“The officers responsible are rarely prosecuted.”

Protests over the murder of an unarmed black man at the hands of a white police officer have reached every single US state, in a level of nationwide demonstration not seen since the 1968 assassination of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.

Curfews are in place across dozens of cities and National Guard troops have been deployed to back up an already heavily militarised police in at least 23 states.

The arrest on Friday of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was charged with third-degree murder in Floyd’s case, has not quelled the demonstrations which look set to enter their seventh night in some areas.

This Is How Absolutely Massive The George Floyd Protests Are Across The US

You get the feeling that the cops in the USA just aren’t held accountable to any reasonable standard.

No officers were ever charged” “all four officers acquitted” “No police officers were charged” “was fired but not charged”

Is anyone really surprised the pot boiled over?

Iranian Women’s Rights

An improvement:

Iranian women will be able to officially enter a soccer stadium on Thursday for the first time in nearly 40 years to watch Iran’s 2022 World Cup qualifier against Cambodia, a historic feat after FIFA threatened to suspend the country over its controversial male-only policy.

Still, only 5% of tickets were allocated to female fans, because, eh, no apparent reason other than you know, being female is a problem. FIFA seems to be pushing the Iranian FA on this though, so that’s positive.

Previously

Desegregation in Iran (just a bit)

For the first time since 1979, women in Iran are allowed to attend a men’s game in a stadium with a mixed crowd.

For nearly 40 years, half of Iran’s population was not allowed to go to a stadium to watch soccer, the country’s single most popular sport. The defacto ban, instilled by religious clerics after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, had prevented women from attending a majority of men’s sporting events, and women who challenged it risked arrest and imprisonment. But the long-standing segregation policy loosened during the 2018 World Cup, when thousands of women poured into Azadi Stadium, Tehran’s largest sports stadium, to watch live broadcasts of their national team playing in the group stage.

The deadening hand of organised religion. It’s all about power and control.

Catholic Adoption

In the news, more adoption issues in a case that further illustrates the attitudes and social mores of catholic Ireland as detailed in The God Squad. The fudged adoption papers, un-vetted placement, obfuscation and misdirection of the supposed Sisters of Charity is sadly unsurprising yet still awful to read:

His client became pregnant shortly before her 21st birthday. It was then arranged for her to travel to Ireland, for work experience and she ended up at a house in Clontarf in Dublin through the St Patrick’s Guild, which was run by the Sisters of Charity Nuns.

Counsel said she gave birth to a boy on 13 March 1961 at the Marie Clinic in Clontarf.

She was “sternly warned”, not to touch the newborn as it would be “bad for the child”, who was to be put up for adoption.

However she defied this warning, counsel said, and baptised him with holy water she had in the home in the hope that someday she would find him.

Shortly afterwards she was taken away and signed various forms consenting to the adoption. Counsel said the form was “false”.

Counsel said the documents she signed were legal nullities and had none of the normal safeguards required.

In addition, counsel said the contents of the form about the mother’s details were fudged and lacking in detail.

Counsel said that over the years his client, following her marriage and the birth of her other children, made visits to Ireland in attempts to get information about her son without much success.

She was brushed off by the nuns she dealt with at the Guild, it was said, and a person who worked at the place where she gave birth to her son suggested the boy was among those infants who went to the USA.

 

Read: The God Squad

The God Squad is the remarkable true story of a survivor, told with an extraordinary lack of bitterness for one so shockingly and shamefully treated. In Paddy Doyle’s own words: ‘It is about a society’s abdication of responsibility to a child. The fact that I was that child, and that the book is about my life, is largely irrelevant. The probability is that there were, and still are, thousands of ‘me’s.’

While strolling through Blackrock Market a while back, my partner in crime picked this up for me. Highly readable and fascinating story of life in the industrial schools of Ireland, written in 1989 by Paddy Doyle. The casual cruelty meted out to a young child is terrible, yet it continued year after year, for decades. It reflects an Ireland that is both within living memory yet feels far away. Particularly worth reading in the context of the coming Papal visit, an organisation that continues to cover up it’s past and deny justice to it’s victims. The harm doesn’t cease when the laundries close, the schools shut, or the abuser dies – it can affect the next generation too.

The Chain of Destruction

I’ve just finished the excellent documentary “The House I Live In” (thanks to D for recommending). It’s a fascinating look at the consequences of the so-called ‘War on Drugs’, which is really just a proxy war against an entire class of humanity with no end in sight. It’s created a criminal problem from a public health issue and applied policing solutions to it, the wrong answer to the wrong question.

Near the end of the documentary, this particular piece caught my attention. I think it summarises well just how something like this can happen and continue to happen in a society. It also speaks to a wider issue – the marginalisation of certain out groups and how that identification process can lead down a dark road.

“My father was a war crimes investigator in Europe after World War Two, and we often talked about his experiences. I was reading the work of Raul Hillerg who wrote about the destruction of European Jews in the Holocaust. I realised that there was a chain of destruction, that what he was talking about could be expressed as links in a chain.

Around the world in more than one society, people do the same things, again and again, decade after decade, century after century.

Now this chain of destruction begins with the phase we can call Identification, in which a group of people is identified as a cause for the problems in society. People start to perceive their fellow citizens as bad, they’re evil. they used to be worthwhile people, but now all of a sudden for some reason their lives are worthless.

The second link in the chain of destruction is ostracism, by which we learn to how hate these people, how to take their jobs away, how to make it harder for them to survive. People lose their place to live, often they are forced into ghettos where they are physically isolated, separate from the rest of society.

The third link is confiscation. People lose their rights, civil liberties. The laws themselves change so it’s made easier for people to be stopped on the street, padded down and searched, and for their property to be confiscated. Now, once you start taking peoples property away, you can start taking the people themselves away.

And the fourth link is concentration. Concentrate them into facilities such as prisons camps. People lose their rights, they can’t vote anymore, or have children anymore. Often their labour is exploited in a very systematic form.

And the final link in the chain is annihilation. Now this might be indirect, by say withholding medical care, withholding food, preventing further birth. Or it might be direct, where death is inflicted or people are deliberately killed.

These steps tend to happen of their own momentum, without anybody forcing them to happen.

I think a lot of people would be disturbed and outraged by the thought that any part of this process could be going on in America. But it wasn’t until I began studying the drug war that I realised some of these same steps were happening.

[..}

It’s important to remember or realise, it isn’t that the war on drug users is the same as what happened in other societies, but that both are a wars on ordinary people, people who are just like us.”

— Richard Miller

These five links – Identification, Ostracism, Confiscation, Concentration and Annihilation – are important to recognise. Look around you. Who has been identified as an other? Any marginalised group that can be identified by some apparent or manufactured identity is on the first link of that chain. Once fear has been generated, people on the edges begin to scramble away from the target group lest they too be lumped in with the new ‘enemy’. The power is with the identifiers, not the identified. People tend to want a quiet life, most people have enough to do day to day without getting involved in political action, so they either undertake a form of ‘working towards the Fuhrer‘ as Ian Kershaw termed it, or at best simply keep their heads down lest they become one of ‘those people’ by association.

Nothing ever starts with the last link in the chain, and the time to stop it is at the first link.

Surviving Autocracy

Marsha Gessen wrote a set of six rules for surviving an autocracy back in November 2016 ( http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2016/11/10/trump-election-autocracy-rules-for-survival/ ). Well worth a revisit in light of recent events, they’ve stood the test of the last few months anyway. Sample:

I have lived in autocracies most of my life, and have spent much of my career writing about Vladimir Putin’s Russia. I have learned a few rules for surviving in an autocracy and salvaging your sanity and self-respect. It might be worth considering them now:

Rule #1:
Believe the autocrat. He means what he says. Whenever you find yourself thinking, or hear others claiming, that he is exaggerating, that is our innate tendency to reach for a rationalization. This will happen often: humans seem to have evolved to practice denial when confronted publicly with the unacceptable. Back in the 1930s, The New York Times assured its readers that Hitler’s anti-Semitism was all posture. More recently, the same newspaper made a telling choice between two statements made by Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov following a police crackdown on protesters in Moscow: “The police acted mildly—I would have liked them to act more harshly” rather than those protesters’ “liver should have been spread all over the pavement.” Perhaps the journalists could not believe their ears. But they should—both in the Russian case, and in the American one. For all the admiration Trump has expressed for Putin, the two men are very different; if anything, there is even more reason to listen to everything Trump has said. He has no political establishment into which to fold himself following the campaign, and therefore no reason to shed his campaign rhetoric. On the contrary: it is now the establishment that is rushing to accommodate him—from the president, who met with him at the White House on Thursday, to the leaders of the Republican Party, who are discarding their long-held scruples to embrace his radical positions.

Something often forgotten: Jesus too was an asylum seeker

mostlysignssomeportents:

Across the rich world, this decade has seen the rise of increasingly fierce anti-immigrant sentiment, much of it from self-identified Christians – as you recount the Christmas story this year, remember that Mary and Joseph fled religious persecution and sought asylum in a rich country, which took them in.

As Woody Guthrie sang: “If Jesus was to preach like he did in Galilee, they would lay poor Jesus in his grave.”

Joseph, Mary and Jesus were able to get asylum in Egypt, having, as they did, a well-founded fear of persecution, and when it was safe for them to return, they did. Today, by contrast, wealthy states (like the Egypt of the time) do all they can to prevent those fleeing political or religious persecution from getting across the border. The barriers are such that many people take desperate risks to escape the regimes they are threatened by in Syria or Eritrea, and end up drowning in the Mediterranean. Those that do make it are often disbelieved, stigmatized as “bogus” asylum-seekers, and even prosecuted for using false documents to enter.

A Christmas story [Chris Bertram/Crooked Timber]