Flashback: Checking his privilege: A response to Tal Fortgang – By Neal Schindler

For a while I’ve been meaning to address the controversial essay “Checking My Privilege,” by Jewish college student Tal Fortgang. At Princeton, Fortgang’s fellow collegians apparently advise him to check his privilege on a regular basis. Since I attended hyper-liberal Oberlin College, I’m pretty familiar with identity politics. It seems that Princeton, too, is a place where not understanding one’s personal privilege (based on factors like race, sex, and class) is considered bad form. I also understand how frustrating it can be for a three-word phrase to shut down what seems — at least to some participants — like healthy dialogue. Continue reading

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Flashback: Dear Privileged-at-Princeton: You. Are. Privileged. And Meritocracy Is a Myth. By BRIANA PAYTON May 6, 2014 (Response to Tal Fortang)

When I read The Princeton Tory cover story “Checking My Privilege: Character as the Basis of Privilege,” written by my classmate Tal Fortgang, I realized that I had just witnessed an attempt at checking privilege that was so unsuccessful it was borderline satirical. Fortgang, a fellow Princeton freshman, complained about the overuse and misuse of the phrase “check your privilege,” and asserted that the phrase was “toeing the line” of reverse racism. To prove this, he detailed his family’s history of persecution under the Holocaust, their journey to America and their ultimate rise to entrepreneurial success. He claims that the only privilege he has is that his ancestors made it to America, were hard-working and passed down wonderful values such as faith and education.

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Flashback: Why I’ll Never Apologize for My White Male Privilege – Tal Fortang – 2.May.14

There is a phrase that floats around college campuses, Princeton being no exception, that threatens to strike down opinions without regard for their merits, but rather solely on the basis of the person that voiced them. “Check your privilege,” the saying goes, and I have been reprimanded by it several times this year. The phrase, handed down by my moral superiors, descends recklessly, like an Obama-sanctioned drone, and aims laser-like at my pinkish-peach complexion, my maleness, and the nerve I displayed in offering an opinion rooted in a personal Weltanschauung. “Check your privilege,” they tell me in a command that teeters between an imposition to actually explore how I got where I am, and a reminder that I ought to feel personally apologetic because white males seem to pull most of the strings in the world. Continue reading

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My white friend asked me to explain white privilege, so I decided to be honest. – LORI LAKIN HUTCHERSON 19 October 2017

He wanted to know how institutional racism has made an impact on my life. I’m glad he asked, because I was ready to answer.

Yesterday I was tagged in a Facebook post by an old high school friend asking me and a few others a very public, direct question about white privilege and racism. I feel compelled not only to publish his query, but also my response to it, as it may be a helpful discourse for more than just a few folks on Facebook Continue reading

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‘Are we racist? Well, we’re Australians’ – Yassir Morsi

Recent debates in Australia surrounding immigration have revealed a long-known underbelly of racism and a country in denial.

Australia is witnessing increasing debate about Muslim immigrants over the last few days, followed by more of the usual speeches and inflammatory remarks. An awkward comment from one leader, however, unwittingly captured the country’s relationship with racism.

It all began with Senator Fraser Anning’s first speech. In a droning monotone, he preached to parliament on the need to break the supposed silence imposed by the nation’s political correctness. Throughout his call, he echoed a century-old cliche, that has never ceased to be said or heard. Immigrants threaten Australia.

In his vitriolic desire to end Muslim migration, he used a phrase synonymous with the darkest times in human history, hate and racism: the en-masse Nazi genocide of the Jews, calling for “the final solution.” This sparked national outrage. Another remark made as the debacle unfolded is worth pointing out. Anning’s party leader Bob Katter held a press conference to reply to the party’s critics. Katter’s answer to whether or not his Australian Party was racist came with an ugly rhetorical twist. Managing a hostile, almost comical rant, Katter shouted back, “Are we Racist? Well, we are Australians …”[MORE]

While Katter would argue that he meant to dismiss the charge, the callous carelessness effectively makes the comment an unwitting revelation of the true party line. Better yet, it works as a fitting summary of the country’s intimate history with racism.

At the very least, it tells us that this latest episode is a reoccurring episode. Australian politicians have made it a curious habit to use Muslims in announcing themselves and building their political platforms. They know what we all know. A white fragility undercuts the nationalist’s intolerance to immigrants. It has existed since the nation’s birth. The smallest observable ethnic differences in the demographic landscape leads to resentment in some. Any interruption to the familiar and comfortable results in rhetoric to “win back the country.” Conflict on the issue of immigration often triggers a range of defensive hyperboles from all sides of politics.

Anning’s speech has its roots in far-right apocalyptic statements. To make sense of his claims, we have to turn a blind eye to plenty of history. While the country had an active hand in the destruction of life in Syria and Iraq, some in Australia only see Muslims through the lens of a western fragility and its potential demise. Australia’s feigned vulnerability before Muslims – who constitute two percent of its population – follows. The folly of the loss of a white nation’s culture insidiously masks a long and complex history of racial brutality and xenophobic extremism, displacing the issue towards immigrants and their values rather than the nation’s practices.

In this projection, we find the logic of Australia’s racism towards immigration. The obsession is not about Muslims. It is instead about the absence of a pure white Christianity, which has never existed in the country’s history. Anning seeks a return to a non-existent fantastical Christian past, where the duty of such crusading idealists to defend the nation against brown usurpers becomes crucial. For him, Muslims prevent the unification of Australia’s modern democracy with a lost conservatism. But in truth, a pure Christian Australia never really existed or came close to existing – unless Anning is trying to admit that genocide and apartheid are Christian. To this end, it’s far more powerful, and much less awkward to say some “Other” stole the good nation than to prove it ever was.

This is also why Anning’s speech was full of errors, given that it was more concerned with building sentiment, not the truth. For instance, he conflated Melbourne’s "terrorising" south Sudanese gangs – another fiction – with ISIS in a single sentence about Islam. Details about Australian Muslims are suddenly irrelevant. For the Muslim works like a road sign to show a fork in the nation’s road, functioning to organise debates about the threat to the future. It works to instil in people the powerful notion of the country taking the wrong turn.

Throughout the backlash to Anning and Katter, we find a curious interpretation for "Are we Racist? Well, we are Australians," namely the mainstream ritual of ignoring racism while opposing it.

Far too many figures, including the country’s PM, have made use of and profited from anti-Muslim sentiments. Last week’s routine and reaction of a good Australian shock is telling, if growing old with repetition as Australia also laments a lost tolerant and multicultural Australia that only existed in lip service and imagination.

Australia’s Islamophobia is not creative. It is not even new, nor is the backlash to be unexpected. It is hard to comprehend the level of national shock until you see it is as part of the theatre that Muslims provide. The common rituals of bashing and defending Muslim immigrants are part and parcel of the country’s fundamental incapacity to confront the truths of its racial engineering and the wounds of its past.

Consider how the outrage against Anning and Katter depends on a simplistic view of individual racism. A view where racism collapses with offence. It becomes simply about individuals and their prejudices, and the specific offence of Anning’s grotesque use of the phrase "The Final Solution."

A simple view of racism undercuts scholars’ views who define racism as a material system. A racism that built Australian economic, political, social and cultural structures. A racism that continues to perpetuate an unequal distribution of privileges, resources and power between white people and people of colour, particularly the First Nations. It is nearly impossible to provide a truthful narrative of Australian history without speaking of its genocide, racial brutalisation and intentional displacement of indigenous Australians. Yet, the nation seems to exhibit far less rituals of outrage towards the gap in health and wealth between indigenous Australians and white Australia, yet exhibits shock and outrage when a politician says something profoundly stupid about Muslims.

Australia thrives on muting discussions on racism. A muting that involves the use of complex indexing, dog whistling, erasure and coding. What makes Katter and Anning’s actions ugly is that the nation’s mask of civility has slipped and not for the first time. They were loud. Perhaps the best way to describe Katter’s comment is through the analogy of a Freudian slip. His comment serves as a return of truth the country would rather repress: Are we racist? Well, we are Australian.


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US Professor: Mohammed Bin Salman is world’s richest Zionist

Pro-Israeli campaigners appear to be hunting for another scalp in their assault against free speech. The victim this time is a tenured Columbia university professor whose crime was nothing more than to speak out against Israel.

A network of pro-Israel activists surged against comments made by Iranian Professor Hamid Dabashi on social media. The professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at the New York University posted remarks criticising Israel for its campaign against the Iran nuclear deal. It’s speculated that Trump was heavily influenced by Tel Aviv in his decision to pull out of the dealwhich is universally seen as a good thing for global security. Continue reading

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‘UAE buying Jerusalem properties on behalf of Israel’

A Palestinian businessman who is affiliated with former Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan is planning to buy real estate in the Old City of Jerusalem on behalf of the UAE which is helping the occupation expand its illegal settlements, the deputy head of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Sheikh Kamal Khatib, warned yesterday.

Khatib posted on Facebook that “an Emirati businessman very close to the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed Bin Zayed, is planning to buy houses and properties adjacent to Al-Aqsa Mosque in particular, with the help of a Jerusalemite businessman who works for Dahlan.”

“They offered a resident of Jerusalem $ 5 million to buy his house which is adjacent to Al-Aqsa Mosque. When he refused, they raised the offer to $20 million, but the attempt to lure him was unsuccessful.”

Khatib warned that these moves as similar to those which took place in 2014 when “Bin Zayed’s regime” purchased houses for settlement institutions in the Silwan ??and Wadi Hilwa areas in occupied Jerusalem.

He added: “Under these dangerous circumstances, we advise our honourable people in Jerusalem not to deal with any attempt to sell homes or real estate to any party and under any cover … Rulers of the Emirates are a cancer destroying the body of the Ummah.”

This is not the first time that Sheikh Khatib has accused the United Arab Emirates of buying Jerusalemites’ properties for the benefit of the Israeli occupation, especially those near Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Khatib warned of this danger in previous statements published in the Qatari newspaper Al-Sharq in September, where he asserted that “the UAE buys the homes of Jerusalemites through American Jewish associations based in the UAE. These come from the UAE directly to Israel, through Palestinian brokers who facilitate the purchase of Jerusalemites’ real estate, especially those which are very close to Al-Aqsa Mosque.”


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US soldier admits killing unarmed Afghans for sport

Jeremy Morlock, 23, tells US military court he was part of a ‘kill team’ that faked combat situations to murder Afghan civilians

An American soldier has pleaded guilty to being part of a "kill team" who deliberately murdered Afghan civilians for sport last year.

Army Specialist Jeremy Morlock, 23, told a military court he had helped to kill three unarmed Afghans. "The plan was to kill people, sir," he told an army judge in Fort Lea, near Seattle, after his plea.

The case has caused outraged headlines around the world. In a series of videotaped confessions to investigators, some of which have been broadcast on American television, Morlock detailed how he and other members of his Stryker brigade set up and faked combat situations so that they could kill civilians who posed no threat to them. Four other soldiers are still to come to trial over the incidents.

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The case is a PR disaster for America’s military and has been compared to the notorious incidents of torture that emerged from the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. This week the German magazine Der Spiegel published three pictures that showed American soldiers, including Morlock, posing with the corpse of a young Afghan boy as if it were a hunting trophy.

Some soldiers apparently kept body parts of their victims, including a skull, as souvenirs. In a statement issued in response to the publication of the photos the US army apologised to the families of the dead. "[The photos are] repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States army," the statement said.

Morlock has told investigators that the murders took place between January and May last year and were instigated by an officer in his unit, Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs. He described how elaborate plans were made to pick out civilian targets, kill them and then make their deaths look like they were insurgents. In his confession Morlock described shooting a victim as Gibbs tossed a grenade at him. "We identify a guy. Gibbs makes a comment, like, you know, you guys wanna wax this guy or not," Morlock said in the confession.

Morlock now stands to be sentenced to at least 24 years in jail but with eligibility for parole after seven years. That has come about because Morlock struck a plea bargain that will see a lighter sentence in return for testifying against his fellow soldiers.


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Australia to train Myanmar military despite ethnic cleansing accusations

The Australian defence department plans to spend almost $400,000 on English lessons, event attendances and training courses for members of the Myanmarmilitary in 2017-18, documents released under freedom of information laws show.

Myanmar’s armed forces, also known as the Tatmadaw, has faced international condemnation and accusations of ethnic cleansing in recent months for perpetrating a fresh wave of attacks against the country’s minority Rohingyapopulation. About 688,000 Rohingya refugees have fled over the border to Bangladesh since August 2017. Yanghee Lee, a UN human rights investigator, has said the situation bears “the hallmarks of a genocide”. Continue reading

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The result of “Anglo” heritage.

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