Tag Archives: US news

The death of truth: how we gave up on facts and ended up with Trump

Truth decay has been spreading for decades. How can we stop alternative facts from bringing down democracy, asks Michiko Kakutani

Two of the most monstrous regimes in human history came to power in the 20th century, and both were predicated on the violation and despoiling of truth, on the knowledge that cynicism and weariness and fear can make people susceptible to the lies and false promises of leaders bent on unconditional power. As Hannah Arendt wrote in her 1951 book The Origins of Totalitarianism, The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (ie the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (ie the standards of thought) no longer exist.

Arendts words increasingly sound less like a dispatch from another century than a chilling description of the political and cultural landscape we inhabit today a world in which fake news and lies are pumped out in industrial volume by Russian troll factories, emitted in an endless stream from the mouth and Twitter feed of the president of the United States, and sent flying across the world through social media accounts at lightning speed. Nationalism, tribalism, dislocation, fear of social change and the hatred of outsiders are on the rise again as people, locked in their partisan silos and filter bubbles, are losing a sense of shared reality and the ability to communicate across social and sectarian lines.

This is not to draw a direct analogy between todays circumstances and the overwhelming horrors of the second world war era, but to look at some of the conditions and attitudes what Margaret Atwood has called the danger flags in George Orwells Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm that make a people susceptible to demagoguery and political manipulation, and nations easy prey for would-be autocrats. To examine how a disregard for facts, the displacement of reason by emotion, and the corrosion of language are diminishing the value of truth, and what that means for the world.

The term truth decay has joined the post-truth lexicon that includes such now familiar phrases as fake news and alternative facts. And its not just fake news either: its also fake science (manufactured by climate change deniers and anti-vaxxers, who oppose vaccination), fake history (promoted by Holocaust revisionists and white supremacists), fake Americans on Facebook (created by Russian trolls), and fake followers and likes on social media (generated by bots).

Donald Trump, the 45th president of the US, lies so prolifically and with such velocity that the Washington Post calculated hed made 2,140 false or misleading claims during his first year in office an average of 5.9 a day. His lies about everything from the investigations into Russian interference in the election, to his popularity and achievements, to how much TV he watches are only the brightest blinking red light among many warnings of his assault on democratic institutions and norms. He routinely assails the press, the justice system, the intelligence agencies, the electoral system and the civil servants who make the US government tick.

Nor is the assault on truth confined to America. Around the world, waves of populism and fundamentalism are elevating appeals to fear and anger over reasoned debate, eroding democratic institutions, and replacing expertise with the wisdom of the crowd. False claims about the UKs financial relationship with the EU helped swing the vote in favour of Brexit, and Russia ramped up its sowing of dezinformatsiya in the runup to elections in France, Germany, the Netherlands and other countries in concerted propaganda efforts to discredit and destabilise democracies.

How did this happen? How did truth and reason become such endangered species, and what does the threat to them portend for our public discourse and the future of our politics and governance?

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jul/14/the-death-of-truth-how-we-gave-up-on-facts-and-ended-up-with-trump

Republican congressman explains sea-level rise: it’s rocks falling into the sea

Mo Brooks rejects notion that global warming is causing sea levels to increase, and says: What about the White Cliffs of Dover?

A member of Congress has suggested that the White Cliffs of Dover tumbling into the English Channel was causing rising sea levels.

Republican Mo Brooks of Alabama pushed back at the notion that rising sea levels were the result of global warming in a hearing of the House Science, Space and Technology on Wednesday.

Instead, Brooks pointed to silt deposition as well as erosion as a cause of rising sea levels. Questioning scientist Phil Duffy of the Woods Hole Research Center, Brooks postulated that silt and mud washed by rivers into the ocean caused water levels to rise as it settled on the sea floor. Now you have got less space in those oceans because the bottom is moving up, he said.

He went on: What about the White Cliffs of Dover [and] California, where you have the waves crashing against the shorelines, and time and time again you have the cliffs crashing into the sea? All of that displaces water which forces it to rise, does it not?

Duffy answered: Im pretty sure on human timescales, those are minuscule effects.

The questioning went on as Brooks argued the Antarctic ice sheet was actually growing. A recent study reported that the ice sheet had shrunk by 1,463km from 2010 to 2016.

Duffy disagreed, noting that we have satellite records clearly documenting a shrinkage of the Antarctic ice sheet and an acceleration of that shrinkage, citing the National Snow and Ice Data Center and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for his data.

However, Brooks insisted: Well, Ive got a Nasa base in my district, and apparently, theyre telling you one thing and me a different thing.

Brooks said: There are plenty of studies that have come that show with respect to Antarctica that the total ice sheet, particularly that above land, is increasing, not decreasing. Now, you could make a different argument if you want to talk about Greenland or the Arctic.

Brooks, a graduate of Duke University and University of Alabama School of Law, was first elected to Congress in 2010 from his North Alabama district. In 2017, he mounted an unsuccessful bid for the US Senate vacated by attorney general Jeff Sessions. Brooks finished third in the Republican primary behind the eventual nominee Roy Moore as well as appointed incumbent Luther Strange.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/17/republican-congressman-mo-brooks-sea-level-rise-rocks

Nearly every mass killer is a man. We should all be talking more about that | Gary Younge

After the Toronto attack, there should be a debate about toxic masculinity, says Guardian columnist Gary Younge

From the Oklahoma bombing to the massacre in Norway it is always the same. In the immediate aftermath of mass murder, the initial hypothesis is that it must be a Muslim. And so it was on Monday that, within minutes of a van mowing down pedestrians in Toronto, a far-right lynching party was mobilised on social media looking for jihadis. Paul Joseph Watson, of conspiracy site Infowars, announced, A jihadist has just killed nine people; Katie Hopkins branded the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, a terrorist shill.

But there is a far safer assumption one can generally make. For while a relatively small proportion of mass killers in North America are Muslim, across the globe they are almost all men.

There will be, though, no appeals for moderate men to denounce toxic masculinity, no extra surveillance where men congregate, no government-sponsored schemes to promote moderate manhood, or travel bans for men. Indeed, the one thing that is consistently true for such incidents, whether they are classified as terrorist or not, will for the most part go unremarked. Obviously not all men are killers. But the fact that virtually all mass killers are men should, at the very least, give pause for thought. If it were women slaying people at this rate, feminism would be in the dock. The fact they are male is both accepted and expected. Boys will be boys; mass murderers will be men.

This weeks atrocity in Toronto, where Alek Minassian stands accused of killing 10 and wounding 14, gives us yet another chance to reflect on the destructive capacity of masculinity not least because it may have been the principal motive for this attack.

Minassian is not known to have any strong religious affiliations. But according to his Facebook feed, he identified with devotees of incel (short for involuntarily celibate), which is for straight men who cant have sex despite wanting to and splits the world into Stacys (attractive women who wont sleep with them) and Chads (men who are sexually successful).

It seems innocent and adolescent that blend of pathos and priapism that helped get nerdy boys through high school. Only, Minassian was 25 and hadnt grown out of it, but into it with a vengeance. His last Facebook post read: The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!

In 2014, 22-year-old Rodger wrote a screed against, among other things, women and couples (particularly inter-racial couples), before killing seven people, including himself, and injuring 14 in Isla Vista, California. I dont know why you girls arent attracted to me but I will punish you all for it, Rodger stated in a video uploaded before the rampage. Its an injustice, a crime because Im the perfect guy and yet you throw yourselves at all these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman.

Alexandre Bissonnette, who killed six and injured 19 in a mosque in Quebec City last year, identified with Rodger and had been Googling him not long before the crime.

Elliot Rodger killed six people and himself in California in 2014. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

With tens of thousands visiting their message boards, incel is hardly marginal though arguably too amorphous and incoherent to dignify with the term movement. It is debatable how widespread the cult of Rodger might be. But the issues of misogyny and inadequacy that drive men to it characterise a far broader and deeper problem that helps to explain male violence.

On the one hand, there is the hatred of women, born for the most part from a sense of entitlement. These men do not just resent the fact that they cant get a girlfriend. They feel women are denying them the sex that is rightfully theirs. They belong to broadly the same demographic as the Gamergate movement earlier this decade, in which male gamers systematically harassed female game developers and media critics, subjecting them to rape and death threats, and publishing details of their personal lives online.

These men, wherever they are, now have more political space than they used to. There is considerable overlap with the American hard right. And they have a role model in the White House in a president who was accused of rape by his first wife, boasts of grabbing women by the genitals, makes up sexual stories about women on the internet, and openly disparages their looks and intellect. In the 2005 book TrumpNation, the future president tells Timothy OBrien his favourite part in Pulp Fiction is when Sam [Jackson] had his gun out in the diner and he tells the guy to tell his girlfriend to shut up: Tell that Bitch to be cool. Say, Bitch be cool. I love those lines.

We dont know what proportion of these men go on to have abusive relationships or if they enter relationships at all. But we do know there is a significant correlation between domestic abuse and mass murder.

An Everytown for Gun Safety report last year revealed that between 2009 and 2016 more than half of mass shootings in the US were related to domestic or family violence. In a third of the public mass shootings during that time period the gunman had a history of violence against women domestic abuse is a more common trait among mass murderers than mental illness.

On the other hand, there is a deep sense of grievance. While most people avoid association with failure, these men are attracted to it. Their inadequacy is central both to their identity and their rage. They are not the men they want or need to be; they do not have the status they feel was their birthright. This is the fault of others and somebody, anybody, must therefore pay. The amok man, writes Douglas Kellner in Guys and Guns Amok, describing the man likely to commit a mass killing, is patently out of his mind But his rampage is preceded by lengthy brooding over failure and is carefully planned as a means of deliverance from an unbearable situation.

While the desire to dominate and the embrace of failure may appear contradictory, they are in fact part of the same pathology. The rage stems from the fact that the very thing they feel entitled to womens bodies, womens lives, womens obeisance is not available to them. They hate the thing they cannot have. And of course they hate themselves for their inability to get it.

If ever there was an illustration of how a system of patriarchy demeans and depletes us all, this is it. Unable to take advantage of the male privileges they believe they are owed, they feel inadequate and grow resentful, and a handful become violent. Often awkward, shy and unconfident, they cannot meet the standards of machismo that patriarchy demands. They think feminism will destroy them. But in fact it is their greatest chance of liberation, since the less women are forced to conform to preconceived notions of femininity, the more space there is within masculinity for them to be themselves. As such, they are not only the perpetrators of misogyny but the products and, ultimately, the victims of it.

Gary Younge is editor-at-large for the Guardian

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/26/mass-killer-toronto-attack-man-men

Fake news sharing in US is a rightwing thing, says study

University of Oxford project finds Trump supporters consume largest volume of junk news on Facebook and Twitter

Fake news sharing in US is a rightwing thing, says study

University of Oxford project finds Trump supporters consume largest volume of junk news on Facebook and Twitter

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/feb/06/sharing-fake-news-us-rightwing-study-trump-university-of-oxford

Mueller charges 13 Russians with interfering in US election to help Trump

DoJ indictment alleges Russian operatives communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign

Mueller charges 13 Russians with interfering in US election to help Trump

DoJ indictment alleges Russian operatives communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/16/robert-mueller-russians-charged-election

World’s witnessing a new Gilded Age as billionaires wealth swells to $6tn

Not since the time of the Carnegies, Rockefellers and Vanderbilts at the turn of the 20th century was so much owned by so few

The worlds super-rich hold the greatest concentration of wealth since the US Gilded Age at the turn of the 20th century, when families like the Carnegies, Rockefellers and Vanderbilts controlled vast fortunes.

Billionaires increased their combined global wealth by almost a fifth last year to a record $6tn (4.5tn) more than twice the GDP of the UK. There are now 1,542 dollar billionaires across the world, after 145 multi-millionaires saw their wealth tick over into nine-zero fortunes last year, according to the UBS / PwC Billionaires report.

Josef Stadler, the lead author of the report and UBSs head of global ultra high net worth, said his billionaire clients were concerned that growing inequality between rich and poor could lead to a strike back.

Were at an inflection point, Stadler said. Wealth concentration is as high as in 1905, this is something billionaires are concerned about. The problem is the power of interest on interest that makes big money bigger and, the question is to what extent is that sustainable and at what point will society intervene and strike back?

Stadler added: We are now two years into the peak of the second Gilded Age.

He said the $1bn question was how society would react to the concentration of so much money in the hands of so few.

Anger at so-called robber barron families who built up vast fortunes from monopolies in US rail, oil, steel and banking in the late 19th century, an era of rapid industrialisation and growing inequality in America that became known as the Gilded Age, led to President Roosevelt breaking up companies and trusts and increasing taxes on the wealthy in the early 1900s.

Will there be similarities in the way society reacts to this gilded age?, Stadler asked. Will the second age end or will it proceed?

A painting by Isaak Brodsky (1883-1939) depicts Lenin speaking to the workers of the Putilov factory, in Petrograd, 1917. There are concerns of a strike back as gulf between the rich and the poor widens. Photograph: Leemage/Corbis via Getty Images

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently said western governments should force the top 1% of earners to pay more more tax to try to reduce dangerous levels of inequality.

Stadler said media coverage of inequality and the super-rich suggested there would be an inflection point, but he said the perception that billionaires make money for themselves at the expense of the wider population was incorrect.

He added that 98% of billionaires wealth found its way back into wider society and said the worlds super-rich employed 27.7 million people not far behind the number of people in the UK workforce.

Billionaires fortunes increased by 17% on average last year due to the strong performance of their companies and investments, particularly in technology and commodities. The billionaires average return was double that achieved by the worlds stock markets and far more than the average interest rates of just 0.35% offered by UK instant-access high street bank accounts.

Stadler said that the super-richs concerns over public perceptions that they were getting wealthier at the expense of the wider population had led them to make greater philanthropic gifts and spend their money on public art galleries and sports teams.

You could say it is about ego and wanting to show off and sit in the front row, he said. But it is also about giving back.

The report said billionaires now accounted for 72 of the worlds 200 top art collectors, up from 28 in 1995. While not a fresh phenomenon, private museums are growing in number, especially in Asia, the annual UBS report said. Motivated by their passion for art, and often encouraged by favourable tax treatment, art collectors are setting up private museums all around the world to share their collections with the public.

Recent gallery openings include The Broad in Los Angeles, funded by Eli Broad the worlds 65th richest person with a $7.4bn fortune. Japanese billionaire Soichiro Fukutake is building a series of galleries to house his art collection on islands in Japans Seto Inland Sea.

The billionaire population is concerned about [inequality] and that may be why we are seeing this acceleration of publicly displaying art collections or partnering with public institutions so more of the public can enjoy what they have, said John Matthews, UBS head of private wealth management. I think its a big part of investment in sports franchises its a way for them to say I made all this money and I did it in Cleveland, Ohio, Ive got to give back to my community and one way Im going to do that is to make sure the stadium is great.

The report found that 140 of the worlds top sports teams are owned by just 109 billionaires, with two-thirds of NBA and NFL teams owned by billionaires. In the UK, nine of the 20 Premier League teams have billionaire owners, including Roman Abramovich at Chelsea, and Sheikh Mansour at Manchester City.

There is an acceleration of these transactions as we speak, with major buyers coming from China, Stadler said.

One of the billionaires told the UBS researchers he had bought sports teams because it opened doors to stars, sheikhs, famous businessmen and regular guys from around the world, all in the same room, all talking only about the ball.

The Breakers mansion built by the Vanderbilt family in Newport, Rhode Island, US. Photograph: Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images

Americas Gilded Age

The Gilded Age, from the 1870s until the early 1900s, was boom time for America, as rail opened up the country and higher wages saw an influx of millions of immigrants from Europe.

The term to describe the era of rapid industrialisation and social upheaval in the US was coined by historians in the 1920s, and was derived from Mark Twains 1873 novel The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today.

Money from London and Paris poured into the US and fuelled industrialisation and rail development, including the first transcontinental railroad that opened up vast areas of territory to mining and ranching, and cut travel time from New York to San Francisco from six months to six days.

Several industries, including oil, steel, sugar and cotton, became controlled by a few large companies, run by trusts. The trusts controlled every aspect of production, from raw materials to manufacturing and sales, enabling them to operate as monopolies in their industrial sector and keep out competitors. The trusts turned their owners into some of the richest people to ever live, and whose descendants still feature oin annual rich lists.

Anger at the wealth accrued by so few people at the apparent expense of their poorly treated workers led industrialists, including Cornelius Vanderbilt (railroads), Andrew Carnegie (steel), JP Morgan (finance) and John Jacob Astor (real estate and fur), to be dubbed robber barons. Historian TJ Stiles said the term was adopted to conjure up visions of titanic monopolists who crushed competitors, rigged markets, and corrupted government. In their greed and power, legend has it, they held sway over a helpless democracy.

President Theodore Roosevelt, elected in 1901, moved to break up the monopolies. John D Rockefellers Standard Oil was split into 34 separate companies, including the predecessors of Exxon, BP and Chevron.

The Gilded Age gave way to the Progressive Era, when the backlash against the excesses and inequalities of the earlier period prompted widespread social activism and political reform.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/oct/26/worlds-witnessing-a-new-gilded-age-as-billionaires-wealth-swells-to-6tn

US government demands details on all visitors to anti-Trump protest website

Privacy advocates call warrant for IP addresses of just one.3 million individuals who visited inauguration protest website an unconstitutional fishing expedition

The federal government needs to unmask everyone who visited an anti-Trump website with what privacy advocates have to say is an unconstitutional fishing expedition for political dissidents.

The warrant seems to become an escalation from the Department of Justices (DoJ) campaign against anti-Trump activities, such as the harsh prosecution of inauguration day protesters.

On 17 This summer, the DoJ offered an internet site-webhost, DreamHost, having a search warrant for each bit of information it possessed which was associated with an internet site which was accustomed to coordinate protests during Donald Trumps inauguration. The warrant covers those who buy and operate the website, but additionally seeks to obtain the IP addresses of just one.3 million individuals who visited it, along with the time and date of the visit and knowledge by what browser or operating-system they used.

The web site, www.disruptj20.org, was utilized to coordinate protests and civil disobedience on 20 The month of january, when Trump was inaugurated.

This unique situation which specific warrant are pure prosecutorial overreach with a highly politicized department of justice under [Attorney General Shaun] Sessions, stated Chris Ghazarian, general counsel for DreamHost. You ought to be concerned that anybody ought to be targeted only for going to a website.

The warrant is made public Monday, when DreamHost announced its intends to challenge the federal government in the court. The DoJ declined to comment. A hearing is scheduled for Friday.

The federal government has strongly prosecuted activists arrested throughout the 20 The month of january protests in Washington Electricity. In April, the united states attorneys office in Washington Electricity filed a single indictment charging greater than 217 individuals with identical crimes, including legal rioting.

Ghazarian stated that DreamHost provided the federal government with limited customer details about who owns the web site if this first received a great jury subpoena per week following the protests happened. However the government returned in This summer using the much broader search warrant.

Were a gatekeeper between your government and thousands of individuals who visited the web site, stated Ghazarian. You want to have them protected.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, that has been counseling DreamHost, characterised the warrant as unconstitutional along with a fishing expedition.

I cant conceive of the legitimate justification apart from casting your internet as broadly as you possibly can to warrant countless user logs, senior staff attorney Mark Rumold told the Protector.

Logs of IP addresses dont distinctively identify users, however they backlink to a particular physical addresses if no digital tools are utilized to mask it.

The things they could be getting is a summary of everybody that has have you been thinking about attending these protests or seeing what happening in the protests and thats the troubling aspect. Its a brief step once you have their email list for connecting the Ip to someones identity, he stated.

Wide-reaching warrants for user data are occasionally issued once the content of the website is illegal for example pirated movies or child sexual abuse imagery, but speech isn’t prohibited.

This [the web site] is pure first amendment advocacy the kind of advocacy the very first amendment is built to safeguard and promote, Rumold added. Frankly Im glad DreamHost is pushing back onto it.

It is not the very first time that the federal government has searched for to unmask people protesting against Trump or his policies.

In March this season, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a division from the homeland security department, purchased Twitter to give the telephone number, mailing addresses and IP addresses associated with @ALT_USCIS, a free account that presupposed to convey the views of dissenters inside the government.

The account, whose username is really a mention of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, is among a large number of alternative Twitter accounts established after Trump was inaugurated. The unverified accounts claimed to supply an uncensored look at civil servants who could not agree with Trumps policies.

To safeguard the identity of the individual running the account, Twitter launched a suit from the Trump administration, quarrelling it might have a grave chilling impact on it of this account particularly and the rest of the alternative agency accounts which have been produced to voice dissent to government policies.

After public outcry within the administrations overreach, CBP dropped the request.

Find out more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/14/donald-trump-inauguration-protest-website-search-warrant-dreamhost

Unlearning the myth of American innocence

The lengthy read: When she was 30, Suzy Hansen left the united states for Istanbul and started to understand that Americans won’t ever understand their very own country until they view it as all of those other world does

My mother lately found piles of my notebooks from the time I had been a little child which were full of plans in my future. I had been very ambitious. I authored out things i would do at each age: after i would get wed so when I’d have kids so when I’d open dancing studio.

After I left my small hometown for school, this type of planning stopped. The expertise of seeing a significantly new place, as college ended up being to me, upended my sense around the globe and it is options. Exactly the same factor happened after i gone to live in New You are able to after college, along with a couple of years later after i gone to live in Istanbul. All change is dramatic for provincial people. However the last move was the toughest. In Turkey, the upheaval was much more unsettling: before long, I started to believe that the whole first step toward my awareness would be a lie.

For those their patriotism, Americans rarely consider how their national identities relate to their own personal ones. This indifference is particular towards the psychology of white-colored Americans and it has a brief history unique towards the US. Recently, however, this national identity is becoming harder to disregard. Americans can’t travel in foreign countries without realizing the strange weight we feature around. During these years following the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and also the many wars that adopted, it is harder to gallivant around the globe absorbing its knowledge and sources for your personal use. Americans abroad now don’t have exactly the same swagger, the simple, enormous smiles. You will no longer wish to speak so loud. There’s always the vague chance of breaking something.

Some time once i gone to live in Istanbul, I purchased a notebook, and in contrast to that confident child, I authored lower not plans however a question: that do we become when we dont become Americans? When we uncover our identity once we understood it absolutely was a myth? I requested it because my years being an American abroad these days weren’t a wondrous romp of self-discovery and romance. Mine were much more of a shattering along with a shame, as well as now, I still have no idea myself.

I increased in Wall, an urban area located through the Jersey Shore, two hrs drive from New You are able to. A lot of it had been a landscape of concrete and parking lots, plastic signs and Dunkin Donuts. There wasn’t any center, no Primary Street, because there is at the majority of the enjoyable beach towns nearby, no small old cinema or architecture suggesting some kind of history or memory.

The majority of my buddies parents were teachers, nurses, cops or electricians, aside from the rare father who labored within the City, and a number of Italian families who did less legal things. My parents were descendants of working-class Danish, Italian and Irish immigrants who’d little memory of the European origins, and my relatives ran an affordable public course, where I labored like a hot-dog girl within the summers. The politics I learned about like a kid revolved around taxes and immigrants, and never anything else. Bill Clinton wasn’t famous the house. (In 2016, most of Wall voted Trump.)

I was all loyal, however i cant even conceive of the items else we might have been, because our entire experience was domestic, interior, American. We visited church every sunday, until church there was a time usurped by soccer games. I do not remember a powerful feeling of social engagement. Rather I’d the sensation that individuals might take things of your stuff should you didnt stay vigilant. Our goals continued to be local: homecoming queen, condition champs, a scholarship to Trenton Condition, barbecues outside. The lone Asian kid within our class studied hard and visited Berkeley the Indian visited Yale. Black people never found Wall. The planet was white-colored, Christian the planet was us.

We didn’t study world maps, because worldwide geography, like a subject, have been eliminated of numerous condition curriculums lengthy before. There wasn’t any sense of america being one country on the planet of numerous countries. The Soviet Union appeared some thing such as the Dying Star flying overhead, prepared to laser us to smithereens than the usual country with individuals inside it.

Boardwalk empire a variety shop in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Photo: Michael S Williamson/The Washington Post

I have TV memories of world events. Even in my mind, they appear on a screen: Oliver North testifying within the Iran-Contra proceedings the damaged, evil-seeming face of Panamas dictator Manuel Noriega the film-like footage, all flashes of sunshine, from the bombing of Baghdad throughout the first Gulf war. Mostly things i remember of this war in Iraq was singing God Bless the united states around the chartered bus I had been 13 putting on little yellow ribbons and achieving teary-eyed when i appreciated the recording from the song I’d seen on MTV.

And Im proud to become a united states

Where a minimum of I understand Im free

That a minimum of is funny. I was free at the minimum i was that. Everybody else would be a chump, simply because they didnt have that apparent factor. Whatever it meant, it had been the factor that people had, and nobody else did. It had been goodness-given gift, our superpower.

When I acquired to highschool, I understood that communism choose to go away, but never learned what communism had really been (bad was enough). Religion, politics, race they washed over me like troubled stuff that clearly meant something to a person somewhere, however that didn’t have relationship in my experience, to Wall, to America. I certainly was clueless that that many people on the planet felt individuals connections deeply. History Americas history, the worlds history would slip interior and exterior my awareness without any resonance whatsoever.

Racism, antisemitism and prejudice, however individuals things, on some unconscious level, I have to have known. These were expressed within the anxiety about Asbury Park, that was black within the bitterness from the towns of Marlboro and Deal, that have been referred to as Jewish in the manner Hispanics appeared exotic. A lot of the Jersey Shore was segregated as though it remained as the 1950s, and thus prejudice was expressed through anxiety about anything outdoors Wall, anything outdoors the small white-colored world by which we resided. When there was something which saved us from being outwardly racist, it had been that in small towns for example Wall, specifically for women, it was vital to become nice, or good this pressure tempered habits toward overt cruelty whenever we were youthful.

I had been lucky which i were built with a mother who nourished my early-onset book addiction, a mature brother with mysteriously acquired progressive politics, along with a father who spent his nights studying obscure golf antiques, lost within the pleasures of history. Nowadays from the 1%, I’m nostalgic for Walls middle-class modesty and it is ocean-salt Jersey Shore air. But because a teen, I understood the only factor that may save me in the Wall of fear would be a good college.

I wound up in the College of Pennsylvania. The possible lack of curiosity about the broader world which i had known in Wall found another expression there, although at Penn the kids were wealthy, highly educated and apolitical. During orientation, the company school students were advised that they are the neatest people in the united states, approximately I’d heard. (Jesse Trump Junior was there then, too.) Within the late 1990s, everybody at Penn thought about being a good investment banker, and lots of would will continue to help bring lower the planet economy ten years later. However they were more educated than I had been in American literature class, they’d even heard about William Faulkner.

TV memories Lt Col Oliver North is sworn in before Congress for the Iran-Contra hearings, July 1987. Photograph: Lana Harris/AP

When my best friend from Wall revealed one night that she hadnt heard of John McEnroe or Jerry Garcia, some boys around the dormitory hall known as us ignorant, and white-colored trash, and chastised us because of not studying magazines. I was hurt, and surprised white-colored trash was something we stated about others in the Jersey Shore. My boyfriend from Wall accused me of likely to Penn exclusively to locate a boyfriend who drove a Ferrari, and also the boys at Penn made fun from the Camaros we drove in senior high school. Class in the usa wasn’t something we understood in almost any structural or intellectual way class would be a constellation of the million little materialistic cultural signifiers, and also the insult, loss or purchase of them could transform ones future entirely.

Within the finish, I selected to pursue the brand new existence Penn proposed. The children I met had parents who have been doctors or academics most of them had already even visited Europe! Penn, for those its superficiality, felt a measure nearer to a bigger world.

Still, I am unable to remember anybody knowing foreign occasions within my 4 years of school. There have been wars in Eritrea, Nepal, Afghanistan, Kosovo, East Timor, Kashmir. US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam were bombed. Panama, Nicaragua (I couldnt keep Latin American countries straight), Osama bin Laden, Clinton bombing Iraq not a chance.

I understood Saddam Hussein, which in fact had exactly the same evil resonance as communism. I recall the film Wag the Dog, a satire by which American politicians begin a fake war with foreign terrorists to draw attention away from the electorate throughout a domestic scandal which at that time was what many accused Clinton to do as he purchased a missile strike on Afghanistan throughout the Monica Lewinsky affair. Never imagined about Afghanistan. What country is at Wag your dog? Albania. There is an average American callousness within our response to the nation they chose for that movie, an indifference that stated, Some bumblefuck country, no matter which they choose.

I had been a young child from the 90s, the last decade when, based on Americas foremost intellectuals, history had ended, the united states was triumphant, the cold war won with a landslide. The historian David Schmitz has written that, with that time, the concept that America won due to its values and steadfast adherence towards the promotion of liberalism and democracy was dominating op-erectile dysfunction pages, popular magazines and also the bestseller lists. These ideas were the ambient noise, the elevator music of my most childhood.

However for me there is also an intervention an opportunity experience of the basement of Penns library. I stumbled upon a line inside a book where a historian contended that, lengthy ago, throughout the slavery era, black people and white-colored people had defined their identities towards one another. The thought in my experience wasn’t that black people had created of the identities as a result of ours, however that our white-colored identities have been composed in conscious objection to their own. Id was clueless that that people had ever endured to define our identities whatsoever, because in my experience, white-colored Americans were born fully created, completely detached from any kind of complicated past. Even today, I’m able to keep in mind that shiver of recognition that just comes whenever you learn something which expands, only a small bit, your feeling of reality. What helped me angry was this thought was something about who I was. What did I not learn about myself?

It had been due to this text which i selected in the books of James Baldwin, who provided a feeling of finding someone who understood me better, with an even more sophisticated critical arsenal than I’d myself. There is this line:

However I will always be struck, in the usa, by a psychological poverty so bottomless, along with a terror of human existence, of human touch, so deep, that almost no American seems in a position to achieve any viable, organic link between his public stance and the private existence.

Which one:

All the western nations happen to be caught inside a lie, the lie of the pretended humanism which means that their history doesn’t have moral justification, which free airline doesn’t have moral authority.

Which one:

White-colored Americans are most likely the sickest and the most harmful people, associated with a colour, found in the planet today.

I understand why this came like a shock in my experience then, at age 22, also it wasnt always while he stated I had been sick, though which was some of it. It had been while he stored calling me that factor: white-colored American. Within my reaction I justified his accusation. I understood I had been white-colored, and that i understood I had been American, but it wasn’t things i thought as my identity. For me personally, self-definition involved gender, personality, religion, education, dreams. I only considered finding myself, becoming myself, finding myself which, I hadnt known, was probably the most white-colored American factor of.

I still didn’t consider my devote the bigger world, or that possibly a whole history a brief history of white-colored Americans had something related to who I had been. My insufficient awareness permitted me to think I had been innocent, or that white-colored American wasn’t a name like Muslim or Turk.

White Americans are probably the most dangerous people in the world today author James Baldwin in New York, 1963. Photograph: Dave Pickoff/AP

Of this indifference, Baldwin wrote: White children, in the main, and whether they are rich or poor, grow up with a grasp of reality so feeble that they can very accurately be described as deluded.

Young white Americans of course go through pain, insecurity and heartache. But it is very, very rare that young white Americans come across someone who tells them in harsh, unforgiving terms that they might be merely the easy winners of an ugly game, and indeed that because of their ignorance and misused power, they might be the losers within a greater moral universe.

In 2007, after I had worked for six years as a journalist in New York, I won a writing fellowship that would send me to Turkey for two years. I had applied for it on a whim. No part of me expected to win the thing. Even as my friends wished me congratulations, I detected a look of concern on their faces, as if I was crazy to leave all this, as if 29 was a little too late to be finding myself. I had never even been to Turkey before.

In the weeks before my departure, I spent hours explaining Turkeys international relevance to my bored loved ones, no doubt deploying the cliche that Istanbul was the bridge between east and west. I told everyone that I chose Turkey because I wanted to learn about the Islamic world. The secret reason I wanted to go was that Baldwin had lived in Istanbul in the 1960s, on and off, for almost a decade. I had seen a documentary about Baldwin that said he felt more comfortable as a black, gay man in Istanbul than in Paris or New York.

When I heard that, it made so little sense to me, sitting in my Brooklyn apartment, that a space opened in the universe. I couldnt believe that New York could be more illiberal than a place such as Turkey, because I couldnt conceive of how prejudiced New York and Paris had been in that era; and because I thought that as you went east, life degraded into the past, the opposite of progress. The idea of Baldwin in Turkey somehow placed Americas race problem, and America itself, in a mysterious and tantalising international context. I took a chance that Istanbul might be the place where the secret workings of history would be revealed.

In Turkey and elsewhere, in fact, I would feel an almost physical sensation of intellectual and emotional discomfort, while trying to grasp a reality of which I had no historical or cultural understanding. I would go, as a journalist, to write a story about Turkey or Greece or Egypt or Afghanistan, and inevitably someone would tell me some part of our shared history theirs with America of which I knew nothing. If I didnt know this history, then what kind of story did I plan to tell?

City watch US army troops stand guard at a checkpoint in Baghdad, Iraq, in August 2007. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

My learning process abroad was threefold: I was learning about foreign countries; I was learning about Americas role in the world; and I was also slowly understanding my own psychology, temperament and prejudices. No matter how well I knew the predatory aspects of capitalism, I still perceived Turkeys and Greeces economic advances as progress, a type of maturation. Regardless of how deeply I understood the USs manipulation of Egypt because of its own foreign-policy aims, I’d never considered and may not grasp how American policies really affected the lives of person Egyptians, beyond engendering bitterness and anti-Americanism. Regardless of how much I assumed that no American was well-outfitted for nation-building, I figured I saw good intentions for the Americans in Afghanistan. I’d not have accepted it, or considered to express it, but searching back, I understand that deep within my awareness I figured that America what food was in the finish of some transformative spectrum of civilisation, and everybody else was attempting to get caught up.

American exceptionalism didn’t only define the united states like a special nation among lesser nations additionally, it required that Americans believe they, too, were in some way better than others. How could I, being an American, understand an overseas people, when subconsciously I didn’t extend probably the most fundamental belief with other people who I extended to myself? It was a limitation which was beyond racism, beyond prejudice and beyond ignorance. It was a type of nationalism so insidious that I never recognized to refer to it as nationalism it was a self-delusion so complete which i couldn’t see where it started and ended, couldn’t root it, couldn’t destroy it.

In my first couple of several weeks in Istanbul, I resided a formless type of existence, days dissolving in to the nights. I’d no office to visit, no job to help keep, and that i was 3 decades old, a time where people either decide to develop or remain stuck within the exploratory, idle phase recently-late youth. Beginning once again abroad making buddies, learning a brand new language, looking for the right path via a city meant probably selecting the second. I spent many nights out before the wee hrs like the evening I drank beer having a youthful Turkish person called Emre, who’d attended college having a friend in the US.

A buddy had explained that Emre was probably the most brilliant people he’d ever met. Because the evening passed, I had been gaining so much from his analysis of Turkish politics, particularly when I requested him whether he voted for Erdoans Justice and Development party (AKP), and that he spat back, outraged, Have you election for George W Bush? Until that time I never realized the 2 may be equivalent.

Then, three beers in, Emre pointed out the US decided the September 11 attacks. I’d heard this before. Conspiracy theories were common in Poultry for instance, once the military claimed that the PKK, the Kurdish militant group, had attacked a police station, some Turks believed the military itself tried it they deemed it also in instances where Turkish civilians passed away. Quite simply, the concept was that rightwing forces, like the military, bombed neutral targets, or perhaps rightwing targets, so that they could then blame it around the leftwing groups, like the PKK. To Turks, bombing any country appeared like possible.

Seriously, you do not think that, I stated.

Why don’t you? he clicked. I actually do.

Nevertheless its a conspiracy theory.

He chuckled. Americans always dismiss this stuff as conspiracy theories. Its all of those other world who’ve had to cope with your conspiracies.

I overlooked him. I suppose I’ve belief in American journalism, I stated. Another person might have figured this out whether it were true.

He smiled. Im sorry, there is no way they didnt have something related to it. And today this war? he stated, talking about world war 2 in Iraq. Its impossible the U . s . States couldnt stop this type of factor, and impossible the Muslims could accomplish it.

Some days later, a bomb went off within the Istanbul neighborhood of Gngren. Another explosive device exploded from a garbage bin nearby after 10pm, killing 17 people and injuring 150. Nobody understood who made it happen. Everything week, Turks debated: could it have been al-Qaida? The PKK? The DHKP/C, a radical leftist group? Or possibly: the deep condition?

The deep condition a method of mafia-like paramilitary organisations operating outdoors from the law, sometimes in the behest from the official military would be a whole other story. Turks described the deep condition have been created throughout the cold war as a means of countering communism, after which mutated right into a pressure for destroying all threats towards the Turkish condition. The ability that some Turks related to this entity sometimes strained credulity. However the point was that Turks have been living for a long time with the concept that some secret pressure controlled the fate of the nation.

Actually, aspects of the deep condition were rumoured to possess had ties towards the CIA throughout the cold war, despite the fact that this too smacked of the conspiracy theory, it was the matter that Turkish people resided in. The sheer number of international interventions the united states launched in individuals decades is astonishing, especially individuals during years when American power was considered comparatively innocent. There have been the effective assassinations: Patrice Lumumba, pm from the Democratic Republic of Congo, in 1961 General Rafael Trujillo of tobago, and in 1961 Ngo Dinh Diem, president of South Vietnam, in 1963. There have been the unsuccessful assassinations: Castro, Castro, and Castro. There have been balance wished-for assassinations: Nasser, Nasser, Nasser. And, obviously, US-backed, -supported or -staged regime changes: Iran, Guatemala, Iraq, Congo, Syria, Dominican Republic, South Vietnam, Indonesia, South america, Chile, Bolivia, Uruguay and Argentina. The Americans trained or supported secret police forces everywhere from Cambodia to Colombia, the Philippines to Peru, Iran to Vietnam. Many Turks thought that the united states a minimum of encouraged the 1971 and 1980 military coups in Poultry, though I possibly could find little about these occasions in almost any conventional histories anywhere.

What I saw could be that the results of such meddling were similar to individuals of September 11 just like huge, existence-altering and disruptive towards the country and also to peoples lives. Possibly Emre didn’t think that September 11 would be a straightforward affair of evidence and proof because his experience his reality trained him that hardly ever were these surreally monumental occasions easily explainable. I didn’t think Emres theory concerning the attacks was plausible. However I started to question whether there is much web site people from other countries paranoia the Americans planned September 11 and also the Americans paranoia that the world should purchase September 11 by having an endless global fight against terror.

The the next time a Turktold me she believed the united states had bombed itself on September 11 (I heard this with a few regularity this time around it had been from the youthful student at Istanbuls Boazii College), I repeated my claim about believing within the integrity of yankee journalism. She responded, a little sheepishly, Well, right, we cant trust our journalism. We cant take that as a given.

The language take that as a given provided pause. Getting resided in Poultry for over a year, witnessing how nationalistic propaganda had inspired peoples views around the globe as well as themselves, I wondered where the idea within our objectivity and rigour in journalism came. Why would Americans be objective and everybody else subjective?

I figured that because Poultry had poorly functioning institutions they didnt possess a reliable justice system, when compared with a united states system I thought to be functional it frequently felt as though there wasn’t any truth. Turks were always sceptical of official histories, and blithely dismissive from the governments line. But could it have been rather the Turks, using their beautiful scepticism, were really just less nationalistic than me?

American exceptionalism had declared my country unique on the planet, the main one truly free and modern country, and rather of ever thinking about that that exceptionalism was just like every other countrys nationalistic propaganda, I’d internalised this belief. Wasnt that indeed what effective propaganda was designed to do? I never asked the institution of yankee journalism outdoors from the standards it looking for itself which, in the end, was the only method I’d discern its flaws and prejudices rather, I recognized individuals standards because the best standards any country would have.

Red state Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoan attends a rally following a failed coup attempt last year. Photograph: Osman Orsal/Reuters

By the end of my first year abroad, I read US newspapers differently. I could see how alienating they were to foreigners, the way articles spoke always from a position of American power, treating foreign countries as if they were Americas misbehaving children. I listened to my compatriots with critical ears: the way our discussion of foreign policy had become infused since September 11 with these officious, official words, bureaucratic corporate military language: collateral damage, imminent threat, freedom, freedom, freedom.

Even so, I was conscious that if I had long ago succumbed to the pathology of American nationalism, I wouldnt know it even if I understood the history of injustice in America, even if I was furious about the invasion of Iraq. I was a white American. I still had this fundamental faith in my country in a way that suddenly, in comparison to the Turks, made me feel immature and naive.

I came to notice that a community of activists and intellectuals in Turkey the liberal ones were indeed questioning what Turkishness meant in new ways. Many of them had been brainwashed in their schools about their own history; about Atatrk, Turkeys first president concerning the supposed evil from the Armenians and also the Kurds and also the Arabs concerning the fragility of the borders and also the rapaciousness of outsiders contributing to the historic and eternal goodness from the Turkish republic.

It’s different within the U . s . States, I remember when i stated, not entirely realising things i was saying before the words arrived on the scene. I’d never been known as upon to describe this. We’re told it’s the finest country on the planet. The factor is, we can’t reconsider that narrative how you do at the moment, because to all of us, that isnt propaganda, that’s truth. And also to us, that isnt nationalism, its patriotism. And also the factor is, we can’t question any one of it because simultaneously, all we’re being told is when free-thinking we’re, that we’re free. Therefore we have no idea there’s anything wrong in believing our country may be the finest on the planet. The entire factor kind of convinces you that the collective awareness on the planet found that very conclusion.

Wow, a buddy once responded. How strange. That’s a very quiet type of fascism, is it not?

It had been a basic type of fascism that will mean I’d always see Poultry as underneath the country I originated from, and that means I assumed my distinctively benevolent country to possess distinctively benevolent intentions for the peoples around the globe.

In that nights conspiracy theories, Emre had alleged, as people from other countries frequently did, which i would be a spy. The data which i was collecting like a journalist, Emre stated, really was getting used for another thing. Being an American emissary within the wider world, covering people from other countries, governments, economies partaking in certain bigger system and plan of products, I had been a real estate agent in some way. Emre resided within the American world like a foreigner, as someone less effective, as someone to whom one newspaper article can often mean war, a treadmill misplaced opinion can often mean an intervention through the Worldwide Financial Fund. My attitude, my prejudice, my insufficient generosity might be entirely false, inaccurate or damaging, but could be taken for truth through the magazines and newspapers I authored for, thus shaping perceptions of Poultry for good.

Years later, a united states journalist explained he loved employed by a significant newspaper since the White-colored House see clearly, while he could influence policy. Emre had explained how likely it had been I’d screw this up. He was telling me: first, spy, don’ harm.

Primary photograph: Burak Kara/Getty Images for that Protector

Adapted from Notes on overseas: A United States Abroad inside a Publish-American World by Suzy Hansen, which is printed by Farrar, Straus and Giroux on 15 August

Stick to the Lengthy Continue reading Twitter at @gdnlongread, or join the lengthy read weekly email here.

Find out more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/08/unlearning-the-myth-of-american-innocence

What is a black professor in America allowed to say?

The long read: Tommy J Curry thought forcing a public discussion about race and violence was part of his job. It turned out that people didnt want to hear it

One Thursday morning in May, Tommy J Curry walked through the offices of the philosophy department at Texas A&M University with a police officer at his side and violence on his mind. The threats had started a few days earlier. Since you said white people need to be killed Im in fear of my life, one person had written via email. The next time I see you on campus I might just have to pre-emptively defend myself you dumb fat nigger. You are done. Curry didnt know if that person was lurking on the university grounds. But Texas is a gun-friendly state, and Texas A&M is a gun-friendly campus, and he took the threat seriously.

Curry supports the right to bear arms. It was part of how he ended up in this situation. In 2012 he had appeared on a satellite radio show and delivered a five-minute talk on how uneasy white people are with the idea of black people talking about owning guns and using them to combat racist forces. When a recording of the talk resurfaced in May, people thought the tenured professor was telling black people to kill white people. This idea swept through conservative media and into the fever swamps of Reddit forums and racist message boards. The threats followed.

Anonymous bigots werent the only ones making Curry feel unwanted. Michael K Young, the president of Texas A&M, had called the professors comments disturbing and contrary to the values of the university. Curry was taken aback. His remarks on the radio were not a regrettable slip of the tongue. They were part of why the university had hired him.

A police officer met Curry inside his academic building and rode with him in the elevator to the philosophy department, on the third floor. In a hallway, the professor pointed to photos of his graduate students so the police officer would know who was supposed to be there. The officer told him to keep an eye out for unfamiliar faces. Curry picked up his mail. There were a few angry letters, and also an envelope marked with a Texas A&M logo. He put the hate mail into a folder and carried the whole bundle downstairs. Back in the car with his wife, he opened the university envelope. Inside was a copy of a letter from a campus official that he had received a few days earlier by email before his inbox was flooded with racist messages.

I am delighted to offer my congratulations on your promotion to Professor at Texas A&M University effective September 1, 2017, said the letter. This measure of your achievement is an indicator of the very high esteem in which you are held by your peers. We are honored to have you on our faculty.

As the car pulled away from the campus, Curry reread the letter and rolled his eyes. He has not been back since.

The drama that unfolded at Texas A&M is about a scholar who was welcomed by a public university because of his unusual perspective, and who became estranged from the university for the same reason. It is a story about what a university values, how it expresses those values under pressure, and how that pressure works. It is about freedom and control, reason and fear, good faith and bad. Mostly, it is a story about a black man in America who did exactly what he said he set out to do, and who became a cautionary tale.

It starts in Lake Charles, Louisiana, where Curry grew up in the 1980s and 90s. His family lived in a mostly black neighbourhood on the east side of the city. The white folks lived on the other side of the highway. At the Woolworth store downtown, he saw the faded outline of letters that remained visible on the window glass: No Coloreds. Currys father sold insurance. He told his son stories about how white people used to break into black peoples homes and terrorise them. The family kept a shotgun behind the couch, and Tommy Sr owned a pistol as well. He constantly told us that there is a very real threat of white violence, said Curry. The idea of black people having a right to defend themselves is just something I grew up with.

The Texas A&M University campus. Photograph: Spencer Selvidge/Reuters

His mother, a social worker, told him to arm himself with an education. Curry was a serious child who hoarded information. He joined his high schools debate team, where he learned how to arrange information into arguments and recite them at breakneck speed. He became accustomed to being the only black voice in the room, although he occasionally met other black boys in the debating scene. One was Rob Redding, a preachers son from Atlanta who was going to college in Lake Charles. Redding, who was a few years older, was struck by the high-schoolers confidence. I remember him coming to the debate room, and a lot of people thinking he was very bright, but maybe a little too self-confident, too self-assured, said Redding. Even some black people, who should know better, would think he was too cocky.

Curry used debate scholarships to attend Southern Illinois University, where he won an award for his prowess as a cross-examiner. After getting his masters degree in Chicago, he went back to Southern Illinois to work on a doctorate in philosophy. He showed little deference to the canon, often challenging the universal claims that western philosophers made in their work. That annoyed a lot of people in the department, but Currys adviser, Kenneth Stikkers, considered Curry a model student who inhaled the texts he recommended, reading them closely even if he disagreed with them. It was always a delight when hed come to see me, said Stikkers, because I was always going to learn something.

Stikkers, who is white, understood that not everybody would find Currys iconoclasm as energising as he did. Philosophers consider themselves open-minded, he said, but the department was still a white neighbourhood with expectations of how a black guest should behave. Curry was not interested in playing that game. In comments on Currys papers, Stikkers found himself repeating a refrain: Dont unnecessarily antagonise your audience. Currys patience for that advice was limited. He would say at times that he liked nothing more than pissing white people off, said Stikkers. I think he did get a certain thrill from that.

In 2004, while Curry was studying at Southern Illinois, the people of that state elected a young, mixed-race law professor to the US Senate. Liberals at the university had high hopes for Barack Obama as a unifying political figure, and a symbol of how far US race relations had come. Curry did not share their optimism. In the days after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he heard that the police had opened fire on a group of unarmed black families on the Danziger Bridge in New Orleans. It would take years for courts to determine the guilt of the officers, but Curry didnt need an official judgment to convince him it was true. The aftermath of the hurricane bolstered his belief that anti-black racism in the US was a storm that would never end.

The evidence of the last 50 years has convincingly demonstrated the failure of multicultural coalitions, civil rights legislation and integration, he wrote in a 2007 paper. The current task of radical Black thought now rests in the development of alternatives in light of this disappointment. Those alternatives might include violence: Historically, the use of violence has been a serious option in the liberation of African people from the cultural tyranny of whiteness, he wrote, and should again be investigated as a plausible and in some sense necessary political option.

It was a provocative thesis, and Curry knew it. He did not consider himself a violent person. Even when he was a teenage socialist, his revolutionary vision had been passive: white capitalism would collapse under its own weight, and black unionists would help build a more egalitarian society in its ruins. Anyway, philosophy was supposed to be about asking hard questions without fear or prejudice, and Curry was not interested in steering clear of topics just because they made his white colleagues uneasy.

Stikkers urged him to pre-emptively defend himself against charges that he wanted to incite violence. In the paper, Curry explained that he wanted to raise violent resistance in the context of US racism not as a call to arms, but as an open-ended political question. Still, the young philosopher knew he was treading on dangerous ground. To some, he wrote, for a black scholar to even ask if violence should be used to combat racism is a career faux pas.

The paper was published in Radical Philosophy Today, and Curry put it on his curriculum vitae. Two years later, he earned his doctorate from Southern Illinois, and Texas A&M brought him on as a diversity hire, he said. The universitys philosophy department, like philosophy departments everywhere, was all white. They sold it to me based on the idea that they were trying to change, he said.

Black philosophers are rare in academe. In 2013 a study counted 141 black professors, instructors and graduate students working at US colleges, accounting for about 1% of the field. At Texas A&M, Curry turned heads almost immediately. In 2010 he taught a course that used hip-hop as a lens for philosophical ideas. The rapper 50 Cent was on the syllabus alongside Thomas Hobbes.

Curry didnt want to confine his teaching to the classroom. In 2012 he reconnected with Redding, the acquaintance from his debating days in Lake Charles, who had gone on to become a radio host. His show, the Redding News Review, played online and was broadcast in several cities. Redding began featuring Curry in a segment called Talking Tough With Tommy. Every Thursday the professor would call in and lecture about race, fear and complacency during the Obama years. He warned listeners of what might happen as white America began to feel the levers of power slipping from its grasp. We despise black people who are pessimistic about the political situation, he said in one episode, as if history hasnt already borne out what happens when black people make progress, even if its illusory.

Earlier that year, grim news from a Florida suburb had reminded the nation of how precarious the political situation was, no matter who was in the White House. Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, had been stalked and killed in a gated community where his fathers girlfriend lived. George Zimmerman, a neighbourhood watch volunteer, had seen Martin and assumed he was up to no good. He grabbed his gun and followed Martin. There was a confrontation. Martin broke Zimmermans nose and injured the back of his head; Zimmerman then shot Martin in the chest. The case brought attention to stand-your-ground laws, which gave the residents of some states, including Florida, the right to use lethal force rather than retreat if they fear they might be in serious danger. (In court, Zimmerman was later acquitted.)

That December, Django Unchained was released in cinemas. The film starred Jamie Foxx as a black gunslinger in the antebellum south who frees his wife and murders her white slavers. In a Saturday Night Live monologue, Foxx joked about how great it was that he got to kill all the white people in the movie, prompting some white pundits to accuse him of racism.

Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio in Django Unchained. Photograph: Allstar/Weinstein Company/Sportsphoto

Curry made plans to talk about Django on Reddings show. He wanted to place the film in the context of Nat Turners slave revolt of 1831, the writings of the civil rights leader Robert F Williams, and the history of black people taking up arms. Once again, conjuring visions of black-on-white violence would be risky. The audience this time was not just the subscribers of Radical Philosophy Today. Currys words would go out on the public airwaves and the internet. He knew that saying that would be controversial, said Redding. They decided the professor should focus on self-defence.

When it came time to record the segment, Curry spoke without a script. When we have this conversation about violence or killing white people, it has to be looked at in these kinds of historical terms, he said. And the fact that weve had no one address, like, how relevant and how solidified this kind of tradition is, for black people saying, Look, in order to be equal, in order to be liberated, some white people may have to die. Ive just been immensely disappointed, because what we look at, week after week, is national catastrophe after catastrophe where black people, black children, are still dying.

White conservatives speak reverently of gun rights, said Curry. But when we turn the conversation back and say, Does the black community ever need to own guns? Does the black community have a need to protect itself? Does the black individual have a need to protect himself from police officers?, we dont have that conversation at all.

The segment aired, and nothing happened. Redding posted Currys piece on YouTube in December 2012 with the title Dr. Tommy Curry on killing whites, then forgot about it.

Until Rod Dreher found it.

Dreher, too, is from Louisiana. Born 12 years before Curry, he grew up in St Francisville, a small town 160 miles north-east of Lake Charles. Only a few years before he was born, white vigilantes there had stalked and terrorised black men who had tried to register to vote in the town. In 1963, a tenant farmer named James Payne told a justice department official that a white mob had showed up at his house a day later. The intruders disarmed him, threatened to burn his family alive, and fired a bullet from his own pistol into the ground between his legs.

Dreher had a fling with progressive politics during his college years, at Louisiana State University, but his ideology took a right turn and he moved to the north-east, where he became a writer, cultivating an urbane Christian conservatism. Personal experience made him wary of vigilantism. In a 2001 column for the New York Post, Dreher bemoaned an elaborate funeral procession that black mourners had arranged for Aaliyah, the 22-year-old R&B artist who had died in a plane crash. A traffic-snarling, horse-drawn cortege in honor of a pop singer most people have never heard of? he wrote. Give us a break!

Dreher has vivid memories of what happened next. Callers flooded his voice mailbox with messages. They cursed him out, hurled antisemitic slurs (Dreher was raised Methodist and had converted to Catholicism), called him racist and said he should be fired. All of the callers had black accents, he later recalled. Dreher tried to brush it off. He recorded a cheeky voicemail greeting that instructed his critics to press 1 to leave a death threat, 2 to leave a bomb threat, 3 to get him fired, and so on. Still, the outrage scared him. Every time a black man got within 10 feet of me, I thought: Could this be one of the people who made the death threat? he wrote in a blogpost years later.

Dreher came to regret the Aaliyah column, admitting that it was insensitive, but he nevertheless saw himself as a victim of racial venom coursing through parochial networks. He blamed black radio hosts for using their influence to mark him as the enemy of a race. He eventually moved back to Louisiana and cultivated an online following as a blogger for The American Conservative magazine. His take on the Trayvon Martin case was that Martin had overreacted to Zimmerman confronting him with a gun, and that black people had overreacted to Zimmermans just acquittal. Dreher didnt see Django Unchained, he said, because revenge fantasies were corrupting. His audience eventually grew to about a million readers a month.

By the time Dreher learned about Curry earlier this year, he was writing regularly about campus politics, which he thought had grown more toxic since he was in college. The racial terrorism of the 1960s was in the past, as far as he was concerned, but the social-justice warriors remained on the warpath. Worse, college administrators indulged those students petty outrages.

In spring, a reader sent Dreher an email, telling him that a black professor at Texas A&M was saying racist things about white people, and the university was letting it happen. (The tipster used a pseudonym, according to Dreher, but he guessed it was a student.) He Googled Curry and soon found the killing white people YouTube clip that Redding had posted. He also found the professors 2007 paper on violence against whiteness. To his ears, Curry sounded like a bully. That rat-a-tat-tat way of talking reminded me of people Ive encountered in the past who are so busy talking at you that they dont actually listen, said Dreher. He reminded me of political and religious extremists Ive run across in my life in that way. That stuff sets me on edge.

So he decided to expose Curry on his blog. Dreher embedded the YouTube clip and quoted from other radio appearances in which the professor had talked about how white people would never voluntarily surrender their advantages. What does any of this racist bilge mean? wrote Dreher. To prove his own human worth to Tommy Curry, a white person has to despise himself? Good luck with that, Tommy Curry.

He published it on Monday 8 May at 8.30am.

Drehers post sent the professors words racing across a network primed for racial outrage. The internets rightwing news belt had expanded during the Obama presidency. Websites such as Infowars and Breitbart, once on the fringe, had found a champion in Donald Trump, who seemed passionate about defending white Americas borders and voting rolls from usurpers such as Muslim refugees, undocumented Latinos and poor blacks.

One of the first online hubs to notice Drehers article about Curry was a Reddit forum devoted to the lionisation of President Trump. When Is It OK To Kill Whites? somebody wrote there, posting a link to Drehers article on The American Conservative. THE HELL?!?! This guy teaches at Texas A&M!! Liberalism at Universities as [sic] gotten completely out of hand!! Cristina Laila, a writer for The Gateway Pundit, a blog devoted to exposing the wickedness of the left, also saw Drehers post about Curry. This is more proof that rasicsm [sic] is ok, she wrote, as long as the attacks are against whites.

Infowars was next. Then, on 10 May, somebody posted a link on the neo-Nazi website Stormfront. Some of the people who responded seemed to welcome the thought of a race war. They liked their chances. My West Point and 82nd Airborne cousins are more than happy to accommodate those of us who may need a little help in just such an emergency, wrote one person. So please, oh pretty please, do TRY to initiate hostilities sooner rather than later.

Curry had succeeded in getting people across the country to talk about racial violence in the name of self-defence. Now they were talking about how Texas A&M University needed to defend itself from Curry. To hundreds of people on the forums of TexAgs, an A&M community site, the answer was clear. Can we not fire him? wrote one person. What an embarrassment to Texas A&M, wrote another. Waiting on a response from President Young, knowing it will never come.

Michael Young, a lawyer, was hired to run Texas A&M in 2015 after a four-year stint as president of the University of Washington. At his new university, Young had swiftly earned a reputation as an able navigator of public-relations crises relating to racism. In 2016, white students had taunted a group of black and Latino high-school students who were visiting the campus from a Dallas preparatory school. One A&M student reportedly asked the prospective students what they thought of her Confederate flag earrings; other students told the high-school visitors to go back where they came from.

Michael K Young, president of Texas A&M University. Photograph: Youtube/Texas A&M

Young responded by announcing an investigation and then travelling to Dallas to personally apologise to the students who had been harassed. He was later praised widely for making a heartfelt response without rushing to judgment.

Kneejerk responses have to be avoided at all costs, Young said a few weeks after the incident. The key to beating the outrage machine, he said, is to know exactly what your university stands for. If you do that, even if it doesnt play out the way the Twitter world initially thinks it should, you never have to back away or apologise.

Texas A&M officials quickly realised that Drehers article might become a problem. Amy Smith, senior vice president for marketing and communications, advised the head of the philosophy department, Theodore George, on how to respond to inquiries about Curry. Barring direct threats by him to others, Dr Curry has a first-amendment right to offer his personal views on this subject, she advised him to say, no matter how incendiary and inappropriate others may consider them to be.

It soon became clear that would not be enough.

Even before Currys comments were covered in the mainstream press, Porter Garner III, head of the Texas A&M Association of Former Students, an influential fundraising body, began receiving angry calls from donors. They thought Curry was encouraging violence against white people. Many of the callers might not have been fully informed of the context of Currys words, said Garner, but some of them were longtime donors, volunteers, and friends of the university, and their concerns were pretty rational and very respectful.

Young said he disagreed with the idea that Curry was inciting violence. But as president of the university, he felt an obligation to take the concerns seriously. Public outrage can be perilous for a public university, especially when race is involved. After black students and their allies caused a national stir by protesting racism at the University of Missouri in 2015, the universitys fundraising efforts took a big hit, and it became a punching bag for the conservative state legislature. Two years later, freshman enrolment has dropped by 35%, and the university has temporarily shuttered seven dormitories.

Young said that finances were not on his mind as he weighed what to do about Curry, but also that he acknowledged the importance of staying in the good graces of constituencies beyond the campus. People send their children to A&M, and students come to A&M, because its a very special place, he said in an interview. I didnt want anybody to doubt what they believe it stands for is what it stands for.

On the morning of 10 May, Curry was asked to meet with university administrators. The professor agreed, but told them he wanted another person of colour in the meeting. He didnt want to feel surrounded by people who didnt get it. At the meeting, Curry said, he got the impression that university officials wanted to draw a distinction between his radio commentary and his work for Texas A&M. But Curry told the university officials there was no difference. Earlier in the year, a panel of judges from the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy had honored Currys radio work by giving him an award for public philosophy. His radio commentary wasnt some offbeat rant, the professor told his bosses. This is part of what you hired me to do.

They backed down a little bit, Curry said. He said they told him to put his defence in writing, so they could use it to respond to people who were contacting the university to complain. Curry wrote in the third person, assuming that his bosses would adopt his voice as their own.

The inflammatory phrase When is it OK to kill white people, he wrote, referring to Drehers headline, deliberately misconstrues Dr Currys distinction between revolutionary violence and self-defense. He continued: Dr Curry, drawing from the Second Amendment tradition, suggests that the laws failure to protect the lives of Black, Latino, and Muslim Americans requires new conversations which may require self-defense and more radical options than protest. In no way does his work promote or incite violence toward whites or any other racial group. The professor sent the text to his department chair that evening. Two hours later, Curry was sitting in his apartment, at his computer, when a message arrived from President Young. It was addressed not to Curry, but to all faculty, staff and students.

As you may know, a podcast interview by one of our professors that took place approximately four-and-a-half years ago resurfaced this week on social media, seen for the first time by many of us, wrote Young. The interview features disturbing comments about race and violence that stand in stark contrast to Aggie [Texas A&M] core values most notably those of respect, excellence, leadership and integrity values that we hold true toward all of humanity.

Curry read the email, the text of which was later posted on the universitys website, with dawning anger. Hes throwing me under the bus, the professor thought. Young continued: As we know, the First Amendment of the US Constitution protects the rights of others to offer their personal views, no matter how reprehensible those views may be. It also protects our right to freedom of speech, which I am exercising now. We stand for equality. We stand against the advocacy of violence, hate and killing. We firmly commit to the success, not the destruction, of each other.

Have no fear, the president assured them: Texas A&Ms core values remained intact.

Smith, the communications vice president, immediately sent Youngs statement to the presidents of all the non-profit organisations that help fund Texas A&M. She felt good about the statement. Fair was fair: in December 2016, when the white nationalist Richard Spencer visited Texas A&M, Young made it clear that the university did not share his values, either. After trying and failing to bar Spencer from speaking on campus, university leaders organised a unity-themed rally in the football stadium. If youre a purveyor of hate and divisiveness, said John C Sharp, the chancellor, and you want to spew that kind of racism, this is the last campus on earth that you want to come to to do that.

In light of the situation with Curry, Smith found herself moved by the chancellors words. It is even more meaningful now, she wrote to the president the next morning, as we articulated our core values again yesterday in a new-but-related situation that shows we mean this equitably.

But the statement did little to slow the momentum of the story. The outrage machine was just warming up. Conservative writers struggled to square their love of free speech with their horror at Currys words. Certainly, no one should be stopped for sharing and debating ideas; the country has seen too many prohibitions of speech in past years, wrote Ron Meyer, editor of Red Alert Politics, a Washington-based blog. However, paying a professor to share radical ideas on behalf of a university has nothing to do with free speech.

Garner, of the Association of Former Students, was still getting calls from alumni who thought Young had not gone far enough. Some said the president should have condemned Curry more forcefully. Others were upset that the professor hadnt been fired. A petition was started encouraging alumni to withhold all donations to Texas A&M and its affiliated fundraisers until the board took action against Curry and Young. The alumni were not the only ones who were upset. Youngs attempt to get ahead of a national story created another outrage closer to home.

To some of Currys colleagues, the statement the president sent out to mollify the professors critics was not an affirmation of the universitys core values. It was a betrayal of the sacred privilege of academic freedom. Joe Feagin, a long-serving sociology professor, wrote to Young the next morning. Michael, he wrote, I wish you had contacted me about the Curry matter. In a separate email to a student newspaper reporter, Feagin argued that Currys 2012 radio piece was, in fact, based on good research.

Nandra Perry, an associate professor of English, also wrote to the president. Previously, she had assumed the university would have her back if anybody used a classroom recording to attack her. Now she wasnt so sure. To call this incident a blow to academic freedom, Perry told Young, doesnt begin to do justice to the chill it will have on my teaching, and indeed the teaching of almost everyone I know.

Perhaps the most scathing rebuke to the president came in a letter signed by every faculty member in the Africana Studies department, where Curry also holds a faculty appointment. The history of black thought, they said, includes more than Martin Luther King Jrs crossover hits. By dismissing Currys comments on violent resistance as personal views, they said, Young had delegitimised the professors expertise and dismissed centuries of history.

Blacks in the United States live with the daily fear that a traffic stop, or a trip to the store or the park, could be the end of their lives, wrote the professors. Yet we cannot talk about black resistance? Historically or contemporaneously? They demanded an apology.

When Dreher heard that Curry was getting death threats, he wrote a follow-up blogpost. Anyone threatening violence against Curry, he said, should be ashamed and, if possible, arrested. I hope Dr Curry is armed, he added, so that if anybody shows up at his house threatening him, he defends his home and family by any means necessary. Still, Dreher stuck by his interpretation of Currys 2012 radio commentary. I dont believe Tommy Curry is encouraging black people to go out today and cut throats, he wrote. I think he is entertaining dangerous thoughts here, same as far-right white radicals. (He later would write a third post, which was removed, comparing the professor to Emperor Palpatine, the Star Wars villain who encourages morally complex characters to give in to the dark side.)

An anti-racist rally at the University of Missouri in 2015. Photograph: Michael B Thomas/Getty Images

Curry read the second blogpost somewhat differently from how Dreher had meant it. That evening the professor wrote an email to Young with a headline that was provocative, if a bit misleading: Rod Dreher retracts.

The president decided to make another statement, and his advisers spent several days discussing how to thread the needle. On 17 May, a week after Young had put out his statement about Texas A&Ms values, he put out a new one. He said he was committed to academic freedom. He acknowledged that scholars often find their work oversimplified or misunderstood. He reiterated the universitys position that racial violence is always bad. He did not, however, offer a personal apology to Curry.

Despite the title of Currys email to Young, Dreher has not changed his views on Currys ideas. Dreher believes the only practical solution to racial resentment is the power of forgiveness. In 2015, Dreher marvelled at the Christ-like love of the teenage children of Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, one of the nine black parishioners killed by the white supremacist Dylann Roof at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Roof shot her five times. The next night, at a vigil for their mother, Chris and Camryn Coleman-Singleton told an interviewer that they had already forgiven Roof.

Dreher saw their gesture as both inspiring and necessary. There will always be haters, of all kinds, and sometimes those haters will murder in service of the hate that consumes them, he wrote at the time. But to deny that things have changed for the better, and can change for the better if we work at it, is to deny to ourselves the hope that inspired Martin Luther King and the civil rights heroes.

Curry is no hero, Dreher said. He thinks the professors talk of racial violence is reckless, and that he should cut it out before he inspires somebody to do real harm. Tommy Currys big fat radical mouth gets to me, he wrote in an email, because of the consequences of the things he believes and says. Its not a joke.

Back in America, Curry was more worried about the consequences of what Dreher believed and said about him. For two weeks, Curry rarely left his apartment, as messages arrived by email warning him of what might happen if he did. You and your entire family of low-IQ, affirmative-action herpes-infected african monkeys might need to be put to death. There were dozens like that. The professor forwarded them to the campus police department. Curry said a detective told him some of the messages appeared to have been sent from within the county. Police officers made a point of regularly driving past his apartment building for several weeks. But Curry worried about whether his six-year-old was safe at her elementary school. Driving her home at the end of the day, he would circle the block a few times to make sure they had not been followed.

Nobody came to his door, knocked him down, disarmed him, fired a bullet between his legs or made him beg for his life. The mob that came for Curry was digital and diffuse, everywhere and nowhere. The goal, however, was the same as ever: fear. And it worked. The Currys left town. They had already been planning to move, but Curry and his wife decided to leave early to stay with family. His daughters thought they were going on vacation. He does not plan to bring them when he returns to Texas A&M in the autumn.

In the course of his life, Curry has embodied both the promise of racial progress and its limitations. He was able to study at an integrated school, but his hometown remained divided by the legacy of segregation. He was hired by a university that wanted more black professors, then was mocked by conservative students who assumed his insight was worthless. He earned honours from his colleagues, then anger from strangers and a tepid defence from his bosses.

If thats the American dream, said Curry, then Id hate to see what the actual nightmare is. He plans to return to Texas A&M in the fall as a full professor. He knows there are people there who want him gone. He no longer trusts the university to defend him. He only hopes he can defend himself.

Main photograph by Benjamin Rasmussen. A longer version of this article first appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Follow the Long Read on Twitter at @gdnlongread, or sign up to the long read weekly email here.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/03/what-is-a-black-professor-in-america-allowed-to-say-tommy-j-curry

‘Anonymous’ browsing data can be easily exposed, German researchers reveal

Pair guaranteed database that contains 3bn URLs from three million German users, spread over 9m different sites

A idol judges porn preferences and also the medication utilized by a German MP were one of the private data uncovered by two German researchers who acquired the anonymous browsing habits in excess of three million German citizens.

What can you believe, requested Svea Eckert, if somebody demonstrated up at the door saying: Hey, I’ve every one of your browsing history every single day, every hour, every minute, every click you probably did on the internet during the last month? How does one think we’ve got it: some shady hacker? No. It had been much simpler: you can easily purchase it.

Eckert, a journalist, merged with data researcher Andreas Dewes to get personal user data and find out the things they could glean from this.

Presenting their findings in the Def Disadvantage hacking conference in Vegas, the happy couple revealed the way they guaranteed a database that contains 3bn URLs from three million German users, spread over 9m different sites. Some were sparse users, with just a few dozen of websites visited within the 30-day period they examined, while some had thousands of data points: the entire record of the online lives.

Finding the data was really even simpler than purchasing it. The happy couple produced an imitation marketing company, replete using its own website, a LinkedIn page because of its leader, or even a careers site which received a couple of applications using their company marketers tricked by the organization.

They stacked the website filled with many nice pictures and a few marketing buzzwords, claiming to possess created a machine-learning formula which could market better to individuals, as long as it had been trained with a lot of data.

We authored and known as nearly 100 companies, and requested when we might have the raw data, the clickstream from peoples lives. It required slightly more than it ought to have, Eckert stated, only simply because they were particularly searching for German internet users. We frequently heard: Browsing data? Thats not a problem. But we do not have it for Germany, we simply get it for that US and United kingdom, she stated.

The information these were eventually given came, free of charge, from the data broker, that was prepared to allow them to test their hypothetical AI advertising platform. Even though it had been nominally an anonymous set, it had been soon simple to de-anonymise many users.

Dewes described some tips through which a canny broker will find a person within the noise, just from the lengthy listing of URLs and timestamps. Some make things super easy: for example, anybody who visits their very own analytics page on Twitter winds up having a URL within their browsing record containing their Twitter username, and it is only visible for them. Discover that URL, and youve linked the anonymous data for an actual person. An identical trick works best for German social media site Xing.

For other users, a far more probabilistic approach can deanonymise them. For example, only 10 URLs could be enough to distinctively identify someone imagine, for example, of methods couple of people you will find at the company, together with your bank, your hobby, your chosen newspaper as well as your cell phone provider. By creating fingerprints in the data, its likely to check it with other, more public, causes of what URLs individuals have visited, for example social networking accounts, or public YouTube playlists.

An identical strategy was utilized in 2008, Dewes stated, to deanonymise some ratings printed by Netflix to assist computer scientists improve its recommendation formula: by evaluating anonymous ratings of flicks with public profiles on IMDB, researchers could unmask Netflix users including one lady, a closeted lesbian, who continued to sue Netflix for the privacy violation.

Another discovery with the data collection happened via Google Translate, which stores the written text of each and every query subjected to it within the URL. Out of this, they could uncover operational information regarding a German cybercrime analysis, because the detective involved was converting demands for help to foreign police forces.

Where did the information originate from? It had been collated from numerous browser plugins, based on Dewes, using the prime offender being safe surfing tool Web of Trust. After Dewes and Eckert printed their results, the browser wordpress plugin modified its online privacy policy to state it truly does sell data, while making tries to keep your information anonymous. We all know this really is extremely difficult, stated Dewes.

Find out more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/aug/01/data-browsing-habits-brokers