Lindy West writes for The Guardian:
[…] It’s important for progressives to have in-group conversations about how we talk about our political enemies and the people who hurt us. It matters (and it’s telling) when men jump straight to misogynist tropes when criticising rightwing commentator Ann Coulter, or when thin people use fatphobic slurs to decry New Jersey governor Chris Christie. It’s also important to keep a grip on nuance in those conversations, taking into account a person’s track record (Colbert was a staunch advocate of marriage equality) and intent and willingness to listen and change. And criticism within the arts is a living dialogue, not a hard-and-fast binary.
But as the Colbert situation mushroomed over the next few days, I realised that there was another potential reading of the man’s question. The far right, smelling an opportunity to manipulate the left into eating their own powerful and popular satirist, had pounced on Colbert. Oh, the homophobia, they wailed! Wasn’t it terrible? #FireColbert took hold on Twitter – strangely, not on the feeds of those oppressed by homophobia, but on the feeds of homophobes. That same week, Trump signed his executive order on religious liberty, which turned out to be a toothless dud, but was a symbolic nod to religious homophobes all the same. Colbert is now being investigated by the Federal Communications Commission, a relatively routine procedure, but alarming in the context of Trump’s obsession with punishing unfriendly media outlets and flirtation with amending the first amendment.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer cited “states’ rights” on Tuesday in defending the Trump administration’s decision to end the Obama administration’s federal protections for transgender students.
“The president has maintained for a long time that this is a states’ rights issue and not one for the federal government,” he said. “All you have to do is look at what the president’s view has been for a long time that this is not something that the federal government should be involved in. This is a states’ rights issue.”
But on Thursday, asked about federal marijuana enforcement, it was like the states had no rights at all. Arkansas-based reporter Roby Brock asked Spicer about the administration’s posture towards Arkansas’s new medical marijuana law.
Spicer suggested that the Trump administration would respect state laws related to medical marijuana — but not offer the same respect for recreational marijuana.
Nathan J. Robinson writes for Current Affairs:
It wasn’t that he told a woman there was something wrong with her for wearing a hijab in America. It wasn’t that he encouraged people to “Purge the Illegals” and gave out ICE’s hotline number at a presentation. It wasn’t that he mocked a transgender college student in front of a crowd, saying he’d still almost bang her because she looked like a man. Instead, it was his discussion of the complexities of his sexual experiences with adults as a gay teenager that caused Milo Yiannopoulos to lose his $250,000 book deal with Simon and Schuster.
The swift recent reversal of Yiannopoulos’s fortunes is in many ways illuminating. The [now former] Breitbart editor had spent the last year building a public profile by going around American college campuses giving “lectures” with titles like “Why Do Lesbians Fake So Many Hate Crimes?” and “Why Ugly People Hate Me.” At these events, he would tell people why “feminism is cancer,” refer to various people as “cunts” and “retards,” and make jokes about how Muslims were probably terrorists. When appalled students tried to have the talks canceled, he would insist that the PC left was simply afraid to deal with arguments, facts, and statistics. (The more obvious explanation is that the PC left doesn’t think a person whose idea of elevated political discourse is “100% of fat people are fucking gross”—and who gigglingly posts pictures of the overweight people at his gym—is sincere about wanting to improve political dialogue on campus.)
Ross Douthat writes for The New York Times:
[…] From Dubya’s evangelical conservatism to Milo’s Rimbaudian new right, from “marriage is between a man and a woman” to “well, we draw the line at ephebophilia” is a rather dizzying trajectory. But if you understand what’s happened to cultural conservatism over the last decade, the strange career of Yiannopoulos makes a striking sort of sense.
First, post-1960s social conservatism — the bigger-than-the-religious-right tent that once included a lot of moderately religious fellow travelers — has collapsed back to its zealous core. On practically every issue save abortion, liberals won the culture war decisively, and religious conservatives awoke to find themselves strangers in their own country, dismissed as bigots from liberalism’s pulpits and stuck on the wrong side of 40-60 or 30-70 public-opinion splits.
But social liberalism’s sweeping victory produced new forms of backlash — less traditionalist and more populist, less religious and more rowdy, not sacred but profane. These forms of resistance take aim at liberalism’s own forms of social-justice sanctimony, which have smothered academic life and permeated notionally apolitical arenas from late-night comedy to sportswriting. The resisters don’t exactly have a program. Instead, they’ve got a posture — a “whaddya got?” rebellion against any rules that the new liberal order sets.
Laurie Penny writes for Pacific Standard:
Have you heard the one about the boy who cried Fake News?
This is a story about truth and consequences. It’s a story about who gets to be young and dumb, and who gets held accountable. It’s also a story about how the new right exploits young men — how it preys not on their bodies, but on their emotions, on their hurts and hopes and anger and anxiety, their desperate need to be part of a big ugly boys’ own adventure.
It’s a story about how so many of us have suffered the consequences of that exploitation. And it’s a story about how consequences finally came for Milo Yiannopoulos too — the worst kind of consequences for a professional troll. Consequences that nobody finds funny. Consequences that cannot be mined for fame and profit.
As I write, Yiannopoulos, the fame-hungry right-wing provocateur and self-styled “most dangerous supervillain on the Internet,” is fighting off accusations of having once endorsed pedophilia. Former friends and supporters who long tolerated his outrage-mongering as childish fun are now dropping him like a red-hot turd.
Dorian Lynskey writes for The Guardian:
So there is, after all, a line that you cannot cross and still be hailed by conservatives as a champion of free speech. That line isn’t Islamophobia, misogyny, transphobia or harassment. Milo Yiannopoulos, the journalist that Out magazine dubbed an “internet supervillain”, built his brand on those activities. Until Monday, he was flying high: a hefty book deal with Simon & Schuster, an invitation to speak at the American Conservative Union’s CPac conference and a recent appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher. But then a recording emerged of Yiannopoulos cheerfully defending relationships between older men and younger boys, and finally it turned out that free speech had limits. The book deal and CPac offer swiftly evaporated. The next day, he resigned his post as an editor at Breitbart, the far-right website where he was recruited by Donald Trump’s consigliere Steve Bannon, and where several staffers reportedly threatened to quit unless he was fired.
In the incriminating clip, Yiannopoulos prefaces his remarks with a coy, “This is a controversial point of view, I accept”, this being his default shtick. Maher absurdly described him as “a young, gay, alive Christopher Hitchens” – a contrarian fly in the ointment, rattling smug liberal certainties – but Hitchens had wit, intellect and principle, while Yiannopoulos has only chutzpah and ruthless opportunism. Understanding Yiannopoulos requires a version of Occam’s Razor: the most obvious answer is the correct one. What does he actually believe in? Nothing except his own brand and the monetisable notoriety that fuels it. That’s Milo’s Razor. Understanding how he got this far is more unnerving.
Alexander Nazaryan reports for Newsweek:
It began with a tweet, as so much does these days. The first shot in the coming war was fired in a 140-character burst by Shervin Pishevar, a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley. “If Trump wins I am announcing and funding a legitimate campaign for California to become its own nation,” said the first in a volley of tweets by the Iranian-American technology investor. “As 6th largest economy in world,” he said three tweets later, “economic engine of nation, provider of a large % of federal budget, California carries a lot of weight.”
This call to arms was retweeted thousands of times in those bewildering first hours of the Age of Trump. By the next morning, the movement for California to secede from the United States had made national headlines, with Pishevar anointed the movement’s leader. It even had a name, Calexit, an echo of the Brexit movement, which will eventually cleave Great Britain from the European Union. The nativist tone of Brexit foreshadowed the xenophobia of Donald Trump. Calexit is a kind of nativism too, except it’s fundamentally sunny in disposition—a Brexit for American liberals much more closely aligned with Western Europe than West Virginia.
Unrelated to Pishevar’s tweetstorm was a Sacramento rally held the day after the election (but planned long before) by Yes California, a secession group run by a young man from San Diego named Louis Marinelli. Marinelli, 29, wants to use California’s ballot measure process to have his fellow citizens vote for secession, much as they have voted to ban plastic bags and legalize recreational marijuana. Unlike Pishevar, whose secessionary tweets were plainly fired off in a fit of frustration, Marinelli has been long at work on this issue and will eagerly lay out his reasoning to anyone willing to listen. “America is a sinking ship, and the strongest position for California to take is one on its own lifeboat setting its own course forward,” he tells me. “A strong California holding its ground and attempting to influence the decisions of those in Washington at the helm of this sinking ship will find itself at the bottom of the ocean with them.”
In the first interview, Amy Goodman speak with Nancy Hollander, Manning’s appellate attorney, and Chase Strangio of the ACLU, who represents Manning in a lawsuit against the Pentagon for denial of medical care related to her gender dysphoria. In the second she speaks to Jeremy Scahill, investigative reporter for The Intercept, who also discusses Edward Snowden. And in the third interview, Jaisal Noor speaks to Kevin Gosztola, managing editor of Shadow Proof managing, about Obama’s surprising and historic decision. (Democracy Now!/The Real News)
Paul Jay, The Real News Network‘s Senior Editor and Abby Martin, host of The Empire Files, discuss the critical events of the year, including Trump’s victory, the Sanders breakthrough, and the worsening prospects for federal action on climate change. (The Real News)
As President Obama’s term nears to a close, more than 100,000 people have signed a petition urging Obama to commute the sentence of Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning. In 2013, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking more than 700,000 classified files and videos to WikiLeaks about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and U.S. foreign policy. Manning has been held since 2010 and been subjected to long stretches of solitary confinement and denied medical treatment related to her gender identity. In a letter to President Obama, Chelsea Manning wrote, “The sole relief I am asking for is to be released from military prison after serving six years of confinement as a person who did not intend to harm the interests of the United States or harm any service members. I am merely asking for a first chance to live my life outside the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks as the person I was born to be.” Amy Goodman speaks with Chase Strangio, staff attorney at the ACLU, who is representing Manning in a lawsuit against the Pentagon. (Democracy Now!)
Juan Gonzalez speaks to Jeremy Scahill, investigative journalist and co-founder of The Intercept, who says despite Mike Pence frequently being portrayed as a counterbalance to Trump, his ascendance to the second most powerful position in the U.S. government is a “tremendous coup for the radical religious right.” (Democracy Now!)
Emma Green writes for The Atlantic:
The attack at a gay club in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday is the worst mass-shooting in U.S. history. The father of Omar Mateen, the alleged shooter, said his son may have been motivated by anger toward the LGBT community; other reports suggest he may have pledged allegiance to ISIS in advance of the attacks.
No matter what, he picked a gay club. He carried out his attack during Pride month, on a weekend when cities across the country, from Washington, D.C. to Detroit to Los Angeles, are hosting celebrations and parades. This is an unprecedented shooting attack in scale and violence, but not in kind. It is an extraordinary example of an extremely common kind of violence in the United States: hate-motivated attacks on LGBT people.
In a 2011 analysis of FBI hate-crime statistics, the Southern Poverty Law Center found that “LGBT people are more than twice as likely to be the target of a violent hate-crime than Jews or black people,” said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the center. Because the population of LGBT Americans is relatively small, and the number of hate crimes against that group is significant, LGBT individuals face a higher risk than other groups of being the victim of an attack. “They are more than four times as likely as Muslims, and almost 14 times as likely as Latinos,” Potok added. Sexual orientation motivated roughly 20 percent of hate crimes in 2013, according to the FBI; the only factor that accounted for more was race.
Christopher Ingraham reports for The Washington Post:
Last night in Orlando, a man armed with an assault-style rifle killed at least 50 people and wounded 53 others in a crowded nightclub.
Six months ago, in San Bernardino, Calif., a man and woman armed with assault-style rifleskilled 14 people and wounded 20 others at a holiday party.
In 2012, in Aurora, Colo., a man armed with an assault-style rifle killed 12 people and wounded 58 others in a crowded movie theater.
Also in 2012, in Newtown Conn., a man armed with an assault-style rifle killed 28 people and wounded 2 others at an elementary school.
One common denominator behind these and other high-casualty mass shootings in recent years is the use of assault style rifles, capable of firing many rounds of ammunition in a relatively short period of time, with high accuracy. And their use in these types of shooting is becoming more common: There have been eight high-profile public mass shootings since July of last year, according to a database compiled by Mother Jones magazine. Assault-style rifles were used in seven of those.
In the past 10 years, assault-style rifles have been used in 14 public mass shootings. Half of those shootings have occurred since last June.
Ian Dunt writes for politics.co.uk:
[…] So much of the politics discussed by young people today, particularly in university, is about identity. Partly, it embraces this freedom of Bowie’s, particularly in the growing understanding that sexuality is on a spectrum and even, on more radical fringes, that gender itself might be too. This kind of politics points out to spoiled, privileged, middle class kids like me that the world was nowhere near as peachy perfect as we thought it was when we grew up and that while we were congratulating Britain on its liberalism, or our generation on its tolerance, people were still being put at a systemic disadvantage from which we ourselves would not suffer.
But part of this new political culture also speaks against the fluidity of identity which Bowie represented. It is about reaffirming the categories we thought we wanted to get past. When white people are banned from political meetings about racism, or people constantly use the phrase ‘person of colour’ as if a higher political validity stems from it, or when those with their own complex sexual identity are branded simply ‘cis’, we are doing the opposite of the Bowie project. We are elevating the notion of a simple, easily described, lifetime identity. We are tidying up all the weird little jagged bits of the human personality into their designated drawers and cupboards. We are telling an old lie about what it is to be a person: that there are a series of names which will sum up its parts.
There is far more truth in Bowie’s fluid, ever-changing identity, than there ever will be in a string of words we can use to define ourselves. He was one of those rare artists whose presentation was more important than the substance of his work.
Ian Dunt reports for Politics.co.uk:
‘[…] When British Education Secretary Nicky Morgan was asked to give an example of the kind of behaviour from a pupil which would trigger an anti-extremism intervention, she struggled. And then, out of nowhere, she found an example: homophobia.
This was an interesting example, because Morgan herself voted against gay marriage twice. Is opposition to gay marriage always homophobic? No, not really, although you could make the case. But this isn’t about what’s really the case. It’s about what’s perceived to be the case.
School children are often fond of accusing each other of being ‘gay’. Is this going to be enough to call in the anti-extremism unit? Will Catholic or Jewish faith schools face daily visits from the inspectors? Will a socially conservative teacher find themselves under investigation?
Probably not. But we know the truth: when a Muslim kid calls his friend ‘gay’ it will be treated differently to when a white kid does it. The vague language and imprecise measures of the counter-extremism strategy will allow people’s prejudice free rein.’
Editor’s Note: People saying “what’s wrong with Hillary changing her mind” clearly don’t get it. She changed her mind because she wants votes. If public opinion was still against same-sex marriage, Hillary likely would be too. She was against it for all those years and is now acting like she’s been leading the charge to legalise it all along. Politicians hijack popular movements for their own benefit, people should stop acting like she “deserves credit” for pining her name to this one. She deserves no credit because she hasn’t done anything besides turn up waving a rainbow flag after all the hard work has been done.
Sam Biddle writes for Gawker:
‘Hillary Clinton wasted no time in co-opting today’s historic Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage as a promotional device for her presidential run. “Proud to celebrate,” Clinton declared on Twitter, despite the fact that relatively recently she thought same sex marriage should remain illegal.
This video is from 2004, when Clinton was a senator. In it, she says ‘I believe marriage is not just a bond but a sacred bond between a man and a woman.”
A decade prior, she stood by her husband as he signed the Defense of Marriage Act, a piece of legislation that codified gay America’s second-class status. So it’s fair to say that Hillary Clinton has had a longstanding opposition to gay marriage—either that, or she was too afraid to speak truthfully about her convictions for political reasons, which is really just as bad. Only in 2013, as a presumptive 2016 presidential contender, did Clinton reverse her stance.’
Cenk Uygur discusses Barack Obama’s political games regarding his positions on gay marriage. Obama was initially a supporter of gay marriage but pretended he was against it back in 2008 before “evolving” to support it again in 2012. This flip-flopping was done in order to gain votes and raise funds depending on the political race he was running at that time.
Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:
‘By a 5-4 majority, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that laws denying same-sex couples the right to marry violate the “due process” and “equal protection” guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. With or without the court ruling, full-scale marriage equality was an inevitability thanks to rapid trans-ideological generational change in how this issue was perceived; today’s decision simply accelerated the outcome.
All the legal debates over the ruling are predictable and banal. Most people proclaim – in the words of Justice Scalia’s bizarre and somewhat deranged dissent – that it is a “threat to democracy” and a “judicial putsch” whenever laws they like are judicially invalidated, but a profound vindication for freedom when laws they dislike are nullified. That’s how people like Scalia can, on one day, demand that campaign finance laws enacted by Congress and supported by large majorities of citizens be struck down (Citizens United), but the next day declare that judicial invalidation of a democratically enacted law “robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.”
Far more interesting than that sort of naked hypocrisy masquerading as lofty intellectual principles are the historical and cultural aspects of today’s decision. Although the result was expected on a rational level, today’s ruling is still viscerally shocking for any LGBT citizen who grew up in the U.S., or their family members and close friends. It’s almost hard to believe that same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states. Just consider how embedded, pervasive and recent anti-gay sentiment has been in the fabric of American life.’
Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:
‘Over the weekend, the British surveillance agency GCHQ — the most extremist and invasive in the West — bathed its futuristic headquarters with rainbow-colored lights “as a symbol of the intelligence agency’s commitment to diversity” and to express solidarity with “International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.” GCHQ’s public affairs office proudly distributed the above photograph to media outlets. Referring to Alan Turing, the closeted-and-oppressed gay World War II British code-breaker just memorialized by an Oscar-nominated feature film, Prime Minister David Cameron’s office celebrated GCHQ’s inspirational lights.
This is so very moving. Gay Brits are now just as free as everyone else to spy on people, covertly disseminate state propaganda, and destroy online privacy. Whatever your views on all this nasty surveillance business might be, how can you not feel good about GCHQ when it drapes itself in the colors of LGBT equality?
This is all a stark illustration of what has become a deeply cynical but highly effective tactic. Support for institutions of militarism and policies of imperialism is now manufactured by parading them under the emotionally manipulative banners of progressive social causes.
The CIA loves this strategy.’
Kevin Young and Diana C. Sierra Becerra write for Jacobin:
‘During her 2008 candidacy, the National Organization of Women (NOW) endorsed Clinton based on her “long history of support for women’s empowerment.”
A group of 250 academics and activists calling themselves “Feminists for Clinton” praised her “powerful, inspiring advocacy of the human rights of women” and her “enormous contributions” as a policymaker.
Since then, NOW and other mainstream women’s organizations have been eagerly anticipating her 2016 candidacy. Clinton and supporters have recently stepped up efforts to portray her as a champion of both women’s and LGBT rights.
Such depictions have little basis in Clinton’s past performance. While she has indeed spoken about gender and sexual rights with considerable frequency, and while she may not share the overtly misogynistic and anti-LGBT views of most Republican politicians, as a policymaker she has consistently favored policies devastating to women and LGBT persons.’
Abigail Pesta writes for Cosmopolitian:
‘Growing up in rural Crescent, Oklahoma, Chelsea Manning found an oasis in a favorite room of her family home. “I loved being in my sister’s room. I really admired her and wore her clothes to play in, played with her dolls, played with her makeup,” she says. “She had a mirror with settings to see what you would look like in different lighting. I thought that was amazing.”
Back then, Manning was known as a boy named Bradley. Today, Manning is a transgender woman, living in a prison for men.
She is also easily one of the most controversial figures of the early 21st century. Bradley Manning made history as a U.S. soldier in 2010 by leaking hundreds of thousands of classified military documents to WikiLeaks, saying the goal was to unveil the human cost of war. To supporters, Manning was a human rights champion. To authorities, a criminal and an anarchist. In August 2013, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison. After the sentencing, Manning grabbed even more sensational headlines by announcing: “I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female.”‘
Fiona Keating reports for the International Business Times:
‘White supremacist organisation, the Ku Klux Klan is rebranding as the “new Klan” by trying to increase membership to Jews, black people, gays and those of Hispanic origin.
However, all those wanting to join the ultra-right wing society will have to wear the white robes, masks and conical hats. The Klan is estimated to have between 5,000 and 8,000 members according to figures released in 2012.
The Ku Klux Klan is notorious for racist violence, including lynchings of black people. It is classified as a hate group by the anti-semitism organistion Anti-Defamation League and the civil rights law firm Southern Poverty Law Center.’
Reid Standish reports for Foreign Policy:
‘On Wednesday, the parliament of the small Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan voted overwhelmingly in favor of a harsh bill that would criminalize LGBT “propaganda” — potentially leaving the door open for widespread human rights abuses.
Similar to legislation that made waves in Russia in 2013, the Kyrgyz law would crack down on the spread of any LGBT-related information. However, the Kyrgyz version advocates even harsher punishments, including prison sentences and fines for expressing positive attitudes toward the LGBT community. Despite its similarities to the Kremlin’s law, Kyrgyzstan’s version appears to be domestic creation.’
Editor’s Note: Another award for Tony Blair when he should be serving a long jail sentence for war crimes. He may have done some good things for the LGBT community in Britain, but what about the LGBT community in places like Saudi Arabia and other dictatorships that Blair has cuddled up to for many years? Don’t they count?
The Press Association reports:
‘Tony Blair has been recognised as one of the top gay icons of the past three decades, along with figures such as Boy George, Sir Ian McKellen and Barbra Streisand.
He has been given the accolade by Gay Times to mark its 30th anniversary.
Blair’s period as PM saw the lowering of the gay age of consent, bringing it into line with that for straight couples, as well as the introduction of civil partnerships.
Gay Times said Blair’s status as an ambassador of gay rights was undeniable.’
Ben Tufft reports for The Independent:
‘Belgrade was placed under lockdown last night as Serbia’s first Gay Pride march in four years took place under the watchful eye of tanks and special forces.
The activists were able to advance several hundred metres through the deserted city-centre streets, but only thanks to the protection of thousands of riot police, water cannons and helicopters.
It was a rare sight for Serbia, one of the most conservative countries in Europe, to witness a march akin to those found in the more cosmopolitan cities of London and Berlin. Albeit on a smaller scale and with far more security.’
Zack Ford reports for Think Progress:
‘Conservatives in Kazakhstan are advocating for a number of new anti-LGBT laws to be passed that mirror similar policies that have advanced in Russia, including a ban on “gay propaganda,” a ban on gay people serving in public office or the Kazkh army, and a ban on gay people adopting children.
At a press conference last week petitioning for consideration of the “propaganda” law, the Kazakhstan national movement group known as Bolashak expressed its concerns about how gay-friendly the country has become.’
BBC News reports:
‘The US military has yet to offer Pte First Class Chelsea Manning sex change treatment despite medical recommendations, her lawyer has said. Defence secretary Chuck Hagel approved treatment for a condition known as gender dysphoria in July. But lawyer David Coombs says her requests for hormone therapy and other accommodations have been “ignored”. The soldier formerly known as Bradley Manning is serving a 35-year sentence for leaking secret files to Wikileaks.
“This time last year I publicly asked that I be provided with a treatment plan, to bring my body more in line with my gender identity,” Pte Manning said in a statement to NBC News. “Unfortunately, despite silence, and then lip service, the military has not yet provided me with any such treatment.” She adds that despite legally changing her name in April, she is not referred to as Chelsea at the military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where she is currently held.’