How to bring tears to these old eyes.
It’s been almost 60 years since I walked into a segregated restaurant with two Black friends of mine and a white UAW shop steward. We sat down and ordered lunch – and the owner served us – while a crowd watched our carload of Freedom Fighters challenge just one of the racist customs of the United States of America.
In truth, the crowd that hated our willingness to confront bigotry wasn’t any different from the herd of obedient trolls who jostle for a place in the Backwards Museum of the 21st Century. Slightly more honest than nowadays. They were open about their degenerate white supremacist beliefs.
“Mrs. Fanny Parrott, wife of former slave near Siloam, Greene County, Georgia.” — By Jack Delano, Farm Security Administration Photography program (FSA). May 1941.
Click through to the large version of this photo. The quiet dignity, self-contained beauty of age and experience tolerating this camera-carrying record keeper.
Fake news is a problem, everybody knows that. When technology helps bad actors spread lies and sow discord, it’s bad for democracy, which relies on citizens making considered judgments at the polls. It’s also a boon to authoritarians, who can stamp out criticism and bury unfavorable news by creating confusion about what’s true and what’s false.
The more interesting question is, what kind of problem is it?…
Two recent data points offer some hope. Last week, we wrote about big social media companies’ decisions to ban the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, the latest sign that the big websites where fake news often spreads are becoming more engaged with the problem. Less well publicized was the fact that DARPA, the Pentagon’s research and development arm, has been making progress in developing tools that can detect so-called “deepfakes,” the ultra-realistic fake audio and video created using artificial intelligence that some people worry could unleash a torrent of politically-motivated fakery.
Part of the problem with fake news is that people tend to believe what they want to believe – technology won’t solve that. But with industry and government both now paying closer attention, maybe, just maybe, technology can make the problem more manageable.
Wonder what might affect the levels of “ignorant” and “gullible” in the United States?
❝ Donald Trump’s presidency reminds me of nothing so much as the wars in Yugoslavia in the 1990s. At the height of the violence, a Serb friend said to me that, “I don’t like [Slobodan] Milošević. I don’t like his methods, his cruelty, his crudeness, and his sadism. But at least someone is doing something.”
That last clause captured the essence of the entire conflict. My friend was willing to look past all of Milošević’s abuses and brutality if it meant that Serbia wouldn’t be a victim anymore. According to this nationalist narrative, Serbia had been forced to accept that it was just one republic among six, even though Serbs, who were spread out across Yugoslavia, comprised almost half of the country’s total population…
❝ In many ways, a similar pattern has emerged in the United States since Trump took office. Trump is rude and often cruel, and even many of his supporters seem to realize that they wouldn’t want their own children to emulate him. Still, he speaks to their grievances and anxieties. And in 2016, he reached enough swing-state voters to clinch a victory – a scenario that could well happen again in 2020…
❝ In the eyes of his supporters, Trump is winning on immigration, simply because he is “doing something.” Under his watch, distinctions between legal and illegal immigration have been cast aside, along with wonky debates about the need for skilled workers in certain sectors or locales. And if you think that Trump will acknowledge that immigrants built the country, you can think again. The entire issue has been reduced to a question of American identity, filtered through the prism of race.
Worthwhile read, folks. What I’d expect from a career public servant. Well educated, smart and experienced. Exactly the sort of opinion ignored by the Trump cult.
Justice Alito thinks this is a normal equal opportunity voting district
[Texas Republicans spell about as well as they honor the Constitution]
❝ The Supreme Court held on Monday that white lawmakers enjoy a presumption of racial innocence, even when they draw legislative districts that empower white voters at the expense of racial minorities.
The thrust of Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion in Abbott v. Perez is that the “good faith” of a “state legislature must be presumed,” even when there are very serious allegations of racial gerrymandering. The facts of Perez are unusual and unlikely to repeat in the future, but Alito’s presumption of white racial innocence could have a significant impact on future cases…
❝ …Alito’s conclusion is that the 2013 (Texas voting district) maps weren’t enacted to preserve a racial gerrymander; they were enacted to shut down litigation challenging a racial gerrymander. And, somehow, this distinction matters.
Sophistry is only nitpicking as far as racist politics is concerned. There are few discussions and decisions more charged with politics than an unencumbered right to vote. Unencumbered rejects racism and bigotry in most folks’ view of the American Constitution as it stands. Especially considering the Voting Rights Act.
Fox phony news
Fox News apologized Tuesday after receiving a torrent of criticism over the network’s use of photos of various players for the Philadelphia Eagles kneeling in prayer, creating the misleading impression that they were demonstrating during the national anthem.
Fox and President Mouth remain interchangeable sources of fake news.
Meanwhile, don’t expect the NBA Champions to visit the White House until Trump’s racism is fumigated and the source is gone.