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Monthly Archives: July 2010

I’m confused.

If there are only 39,697 African-American farmers grand total in the entire country, then how can over 86,000 of them claim discrimination at the hands of the USDA? Where did the other 46,303 come from?

Now, if you’re confused over what the heck I’m even talking about, let’s go back to the beginning of the story:

Pigford v. Glickman

In 1997, 400 African-American farmers sued the United States Department of Agriculture, alleging that they had been unfairly denied USDA loans due to racial discrimination during the period 1983 to 1997. The farmers won the case, known as Pigford v. Glickman, and in 1999 the government agreed to pay $50,000 each to any farmer who had been wrongly denied an agricultural loan. By then it had grown into a class action case, and any black farmer who had filed a complaint between 1983 and 1997 would be given at least $50,000 — not limited to the original 400 plaintiffs. It was estimated at that time that there might be as many as 2,000 beneficiaries granted $50,000 each.

According to the summary of the case linked above,

Originally, claimants were to have filed within 180 days of the consent decree. Late claims were accepted for an additional year afterwards, if they could show extraordinary circumstances that prevented them from filing on time.

Far beyond the anticipated 2,000 affected farmers, 22,505 “Track A” applications were heard and decided upon, of which 13,348 (59%) were approved. US$995 million had been disbursed or credited to the “Track A” applicants as of January 2009, including US$760 million disbursed as US$50,000 cash awards…. Beyond those applications that were heard and decided upon, about 70,000 petitions were filed late and were not allowed to proceed. Some have argued that the notice program was defective, and others blamed the farmers’ attorneys for “the inadequate notice and overall mismanagement of the settlement agreement”. A provision in the 2008 farm bill essentially allowed a re-hearing in civil court for any claimant whose claim had been denied without a decision that had been based on its merits.

Then on February 23 of this year, the USDA finally consented to pay $1.25 billion to those farmers whose claims had earlier been denied:

In the 1999 case Pigford v. Glickman, the USDA agreed to pay 16,000 black farmers $1 billion after a judge held the federal government responsible for the decline in black farmers. Critics argued that more than 70,000 farmers were shut out of the lawsuit. In 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama and Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley got a law passed to reopen the case, and the settlement talks moved forward.

The $1.25 billion settlement, announced Thursday, comes on top of the money paid out a decade ago. The new agreement would provide cash payments and debt relief to farmers who applied too late to participate in the earlier settlement, The Washington Post reported. Authorities say they are not certain how many farmers might apply this time, but analysts say the number could be higher than 70,000.

Seventy-thousand+ applicants in addition to the 16,000 already compensated now means that over 86,000 people are slated to be paid.

The U.S. Senate and Shirley Sherrod

Which brings us up to today, when two current events suddenly thrust this otherwise little-known case into the spotlight. First, the Senate stripped funding for the settlement out of an unrelated war appropriations bill, as they had done several times in the past. Second, it was revealed today that “A farm collective founded by Shirley Sherrod and her husband that was forced out of business by the discriminatory practices received a $13 million settlement as part of Pigford last year, just before she was hired by the USDA.”

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Top Ten Racist Incidents of the Week

July 22nd, 2010 - 4:21 am

Obama’s “post-racial America” has not materialized. Instead, the nation has gone in the opposite direction and become race-obsessed America.

No, that’s not quite right either. We’re not obsessed with race — we’ve become obsessed with accusations of racism. Some of the accusations are true; some, not so much. But what used to be a last-ditch smear tactic used only by the most desperate political operatives, or something which as a society we’d try to ignore in the hopes that it would go away, has instead become a daily occurrence, a standard category in the 24-hour news cycle:
PoliticsSportsBusinessAccusations of RacismWeather

Just a few years ago, shortly before Obama appeared on the political landscape, I wrote this satirical dictionary definition of the word “racist”:

racist – A statement of surrender during an argument. When two people or disputants are engaged in an acrimonious debate, the side that first says “Racist!” has conceded defeat. Synonymous with saying “Resign” during a chess game, or “Uncle” during a schoolyard fight. Originally, the term was meant to indicate that one side was accusing the other of being racist, but once it was noticed that people only resorted to this tactic when all other arguments had been exhausted, it acquired its new meaning of “indicating one’s own concession of defeat.”

Oh, how times have changed, and how quickly. Not only do people now reach for the race card first in almost any political, social, or personal dispute, but sometimes the accusations are even true (or partly true), as public exhibition of racism has become more commonplace. No matter how you slice it — an increase of racism and of false accusations of racism — I see this as a huge step backward for our nation.

The Week in Racism

So many accusations of racism battle for space in your morning headlines, it’s easy to get them all confused. So I’ve created the following scorecard to help you sort it all out.

Here are the Top Ten Accusations of Racism for the last week, along with a handy “Level of Actual Racism” accuracy rating (on a 1-to-10 scale, with 10 being the most racist) to help determine to what extent each accusation is true, or if the accuser is just crying “Uncle” in a losing argument.


1. Mel Gibson “Pack of Ni@@ers” Meltdown

Accuser:
Oksana Grigorieva
Purported Racist:
Mel Gibson
Level of Actual Racism:
8.5

As everyone on Earth has heard by now, actor Mel Gibson destroyed his own career when he unleashed a series of abusive rants at his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva — which she secretly recorded and then leaked to the gossip site RadarOnline. Amidst all his rage and hate and hyperventilating threats, Gibson clearly says at one point, “If you get raped by a pack of ni@@ers, it’ll be your fault.”

Now, merely saying “the N-word” is enough to endanger any white celebrity’s career, but to say so in a derogatory sense is curtains. Gibson is finished in Hollywood. Yet what’s interesting about Mel Gibson’s rant is that it’s not racist in the “normal” way but rather at a deeper level.

If you calmly analyze the offending sentence “If you get raped by a pack of ni@@ers, it’ll be your fault,” you can see that Gibson never overtly says he dislikes or has a low opinion of black people. In fact, they’re not the subject of his vitriol but rather side characters in a hate-fantasy directed at his ex-girlfriend, who is the person he’s trying to insult. But this unconscious offhand reference to black people reveals his racism in four different ways:

a. He describes them as a “pack,” essentially equating them with animals. “Gang” would have been bad enough, but “pack” is doubly insulting.
b. By implying that black men will rape any provocatively dressed woman, Gibson is trafficking in the stereotype of blacks as sexually insatiable and violent.
c. He dehumanizes black people by using the concept of “a pack of ni@@ers” as an all-purpose bogeyman, some menacing evil force which lurks in the background waiting to pounce.
d. And of course, he uses the ultimately derogatory term “ni@@er” (so derogatory it’s no longer acceptable to even spell it out fully in a news report).

So, despite never consciously expressing an opinion about black people in his rant, Mel Gibson accidentally revealed his real attitudes about blacks, and so earns an Actual Racism rating of 8.5 out of 10.

2. The Brown Berets Tell Whites to “Go back to Europe!”

Accuser:
Reality
Purported Racist:
Brown Berets
Level of Actual Racism:
8.0

As discussed at Gateway Pundit, the race-based Hispanic paramilitary militia known as the Brown Berets showed up to counter-protest a Tea Party rally in Anaheim and started spouting mind-boggling anti-white racist rants. Here’s the video:

The action starts at 1:47 into the video, when the Brown Beret woman begins shouting through her bullhorn,

“You’re white! You don’t belong here! Back to Europe! Back to Europe! This was Mexican land! It’s still Mexican land! … Go back to Germany! Go back to Europe! The whites don’t belong here! This is America, the whites don’t belong here!”

For all the people accusing the Tea Party of being a racist organization: This video shows what a real racist organization is like. There is no need to ascribe racist thoughts to the minds of real racists, because their racism is self-evident. You will never find a performance like this at a Tea Party rally, because the Tea Party is not about race.

What makes the Brown Beret philosophy so totally absurd is that of course Hispanics are themselves also descended from Europeans. After all, isn’t Spain part of Europe too? Somewhere between 70% and 90% of Mexicans are of European heritage. And yet in the Brown Beret fantasy world, only certain Euro-Americans have to “go back,” while the rest get to stay. What we see on display here is racism combined with astounding stupidity, and so earns an Actual Racism rating of 8.0 out of 10.

3. Journolist False Racism Smear Campaign Ploy

Accuser:
Liberal media members
Purported Racist:
“Obama’s conservative critics”
Level of Actual Racism:
0.0

In the most eye-opening scandal so far this year, the elite liberal email bulletin board known as “Journolist” was exposed as one vast brainstorming session on how to unfairly demonize conservatives. As reported at HotAir, the Daily Caller got ahold of the Journolist archives and discovered leading liberal pundits and mainstream reporters scheming during the 2008 presidential election about how to defuse the Jeremiah Wright scandal around then-candidate Barack Obama. Their solution?

In one instance, Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent urged his colleagues to deflect attention from Obama’s relationship with Wright by changing the subject. Pick one of Obama’s conservative critics, Ackerman wrote, “Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists.

As HotAir’s Ed Morrissey incisively notes,

Ackerman wasn’t talking about a strategy to expose real racists, in the media or anywhere else. The Washington Independent reporter wanted to conduct a campaign against any figure on the Right, including journalists like Fred Barnes, to smear him as a racist for the political purposes of electing a Democrat to the White House. Notice that Ackerman doesn’t even bother to ask people to look for actual evidence of racism, but just suggests to pick a conservative name out of a hat.

Sound familiar? This tactic is now Standard Operating Procedure used against any and all critics of Obama. Endlessly fling out baseless accusations of racism, and let your opponents waste their time trying to disprove the allegations. The problem for the Democrats and the Left in general is that the number of people dissatisfied with Obama has grown so large, that his dwindling cadre of followers lashes out with “You’re all racists! All of you!” on a nearly daily basis these days. And as a consequence, the accusation has not only lost its sting, but has become counter-productive, as average Americans are sick and tired of being continuously slandered by their President’s own operatives.

Actual Racism: 0.0

4. NAACP Charges the Tea Party with Racism

Accuser:
NAACP
Purported Racist:
The Tea Party
Level of Actual Racism:
2.0

The NAACP set off a political firestorm this week when it charged “The Tea Party” of being “racist,” an accusation which has dominated the headlines all week and led to a series of denials and counter-charges (see below).

Lost in the flurry of finger-pointing is any evidence by the NAACP to support its claim. The media seems to be still operating on the principle that the accusation of racism is the only evidence required to prove racism. But where is the NAACP’s actual evidence? Maybe I missed it, but I have the feeling there was no proof offered in conjunction with the accusation, only a statement of political opinion about what goes on in other people’s heads.

Here’s why I’m dubious about the charges of racism against the “Tea Party”:

a. First and foremost, the “Tea Party” is a frame of mind, not an organization. There is no central leader or committee which controls the Tea Party, nor is there a unified platform. The term “Tea Party” is just a shorthand way to refer to the large and ever-growing contingent of people who feel dismayed at the direction the country has taken under the Obama administration, especially in regard to fiscal matters. Yes, there are local Tea Party associations, and there are populist politicians and pundits who want to anoint themselves self-declared leaders of a leaderless movement, but the closer you peer at “the Tea Party” itself, the more vague and loosely defined it becomes. It’s not an official political party, it’s not a crisply defined ideology, it’s not a corporation, it’s not anything at all, really, except millions of people who sorta kinda have an overlap of opinion concerning American economic policy and cultural values. Because of all this, it’s impossible to declare that “the Tea Party” as a unified whole possesses some identifiable but hidden trait (such as racism).

b. Opponents of the Tea Party have made no secret of their intent to destroy the movement with infiltrators and agents provocateurs who purposely display flagrantly racist comments or signs, which are then highlighted by their colleagues in the media and used to impugn the entire anti-Obama mindset. So any individual documented example of “racism” within the Tea Party should be treated with suspicion.

c. Does racism still exist in America? Unfortunately yes. I have the feeling it’s not nearly as prevalent as it was in the 19th century or even in the 1950s, but it still lingers here and there. Because of this, if you get any large group of people together, you’re likely to find some people in the crowd with racist feelings. So: Are there racists in the Tea Party? Probably. But there are also racists in the AFL-CIO, in the audience at a Taylor Swift concert, in the National Ping Pong League, and even in the Democratic Party. Since there seems to be a simmering low-level endemic racism in the human heart (something which may be impossible to ever fully eradicate), you can find racists (or crypto-racists) at every level of society and in every large organization. So pointing out individual racists here and there proves nothing really about whatever organizations they belong to — especially if the organization has no official membership and is as loosely defined as the Tea Party is.

d. Considering everything in point “c” above, one must then look at the stated goals or ideology of any organization accused of racism. There are racists in the KKK, but is the KKK a racist organization? Yes, because its self-declared ideology prominently features racist sentiments and goals. There are racists in the National Ping Pong League, but is the National Ping Pong League a racist organization? No, because its self-declared purpose is to organize Ping Pong tournaments, and race is nowhere mentioned. There are racists in the Tea Party, but is the Tea Party racist? No, because nowhere in the ideologies associated with the Tea Party are there any racist sentiments, nor are there any mentions of race at all, except perhaps a sweeping dedication to racial equality. Are black people or other minorities excluded from the Tea Party? No. In fact, they’re eagerly embraced.

e. Some on the left have attempted to make the following argument: that the fiscal policies advocated by the Tea Party are themselves a form of crypto-racism, because lower taxes and lower government spending means fewer government entitlement programs which means fewer benefits for those at the bottom of the economic scale, which tends to have a higher proportion of minorities. So the argument runs: If you want to lower the deficit by decreasing government spending, then you’re essentially taking money away from minorities, which proves your racist intent. To that I say (and many analysts agree): Encouraging people to free themselves from dependence on public handouts is not malicious or racist, but rather a form of “tough love,” an acknowledgement of each person’s independence and potential and self-worth. I would argue that overly lavish social welfare programs are a kind of “soft slavery,” whereby the beneficiaries are essentially owned by the state. So, if anything, it is the welfare state advocated by the left which hurts minorities in the long run; whereas the fiscal responsibility advocated by the Tea Party leads to a robust economy which helps everyone, including minorities.

This is easily the most contentious and impossible-to-quantify of all the “Actual Racism” ratings in this list, but I see no hard evidence of racism as a fundamental belief guiding those people who identify as “Tea Partiers,” and at worst maybe a real racist or two showed up at some Tea Party rally somewhere and were not as quickly identified and chased away as they could have been. So, I’ll assign an “Actual Racism” rating of 2.0 out of 10 for this entry, much as I’d probably assign a 2.0 racism rating to humanity in general.

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I’m not going to make any friends with this essay; I already know that. Emotions run high on the abortion issue and I’m going to say things that people on both sides of the debate are likely to find intolerable. But someone‘s gotta say it, so it might as well be me.

First off: I’m pro-choice. Sorry, that ain’t gonna change. I’ve heard every pro-life argument repeated countless times and none of them have changed my views yet, and are unlikely to do so in the future. But I definitely understand the pro-life position, and I acknowledge that many people are pro-life on solidly grounded moral principles. I have no beef with that, and I have no interest in trying to convince anyone to change their minds.

Recently, Sharron Angle, Nevada’s Republican nominee for Senate, was savagely criticized by the Harry Reid campaign (her Democratic opponent) and by liberals in general when she reaffirmed her belief that even rape victims who become pregnant should carry their babies to term and not have abortions:

Interviewer: What do you say then to a young girl, I am going to place it as he said it, when a young girl is raped by her father, let’s say, and she is pregnant. How do you explain this to her in terms of wanting her to go through the process of having the baby?

Angle: I think that two wrongs don’t make a right. And I have been in the situation of counseling young girls, not 13 but 15, who have had very at risk, difficult pregnancies. And my counsel was to look for some alternatives, which they did. And they found that they had made what was really a lemon situation into lemonade. Well one girl in particular moved in with the adoptive parents of her child, and they both were adopted. Both of them grew up, one graduated from high school, the other had parents that loved her and she also graduated from high school. And I’ll tell you the little girl who was born from that very poor situation came to me when she was 13 and said ‘I know what you did thank you for saving my life.’ So it is meaningful to me to err on the side of life.

Now, the Reid campaign and left-leaning bloggers went ballistic upon hearing this, either intentionally misconstruing Angle’s statement to imply that she is in favor of rape, or at a minimum denouncing her position as cruel and fundamentally immoral.

But, despite being pro-choice myself, I had the opposite reaction. Angle’s unwavering philosophical consistency was a rare treat to behold in this nation of fickle politicians. Because Angle’s hardline stance is to my mind the only valid pro-life stance.

We’re All Lying

I think both sides of the abortion debate are lying and have been lying since the argument first arose. Anyone who wants to forbid abortion “except in cases of rape or incest” is, frankly, full of crap. And here’s why:

If you truly are “pro-life” in that you believe abortion is murder because the unborn child is a full-fledged human being, then you wouldn’t so casually allow the child to be murdered simply based on its parent’s misbehavior.

Most people who are anti-abortion adopt the label “pro-life” based on the shared notion that the zygote/embryo/fetus, no matter what its stage of development, is an undiminished human being with full human rights. And that’s a principled position which I can respect — if you stick to it consistently. But if you start making expedient exceptions, then your dishonesty has been revealed. Because if you really and truly believed that an embryo was a full human being, then you wouldn’t allow it to be murdered simply because its father was a bad man.

Say, for example, a man goes out and robs a store. Do the police then go to that man’s house and throw his son in jail as punishment for the father’s crime? Of course not. Not only would that be unconstitutional, it would be illogical as well. Well, what if a man goes out and rapes someone, and gets sentenced to life in prison. Do we as a society then go to the man’s family and also throw his children in jail for life? Again, that would seem insane.

Why then, if we are to accept the supposition that unborn children have full human rights, would we sentence a (pre-born) baby to death (abortion) simply because the baby’s father is a rapist? How does that make any more sense than the scenarios I described above?

Allowing a rape-and-incest exception to any abortion ban essentially means we are willing to punish the children for the sins of the father. And that’s not the way our society works.

Hidden Rationale?

That is, unless there was a hidden rationale behind the abortion ban which had nothing to do with the belief that embryos are children. If the “pro-life” stance was sometimes nothing but a ruse, a false front to disguise the real reason for being anti-abortion, that would explain why some “pro-lifers” are willing to murder unborn babies under certain circumstances.

And I have always believed that the hidden rationale is obvious: It’s all about sex.

Many politicians and regular folks feel (accurately, in my opinion) that allowing unfettered legal access to abortion will encourage promiscuity among young people. That if we intentionally make sex consequence-free, then more casual sex will happen, and more sex will lead to more babies out of wedlock, which will lead to any number of well-documented social ills. And furthermore, many feel, pre-marital and extra-marital sex is fundamentally immoral, in that it is explicitly forbidden by the three main monotheistic religions and by many other faiths as well.

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UPDATE: Johannes Mehserle has been convicted of Involuntary Manslaughter of Oscar Grant.


Oakland is boarded up.

Fearing the inevitable riots that will erupt if ex-transit cop Johannes Mehserle isn’t found guilty of murder in the Oscar Grant case, business owners around Oakland’s downtown and other areas of the city have been busy nailing plywood boards over their shop windows to minimize damage and looting. This essay documents the pre-riot preparations, and also examines to what extent the expected riot is being fomented by left-wing radical groups.


Word has gone out on the street for everyone to gather at 14th and Broadway — the intersection at the center of Oakland’s downtown — when the verdict is announced. Although the gathering is supposed to be “a positive space for people to speak out and express their feelings and to continue working for justice,” everyone knows that rabble-rousers and organizers will be on hand inciting the crowd to run wild.


The businesses at 14th and Broadway started preparing for the violence many days in advance, boarding up their windows and informing employees to lock the doors as soon as the verdict is announced.


But the fear has spread all across downtown Oakland, and businesses for many blocks in every direction have either already boarded up their windows too or have stocked up on plywood and nails for emergency protection when the time comes.

Do Riots Occur Spontaneously — or Are They Organized Ahead of Time?

For weeks a furious argument has raged through Oakland, with some civic leaders, pundits and businessmen accusing radical neighborhood activist groups of intentionally fomenting a riot on the day of the verdict. Furthermore, local African-American activists are in turn accusing outside mostly-white anarchist and communist groups of hijacking for their own agenda what is supposed to be a homegrown riot just for locals. Everybody’s pointing fingers — and everybody’s correct.

The reason law-abiding Oaklanders are so sure a riot will erupt is that there is a grand convergence of four different social forces all pushing in the same direction: chaos on verdict day:

1. There is likely to be an “organically” occurring unplanned outbreak of frustration on the part of African-Americans in Oakland who (justly or unjustly, depending on your viewpoint) feel distrustful of and victimized by police.

2. Local black-oriented activist organizations are seeking to harness and magnify this anger to intentionally bring chaos to the streets as a way of pressuring the city to advance their radical agendas.

3. Outside far-left political groups are also seeking to piggyback on the riots and to make them so large and violent that they become a national story, and (hopefully) become the spark that ignites a revolution.

4. The criminal element in the Bay Area will almost certainly take advantage of the fact the the Oakland Police will be totally preoccupied with the riot on verdict day, leading many locals to fear an unchecked crime wave even in areas where there is no rioting.

Put all these four ingredients together and you have the recipe for one ugly scene.

It doesn’t take much effort to see the hidden hands behind the scenes trying to instigate or intensify the riot.

The Anarchists


For example, this poster has been plastered all over the city. At the lower left, you can see a drawing of bandanna-wearing white anarchists participating in the planned riot, and it’s almost certain that anarchists designed and distributed the poster. And sure enough, if you go to the local Bay Area anarchist blog, you can find them justifying their role in the riot incitement:

We are anarchists who live in the Bay. We are OUTRAGED by the murder of Oscar Grant, and we are pissed at continuing police violence and disregard of communities’ health and safety. …
Some folks have been calling us “outside agitators”. We wonder: outside of what? We are all faced by police violence…

THE PIGS STARTED THIS
Straight up, we don’t like that the police murder people. … Last year when people expressed themselves in the streets, we heard condemnation of property destruction but no rebuke of police aggression against peoples bodies. Lets not forget that the only reason Mehserle is on trial is because the people of Oakland rose up.

If Mehserle is found guilty of murder it will be historic. If he is found not guilty, or given a slap on the wrist, our response will be historic. What happens in the streets will be determined by the people in the streets, and we know that we won’t be there alone. We say to the thugs at OPD, bring your chumps in body armor. The more Bay Area cops you bring to downtown Oakland to threaten and intimidate those expressing themselves, the more targets you leave exposed. It’s open game on all your $hit from now until the job is done.

Clear enough for you?

There are also many posts online of anarchists arguing about whether their participation in the riot is justified (paste this URL into a browser window to see an example: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/07/05/18652687.php) and also announcing plans to show up in costume as “yuppies” to avoid being arrested as they smash things up (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/07/06/18652776.php). (The site IndyBay blocks incoming direct links to discourage “outsiders” from seeing what goes on in the radical community.)

The Communists


Boarded-up buildings all over Oakland are also plastered with the yellow flyer you see here.


This close-up view reveals that it says “The Whole Damn System is Guilty!” and “Revolution Club.”

The “Revolution Club” is of course a branch of the Revolutionary Communist Party, and “The Whole Damn System is Guilty!” is the RevCom slogan for the Oscar Grant case.

Elsewhere on the Revolutionary Communist Party website are essays with thinly veiled threats to incite a riot on the day of the verdict:

There are plans for a convergence in downtown Oakland at 14th and Broadway at 6 pm on the day the verdict is announced. People need to be there and elsewhere to respond politically to the verdict. …

It was the outcry and protest of the people, in many different ways, including on January 7, 2009, that forced the system to arrest and bring murder charges against Mehserle. …

The authorities are sowing confusion and also trying to intimidate people from speaking out in the wake of the verdict. Police staged a highly publicized practice “riot” in the port of Oakland. They set up a hotline for “tips, rumors and information” relating to protests or “potential problems” after the verdict. Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums met with non-profit groups, urging them to inoculate their base against “outside agitators.”

But the truth is the people acted with conscience and vision when they said “we are all Oscar Grant.” Protest was needed and justified.

(January 7, 2009 is the date of the first Oscar-Grant-related riot, which erupted a week after Mehserle shot Grant in an Oakland BART station.)


Here’s another poster commonly seen around downtown. Up close…


…we see that it’s produced by the “Justice for Oscar Grant Committee,” which also turns out to be a front group for Revolution Books, a communist bookstore.

Not all the inciters are “outside agitators” — some come from within the local African-American community itself:

The Black Nationalists


The “Uhuru Solidarity Movement,” a radical black nationalist organization, is also one of many agitator groups essentially calling for a riot if there isn’t a murder conviction (paste URL: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/07/05/18652698.php):

As we prepare for the verdict in the trial of Mehserle for the murder of Oscar Grant, we continue to organize to build our organization in solidarity with the African People’s Socialist Party for liberation and justice for African people, which will bring liberation and justice to the world.

On the day of the verdict, we are calling on the public to show their outrage if the verdict is anything less than 2nd degree murder by joining the rally downtown at 6pm at 14th and Broadway or by coming out to a community organizing meeting at the Uhuru House in East Oakland at 7911 MacArthur Blvd.

The facade of Youth Radio, a training facility for inner-city Oakland youth, is completely plastered with Oscar Grant posters and graffiti. Inside, the Youth Radio trainees have followed the Oscar Grant case closely and produced many radio reports that were not entirely condemnatory of any post-verdict rioting.


The side of the building has an immense outdoor shrine to Oscar Grant.


Across the street are more boarded-up buildings and intriguing flyers.


The flyers, which have also been posted on poles and walls all over the Bay Area, read “HE SAYS TAZER, WE SAY MURDER. Day of the verdict, 14th and Broadway, 6pm. JUSTICE FOR OSCAR GRANT!”

Pundits and Community Leaders


Everyone wants to put in their two cents about the Oscar Grant case. And while many “responsible” pundits and leaders are of course calling for calm and nonviolence after the verdict, just as many are using their soapboxes to backhandedly inflame the protesters while pretending to act like peacemakers. For example, Jakada Imani, Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights (the successor to Van Jones in that role, coincidentally) published a column in the San Francisco Chronicle in which he remains unenthused about street violence — because it doesn’t go far enough to bring about “transformative justice.” In other words, he’s anti-riot because it’s too small potatoes — he’d rather see a revolution.

(The photo above has nothing to do with the pundits, but I thought it was a similarly unsettling and disturbing message: “Jury Immunity: Juries cannot be punished for their verdicts.” The implication seems to be that this law is a bad thing, and that the Meheserle jury ought to be punished if they come back with the “wrong” verdict. At least it seems to imply this within the pressure-cooker context of pre-riot Oakland. Update: Commenters point out that the sign may refer not to the Mehserle trial but instead to the ability of juries in drug cases to return innocent verdicts if they disagree with the law. Could be….)

Chip Johnson, a more insightful and level-headed S.F. Chronicle columnist, documented how local youths are being inflamed by agitators and politically-driven community activists.

And even supposedly unbiased “news stories” often read like they’re justifying any post-verdict outbreak of violence — this article in the San Jose Mercury News being a good example:

But what is justice? What constitutes a just response to the killing of the 22-year-old grocery store worker, a man memorialized in hip-hop songs and murals, discussed in barbershops and living rooms as an iconic victim of police brutality that some say happens all too often?

Is a murder conviction justice? Is a voluntary or involuntary manslaughter conviction justice? If Mehserle, who says he intended to stun Grant with a Taser and accidentally shot him instead, is acquitted, can there still be a sense of justice for those who have come to view this case as a for long-simmering tension between minorities and law enforcement?

That’s “news”?

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Photo of Netanyahu as it appeared on Huffington Post.

The picture of Benjamin Netanyahu shown to the left appears on the front page of today’s Huffington Post, illustrating a story about Israel easing its blockade of Gaza. The full article on Huffington Post, which can be seen here, also uses the same photo as an illustration. (As of this writing, the picture is still on the HuffPo main page, though it may be gone by the time you read this, as the site’s front page changes every day.)

When I first saw the photo, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me, because it looks like Netanyahu has neon devil horns growing out of his head. What the hell? Was the photo altered in some way? Or is it a “truth-o-graph” revealing Netanyahu’s true devilish nature?

Turns out: No. The photo is an authentic AP photograph — or at least part of an authentic AP photograph — which was cleverly cropped by someone at Huffington Post to make it appear as if Netanyahu has devil horns — flaming neon devil horns, at that.

The same photo of Netanyahu as it was originally released by AP/AFP.

After a bit of searching, I found the original photograph, which you can see to the left and also here, in its original context on the Yahoo News page. (The picture also currently appears in this Yahoo News slideshow, but again it may not be there by the time you read this, as the slideshows change over time.) At the Yahoo site, the photo is credited to “AFP/Pool/File,” which probably means that one photographer was allowed in to take photos of Netanyahu and the images were then shared in a “pool” by all the news syndicates, including AP and AFP.

As is plainly visible, the original photograph reveals what is really going on: Netanyahu is standing in front of a backlit cut-glass official Seal of the State of Israel, which depicts a menorah flanked on either side by branches.

Somebody — most likely at Huffington Post — carefully cropped off the top portion of the photo so that the bottom parts of the two branches combined with the curved edge of the seal appear to be the outlines of horns sprouting from Netanyahu’s head.

Why?

Is this part of the ongoing and relentless campaign by news sites to subtly slant the news — in this case, to “demonize” (in a literal sense) Israel? Or was it just a sheer random accident?

Or did Huffington Post get the photo from a different source, already pre-cropped? If so, I’d like to see the original source, and investigate who did the cropping. Either way, somebody — either at Huffington Post or at AP (or possibly a different news syndicate) — cropped the photo at the precise point to make Netanyahu look like Satan.

Coincidence? Perhaps. But considering the longstanding documented anti-Israel bias at so many news outlets, “coincidence” seems like the least likely explanation.

For the record, here is a screenshot of the photo as it currently appears on the Huffington Post main page:

UPDATE:

Turns out this is not the first time that the Huffington Post has been involved in similar incidents, as detailed in the following links:

FrontPage Full Report: Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israel Hatred on the Huffington Post
CAMERA re HuffPo: Spreading Falsehoods About Israel on the Internet
Huff-Watch, a blog monitoring anti-Semitism on the Huffington Post.