I Wish Trump Was a Russian Puppet

The Huffington Post, known for its great journalism (sarcasm), has been publishing total bullshit lately (not sarcasm) on Russia.

Let’s break this down though, because it’s mostly been just two journalists: Nick Robins-Early and David Wood.

They don’t know what the hell they’re talking about, but they’re certainly determined to make sure that everyone hears their ignorant opinions.

Nick Robins-Early wrote this piece, where he said that the photo is banned, which isn’t true, but rather the photo with the homophobic comment is banned. In this situation, I actually support the Russian government.

I’d like the Russian government to do more to ban homophobic language on the internet. I don’t think it does enough.

Then there’s this:

Which asks the important (sarcasm) question, why does Russia support the government of Syria? It fails to ask the important question, why doesn’t everybody? Why the fuck is Trump bombing Shayrat Airbase and groups fighting alongside the Syrian government?

 

Robins-Early also wrote this.

Which is all about poor Navalny (sarcasm) who was sentenced to jail for his bullshit. Navalny is considered to be an oppositionist in Russia, so he receives infinite support from the West. The thing that no one tells you is that Putin is to the left of Navalny, who was fond of describing Georgians as sub-human during the Russian-Georgian War in 2008.

And the Huffington Post saw fit to publish this little number by David Wood that argues that Russia is trying to start a war with the U.S. (and not the other way around)! What reality are these people living in where Russia is the aggressor when the U.S. is bombing an airbase that Russia uses? Can we imagine if the opposite had occurred?

Finally, after Tillerson’s meeting with Lavrov, Putin said that the relationship with the U.S. has deteriorated – is this not significant?

And the Huffington Post was there to report it (or at least steal it from Reuters).

This is insanity.

Meanwhile, this is the same outlet that was practically screaming that Trump was a Russian agent, personally placed (or blackmailed) into the position of president by Putin himself.

The current spat between the U$ media apparatus and the new regime demonstrates the silver lining in the ascendancy of Trump. The rupture between prototypical American institutions opens a space for exploitation. In other words, because Donald Trump is a huge idiot, he won’t be able to totally consolidate his power if he continues to attack corporate media. This means that here, for the first time, we may see the U$ population begin to genuinely question the functioning of the Amerikkkan state.

If this dumbass can be president, then clearly there’s a problem!

This is exactly what I wrote about on the day after Trump was announced the winner of the election. This is the silver lining. This is the benefit of Trump. If we use this as an opportunity to radicalize liberals and to use theory as a weapon, we can utterly transform the empire.

Trump’s open mocking of the apparently “timeless” values and mainstays of the U$ government have created a space in which everything is up for grabs. NATO, the border, and even liberal democracy itself are all under scrutiny by everyone on the political spectrum (finally) and if we take control of the narrative, we can present reality as it is.

Why do we have NATO? Why do we need a border? What is liberal democracy, anyway?

In other ways, it seems to me like Trump might be able to successfully delegitimize the whole system. My job is much easier in arguing that the state is racist, imperialist, and patriarchal with that 70-year-old walking lobotomy in charge of things. Capitalism in its most exploitative and destructive form is running around, unmasked.

Politicians are the best at making me want to punch old people.

If Trump refuses to go along with the general program, there’s also a chance that the media won’t immediately fall into line on all future policies.

In 2002, when Bush wanted to hype up for the invasion of Iraq, every media outlet in the U$ was unbelievably fast at falling in line. The same thing happened with Obama in Libya and Syria after that. When media conglomerates and the government play footsie, there’s no method to challenging the dominant narrative.

Back to Trump.

If Trump was a Russian puppet, we could at least guarantee a few things: there would be a de-escalation of war between the U$ and Russia, which would ease tensions between the U$ and Syria, the U$ and North Korea, the U$ and China…

Listen, I absolutely hate Vladimir Vladimirovich. He’s a terrible reactionary capitalist, but he’s certainly not pulling the strings.

If Trump was a Russian puppet, things would undoubtedly be better. This is particularly obvious when you consider the fact that Putin isn’t a total fucking moron.

Donald Trump can't read this, yet he's afraid of it

“Donald Trump can’t read this, but he’s still scared of it.”

 

Caveat: Any liberal criticism of Trump will dissipate in the event of a terrorist attack. Well, any terrorist attack perpetrated by Muslims. If any terrorist attack by white people occurs, it’ll barely get coverage.

But if any Muslim even hurts a white person (the media doesn’t care about Chican@s and Black people), then the media, along with the other liberals, will immediately goose-step back into line and President Literal-Cartoon-Villain will have all the power in the world.

The 4 Ways Obama Will Help Trump Be a Monster

Here are the ways in which Obama has laid the groundwork for a monstrous Trump presidency.* Thanks, Obama!

obamamama

“Welcome!”

4.) No Transparency

The Obama administration has been the least transparent administration to date. Obama makes Nixon look like an open book. This paves the way for Trump (who has been notably opaque during the campaign) to do his tyrannical bidding in total secrecy.

Unquestionably, we won’t be able to count on Trump being more transparent than Obama.

At the same time, the fates of Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and Julian Assange all hang in the balance, thanks to Obama. The “Hope” and “Change” should have led to a dismantling of the security state and the military-industrial complex.

Rather, the empire strengthened, consolidated, and expanded. When Trump calls for the killing of Edward Snowden, we shouldn’t take this as facetious rhetoric.

lord-jesus-trump

Fascist Rhetoric.

3.) Deportation Nation

Let’s be straight. Obama hasn’t done much of anything concrete to protect people of color. Aside from a few flowery statements and a warm speech from time to time, the racist functioning of the American state has continued.

Police have been gunning down black people in the US since forever. Why isn’t Obama actively fighting police militarization? Why is he not standing with the Black Lives Matter movement?

He’s said some nice things, but what has he done?

Another clear example right now is that Obama could stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. Why isn’t he stopping it? Do the lives of indigenous people matter less than the lives of white people (away from whom the pipeline was rerouted)?

When it comes to Latin@s, Obama has a particularly abysmal record.

Donald Trump is talking about setting up deportation squads.

The thing that nobody seems to be talking about is that we already have deportation squads in the United States. Obama has deported more undocumented (and sometimes documented!) immigrants than any other president in history.

This is the nice liberal face of terror.

The whole mechanism for unbridled mass deportation is already in place.

White supremacy has been the backbone of the US government since it was founded. And why has Obama not even mentioned that trivial fact?

The millions of our sisters and brothers who have been deported by Obama were certainly not white people going back to Ireland.

Indigenous people, black people, latin@s, and other people of color live under America, not in America.

And Trump intends to keep it that way.

2.) The NDAA and The Surveillance State

The National Defense Authorization Act is actually so over-reaching and invasive that at the time Obama signed it, he himself said that he would not use parts of the bill during his administration. Well what does that mean?

It’s hard to accept for those who have trusted Obama to “do the right thing”. After all, liberals for the past eight years have been reluctant to criticize him.

He’s got a good heart! The Republicans are just ruining everything!

yes-we-scanThe surveillance state is all-pervasive. Every phone call, every text, every e-mail, every photo, every tweet, every google search is marked, collected, and stored.

The internet has made people vulnerable at every junction to the endless spying of the US government.

Even those of us who no longer even live in the United States are even spied on.

This is the man who’s very first act as president was to sign an executive order to close the American gulag at Guantanamo Bay. In case you were wondering, it’s still open. Do you think Trump is going to close it?

It is obvious that the surveillance state under Trump will be expanded. And once he decides to target Muslims, he’ll already have all the information he needs, because Obama has kept Bush’s Muslim registry in place.

1.) The War Precedent

Obama’s been at war longer than any other president – the full extent of both terms. There hasn’t been a day of Obama’s presidency where the United States wasn’t at war. This is the man who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009.

Let’s do a quick run-down: Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan. After all this is the first presidency of drones, drones, and more drones.

The United States has also been engaging in more and more high-profile and dangerous cyber warfare.

obama-war

“Bring me the oil! All the oil! Mwahahaha”

Since 2014, tensions with Russia have been high and Obama has been playing war games with NATO in order to prepare for hybrid wars. This will allow Trump to spread hybrid warfare more broadly. Along with this, the violent coup in Honduras in 2009 was backed by the Obama administration as well as the legislative coup this year in Brazil.

Which coups will we see under Trump? In Cuba? In Venezuela? In Indonesia?

And of course, Trump will be able to kill American citizens without any accountability.

For those patriots (for whom an American life is for some reason more valuable than the life of a non-American), Obama was the first president to be openly authorize the assassination of an American citizen.

*For the record, all of these things would’ve also applied to Hillary Clinton, had she won.

Who Owns “America”?

“Where are you from?”

“I’m from America,” I answered hesitantly.

“Oh, you mean the U.S.?”

“Well, yeah.”

“Because my father comes from Guatemala. That’s also America.”

“Yeah, of course.”

 

In the moment, I had hesitated merely because I have a difficult time pronouncing the German: die Vereinigte Staaten.

There is an unavoidable problem with the term “America”.

After this conversation, a couple of my German friends insisted that they always correct people.

If someone refers to the “United States of America” as simply “America”, they said, that person is using imperialistic language.

I disagree, mostly.

In fact, perhaps we could use it as a method of fighting imperialism through language.

d020d17d0946f5f743b33fb305729a41

We should start with a longer view towards history. Undoubtedly, the very term “America” is inherently imperialist.

“America” is derived from the name of an Italian explorer named Amerigo Vespucci, who at least made two visits to the Caribbean and South America. Initially thought to be parts of the West Indies, it was Amerigo Vespucci who probably was the first European to recognize the territory as part of a completely separate landmass.

On top of this, the term “America” is the feminine form of his Latin name: Americus. Here we see the classically gendered language of the “Age of Discovery”. The underlying sexual metaphor behind imperialism is clear: the continent is available for penetration by the male explorers.

Today, it is next to impossible to get away from this word. So, regrettably, we rely on it rather than on a perhaps more desirable indigenous term. There are literally thousands of available words we could use, but “America” has become the name of the two continents.

Regardless of this, in what way could I possibly justify using “America” in place of the “United States of America”?

domenico_ghirlandaio2c_amerigo_vespucci2c_ognissanti2c_firenze

AmeriKKKa

I defend using this term out of simplicity and clarity.

First, people from countries use shorthand names for those countries. No one from Australia says, “I am from the Commonwealth of Australia.” No one from Guyana says, “I am from the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.”

You can say it if you’d like, but I’m willing to bet that’s not the case.

Second, when we talk about people from specific places, we utilize demonyms. Someone from Russia is a Russian, someone from Germany is a German. What about someone from the USA?

A United Stateserin! A United States of American!

It seems to me like the demonym here might be misleading, but nevertheless indicative of a clear shorthand. If we call someone an American, then which country should they be from?

So even if we say that a preferable term would be “The United States”, then we still run into a problem.

The official name for Mexico is Estados Unidos Mexicanos – The United Mexican States. So which “United States” are you talking about?

Then we have another problem if you respond, “The United States of America.”

Are you talking about Organización de los Estados Americanos? The Organization of the American States? Because that’s a political, regional organization between all the states of the hemisphere.

Therefore, unfortunately, none of the dominant terminology is totally unproblematic.

obama-gif

There is a way, it seems to me, of decolonizing this word and using it in an anti-imperialistic way.

Although I admit that I did mean the USA when I said “America”, I think there can be an alternative.

For example, if someone from Guatemala were to also simply say, “I am from America,” then this could serve to show a form of unity between the peoples of the Americas.

We can all begin to hollow out the meaning of term until it serves as a shorthand for peoples beyond national borders. “America” can become decolonized when we all use it together, to move past and against arbitrary divisions.

When we use “America”, we ought to use it to signify that we are from the continents (even if our ancestors are not). We can maintain the signifier and permanently broaden the signified. We can find “America” to be unifying. We can establish some level of solidarity against imperialism.

Who owns “America”? I’m tempted to say that we all do.

I may be mistaken, but for now, this seems like the clear path.

Remember, Remember, the 1st of September

In Stefan Zweig’s autobiography The World of Yesterday, he says in the foreword,

If I conclude this survey of my life at a certain particular date, I do so intentionally – that September day in 1939 drew the closing line under the epoch that had formed and reared those of us who are of the generation now reaching the age of sixty. But if we can salvage only a splinter of truth from the structure of its ruin, and pass it on to the next generation by bearing witness to it, we will not have lived entirely in vain.

He wrote this as World War II was raging. His autobiography was published in 1942 and, as a Jew who had to flee the nightmares of Nazi Germany, he abhorred the war and suffering brought about in the name of nationalism.

Therefore, I don’t want to speak for him, but I can imagine he’d be pretty distraught at what’s happening this September day.

Israel is claiming about 1,000 acres of the West Bank and annexing it. So near Bethlehem (you know, where Jesus was born), the government of Israel is forcefully taking away the land from the people who live there and claiming it as Israeli territory.

Palestine_Map_2007_(Settlements)

It’s all part of the expansion of settlements throughout the West Bank, while Israel massacres Palestinian civilians in Gaza. So in the east, you have Israel forcefully stealing land from people and the west, you have Israel bombing civilian populations and calling it “self defense“.

That’s like Germany responding to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and calling it “self defense”.

Isn’t it notable that the token image of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is little children throwing rocks at tanks?

intifada

This is definitely an equal conflict.

So whenever people talk about ceasefires, it’s important to have this image in mind. Jon Stewart (believe it or not) had a segment on the U.S. supplying Israel with weapons a few weeks ago that was actually worthwhile:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvA7NhehocY]

Let’s not forget when Israel used white phosphorous supplied by the U.S. in 2009!

These aren’t isolated war crimes. This is a systematic genocide, supported by the United States.

I know that’s a heavy word, but seriously, let’s look at the United Nations definition of “genocide”:

“any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

That’s a pretty solid definition, I’d say.

So what’s happening when Israel does all of these things to the Palestinians?

This is the 75th anniversary of the invasion of Poland. Germany’s subsequent destruction of Europe and Africa marks the fundamental shift in our cultural perceptions of genocide. We as a society have, at least superficially, said that genocide is unacceptable.

But here we are, 75 years later.

The Israeli Defense Forces pummel Gaza into dust and dye the sea red with blood. And they do it all with U.S. taxpayer money. And CNN puts U.S. senators and Israeli ambassadors on to say, “Israel has a right to defend itself.”

Defend itself against what, exactly?

Does the word “defense” cease to mean anything in this Orwellian twist?

Meanwhile, I remember seeing those despicable forest-green IDF shirts that people wore in my college classes. Or the sorority girls talking about their time on Birthright Israel, a program that takes young people and tours them around the Apartheid state. The program is called BIRTHRIGHT. As if that’s not the most vile name they could have chosen.

“We saw some villages in Lebanon controlled by Hezbollah in the distance. It was sooo scary!”

It makes me sick to my stomach, honestly.

We need to salvage more than a “splinter of truth” and instead struggle against the systematic destruction of the Palestinian people. If we remember, remember the 1st of September, we should be fighting any and all genocides with every tool in our bag.

Especially the ones that we have the ability to stop.

Mandela

What’s the Difference Between Disney World and North Korea?

Answer: Location, location, location.

North Korean Disney

Last month I had to spend a week with my family at Walt Disney World in central Florida. As we were driving in, the comment was made about how clean the streets were. I was reminded of articles I had seen about places like Turkmenistan and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

I was inside an American dictatorship.

Throughout the parks, there were little quotes from Walt Disney on the fences. One of the indicated that it was his dream that people would come to Disney World and forget about the outside world. 

Forget about our shared world outside the walls of the park.

Forget about our wars across the world.

Forget about your life.

Sounds like a terrifying, isolationist hell to me.

I made sure not to let the “magic” ever infiltrate my clear view of reality.

If one thing is obvious about Disney World, it is that the majority of the park employees are not treated so well. In fact, over a thousand Disney employees are homeless. It’s little more than a giant sweatshop.

Disney also recruits foreign workers and essentially traps them in temporary workers visas that are specially set up for Disney! So it really is a sweatshop.

Aside from the egregious labor abuses, Disney World is also a haven that perpetuates racist nonsense and cultural ignorance. We can start with the hotel.

My family stayed in an Animal Kingdom hotel. All of the workers were from Africa (not a single country, mind you). They were from Nigeria, Morocco, Kenya, South Africa, etc. In the middle of the hotel lived giraffes, gazelles, and antelope who grazed lackadaisically throughout the day.

This is Africa. 

So (mostly) rich white people can come to Florida and pretend like they have actually gone somewhere. They don’t have to worry about the actual animals, people, or situations. Everyone speaks English, so there’s no problem. There are no diseases, no poor people, no bizarre foods, no unsightly slums, no foul smells, and no health risks. Alcohol is always available, as are Coca-Cola products and air conditioning.

A diverse continent with hundreds of ethnic groups, languages, and cultures is reduced to one static Americanized dream.

You don’t need to actually travel when you can Disney travel!

But don’t worry, that’s not where the racism ends.

We have the lovely incident of when Disney (albeit the one in California) fired a woman for wearing hijab. Because, God forbid, one of the Disney employees actually exhibits the fact that they don’t comfortably fit into the perfect white American fantasy of not encountering anyone who has different beliefs than you.

One thing I did notice was the amount of Muslims who were there. I even saw a man praying Maghrib in Epcot!

However, there were no facilities for Muslims at Walt Disney World.

Not a single prayer room, no ride to a mosque in Orlando offered, no attempt to reach out to the countless Muslim tourists at the resort. 

Morocco8

Not racist.

In fact, when I went to the fake Morocco in Epcot, the woman initially told me that there was no place to pray. After she asked her supervisor, I was finally offered a rug and a spot to pray. However, it was in an incredibly public place and I had to make wudhu in a public fountain. And the rug definitely was not a standard prayer rug.

When I went to the fake Moroccan café, I had to specifically ask specifically if they had any coffee without alcohol, because everything on the menu was spiced with something.

“Do you have anything halal?” 

I was actually surprised, because I figured they would have some back secret room for all the Muslims. That’s just good business when you have that many Muslim tourists. I figured they might let something innocuous slip by here and there as a special wink. Maybe everything in Morocco would be halal or they would have a special back area where you could make wudhu in peace.

But nope.

They fulfill their goal for their target demographic.

And that goal is to cover up the real world and replace it with a fictionalized reality.

This fictionalized reality can be totally racist and nonsensical, as long as it appeals to that demographic: rich, white, straight Christians.

Because if you don’t fit any of those categories, then you’re pushed to the margins.

And don’t forget, you’re spending hundreds of dollars for this sanitized, heteronormative, imperialist fantasy world.

Ultimately, I did a pretty good job of not getting sucked up in the magic. I never forgot the exorbitant amounts of money running the place and I never forgot how little of that was going to employees. I tried to be mindful of the sexualized Disney characters, providing the girls there with a good healthy dose of patriarchy. And I tried to be ever-vigilant in my analysis of this beacon of industrial escapist capitalism.

And what lessons did I learn?

Disney World is a Hell on earth.

Disney World is an American dictatorship.

Disney World is a North Korea.