The Postal Service is running a ‘covert operations program’ that monitors Americans’ social media posts

This was reported by Jana Winter in Yahoo!News on April 21, 2021:

The law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service has been quietly running a program that tracks and collects Americans’ social media posts, including those about planned protests, according to a document obtained by Yahoo News.

The details of the surveillance effort, known as iCOP, or Internet Covert Operations Program, have not previously been made public. The work involves having analysts trawl through social media sites to look for what the document describes as “inflammatory” postings and then sharing that information across government agencies.

“Analysts with the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP) monitored significant activity regarding planned protests occurring internationally and domestically on March 20, 2021,” says the March 16 government bulletin, marked as “law enforcement sensitive” and distributed through the Department of Homeland Security’s fusion centers. “Locations and times have been identified for these protests, which are being distributed online across multiple social media platforms, to include right-wing leaning Parler and Telegram accounts.”

A number of groups were expected to gather in cities around the globe on March 20 as part of a World Wide Rally for Freedom and Democracy, to protest everything from lockdown measures to 5G. “Parler users have commented about their intent to use the rallies to engage in violence. Image 3 on the right is a screenshot from Parler indicating two users discussing the event as an opportunity to engage in a ‘fight’ and to ‘do serious damage,’” says the bulletin.

“No intelligence is available to suggest the legitimacy of these threats,” it adds.

The bulletin includes screenshots of posts about the protests from Facebook, Parler, Telegram and other social media sites. Individuals mentioned by name include one alleged Proud Boy and several others whose identifying details were included but whose posts did not appear to contain anything threatening.

“iCOP analysts are currently monitoring these social media channels for any potential threats stemming from the scheduled protests and will disseminate intelligence updates as needed,” the bulletin says.

The government’s monitoring of Americans’ social media is the subject of ongoing debate inside and outside government, particularly in recent months, following a rise in domestic unrest. While posts on platforms such as Facebook and Parler have allowed law enforcement to track down and arrest rioters who assaulted the Capitol on Jan. 6, such data collection has also sparked concerns about the government surveilling peaceful protesters or those engaged in protected First Amendment activities.

When contacted by Yahoo News, civil liberties experts expressed alarm at the post office’s surveillance program. “It’s a mystery,” said University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone, whom President Barack Obama appointed to review the National Security Agency’s bulk data collection in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks. “I don’t understand why the government would go to the Postal Service for examining the internet for security issues.”

Read more.

I worked for the USPS in the 1950s as a “temporary substitute clerk” during vacations, holidays, and weekends when I was in college and med school. I took and passed a Civil Service test for the privilege and enjoyed the change of pace and the work itself.

The post office where I worked served a mid-sized industrial city of around 90,000. Throughout the building were concealed passageways with peepholes every few feet; even the toilets had them. Access was through an inconspicuous dedicated door on the outside of the building. Holding the key to the door were Postal Inspectors, the same kind of law officers who are now running iCOP and peeping into the social media of suspected domestic terrorists and violent extremists.

Back then, the peepholes served the purpose of deterring unauthorized access or theft of the US Mail. They worked the same way as the panopticon design in prisons before electronic surveillance.

In this article, Professor Stone wonders why the government would go to the Postal Service for this kind of monitoring. I would suggest that the government did not go to the Postal Service, but that it was something the Postal Service initiated on its own, and that this kind of behavior is part of the culture of its Inspection Service. If systemic racism is part of being white, it is possible that systemic voyeurism is part of being a Postal Inspector.

From Lefticon:

Panopticon – a concept of prison design involving a circular structure.

A panopticon has an outer ring of cells containing inmates, with each cell facing a central hub containing at least one corrections officer, in such a way that the corrections officer can observe all the inmates, but they cannot see him observing them.

The idea of the panopticon was that the mere possibility of being observed would deter inmates from doing something naughty like sawing through the bars or digging tunnels. Circular prisons were built throughout the world in the nineteenth and twentieth century.

The brick-and-mortar panopticon became obsolete when video surveillance replaced direct visual observation. However, the metaphor remains useful for surveillance states such as the People’s Republic of China, with its innovative social credit scores.

Domestic terrorism – the deliberate use of violence against citizens or government officials of one’s own country to bring attention to a political cause.

In conventional terrorism, such as that perpetrated by jihadists, the actions involve physical violence, explosives, and property destruction. Domestic terrorism, as perpetrated by the New Left in the 1960s and Puerto Rican separatists in the 1970s, was similarly violent in the conventional sense.

Domestic violence by the political right, on the other hand, is more nuanced and nonphysical; it is more emotional or epistemic. It can include anything that triggers an unpleasant or uncomfortable response of anxiety, anger, fear, hate, or disgust in a progressive. Some examples include:

      • inflammatory speech;
      • divisive social media tweets or other posts;
      • failing to give trigger warnings;
      • inciting a protest, demonstration, or riot;
      • using the word fight in political rhetoric;
      • fomenting violence, hate, or racism;
      • failing to denounce violence, hate, or racism;
      • spreading misinformation or disinformation;
      • disputing or challenging election results;
      • promoting climate change denial; and
      • endangering our democracy.

This expanded definition was used to describe the actions of President Donald Trump during the final weeks of his presidency and to label him and his supporters as domestic terrorists. It does not apply to the physical violence, property destruction, occupation of government property, arson, and looting by Black Lives Matter and antifa.

Note:  Domestic terrorism is not to be confused with domestic violence.

DHS Announces Rescission of Civil Penalties for Failure-to-Depart

This announcement was posted by the Department of Homeland Security on their website on April 23, 2021:

WASHINGTON – Today, at the direction of Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rescinded two delegation orders related to the collection of civil financial penalties for noncitizens who fail to depart the U.S., stating they run counter to the agency’s best interest.

“There is no indication that these penalties promoted compliance with noncitizens’ departure obligations,” said Secretary Mayorkas.  “We can enforce our immigration laws without resorting to ineffective and unnecessary punitive measures.”

After reviewing detailed data regarding the issuance of such fines since 2018, it was clear to Secretary Mayorkas and Acting ICE Director Tae Johnson that the fines were not effective and had not meaningfully advanced the interests of the agency.  ICE intends to work with the Department of Treasury to cancel the existing debts of those who had been fined.

The two delegation orders—ICE Delegation No. 01-2018, Delegation of Authority to Administer and Enforce Provisions Relating to Civil Penalties for Failure to Depart, and ICE Delegation No. 006-2020, Delegation of Authority to Administer Certain Provisions Relating to Civil Penalties for Failure to Depart—delegated to certain ICE officials the authority to administer and enforce certain civil penalties for noncitizens who fail to depart.

Although ICE has had the authority to assess financial penalties to individuals for failing to depart for more than 20 years, the agency did not initiate enforcement of these penalties until 2018.  As of January 20, 2021, ICE ceased issuing these fines. This formalizes the Biden Administration’s change in direction.

The rescission marks ICE’s latest move toward focusing its limited resources on those posing the greatest risk to national security and public safety in accordance with the current guidance on civil immigration enforcement and removal priorities, which Acting Director Johnson issued on Feb. 18, 2021.

Last Published Date: April 23, 2021

These fines and other punitive measures had a purpose when it was the policy of our government to limit immigration at our Southern border. Under the leadership of Joe Biden and his administration, that policy is no longer in effect; indeed, it is quite the opposite. We now welcome everyone, only hoping that they appreciate our compassion and remember the political party which embraced them with no expectations other than their potential vote.

This new action raises other intriguing possibilities. If we are no longer restricting immigration or enforcing existing laws, do we really need two entire agencies, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which exist solely for those purposes? In other words, can we defund or even abolish both ICE and CBP? The annual savings would be 8.3 and 17.7 billion dollars respectively, a total of $26 billion. That’s not chopped liver; it’s real money that can be spent more effectively, as in more diversity and equity initiatives. One possibility would be expansion of the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ, perhaps to a separate agency with enhanced interrogation and enforcement powers.

Ever since the untimely death of George Floyd, the precedent has been set for defunding the police. So why not defund those federal law enforcement agencies that have little or no purpose in a progressive agenda? Of course, we would never defund the FBI or the CIA. But ICE and CBP? It would make perfect sense.

Black Physicians to AMA: ‘Get to Work’

This was reported by Lindsay Kalter on April 8, 2021 in Medscape Medical News:

“I walked in very much not knowing what to expect. I wasn’t sure how much accountability we’d see from them because they’ve been distancing from JAMA,” says Brittani James, MD, an assistant professor of clinical family medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine and cofounder of the Institute for Antiracism in Medicine. “What we want to see is action. The AMA has the size, resources, and power to really do something. They can move mountains.”

James helped start a petition, which has more than 8000 signatures, calling for a culture change at JAMA. She and seven other Black doctors, a group in its fledgling stages called the Black Healers Network, met with top officials at the AMA to demand action regarding decades of racism that have shortened the lives of Black and Brown people.

Among AMA leaders at the meeting were the CEO and its chief health equity officer.

In response to a request for comment about the meeting, an AMA spokesperson issued the following statement: “AMA leaders are grateful to the many physicians who have expressed concern about the deeply harmful podcast and tweet published by the JAMA Network. We have heard from longstanding AMA members, physician leaders within our organization, as well as other physicians, about the pain caused by this event but also their guidance and ideas for how the AMA might address these issues. AMA leaders are listening and learning and we are committed to dismantling structural racism across the AMA and in health care.”     […]

The AMA has openly criticized the 16-minute podcast from JAMA, aired February 23, that attempted to discuss structural racism in the US healthcare system.

The episode featured host Ed Livingston, MD, then–deputy editor for clinical reviews and education at JAMA, and guest Mitchell Katz, MD, the president and CEO for NYC Health + Hospitals and deputy editor of JAMA Internal Medicine. Livingston approached the episode as “structural racism for skeptics.”

Livingston, who is White, said during the podcast, “Structural racism is an unfortunate term. Personally, I think taking racism out of the conversation will help. Many of us are offended by the concept that we are racist.”

Since then, Livingston has resigned and AMA’s Journal Oversight Committee announced that JAMA’s editor-in-chief, Howard Bauchner, MD, was placed on leave pending the outcome of an investigation into the podcast.

The association immediately distanced itself from the journal. In a statement, CEO James L. Madara, MD, said: “JAMA has editorial independence from AMA, but this tweet and podcast are inconsistent with the policies and views of AMA and I’m concerned about and acknowledge the harms they have caused. Structural racism in health care and our society exists and it is incumbent on all of us to fix it.”

This was another triumph for our Black comrades in their struggle against structural (systemic) racism. Dr. Brittani James and her cadre of seven showed what a small, dedicated vanguard can accomplish against overwhelming opposition when equity and social justice are on their side. The Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson would be very proud, as would Chairman Mao, whose Red Guards foreshadowed our cancel culture.

The white supremacist leadership at the AMA and the JAMA folded without defending themselves and accepted their otherization, also known as cancellation. As highly educated progressives, they had no other choice but to go through the ritual sacrifice of their careers.

Read more.

From Lefticon:

Vanguards – the Marxist term for elite, militant groups of industrial workers of the proletariat who are the most committed to the conflict of the classes and actively participate in the revolutionary struggle. Also called revolutionary cadres.

In the strategy conceptualized by Marx and Lenin, vanguards infiltrate and subvert existing political parties to create a popular front. These parties finally coalesce into a single vanguard party, which then becomes the only legitimate political party (Communist) in a one-party system. Vanguards were instrumental in the success of the October Revolution.

The Comintern (Third International) applied this strategy internationally. Communist parties were established in countries which were still in the stage of social and cultural change, but they remained under the control of the central party in Soviet Russia. Their members infiltrated other progressive or left-leaning political parties to form Popular Fronts of “fellow travelers.”

Mao adapted the same strategy in his revolutionary struggle against the Kuomintang (Nationalists). China was an agrarian country at that time, with relatively few proletarians but a lot of peasants. His cadres would travel to remote areas as community organizers among the peasants, promising them land reform. They would join local political parties to subvert and control them for their version of a popular front.

Trotsky’s Fourth International and his Socialist Worker’s Party (SWP) also used the same technique but with a new name, “entryism,” whereby its members would join (enter) other socialist parties, worker’s unions, and movements such as civil rights and anti-war, in order to take over their leadership.

Note:  Community organizers, social justice advocates, Black Lives Matter, and antifa are our vanguards in the ongoing ideologic struggle for racial, economic, and social justice. They have infiltrated and taken leadership positions in the Democratic Party in the United States.

Red Guards – a movement of militant, patriotic students during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) in the People’s Republic of China under Mao Zedong.

The Red Guards were noted for their devotion to Chairman Mao and the Marxist-Leninist theory of class struggle, which they demonstrated by the subjugation and humiliation of their teachers, subjecting them to public ridicule and “struggle sessions” to admit their transgressions and counter-revolutionary thoughts. They also assisted in the destruction of cultural relics and artifacts of the pre-Communist past. When their actions became overtly anarchic and themselves counter-revolutionary, the Red Guards were suppressed by the People’s Liberation Army and disbanded.

Their contemporary counterparts in the West are the heroic social justice warriors of Black Lives Matter and antifa who struggle to suppress white supremacy and systemic racism wherever it raises its ugly head and to destroy all monuments to our racist past.

NJ attorney general launches public website to track every case in which police use force

This was reported by Steve Janoski in NorthJersey.Com on April 6,2021:

In a move state officials say will boost transparency in law enforcement and push New Jersey to the forefront of the police reform movement, the state Attorney General’s Office on Tuesday launched a detailed website that will catalog every use of force by every police officer in the Garden State.

The data, which state officials started collecting in October 2020, will allow members of the public, researchers and the media to review the details of each incident. This includes the officer’s name; the age, race and gender of the person against whom force was used; whether that person sustained injuries and what type; what kind of force the officer used and what circumstances led to the confrontation, according to New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.

The website, njoag.gov/force, will continually update as police submit future reports. 

“We are committed to making New Jersey a national leader on policing reform, and our Use of Force Dashboard is a central piece of that effort,” Grewal said, adding that state officials are eager for feedback on the site and its contents. 

The online portal will make it far easier for the public to review police use-of-force records, which previously could be obtained only through a public records request. 

Experts and activists lauded the move and said it would have an immediate impact. 

“The creation of this is an incredibly good thing,” said Alexander Shalom, senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey. “It’s a real, important step forward for transparency.” 

Jason Williams, a professor of justice studies at Montclair State University and a Black Lives Matter activist, said it would also help hold police accountable for their actions. 

“This is tremendous,” Williams said. “We needed an official source to track police malpractice and use of force.”

Grewal said the dashboard is the latest in a series of reforms meant to strengthen the public’s trust in New Jersey’s 38,000 law enforcement officers. 

Among these changes was an overhaul of police use-of-force rules, the creation of a red-flag program meant to identify troubled officers and the revamping of state protocols for the internal disciplinary process within police departments, he said.

Read more.

Governor Phil Murphy and AG Gurbir Grewal are doing what must be done. This is a step in the right direction to curb the epidemic of police violence against BIPOCs in this country.

My only criticism of this laudable effort is that important items are missing from the data available for public viewing. Some  omissions:

    • Race of the victims (called subjects). If the name and race of the law enforcement officer (LEO) is included, so too should the name and race of the subject in each encounter. How else can we verify the preponderance of force by white cops against innocent Blacks?
    • There is no measure of intimidation. Just as force is physical violence, intimidation is emotional violence. Since the storming of the Capitol on 1/6 by domestic extremists, we have become painfully aware of the power of emotional violence and its lingering effects.
    • There is no record of the height and weight of the LEO and the subject in the individual encounters. A significant mismatch can affect the decision of the LEO to use force or intimidation.

From Lefticon:

Violence – the infliction of physical or emotional pain.

Violence was once limited to physical force resulting in pain, injury, or death, but physical violence against minorities declined as the result of the Civil Rights movement, legislation, and indoctrination of the masses. It then became expedient to supplement physical with emotional violence.

The newer, more inclusive conceptualization of violence includes the emotional pain of exclusion, subservience, and exploitation, with or without injury. Since the political base of the left is a coalition of victim groups, this expanded definition was necessary to expand the political base. Hate speech and verbal bullying became violence, as did many of the forms of sexual harassment and workplace aggression.

The most egregious violent infliction of emotional pain was that suffered by members of Congress who thought their lives were in danger during the siege of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 by 200,000 or more domestic terrorist/insurgent supporters of President Trump.

Emotional violence – non-physical violence perpetrated by a victimizer on an individual victim or group.

Emotional violence often results in emotional pain which can be more hurtful and lasting than physical pain. Severe emotional violence can leave the victim with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, suicidal ideation, sociopathy, or homicidal rage. In some cases, it can trigger suicide or mass murder.

When emotional and physical violence are combined, the effect is synergistic and the emotional sequelae can be transmitted from generation to generation. This phenomenon is called transgenerational or intergenerational trauma and is especially applicable to Black slavery and the Jewish Holocaust.

There are many kinds of emotional violence, some of which are useful tools when properly applied by agents of the state or the media:

    • bullying and shaming in the playground, schoolyard, classroom, social media, workplace, and boot camp (unacceptable except when directed at a white);
    • the cancel culture to punish and deter socially unacceptable behavior;
    • epistemic violence;
    • censorship and its equivalents (deplatforming, demonetization, shadow-banning);
    • triggers used deliberately and without a requisite trigger warning;
    • loud, exuberant, and boisterous behavior;
    • display of a noose or a swastika;
    • nonviolent domestic terrorism triggering fear of physical violence or dysphoric responses like chaos and uncertainty;
    • political rhetoric that triggers fear or dysphoric responses;
    • agitprop, the Soviet method of mass indoctrination, which combined agitation with propaganda;
    • propaganda;
    • psyops, which are psychological operations by governments or institutions, and the PSYOPS military version;
    • struggle sessions (in Maoist China);
    • heritable transgenerational/intergenerational trauma;
    • sensitivity training programs for behavior modification;
    • diversity training;
    • mind control programs like Monarch and MKUltra;
    • basic training of military recruits, for the development of unit discipline and cohesion;
    • religions that use threats of eternal divine retribution to control the thoughts and behavior of their believers;
    • social engineering; and
    • a miscellany of isms and phobias.

Note:  The old adage, “Sticks and stones can hurt my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is a quaint, easily debunked denial of the effects of emotional violence.

White supremacy is the root of all race-related violence in the US

This article by Jennifer Ho, Professor of Asian American Studies, University of Colorado Boulder, appeared in Yahoo News on April 8, 2021:

Amid the disturbing rise in attacks on Asian Americans since March 2020 is a troubling category of these assaults: Black people are also attacking Asian Americans.

White people are the main perpetrators of anti-Asian racism. But in February 2021, a Black person pushed an elderly Asian man to the ground in San Francisco; the man later died from his injuries. In another video, from New York City on March 29, 2021, a Black person pushes and beats an Asian American woman on the sidewalk in front of a doorway while onlookers observe the attack, then close their door on the woman without intervening or providing aid.

As the current president of the Association for Asian American Studies and as an ethnic studies and critical race studies professor who specializes in Asian American culture, I wanted to address the climate of anti-Asian racism I was seeing at the start of the pandemic. So in April 2020, I created a PowerPoint slide deck about anti-Asian racism that my employer, the University of Colorado Boulder, turned into a website. That led to approximately 50 interviews, workshops, talks and panel presentations that I’ve done on anti-Asian racism, specifically in the time of COVID-19.

The point I’ve made through all of those experiences is that anti-Asian racism has the same source as anti-Black racism: white supremacy. So when a Black person attacks an Asian person, the encounter is fueled perhaps by racism, but very specifically by white supremacy. White supremacy does not require a white person to perpetuate it.  […]

White supremacy is an ideology, a pattern of values and beliefs that are ingrained in nearly every system and institution in the U.S. It is a belief that to be white is to be human and invested with inalienable universal rights and that to be not-white means you are less than human – a disposable object for others to abuse and misuse.

The dehumanization of Asian people by U.S. society is driven by white supremacy and not by any Black person who may or may not hate Asians.

Read more.

Professor Ho’s scholarly reasoning and conclusions are irrefutable in the context of critical race theory.

Now we know who the true culprits are during the looting, arson, violence, and property destruction of a typical Black Lives Matter protest. They’re white supremacists! They may look Black, but they’re internalized white racists at heart.

Consistent with the concepts of intersectionality and race as a social construct, they have hybrid identities of oppressed (Black) and oppressor (white supremacist).

What else could it be?

From Lefticon:

Internalized oppression – hatred, dislike, or disapproval of one’s own group.

Also called self-hatred, internalized oppression refers to acceptance by a minority of the norms of the dominant majority, negatively stereotyping one’s own group, acculturation, and assimilation. It can lead to the use of the oppressive techniques of the dominant majority on others of one’s own minority.

Although usually a phenomenon affecting minorities, internalized oppression can also occur within an oppressor group. A case in point is white guilt, when a white male develops a hatred of whites and maleness. The social outcome can be quite favorable if he rejects his white male hegemony and supremacy, sincerely apologizes to people of color, and struggles to make amends for their oppression by his race.

Internalized racism – hatred, dislike, or disapproval of one’s own minority race

Internalized racism can result in a feeling of racial inferiority, racist attitudes, and a desire to be more like the majority race.

Intersectionality – the conceptualization of multiple social identities coexisting in an individual, along with multiple synergistic oppressions.

For example, a victim of oppression can identify as poor, Black, homosexual, and female. These come together within the individual to form that individual’s composite social identity, which can then make her vulnerable to multiple forms of oppression intersecting as a system, each component of which is acting synergistically with the others.

An individual can also have multiple social identities that, rather than being synergistic, are in internal conflict. Such disparate subjectivities can result in a hybrid identity that is both oppressor and oppressed, e.g., a white (oppressor), affluent (oppressor), cisgender (oppressor), fat (oppressed), disabled (oppressed) female (oppressed).

Hybrid identity – in the context of intersectionality, more than one gender, sexual, racial, class, social, or cultural identity in a single individual.

Multiple subjectivities can result in an identity that is both oppressor and oppressed. Such a hybrid identity can cause internal conflict and compel an individual to make difficult choices, but it can also enable the person to appreciate both viewpoints in an area of conflict.

The double consciousness described by W. E. B. Dubois was clearly the result of his hybrid identity.

Double consciousness – the conflicted self-awareness experienced by oppressed minorities when looking at themselves from the viewpoint, values, and norms of the majority oppressor.

This concept originated with W.E.B. DuBois, a Black leader with a hybrid social identity, who drew from his own experience as biracial and raised by a white family.

Not Ready to Reenter White Society

This article by Elie Mystal appeared in the Nation on March 23, 2021:

I’ve said, here and elsewhere, that one of the principal benefits of the pandemic is how I’ve been able to exclude racism and whiteness generally from my day-to-day life. Over the past year, I have, of course, still had to interact with white people on Zoom or watch them on television or worry about whether they would succeed in reelecting a white-supremacist president. But white people aren’t in my face all of the time. I can, more or less, only deal with whiteness when I want to. Their cops aren’t hunting me when I drive through my neighborhood; their hang-ups aren’t bothering me (or threatening me) when I’m just trying to do some shopping.

That’s because I haven’t been driving or shopping in person. White people haven’t improved; I’ve just been able to limit my exposure to them. I’ve turned my house into Wakanda: a technically advanced, globally isolated home base from which I can pick and choose when and how often to interact with white people.

To be clear, it’s not that most or even many of my interactions with white people are “bad”; it’s that I’m able to choose when to expose myself to interactions with potentially bad white people. That choice is a privilege I’ve never really had until this past year. Going out into white society for me is a little bit like a beekeeper going to get honey. I know what I’m doing: If I put on the right protection and blow enough smoke, most of the bees will leave me alone and the ones who don’t won’t really cause me that much pain. But I’ve got to put on the suit and the hat with the mesh and carry the smoke machine and be careful every time I want some goddamn honey. This year, it’s been like somebody said, “You know the honey comes in bottles now, right? You don’t have to risk being stung every time you want some food.”

It’s been a revelation, but it can’t last. With vaccination (I get my second shot next week) comes reentry into the larger society. I’ve been the “default” skin color in my personal life for a year, but as I open back up, I’ll be thrust again into a world where I’m treated like an “other,” one where white people feel empowered to just walk around like they own the place.

A weekend trip to CVS showed me that I’m not ready. I’m not ready to go back to accepting that, in a diverse and pluralistic society, some white people are allowed to just impose their implicit biases on the world, and the rest of us have to suck it up.

On Sunday, my wife went to CVS to buy Easter candy. It was exactly the kind of nonessential trip we’ve been avoiding for the past year, but the weather was nice, and she wanted the walk. She texted me when she was nearly done to pick her up, so she didn’t have to carry the heavy bags, and I took the kids with me for a nice little car ride.

Read more.

The author, a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, is the justice correspondent at The Nation.

In the rest of this article, Elie Mystal recounts an incident in the CVS parking lot which affected him deeply. While sitting in his car waiting for his wife, an older white woman pulled up in front of him and shouted a question at a young Black teenager standing outside the store, “Is this where you get the vaccines?”

The Black teen ignored her, the white woman shouted the question again, and the Black teen ignored her again. The white woman then drove off after “yelping” in disgust, “the service,” having mistaken the Black teen for an employee. It must have been a loud and coherent “yelp” for him to have heard it. That was it, but the incident had a profound effect on Mr. Mystal, which he analyzes.

It is so sad that Mr. Mystal feels so uncomfortable around whites. Harvard must have been an ordeal for him. Even now, his encounters with his fellow editors and white employees at The Nation must be terribly painful. No wonder he enjoyed his voluntary COVID isolation!

The incident he described was typical of the sort of lived experience that Blacks must encounter every day. Add that to the explicit and implicit bias, microaggressions, inequities, and low expectations. No white, even the most woke, can ever understand what Blacks go through.

If only there were a Wakanda for Mr. Mystal to retreat to. But, alas, no majority-Black country in Africa would meet his standard of living, so he will have to stay in the United States and continue to endure its intolerable whiteness.

Whiteness Is a Pandemic

This article by Damon Young appeared in The Root on March 17, 2021. It also appeared in Yahoo!News.

I don’t have much to add here today that hasn’t already been said.

Whiteness is a public health crisis. It shortens life expectancies, it pollutes air, it constricts equilibrium, it devastates forests, it melts ice caps, it sparks (and funds) wars, it flattens dialects, it infests consciousnesses, and it kills people—white people and people who are not white, my mom included. There will be people who die, in 2050, because of white supremacy-induced decisions from 1850.

A line can and should be drawn from the actions of the white supremacist who walked into three Atlanta-area massage parlors yesterday, and allegedly killed eight people—six of whom were of Asian descent—to the relentless anti-Asian rhetoric pollinating national discourse over the past year. The former president, and the party of the former president, can and should be blamed for this and the sudden increase of racist violence against Asian Americans. The line doesn’t stop there, though. It extends back 400 years and has tentacles clawing everywhere white supremacy exists here, in America, which is everywhere.

There’s a line connecting this act of terror to the 11 people killed at the Tree of Life synagogue in 2018, and the nine people killed at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2015, of course. But also to gentrification, to red-lining, to racial profiling, to gerrymandering, to voter oppression, to mass incarceration, to the war on drugs, to the subprime mortgage crisis, to the vast disparities in both COVID deaths and who receives COVID vaccinations, to how the men and women who stormed the capitol just went home and had dinner with their families afterward. […]

White supremacy is a virus that, like other viruses, will not die until there are no bodies left for it to infect. Which means the only way to stop it is to locate it, isolate it, extract it, and kill it.

Read more.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of the blog Very Smart Brothas (sic), an opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker. He is anti-white, which is not racist because he is Black. As established by critical race theory, he is rather a victim of systemic racism espoused by all whites, who are white supremacists from birth.

Damon’s suffering from white oppression is constant and only partly relieved by the catharsis of writing. The encouragement of white editors at Yahoo! and the NY Times does nothing to relieve his pain and his mounting rage. Nor does their support cleanse them of their white supremacism and systemic racism. It just makes them work harder to earn his acceptance.

If only Damon could see that progressive whites, who struggle for his rights over and above their own, truly love him and all Blacks unconditionally. Yet, through intersectionality, they remain indelibly racist … which means that nothing will ever change.

From Lefticon:

Critical race theory (CRT) – the application of the philosophy and techniques of Critical Theory and critical legal studies to the study of race.

Critical race theory began with an informally organized group of scholars in the area of race law and theory in law schools in the 1980s. A reaction to a perceived deficiency in critical legal studies, it held its first conference in Madison, Wisconsin in July 1989. Early proponents were critical legal scholars who felt marginalized when other critical legal scholars failed to focus sufficiently on race as it interfaced with law and politics. Because of the transcendent importance of race to concerned social activists, critical race theory has become its own discipline in the social sciences.

Critical race theory seeks out and identifies specific manifestations of the pervasive systemic racism in our dominant culture, with its power structures built on whiteness, white privilege, white hegemony, and white supremacy. It characterizes racial groups as either oppressor (white) or oppressed (all others but especially Black).

In the presence of systemic racial inequalities, critical race theory challenges biological essentialism and the repressive values of meritocracy and objectivity. In a system so heavily skewed in favor of whites, it conceptualizes racial identity as a social construct without a necessary basis in biology or genetics, and racism as a multidimensional oppression which, through intersectionality, can coexist with other oppressions, such as sexism and homophobia, and thereby further synergize the disempowerment of people of color, especially Blacks.

Narratives of personal experiences by victims of racism are used widely in CRT research and presentations. Through anecdotal counternarratives of lived experience, CRT empowers people of color and challenges them to find centrality and commonality in their experiences and to respond to the prevailing narratives of white supremacy. Any individual experiences outside the approved narrative, however, are actively rejected as perpetuating racism.

Whiteness – a genetically-determined category of skin pigmentation due to a relatively low melanin content which, together with a characteristic bone structure and a compulsion to dominate and oppress other races, defines the white (Caucasian) race.

In critical race theory, which reaches beyond biology and genetics to the social sciences for the conceptualization of racial identity as a social construct, whiteness is a state of mind associated with

    • systemic racism with oppression, suppression, and repression of minorities;
    • slavery, colonialism, mercantilism, imperialism, nationalism, and fascism;
    • self-proclaimed superiority in intelligence and creativity;
    • behavioral dominance and hegemony;
    • intolerance, bigotry, bias, discrimination, and hate.

Intersectionality – the conceptualization of multiple social identities coexisting in an individual, along with multiple synergistic oppressions.

For example, a victim of oppression can identify as poor, Black, homosexual, and female. These come together within the individual to form that individual’s composite social identity, which can then make her vulnerable to multiple forms of oppression intersecting as a system, each component of which is acting synergistically with the others.

An individual can also have multiple social identities that, rather than being synergistic, are in internal conflict. Such disparate subjectivities can result in a hybrid identity that is both oppressor and oppressed, e.g., a white (oppressor), affluent (oppressor), cisgender (oppressor), fat (oppressed), disabled (oppressed) female (oppressed).

Russia threatens to block Twitter within 30 days over ‘banned content’

This was reported today by Chris Pleasance in the Daily Mail:

Russia has threatened to block Twitter within 30 days unless the site acts to remove what the government refers to as ‘banned content’. 

Vadim Subbotin, deputy head of watchdog Roskomnadzor, said on Tuesday that the ban would come into effect unless Twitter removed the content, which he said includes child porn and information on child suicide and drugs.

But critics say the crackdown is actually an attempt to stop Putin’s political opponents organising rallies, as they did in a number of cities earlier this year.

Subbotin issued his threat just a day after Putin’s main critic, Alexei Navalny, posted his first update from inside jail – sharing an image of himself with a shaved head.

‘Twitter is not reacting to our requests as they should. If the situation carries on then it will be blocked in a month without a court order,’ Subbotin said. 

It comes a week after Subbotin announced that Twitter’s internet speed would be slowed down unless it removed the offending content.  

Meanwhile Twitter is also being sued in Russia for allegedly failing to delete material encouraging children to join anti-Putin protests.

Twitter said at the time that it was worried about the impact on free speech despite Russian laws specifically outlawing children attending protests. 

Russia has also railed against social media sites for censoring state-controlled media such as RT, which have been branded propaganda sites by foreign governments.

Back in January, Putin personally accused social media giants in January of ‘controlling society’ and ‘restricting the right to freely express viewpoints.’

Around 9 million Russians are thought to use Twitter, just eight per cent of the country’s total population, though it is the favoured means of communication for Putin’s critics.

Read more.

The Twitter managers should have no technical difficulty meeting the Russian request. Along with the other social media based in the United States, they have become quite adept at censorship.

Their censorship experience, however, has been limited to material that does not agree with their politics and ideology. This makes the Russian request highly problematic because porn, child porn, and drug addiction are largely condoned and promoted by people who share the same politico-ideological viewpoint as theirs.

It will be interesting to see how they respond.

From Lefticon:

Morality – a code of abstract values and behavioral norms that defines what is good and bad, right and wrong, virtuous and evil.

Anyone who is rational and not sociopathic would agree that it is intrinsically wrong to steal, cheat, lie, harm another, or kill except in defense of self or family. This simple and universal code can be explained as natural law, developed over millennia in the process of civilization, and transmitted from generation to generation, person to person, as a cultural meme.

The origin of natural law was pondered by Aristotle, Plato, Cicero, Thomas Aquinas, Hobbes, Locke and numerous other thinkers, none of whom disputed its existence or basic precepts. Curiously, there was little interest in natural law by the great thinkers of the left. A case in point is Engels, who in his defense of Marxism (Anti-Dühring, 1877) rejected all moral absolutes, which would include natural law:

We therefore reject every attempt to impose on us any moral dogma whatsoever as an eternal, ultimate and forever immutable ethical law on the pretext that the moral world, too, has its permanent principles which stand above history and the differences between nations. We maintain on the contrary that all moral theories have been hitherto the product, in the last analysis, of the economic conditions of society obtaining at the time. And as society has hitherto moved in class antagonisms, morality has always been class morality; it has either justified the domination and the interests of the ruling class, or ever since the oppressed class became powerful enough, it has represented its indignation against this domination and the future interests of the oppressed.

As Engels reminded us, morality is political and based on standards which vary with the political interests of a specific class at a particular time and place, rather than being absolute and universally binding. His words are an expression of the moral relativism which was progressive for its time and remains a given today, a legacy of Marxism and the neo-Freudian neo-Marxism of the Frankfurt School, supplemented by nihilism, deconstructionism, and existentialism.

Religions with moral dogmas, on the other hand, base morality and human rights on the revealed dictates of a God or His representative, with further modifications and additions by esteemed early followers, later scholars, renowned clergy, or councils of a hierarchy. Those foundational revelations vary from religion to religion but are held to be absolute within each religion. One major religion, Christianity, accepts the moral tenets of natural law and applies them in principle to all people, rather than exclusively to one’s own tribe, coreligionists, or ethnicity.

Maybe a Biden hologram can handle his public speeches

This article by Sharyl Attkisson appeared on March 10, 2021, in The Hill:

Joe Biden isn’t a hologram. But the relative absence from the public stage of a newly elected U.S. president and leader of the free world is sparking no small amount of speculation and chatter about the brave new world of possibilities offered by technological advancements and the unprecedented control over information on the internet.

So far, under Biden, there have been none of the extended press availabilities to which we got accustomed under President Trump. No impromptu sessions with the media where he fields questions and attacks, dealing with dozens of wide-ranging topics. President Biden even skipped the traditional live, in-person February address to Congress. We’ve only seen him primarily in the form of various “proof of life”-like video clips distributed on the internet, where he reads scripted remarks from a teleprompter. 

Even some officials who work in the Biden administration told me they can’t help but wonder why. And it has them mulling over farfetched speculation that, upon further examination, starts to look almost like it is not completely outside the realm of the possible.

In June 2019 I published a story on “deep fake” technology. It explored how artificial intelligence (AI) computer technology has put special effects, once reserved as expensive and time-consuming accomplishments of Hollywood films, in the hands of most anybody with a computer and the desire to use it. 

As I showed in the report, this AI technology can make people who didn’t say or do something look very much like they said or did the thing. I urge everyone to watch the story here and keep in mind two things: First, the technology has advanced further by leaps and bounds since my original report. And, second, our intelligence agencies have capabilities far beyond whatever it is we see in public.

Some years ago, a government source with access to intelligence at the highest levels explained to me — without divulging any classified information — that any technological thing we can imagine is actually being researched or accomplished in the secret channels of our government. And, he told me, things that are beyond our ability to imagine also are being done.

Some of the things we know are already possible: Scientists can build lifelike robots or droids that are getting harder and harder to distinguish from humans. They can even interact and take part in rational-sounding two-way conversations. Hologram-like figures can make campaign appearances (as India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi did, as early as 2012) or even be resurrected from the grave (as pop star Michael Jackson was) for “live” performances.

What would be necessary if powerful interests wanted to construct a believable artificial reality surrounding the most powerful political position on the planet? First, of course, the technological capability. Beyond that, it seems to me, they would need to have a pretty tight grip on the information landscape — meaning, primarily, the internet — so that any material exposing the effort or contrary to the goal could be discredited or expunged. And, finally, there obviously would have to be a serious element of secrecy — a willingness and ability among all of those with knowledge and information to keep the whole thing under wraps. Seems pretty unlikely, except in the movies.

Read more.

Coming from a real journalist with an impeccable reputation, this is not a frivolous suggestion. Some of the best medical and technical minds in the US and internationally (excluding Russia, of course) must now be working around the clock to find a way to improve the cognition of the President.

Wouldn’t it be great if President Biden could hold scheduled press conferences, and even unscheduled ones on the lawn like his predecessor did before boarding the Marine One helicopter? It would be a nice friendly touch that his loyal press corps would appreciate. After all, they worked so hard to get him elected.

On the other hand, a Biden hologram is not such a bad idea. The real Biden, even in his prime, was known for his gaffes. In today’s cancel culture, there is no place for that. A Bidogram (or HoloBide) can be programmed to be gaffe free. It can even give a flawless State of the Union address, if need be. And there is no need for a hologram to wear a mask.

The next step, beyond holography, may be in the realm of transhumanism.

From Lefticon:

Transhumanism – a belief in the achievement of the full potential of the human species through applied technology.

Based on the recent exponential growth in data, cloud, robotic, 5G, AI, quantum, nano, and genetic technologies, transhumanists envision the following changes over a period of decades rather than centuries:

      • indefinite prolongation of life;
      • resurrection (with intact memories) of those preserved by cryonic flash-freezing;
      • superintelligence;
      • freedom from disease and aging;
      • reversal of aging when applicable;
      • freedom from stress, anxiety, depression, and despair; and
      • a mental state of sublime and constant bliss.

These changes will be incremental and take effect as the necessary technology is perfected. The methods already exist, but in varying stages of development. There will be a transitional period during which an enhanced form of humanity, known as transhuman, will emerge.

Transhumans will be more than a social construct. Becoming a transhuman will not be a simple declaration of transhuman identity, but rather a commitment to and the result of proactive interventions necessary to overcome the fundamental limitations of humanity. It will be more like the full transitioning that occurs in transgenderism but involving multidisciplinary procedures far more invasive than simple reconstructive surgery and hormonal replacement.

The final endpoint of transhumanism will be a posthuman, a transcendent life form unlike any other now in existence. It will be a good kind of genetically modified organism (GMO), not the bad kind that has contaminated our food supply. And it will also be robotically modified—an RMO, so to speak—to achieve super strength and superintelligence (artificial, of course).

These GRMO posthumans will be gender-neutral, robot-human hybrids. Once man has reached this perfected state, there will no longer be a place for religion or belief in God, creationism, virtue, sin, or an afterlife of heaven or hell. Posthumans, the ultimate elites, will live in their own sustainable heaven on earth.

It will not be possible for all humans to be transformed into posthumans, a limitation which could result in an equality gap between the GRMO posthumans and the organic, non-GRMO humans. Fortunately, this problem has already been addressed. Posthumans will be programmed to be friendly to organic humans, and their genes will be edited to make them anti-gun. They will be free of all traces of sociopathy and psychopathy, which alone will make them superior to our current, organic, ruling-class elites.

Their sweet and friendly nature will make the posthumans an easy prey of organic humans. While free of disease and aging, their potentially eternal life will still be vulnerable to trauma and the effects of improper maintenance and repair, unhealthy lifestyle, war and natural disasters, vehicular collision, or assault with a deadly weapon (such as an assault rifle).

It is possible that some posthumans will be programmed for security and intelligence purposes, just as organic humans were in the CIA Project MKUltra. A serious concern is that a posthuman trained for nefarious purposes can reach a critical level of development whereby it becomes autonomous and self-replicating, an end-state called singularity. According to leading futurists who have envisioned this development, the state of singularity can occur suddenly and without warning, resulting in a super-being capable of taking over the world and enslaving humanity.

Note:  Transhumanism is not to be confused with transgenderism and trans-speciesism, which also relate to expanding human agentic potential but are restricted to gender and species transformation. Transhumanism can, however, include gender and species transformation as part of the transhumanization process.

Transgender surgery is now free for military, thanks to Biden executive order

This was reported yesterday by Tori Richards in the Washington Examiner:

Taxpayers will now foot the bill for gender reassignment surgery for active military personnel and veterans, with some treatments costing upward of $200,000 under an executive order signed by President Biden.

Tucked inside Biden’s Jan. 25 transgender order, “Enabling All Qualified Americans to Serve Their Country in Uniform,” is a clause that repeals an Obama-era policy that prohibited federally funded reassignment surgery. This was followed up by memos from both Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough specifically stating that surgery is now an added benefit.

“This revised policy will also ensure all medically-necessary transition related care authorized by law is available to all Service members,” Austin wrote.

In a VA email to employees, McDonough echoed: “Perform an assessment of the necessary steps to eliminate the exclusion of ‘gender alteration’ (gender affirmation surgery) in the medical benefits package.”

Neither official stated how much the added benefit would cost but rather pledged to undertake an analysis.

Online charts by the Philadelphia Center for Transgender Surgery show a plethora of elective surgeries for both men and women that add up to $100,000-$200,000. Although Biden stated in his order that the cost of treating transgender troops would have minimal impact on healthcare costs, that is not borne out by a 2019 USA Today investigation. The news analysis revealed that the Pentagon spent $8 million to treat just 1,500 transgender military officials, which included hormone treatments and some surgeries. It was not clear why the surgeries were allowed at that time.

A federal study revealed that more than 15,000 service members and  134,000 veterans identify as transgender.

Read more.

On January 25, President Biden reversed Trump’s ban on transgenders in the military. Unlike President Trump, he was aware of the proven correlation between diversity and strength. He knew that the more women, gays, and transgenders in our armed forces, the stronger and more formidable they would be in confronting our enemies at home and abroad.

Our educational establishment, the authors of children’s books, and the parents of theybies will surely be there to help in this worthy effort. The more they promote gender questioning—it is never too young to start—the more future warriors from the most desired minorities.

What better way to recruit transgenders than to cover the medical and surgical costs of their transitioning? There was a time when young men joined the military for the educational benefits. Now they will join for the medical/surgical benefits. Just like the migrants flocking to our southern border, we will see transgenders overwhelming our recruiting stations.

Our adversaries will undoubtedly adopt similar programs, leading to a “new normal” arms race in weaponized transgenders.