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This is the blog for Sean Brennan and London After Midnight. For more information please see the LAM website at londonaftermidnight.com.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Millennial and Republican Racism • Mad Cow in USA • Nuns Reprimanded for Doing Good • US Military Killing Civilians • Climate Scientists Threatened • FBI Ignores White Supremacists & Targets Occupy Movement • Mitt Romney's Cruel Homophobia • Rats Display Kindness • more

- Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control
    Medea Benjamin: Drones kill innocent civilians and antagonize whole populations
- U.S. Military Taught Officers: Use ‘Hiroshima’ Tactics for ‘Total War’ on Islam
    The U.S. military taught its future leaders that a “total war” against the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims would be necessary to protect America from Islamic terrorists, according to documents obtained by Danger Room. Among the options considered for that conflict: using the lessons of “Hiroshima” to wipe out whole cities at once, targeting the “civilian population wherever necessary.”
- Climate Scientists Receive Abusive Emails and Threats from Right-wing Climate Change Deniers
    “My message to the scientists is to not be silenced. It is important that they get their message out there. I hope scientists continue to put the line carefully and ethically and seriously and that any alternative views can be debated by those that know what they are talking about.”
- Witnessing a glacier's race to the sea
    A seven-year photographic record of the Columbia Glacier in Prince William Sound on Alaska’s south central Pacific coast has been made into a striking time-lapse video that documents the glacier's rapid ice discharge, and is helping researchers to understand how tidewater glaciers contribute to sea-level rise.
- Money Buys Power
    If this election season so far has taught us anything, it’s that money counts. And for the top one percent of the one percent (that’s the top .01 percent), donations buy an incredible amount of influence with elected officials. Just how much influence do they have? Check out our handy infographic
- Why is the FBI Manufacturing Reasons to Arrest Occupy Protesters While Ignoring White Supremacist Violence?
    Writing in Rolling Stone this week, Rick Perlstein looks at how the FBI regularly entraps and creates “terrorists” out of anarchists and activists, while comparatively ignoring violent white supremacist groups.
- The Legacy of Chernobyl
    Twenty-six years after the meltdown at Chernobyl, the legacy of the 1986 explosion lives on."It is a disaster that left a 30-kilometre uninhabitable exclusion zone, displaced hundreds of thousands of people, and still threatens the lives of tens of thousands," writes Greenpeace today.
- U.S. Nuns Face Vatican Rebuke for "Radical Feminism" in Stances on Church Teachings, Social Justice
    The Vatican has reprimanded the largest group of Catholic nuns in the United States, saying they have focused too heavily on issues of social justice, while failing to speak out enough on "issues of crucial importance," such as abortion and same-sex marriage. [my reply: "FUCK YOU, Vatiacan!"]
- Facebook Lobbies Washington to “Like” Spying on Users
    But Facebook – which opposed the cyber-security bills last year – has decided to support CISPA. The proposed law “would make it easier for Facebook and other companies to receive critical threat data from the U.S. government,” Facebook’s Washington DC office posted on its blog.  It would “impose no new obligations on us to share data with anyone –- and ensures that if we do share data about specific cyber threats, we are able to continue to safeguard our users’ private information, just as we do today.”Well, many Facebook users would testify that the company actually does a very poor job of protecting user’s private information.
- Mad Cow Case Found in California, Says USDA
    Yesterday, the US Department of Agriculture held a press conference to announce the discovery of the fourth case of mad cow disease found domestically since 2003.
- Sugar can make you dumb, US scientists warn
    Eating too much sugar can eat away at your brain power, according to US scientists who published a study showing how a steady diet of high-fructose corn syrup sapped lab rats' memories.
- Chinese Athletes Going Veg Before Olympics
    Many Chinese athletes are giving up meat in preparation for the Olympics, concerned that the drugs used to raise animals may compromise the results of their mandatory drug tests.
- Rats Display Altruism
    Calling someone a rat may be complimentary. According to a study published in the December 9, 2011, issue of Science, rats can be surprisingly selfless.
- Zoo Chimp Makes Elaborate Plots to Attack Humans
    At first Santino was famous for throwing rocks and other projectiles at visitors who annoyed him. Now he has improved his technique, which requires spontaneous innovation for future deception. Researcher Mathias Osvath, lead author of a paper about Santino in PLoS ONE, explained what the clever chimp did:
- Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney's Former Classmate Describes Romney as ‘Bullying Supreme’ – A ‘Pack of Dogs’ Who Targeted ‘Different’ Boy
    A high school classmate of presidential candidate Mitt Romney told ABC News today that he considers a particular prank the two pulled at Michigan’s Cranbrook School to be “assault and battery” and that he witnessed Romney hold the scissors to cut the hair of a student who was being physically pinned to the ground by several others. [Many other witnesses have  since corroborated the incident]
- Father of Ex-Gay Movement Apologizes to Gay Community for Making It All Up
    Dr. Robert Spitzer’s watershed 2001 study on reparative therapy is widely credited as having given birth to the modern Ex-Gay movement, and the evangelical belief that sexual orientation can be changed through prayer and therapy, earning Spitzer the ire of the worldwide LGBT community.A decade later, Spitzer has written a public apology admitting that he essentially made the whole thing up.
- War On Words: NYC Dept. Of Education Wants 50 ‘Forbidden’ Words Banned From Standardized Tests
    Right-wing Republican pressure forces weak New York City Department of Education to ban certain words from standardized tests so as not to offend people who don't believe in evolution, etc.
- Five Tax Fallacies Invented by the 1%
    We hear these claims often, even though they're entirely false. An analysis of the facts should make that clear.
- Torture: The Jose Rodriguez lesson
    Jose Rodriguez, the high-ranking CIA official who ordered the destruction of 92 videos showing the agency’s interrogation of Terrorist suspects, was interviewed on Sunday night about his new pro-torture book by 60 Minutes (that show’s network, CBS, and the publisher of Rodriguez’s new book, Simon & Schuster, are both owned by the CBS Corp., now synergistically profiting off of torture advocacy). There is an important lesson to be learned from this interview.As many commenters correctly noted, the torture-defending Rodriguez is clearly a crazed sociopath...
- Fox News Bigotry: Fox Says If You Want "Us To Be Nice To Muslims In This Country," "Stop Killing Our People" In Nigeria
    Crazy Fox News guy says that bigotry is justified.
- CHART: Fox Spent More Time On "Crucify" Comments Than 3 Major Oil & Gas Risks
    In less than a week, Fox News has devoted 34 segments totaling more than two hours of airtime expressing outrage about the word choice of an EPA official who spoke two years ago about punishing oil companies who violate the law. That's 10 times more coverage than Fox gave to 3 major stories related to the risks of oil and gas development, combined.
- Social Security is not going broke
    [The Right Wing narrative that Social Security is going broke] has become the conventional wisdom because it is easily reduced to a headline or sound bite. The facts, which require more nuance and detail, show that, with a few fixes, Social Security can be safe for as long as we want.

Race, Millennials and Reverse Discrimination
By Jamelle Bouie
Published Apr. 26 2012 in The Nation

The most commonly said thing about the “Millennial” generation [those born in the 1980s and later] is that it’s more diverse and more tolerant than its predecessors. Millennials are more likely to be persons of color, more likely to show acceptance of same-sex relationships and more likely to have diverse social connections. With that said, none of this means that we’re somehow immune to problems of racism, prejudice and privilege.

Indeed, you don’t have to look far for examples of young people acting with an eye toward ignorance. There’s the “ironic racism” of Girls writer Leslie Arfin, the incredible outpouring of hate toward African-American actors in The Hunger Games and the annual stories of kids who throw blackface parties or complain about Asian students for existing.

All of this is lead in for a new survey from the Public Religion Research Institute, which polled adults aged 18 to 24 on everything from religion and morality to economic issues and the 2012 election. They also posed questions on race and ethnicity: Does government pay too much attention to the problems of blacks and other minorities? Is “reverse discrimination” a problem in today’s society? Is demographic change a good thing for American society?

The results weren’t heartening. Overall, 46 percent of Millennials agree that the government pays too much attention to the problems of minorities, with 49 percent who disagree. 48 percent also agree that discrimination against whites is a genuine problem. When you disaggregate by race and count only white Millennials, the picture is much worse.

A solid majority of white Millennials, 56 percent, say that government has paid too much attention to the problems of blacks and other minorities. An even larger majority, 58 percent, say that “discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities.”

The pollsters at PRRI don’t try to tease out what this actually means, and honestly—as an African-American myself—it’s hard to figure out. Discrimination against minorities takes many forms, and most are easy to identify. There’s the overt bigotry of day-to-day life, the subtle discrimination of laws and institutions (the arrest rate for black men, the predatory lending aimed at minority communities) and the miasma of racist ideas that flow through our culture and sit in our subconscious, ready to act.

These things might hinder white Americans in a spiritual sense, but it’s absurd to say that they have a material effect on the prospects of white people. If you are white in the United States, almost everyone in a position of power or influence looks like you. You won’t be questioned if you find yourself in a nice part of town, you won’t be the picture of criminality, and few people will ever question your right to take government help. Cops won’t give you a hard time as a matter of course, and no one will ask you to speak for white people as a whole. Sports fans won’t go apoplectic and shower you with racial slurs because you scored a goal. The list goes on.

A quick note for those of you who will say that all of these things have happened to you. I’m not saying that individual white people are immune to being hassled by the cops, or being followed in a store. What I am saying, however, is that none of that will happen on the basis of your skin color. Being white doesn’t carry a host of negative assumptions. It’s considered neutral. Being black (or Latino) does, and that’s the difference.

With all of that in mind, I don’t quote understand how anyone could plausibly say that discrimination against white people is a problem in the same way that it is for minorities. But if I had to hazard a guess as to why a majority of young white people believe it, here is what I would say:
Because many young people are either in college or preparing to go to college, affirmative action is a salient issue, and there’s a widespread perception that minority students have an easier time of getting into school. Of course, this isn’t true at all; affirmative action adds racial (and ethnic, and gender, and religious) disadvantage to the collection of things that colleges examine when determining an applicant. There are no quotas and it doesn’t guarantee entry; a bad candidate is a bad candidate, regardless of their race. But if a Latino student and a white student are equally matched, the university might lean towards always choosing the former.

(Another note: just because the white student didn’t get in doesn’t mean that someone took “their” spot. Colleges don’t owe spots to students, and if you don’t get in to the school of your choice, the college took nothing away from you. With or without affirmative action, the odds of getting into a selective college are low).

What's more, we live in a culture where honest conversation about race is rare, especially among white people, where it’s surrounded by fear and anxiety. For many white kids, if not most, racial conversations are limited to a few units in elementary and middle school. Otherwise, they’re left to fend for themselves, which either leads to a sense of privileged obliviousness—i.e., you live and act as if this were a “colorblind” world, despite the fact that color matters for many people—or confusion and resentment.

Indeed, at the end of the day, Americans do a terrible job of teaching our history, and an even worse job of teaching our awful racial history. By and large, slavery is treated with appropriate horror, but everything after that is passed over and ignored. In my experience, students—white or otherwise—are ignorant of the violence and economic oppression that characterized much of the black experience for the better part of a century. Racism is morphed into a personal force—represented by Bull Connor or George Wallace—and there’s no attempt to show the economic and social effects of Jim Crow and segregation.

For a lot of young white people, I think, racism has become completely untethered from history. They’ve been taught “colorblindness” sans a sense of what it means to grow up in a country where white supremacy was once the ruling ideology. “Reverse discrimination,” then, is a catch-all for frustration at rules they don’t understand (white people can’t say the “N-word”), and double standards that seem unfair (e.g., “Why can’t we have White History Month and a White Entertainment Channel?). It’s understandable, but also a little depressing.

Sean