Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster has become a symbol for far right extremists after he was used to help recruit children, according to German police.
In the latest incident Neo Nazi Steffen Lange, 31, dressed as the popular children’s TV character, walked into a school in Senftenberg, in the German state of Brandenburg, and together with another Neo-Nazi handed out pamphlets to children.
The Monster and his accomplice were arrested after a teacher complained to police about the contents of the leaflets.

The whole notion of attempting to hand out neo-Nazi pamphlets to kids young enough to care about Cookie Monster utterly baffles me.
It’s disturbing and weird. But it’s also misguided.
My son, who is almost four, would be very excited if Cookie Monster turned up at his school. But he cannot read, so he would likely dismiss the racist pamphlet completely. Or, he would ask me to read it and I would tell him it was just junk that needed to be thrown away. And then he would forget all about the pamphlet we never read and he would talk all about how Cookie Monster came to school. And I would say to him, “Yes, Cookie Monster is very nice and he likes everyone in the world.” Kids who are old enough to figure out the pamphlet likely don’t care much about Cookie Monster. And it’s not as if parents whose little kids bring home neo-Nazi pamphlets are suddenly going to say to themselves, “You know, I wasn’t sympathetic to the neo-Nazis before … but this Cookie Monster makes some pretty compelling arguments.”
So I guess what I’m saying is that neo-Nazis aren’t very smart. Also, water is wet.

Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster has become a symbol for far right extremists after he was used to help recruit children, according to German police.

In the latest incident Neo Nazi Steffen Lange, 31, dressed as the popular children’s TV character, walked into a school in Senftenberg, in the German state of Brandenburg, and together with another Neo-Nazi handed out pamphlets to children.

The Monster and his accomplice were arrested after a teacher complained to police about the contents of the leaflets.

The whole notion of attempting to hand out neo-Nazi pamphlets to kids young enough to care about Cookie Monster utterly baffles me.

It’s disturbing and weird. But it’s also misguided.

My son, who is almost four, would be very excited if Cookie Monster turned up at his school. But he cannot read, so he would likely dismiss the racist pamphlet completely. Or, he would ask me to read it and I would tell him it was just junk that needed to be thrown away. And then he would forget all about the pamphlet we never read and he would talk all about how Cookie Monster came to school. And I would say to him, “Yes, Cookie Monster is very nice and he likes everyone in the world.” Kids who are old enough to figure out the pamphlet likely don’t care much about Cookie Monster. And it’s not as if parents whose little kids bring home neo-Nazi pamphlets are suddenly going to say to themselves, “You know, I wasn’t sympathetic to the neo-Nazis before … but this Cookie Monster makes some pretty compelling arguments.”

So I guess what I’m saying is that neo-Nazis aren’t very smart. Also, water is wet.

(Source: Daily Mail)

# Sesame Street # television # Germany # sadness # racism # anti-semitism

Glenn Ford is living proof of just how flawed our justice system truly is. We are moved that Mr. Ford, an African-American man convicted by an all-white jury, will be able to leave death row a survivor.

That’s Amnesty International USA’s Thenjiwe Tameika McHarris, in a statement on the release of Glenn Ford yesterday after nearly 30 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

Apart from the obvious problem of innocence highlighted by this case, the death penalty more generally is racist, arbitrary, unfair, immoral, and a violation of human rights. It is bad public policy and ought to be abolished in the states that have, to this point, stubbornly maintained it on the misguided belief that vengeance and justice are the same thing.

(Source: CNN)

# death penalty # criminal justice # Louisiana # politics # news # human rights # racism

On Having Bad Friends

The GOP has a Ted Nugent problem.

He’s a prominent individual who has spent a fair amount of time raising money and stumping for Republican politicians; he’s also made a bunch of racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, and violent comments, the most recent of which — calling President Obama a “subhuman mongrel” — earned him a pretty rare rebuke from several Republicans.

Most of the time, though, the GOP is happy to call Nugent a friend and not worry too much about what he’s saying. He speaks to a part of the Republican base and gets them fired up without the politicians themselves having to say the sorts of things these people apparently want to hear.

This reminds me of the problem Ron Paul had a few years ago. If you regularly associate with (and profit from an association with) people who believe and say some absolutely vile things, you probably shouldn’t be overly surprised by the presumption that you support what those people are saying.

Politicians can’t fall back on the argument that they just agree with the other things Nugent believes, especially if they’re not critical of him when he launches into the truly vile stuff that’s become his stock in trade. I’m just not going to believe someone who says, “I like hanging out with this guy; we have lots of stuff in common. Not the birther stuff or the sexism or threatening the president, of course, but lots of other stuff. So don’t think I agree with the birther stuff or the sexism or the threats; it’s everything else I agree with, plus I just like his company. I’m not going to say anything about the birther stuff or the sexism or the threats, but you should assume by my silence and my hanging out with this guy that I disagree with the offensive stuff.”

If you have bad friends, people are liable to think badly of you.

# racism # Nugent # politics

This guy was really on a roll yesterday; the above is just a little bit of the lengthy “offensivethan” rant to which the Madman (or his .com team) treated his Twitter followers.

He had earlier “apologized" for calling President Obama a "subhuman mongrel" but only after it was made clear to him that he’d embarrassed some of his high-profile friends in the GOP. Indeed, in his "apology,” he made it clear that he wasn’t really apologizing, but that his friends — like Rick Perry and Greg Abbott — required him to say something because he was making them look like horrible racists for associating with a horrible racist like him.

He then vowed to continue his biting criticism, but in less overtly racist language … like this stuff on Twitter, I guess.

Either way, someone needs to buy him a new keyboard; the space bar seems to be stuck on his.

# Nugent # music # politics # apology # racism # terrible apologies # Obama # Perry # Texas # Twitter # internet

I will not respect the lie. I insist that racism must be properly understood as an Intelligence, as a sentience, as a default setting to which, likely until the end of our days, we unerringly return.
Ta-Nehisi Coates, ”On the Killing of Jordan Davis by Michael Dunn.”

# racism # Florida # Dunn # Davis # politics

Comments of the Day

Lots of great comments today in response to my post from this morning about the immigration ordinance in Fremont, Nebraska.

Tumblr blogger MDL Unit writes:

Wow. They should have called it the “Intimidate the Latinos Out of Town Act”

Mike Gruz says:

May the chances of absolutely zero economic development forever be in their favor.

Brian Shreck chimes in with the voice of experience:

Having been to Fremont many times, I’m not quite sure what they’re trying to protect.

Two different readers, though, wisely take Nebraska fiscals conservatives to task for their support of this legislation:

  1. Nothing screams small government like red tape and bureaucracy.
  2. Plus it’s so fiscally responsible to allocate $1.5 million to chase away a portion of the local tax base.

No comment yet from State Senator Charlie Janssen, the ordinance’s biggest cheerleader, about exactly how this bill is good for Fremont or why it’s worth discrimination lawsuits, alienating Latinos, and spending a ton of taxpayer money on the off chance that a couple hundred undocumented workers won’t be able to rent apartments. He’s probably still too excited about yesterday’s  anti-immigrant vote to spend any time online; perhaps he’s out there right now himself, issuing housing permits to anyone with $5 who solemnly attests that they’re in this country legally

# cotd # Nebraska # immigration # politics # racism

Look how happy these white conservative Nebraskans are!
They’re celebrating because they convinced a small number of other people in a tiny town to vote in favor of keeping an ordinance that’s likely to mire the town in expensive legal battles for several years.
Why does this make them happy? I have no idea.
The ordinance is theoretically designed to make things more difficult for undocumented workers who make up some percentage of a whopping 1,150 noncitizens living in the town. But my sense is that it will mostly make Latinos — all 3,000 of them who live there — feel uncomfortable about living or working in or near the town.
You see, the ordinance requires “anyone who rents a home or apartment to apply for a $5 permit and attest to their legal status, but there is no mandate to show proof. New permits are needed for every move.” The idea that this will prevent undocumented workers from settling in Fremont seems pretty ridiculous on its face.
But it might very well lead to discriminatory practices with regard to Latinos. That’s what the ACLU will be looking for. And it almost certainly will lead Latinos to feel unwelcome, if they don’t already (after three years of battling this ordinance out in the courts and at the ballot box).
But maybe that’s actually what these happy folks want … ?
Here’s what I wrote back in 2010, quoting a story from the New York Times:

Still, some in Fremont point, with worry, to other Nebraska towns — places like Schuyler and Lexington — as communities that no longer look or feel the way they once did.
That last bit there, that’s “code” for “I’m a racist but I shouldn’t say that to the New York Times so I’ll say that my town feels different now.”

Look how happy these white conservative Nebraskans are!

They’re celebrating because they convinced a small number of other people in a tiny town to vote in favor of keeping an ordinance that’s likely to mire the town in expensive legal battles for several years.

Why does this make them happy? I have no idea.

The ordinance is theoretically designed to make things more difficult for undocumented workers who make up some percentage of a whopping 1,150 noncitizens living in the town. But my sense is that it will mostly make Latinos — all 3,000 of them who live there — feel uncomfortable about living or working in or near the town.

You see, the ordinance requires “anyone who rents a home or apartment to apply for a $5 permit and attest to their legal status, but there is no mandate to show proof. New permits are needed for every move.” The idea that this will prevent undocumented workers from settling in Fremont seems pretty ridiculous on its face.

But it might very well lead to discriminatory practices with regard to Latinos. That’s what the ACLU will be looking for. And it almost certainly will lead Latinos to feel unwelcome, if they don’t already (after three years of battling this ordinance out in the courts and at the ballot box).

But maybe that’s actually what these happy folks want … ?

Here’s what I wrote back in 2010, quoting a story from the New York Times:

Still, some in Fremont point, with worry, to other Nebraska towns — places like Schuyler and Lexington — as communities that no longer look or feel the way they once did.

That last bit there, that’s “code” for “I’m a racist but I shouldn’t say that to the New York Times so I’ll say that my town feels different now.”

(Source: bigstory.ap.org)

# racism # Nebraska # immigration # politics

Singing in American

As the child and grandchild of immigrants, who worked to make a place for themselves in this country and who spent considerable resources on my education so that I would be able to fluently speak the language they spoke when they arrived here, I absolutely cannot figure out why last night’s Coke commercial or the idea of multiculturalism has so unhinged so many people.

This desperate drive to make “America” or “Americans” into a single thing that matches one’s own personal experience seems so futile, such a waste of time and energy.

What’s worse, so many of the comments I’ve read in the past few hours in favor of assimilation — the utter derision of the concept of the “salad bowl” rather than the “melting pot” — have been mixed with such blatant xenophobia and racism against the very people who are being advised (or ordered) to assimilate.

"Everyone can be American, so long as they don’t look too Jewish or Muslim or sound too Mexican or Chinese." In other words, "Be yourself, but also fit in completely with the white Christian majority or else our real feelings about you are likely to come shining through."

# racism # politics # advertising # immigration # religion # language

Apparently Americans who don’t know how to use contractions also don’t much care for commericals in which the lyrics to songs about America are translated into a variety of languages.
USA! USA! USA!

Apparently Americans who don’t know how to use contractions also don’t much care for commericals in which the lyrics to songs about America are translated into a variety of languages.

USA! USA! USA!

# Twitter # sports # football # NFL # racism # comedy # sadness # internet # advertising

Happy “Why Is There No White History Month?” Day!
Well, here’s a disturbing trend I didn’t know about until this morning:

The so-called “quenelle” signal, popularized by notoriously anti-Semitic French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, allows these youngsters to openly flout the strict anti-hate speech laws in some parts of Europe.

Apparently, posting photos of oneself doing the “quenelle” is popular for Europeans teens, athletes, and even politicians.
In related news, today is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, where members of my family were murdered in 1944 and where the young man above is saluting their murderers.

Well, here’s a disturbing trend I didn’t know about until this morning:

The so-called “quenelle” signal, popularized by notoriously anti-Semitic French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, allows these youngsters to openly flout the strict anti-hate speech laws in some parts of Europe.

Apparently, posting photos of oneself doing the “quenelle” is popular for Europeans teens, athletes, and even politicians.

In related news, today is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, where members of my family were murdered in 1944 and where the young man above is saluting their murderers.

# anti-semitism # racism # Holocaust # Germany # France # genocide # history # global affairs


Almost 70 years ago, South Carolina electrocuted 14-year-old George Stinney, the youngest person to be executed by an American state since the 1800s. Family members today say he’s innocent, and while they can’t bring him back, they want his name cleared.
A black teen in the Jim Crow South, Stinney was accused of murdering two white girls, ages 7 and 11, as they hunted for wildflowers in Alcolu, about 50 miles southeast of Columbia.
Stinney, according to police, confessed to the crime. No witness or evidence that might vindicate him was presented during a trial that was over in fewer than three hours. An all-white jury convicted him in a flash, 10 minutes, and he was sentenced to “be electrocuted, until your body be dead in accordance with law. And may God have mercy on your soul,” court documents say.
Fewer than three months after the girls’ deaths, Stinney was escorted to an electric chair at a Columbia penitentiary, built for much larger defendants. The chair’s straps were loose on Stinney’s 5-foot-1-inch, 95-pound frame, and books were placed on the seat so he would fit in the chair.

On its website, CNN is asking: “Was execution of boy, 14, justice?”
This seemed to me like such an unbelievably ridiculous question for so many reasons that I was planning to do nothing but lampoon CNN in this blog post …
But then I read the comments.
And — guess what? — plenty of people think that the confession of a 14 year old is all the evidence you need for justice to be done; that the word of a white police officer who says a black boy confessed to killing two white girls is clearly unimpeachable in the Jim Crow South; that due process clearly doesn’t matter all that much when it comes to justice; and that, even if he was guilty, executing a 14 year old somehow equates with justice.
So, yeah, I guess a whole bunch of us still have no idea what justice means.

Almost 70 years ago, South Carolina electrocuted 14-year-old George Stinney, the youngest person to be executed by an American state since the 1800s. Family members today say he’s innocent, and while they can’t bring him back, they want his name cleared.

A black teen in the Jim Crow South, Stinney was accused of murdering two white girls, ages 7 and 11, as they hunted for wildflowers in Alcolu, about 50 miles southeast of Columbia.

Stinney, according to police, confessed to the crime. No witness or evidence that might vindicate him was presented during a trial that was over in fewer than three hours. An all-white jury convicted him in a flash, 10 minutes, and he was sentenced to “be electrocuted, until your body be dead in accordance with law. And may God have mercy on your soul,” court documents say.

Fewer than three months after the girls’ deaths, Stinney was escorted to an electric chair at a Columbia penitentiary, built for much larger defendants. The chair’s straps were loose on Stinney’s 5-foot-1-inch, 95-pound frame, and books were placed on the seat so he would fit in the chair.

On its website, CNN is asking: “Was execution of boy, 14, justice?”

This seemed to me like such an unbelievably ridiculous question for so many reasons that I was planning to do nothing but lampoon CNN in this blog post …

But then I read the comments.

And — guess what? — plenty of people think that the confession of a 14 year old is all the evidence you need for justice to be done; that the word of a white police officer who says a black boy confessed to killing two white girls is clearly unimpeachable in the Jim Crow South; that due process clearly doesn’t matter all that much when it comes to justice; and that, even if he was guilty, executing a 14 year old somehow equates with justice.

So, yeah, I guess a whole bunch of us still have no idea what justice means.

# death penalty # criminal justice # kids # racism # South Carolina # politics # media # CNN # justice # history

Madonna published a photo of her son on Instagram and used the n-word in the description of the photo.
This might not offend you, as a young white guy in the UK, and it might not even offend the black friends you mention. But it clearly offended a whole lot of people and they made it clear to her that they were offended, which is why she first angrily told people “#getoff of my d–k haters!” and then later chose to apologize for the offense (albeit poorly).
But let me say one more thing: I don’t think it’s ever appropriate for white people to make a decision about when to use a term that has historically been used to marginalize and dehumanize; I feel the same way with regard to straight people and slurs about homosexuality, or Christians and slurs about Judaism, or men and slurs about women … and so on.
That you feel comfortable using these slurs and that you think they’ve simply “become commonplace today in society” is emblematic of a problem I think we would do well to address: Words have power. They might not feel particularly powerful to you, but stepping outside the bubble of your own privilege to consider how others might experience your usage of slurs will matter a great deal in the long run for you and for the pluralistic society in which you live.

Madonna published a photo of her son on Instagram and used the n-word in the description of the photo.

This might not offend you, as a young white guy in the UK, and it might not even offend the black friends you mention. But it clearly offended a whole lot of people and they made it clear to her that they were offended, which is why she first angrily told people “#getoff of my d–k haters!” and then later chose to apologize for the offense (albeit poorly).

But let me say one more thing: I don’t think it’s ever appropriate for white people to make a decision about when to use a term that has historically been used to marginalize and dehumanize; I feel the same way with regard to straight people and slurs about homosexuality, or Christians and slurs about Judaism, or men and slurs about women … and so on.

That you feel comfortable using these slurs and that you think they’ve simply “become commonplace today in society” is emblematic of a problem I think we would do well to address: Words have power. They might not feel particularly powerful to you, but stepping outside the bubble of your own privilege to consider how others might experience your usage of slurs will matter a great deal in the long run for you and for the pluralistic society in which you live.

# Madonna # questions # racism # lgbtq # politics # apology # anti-semitism

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