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This Week’s 5: Paul Ryan Goes Full Heel

December 21, 2018

Author's Note: This Week's 5 is a weekly collection of stories designed to provide insight into how racism works and serve as an easily accessible resource for people trying to have nuanced discussions about these issues. For more explanation on how This Week's 5 works and descriptions of each of the categories, click here.

 

 

Overt

Hypocrisy feels like it gets less subtle by the day. On one hand, governments like Texas pass laws banning public employees from criticizing the Israeli government, despite the fact that Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians is considered a massive human rights violation by the UN. Meanwhile, as Palestinian protesters are being murdered by the Israeli military seemingly every week, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair uses his social media to literally say Muslims should be expelled from the country, and there’s nothing but silence from Israel’s defenders. In fact, some even contended that Yair Netanyahu’s subsequent ban from Facebook was censorship. If blatantly calling for the expulsion of a religious group while your father’s government is violently carrying it out in real life isn’t cause for, at the very least, a social media timeout, what is? Read more from the Independent.

 

 

Institutional

Saying that Paul Ryan is the worst kind of scumbag may not be wholly accurate but it sure feels right after this week. The congressman who was widely regarded as a reasonable Republican and great policy wonk prior to his ascension to Speaker of the House, has been virtually silent throughout the Trump Administration’s still-escalating persecution of Brown immigrants. He has continuously contradicted his statements about managing budgets by acquiescing to all of Trump’s demands for more funding for ICE and immigrant detention facilities (see: concentration camps). Now, to cap it all off, on his way out of office, he passes a bill to create thousands of more jobs for Irish immigrants. This effort to prioritize white immigrants (and by Ryan’s own admission, set him up to be an ambassador to Ireland in the future) while Brown immigrants are literally being rounded up and put in concentration camps is about as transparent as white supremacy gets. Read more from Politico.

 

 

Critical Race Theory

There is something particularly disgusting about the gun lobby and police using school shootings to exacerbate the school to prison pipeline. For the unfamiliar, the school to prison pipeline refers to disproportionate discipline enforced on Black and Brown students, including suspensions, expulsions, and actual engagement with law enforcement, that sets them up for incarceration at an early age. With the increase in school shootings, many school boards (including Portland) have voted to allow armed guards and/or police officers in schools under the guise of protecting children. The result has been weekly national headlines featuring Black and Brown students getting assaulted by these so-called resource officers for things as small as stealing candy. As the gun lobby (and the weapons manufacturers who fund them) shamelessly pushes to put more guns in schools, specifically in the hands of teachers, we can only expect for these stories to get more tragic. Read more from the Root.

 

 

History

Tact can go a long way in obscuring an empire’s misdeeds. For example, because the US, and the Trump Administration in particular, is so loud and shameless, it’s easy for the the British Empire’s history of global carnage to never come up in conversation. Thus, when the UK votes for things like Brexit, we can reasonably see it as a surprise. However, historically, it couldn’t make more sense. A recent report found that Britain plundered an estimated nearly $45 trillion from India over the course of two centuries of colonization. Not just did they steal the natural resources that directly powered the Industrial Revolution, they also essentially taxed the Indian people for being colonized. All things considered, the $45 trillion figure may actually be a conservative estimate. Knowledge of this history makes the country’s seeming reluctance to talk about it or even own the current climate of racism much more sinister. The fact is, just because they don’t revel in rolling around in their own mud like the Trump Administration, doesn’t mean they’re any less committed to benefitting from their long legacy of white supremacy. Read more from Al Jazeera.

 

 

The Fragility Breaker

There is a lot we can take away from the revelation that Russian intelligence specifically targeted Black Americans during their social media misinformation campaign during the 2016 Election. For me, it just further reinforces the stereotype that foreigners know our country better than we do. More specifically, it’s evidence that foreign governments targeting Black people are more committed to building relationships with us than most of our self-proclaimed white allies. As sinister as the efforts by Russian intelligence were, the fact is that they still required extensive research and genuine appeals to concerns in the Black community. Contrast that with white allies who pat themselves on the back for showing up to free race talks while lamenting that they just can’t figure out how to talk to Black people. How is it that these “allies” are so helpless while Russian intelligence, which doesn’t have the greatest reputation for subtlety, has no problem being proactive in its Black outreach? The only reasonable conclusion is that these “allies” don’t actually care about doing the work. They want to be in the picture so they can tell their grandkids they were on the right side of history, but that’s about it. Is it too much to ask that people who brand themselves as our allies at least make as much of a commitment to understanding us as the white supremacists seeking to disenfranchise us? Read more from the Root.

 

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