figures, has ever held a federal position of any significance. Clarke told a radio talk-show host earlier this week that he was accepting the job as assistant secretary in the Office of Partnership and Engagement at DHS, serving as a kind of liaison between local law enforcement the federal agency. This would be a remarkable position for someone long affiliated with Richard Mack’s extremist Patriot organization, the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, to hold. Among the core tenets of CSPOA dogma is the far-right “constitutionalist” belief that sheriffs represent the highest law of the land, and are capable of overturning or ignoring federal laws within their own jurisdictions. Moreover, Clarke's history of incendiary remarks includes his advocacy of "a second American revolution." “I’m both honored and humbled to be appointed to this position,” Clarke told WISN-AM host Vicki McKenna. Officials at DHS, however, were not so forthcoming. “The position mentioned is a secretarial appointment. Such senior positions are announced by the department when made official by the secretary. No such announcement with regard to the office of public engagement has been made,” it said in a released statement. While a number of Donald Trump’s appointments to his new administration have drawn criticism and opposition for holding extreme right-wing views, the president so far had not elevated anyone associated with direct ties to Patriot groups to a federal position, particularly not placed so highly in the hierarchy. No previous administration has ever knowingly employed a leader in any extremist antigovernment movement. Clarke’s record of extremism is long and multifaceted, as is his history of incendiary remarks. He originally rose to prominence among Patriot organizations, but in 2014 became a favorite pundit on Fox News, called to provide a black face for conservative criticism of civil-rights activists in the Black Lives Matter movement. Nor has he hidden from his extremist associations. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="275" src="" style="height: 100%; left: 0; position: absolute; width: 100%;" width="500">In May 2016, he was honored by the militant Patriot organization Oath Keepers with its second annual “Leadership Award”. During his speech accepting the award, Clarke let his radical flag fly freely: He asked where the media in the room was, because “it’s always good to know where the enemy is.” Told the audience: “I’m one of those that believes that only a citizen uprising is going to allow We the People to resume our rightful place in this republic.” “Our government has been coopted. Our government is corrupt. All of our institutions of government are corrupt. The White House is corrupt. The Congress is corrupt. Our courts are corrupt.” Demanded that the SPLC designate Black Lives Matter a hate group: “They are a dangerous movement full of rage, bitterness and hate because of some phantom grievance status that they themselves never experienced.” Fed the group’s conspiracism: “Is there anyone here tonight, and I want to see you hand, if you believe that Barack Obama is living up to his oath with his circumventing the separation of powers, ignoring court orders, his appointment of czars and his executive orders that go beyond the power of the executive. Folks, this a slippery slope into a very dark place. A place called tyranny.” Notably, Clarke also warned Trump, whose support he openly embraced, that “if he [[...]

What the Kek: Explaining the Alt-Right ‘Deity’ Behind Their ‘Meme Magic’


allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="" width="500">[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]Who, or what, is Kek? You may have seen the name bandied about on social media, especially in political circles where alt-right activists and avid Donald Trump supporters lurk. Usually it is brandished as a kind of epithet, seemingly to ward off the effects of liberal arguments, and it often is conveyed in memes that use the image of the alt-right mascot, Pepe the Frog: “Kek!” Kek, in the alt-right’s telling, is the “deity” of the semi-ironic “religion” the white nationalist movement has created for itself online – partly for amusement, as a way to troll liberals and self-righteous conservatives both, and to make a kind of political point. He is a god of chaos and darkness, with the head of a frog, the source of their memetic “magic,” to whom the alt-right and Donald Trump owe their success, according to their own explanations. In many ways, Kek is the apotheosis of the bizarre alternative reality of the alt-right: at once absurdly juvenile, transgressive, and racist, as well as reflecting a deeper, pseudo-intellectual purpose that lends it an appeal to young ideologues who fancy themselves deep thinkers. It dwells in that murky area they often occupy, between satire, irony, mockery, and serious ideology; Kek can be both a big joke to pull on liberals and a reflection of the alt-right’s own self-image as serious agents of chaos in modern society. Most of all, Kek has become a kind of tribal marker of the alt-right: Its meaning obscure and unavailable to ordinary people – “normies,” in their lingo – referencing Kek is most often just a way of signaling to fellow conversants online that the writer embraces the principles of chaos and destruction that are central to alt-right thinking, as it were. The name, usage, and ultimately the ideas around it originated in gaming culture, particularly on chat boards devoted to the World of Warcraft online computer games, according to Know Your Meme. In those games, participants can chat only with members of their own faction in the “war” (either Alliance or Horde fighters), while opposing players’ chats are rendered in a cryptic form based on Korean; thus, the common chat phrase “LOL” (laugh out loud) was read by opposing players as “KEK.” The phrase caught on as a variation on “LOL” in game chat rooms, as well as at open forums dedicated to gaming, animation, and popular culture, such as 4chan and Reddit – also dens of the alt-right, where the Pepe the Frog meme also has its origins, and similarly hijacked as a symbol of white nationalism. A popular meme explaining the Cult of Kek.At some point, someone at 4chan happened to seize on a coincidence: There was, in fact, an Egyptian god named Kek. An androgynous god who could take either male or female form, Kek originally was depicted in female form as possessing the head of a frog or a cat and a serpent when male; but during the Greco-Roman period, the male form was depicted as a frog-headed man. More importantly, Kek was portrayed as a bringer of chaos and darkness, which happened to fit perfectly with the alt-right’s self-image as being primarily devoted to destroying the existing world order. In the febrile imaginations at play on 4chan’s image boards and other alt-right gathering spaces, this coincidence took on a life of its own, leading to wide-ranging speculation that Pepe – who, by then, had not only become closely associated with the alt-right, but also with the candidacy of Donald Trump – was actually the living embodiment of Kek. And so the Cult of Kek was born. Constructed to reflect alt-right politics, the online acolytes of the “religion” in short order constructed a whole panoply of artifacts of the satirical church, including a detailed[...]

Husband And Wife Accused of Planning Violence in Shooting at UW Milo Protest


allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="" width="500"> [Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]After a three-month investigation that entailed combing through hours’ worth of video recordings, the King County Prosecutor’s office in Seattle announced this week that it was filing felony charges against a married couple accused of shooting a man involved in the Jan. 20 protests outside a Milo Yiannopoulos speech on the University of Washington campus. Elizabeth Hokoana and her husband, Marc Hokoana, both 29, were charged with first-degree assault in the shooting of Joshua Dukes, a 31-year-old computer programmer who had been acting as a peacekeeper during the protest, which featured multiple violent melees. Marc Hokoana had been a participant in several of them, and according to the charging papers, had been dosing protesters with squirts from a small pepper-spray gun. During one of these brawls, authorities say, Elizabeth “Lily” Hokoana pulled a Glock semiautomatic pistol from her coat and shot Dukes once. Dukes spent several weeks in the hospital recovering from the wound, which damaged several internal organs. The charging papers claim that, the day before the event, Marc Hokoana had messaged a friend on Facebook: “I can’t wait for tomorrow. I’m going to the milo event and if the snowflakes get out off hand I’m going to wade through their ranks and start cracking skulls.” The friend asked him whether he was “going to carry.” Hokoana replied: “Nah, I’m going full melee.” He then added: “Lily … is.” Marc Hokoana had messaged Yiannopoulos via Facebook from the protest, saying his “Make America Great Again” hat had been stolen. He also asked Yiannopoulos for a new hat, but the alt-right provocateur never replied. Video recorded by Hatewatch during the protests showed Hokoana acting as a provocateur throughout the evening, egging protesters on and trying to provoke them by demanding his hat back. The charging papers say a witness identified as “B.F.” described his activities throughout the evening: “B.F. stated that the individual kept going over to the group of protesters and agitating the group by calling them snowflakes, libtards and saying that (Trump) was their president. B.F. stated that the man seemed to be there only to provoke the crowd.”In a still taken from the video (about 2:00), Elizabeth Hokoana can be seen reaching inside the back of her coat.A key portion of the Hatewatch video proved important in establishing the charges against Elizabeth Hokoana. Recorded nearly 30 minutes before the shooting, she can be seen, wearing a two-toned winter coat and pigtails, approaching the scene where a young Milo supporter had been hit with a blue paint ball by black-clad protesters. As the young man’s father pulls him away, she can be seen opening her coat and reaching behind her inside it, appearing to stand guard as her husband confronts the protesters. (He shortly afterward emerged, spoke briefly with his wife, and embraced the young man with the paint on his face.) A detective cited in the charging papers said the movement “was consistent with a person who was attempting to pull a concealed pistol from a holster.” Later in the Hatewatch video, Marc Hokoana, now wearing a bright yellow ballcap, can be seen chanting with a crowd of Yiannopoulos fans waving a banner bearing the image of Pepe the Frog, the hate-symbol mascot of the alt-right, and then briefly conferring with friends wearing red "Make America Great Again" ballcaps. In the final frame of that video — taken less than a minute before the shooting — the victim, Josh Dukes, is comes into view. The Seattle Times reports that further video evidence found Marc Hokoana attempting to keep his wife in check, telling her to “calm down” and “don’t[...]

Chobani Bites Back, Sues InfoWars For Smearing Idaho Operation, Refugees


allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="" width="500">[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]To hear the conspiracy-spawning hosts at Alex Jones’ InfoWars operation describe it, Chobani Yogurt and its Turkish-born owner are part of a vast plot to populate rural areas with disease-bearing and rape-prone criminal refugees from war-torn nations, driven out by the machinations of “globalists” who want to destroy America. Or something like that. This, more or less, is the conspiracy theory that InfoWars contributors have been spinning for the past year or more, reaching hyperbolic stages in the past month as the site has produced segments with videos titled “MSM Covers For Globalist's Refugee Import Program After Child Rape Case” and “Idaho Yogurt Maker Caught Importing Migrant Rapists.”This week, Chobani chose to fight back—in the courts. Pointedly observing that Jones “is no stranger to spurious statements,” Chobani filed a lawsuit in Idaho District Court this week demanding $10,000 in attorney fees, full corrections on its false reportage and an apology from Jones and his InfoWars operation. “The defendants’ conduct in this matter was extreme, outrageous and warrants punitive damages,” the lawsuit said. The focus of the conspiracists’ fearmongering was Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya, a native of Turkey who has donated heavily to liberal causes and is well known as an advocate for refugee resettlement in the United States and elsewhere. It opened its Idaho plant near Twin Falls, the nation’s second-largest such operation, in 2012. InfoWars and its army of true believers—who descended upon Ulukaya and other Chobani officials with a deluge of threats and hate mail through social media—claim that this is part of a nefarious scheme to drive “ordinary Americans” out of rural districts and replace them with brown-skinned foreign refugees dependent on their benefactors. According to InfoWars, Ulukaya not only is bringing in crime in the form of child rapists to Twin Falls, he’s bringing disease in the form of tuberculosis. The anti-refugee contingent had already been whipped into high dudgeon in the Magic Valley in preceding years over its longtime refugee program by a steady drumbeat of Islamophobia engendered with the help of various extremist anti-Muslim organizations, culminating in the open involvement of armed “III Percent” militiamen in anti-refugee protests.However, the hysteria whipped into high gear in the summer of 2016 when three refugee boys sexually assaulted a five-year-old in an apartment-complex laundry room, and the story hit local news media, and then went viral. The ensuing sensational news reports—amplified by screeching headlines at right-wing outlets such as Drudge Report and Breitbart News—described the assault as a “rape” and the boys as rapists. Some of the accounts claimed that the boys pulled a knife on the girl; others claimed they were from Syria. However, as Michelle Goldberg explored in a definitive report on the case for Slate, the facts are much more complicated. There was no rape involved; one boy inappropriately touched the girl’s genitals. There were reportedly other acts involved in the assault that were similarly appalling but did not constitute rape. The boys were from Eritrea and Iraq, not Syria. And there was no knife. Nonetheless, InfoWars’ reports on the case consistently described it as “the Idaho rape case” and described the boys as rapists. Contributor LeeAnn McAdoo also described Chobani as “the target of a lot of anti-refugee anger. People say that the factory there and other local businesses are linked to the refugee program, because the existence of the refugees as labor is needed to fuel Chobani.” The three boys, ages 14, 10 and 7, plead[...]

Washington Anti-LGBT Seminars Begin Organizing For Another 'Bathroom Bill' Initiative


Joseph Backholm of the Family Policy Institute of Washington.[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]In the bigger scheme of things, Joseph Backholm sees the fight over bathrooms and transgender rights as something of a short-term battle in what he calls a “war” against LGBT rights—but, he predicts, it will prove to be the decisive one. “Same-sex marriage is temporary,” he recently told participants in a “Gender Revolution” seminar in Tacoma, Washington. “It cannot endure because it’s not true. Now, same-sex marriage might survive America, but it won’t survive.” He continued: “There is no chance that, 300 years from now, we’ll look back and man will realize gender doesn’t matter. That’s not because we’re smarter. Eventually humanity will discover that is a broken model, it doesn’t work. It is going to go away.” The ostensible purpose of the seminars—organized by the Family Policy Institute of Washington, founded and overseen by Backholm, who lives in suburban Lynnwood—was to discuss the so-called “gender revolution.” Most of the 90-minute talk given by Backholm in the seminars, held in locations around Washington state, was devoted to attacking the transgender movement by ridiculing claims and assertions about gender identity common among people who choose to identify with a gender other than that which they are born with. The larger purpose of the seminars, however, became clear as the talk wound on and Backholm began describing the “cultural” part of how people could combat the “gender revolution”—namely, to encourage participants to engage in the political battle over gender by supporting and helping to promote the FPIW’s new anti-transgender “bathroom bill,” Initiative 1552. The new version goes beyond similar legislation in other states. For example, it provides for civil penalties against school districts that allow minors to be exposed to transgender persons. This is not FPIW’s first go-round with a “bathroom bill.” It attempted to pass an earlier version of the same legislation, dubbed Initiative 1515, in 2016 during the general election. The measure, however, failed when FPIW was unable to gather enough signatures to make it onto the ballot. Indeed, the organization has a long history of sponsoring anti-LGBT legislation and policies. It also has a long track record of failure when it comes to persuading voters. Backholm appears on local newscasts as an anti-LGBTspokesperson frequently.Founded in 2008 by Backholm, the group is the only organization listed by the anti-LGBT hate group Family Research Council as its affiliated “family policy council” for Washington. Backholm and his group are warmly listed as “alliance” members for another anti-LGBT hate group, the Alliance Defending Freedom, which describes how Backholm “is drawing on all of his [ADF] resources and contacts to generate a strong response to the legislature’s new marriage law.”In 2009, Backholm and his group helped lead the charge against same-sex “domestic partnerships,” which were then legal in Washington. The FPIW’s initiative to outlaw the status failed, 53% - 47%. After the Washington Legislature voted in 2012 to legalize same-sex marriage, Backholm’s spinoff organization Preserve Marriage Washington campaign led another initiative attempt to have the law overturned. Instead, voters upheld the law by a similar 54% - 46% margin. In 2016, FPIW led the campaign for Initiative 1551, a “bathroom bill” which it titled “Just Want Privacy.” That one didn’t even make it onto the ballot. Backholm’s FPIW has also led the charge on a number of religious-right fronts in the state, including:Support for anti-abortion legislation to define life as beginning at conception. Campaigning t[...]

Far Right Descends On Berkeley For 'Free Speech' And Planned Violence


[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]BERKELEY, Calif. – The American far right – alt-right figures, antigovernment movement leaders, and a conglomeration of conspiracists and extremists ranging from anti-feminists to nativists, all angrily voicing their support for Donald Trump – came here Saturday itching for a fight. They found it. On social media, the organizers and supporters called it “the Next Battle of Berkeley,” a chance to gain revenge for an earlier event on the University of California campus that they believed had infringed on conservatives’ free speech rights: In February, a scheduled appearance by alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was shut down by rock-throwing “antifascist” protesters. So when several hundred of them gathered at a downtown park for a “Free Speech” event Saturday – most from out of town, many from all around the country – they came prepared to do battle with the same black-clad protesters, many of them wearing helmets, pads, and face masks of their own. The result was an inevitable free-for-all, with organized phalanxes on both sides lining up, occasionally erupting into fistfights, and then breaking down in a series of running melees that ran up Center Street into the heart of downtown. width="500" height="281" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>By the day’s end, 11 people were injured and six hospitalized. Police arrested 21 people on a variety of charges. The rally had drawn wide attention among various right-wing factions leading up to the event. Perhaps the most noteworthy of them were the Oath Keepers, the antigovernment “Patriot” movement group closely associated with the Bundy standoff and various far-right conspiracist activities. Stewart Rhodes speaks at the rally.“We’re going [to Berkeley] because people are having their rights violated,” Oath Keepers president Steward Rhodes told a North Carolina gathering the week before. “So it could be argued that with the full support of the local politicians, thugs in the streets are beating people up and suppressing their rights to free speech and assembly. It could be argued that California is in a state of insurrection.” Various alt-right figures also became involved. Kyle Chapman, an Alameda County man who has gained recent notoriety as “Based Stickman,” the stick-and-shield-wielding defender of right-wing speech, came and was reportedly arrested. Canadian Lauren Southern, an alt-right pundit who came to notoriety by denying the existence of rape culture and by demonizing minorities, arrived wearing a helmet boasting a “MAGA” (Make America Great Again) sticker. Nathan Damigo taunts protestersNathan Damigo, one of the key figures in the student-oriented white-nationalist “Identity Evropa” organization, was not only present, but acted as a provocateur throughout much of the day, egging on protesters and leading a group of young white men with “fascy” haircuts in confrontations on the street. Damigo was videotaped sucker-punching a young woman in black who was embroiled in the street brawls. The rally was scheduled to begin at noon, but by 11 a.m. both sides were out in force, and the right-wing speakers, including Southern and Rhodes, began addressing the crowd from a tree-covered portion of the park. Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters gathered, separated from the “Patriots” by orange police cordons, enforced by some 250 officers. By around noon, the protesters began to march around the park. Groups of right-wing activists formed lines to prevent black-clad antifascists from entering their space, even as the protest moved around the east end of the park and then congealed on Center Street, on its west side. It was there that the police cordons[...]

Alex Jones' Defense of Trump Unleashes Obscene, Homophobic Attack on Congressman


[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]Alex Jones keeps saying he has nothing against gay people and thinks they’re wonderful. But then he keeps saying hateful and ultimately insane things about LGBT folk. The most recent outburst came Wednesday, when Jones posted a video featuring the latest of his wildly obscene and homophobic rants directed at Rep. Adam Schiff—this time with a bug-eyed outburst worthy of Dr. Strangelove, urging President Trump to hit China with nuclear weapons pre-emptively and claiming: “The United States is preparing to nuke China!” allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="" width="500"> The video, posted to Jones’ YouTube channel, features an increasingly unhinged disquisition warning that China planned to engage the U.S. in a nuclear showdown—and then blaming liberals in Congress, particularly Rep. Schiff, for causing the problems: JONES: This is what Communism delivers. This is what Venezuela delivers. This what all you people that want collectivism, and hate prosperity. Because you’re socially envious, and hate the prosperity because it makes you feel bad. And now you nihilistically want to start World War III, you assholes. If I wasn’t totally committed to stopping this, I would be getting out of the country with my family and getting to the Southern Hemisphere two years ago.The world’s in the greatest danger ever, and the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are lined up, showing weakness in the face of all this garbage. And that’s why the Communist Chinese, the biggest mass murderers in history, don’t respect us. Because the Democratic Party and snot-nosed people like the intel deputy head, Adam Schiff over there, are scumbags.You think having all those fairies and pansies up there, little chicken-necks, running around attacking our president all day, makes us strong? It makes us look weak. It doesn’t matter we’ve got ten to one nuclear weapons against China. Those crazy people have proven they’ll go to war. They’re completely psycho, like Kim Jong Un on power trips.So if China keeps pushing, the only option is full commitment to hit China pre-emptively. That’s the only way to survive this nuclear and Trump knows it. And Russia has already been told they better stand down. The United States is preparing to nuke China! So get ready, assholes! You wanted it, you’re gonna get it! Turn that off! Goddamn it! Jones is no stranger to hysterical vitriol; during the 2016 campaign, he worked himself up into a red-faced frenzy making the bizarre claim that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were literally possessed by demons. But if recent broadcasts are anything to judge by, nothing gets Jones quite as agitated as potential political threats to President Trump, the object of Jones’ furiously ardent admiration.Jones has been on a mission attacking Schiff, D-CA, recently, fueled primarily by the congressman’s work as the Democrats’ leader on the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation of Donald Trump’s campaign ties to Russia. In a March 29 interview with Trump adviser/operative Roger Stone, he unleashed a tide of vitriol unusual even by Jones’ standards, particularly for its unapologetic obscenity: allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="" width="500"> STONE: What we’re hearing from the Democrats both in the House and Senate is red-baiting --ALEX JONES: That’s on Drudge.STONE: -- fear-mongering -- It is well beyond the point of recklessness, whether it is Adam Schiff who has maligned me or whether it is Senator Mark Warner or whether it is Senator John McCain. But let me tell you something, Alex, these guys are pussies. They ta[...]

Pro-Trump Rallies Attract Opposition, anPro-Trump Rallies Attract Opposition, and Violence Again Ensuesd Violence Again Ensues


allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="" width="500">[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]Hundreds of Donald Trump supporters in dozens of cities around the nation held local pro-Trump rallies this weekend, but not all were peaceful. The rallies—originally organized to celebrate an anticipated repeal of the American Care Act that did not come about when the House canceled its vote on repeal legislation—went ahead anyway “as a show of support for the administration’s fast-moving agenda,” as Breitbart News put it. Most of the rallies—in places such as New York, Philadelphia, Washington, San Diego, Nashville, and Lansing, Michigan—drew only medium-sized crowds. Opponents showed up to counter-protest, and in some locales such as Philadelphia, outnumbered pro-Trump protesters. And there was the inevitable friction, especially where members of the anarchist “Black Bloc” became involved. The masked, black-clad “anti-fascists” led chants to interrupt the rallies and began scuffling with the red-hatted objects of their protest. At rallies in Huntington Beach, California, Seaside Heights, New Jersey, and Salem, Oregon, fights broke out, though police quickly intervened in each case and prevented the violence from spreading. The scene at Huntington Beach very nearly descended into a running melee, with one of its organizers getting hit with pepper spray. Four counter-protesters were arrested, three for illegal use of pepper spray and one for assault and battery, according to a spokesman for the California State Parks Police. Some of the self-described “Patriots” who showed up to support Trump also were seen wearing masks of their own, notably at the rally in Salem led by antigovernment organizations such as the militia-oriented “3 Percenters.” allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="" width="500"> One of these “Patriots” approached and surrounded a black man from Portland named Cameron Whitten, who had come to the rally, he said, to ask people questions. Some of the pro-Trump bloc apparently misidentified Whitten as Micah Rhodes, a Portland black man arrested as a sex offender for sex with underage girls. They wound up haranguing and threatening Whitten. “I suggest you get back over on that side right now,” a masked man told him, “before I fucking kick your ass for fucking raping little kids, you son of a bitch.” He claimed “we have done a shit-ton of research on you.” Whitten kept asking the man to identify him, if in fact he knew who he was. The man, joined by several of his friends, continued to threaten him until they were distracted by reports of a flag burning. One man, Matthew Heagy of Terrebonne, was arrested for pepper-spraying a police officer. Another pro-Trump supporter was briefly detained for having a gun at the rally, but was released, police said.Violence trailed President Trump’s rallies all during the 2016 campaign, encouraged by the then-candidate’s own rhetoric. Trump openly told participants at one rally to “beat the hell out of” protesters, told them he’d like to “punch [a protester] in the face,” and later described for his rally-goers the violent fate that “back in the old days” was expected for such protesters. [...]

Trump's ICE Bulletin Aims To Shame 'Sanctuary Cities,' But Its Numbers Are Skewed


allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="" width="500">[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]`The bulletin is long, detailed, and intimidating, as it is apparently intended to be: The Trump administration’s first weekly list of suspected crimes by immigrants in “sanctuary cities,” issued by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seemingly details some 206 cases where suspected illegal immigrants were involved in crimes in jurisdictions where local officials have declined to cooperate with ICE’s detainer requests. There’s a problem, though: The numbers listed in the bulletin are not what they seem. The bulletin’s stated intent is to call out the sanctuary cities. “In uncooperative jurisdictions like Cook County, Illinois, and the City of Philadelphia, ICE is barred from interviewing arrestees in local custody. Therefore, in these communities a large number of criminals who have yet to be encountered by ICE are arrested by local authorities and released in these communities without any notification to ICE,” the report said. “When law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release serious criminal offenders, it undermines ICE’s ability to protect the public safety and carry out its mission,” Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan said in a statement. Conservative sites promptly picked up on the bulletin’s fearmongering context, running headlines like: “ALERT: Trump Releases Terrifying List Of Cities With Extremely Unsafe Illegals… Do You Live Here?” However, ICE’s numbers are not quite what they appear to be. In the report, titled the "Weekly and Declined Detainer Outcome Report," 206 declined “detainers” are listed: immigrants marked by ICE for possible deportation but who instead were released by law enforcement between January 28, 2017, and February 3, 2017. ICE typically requests that these individuals be detained by local law enforcement for about 48 hours in order “to allow DHS to assume custody for removal purposes.” More than half the cases listed by ICE, however, involve people who have only been charged with violations but have not been convicted. Out of those 206 on the list, 116 cases involve pending charges. The detainers, moreover, are only a tiny portion of the total 3,083 detainers issued throughout the country during that same period. That represents about 15 percent. Finally, not only is it unclear what period the number cited in the report covers, the figure itself is somewhat murky, since it does not represent all the cases in which immigration authorities sought custody of people facing criminal charges. As a result of this, major cities like New York and Los Angeles are underrepresented on the list. The large majority of the immigrants on the list, nearly 70 percent, are from Mexico. All told more than 95 percent are from Latin American countries. The most common charges listed are assault, driving under the influence of alcohol, domestic violence, robbery and sexual assault. Some of the immigrants on the list have been charged with drug possession, resisting an officer and prostitution. Thanks to one county – Travis County, home of the state capital, Austin – Texas is the most frequently listed state. Travis County accounted for nearly 70 percent, with 142 of detainer cases listed. State politicians promptly made hay with the bulletin. Governor Greg Abbott called the report “deeply disturbing,” saying it highlighted the “urgent need for a statewide sanctuary city ban in Texas.” Abbott pulled state funding for Travis County programs last month after Democratic Sheriff Sally Hernandez said that she would only hono[...]

Donald Trump, the Authoritarian Master of Alt-America


Below is an excerpt from the penultimate chapter of my forthcoming book, Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump, due out this summer from Verso Books. It seemed especially relevant right now.---From the first day that Trump assumed the presidency, the White House was embroiled in some kind of chaos – some of it internal wrangling, some of it a product of the press responding to his provocations. Longtime Beltway observers were shocked by all the turmoil, believing it signaled an administration already in distress early in its tenure. But the chaos was by design, something Trump positively cultivated, following the pattern set by dozens of other authoritarian leaders throughout history – using the turmoil to create so much general uncertainty that his rigid, unyielding positions eventually come to define the general consensus. Wielding his Twitter account – which he described as his way of “speaking directly to the people” – like a combat veteran with a grenade launcher, Trump also demonstrated that he was masterful at creating distractions that kept his critics and the press hopping from one “outrage” to another, paying little attention while he quietly enacted his agenda on a broad array of policy fronts. Trump’s first real foray into asserting an authoritarian style in enacting his agenda came when he followed through on his campaign promises to sign a Muslim immigration ban when he became president. His first attempt at doing this came with one of his first executive orders, issued Jan. 27, banning all travel from seven Muslim-majority nations: Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. When the order came before the courts after several states sued to block it, Trump’s legal team attempted to argue that the order was not a “Muslim ban” – that is, a religious-based ban that would have run afoul of the Constitution on several counts, notably the Establishment Clause – but in short order, ran aground on the shoals of Trump’s own campaign rhetoric. The federal judges who reviewed the case all cited the candidate’s vows to institute a “Muslim ban” as evidence the order was intended to apply a religious test and therefore likely unconstitutional, and ordered it blocked. The judges’ rulings infuriated the president, who tweeted after the ruling February 4: “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” Yet when the case went before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Trump’s legal arguments again foundered. “Are you arguing,” queried Judge Michelle Friedland, “that the president’s decision is not reviewable?” After much obfuscation, Department of Justice lawyer August Flentje said: “Uh, yes.” The appellate court upheld the order blocking Trump’s order. That weekend, the Trump team sent out Stephen Miller, the 31-year-old “senior adviser” who was a onetime Jeff Sessions staffer closely associated with Stephen Bannon, and himself had a background of dalliances with white nationalists, out to act as the administration’s spokesman on the news talk programs. And he made an indelible impression. “The president’s powers here are beyond question,” he told Fox News Sunday. “We don’t have judicial supremacy in this country. We have three co-equal branches of government.” He also criticized the appellate court. “The 9th Circuit has a long history of being overturned and the 9th Circuit has a long history of overreaching,” he said. “This is a judicial usurpation of power.” A week later, on Feb. 21, Miller told Fox that any rep[...]

Seattle Synagogue Hit With Hate Graffiti, But Leaves It Up To Spark Discussion


[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]When a neighbor first spotted the hate graffiti spray-painted on the wall of the Temple de Hirsch Sinai synagogue in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, his first impulse was to cover it over, not to give the haters any more attention. The graffiti – “Holocau$t i$ fake hi$tory!” – was painted in large letters on a wall inside a meditational area on the temple grounds. So “Carlos,” as the neighbor later identified himself, decided to cover it instead with a sheet painted with the words, “Love Wins.” “Early this morning while I was walking with my dog I saw the words that had been sprayed on the building,” he explained. “I was so deeply overwhelmed with emotion that when I arrived home I immediately began bawling. Once I regained my composure I felt that the best thing that could be done is to show the love that exists in this world rather than let one person’s actions receive attention unnecessarily.”Rabbi Daniel Weiner, who oversees the synagogue, appreciated the gesture – but took down the sheet and left the graffiti intact for everyone to see. The synagogue erected a small sign in front reading: “Temple de Hirsch Sinai is aware of this graffiti. We are choosing to leave it exposed for the time being.” The synagogue's rabbis erected a sign explaining why the graffiti remained uncovered.“It was a very sweet gesture and touching, but we took it down,” Weiner said. “I think it’s extremely important that people see this.” The apparent hate crime was only the latest incident in a wave of threats and attacks directed at Jewish communities across the United States, including toppled gravestones and other vandalization, as well as a rash of bomb threats directed at Jewish communities. The most recent such rash led to the evacuations of five Jewish community centers in the U.S. and Canada during the recent Purim holiday. Weiner called the graffiti “a toxic mix of Holocaust denial, the stereotypical charge that Jews are obsessed with money, and the notion coming from the (President Trump) administration that all facts are fungible … fake facts, fake history.” On the temple’s Facebook page, Weiner explained the rabbis’ reaction. "We immediately contacted law enforcement, who have responded quickly and efficiently in opening an investigation, for which we are profoundly grateful. Temple continues to take vigilant, substantive security measures to insure the safety and well-being of our community. In light of other recent threats and upcoming celebrations, we have further enhanced these measures," he wrote. "And as we take all of these precautions, we are also adamant in our conviction that we will not allow the toxicity of intolerance and growing climate of hate to define who we are, how we live, and what our nation can be.” The rabbi called for action on the tide of anti-Semitism from President Trump, who has generally declined to address the wave of bias incidents that have occurred in the wake of the election, other than making a few vague statements. Trump reportedly is also considering eliminating the budget for the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. “A message needs to come from our president, not only decrying anti-Semitism but specifically indicting white supremacists and in particular those who support his candidacy,” Weiner said, adding that he did not blame Trump or his administration directly but regretted “the tone that has been set throughout the campaign.” Weiner told reporters that he believes people who were “previously marginalized or silenced now feel newly empo[...]

Trump's Second Travel Ban Once Again Misidentifies Source of Domestic Terrorist Threat


allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="" width="500">[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]President Trump’s latest attempt at what his critics call a “Muslim ban” – officially known as his executive order on travel – is predicated on the administration’s claim that people from six Muslim-majority nations pose an immediate security threat to Americans by potentially harboring radical Islamist terrorists who might commit acts of violence on American soil. However, a careful examination of domestic-terrorism data in the United States powerfully indicates that this claim is poorly grounded. The vast majority of so-called “Islamist” inspired terrorism arrests have involved pre-emptive arrests by law-enforcement sting operations in which potential actors were arrested under circumstances where the public was never at risk. None of the listed nations – Somalia, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen – produced any terrorist who has successfully committed a violent act against Americans. Most of all, the vast majority of domestic-terrorism incidents in the U.S. do not involve radical Islamists – rather, for the past several decades, most cases of violent terrorism have involved homegrown right-wing extremists. In a growing number of recent cases, some of these extremists have begun targeting Muslims and refugees themselves. Sean Spicer's tweet provided the only public view of Trump's executive order signing.The president issued the order March 6, marking the administration’s second attempt at banning travel from Muslim nations whose refugees and emigrants pose a terrorism risk, as Trump had promised during the 2016 election campaign season. The first executive order, issued Jan. 27, listed the same six nations as well as Iraq, but was immediately contested in the courts and overturned as unconstitutional.The administration is hoping that its revised order is able to surmount the legal difficulties encountered in its first attempt, primarily by claiming – the president’s campaign rhetoric notwithstanding – that the previous order, as the White House had argued in court, “did not provide a basis for discriminating for or against members of any particular religion,” nor does the new order. This order also has faced immediate legal challenge in federal courts by several states; so far, Hawaii and Washington have filed lawsuits that include several other states as co-plaintiffs. The SPLC issued a statement decrying the order, saying it is “still discriminatory, continues to target the Muslim community and will cause ripple effects felt by people perceived to be Muslim.” In his order, Trump attempts to surmount previous legal arguments about the ban’s appropriateness by claiming that Recent history shows that some of those who have entered the United States through our immigration system have proved to be threats to our national security. Since 2001, hundreds of persons born abroad have been convicted of terrorism-related crimes in the United States. They have included not just persons who came here legally on visas but also individuals who first entered the country as refugees. For example, in January 2013, two Iraqi nationals admitted to the United States as refugees in 2009 were sentenced to 40 years and to life in prison, respectively, for multiple terrorism-related offenses. And in October 2014, a native of Somalia who had been brought to the United States as a child refugee and later became a naturalized United States citizen was sentenced to 30 years in prison for attempting to use a w[...]

Some days ...


Is Kansas’ ‘Climate of Racial Intolerance’ Fueled by Anti-Muslim Political Rhetoric?


[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]Shocking hate crimes like the recent shootings of two Indian men in a restaurant in Olathe, Kansas, often seem to come out of nowhere. But in reality, they emerge not from a vacuum, but always from an environment that encourages and fosters this kind of violence. Wednesday’s shooting in the Kansas City suburb by a white man who had been shouting racial slurs at the victims and later told a bartender he had shot “two Iranians,” left Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, a Garmin engineer from Overland Park, dead and his co-worker, Alok Madasani, 32, as well as Ian Grillot, 24, who attempted to intervene, critically wounded. The shooter, a former air traffic controller named Adam Purinton, 51, shouted at his victims: “Get out of my country!” The FBI is investigating the case as a hate crime, though Kansas has no hate crime statute. The shootings set off shock waves in India, where many families have members working and living in the United States under similar circumstances. Kuchibhotla’s brother-in-law, Venumadhav Gajula, told the Los Angeles Times that he blamed the shooting on “a growing climate of racial intolerance in the United States.” Certainly, the climate in Kansas, as well as in neighboring Missouri, where Purinton was arrested, reflected just such a growing intolerance. In the months leading up to the election, the Kansas City region’s political scene became ratcheted up into high rhetorical gear for the November vote, and produced campaign appeals notable for their violence-drenched Islamophobic fearmongering. The most noteworthy of these was a series of mailers from the state Republican Party that went out to voters in the final weeks of the campaign making undisguised appeals to people’s fears that radical Islamist terrorism might overwhelm Kansas. “Have You Met the New Neighbors?” read the bold letters on the envelope of one mailer, next to an image of an apparent Muslim terrorist. “ISIS is not going away anytime soon,” read the envelope’s script. This GOP mailer promoted the candidacy of Joseph Scarpa with the promise to keep terrorists out of Kansas.Another mailer featured a script promoting candidate Joseph Scapa for a state House seat, saying he “wants to keep Kansans safe.” Next to an image of a young girl waving an American flag, it explained: “The first step to keeping Kansans safe is to recognize who the enemy is. Joseph Scapa understands the threats we face right here in Kansas. He will fund new training for our Kansas Law Enforcement officers to ensure they are properly equipped to recognize and deal with foreign and domestic threats in our state, from those who support ideologies that are in conflict with the United States Constitution and our Kansas values.”It concluded: “Let’s keep terrorists out of Kansas!” The 'ISIS Hunting License' offered as a campaign stunt by Missouri's newly elected governor, Eric Greitens, during the 2016 campaign.Another mailer featured an envelope with a similar scared-child script: “What is ISIS? Will they hurt me?” And one of the GOP mailers was an attack on a Democratic opponent, suggesting that “Democrats support moving terrorists to Kansas!”Meanwhile, in Missouri, another campaign appeal – by the man ultimately elected the state’s new governor, Eric Greitens – featured an even more violent suggestiveness.In July, Greiten began issuing “ISIS Hunting Permits” marked to expire “when we defeat this evil” as a campaign fund-raising item. A former Navy SEAL officer, Greitens sold[...]

Trump Still Refusing to Address Post-Election Wave of Anti-Semitism, Hate Incidents


allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]One of the truly disconcerting aspects of the wave of post-election hate incidents that followed Donald Trump’s ascension to the presidency in November has been Trump’s near-complete silence on the matter – particularly given that many of the incidents appear to have been inspired by him and feature references to his name. At Thursday’s press conference in Washington, the president was pressed once again – twice – on the subject, including direct question about the recent spate of phoned-in bomb threats at Jewish community centers. And both times, he failed to give anything resembling a coherent answer, let alone a clear statement opposing hate crimes committed in his name. Late in the event, Trump called on reporter Jake Turx, who asked him: So, first of all, my name is Jake Turx of Ami magazine and, I, despite what so many colleagues might be reporting, I haven't seen anybody in my community accuse either yourself or anyone on your staff of being anti-Semitic. However, what we are concerned about and what we haven't really heard you address is an uptick in anti-Semitism and how in this climate you're going to take care of it. There have been reports out that 48 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centers all across the country in the last couple of weeks. There are people who are committing anti-semitic acts or threatening to -- Trump cut him off:You know he's said that he's going to ask a very simple, easy question. And it's not. It's not a fair question. Sit down. I understand the rest of your question. So here's the story, folks.Number one, I'm the least anti-Semitic person you've seen in your entire life. Number two, racism, the least racist person. In fact, we can very well relative to other people running as a Republican —Quiet, quiet, he lied about getting up asking a straight, simple question, so, you know, welcome to the world of the media.Let me just tell you something, that I hate the charge. I find it repulsive. I hate even the question because people that know me, and you heard the Prime Minister. You heard Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday. Did you hear him? Bebe, he said, "I've known Donald Trump for a long time. Then he said, forget it." So you should take that instead of having to get up and ask a very insulting question. However, a short while later, as the conference was wrapping up, Sirius XM reporter Jared Rizzi asked the president: "I'll follow up on my colleague's question about anti-Semitism. It's not about your personality or your beliefs. We're talking about a rise in anti-Semitism around the country. Some of it by supporters in your name. What can you do to deter that?"Trump blamed it on “the other side”: And some of it — and can I be honest with you? And this has to do with racism and horrible things that are put up, some of it written by our opponents. You do know that? Do you understand that? You don't think that anybody would do a thing like that.Some of the signs you'll see are not put up by the people that love or like Donald Trump. They're put up by the other side. And you think it's, like, playing it straight? No. You have some of those signs and anger that is caused by the other side. They'll do signs and they'll do drawings that are inappropriate. It won't be my people. It will be the people on the other side to anger people like you. Earlier in the week, at a press conference with Israeli [...]

Gaffney Proposes a Smashing Replacement for Flynn in NSA Seat: 'Jerry' Boykin


allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="" width="500">[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]Frank Gaffney, one of the unofficial advisers behind President Trump’s Muslim travel ban and a key right-wing voice on national security issues, has a nominee in mind to replace former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn – a bold choice, someone he thinks can help the new chief executive overcome the Flynn debacle. Ret. Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin.On Tuesday, Gaffney tweeted his advice to Trump: “Retired Lieutenant General William 'Jerry' Boykin is that man. He can help Trump make America great again.” Gaffney expanded the idea further in a column for the right-wing webzine Newsmax titled “Trump Must Channel Reagan on National Security Post.” He referenced Reagan’s 1986 selection of William Clark as national security advisory. “Like Ronald Reagan, [Trump] needs a top hand who has the judgment and ability to staff up and guide a national security team to achieve victory over Jihad,” he wrote. “Retired Lieutenant General William "Jerry" Boykin is that man.” Gaffney also appeared on the Breitbart News Daily XM Radio program and promoted Boykin further. “We need a similar guy. I have a candidate. I’m sure that’s the kiss of death, but I believe the guy who should replace General Mike Flynn is another retired Army lieutenant general by the name of William ‘Jerry’ Boykin,” Gaffney told host Alex Marlow. He said Boykin has “that kind of clarity and courage under fire, most especially, of an extraordinary leader of men, one of our most decorated special operators.” “This is the guy for this time, I think, and I hope that Donald Trump will think about bringing him in. He knows him, he worked with him in the course of the campaign, and he would, I believe, help him execute a strategy for victory over jihad, which is what we need at the moment,” he said. However, if Trump is seeking to avoid controversy, Boykin might not fit the bill. Boykin came to national prominence while still in the Army during the Iraq war, when he gave a speech about hunting down strongman Osman Atto in Mogadishu. "He went on CNN and he laughed at us, and he said, 'They'll never get me because Allah will protect me. Allah will protect me.' Well, you know what? I knew that my God was bigger than his," Boykin told the Los Angeles Times. "I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol." He also told a religious group in Oregon that Islamic extremists hate the United States “because we’re a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christian.” Alongside a history of many other controversial remarks, Boykin has said that “Americans need to have more babies” to counteract the world’s growing Muslim population, called President Obama a “Communist dictator” who is using psychological operations on Americans, claimed that the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” doctrine has led to the “absolute destruction” of the military, warned that Obama is “creating a Marxist nation” with an agenda “straight out of the Communist Manifesto," and even theorized that Obamacare is part of a conspiracy to create a “Brownshirt army.” In 2014, Boykin was caught on a hot mic making an awkward attempt at humor by telling a reporter from Israel that “Jews are the problem” and the “cause of all the problems in the world.” In 2015, he told a gathering of the e[...]

Why You Cannot Defend Orcas and Donald Trump Simultaneously


Donald Trump meets with Blackstone Group executive Jonathan Gray.It seems almost counterintuitive that a person who spends their time advocating on behalf of killer whales might support a politician like Donald Trump.For good reason: Trump is notoriously anti-empathetic -- particularly when it comes to LGBT people, Muslims, Hispanics, and other minorities -- and indisposed to even expanding civil rights for his fellow humans. It would be astonishing if someone who produced two big-game-trophy-hunting sons were ever to advocate on behalf of such entities so beneath him in the hierarchy of things as animals.And yet, there are such folks. A few of them are my friends. So I'm here to explain to them why any support for the current occupant of the White House is support both for the current regime of enclosure in tiny tanks for the captive-orca population, as well as for the eventual extinction of the Southern Resident killer whale population, as well as inflicting harm on all the world's wild orcas generally.You are being, in short, no friend of the orcas, either captive or wild.First, it's important to know that the nemesis of orca captivity reformers -- SeaWorld -- is closely allied with Donald Trump.SeaWorld's majority stockholder is the Blackstone Group, the onetime owners of the company who took its stock public and who have taken the biggest hit from the Blackfish effect. Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman has been one of Trump's biggest cheerleaders in the media. And the admiration is clearly mutual; Trump recently invited Schwarzman along for a ride on Air Force One.(It was Schwarzman, you'll recall, who put his foot in the company mouth on national television by blaming Dawn Brancheau for her death when she was attacked by Tilikum: Challenged about SeaWorld's stock, Schwarzman told his CNBC host that the company had only "had one safety lapse -- interestingly, with a situation where the person involved violated all the safety rules that we had." The company quickly tried to backtrack, saying that Schwarzman had "misspoken," explaining that "his comments did not accurately reflect the facts of the accident or SeaWorld’s longstanding position on it.")One of Trump's earliest rumored picks for Treasury Secretary was Blackstone Real Estate president Jonathan Gray. Instead, he chose Steve Mnuchin, the notorious "foreclosure king."What Schwarzman is particularly hopeful of is that Trump will heavily deregulate business. For businesses like SeaWorld, that will mean potentially releasing them from OSHA regulations, not to mention those from APHIS.Speaking of APHIS: Trump named Brian Klippenstein, the notorious puppy-mill defender, to the transition team making his choice for Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The website of Klippenstein's organization, Mother Jones notes, "stresses the importance of 'defending our traditions,' and includes photos of performing elephants."The man they chose -- former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue -- is close to agribusiness interests and a Confederacy fan to boot. He also has long been closely affiliated with the Georgia Aquarium, which has been fighting to keep cetaceans in captivity through their beluga collection. That is a fight it has been losing -- until now.In early February, Trump's new USDA promptly blacked out all previously available information on puppy-mill operations. The agency released an Orwellian statement saying it removed the information “based on our commitment to being [...]

Fight Fascists With Mockery, Not the Violence That Feeds Them


Protesters mock neo-Nazis at a rally in Olympia, WA, in 2005Early on during the Inauguration Day alt-right event on the University of Washington campus that eventually devolved into a near-fatal melee, I looked around Red Square, and I had a bad feeling.I wasn't just afraid that things would get ugly. I saw the guys in the red "Make America Great Again" hats -- I just took to calling them Red Caps -- were itching for a fight, smirking and leering with that privileged alt-right sneer. I saw a dead serious, angry protest crowd, intent on blocking their entry. And I could see that no matter what, the scene was going to make everything worse -- by playing right into those alt-righters' proto-fascist hands, straight out of their historic playbook.Even though it seemed peaceful enough at the outset, when the numbers of would-be audience members for Milo Yiannopoulos' talk began lining up outside Kane Hall were roughly equal to those of the anti-fascist/anti-Milo protesters who began surrounding them and blocking their entry, it nonetheless seemed like a situation ripe for violence, since many of the protesters were coming into pretty close proximity to the alt-right Milo fans and there were plenty of verbal exchanges. Some of them even were conversations, but others were mere back-and-forth unpleasantries. There were minor physical moments, notably some of the red ballcaps getting knocked off people's heads and then swiped. And then the Black Bloc showed up, in an organized troupe, and it really did take a dark turn. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="" width="500">I know the Black Bloc folks love to claim that they need to wear masks with their black clothes in order to hide their identities from retaliation by neo-Nazis as well as police. Color me less than convinced, but what do I know: I've only been reporting on neo-Nazis and fascists for over 30 years with my face and my name out there, right? (I also get the feeling that a lot of them wear masks because it makes them feel badass. Whatever.) And they certainly make no bones about looking down their ideologically pure noses at normal mainstream nebbishes like myself, since we are insufficiently militant in the face of the fascist threat. Or so I've heard.Well, the cold reality is that the masks also become a license for acting out violently, indulging in behavior they'd never consider if there were a chance their identities would be known. Obviously, that includes assaulting journalists, even those there on assignment to monitor the situation for the SPLC, as I was. On three separate occasions I was assaulted by a Black Bloc person who knocked the phone I was recording the event with (on a selfie stick) out of my hand.Indeed, it seemed to include assaulting anyone they damned well pleased. And that was where the whole thing turned dark. What had been a fair and peaceful (if pointedly uncomfortable for the alt-righters) exercise in free speech by the anti-fascists, socialists and leftists who first comprised the protest crowd suddenly became an exercise in mutual menacing.Of course, I understood why they were whacking me -- because they wanted to protect their identities from further reprisals afterwards (even though every one of them wore a mask as well), and they in fact coach each other in knocking down cameras as an identity-protection measure. I don't think a single one of them thought about t[...]

Alt-Right Event in Seattle Devolves Into Chaos and Violence Outside, Truth-Twisting Inside


The Pepe banner comes out.[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]It was a scene ripe for violence last Friday night in Red Square on the University of Washington campus in Seattle: Several hundred fans of the racist "Alt-Right" figure Milo Yiannopoulos outside the hall where he was to speak, waiting to be let in, confronted by a much larger crowd of counter-protesters, chanting anti-Trump and anti-fascist slogans, including an organized pack of masked, black-clad anarchists.Eventually, violence did strike. An antifascist protester was shot during one of the many small melees that broke out during the evening. Police said a 34-year-old man was seriously wounded by the gunfire and was in critical condition at a local hospital after undergoing surgery.A man earlier identified as a “person of interest” in the case – described by the Seattle Times as an Asian man in a black leather coat with a maroon shirt underneath – turned himself in to police later and was arrested along with a man who accompanied him to the station. Both were later released without charges.Afterwards, Yiannopoulos and Breitbart News, where he is a celebrity editor, attempted to cast his supporters as the martyrlike victims in the shooting. However, Hatewatch’s eyewitness version of events is precisely the reverse: The shooter was a Trump-supporting man who had been acting as a provocateur in the crowd all night, while the victim was an anti-fascist liberal who had been acting as a peacekeeper in the moments before he was shot. allowfullscreen="" class="media-youtube-player" frameborder="0" height="390" src="" style="box-sizing: inherit; width: 865.888px;" title="Antifascist Shot At UW Protests Over Alt-Right Speaker's Appearance" width="640">Yiannopolous event invites chaos, violence.The chaos outside Kane Hall was directed at Yiannopoulos – the Breitbart tech editor and Alt-Right provocateur who ended his nationwide “Dangerous Faggot” speaking tour in Seattle – and his admirers who lined up outside to hear him, many bedecked in red Donald Trump “Make America Great Again.”Yiannopoulos' talk – at the invitation of the school’s College Republicans chapter – had created a controversy beforehand, with many critics questioning the university’s decision to permit hate speech on campus. UW officials were firm in their decision, defending it as a First Amendment matter.Would-be attendees lined up to wait for the doors to the event to open, an even larger crowd of about a thousand counter-protesters showed up to greet them. The shouts, chants, and angry behavior clearly discomfited many Trump fans, but early on, they responded by singing the National Anthem and chanting “Trump! Trump! Trump!” and “USA! USA! USA!”When the doors to the event opened, the counter-protesters quickly moved to block any further entrance to the event. Press reports indicated that several hundred managed to make it in – the Times estimated about half of the auditorium’s lower bowl, which holds some 530 seats, was full. However, the remaining crowd with tickets to the event remained stuck outside.Eventually, the verbal exchanges that began taking place in increasingly denser conditions became physical shoves, and then punches. One young Trump supporter made th[...]