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Tag: racism

Black Election Workers Targeted By Trump Weathered Racist Death Threats

Two Georgia elections officials who were viciously harassed by former President Donald Trump and his allies are being lauded as heroes following their gripping testimony on Tuesday before the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.

Wandrea Shaye Moss and her mother Lady Ruby Freeman were accused by Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani that they helped steal the election from him and were subsequently treated with racist and defamatory subjugation.

Moss recalled how the trauma from what she experienced has destroyed her life.

"It's turned my life upside down. I no longer give out my business card. I don't transfer calls. I don't want anyone knowing my name. I don't want to go anywhere with my mom because she might yell my name out over the grocery aisle or something. I don't go to the grocery store at all. I haven't been anywhere at all," Moss revealed.

"I've gained about 60 pounds. I just don't do nothing anymore. I don't want to go anywhere. I second guess everything that I do," she continued. "This affected my life in a major way. In every way. All because of lies, for me doing my job, the same thing I've been doing forever."

Watch below via ABC News:

Freeman also described the devastating impact Trump's sanctioned actions have had on her.

"I've lost my name and I've lost my reputation. I've lost my sense of security, all because a group of people starting with No. 45 and his ally Rudy Giuliani decided to scapegoat me and my daughter Shaye, to push their own lies about how the presidential election was stolen," Freeman, a 62-year-old grandmother, said in a taped statement.

"There is nowhere I feel safe. Nowhere. Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States to target you?" Freeman asked rhetorically. "The president of the United States is supposed to represent every American—not to target one. But he targeted me, Lady Ruby, a small business owner, a mother, a proud American citizen who stood up to help Fulton County run its elections in the middle of the pandemic."

Watch below via ABC News:

Observers are lauding Moss and Freeman as heroes for sharing their stories with the whole world.















There have even been calls for President Joe Biden to award them the Medal of Freedom.







Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

On Brink Of Twitter Takeover, Musk Shows Why That's A Bad Idea

Twitter’s board has approved a deal allowing Elon Musk to buy the company and take it private, in alarming news for anyone who doesn’t want a major social media platform controlled by an egomaniacal billionaire ranting about free speech while his signature company is being sued for racial discrimination.

Musk’s initial offer/threat to buy Twitter drew skepticism, but talks turned serious after he made progress in lining up financing, though it’s not yet a done deal and could—especially given who we’re talking about here—fall apart, perhaps in spectacular fashion. [EDITORIAL UPDATE: On Monday Twitter's board unanimously approved a $44 billion buyout by Musk.]

Musk has claimed he wants to turn Twitter into a “platform for free speech around the globe,” but basically every expert on social media and speech says he has no clue what he’s talking about. The major social media companies, including Twitter, have invested a lot of time and money into figuring out what works, and while no one’s saying they’ve perfected it, the likelihood that Elon Musk can manifest a better answer directly from his ego is low.

”What Musk seemingly fails to recognize is that to truly have free speech today, you need moderation,” Katie Harbath, a former Facebook executive, told The Washington Post. “Otherwise, just those who bully and harass will be left as they will drive others away.”

”A platform that allows people to spam misogynist and racist abuse is unsafe for pretty much anyone else and would lose advertisers, corporate partners and sponsors rapidly, leaving it a commercially unviable husk within months,” said the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate’s Imran Ahmed.


Speaking of racist abuse, Musk’s signature company, Tesla, lost one racism discrimination lawsuit, with an initial judgment of $137 million recently reduced to $15 million. Other Black employees describe a horrifyingly, overtly racist environment at Tesla’s California plant, spurring a major discrimination lawsuit by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. That’s important context for Musk’s “free speech” talk. This is someone who presided over a company at which Black employees are assigned particularly difficult work in a section of the factory referred to as “the plantation,” a Black worker was fired after complaining that a supervisor called him and other Black workers “monkeys,” and use of the N-word was “the norm. It was Tesla’s tradition.”

Another interesting piece of context for Musk’s effort to buy Twitter is that in 2018, he had to step down as Tesla’s chair and paid $40 million in penalties ($20 million from himself and $20 million from Tesla) after—in a fascinating precursor to his current effort—he used tweets to claim he was taking Tesla private, causing “significant market disruption.”

Over the weekend, Musk continued to use his own high-profile Twitter account to show the kind of chaos he likes to bring to the platform, attacking Bill Gates with a crude, fat-shaming graphic, and suggesting that his hyperloop would work better than other forms of transportation because “Underground tunnels are immune to surface weather conditions (subways are a good example), so it wouldn’t matter to Hyperloop if a hurricane was raging on the surface. You wouldn’t even notice.” This howler drew a flood of responses with pictures of subway stations flooded after hurricanes or even just major rainstorms. The guy never lets not knowing what he’s talking about stop him from saying it through a huge megaphone.

Twitter may announce a deal with Musk as soon as Monday, though it could fall apart even after a public announcement.

Printed with permission from DailyKos.

Right-Wing ‘Pastor’ Wants To Hang Obama Over Covid-19

Shane Vaughn, a right-wing pastor and conspiracy theorist who still believes that ex-President Donald Trump will be reinstated, has blamed the COVID-19 pandemic on former President Barack Obama.

Vaughn, the founder of First Harvest Ministries in Waveland, Mississippi, has a history of making baseless assertions about the coronavirus. Last December, he proclaimed that wearing a mask was promoting the "spirit of the antichrist" and that the pathogen was sent by God as punishment for Americans' supposed belief in the supernatural. He urged his followers to "get a shot of faith" instead of the vaccine and said that God told him that "miracles are attracted by faith, not mask."

His latest tantrum was on par.

In a live stream entitled Obama's Bloody Footprints that was posted to Twitter on March 28th, Vaughn falsely accused Obama and Dr. Anthony Fauci of "financing communist China's gain-of-function research" – a debunked conspiracy theory that SARS-COV-2 was engineered in a research lab in Wuhan and then deliberately released into the human population.

He then declared that Fauci, then-National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins, and their colleagues committed "treason" and should be "hung from the gallows" for their alleged crimes against the American people.

"The lengths that Dr. Collins and Dr. Fauci went to to convince people that COVID-19 originated naturally; and that these blanket lockdowns were necessary; and to silence dissenting voices from prominent scientists prove that they were more interested in hiding their role in financing communist China's gain-of-function research than they were in helping their nation," Vaughn growled.

"They are treasonous," he continued. "They should be hanged on the first gallows. They turned on their nation to hide their crime. They are guilty of treason."

Watch the excerpt below via Right Wing Watch:

Twitter users accused Vaughn of racist hate speech for calling for the murder of the first Black president.

Some people want the Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to look into Vaughn's comments, as they may constitute a crime.

Vaughn was reminded that Trump, not Obama, was the commander in chief when COVID-19 first broke out. He too lied about the severity of the crisis, peddled fake cures and treatments, and accused China of failing to protect the United States. Under his watch, 700,000 Americans perished.

The Twitterverse also pointed out that Vaughn himself is a convicted felon, having served three years in prison for insurance and bank fraud.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Is It Really Racist To Help Ukraine — And Ukrainians?

"Many in Mideast See Hypocrisy in Western Embrace of Ukraine," read an Associated Press headline this week. Salon asked: "Whose Lives Really Matter?" and answered its own question in the next breath — "How Racism Colors Coverage of the Crisis in Ukraine."

On social media, a tweet by Ayo Sogunro, a Nigerian human rights lawyer, has been shared tens of thousands of times: "Can't get it out of my head that Europe cried about a 'migrant crisis' in 2015 against 1.4 million refugees fleeing war in Syria and yet quickly absorbed some two million Ukrainians within days, complete with flags and piano music. Europe never had a migrant crisis. It has a racism crisis."

I beg to differ. In fact, Americans and Europeans have expended quite a lot of blood and treasure over the past several decades to defend or help non-whites and non-Christians. The most directly analogous case to Russia's invasion of Ukraine was Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The coverage of Kuwait's suffering at the time was heartrending, including stories about hospitals being plundered and civilians imprisoned, raped and tortured. Far from countenancing this assault on a non-white nation, the U.S. assembled an international coalition of 35 nations to drive Iraq out of Kuwait in what became the First Gulf War.

In 1992 and 1993, a civil war had devastated Somalia. A U.N. relief operation had run aground. President George H.W. Bush offered to send 25,000 U.S. troops to keep order so that the humanitarian aid could be distributed. What followed under the Clinton administration was the infamous "Black Hawk Down" episode in which 19 Americans were killed and 70 injured by al-Qaida-trained militants.

The U.S. took military action on behalf of Muslims six times in the past 30 years — in Kuwait, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, and participated (if only from behind) in the military operation that removed Moammar Gadhafi from power when he seemed poised to destroy the city of Benghazi. So call it seven. Say what you will about the wisdom of the Iraq invasion (or the other interventions), there is no doubt that they were undertaken with the goal of freeing people from a dictator, not imposing one. Those who make facile comparisons between our wars and the Russian invasion might want to reflect that no Ukrainians are mobbing the Russian embassy in hopes of visas and no Ukrainians are hanging onto Russian jets. You don't have to agree that the Iraq war was good policy or the long occupation of Afghanistan a wise use of resources to concede that we tried awfully hard to help both countries.

As for the different treatment of Ukrainian versus Mideast refugees, let's remember that Europe accepted more than 1 million refugees from Syria and the U.S. accepted several thousand, despite non-trivial fears that ISIS and al-Qaida elements might be among those asking for asylum. Arguably, the strain those immigrants placed on European societies — because they did include some terrorists — led directly to the rise of far-right parties. And while we're thinking of Syria, let's not forget that Russia also intervened in the conflict — on the side of Bashar al-Assad, helping to reduce Aleppo and other cities to rubble and further immiserating that nation.

"Whose Lives Really Matter?" asks Salon. Well, African lives do. That's why the United States launched PEPFAR under George W. Bush's presidency, the largest commitment by any nation to fight a disease in history. The fund has already spent $100 billion and saved an estimated 20 million lives that would have been lost to HIV/AIDS.

So what has triggered this rash of commentary about Ukraine proving the racism of the West? On the BBC, a former Ukrainian official confessed that "It's very emotional for me because I see European people with blue eyes and blond hair ... being killed every day." An Al Jazeera anchor said, "These are not obviously refugees trying to get away from areas in the Middle East."

Those comments were stupid, but the reason I recited the history above is that you can't write whole nations off for the stray remarks of a few. In fact, identification with those most like us — in appearance, culture, religion, nation, whatever — is part of human nature, and no one of any color is completely immune. Arabs are more concerned about Palestinians than about the Rohingya or Sudanese. That's not racism, it's just fellow feeling.

Europeans and Americans have responded to Ukraine's plight with empathy and anger and admiration and love. And so have Kenyans and Japanese and Mexicans and Egyptians and billions more. We all have our tribal tendencies and must strive to recognize that all God's children are of equal moral worth. But looking at our recent history, we've done pretty well on that score. So let's not tar this moment of moral clarity with the racism brush.

Mona Charen is policy editor of The Bulwark and host of the "Beg to Differ" podcast. Her most recent book is Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

How Carlson Lied To Whitewash Oath Keepers’ Armed Conspiracy


Fox News’ Tucker Carlson has repeatedly hosted alleged Oath Keeper Thomas Caldwell, who was charged on January 13 with seditious conspiracy alongside Oath Keeper leader Stewart Rhodes and nine others in connection to the anti-government militia’s plot to violently overthrow the government on January 6, 2021. Carlson has interviewed Caldwell on both his Fox News show and his Fox Nation show. With Carlson’s help, Caldwell and his wife cast themselves as victims of overzealous prosecution for the events of January 6.

In their discussions Carlson and his guests overlooked some key details while portraying Caldwell, who was first arrested and indicted for his January 6 actions shortly after that day, merely as a “disabled veteran.

As noted in the indictment, Caldwell was stationed outside Washington, D.C., on January 5, standing ready to distribute weapons to his fellow militia members at the direction of Rhodes. He allegedly helped coordinate the Oath Keepers’ so-called “quick reaction force.” The indictment states that the militia had “amassed firearms on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., distributed them among ‘quick reaction force’ (‘QRF’) teams, and planned to use the firearms in support of their plot to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power.”

The indictment alleges, “The QRF teams were prepared to rapidly transport firearms and other weapons into Washington, D.C., in support of operations aimed at using force to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power. The QRF teams were coordinated, in part, by Thomas Caldwell and Edward Vallejo.”

Rhodes indictment 1rhodes indictment

The indictment also notes that Caldwell did march to the Capitol on January 6, which has been documented in previous media reports. Some of Caldwell’s involvement coordinating the “QRF” was released in a court filing in December and was reported on by local DC outlet WUSA.

The government’s case claims Caldwell sought boats to assist the QRF, saying he wrote in a message that they could have “heavy weapons standing by, quickly load them and ferry them across the river to our waiting arms.” It also alleges that “on January 5, 2021, Caldwell and others drove into Washington, D.C., around the Capitol, and back to their hotel in Virginia” where the Oath Keepers had stockpiled weapons. The indictment says that “Caldwell described the trip as ‘recce,’ or a reconnaissance mission.”

In his repeated interviews of Caldwell and his wife Sharon, Carlson hasn’t painted the full picture of the facts as laid out by the government or of the grave implications had the events of January 6 turned out even slightly differently.

Carlson first mentioned Caldwell in his monologue on June 15. Noting the reporting about the quick reaction force, Carlson flatly stated that because Caldwell’s two co-conspirators were not indicted at the time, they were “almost certainly working for the FBI.” The idiotic logic is breathtaking even today:

The government's indictments further indicate that Caldwell -- who by the way is a 65-year-old man -- was led to believe there would be a "quick reaction force" also participating in January 6. That quick reaction force, Caldwell was told, would be led by someone called "Person Three" -- who had a hotel room and an accomplice.
But wait. Here’s the interesting thing. "Person Two" and "Person Three" were organizers of the riot. The government knows who they are, but the government has not charged them. Why is that? You know why. They were almost certainly working for the FBI. So FBI operatives were organizing the attack on the Capitol on January 6, according to government documents. And those two are not alone.

As HuffPo’s Ryan Reilly has pointed out, court documents show that the person staying in a hotel room with Caldwell was his wife. In truth, Carlson was just ripping off a flimsy conspiracy theory from Darren Beattie, a frequent guest of his who has attended a white nationalist conference.

Caldwell first appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight on October 4, 2021. Carlson cited American Greatness blogger Julie Kelly’s coverage of Caldwell’s plight while introducing his guest. (At American Greatness, Kelly has repeatedly written about Caldwell in glowing terms. Just days ago she used Caldwell’s prior indictment as evidence that the federal government was behind the attack that day)

In the interview, Caldwell told Carlson the Oath Keepers “seem to be very nice people” but “I’m not part of that organization.” Carlson closed the segment by saying, “I hope you crush these people, and we’re going to follow your case, and I hope that you both will come back. It’s shocking this could happen in our country.”

Following that interview, right-wing figures like Kelly and New York Post columnist Miranda Devine raised money for Caldwell on social media.

Caldwell and his wife appeared again with Carlson on his Fox Nation show Tucker Carlson Today in November. During the 50-minute-long interview, Carlson described the circumstances of Caldwell’s arrest as “beyond belief” and said “there was no reason” for him to be arrested in the way he described. Carlson went so far as to ask that Caldwell publicly name the U.S. attorney prosecuting his case, which Caldwell declined to do. Carlson said, “I hope that he’s punished” for his handling of the case.

Carlson omitted key details from what the FBI found at Caldwell’s home that day. A February 2021 BuzzFeed News report says agents found “receipts for the purchase of ‘a concealed firearm intentionally built to look like a cell phone,’” live ammunition, and “a notepad with the legend ‘Death List,’ and below that the name of an elections official from another state, as well as a relative of that person.”

Prosecutors at the time also shared a text message from Caldwell about the plan, noted above, to ferry guns on January 6 into Washington, D.C., with boats. The judge in his case at the time found that Caldwell must be held in custody until his trial because he “represents not just a danger to the community but to the fabric of democracy.”

On Tucker Carlson Today, the eponymous host instead focused on whether Caldwell was an official member of the Oath Keepers, saying that “it is not a crime to belong to the Oath Keepers or any other organization in this country, no matter what Joe Biden thinks of it. Is that still true? I mean, you’re allowed to belong to any volunteer organization you want, right?”

Carlson asked Caldwell if he entered the Capitol building or did anything illegal; when Caldwell answered no, Carlson immediately took him at his word, saying that he “didn't get caught up in any of the illegal activities on that day, it doesn't sound like.”

In a 50-minute interview with someone indicted for their activities on January 6, that was essentially all the time Carlson spent trying to figure out what Caldwell did that day.

Carlson then proceeded to try to get Caldwell to endorse his Ray Epps conspiracy theory:

In that clip, Carlson goes on to suggest that there’s a federal government conspiracy because Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes had not (yet) been arrested.

The appearance was amplified by Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec.

In Caldwell’s third appearance with Carlson, on January 13, 2022, following the charges for seditious conspiracy, Carlson asked him about the text message and plans to ferry weapons across the Potomac. Caldwell denied that he had made those plans, and that exchange soon devolved into Carlson mockingly asking if Caldwell owned any howitzers. Most of the interview ended up just repeating the same notes – Caldwell denying he was in the Capitol building and talking about how much being prosecuted hurts his family.

Carlson didn’t mention why people may be skeptical of Caldwell’s denial: Messages made public by the Department of Justice show that Caldwell bragged to unnamed recipients about participating in the attack and that he told people to “storm the place and hang the traitors":

“Then we heard Pence f***** us. Wr [sic] had over a million oeople [sic] here. Then the lying media said Trump supporters were breaking through barricades so I said if we’re going to get blamed, might as well do it so I grabbed up my American flag and said let’s take the damn capitol,” Caldwell allegedly said. “So people started surging forward and climbing the scaffolding outside so I said lets storm the place and hang the traitors. Everybody thought that was a good idea so we did.”
“[W]e climbed the steps after breaking 2 rows of barricades, yhen [sic] got on the parapets and the people in front of me broke through the doors and started duking it out with the pigs who broke and ran,” Caldwell allegedly continued. “Then we started stealing the cops riot shields a d [sic] throwing fire extinguishers through windows. It was a great time.”

In addition to Carlson, One America News Network also hosted Caldwell for a friendly interview.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Killers Of Ahmaud Arbery Get Life Without Parole

The three men convicted of killing Ahmaud Arbery Feb. 2020 as the 25-year-old was jogging through Brunswick, Georgia, all faced the death penalty. In a sentencing hearing on Friday, Travis McMichael, and his father, Gregory McMichael, instead will be serving life sentences without the possibility of parole. A neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, will serve a life sentence with the possibility of parole. Prosecutors chose not to seek the death penalty and Arbery’s family wanted the men to face life imprisonment. Judge Timothy Walmsley honored those requests. Prior to imposing those sentences, Walmsley led a minute-long moment of silence to illustrate just how swiftly Arbery was gunned down.

“The chase that occurred in Satilla Shores occurred over about a five-minute period. And when I thought about this, I thought from a lot of different angles and I kept coming back to the terror of [Arbery],” Walmsley said. He also quoted the defendants’ abhorrent words about Arbery in which they called him an asshole and threatened to kill him, which they ultimately ended up doing. Walmsley described Arbery as being “hunted down and shot” by the men. “And he was killed because individuals in this courtroom took the law into their own hands,” Walmsley added. The judge also quoted Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, who read a victim impact statement earlier during the proceedings.

Travis, who shot and killed Arbery, was found guilty of malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of criminal attempt to commit a felony, and one count of false imprisonment. He will be serving a sentence of life without parole plus 20 consecutive years. Greg was found guilty of four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of false imprisonment, and one count of criminal attempt to commit a felony. He was found not guilty of malice murder. He will be serving a life sentence without parole plus 20 consecutive years.

Bryan was found guilty of three counts of felony murder, one count of felony assault, one count of criminal attempt to commit a felony, and one count of false imprisonment. He was found not guilty of malice murder, one count of felony murder, and one count of aggravated assault. He has been sentenced to life with the possibility of parole.

During the sentencing hearing, Arbery’s family was able to give victim impact statements and the court was also able to hear from character witnesses who support the McMichaels and Bryan. Arbery’s mother, father, and sister all made powerful statements in support of sentencing the three men to life without parole. Marcus Arbery began addressing the court by acknowledging the unfairness of Travis and Gregory being able to sit next to each other as son and father during court proceedings, while Marcus will never get that chance to sit next to Ahmaud ever again. Marcus also addressed the situation surrounding Ahmaud’s murder.

“Not only did they lynch my son in broad daylight, but they killed him while he was doing what he loved more than anything: running. That’s when he felt most alive, most free, and they took all that from him,” Marcus said. “If I could, I would trade places with Ahmaud in a heartbeat, but I can’t, so I’m standing here today to do what he can’t. And that is to fight for him, fight for his memory, his legacy, and to tell you who he was.” Ahmaud’s sister, Jasmine Arbery, did just that in her statement.

“Ahmaud had dark skin that glistened in the sunlight like gold. He had thick, coily hair; he would often like to twist it. Ahmaud had a broad nose and the color of his eyes were riddled with melanin. He was tall with an athletic build. He enjoyed running and had an appreciation for being outdoors,” Jasmine said. “These are the qualities that made these men assume that Ahmaud was a dangerous criminal and chase him with guns drawn. To me, those qualities reflect a young man full of life and energy who looked like me and the people I love.”

“Ahmaud was funny,” Jasmine continued. “He told jokes to lighten the mood because he was a positive thinker. Ahmaud had a big personality and never missed an opportunity to let it shine. Ahmaud had a future that was taken from him… he was robbed of life’s pleasures big and small. He will never be able to fulfill his professional dreams nor will he be able to start a family or be in my daughter’s life.”

Finally, Cooper-Jones spoke before the courtroom. She chose to first address the son she had lost. “This verdict doesn’t bring you back but it does help bring closure to this very difficult chapter in my life. I made a promise to you. Today I laid you to rest. I told you I loved you and someday, somehow, I would get you justice,” Cooper-Jones said. “Son, I love you as much today as I did the day that you were born. Raising you was the honor of my life and I’m very proud of you.”

“My youngest son, he was born on Mother’s Day of 1994,” Cooper-Jones continued. “He had a smile so bright it lit up a room. He was a greedy baby that seemed like he was always searching for something to stick into his mouth. He was always a loving baby who seemed to never tire of hugs, cuddling, and kisses. He loved. He never hesitated to tell me, his sister Jasmine, and his brother Marcus that he loved us. And, your honor, we loved him back. He was messy. He sometimes refused to wear socks or take good care of his good clothing. I wish he would have cut and cleaned his toenails before he went out for that jog that day. I guess he would have if he knew he would be murdered. My family’s going to miss Ahmaud. We’re going to miss his jokes, his impersonations, his warm smile. These men deserve the maximum sentence for their crimes. Ahmaud never said a word to them. He never threatened them. He just wanted to be left alone. They were fully committed to their crimes. Let them be fully committed for their consequences.”

All three white men are facing federal hate crime charges for taking Arbery’s life and menacing the Black man. A separate federal trial is scheduled to begin on February 7. The men each face one count of interference with rights and one count of attempted kidnapping. Travis and Gregory McMichael were also charged with one count of carrying and brandishing a firearm in relation to a crime of violence. Travis’ firearm charge includes the fact that he discharged his weapon.

Arbery’s death and the circumstances surrounding it, which were only discovered after criminal defense attorney Alan Tucker leaked footage of the crimes, has drastically changed how Georgia approaches cases like these. The state finally passed a hate crime bill that allows for additional sentencing options if defendants are convicted of a crime targeting a victim because of their “actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, mental disability, or physical disability.”

Article reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Stefanik Invokes Racist ‘Great Replacement’ Theory In Campaign Ads

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, the third-ranked Republican in the House, began running a series of campaign ads on Facebook on Wednesday invoking a racist conspiracy theory that falsely alleges that immigrants are being invited to the United States to replace white voters.

The campaign for Stefanik, who is up for reelection in November 2022 for New York's 22nd Congressional District, is promoting ads that read:" Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Nancy Pelosi are attempting to flood our voter roles with 11 MILLION NEW VOTERS by giving illegal immigrants amnesty."

The ads link to a fundraising page featuring similar copy, which alleges, "Democrats want citizenship for 11 MILLION illegal immigrants… so they can stuff the ballot box for socialism."

Stefanik's ads make reference to efforts made by Democrats, including President Joe Biden, to create a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 10.3 million undocumented immigrants currently residing in the United States.

The ads also invoke the conspiracy theory known as "the great replacement," which the Anti-Defamation League has defined as "the hateful notion that the white race is in danger of being 'replaced' by a rising tide of non-whites."

Messages that promote the theory have become increasingly common among Republican elected officials and in conservative media.

In 2016, as he was running for office, former President Donald Trump said, "I think this will be the last election that the Republicans have a chance of winning because you're going to have people flowing across the border, you're going to have illegal immigrants coming in and they're going to be legalized and they're going to be able to vote and once that all happens you can forget it."

Fox News has also latched on to the message and many of its on-air personalities have spent the ensuing years repeating and amplifying the racist smear.

The most prominent advocate on the network has been host Tucker Carlson, who has invoked the idea on numerous occasions.

"I have less political power because they are importing a brand new electorate. Why should I sit back and take that?" Carlson said on the April 8 edition of his program.

In an April 9 letter to Fox News executives, Anti-Defamation League CEO and National Director Jonathan Greenblatt called on Fox News to fire Carlson for using the trope.

"It is dangerous race-baiting, extreme rhetoric. And yet, unfortunately, it is the culmination of a pattern of increasingly divisive rhetoric used by Carlson over the past few years," the letter read.

But Carlson was undeterred. On April 12, Carlson said on his program, "Demographic change is the key to the Democratic Party's political ambitions." And on April 21, Carlson told his audience, "You're being replaced, and there's nothing you can do about it."

Other Fox News hosts, including Laura Ingraham, Brian Kilmeade, and Jesse Watters, have also promoted the same racist "replacement" trope.

And Republicans in Congress have followed suit.

In a campaign video released on April 11, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) falsely claimed that Democrats "want borders wide open," alleging that this "helped Democrats take over the entire state of California" in the past.

During a congressional hearing on April 14, Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) claimed, "We're replacing national-born American — native-born Americans to permanently transform the political landscape of this very nation."

Two days later, on April 16, while appearing on Fox Business, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) attacked Democrats on immigration, asking, "Is it really they want to remake the demographics of America, to ensure their — that they stay in power forever? Is that what's happening here?"

The theory has had deadly real-world implications. It was cited in a manifesto left behind by the white supremacist who shot and killed 51 people and injured 40 in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019. The idea was also invoked by neo-Nazis who protested in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, using the slogan, "Jews will not replace us."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

New Texas Law Shields Online Hate Speech, Terror Threats, And Holocaust Denial

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

It's been a busy couple of weeks for the one-star state. In addition to gaining the cooperation of the Trump-flavored Supreme Court to strip away women's rights, Gov. Greg Abbott has been right on top of the threat to the coronavirus, promising to protect COVID-19 from any effort to slow its spread. It's that kind of dedication that has allowed Texas to both seize the top spot from Florida in new cases and hospitalizations, and support the local mortuary industry with more than 400 deaths per day.

Truly, for Texas energy speculators and mortuary truck rentals, Abbott has brought on a golden age. But even though the governor spent much of his day complaining that President Joe Biden insisting that people get vaccinated was a violation of the rights of businesses—unlike executive orders that forbid companies from requiring that people get vaccinated—he did have time for other things.

One of those things was signing HB 20, a bill that severely limits the ability of large social media platforms to remove disinformation, harmful propaganda, hate speech, and incitement of violence.

This bill is a response to the mythical claims that social media sites are somehow suppressing conservative speech, despite repeated analysis that shows that these sites actually selectively promote conservative voices and place conservatives in positions of power, while actively soliciting for more Republican content. Despite all this, Republicans are certain that, were it not for some "shadow banning" and other devious actions, the brilliant words of conservative tweeters would surely be getting many, many more likes.

And since modern Republican statements are indistinguishable from disinformation about an ongoing pandemic, shot through with vile racism, xenophobia, and misogyny, the bill makes sure that all of those things are protected.

On first reading, the text of the bill might seem to be offering some level of protection. For example, here's what it says about the kind of things that social media can remove. Platforms can take down or edit material that is:

"the subject of a referral or request from an organization with the purpose of preventing the sexual exploitation of children and protecting survivors of sexual abuse from ongoing harassment; directly incites criminal activity or consists of specific threats of violence targeted against a person or group because of their race, color, disability, religion, national origin or ancestry, age, sex, or status as a peace officer or judge; or is unlawful expression."

That long list at the end of this passage—including color, disability, sex, etc.—might seem as if it's offering the kind of protections usually afforded when platforms take down hate speech. But look again. All of those other words are just window dressing. The bill actually allows sites to remove such speech only if it "consists of specific threats of violence." This is the very narrowest definition of incitement to violence. It's the kind of very narrow requirement that has protected both KKK leaders and Tucker Carlson when calling for violence or other harmful acts against groups, without making a specific threat,

By prohibiting social media platforms from removing text that doesn't feature a specific threat, they have created a "must carry" situation, one in which the social media platforms that fit their definition (which seems to be Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, and Snapchat, but could expand to Google, Apple, and others thanks to some broad language) can not remove hate speech or disinformation, no matter how malignant.

To see how intentional this result is takes no more than looking at the amendments that were rejected.

  • Here's one that would have allowed sites to take down posts that promoted "any international or domestic terrorist group or any international or domestic terrorist acts."

That amendment was rejected.

  • Here's another that would have at least allowed sites to take down a post that "includes the denial of the Holocaust."

That amendment was rejected.

  • Here's a third that would have allowed sites to remove information that "promotes or supports vaccine misinformation."

Of course that amendment was rejected.

Seriously. Texas just passed a law (and Abbott just signed it) which prohibits social media sites from removing hate speech, or posts that promote terrorism, or intentional misinformation about vaccines, orholocaust denial.

And it doesn't stop there. Because Texas doesn't just require that sites leave these posts intact: the state also prohibits platforms from "censoring" these posts in any way. That includes "demonetize, de-boost, restrict, deny equal access or visibility to ..." That requirement means that not only do sites have to carry a post, no matter how vile, they have to promote it and pay for it equally with other posts.

So, if someone in Texas were to post a YouTube video that was full of holocaust denial, revived every antisemitic claim in history, and called for driving Jews out of the country and burning down synagogues—but didn't mention a specific time and place for people to gather with torches—YouTube would not only be forbidden from removing it, they wouldn't be allowed to add any warning, would have to promote it equally with other videos, and would have to pay the creator if it got enough racists to watch.

As the tech industry group Chamber for Progress puts it: "This law is going to put more hate speech, scams, terrorist content, and misinformation online."

Naturally, platforms and organizations have already announced lawsuits, mostly focused on the idea that the Texas law redefines social media platforms as "common carriers." It's unlikely that any of these platforms will ever be bound by this law.

Even so … it gives great insight into the type of speech Republicans are really out to promote.