Notes and Comment Blog


A glorified opinion survey

Jun 27th, 2016 4:28 pm | By

David Allen Green points out that the Brexit vote doesn’t automatically mean the UK will leave the EU. A referendum does not invoke Article 50. David Cameron did not invoke Article 50 on Friday. Green thinks that means it may never be invoked at all.

The referendum on EU membership was advisory not mandatory. It was deliberately drafted by Parliament not to have any legal consequences. (The last UK-wide referendum, on the AV voting system, did have such a binding provision, but this time Parliament chose not to include one).

As such, the result of the poll has no more legal standing than the result of a consultation exercise. It was a glorified opinion survey, and that is what Parliament intended it to be.

Just a chance to let off steam then? Too bad so much of the steam is so very polluted.



The v-word

Jun 27th, 2016 2:28 pm | By

And now there’s this:

In the photo: two smiling bright and shiny young people pointing to someone wearing a Tshirt with the slogan

ERADICATE THE RIGHT WING BLAIRITE VERMIN

When was Jo Cox murdered? Ten days ago.



Guest post: Do a good turn daily

Jun 27th, 2016 11:58 am | By

Guest post by Eliana Bookbinder.

At around 6 pm on Sunday June 26th, I was told that a hawk was down along the Moore Trail between Camp Marriott and Camp PMI, two of the camps on the Goshen Scout Reservation. I was off duty, but as head of the Marriott Ecology Area, I went to check on it and saw that it was not a hawk, but rather a juvenile bald eagle, hopping around on the ground covered in flies. The adult eagles were nowhere to be seen.

After about twenty minutes of texting and calls, Matt Anderson, the Director of Camp Marriott, told me just to leave the eagle there and that doing so was not a violation the Scout law (even the helpful, kind, and reverent bits, and the outdoor code to be conservation-minded), and I was not allowed to call a wildlife rehabilitation center or transport it to a wildlife veterinarian. Apparently this was because Mike Jolly, the camp superintendent, wanted to wait until a game warden could be called the next morning. Sadly game wardens don’t work on weekends (although I did try calling them, just in case). I knew that if I left the eagle out overnight that it would at best die of exposure and at worst get eaten alive by raccoons.

I checked the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service website, which recommends in this situation calling a wildlife rehabilitation center. So I disobeyed Matt and called the Wildlife Center of Virginia. The on-call veterinarian told me if I could capture the eagle safely to bring it there as soon as possible. Using towels my brother and I picked up the eagle, put it in a large Tupperware container, and started driving to the Wildlife Center. We knew we were disobeying but neither of us could leave this animal out to die.

About half way to the Wildlife Center, Matt Anderson called me and asked if I’d done it. I said yes, and he told me he might have to fire me, and I said it was worth it.

Once we got to the Wildlife Center a vet took the eagle and started assessing it. Sadly it had to be put down because it had multiple broken bones in its wing.

When we returned to camp Matt called us into his office, along with the assistant camp director. They repeatedly asked us whether we really wanted to work here, which was odd because this is my seventh summer and people don’t usually come back for that many years with a possible herniated disk if they don’t want to work here. Up until today I considered the Camp Marriott staff to be my family and the Goshen Scout Reservation to be my home. Matt also said that if we had been caught we would have endangered the reputation of the BSA and possibly gotten them fined. (Not true.)

This morning after they had us work for several hours, we met with Matt, Phil Barbash (the Goshen Scout Reservation Director), and Mike Jolly. After saying we broke federal law (which we almost certainly did not) Matt fired us for disobeying his orders. While we gathered our stuff Matt told Jeremy that “we are here to cater to the scouts’ needs, not the wildlife.” This also made no sense as we had done this on our own time.

The Boy Scouts of America has a law, an oath, a motto, a slogan, and an outdoor code. In that order, they are:

A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.

On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

Be prepared.

Do a good turn daily.

As an American, I will do my best to –

  • Be clean in my outdoor manners
  •  Be careful with fire
  • Be considerate in the outdoors, and
  •  Be conservation minded.

Not taking this injured bird to an appropriate medical facility would have violated many parts of these statements. Nor could I disobey my own ethical and moral guidelines and allow a bald eagle, the symbol of our country and the highest rank in Boy Scouts, to die of shock or be eaten alive by predators.



Rewriting the narrative

Jun 27th, 2016 11:02 am | By

Jael Goldfine at the National Women’s Law Center blog asks why it’s being treated as so disreputable to point out victimization.

While anti-victim sentiment has a long, ugly history in the American ethos, the last several years have been characterized by a new form of hostility towards victims. The idea that we are living in a “culture of victimhood” – which glorifies victimhood, encourages hypersensitivity, attention-seeking, and complaint – has become a mainstay within conservative thought, and the viral buzz-phrase has been wielded by liberal and conservative writers alike.

Yes. I’ve been watching that, with mixed feelings and thoughts. I often do see what the critics are getting at; there can be self-indulgent or self-obsessed versions, and that’s not a particularly healthy way to see the world. A decent politics is founded on giving a damn about other people’s problems as well as your own, so too much focus on outrages to the Self is a bad way to go. On the other hand…callous dismissiveness is not helpful either, and we do get to report injustices done to us as well as those done to other people.

Goldfine points out that the Stanford rape victim’s statement is a good place to look for why such things can be necessary.

But, perhaps, as believers in cultural victimhood would posit, by sharing her letter, she’s “playing the victim.”

My question is, why shouldn’t she?  The rape culture in our country and on our campuses makes victims of women. Why is sexual assault survivor bringing attention to her victimhood perceived as playing the victim, and not instead, as exposing the bully?

Because this is exactly what she has done: rewritten the narrative, revealing the bullies in the story, for everyone to see: Turner, who insisted the encounter was consensual; his father, who reduced her rape to a regrettable “20 minutes of action;” their lawyers who attempted to frame her as culpable in her own assault; and Judge Aaron Persky, who decided that the violation of a woman’s bodily autonomy is worth only six months in jail – the same sentence one can receive for stealing a library book.

This is the power of victimhood: to expose unjust power relations in a way that leaves the powers-that-be looking petty and shameful. To wrestle the public and moral narrative away from the dominant, default versions, which so often favor the privileged and powerful. To force confrontation with the violence women suffer in our society, and to disallow for indifference to the injustice of the systems that enable sexual violence, and protect those who commit it.

That also applies to the stories people are telling of encountering racism at the supermarket in the UK right now. We need to know.



The fight is not over

Jun 27th, 2016 10:08 am | By

CFI on the ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt:

A 2013 Texas law placed onerous and unnecessary restrictions on abortion providers, which would have forced the closing of all but a handful of the state’s clinics, cutting off abortion access to millions of women, particularly minorities and those of low income. The plaintiffs in this case argued that these restrictions impose an undue burden on women’s right to end a pregnancy. The Supreme Court today ruled against the state, preserving constitutionally protected abortion access for the women of Texas.

CFI filed an amicus brief with the Court in January, which was cosigned by dozens of prominent scientists and public intellectuals including Steven Pinker, Carol Tavris, Eugenie Scott, Jill Tarter, Lawrence Krauss, and Richard Dawkins. The brief argued the evidence presented by the state of Texas was based on manufactured, unscientific information, coordinated by known anti-abortion ideologue Vincent Rue, a hyper-partisan with no medical qualifications and who has been cited for ghostwriting manufactured, pseudoscientific testimony for alleged expert witnesses in federal court.

“The zealots behind the Texas law thought they could do an end run around Roe v. Wade by feigning concern for women’s safety and fabricating unscientific testimony,” said Nicholas Little, Legal Director of the Center for Inquiry. “They failed utterly. The fight is not over, and we will continue to work toward the day when the religious right will have to give up on trying to control the lives of women. That will be a good day.”

The ruling is great news – but really it’s just the reversal of a bad law. It would be nice if we could celebrate more actual good news, that’s not just the reversal of bad news.

Still – it is good news though.



An undue burden

Jun 27th, 2016 9:32 am | By

The Supreme Court has struck down Texas’s horrific anti-abortion law.

In a dramatic ruling, the Supreme Court on Monday threw out a Texas abortion access law in a victory to supporters of abortion rights who argued it would have shuttered all but a handful of clinics in the state.

The 5-3 ruling is the most significant decision from the Supreme Court on abortion in two decades and could serve to deter other states from passing so-called “clinic shutdown” laws.

And (I assume) it will also make it possible for clinics forced to close by the law to re-open.

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the majority opinion, which was joined in full by Kennedy. Breyer wrote that despite arguments that the restrictions were designed to protect women’s health, the reality is that they merely amounted to burdening women who seek abortions.

“There was no significant health-related problem that the new law helped to cure,” Breyer wrote. “We agree with the District Court that the surgical-center requirement, like the admitting-privileges requirement, provides few, if any, health benefits for women, poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions, and constitutes an “undue burden” on their constitutional right to do so.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined Breyer’s opinion and wrote a brief concurring opinion, which focused on what she called women in “desperate circumstances.”

“When a State severely limits access to safe and legal procedures, women in desperate circumstances may resort to unlicensed rogue practitioners, faute de mieux, at great risk to their health and safety,” she wrote.

Yeah because guess what, being forced to have a baby you don’t want to have is indeed desperate circumstances. 

The court’s decision has major implications for the future political battles over abortion beyond Texas.

Anti-abortion activists since Roe v. Wade have worked to pass a slew of laws across the country restricting abortions or making them more difficult, like the law struck down in Texas.

But Monday’s ruling strengthened the premise of the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v Casey, sending a message to states that might pass such laws and lower courts that would uphold them that they have a high hurdle to prove they’re constitutional. The Casey ruling said that states could impose restrictions as long as they didn’t impose an undue burden on the woman.

“By clarifying exactly what the ‘undue burden’ test requires, I suspect the majority was hoping to dissuade states like Oklahoma from continuing to pass laws that so directly challenge the central premise of Roe v. Wade — that the Constitution protects a pregnant woman’s right to an abortion in a meaningful percentage of cases,” said Steve Vladeck, CNN contributor and professor of law at American University Washington College of Law.

“In the process, the Court today has called into question everything from categorical bans on abortions to so-called ‘fetal heartbeat’ restrictions, and perhaps plenty of other laws in between,” Vladeck added.

Let’s hope so.



Guest post: Every last one of us here today is the descendant of “immigrants”

Jun 26th, 2016 5:48 pm | By

Originally a comment by Maureen Brian on Whether nationalism is really the fever and liberalism the normal condition.

Sorry, John, but you can’t understand the present without understanding how we got here. The British Archipelago is at the edge of a vast continent which stretches from Japan to the Atlantic coast of Europe. It has a temperate climate and is endowed with a variety of natural resources.

Therefore it is a place that people might want to get to. It is also a place where it would be inevitable that the natural movements of people would have to stop, regroup and develop the technologies to move further because no-one arrived here who was able to walk on water, let alone do it for three thousand miles to get to the next place which was similarly endowed with the means of survival, the Americas.

So, at the end of the last ice age when the whole place had been covered in several kilometres thick of ice, say 10,000 years ago, there were no inhabitants at all. Every last one of us here today is the descendant of “immigrants” the first of whom crossed the land bridge between England and what is now France and the Low Countries to hunt during the summer and later to settle as the climate improved. Among those peoples were the ones who brought us agriculture, which was not developed here, linked us into trade routes across the continents, brought new materials and new technologies.

Some have theorised that all of this may be why we industrialised first but that’s a whole library of books you’d never read so let us move on.

I have no idea where you are on the planet but i’m pretty sure you can’t prove that all your ancestors were within a day’s walk from there even 1,000 years ago. I have evidence of one strand of my ancestry in a particular place, where I don’t live now, dating back to 937 CE, but that is about as far back as anyone can go unless you are part of a royal family in a literate society. I repeat, we are all immigrants. We all descend from species which arose in the Rift Valley of eastern Africa and we all moved about.

You seem to misunderstand the entire system for dealing with the new people arriving. Refugees, a term with a legal definition, and asylum seekers are housed, sometimes in pretty grotty conditions, and get just over £30 a week which is not even subsistence. Now some get their paperwork sorted out quickly but others stay in that limbo for up to 10 years. They hate it but are all agreed that it’s better than being dead.

The sudden arrival of much greater numbers of people seeking work, which almost all find, does of course put stresses and strains on the system. Sometimes their appearance causes a small war e.g.Darfur but this is not inevitable or usual. Besides, it’s what we pay governments to manage, though some do it better than others.

If you have evidence and can give me a link to it of vast numbers of people arriving here, claiming every known benefit and staying that way for years then let me, let us all see it. More common, as it has been for centuries, is that those who were here earlier exploit, underpay and abuse the newcomers.

Among the ones I’ve known personally are a couple of doctors, a high-powered lawyer with a sideline in journalism and a professor of physics. What we should worry about is that so few of them get to work at the level of which they are capable, often because of racial and religious prejudice. We should also worry, surely, about the fact that so many people are displaced now because of continued imperialist wars. The Chilcot Report is due out in a couple of weeks – see that for why many of those moving right now are Iraqis and Syrians.

You sneer at me for seeking to understand what is going on and wave the spectre of the far right at me. I’m glad I have enough grasp of history and of human beings not to be fooled by the appalling guff they talk and to resist the violence which they actively promote. I’m glad I have the sense to know that fascism and its little brothers were never defeated by agreeing with them, something you seem only too willing to do.

There are times when you can’t beat having long conversations with people who have numbers tattooed on their inner arms and veterans of the International Brigades. You’ll have to find another source, though, because those opportunities are almost gone.



It’s just a matter of a few decimal points

Jun 26th, 2016 5:15 pm | By

Two months ago, John Crace at the Guardian reported on a confrontation between a select committee and the campaign director of Vote Leave.

“Can you go back to your seat please?” asked Andrew Tyrie, chair of the Treasury select committee as Dominic Cummings hovered menacingly over his shoulder.

Cummings, Vote Leave’s campaign director, had no intention of going anywhere. Going back to his seat would be a victory for the cesspit of Brussels. Instead he stood over Tyrie, pointing at his phone.

“I’ve got another meeting at four, so I’ll have to be out of here before that,” Cummings insisted, sticking it to the Man.

“I don’t think you’ve got the hang of these proceedings,” Tyrie replied evenly. “We ask the questions and you stay and answer them.”

“I’m just telling you when I’ll be leaving.”

“In that case you’ll be recalled.”

“Fine by me.”

Cummings went back to his chair and stood around, Tyrie again asked him to sit, he did a sulky teenager routine.

Cummings had a reputation to maintain. He hadn’t yet found anyone he couldn’t pick a fight with – any mirror would do – and he didn’t intend to start now.

“Can we talk about some of Vote Leave’s figures?” said Tyrie, once Cummings was finally in place.

As it happened, we couldn’t. We could talk about why the EU was the most corrupt organisation on Earth, we could talk about why Boris Johnson and Michael Gove weren’t actually members of the establishment, we could talk about why everyone in the Treasury and the Bank of England were complete morons, we could talk about all sort of secret threats that secret people were making about secret things that he would have to keep secret, but talking figures wasn’t on the table.

“I don’t think it’s Vote Leave’s job to provide figures,” Cummings announced triumphantly, his eyes swivelling manically.

“But Vote Leave quotes numerous figures on its website,” said Tyrie, “Most of them misleading or inaccurate.”

“Accuracy is for snake-oil pussies,” Cummings hissed under his breath. “And besides, I’ve got a really bad memory.”

“Is it not true that you only provide the costs of the EU and none of the benefits? You make the same mistake as Boris Johnson. You don’t read carefully enough. Wouldn’t it have been useful to have done some of the maths.”

“It’s just a matter of a few decimal points,” Cummings said.

Tyrie blinked. Earlier on he had been prepared to accept he might have been dealing with an idiot savant. It only now dawned on him that he was just dealing with an idiot complete.

And yet Mr A Few Decimal Points got his way.

Makes me want to go all Yes Minister and say civil servants should run everything.



“How did you vote?” said Pooh

Jun 26th, 2016 3:50 pm | By

There was this:

“How did you vote?” said Pooh.

“Leave,” said Piglet.

“I voted remain,” said Pooh.

“Are we still friends?” said Piglet.

“Yes…yes we’re still friends,” said Pooh.

“Good,” said Piglet. “Let’s go and get pissed.”

Jennie Stevenson tweaked it slightly.

“How did you vote?” said Pooh.

“Leave,” said Piglet.

“I voted remain,” said Pooh.

“Are we still friends?” said Piglet.

“Well to be honest, I’m not really sure” said Pooh, uncharacteristically thoughtfully. “It’s a complex issue and not really one that can be reduced to seven lines of text for the purposes of a rather twee meme.

“On the one hand, a belief in unity, that we’re stronger together, and that when we work as a team we both benefit, was one of the main reasons why I voted as I did.

“On the other hand, whilst I appreciate that, just as I did, you chose your vote based on what you thought was for the best, you have precipitated a huge financial collapse, destabilised my country, and threatened the future of my children, and it’s hard for me to forget that, especially within a matter of hours.

“It’s entirely possible that we’re going to end up with a very much depleted Sixty Acre Wood, and while you might have no issue with the other animals who live here, you sided with those who did. As of yesterday, Kanga’s had to go into hiding, Rabbit’s marching to Christopher Robin’s house demanding her immediate repatriation, and Tigger’s had donkey shit shoved through his letterbox. While you might not have wanted that, you legitimised it, and decided that other animals’ lives and security were collateral damage.

“It’s true that you’re still the small, massively overmarketed stuffed animal that you were before, but realistically I’ve seen another side of you that I hadn’t before and it’s going to take me some time to process that.

“And whenever I tried to discuss this with you beforehand, you either accused me of scaremongering or insisted on ignoring me and showing me pictures of cats instead.

“So rather than pressing me for assurances I’m in no position to make right now, I’d appreciate it if you could give me some space and allow me to get off my face on honey and grieve the future that I thought I had, which has been destroyed in the favour of the one that you’ve dragged me into.

“And if you don’t, I’ll post you to Cameron. All right?”

Remember the conclusion of Dorothy Parker’s review of Winnie the Pooh? “Tonstant Weader frowed up.”



Things fall apart

Jun 26th, 2016 11:14 am | By

Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn sacked Hilary Benn in the middle of the night and many Labour MPs have quit the shadow cabinet in response, while the BBC is reporting that Corbyn sabotaged the Remain campaign.

Interesting times.

The latest update from the Guardian:

Writing for the Guardian, Phil Wilson – the chair of the Labour in for Britain group – has called on Jeremy Corbyn to resign, claiming he sabotaged the party’s remain campaign.

[Corbyn] himself issued a note to all MPs on 17 September 2015 telling them that Labour would campaign to remain in the European Union. And yet he decided to go on holiday in the middle of the campaign. He did not visit the Labour heartlands of the north-east and instead raised esoteric issues such as TTIP which had no resonance on the doorstep.

This leads to me to the greatest betrayal and the final straw for many MPs. I have been told and shown evidence by an overwhelming number of unimpeachably neutral Labour remain staff that Corbyn’s office, for which he must take full responsibility, consistently attempted to weaken and sabotage the Labour remain campaign, in contravention of the party’s official position.

Here’s Laura Kuenssberg at the BBC less than an hour ago:

There have been concerns about Jeremy Corbyn’s performance for months and months. But it was his role, or lack of role, in the campaign to keep the UK in the EU, and his sacking of Hilary Benn in the middle of the night, that has given members of the shadow cabinet the final reasons to quit. Several have already gone; as many as half will be gone by the end of the day, I understand.

And documents passed to the BBC suggest Jeremy Corbyn’s office sought to delay and water down the Labour Remain campaign. Sources suggest that they are evidence of “deliberate sabotage”.

One email from the leader’s office suggests that Mr Corbyn’s director of strategy and communications, Seumas Milne, was behind Mr Corbyn’s reluctance to take a prominent role in Labour’s campaign to keep the UK in the EU. One email, discussing one of the leader’s speeches, said it was because of the “hand of Seumas. If he can’t kill it, he will water it down so much to hope nobody notices it”.

Wow. If that’s true…I wonder what they think of themselves now.

A series of messages dating back to December seen by the BBC shows correspondence between the party leader’s office, the Labour Remain campaign and Labour HQ, discussing the European campaign. It shows how a sentence talking about immigration was removed on one occasion and how Mr Milne refused to sign off a letter signed by 200 MPs after it had already been approved.

The documents show concern in Labour HQ and the Labour Remain campaign about Mr Corbyn’s commitment to the campaign – one email says: “What is going on here?” Another email from Labour Remain sources to the leader’s office complains “there is no EU content here – we agreed to have Europe content in it”. Sources say they show the leader’s office was reluctant to give full support to the EU campaign and how difficult it was to get Mr Corbyn to take a prominent role.

What.a.shambles.



People chanting “Make Britain white again!”

Jun 26th, 2016 10:29 am | By

There’s a public Facebook album of screengrabs of xenophobic or racist bullying.

There is much, much more.



The word “vermin” appears

Jun 26th, 2016 10:05 am | By

The Guardian reports on the hideous fallout of the Brexit vote:

People have been reporting incidents of racism believed to be fuelled by the result of the EU referendum, including alleged racist graffiti and cards reading “no more Polish vermin” posted through letterboxes.

Suspected racist graffiti was found on the front entrance of the Polish Social and Cultural Association (POSK) in Hammersmith, west London, early on Sunday morning.

The incident comes as Cambridgeshire police are investigating reports of racist laminated cards being distributed in Huntingdon on Friday in the hours after the leave result was announced.

According to reports from the Cambridge News, a number of cards saying “Leave the EU/No more Polish vermin” in both English and Polish were found outside St Peter’s school by teaching assistants and students, including an 11-year-old Polish child, who reported they made him feel “really sad”.

Cards bearing the same message were posted around a number of properties, police confirmed.

Baroness Warsi, the former chairwoman of the Conservative party, has warned that since the referendum result was announced immigrants are being stopped in the street and told to leave the country.

“I’ve spent most of the weekend talking to organisations, individuals and activists who work in the area of race hate crime, who monitor hate crime, and they have shown some really disturbing early results from people being stopped in the street and saying look, we voted Leave, it’s time for you to leave,” Warsi told Sky News.

“And they are saying this to individuals and families who have been here for three, four, five generations. The atmosphere on the street is not good.”

I’m hearing the same thing from friends in the UK. It’s as if the vote had been Racism and Xenophobia, yes or no? and the yes vote won.

In Gloucester, Max Fras said he was in a Tesco supermarket on Friday night with his young son when a white man became agitated in the queue for the checkout and began yelling: “This is England now, foreigners have 48 hours to fuck right off. Who is foreign here? Anyone foreign?”

Fras said the man began quizzing people in the queue about where they were from. “He pointed at another gentleman in front of him and said: ‘Where are you from, are you Spanish? Are you Italian? Are you Romanian?’ And he said ‘No, I’m English’,” said Fras.

Lucky for him. Max Fras on the other hand is Polish. The Guardian doesn’t say if he and his young son were ordered to disclose their place of origin.

Other reports of racist incidents believed to be fuelled by the Brexit result, were posted on social media, including one from Heaven Crawley, a research professor at Coventry University, about an incident allegedly witnessed by her daughter in Birmingham.

“This evening my daughter left work in Birmingham and saw [a] group of lads corner a Muslim girl shouting ‘Get out, we voted leave’,” she posted on Twitter.

Welsh businesswoman and remain campaigner Shazia Awan was told by Warren Faulkner to pack her bags and go home after she expressed disappointment in the leave result. Awan, who was born in the UK, tweeted a reply that in her view the “campaign was vile and racist” and had “ruined [the] country forever”.

Earlier that day, Faulkner had celebrated the referendum result as a “major victory for the right wing, adding: “Oi Muslims pack your bags”.

Many of the reports of incidents seem to show the mistaken belief that EU citizens living in the UK will be forced to leave the country as a result of the referendum result, with instances reported of a Polish woman being told to get off a bus and “get packing”, of a Polish man being told at an airport that he “shouldn’t still be here, that we had voted to be rid of people like him”, of a Polish coffee shop worker being jeered at and told “you’re going home now” and of Polish children at a primary school crying because they were scared of getting deported from Britain.

They include a tweeted photo:

 

A guy in a T shirt that reads: YES! WE WON! NOW SEND THEM BACK

Channel 4 journalist Ciaran Jenkins said that while reporting from Barnsley on Friday in the hours after the referendum results were announced, he overheard three different people shout “send them home” in five minutes.

A man wrote on Twitter that he had experienced two “racialised altercations” in the 10 hours after the referendum result, which he believed were connected to it. One alleged incident involved men chanting “Out, out, out” at Muslim women and in another he said a man at King’s Cross station “yells ‘Brexit’ in my south Asian friend’s face”.

And on and on.

I wonder when Kristallnacht will be.



Guest post: The last time this kind of nationalism was seen

Jun 26th, 2016 9:32 am | By

Guest post by Pieter Droogendijk, originally on Facebook.

It’s a particular kind of person that calls for leaving the E.U, and congratulates the U.K. for doing so. Lots of labels have been used to describe them. Racists, bigots, isolationists, xenophobes, whatever. They may be some of those, or even most of those, but not one of them describes everyone.

But there is one label that describes them all:

Nationalist.

Every one of them thinks Britain is better on its own. ‘Cause fuck everyone else, right? We don’t need the krauts, or the poles, or those milk-drinking clog-fuckers in the Netherlands! Fuck Brussels, and fuck the E.U. We’re the best, ’cause Great is in the name, son!

Nationalism. And it’s on the rise, world-wide.

We’ve got Wilders. Leave the E.U, close the borders, we’ll do it on our own ’cause we’re the best, and fuck all the brown people.

Donald Trump. Build a wall, keep the aliens out. Make America White Again!

Erdogan, Turkey’s best. Putin, Russia’s best. Beatrix von Storch of the German AfD. Sweden Democrats. Danish People’s Party. The fucking Golden Dawn, in Greece. Fucking hell, those guys.

Guess what, folks? They can’t all be right. But you can all be wrong.

So what does this have to do with the E.U? Well, what do you hear from the brexitters?

“What about all the rules? What about corruption? What about money? What about Greece? What about refugees?”

Guess what. It’s a political body. It’s not perfect. But just because it’s not perfect, doesn’t mean it’s not worth having. And I’ll tell you why.

The last time this kind of nationalism was seen, it ended up destroying Europe in something we now call World War II. When that was over, and the world was in shambles, a bunch of nations decided to try to prevent it from happening a third time in a row.

To foster an atmosphere of cooperation. For trade, free movement, liberty, and economic stability. Rise together, fall together. An ALLIANCE. You know, all that shit the GOOD GUYS always talk about in movies.

That’s what the fucking European Union means to me. I’m not Dutch. I’m a European, living in the Netherlands.



Stealth evangelists

Jun 25th, 2016 5:42 pm | By

Oh honestly.

Neil Shubin writes:

These have been inserted in copies of Your Inner Fish in various bookstores. I seriously doubt the folks who inserted them actually bothered to read the book.

George Gallup forsooth! It so happens he was my uncle. He wasn’t a statistician, he was a psychologist. He hired people to do the statistics. If he said that silly thing then more fool he.

 



Some kids that are good kids

Jun 25th, 2016 4:57 pm | By

We’re told that (US) football builds character. Maybe it does for some, but for many it builds a taste for violence and a sense of entitlement, to put it politely.

Football didn’t teach a group of Pennsylvania boys not to beat wild animals to death with baseball bats.

Five high school football stars in Pennsylvania have been cited after allegedly beating numerous animals to death and posing with their bodies.

The five teens are facing fines for illegally killing wild animals and then posting a picture with their kills on Instagram, according to WNEP.

The five area football players posing with baseball bats and dead animals: a snake, raccoon, frogs, opossums, and pigeons.

Not cute. Not funny. Not good clean fun.

The teens were cited and face fines. Four of the five cited were members of Southern Columbia’s state championship football team who graduated earlier this month.

Blake Marks, Austin Knepp, Gabe Delbo, and Nick Becker helped led the Southern Columbia Tigers To a state title in the fall.

Becker was WNEP’s Offensive Dream Team Player of the Year. Marks was also on the Dream Team.

Jim Roth, the head football coach at Southern Columbia, said, “Some kids that are good kids … made a bad decision.”

He added that “Some of these kids are not even aware of all the laws as far as small animals.”

The issue isn’t just the laws, the issue is cruelty. The coach doesn’t sound like a very thoughtful guy himself.



A poison chalice

Jun 25th, 2016 4:22 pm | By

This post by Tom Short has 32,504 shares on Facebook at the moment – by the time you look it will be more. Thoughtful friends of mine have shared it. It’s interesting.

If Boris Johnson looked downbeat yesterday, that is because he realises that he has lost.

Perhaps many Brexiters do not realise it yet, but they have actually lost, and it is all down to one man: David Cameron.

With one fell swoop yesterday at 9:15 am, Cameron effectively annulled the referendum result, and simultaneously destroyed the political careers of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and leading Brexiters who cost him so much anguish, not to mention his premiership.

How?

Throughout the campaign, Cameron had repeatedly said that a vote for leave would lead to triggering Article 50 straight away. Whether implicitly or explicitly, the image was clear: he would be giving that notice under Article 50 the morning after a vote to leave. Whether that was scaremongering or not is a bit moot now but, in the midst of the sentimental nautical references of his speech yesterday, he quietly abandoned that position and handed the responsibility over to his successor.

And as the day wore on, the enormity of that step started to sink in: the markets, Sterling, Scotland, the Irish border, the Gibraltar border, the frontier at Calais, the need to continue compliance with all EU regulations for a free market, re-issuing passports, Brits abroad, EU citizens in Britain, the mountain of legistlation to be torn up and rewritten … the list grew and grew.

The referendum result is not binding. It is advisory. Parliament is not bound to commit itself in that same direction.

The Conservative party election that Cameron triggered will now have one question looming over it: will you, if elected as party leader, trigger the notice under Article 50?

Who will want to have the responsibility of all those ramifications and consequences on his/her head and shoulders?

Boris Johnson knew this yesterday, when he emerged subdued from his home and was even more subdued at the press conference. He has been out-maneouvered and check-mated.

If he runs for leadership of the party, and then fails to follow through on triggering Article 50, then he is finished. If he does not run and effectively abandons the field, then he is finished. If he runs, wins and pulls the UK out of the EU, then it will all be over – Scotland will break away, there will be upheaval in Ireland, a recession … broken trade agreements. Then he is also finished. Boris Johnson knows all of this. When he acts like the dumb blond it is just that: an act.

The Brexit leaders now have a result that they cannot use. For them, leadership of the Tory party has become a poison chalice.

When Boris Johnson said there was no need to trigger Article 50 straight away, what he really meant to say was “never”. When Michael Gove went on and on about “informal negotiations” … why? why not the formal ones straight away? … he also meant not triggering the formal departure. They both know what a formal demarche would mean: an irreversible step that neither of them is prepared to take.

All that remains is for someone to have the guts to stand up and say that Brexit is unachievable in reality without an enormous amount of pain and destruction, that cannot be borne. And David Cameron has put the onus of making that statement on the heads of the people who led the Brexit campaign.

But will the EU now let them say that?

 



They knew it was a lie

Jun 25th, 2016 12:35 pm | By

Nick Cohen says pay attention to the lies.

I am not going to be over-dainty about mendacity. Politicians, including Remain politicians lie, as do the rest of us. But not since Suez has the nation’s fate been decided by politicians who knowingly made a straight, shameless, incontrovertible lie the first plank of their campaign. Vote Leave assured the electorate it would reclaim a supposed £350m Brussels takes from us each week. They knew it was a lie. Between them, they promised to spend £111bn on the NHS, cuts to VAT and council tax, higher pensions, a better transport system and replacements for the EU subsidies to the arts, science, farmers and deprived regions. When boring experts said that, far from being rich, we would face a £40bn hole in our public finances, Vote Leave knew how to fight back. In Johnsonian fashion, it said that the truth tellers were corrupt liars in Brussels’ pocket.



He used the word hell four or five times

Jun 25th, 2016 12:20 pm | By

Oh please.

Godbotherer says Trump has joined the godbotherers. Suuuuuure he has – and totally sincerely, too. It’s just a coincidence that he’s managed without god all these years until this moment when he’s running for president and oops whaddya know suddenly he starts dating Baby Jesus.

Focus on the Family founder Dr. James Dobson said Tuesday that Donald Trump recently accepted Christ.

“I believe he really made a commitment,” said the highly influential evangelical leader. “But he’s a baby Christian. We all need to be praying for him, especially if there’s a possibility of him being the next executive officer.”

“Dr” James Dobson is a highly influential patriarchal theocrat.

Asked what he thought about the meeting, Dobson described it as “historic” and an event the likes of which he had “never” seen in all his years of ministry.

“I feel like it was historic,” said Dobson. “Only God knows where we’re heading as a nation, but this gathering of God’s people sincerely, actually on their knees, a thousand people, praying together—that’s a good thing.”

Dr. Dobson agreed with Pastor Anthony that Trump seemed to conduct himself at the event in a far different manner than the public is used to seeing, and said that what was particularly important was the chance to ask him some pointed questions.

And of course there was no element of calculation at all in his change of demeanor.

“I was in a smaller group this morning at Trump Tower … and got the chance to interact with him,” said Dobson. “And he’s soft, he’s a lot nicer guy than you realize.”

Anthony agreed, saying it was something he was personally taken aback by.

“Well, I was too. And I think he is listening,” said Dobson. “There are a lot of people ministering to him personally. … He did accept a relationship with Christ. I know the person who led him to Christ. And that’s fairly recent.”

No shit, Sherlock. Any thoughts on why that might be?

Dobson underscored that Trump as a “baby Christian” simply doesn’t yet know how to speak about his faith.

“I think that he’s open,” he  continued. “He doesn’t know our language. … We had 40 Christians together with him, he used the word hell four or five times. He doesn’t know our language—he really doesn’t. He refers a lot to ‘religion’ and not much to ‘faith’ and ‘belief’ in Christ.”

Hahahaha of course he doesn’t know your language, because he’s bullshitting you, and trying to bullshit us (but apparently not trying very hard).



Whether nationalism is really the fever and liberalism the normal condition

Jun 25th, 2016 11:29 am | By

Benjamin Wallace-Wells at the New Yorker raises the possibility that has me clutching the blankets in fear.

The question this ultimately raises is whether nationalism is really the fever and liberalism the normal condition, or whether it might be the other way around. In France, Nicolas Sarkozy’s party of the center-right and Marine Le Pen’s party of the nationalist far-right are leading early polling for next year’s Presidential election, with the parties of the left and center-left trailing well behind. In the U.K., the majority of voters now appear to be more nationalist than David Cameron’s Tories were. The Tories have become Boris Johnson’s party, and even further to the right there is the ascendant United Kingdom Independence Party. The worry is that liberalism may be winning the ideas festivals and losing the elections. The left still exists, at least in some form, but liberals seem endangered. Not long ago, we thought the reverse was true.

We think of fascism as the derangement and liberal democracy as the steady state…but as Wallace-Wells says, maybe it’s the opposite.

I talked about that yesterday in my column for The Freethinker.

We know from history that people can take inspiration from demagogues like Trump, and we know what kind of horrors ensue.

I try to derive some consolation from the thought that we’re all getting a Living History lesson – hey girls and boys, this is what it was like in Germany around 1929 or so! Now do you get a sense of how an advanced country like Germany, with a famous philosopher on every corner, managed to let itself be seduced by a screaming mediocrity like Hitler?

Now do you see how in just a few short years they were looking hard in the other direction while the SS pushed most of the Jews in Europe into gas chambers? Now does it seem less baffling to you that Yugoslavia could collapse into a genocidal nightmare practically overnight? Now do you feel with your own fingers how very thin and weak the barrier is between a functioning society and a howling wilderness of murder and torture?

I know I do.

 



Silly walk

Jun 25th, 2016 11:06 am | By

The New Yorker puts it very aptly:

The artist is Barry Blitt.