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August 16, 2017


There was a small demo in Montreal on Sunday evening, let's see how to get on the a antiFa mailing list for future activities...

Amen, Beth. I am doing what I can and hope to be able to do more.

I have the sense that a new kind of civil war may emerge, not on the same exact geographic lines, nor fought on formal battlefields, but with the same bitterness; the place is rent.

A good, thought provoking post Beth, thank you.

I'm not always certain about the intricacies of American politics so please tell Beth - is it possible to outlaw the KKK and other white supremacists groups?

If it is why didn't previous 'liberal' thinking presidents like Obama, Clinton, Carter, Johnson, Kennedy, etc, do exactly that?

Perhaps liberalism contains the seeds of its own destruction? Free speech is a vital element in any democracy, I do understand this, but when that right is extended to groups who would in turn deny it to others then we have a problem, surely?

I've asked a few, informed American people about the possibility of banning these extreme groups but have never received a definitive answer - is there one Beth?

I look forward to hearing from you



Sending love. Going to rallies doesn't seem like much. Hoping to find the guts to stand up to these reprobates in the flesh.

Thank you, Vivian, Pascale, Duchesse, Pica. Finding ways to stand up to this hatred "in the flesh" is important for me too - whether it is solidarity and aid, ridicule, or non-violent antifascist actions (I'm afraid I'll never think it's OK or useful to answer violence with violence, but there are ways to be present, forceful and undaunted.)

Mick, it always makes me happy to hear from you. Here in Canada, hate speech is a crime, but in the U.S. it's much more difficult to prosecute. There is no provision for outlawing any group based on their ideology, no matter how offensive or dangerous - I believe they can only be prosecuted for their actual actions which are deemed to be "hate crime." Hate crime is a federal offense and not often invoked, but obviously hate groups and people espousing hate crime and violent actions against other people or groups are supposed to be being tracked by the feds. Maybe we'll see these laws change, but I have my doubts. Free speech is so ingrained in American values, and enshrined in the Bill of Rights, that any form of censorship seems like a worse policy to most citizens, but I think a lot of us are questioning the definitions as being way too broad. There was an article in the NY Times yesterday about this, focusing on the role of the American Civil Liberties Union in defending First Amendment rights even for the alt-right: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/17/nyregion/aclu-free-speech-rights-charlottesville-skokie-rally.html

(The First Amendment to the Constitution states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.")

I am noticing how President Trump and his supporters are using the "left's violence is as bad as the alt-right's" argument. When citizens return violence from their fellow citizens with like violence, I hope they are doing it to protect lives or assets, such as when citizens were being slaughtered by their former neighbours in the Rwandan conflict.

But this was not the case in VA. How much more powerful it would have been, IMO, to use nonviolent tactics, to remove the "both sides did it" logic.

Simon Jenkins, a Guardian columnist says this: the British media are not short of contributors keen to sneer at, infantilise, degrade, etc, etc, Trump. But every time they do so they merely reinforce the opinions of typical Trump supporters that this is typical behaviour of the various institutions that ignored them in the past. There is no argument in this, there is no way in which "good" facts will rise to the top since Trump doesn't dispense facts; he makes opinionated statements which touch vaguely on the issue, couched in simple language which uneducated people can understand and respond to. It's a far cleverer approach than many seem to realise.

What's more, Trump's methods have broader appeal than you might imagine. I discovered yesterday that my window-cleaner, here in fusty old Herefordshire, is a Trump fan. Reckons he's the sort of chap "who will get things done", not at all like "the other chap". The fact that my window-cleaner knows Trump's name and didn't know Obama's is significant. The things Trump says and does, however distasteful to us, remain attractive to many others.

Jenkins' prescription - unsurprisingly, not fully worked out - is that Trump's public persona should be tolerated and we should allow him to be brought down by his infringements of that which is legal, a process which may well be happening regarding his contacts with Russia. But it's a dangerous policy given the liberal consensus that evil only needs the non-involvement of "good" men to flourish.

Citing the Constitution is all very well but two can play at that game. The NRA cherry-picks its rationale while carefully avoiding other pronouncements which could - legalistically - be said to run counter to the right to bear arms. In any case Trump's election brought to light another group (rarely referred to these days) which claims the Constitution is out-of-date and needs to be rewritten. Could this lot be presently working underground?

Please don't think I'm unsympathetic. But Trump is simply not vulnerable to reasoned accusations and methods that have worked well against other malefactors who were vulnerable because they tried to stay - partially anyway - within the boundaries of good taste. You're right in saying the US needs an opposing leader but it won't be someone like Obama or Al Gore. It will be someone with a non-academic, non-governmental, non-business background and a folksy touch; who can fashion comic ridicule as a weapon.

Or whatever. Who am I to say? It's hard to think positively under the darkening clouds of Brexit, the implications of which will endure long beyond Trump's brief strut in front of the cameras.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.