The title of Ava DuVernay’s extraordinary and galvanizing documentary 13TH refers to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which reads “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.” The progression from that second qualifying clause to the horrors of mass criminalization and the sprawling American prison industry is laid out by DuVernay with bracing lucidity. With a potent mixture of archival footage and testimony from a dazzling array of activists, politicians, historians, and formerly incarcerated women and men, DuVernay creates a work of grand historical synthesis. On Netflix October 7.
This week on CounterSpin: Alleged San Bernardino killers Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik did not pledge allegiance to ISIS on social media, the FBI now says, but no matter: The California killings have already added fuel to an upsurge of Islamophobia in US media and politics that in some ways is worse than that seen in the wake of September 11, 2001. One new element is the murky idea of “radicalization.” We’ll talk about that with Arun Kundnani, adjunct professor at NYU and author of, most recently, The Muslims Are Coming! Islamophobia, Extremism and the Domestic War on Terror.
New York Times Supreme Court correspondent Adam Liptak (12/9/15) recounted a startling moment in the Court’s oral arguments over the University of Texas’ affirmative action plan:
In a remark that drew muted gasps in the courtroom, Justice Antonin Scalia said that minority students with inferior academic credentials may be better off at “a less advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well.”
“I don’t think it stands to reason that it’s a good thing for the University of Texas to admit as many blacks as possible,” he added.
Intro, 26 September 2015: I wrote this thirteen years ago and on rereading it now I think it deserves a fresh airing given as how things have just gone downhill since then with the total demonisation of the Muslim/Arab in the so-called civilised world. And, it must be me that’s changed because I’m even more appalled today by the repellent racism of Kevin Toolis’s muck in the Observer than when I first read it all those years ago.
“The Bride of death?” By William Bowles
This is a kind of followup to the piece I wrote the other day “Let the reader be aware” about the way the media repeats lots of small lies to make one Big Lie, predicated on the approach that swallowing a lot of small lies is a lot easier to do than swallowing one Big One.
Nasty party’s racist policies damage the NHS By John Lister
Nurses forced to leave Britain, new charging systems being set up even for emergency care – Tory policies are damaging the NHS, writes John Lister in an article from the latest Keep Our NHS Public newsletter (download here).
The NHS is already suffering as a result of racist changes to the rules governing non-EU staff, even as desperate NHS bosses scour Africa and Asia in the quest for staff to fill growing numbers of vacancies.
Mazal Tov: a controversial bill that officially defines Israel as the “Nation-State of the Jewish People” was approved by the Israeli cabinet last Sunday.
Finally Israel has acknowledged its true Jewish nature. Instead of pretending to be a ‘Jewish Democracy” – a contradiction in terms, the Jewish State admits that it is a theocracy guided by Jewish racial supremacist ideology.
In this latest assault on Gaza, Israel had by Thursday already killed 69 Palestinians including 22 children and 13 women, plus 469 wounded including 166 children and 85 women, and 70 houses destroyed. These numbers have since increased significantly.
Jeremy Clarkson is star presenter of the BBC’s Top Gear show which, tragically for anyone who cares about the climate, holds a 2013 Guinness world record for most widely watched factual programme in the world.
An activist in contact with people locked up in migrant jails reports on a week of unrest.
The UK immigration authorities and their commercial partners are trying to suppress a wave of protests sweeping British detention centres. In the past week hundreds of asylum-seekers detained at four high-security facilities have started hunger-strikes against draconian Home Office policies.
In Westminster, the drip-drip of financial corruption — expense account abuse, the flipping of houses — is supplemented by a spectacle of “on-message” politicians whose speeches are slick with the shiny artificiality of well-oiled PR productions. A never-ending parade of besuited, perfectly manicured politicians, staring out at the camera, eyes glazed with faux sincerity, features consciously arranged in well-ordered concern. Naturally, such people, such projections, attain all the proportion and reality of a computer-generated avatar or, to say the same, Nick Clegg.
The latest poll results indicate that the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) could challenge for first place in European elections due later this month. Supposedly to counter this danger, a cross-party campaign has been launched involving the three major parties, Labour and the governing Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.
Discrimination against ethnic minority NHS staff is rife – and it’s bad for patient care too. The author of a major new report here reveals how the government is misleading parliament by claiming the problem is being addressed.