European governments and the Obama administration are this weekend studying a “gamechanging” report on global drugs policy that is being seen in some quarters as the beginning of the end for blanket prohibition.
Publication of the Organisation of American States (OAS) review, commissioned at last year’s Cartagena Summit of the Americas attended by Barack Obama, reflects growing dissatisfaction among Latin American countries with the current global policy on illicit drugs. It spells out the effects of the policy on many countries and examines what the global drugs trade will look like if the status quo continues. It notes how rapidly countries’ unilateral drugs policies are evolving, while at the same time there is a growing consensus over the human costs of the trade. “Growing media attention regarding this phenomenon in many countries, including on social media, reflects a world in which there is far greater awareness of the violence and suffering associated with the drug problem,” José Miguel Insulza, the secretary general of the OAS, says in a foreword to the review. “We also enjoy a much better grasp of the human and social costs not only of drug use but also of the production and transit of controlled substances.”
Insulza describes the report, which examines a number of ways to reform the current pro-prohibition position, as the start of “a long-awaited discussion”, one that experts say puts Europe and North America on notice that the current situation will change, with or without them. Latin American leaders have complained bitterly that western countries, whose citizens consume the drugs, fail to appreciate the damage of the trade. In one scenario envisaged in the report, a number of South American countries would break with the prohibition line and decide that they will no longer deploy law enforcement and the army against drug cartels, having concluded that the human costs of the “war on drugs” is too high.
The west’s responsibility to reshape global drugs policy will be emphasised in three weeks when Juan Manuel Santos Calderón, the president of Colombia, who initiated the review, arrives in Britain. His visit is part of a programme to push for changes in global policy that will lead up to a special UN general assembly in 2016 when the scenarios of the OAS are expected to have a significant influence.
Experts described the publication of the review as a historic moment. “This report represents the most high-level discussion about drug policy reform ever undertaken, and shows tremendous leadership from Latin America on the global debate,” said Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch, director of the Open Society Foundation’s Global Drug Policy Program, which has described its publication as a “game-changer”.
“It was particularly important to hear president Santos invite the states of Europe to contribute toward envisioning a better international drug policy. These reports inspire a conversation on drug policy that has been long overdue.”
The report represents the first time any significant multilateral agency has outlined serious alternatives to prohibition, including legal market regulation or reform of the UN drug conventions.
“While leaders have talked about moving from criminalisation to public health in drug policy, punitive, abstinence-only approaches have still predominated, even in the health sphere,” said Daniel Wolfe, director of the Open Society Foundation’s International Harm Reduction Program. “These scenarios offer a chance for leaders to replace indiscriminate detention and rights’ abuses with approaches that distinguish between users and traffickers, and offer the community-based health services that work best for those in need.”
In a statement, the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which campaigns for changes in drug laws and is supported by the former presidents of several South American states, said that publication of the review would break “the taboo that blocked for so long the debate on more humane and efficient drug policy”. The Commission said that it was “time that governments around the world are allowed to responsibly experiment with regulation models that are tailored to their realities and local need”.
OMG one with subtitles (it starts 15 seconds in)!
J. K. Rowling’s hand-drawn spreadsheet for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
If media accounts are to be believed, the accused Boston marathon bombers were “radicalized” by watching American-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki’s YouTube sermons and reading Inspire, the al Qaeda magazine. To whatever extent it is true of the Tsarnaev brothers, this narrative follows a familiar path: one in which seemingly ordinary people are exposed to radical ideas, then adopt those ideas as their own, and then become violent. That theory was set out in a 2007 NYPD report called Radicalization in the West, which focuses exclusively on Muslims, and describes a four-stage progression – a “funnel,” the report says – in which each step towards violence is intrinsically linked with increased religiosity. Though the intelligence community at the federal level has distanced itself from the NYPD’s theory, it continues to dominate thinking in law enforcement. There’s only one problem, according to critics: It’s reductive and simplistic at best, and at worst is a thin justification for racial profiling of Muslims.
“Nobody watches YouTube or reads Inspire and becomes a terrorist. It’s absurd to think so,” says John Horgan, director of the International Center for the Study of Terrorism at Pennsylvania State University. “YouTube videos and reading Al Qaeda magazines tends to be far more relevant for sustaining commitment than inspiring it.”
The mistaken belief that the earliest stages of terrorism can be seen at “radicalization incubators” – Muslim bookstores, hookah bars, mosques, virtually anywhere Muslims congregate in person or online – has resulted in a focus on so-called “preventive policing,” a policy whose stated aim is to prevent a terrorist attack before one happens. Since the theory says adopting radical ideas is the first step toward someone becoming violent, officials say they’re justified in surveilling places where “radical” ideas might take hold.
According to Horgan, though, that’s just not how it works. “The idea that radicalization causes terrorism is perhaps the greatest myth alive today in terrorism research,” he says. “[First], the overwhelming majority of people who hold radical beliefs do not engage in violence. And second, there is increasing evidence that people who engage in terrorism don’t necessarily hold radical beliefs.”
Jamie Bartlett, head of the Violence and Extremism program at the think tank Demos, echoes these doubts. “The word ‘radicalization’ suggests a fairly simple linear path toward an ultimate violent conclusion,” he says. Studies suggest that although there may be stages in the evolution of a terrorist, placing them sequentially on a line, as the NYPD’s report literally does, is far too pat. The stages are fluid, not a simple trajectory, and it is virtually impossible to predict who will or won’t engage in violence based solely on their beliefs.
… Despite all this, law enforcement organizations have used the flawed logic of “radicalization” to justify investigating innocent Muslims in almost every part of their daily lives. Under “preventive policing,” critics say cops and FBI agents aren’t focusing on actual crime, but on protected first amendment activities – like the NYPD’s surveillance of student and political groups, or reports “that the FBI has infiltrated mosques simply to learn about what was being said by the imam leading prayers and by those attending” – without a clear reason to suspect criminality. [++]
The laughable radicalization theory is so vague and is applied so broadly that much of the spying and intelligence gathering done since 9/11 (this was true beforehand too) to “prevent terrorism” has been focused on non-violent and peaceful groups having absolutely nothing to do with the small al-Qaeda faction responsible for the attacks over a decade ago or any other group even remotely similar ideologically. In fact, the vast majority of the major counter-terrorism task forces haven’t uncovered a single lead, despite their extensive investigations, and have actually done far more damage than we care to admit.
Once you’ve stopped screaming in rage and/or pounding your head against the desk, let’s discuss this.
To start with, this photo is real, and was part of a quiz given at Blue Ridge Christian Academy, a private religious school. Since the school is private, and not public, this is not a violation of the First Amendment (unlike the flagrant stomping of the Constitution going on in Louisiana). In other words, this school can legally teach this. My complaint, therefore, is not a legal one.
Image: A fourth grade “science” quiz given at Blue Ridge Christian Academy in South Carolina, via Slate.
The troubling viral trend of the “hilarious” Black poor person
May 7, 2013
Charles Ramsey, the man who helped rescue three Cleveland women presumed dead after going missing a decade ago, has become an instant Internet meme. It’s hardly surprising—the interviews he gave yesterday provide plenty of fodder for a viral video, including memorable soundbites (“I was eatin’ my McDonald’s”) and lots of enthusiastic gestures. But as Miles Klee and Connor Simpson have noted, Ramsey’s heroism is quickly being overshadowed by the public’s desire to laugh at and autotune his story, and that’s a shame. Ramsey has become the latest in a fairly recent trend of “hilarious” black neighbors, unwitting Internet celebrities whose appeal seems rooted in a “colorful” style that is always immediately recognizable as poor or working-class.
Before Ramsey, there was Antoine Dodson, who saved his younger sister from an intruder, only to wind up famous for his flamboyant recounting of the story to a reporter. Since Dodson’s rise to fame, there have been others: Sweet Brown, a woman who barely escaped her apartment complex during a fire last year, and Michelle Clarke, who couldn’t fathom the hailstorm that rained down in her hometown of Houston, and in turn became “the next Sweet Brown.”
Granted, the buzzworthy tactic of reporters interviewing the most loquacious witnesses to a crime or other event is nothing new, and YouTube has countless examples of people of all ethnicities saying ridiculous things. One woman, for instance, saw fit to casually mention her breasts while discussing a local accident, while another man described a car crash with theatrical flair. Earlier this year, a “hatchet-wielding hitchhiker” named Kai matched Dodson’s fame with his astonishing account of rescuing a woman from a racist attacker. But none of those people have been subjected to quite the same level of derisive memeification as Brown, Clark, and now, perhaps, Ramsey—the inescapable echoes of “Hide yo’ kids, hide yo’ wife!” and “Kabooyaw,” the tens of millions of YouTube hits and cameos in other viral videos, even commercials.
It’s difficult to watch these videos and not sense that their popularity has something to do with a persistent, if unconscious, desire to see black people perform. Even before the genuinely heroic Ramsey came along, some viewers had expressed concern that the laughter directed at people like Sweet Brown plays into the most basic stereotyping of blacks as simple-minded ramblers living in the “ghetto,” socially out of step with the rest of educated America. Black or white, seeing Clark and Dodson merely as funny instances of random poor people talking nonsense is disrespectful at best. And shushing away the question of race seems like wishful thinking.
Ramsey is particularly striking in this regard, since, for a moment at least, he put the issue of race front and center himself. Describing the rescue of Amanda Berry and her fellow captives, he says, “I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms. Something is wrong here. Dead giveaway!”
The candid statement seems to catch the reporter off guard; he ends the interview shortly afterward. And it’s notable that among the many memorable things Ramsey said on camera, this one has gotten less meme-attention than most. Those who are simply having fun with the footage of Ramsey might pause for a second to actually listen to the man. He clearly knows a thing or two about the way racism prevents us from seeing each other as people.
Now that you know this is a thing, please stop sharing these memes. Poor Black people speaking candidly about various serious incidents isn’t a hilarious joke.
Look I understand the whole racism thing, but can I ask a serious question?
Why does it always have to be about race? I mean seriously! The guy was funny, even if the situation was not. He gave a humorous retelling of his story of their rescue. And really a lot of people, I’d go so far as to say most people, try to find humor in situations like this, and he did and so have we.
And all the people listed in the post above from Antoine Dodson to Sweet Brown were on CAMERA. So yeah they were probably actually performing a bit themselves.
I prescribe you two doses of chill the fuck out, and you can call me in the morning.
Thank you Jacob, for your absolutely thoughtless contribution to this post. Certainly what we need more of in conversations about racism, is more white people who find ways to dismiss, diminish & silence reports of racism. Way to continue the slave-masters’ legacy, Jacob!
“The colorblindness ideal is premised on the notion that we, as a society, can never be trusted to see race and treat each other fairly or with genuine compassion. A commitment to color consciousness, by contrast, places faith in our capacity as humans to show care and concern for others, even as we are fully cognizant of race and possible racial differences.” — Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow
“..because these story lines are social products, the media play an important role in reinforcing them. News reports on affirmative action seldom address the whiteness of academia or the workplace and its implications; sensational reports on welfare cheats never address the reality of welfare, that people on welfare live below the poverty line; stories of ‘bad’ behavior by Black and Latino youths are presented as ‘normal,’ whereas stories depicting ‘bad’ behavior by white youths are not. New reports on minorities thus tend to be presented as morality tales that support the various racial stories of the color-blind era. These reports are then recycled by the white audience as absolute truths… Therefore, the media uses the racials stories we create and makes them as if they were independent creations that validate our racial angst.”— Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Racism without Racists
“ ‘I’m white and I make it a point in my life to never see skin color’
Translation: ‘I’m white and I make it a point in my life to not acknowledge the fact that our institutionally racist society makes having skin any tone darker than white an absolute living hell, because it makes me uncomfortable. I also would like to erase your experiences as a POC by ‘not seeing’ skin color, while simultaneously upholding white supremacist ideals’ ” - awfullydistracted
“Seeing race is not the problem. Refusing to care for the people we see is the problem… We should hope not for a colorblind society but instead for a world in which we can see each other fully, learn from each other, and do what we can to respond to each other with love.” — Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow, page 244
“I’ve spent nearly a decade studying sociology and race, I’ve read boatloads of books and written countless papers on race, taught Race & Ethnicity as a class to hundreds of students, and yet somehow I’m not cured of racism, prejudice, and discrimination. So I ask anyone who says they’re colorblind, how on earth have you cured yourself of racism without putting in nearly the same level of effort?” -Stuff Students Say About Racism
Generation after generation, from slavery, to Jim Crow, to today’s mass-incarceration/New Jim Crow, people of color have sounded the alarm on racism, reporting their horrific experiences in this racist society. And generation after generation, racist white people have stood up to dismiss racism, even when it is as overt, extreme and systemic as it IS. Don’t be that white person. Don’t be the racist fuck holding the rest of us back. Particularly if you are a white man, be extra vigilant, because historically, it’s always been you. Please & thanks.
Whoa. Dan Kraker reports on stranded loons in Wisconsin. They fell from the sky:
An ice storm in central Wisconsin last Thursday and Friday “encased loons in ice as they were migrating,” explained Marge Gibson, who runs the Raptor Education Group in Antigo, Wisc. “They fell like rocks from the sky.”
Gibson has rescued and released 51 stranded loons since Saturday, and said she has six more in rehabilitation. Here’s a video of a loon recovering in a bathtub.
Read more: http://mprne.ws/kPCkG