When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, December 02, 2023

The West must find the moral courage to say "no" to refugees

The West must find the moral courage to say "no" to refugees

“Is the German public aware of this?” Elon Musk posted on Friday morning. His Tweet highlighted a video from the Mediterranean Sea, appearing to show illegal immigrants getting rescued from a small craft by the masked and uniformed crew of a much-larger ship. 

“There are currently [eight] German NGO [non-government organization] ships in the Mediterranean Sea collecting illegal immigrants to be unloaded in Italy,” the commentary read. These NGOs are subsidized by the German government.”

“Yes,” the German Foreign Office responded an hour later. “And it’s called saving lives.” 

It may have seemed like an insignificant interaction–a tech CEO getting snarky and a ministry “clapping back”–but it’s an illustrative back-and-forth, highlighting the forces behind the mass migration crisis facing the West, from Texas’s Eagle Pass to Italy’s Lampedusa island

The first thing it sheds light on is how organised mass, illegal migration to the Europe and the United States is. The second is how most people have no idea it’s all organised in the first place. The third is that those behind these efforts shield themselves in a self-righteousness incredible to behold. And finally, that because of this righteousness, they hold the electorate – the angry and the ignorant alike – in total contempt and disregard.

A common narrative of illegal immigration is a hard-scrabble family striving fleeing war or persecution, boarding a ship filled with other families, and sailing in under the Statue of Liberty. This view of the past may have been rose-colored, but today it’s an utter fantasy, replaced by the reality of teeming caravans and ships filled with military-aged men, actively run (and often, trafficked) by brutal criminal gangs, cartels, and the bleeding-heart NGOs that provide a humanitarian shield for the whole operation.

Few people realize all this – and that’s intentional. When people, even powerful people like Musk, talk about it, they’re shunned. Commentators who speak to this reality are called conspiracists or racists. Those who warn about the consequences are called the same. It took years for reports of rising homicides or gang activity in Sweden, for instance, to break into the public consciousness. Those who were ostracized for warning it was happening receive no apology, the victims themselves receive little justice, and it all goes on as before.

There’s a reason Western elites feel so perfectly justified in allowing mass-illegal immigration, assisting it, and then silencing its critics: they hold an ironclad belief in their own moral superiority. Take the tweet from the German Foreign Office: if you don’t think the men in sprawling migrant camps should outnumber citizens on an Italian island, you’re on the side of more dead refugees.

This belief leads to all sorts of consequences for those on the wrong end of the elite’s debate. Punishments for politicians who fight to protect their country’s borders – from Italy’s Matteo Salvini to the Netherland’s Inger Stojberg to Donald Trump – begin with relentless attack, and end in prosecutions. The message is clear: Cross the system, pay the price.

The results are clear for all to see. The hundreds of thousands of expensive tents that popped up all over American cities over the past three years weren’t bought by the mentally ill drug addicts who live in them, but by activist groups. The crime waves sweeping American cities aren’t the results of changing weather patterns, but activists and politicians closing schools, decriminalizing law-breaking, ending bail, and handicapping police. The mass illegal migrations swamping Italy, overwhelming Texas and causing panic in England aren’t caused by gravity, but by virtually-open-borders policies facilitated by criminal gangs and lubricated by nonprofits.

It may be too late to end this, but we have to try. If we’re to stand a chance at stopping this mess, the first step to recovery will be admitting we have a problem, and that it isn’t entirely a natural one. Our decline is a choice.


Links - 2nd December 2023 (Schools in the US)

California public schools can’t suspend students for disobeying teachers, new law says - "Starting next school year, it will be illegal for public schools in the state to suspend students in first through fifth grade for willfully defying teachers or administrators. Then, from 2021 through 2025, it will be temporarily extended to kids in grades six through eight. Supporters say suspensions for willful defiance are disproportionately used against students of color."
When student discipline worses, they'll inevitably... blame 'racism'"

California wants to ban schools from suspending pupils for disruptive behavior because it's 'racist' - "African-American students made up 5.6% of enrollment in California schools in 2017-18, but accounted for 15.6% of willful defiance suspensions. Conversely, white students made up 23.2% of statewide enrollment but made up only 20.2% of willful defiance suspensions.”... it’s the teachers and principals on the front line who make the decisions about who should be suspended. Is the State of California saying its teachers are racist? Or is this an excuse to create “racial parity?” That’s what Jason Riley at The Wall Street Journal believes. In a piece last year about Obama administration guidance to schools on the issue, he noted, “Put another way, the [Obama] administration was demanding racial parity in school discipline, regardless of who was being disruptive, which is as silly as demanding racial parity in police arrests, regardless of who’s committing crimes. The result is that more schools have been disciplining fewer students in order to achieve racial balance in suspension rates and stay out of trouble with the federal government.”... A great deal of the coverage of this issue comes from a legacy media that also prefers to applaud the numbers game, as though lowering the percentage of students being suspended somehow indicates improvement in the quality of those students’ lives. Nothing could be further from the truth... Promoting a focus supporting troublemakers abandons the innocent students, also kids of color, who are in the classroom to learn. Why are these students thrown aside, left to navigate increasingly disturbing and dangerous environments?... It does appear that Democrats, whose policies destroy the economy and increase poverty, are trying to cover up the results of the corresponding despair and hopelessness that also manifests in the classroom. Their answer is not to face what’s happening in neighborhoods struggling with poverty, gangs and drugs, and the impact on young people. Instead, it’s to game the system making life even more difficult (and dangerous) for every student so Democratic politicians can look better on paper."

Obama’s Racial Preferences Made Schools Dangerous - WSJ - "In 2014 the Obama administration sent school districts “guidance” letters that essentially threatened federal action if black suspension rates weren’t reduced. The letter stated that even if a school’s suspension policy “is neutral on its face—meaning that the policy itself does not mention race—and is administrated in an evenhanded manner,” the district could still face a federal civil-rights investigation if the policy “has a disparate impact, i.e., a disproportionate and unjustified effect on students of a particular race.”Put another way, the administration was demanding racial parity in school discipline, regardless of who was being disruptive, which is as silly as demanding racial parity in police arrests, regardless of who’s committing crimes.The result is that more schools have been disciplining fewer students in order to achieve racial balance in suspension rates and stay out of trouble with the federal government. Civil-rights lawsuits are embarrassing—to be accused of racial discrimination is often tantamount to being found guilty of it. They’re also expensive to fight, and the federal government has far more resources than any school district. The easier course for schools is to pretend that students from different racial and ethnic groups misbehave at similar rates. School safety becomes secondary. In Oklahoma City, principals told teachers not to request a suspension “unless there was blood.” After school districts in Los Angeles and Chicago softened their policies to curb suspensions, teachers reported more disorder, and students reported feeling less safe. Following a similar move in Philadelphia, truancy increased and academic achievement fell. Schools in Wisconsin that followed the guidance also saw subsequent reductions in math and reading proficiency. Like other liberal advocates of school-discipline reform, Arne Duncan, who was serving as President Obama’s education secretary when the guidance was issued, insisted that blacks are suspended at higher rates than other groups only because school officials are racially biased. “It’s not caused by differences in children,” he said. “It is adult behavior that needs to change.”Yet many of the schools where these uneven discipline rates persist have minority principals and no shortage of minority teachers and administrators. What would be their motive for singling out black and brown kids for suspensions and expulsions, unless those students’ behavior warrants it? And why shouldn’t we expect to find varying rates of misbehavior among racial and ethnic groups in school, when that is exactly what we find outside school?The bigger problem with these anti-suspension crusades is that they ultimately harm the groups they are supposed to help. After New York City made it more difficult to remove troublemakers from the classroom, schools with the highest percentages of minority students were more likely to experience an increase in fighting, gang activity and drug use. A federal report on school crime and safety released last year by the National Center for Education Statistics found that 25% of black students nationwide reported being bullied, the highest proportion of any racial or ethnic group.Some kids go to school to learn, while others go to generate disorder. If we want to narrow racial gaps in academic achievement, policies ought to prioritize the needs of the former—and a school stripped of its ability to effectively discipline students will be hard-pressed to effectively teach them"
Thanks, Obama

NY educrats’ plan to make schools less safe - "Officials are proposing that schools be evaluated in part by suspension rates: The higher the rate, the lower the score. The lower the score, the higher the odds of being labeled failing and being targeted for state intervention, and no school wants that. What could go wrong?... I analyzed student and teacher perceptions of school safety in the wake of Mayor de Blasio’s landmark suspension-reduction initiative. After his plan was implemented, perceptions of order and safety plummeted district-wide, most precipitously at schools serving 90-plus percent minority students. Students at 50 percent of those schools said violence was more frequent, compared to 14 percent where matters improved, and reports of drug use and gang activity increased at approximately four times as many schools as it decreased.New York City is hardly a unique case. After Chicago limited school suspensions, researchers found a significant deterioration in teacher-reported classroom order and student-reported peer relationships. After Los Angeles limited school suspensions, the percentage of students who said they felt safe in school plummeted from 72 to 60. After St. Paul. Minn., limited school suspensions, the number of student assaults on staff tripled in one year. After Oklahoma City limited suspensions, one teacher reported she was “told that referrals would not require suspension unless there was blood.”... why would New York make this a statewide policy? It stems from the ideological conviction that suspensions harm students, putting them into the “school-to-prison pipeline.”There is, however, remarkably little evidence that suspensions harm students. In fact, perhaps the most rigorous study, by University of Arkansas researchers, found a small academic benefit to suspensions, and a study by a University of Georgia professor found that efforts to decrease the racial-suspension gap actually increase the racial achievement gap... social-justice advocates will insist that suspensions cause harm, that the racial disparity in suspensions is caused by teacher bias rather than differences in student behavior and that the state must step in to fix it.But what better way to amplify a “school-to-prison pipeline” than by removing consequences for students’ misbehavior?"

When Disruptive Students Are Coddled, the Whole Class Suffers - "NBC Nightly News aired a segment on the latest classroom-management technique to sweep America’s schools: “room clears”: When a child throws a tantrum that could physically endanger his peers, teachers evacuate all of the other students from the classroom until the troublemaker has vented his rage upon empty desks, tables and chairs. The technique was virtually unheard of five years ago. But 56 percent of surveyed teachers and parents in Oregon now report having experienced a room clear in their or their child’s classroom over the last year.Surrendering the classroom to a single student: The average reader might well ask why anyone thinks this would be a good idea. Yet the policies that make this approach inevitable have been applauded by a wide range of authorities... The emergence of room clears is a product of several fashionable education-policy trends designed to protect the rights of troubled students, often with little regard for the rights of their classmates. These include the provisions contained in the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which mandates that special-education students be subject to the “least restrictive environment” possible... In a national poll, two thirds of surveyed teachers at high-poverty schools reported that there is a student in their classroom who they believed shouldn’t be there; and 77 percent of surveyed teachers report that a small number of disruptive students cause other students to suffer. Unfortunately, IDEA’s provisions don’t adequately account for the rights and interests of general-education students, and teachers typically have little say over who is in their classroom. Once they are assigned to a traditional class, EBD students can become virtually untouchable as far as discipline goes. Schools are discouraged by federal policy and activist groups alike from disproportionately disciplining students with disabilities—the effect of which is that principals are required to overlook many otherwise unacceptable transgressions. (Two thirds of teachers say that special-education students are treated more leniently than general-education students for the same offenses.) The worst-behaved students effectively are taught that the rules don’t apply to them in the same way they apply to others. Even when misbehavior edges toward violence, EBD students are becoming physically untouchable... Teachers report feeling powerless to enforce order and ensure the safety of their students. But their voices are ignored, in part because the same ideology that undergirds these policies also serves to heap the blame for student misbehavior on educators. Statistical disparities in student discipline are taken as a prima facie indicator of institutional racism or ableism. And to the extent that student misbehavior is seen as being a product of trauma, anyone who applies disciplinary measures to the student is accused of exacerbating that trauma.The Obama administration took aim at traditional discipline, arguing that suspensions “don’t work” and pressuring school districts to opt instead for “restorative justice” or “healing circles.” After two years of enforcing the Obama administration’s war on suspensions, the current Education Secretary, Betty DeVos, finally ended it. Yet Trump-administration appointees continue to enforce other policies that have contributed to the room-clear spike... The Department of Education also seems intent on faithfully implementing another misguided special education policy, known as “Equity in IDEA.” Under Barack Obama, Department of Education bureaucrats had become alarmed by aggregate statistics showing that minority students were more likely to be designated as disabled, and that students with disabilities were more likely to be placed in alternative classrooms and more likely to be disciplined. Under the regulations they created to address “significant disproportionality,” school districts whose race-disability ratios exceed a certain threshold were required to demonstrate “progress” toward greater statistical parity, or else see their special education funding forcibly re-allocated to programs intended to accomplish that goal.By the time Donald Trump took office, it had become clear that the Department of Education’s concerns were unfounded: Researchers had determined that after controlling for misbehavior, students with disabilities were no more or less likely to be disciplined than their general-education peers. What’s more, minority students were actually substantially under-represented in special education compared to similarly situated white students. So the primary effects of “Equity in IDEA” will be to deny minority students special-education services, pressure schools to keep EBD students in traditional classrooms, and inhibit teachers from disciplining them... The teacher who spoke to reporters retired after being stabbed by a student without consequence; not a single expert NBC News spoke to questioned the policies that created the status quo; and a school-district bureaucrat cited the chaos as evidence that schools need more taxpayer funding."

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights embraces alternative facts - "without any statistics to support its point, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has stamped its imprimatur on the central lie of school discipline reform, that “students of color as a whole, as well as by individual racial group, do not commit more disciplinable offenses than their peers.”If true, this would be astonishing. Black students are disciplined at more than three times the rate of white students. If their actual rates of misbehavior were precisely statistically equal, then the only explanation for the discipline disparity would be that teachers and administrators are tremendously, deplorably, and irredeemably racially biased... According to the Youth Risk and Behavior Surveillance System survey, black students are substantially more likely than whites to say that they have been in fights at school (15.5 percent versus 6.5 percent), more likely to carry a gun (6.5 percent versus 4.1 percent), and more likely to skip school (9 percent versus 4.9 percent). According to the National Center for Education Statistics, black students are substantially more likely than white students to say that they arrive late to class “sometimes” or “often” (20.9 percent versus 12.2 percent). And Heriot’s dissent points to a raft of similar data.None of this suggests, however, that these differences are attributable to race. Instead, the heartbreaking reality is that black students are substantially more likely to come from single-parent homes, to be raised in poverty, to have received substandard prenatal care, to be malnourished, to be exposed to “adverse childhood experiences,” and to be the victims of abuse and neglect... It endorses the aggressive discipline reforms imposed upon schools by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. But it ignores every rigorous study on the effects of these reforms. In Philadelphia, Matthew Steinberg and Johanna Lacoe found significant academic harms from a discipline ban. The commission’s report does not cite their study. In Pittsburgh, RAND found significant academic harms to black students from its restorative justice initiative. The report does not cite its study. In California, Dominic Zarecki found significant and dramatic damage to math achievement. The report does not cite his study. (Although, notably, the two dissenting commissioners cite them all.)Teacher surveys in more than a dozen districts suggest that teachers do not believe that these policies work in practice. The report does not cite them.When teachers are provided an opportunity to speak anonymously on the effects of the reforms endorsed by the commission, the same horror stories are told in districts from Buffalo to Oklahoma City to Fresno: Principals refuse to administer discipline for anything except violent offenses (if even then), and teachers are left without any authority to stem a rising tide of disruption.But teachers will not speak out against these policies on the record—partly because doing so would invite retaliation from their principals. And partly because doing so is certain to court accusations of “racism” from politically correct bureaucrats, activists, and Twitter trolls who hew to the falsehood now propagated by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights... America has a long, shameful history of interest groups who distort social science to promote their strongly held beliefs on race at an untold cost to citizens of color. Unfortunately, rather than rectify the legacy of these groups and their policies, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has apparently determined to write itself in as the latest chapter in this tragic story."

City student passes 3 classes in four years, ranks near top half of class with 0.13 GPA - "A shocking discovery out of a Baltimore City high school, where Project Baltimore has found hundreds of students are failing. It’s a school where a student who passed three classes in four years, ranks near the top half of his class with a 0.13 grade point average... "He didn't fail, the school failed him. The school failed at their job. They failed. They failed, that's the problem here. They failed. They failed. He didn't deserve that.”... in his first three years at Augusta Fells, he failed 22 classes and was late or absent 272 days. But in those three years, only one teacher requested a parent conference, which France says never happened"
Clearly it's the school's fault he was so often late or absent

Top SF high school sees record spike in failing grades after dropping merit-based admission system - "San Francisco’s Lowell High School is seeing a record spike in D’s and F’s among its first batch of students admitted through a new lottery system.  The new system replaced the school’s established merit-based admissions practice, which had catapulted it to become one of the best high schools in the country... Proponents of the new lottery system argue that the merit-based system was racist as it resulted in an underrepresentation of Black and Hispanic students; opponents say it would harm Asian students – who compose the majority of the student body – and undermine the benefits of a competitive academic environment... remote learning in Lowell began in fall 2020, when only 51 students reportedly received a D or an F. That first-year class was the last batch admitted through the old merit-based system... The lottery system was born out of a long, contentious battle that began in the wake of George Floyd’s death"
Obviously the problem is the racist grading system, so liberals will say that needs to be reformed

School Board Votes to Reinstate Lowell’s Merit-Based Admissions

NPR - Posts | Facebook - "Some students started using ChatGPT, a text-based bot, to do their homework for them. Now a new app, created by 22-year-old Edward Tian, can tell teachers if an essay was written by AI."
It tells you something about US school culture that many of the comments are slamming him for being a snitch, saying the curriculum is out of date since you can "“cheat” using publicly available resources" (apparently the fact that plagiarism is a thing means the curriculum is out of date), saying teachers don't produce original work so students shouldn't have to either, claiming students shouldn't have to do work after school hours, that this is "focusing on what tech they use to present their thoughts" and we should teach "children how to think", that people against AI doing homework are old bitter people who can't embrace technology and just want kids to suffer etc. Some even outrightly say that cheating is acceptable

Boston Public Schools Suspends Test For Advanced Learning Classes; Concerns About Program’s Racial Inequities Linger - "A selective program for high-performing fourth, fifth and sixth graders in Boston has suspended enrollment due to the pandemic and concerns about equity in the program... Superintendent Brenda Cassellius recommended the one-year hiatus for the program, known as Advanced Work Classes, saying the district would not proceed with the program for new students next year... A district analysis of the program found that more than 70 percent of students enrolled in the program were white and Asian, even though nearly 80 percent of all Boston public school students are Hispanic and Black."

To Increase Equity, School Districts Eliminate Honors Classes - WSJ - "A group of parents stepped to the lectern Tuesday night at a school board meeting in this middle-class, Los Angeles-area city to push back against a racial-equity initiative. The high school, they argued, should reinstate honors English classes that were eliminated because they didn’t enroll enough Black and Latino students.  The district earlier this school year replaced the honors classes at Culver City High School with uniform courses that officials say will ensure students of all races receive an equal, rigorous education.   These parents disagreed. “We really feel equity means offering opportunities to students of diverse backgrounds, not taking away opportunities for advanced education and study,” Joanna Schaenman, a Culver City parent who helped spearhead the effort, said in the run-up to the meeting. The parental pushback in Culver City mirrors resistance that has taken place in Wisconsin, Rhode Island and elsewhere in California over the last year in response to schools stripping away the honors designation on some high school classes. School districts doing away with honors classes argue students who don’t take those classes from a young age start to see themselves in a different tier, and come to think they aren’t capable of enrolling in Advanced Placement classes that help with college admissions... “Parents say academic excellence should not be experimented with for the sake of social justice,” said Quoc Tran, the superintendent of 6,900-student Culver City Unified School District. But, he said, “it was very jarring when teachers looked at their AP enrollment and realized Black and brown kids were not there. They felt obligated to do something.”... Mr. Frigola said he disagrees with the district’s view of equity. “I was born in Cuba, and it doesn’t sound good when people are trying to achieve equal outcomes for everyone”... “There are some people who slow down the pace because they don’t really do anything and aren’t looking to try harder,” Emma said. “I don’t think you can force that into people.”... In Santa Monica, Calif., high school English teachers said last year they had “a moral imperative” to eliminate honors English classes that they viewed as perpetuating inequality... “I just don’t see how removing something from some kids all of a sudden helps other kids learn faster,” said Scott Peters, a senior research scientist at education research nonprofit NWEA who has studied equity in gifted and talented programs"
Damn extremists and terrorists!
Teachers don't see their jobs as educating students, but of advancing social justice

Fairfax trained teachers to disregard objections to 'equity grading' - "Teachers in Virginia's Fairfax County Public Schools were required to undergo professional development training on equity grading that includes a slideshow on responding to people who oppose equity initiatives... Tenets of equity grading include the elimination of "0" grades through the implementation of a 50% minimum grade on all assignments, the removal of deadlines, and the opportunity to redo assignments...   "Equitable grading hurts the very kids its proponents say they want to help," Nester said. "Kids who come from low-income families benefit most from fair systems based on merit and achievement. Equitable grading removes this rung in the ladder to success and opportunity for those kids. It sets the bar low and disincentivizes hard work. It also makes it harder for Fairfax students to compete with students from other districts that base grading off of student performance.""
Equal is not fair, under woke logic

SPLC Adds Parental Rights Groups to Hate Map - "“Schools, especially, have been on the receiving end of ramped-up and coordinated hard-right attacks, frequently through the guise of ‘parents’ rights’ groups,” the SPLC’s “Year in Hate and Extremism” report claims...   “At the forefront of this mobilization is Moms for Liberty, a Florida-based group with vast connections to the GOP that this year the SPLC designated as an extremist group,” the report notes. “They can be spotted at school board meetings across the country wearing shirts and carrying signs that declare, ‘We do NOT CO-PARENT with the GOVERNMENT.'”  The SPLC report does not once mention the Left’s aggressive promotion of sexualized material for children in schools and at other venues. It does not mention the “Drag Queen Story Hour” movement or the fact that many of the books which parents demand removed from school libraries include pornographic content. It does not mention how many on the Left champion the idea that children should be able to identify with a gender opposite their biological sex, hide that identity from their parents, and even obtain life-altering drugs without parental consent. Instead, it acts as though the parental rights movement emerged in a vacuum, or worse, is motivated by hatred.   The SPLC long has demonized conservative Christian groups such as Alliance Defending Freedom as “anti-LGBT hate groups,” national security groups such as the Center for Security Policy as “anti-Muslim hate groups,” and immigration groups such as the Center for Immigration Studies as “anti-immigrant hate groups.”  The SPLC’s 2022 report—released Tuesday—includes a new designation: the “antigovernment movement.”...   The SPLC revealed a focus on parental rights groups in April, when the organization’s Maya Henson Carey compared parental rights advocates to the “Uptown Klans” of white Southerners trying to maintain segregation after the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education... the SPLC’s accusation against the Family Research Council inspired a terrorist attack in 2012. A shooter targeted the council’s Washington, D.C., office, using the “hate map.” He intended to kill everyone in the building, but a brave security guard prevented him. The shooter is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence...   The SPLC has faced numerous scandals and hits to its credibility. In 2019, it fired its co-founder, Morris Dees, amid accusations of racial discrimination and sexual harassment tracing back decades. Amid that scandal, a former employee came forward as having been “part of the con.” He wrote that the SPLC’s hate accusations are a “highly profitable scam.”"
Parents have no rights. If you push back against the government, you're hateful

Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ on Twitter - "The Oregon teachers union is contemplating a "progressive dues structure" that will charge white teachers higher fees than their "BIPoC" counterparts. This is racism in the guise of anti-racism."

Richard Hanania on Twitter - "NYC had a test for teachers. Whites passed at a higher rate than minorities. Now the city has set aside over $1.8 billion to pay failed applicants One woman failed 10 times. When she heard about the lawsuit, she felt vindicated because she learned the test was the problem."
Black, Latino Teachers Collecting $835 Million in Discrimination Lawsuit - WSJ - "The Liberal Arts and Sciences Test contained 80 multiple-choice questions and one essay covering math, science, humanities, history, communication skills and other topics. An expert hired by the teachers at a 2002 trial testified that part of the discrepancy in passing rates could have been due to cultural knowledge underpinning the questions."
Ahh... disparate impact!

Texas' Marlin High School postpones graduation after 85% of class fails to earn diploma - "A high school in Texas postponed its graduation after the vast majority of the class failed to earn their diplomas.  Just five of the 33 senior students at Marlin High School near Waco, Tex., met the requirements for commencement, with grades or attendance issues dooming most students...   The school had recently moved to a four-day school week in an attempt to reduce absences."

Oregon again says students don’t need to prove mastery of reading, writing or math to graduate, citing harm to students of color - "Oregon high school students won’t have to prove basic mastery of reading, writing or math to graduate from high school until at least 2029, the state Board of Education decided unanimously on Thursday, extending the pause on the controversial graduation requirement that began in 2020.  The vote went against the desires of dozens of Oregonians who submitted public comments insisting the standards should be reinstated, including former Republican gubernatorial candidate Christine Drazan... Opponents argued that pausing the requirement devalues an Oregon diploma... leaders at the Oregon Department of Education and members of the state school board said requiring all students to pass one of several standardized tests or create an in-depth assignment their teacher judged as meeting state standards was a harmful hurdle for historically marginalized students, a misuse of state tests and did not translate to meaningful improvements in students’ post high school success. Higher rates of students of color, students learning English as a second language and students with disabilities ended up having to take intensive senior-year writing and math classes to prove they deserved a diploma. That denied those students the opportunity to take an elective, despite the lack of evidence the extra academic work helped them in the workplace or at college, they said."

The ventriloquist’s dilemma: Asexual Anglo travelogues of China

From 2013. Maybe this has changed since:

The ventriloquist’s dilemma: Asexual Anglo travelogues of China

"Much of the narrative muses on the canal’s cultural status as signifier of China’s long journey as a nation. Correspondingly, the canal serves as the author’s thematic launching pad for expounding on the country’s current public and political quandaries. The cast of lowly characters he meets along the way—taxi and truck drivers, barge operators, hotel and restaurant staff, dispossessed youth, migrant workers and peasants, harried Christians—all have poignant stories to tell of aspirations and tribulations of life under Communism and are thus (meant to be) representative of the larger oppressed population to which the author gives collective voice.

So fixated is he on this purpose that his writing threatens at times to devolve into a political tract or manifesto, oddly mirroring Chinese socialist-realist fiction of the 1950s-60s (Red Crag, Tracks in the Snowy Forest, etc.), with its clearly demarcated good-versus-evil characters...

We have, for starters, the omniscient all-seeing narrative eye, reminiscent of the Victorian novelist, taking in the sweeping view from on high and depicting the totality of a society’s contradictions in a poignant vignette. We also have the highlighting and juxtaposition of social extremes, China’s stunningly rapid modernization and wealth next to its penury and despair (“beggars….billionaires”). This is in order to simultaneously “praise and spank” (Salman Rushdie), as Western journalists are wont to do, to diagnose China’s schizophrenic burden, its brutal nineteenth-century ideology of relentless progress rammed up against the twenty-first century. Finally, we have the identification with the underdog, the new proletariat, which it is hinted, may rise up again in revolution.

While it’s natural to show solidarity with the dispossessed living under authoritarianism, and the author does this as a matter of course, it is nonetheless a curiously Western point of view, one that stands in pointed contrast to most Mainland Chinese, from whatever social strata, who celebrate class differences with unapologetic displays of wealth and seek at all costs to secure educational and financial advantages for their own, who couldn’t care less about the interests of the larger community and society, much less regime change.

But what I find more salient is the mysterious co-existence of disparate voices proceeding from the author. On the one hand, the laid-back backpacker in dirty jeans, the white guy with the easy rapport among the locals, roughing it and hanging out with truck drivers and waitresses. On the other, the grand statements in the style of erstwhile imperialist men of letters—the “oracular murmur” (Adam Mars-Jones on Henry James)—summing up exotic lands for our edification. Perhaps we are so used to the voice of authority that we take it for granted, are scarcely conscious of its strangeness whenever the informal writer assumes it. Or is it the other way around? Is it a backpacker mouthing truisms about China in a weighty voice or a literary poseur trying on the outfit of a backpacker? Whichever the case, the tension between these contrasting registers is unmistakable. One voice becomes distorted when the other speaks true, and vice versa.

Now, when the female Other enters the picture, the author assumes a third voice of a more unstable timbre:

As I fell asleep the telephone rang.
“Do you want a girl?” a woman asked.
No, I told her. Hours later, there was a furious banging on the door.
I shouted: “What do you want?”
“Do you want any drinks?”
“It’s 3am! Go to your grandmother! You’ll die without shame!” Those expletives stilled whoever it was, and I slept late the next morning. Only after I had dressed and gone downstairs to check out did I realize I had taken a room in the International Beautiful Women Club. The staff must have wondered why on earth I hadn’t wanted my prostitute. (pp. 189-90)

I myself wondered why this travel writer failed to notice the hotel sign, or why he didn’t know what everyone else does, that prostitutes come banging on your door in most hotels in China. At another hotel, D’Arcy-Brown ventures into the hotel bar:

With a rootless disquiet, a strange mixture of anticipation and deliverance, I went downstairs to find a drink. The hotelier was young, and he enjoyed staying up to talk.
“Do young people here in Wenshang too… have relations before marriage?” I did not want to offend what might have been his rural sensibilities. In the cities, premarital sex was becoming more common, but out here? His immediate reaction answered a different question, though no less illuminating.
“Why? Do you want a girl?”
I began to wish I’d not asked….It was not uncommon back home for women to be trafficked into the sex trade, I said. (pp. 223-24)

The man insisted before finally giving up. For the author, it was out of the question: “I leaned back in my chair and gave a cold laugh at this hotelier’s enthusiasm, and at the iniquities of a globalizing economy that made whores of village virgins here in remote Wenshang” (p. 225).

Here embarrassment, disgust, and the anxious laugh momentarily take over as the new authorial tenor, and they don’t sit comfortably with the foregoing narrative ethos. The traveler who sleeps on filthy coal barges and plays cat-and-mouse with the Chinese police is aghast at the chance of sex with a Chinese woman. To be sure, he is married, and there is the audience to consider back in the English-speaking world, not to mention potential ethical breaches in the publishing industry when a nonfiction writer is personally implicated in what is after all an illegal activity; and if he had received financial sponsorship from a third party to write the book, this would have to be factored as well in the list of reasons why sexual relations with a Chinese prostitute or any Chinese woman for that matter could not be acknowledged or even contemplated.

But to bring up the possibility, to tease and titillate the reader, to create suspense on the precipice of moral degradation, by all means! Here we see the limits, the bourgeois constraints imposed on the contemporary travelogue, the red line repeatedly skirted but never crossed in the polite world of Anglo publishing (the term “Anglo” here referring to the English-speaking countries)...

We also recognize another expected move of the Anglo journalist, the splitting of China into two adversarial camps—the rich and privileged at the top and the rest of the country that is locked out, signified respectively by the newly built expressway system and the old parallel roads still used by the disenfranchised...

Then there is the exemplary Chinese urban underdog figure that Western writers have long identified with and which Gifford latches onto as well, the taxi driver (formerly the rickshaw runner). We go out of our way to chat with the natives and even step inside their homes if invited. Yet we must not forget our obligation to remain in flight while in China, to be only passing through, as the Chinese themselves expect (how many times have I been greeted on the street with the words, “Welcome to China!,” as if just having arrived that day). It is a curious master-slave relationship, as no other Chinese personage are foreign travelers more dependent on for their most basic daily activity, namely getting around town. As negotiations and time spent with the taxi driver is unavoidable, we have developed a kind of empathy with him. He stands in as our symbolic friend, with whom we can pretend to share company and even shoot the shit if we happen to have some ability with the language.

Like D’Arcy-Brown, Gifford meets a lot of taxi drivers, whom he pays to take him across the country when he is not on buses. He meets many other folk as well, typically those with grievances against the Party (e.g. Henan Province AIDS victims, Christians). But once again, the one class of people he is careful not to get too close to, except for short, polite conversations, is women. When the subject inevitably comes up, he confronts it head on (rather than hands on) via the interview and the appropriate politically correct disclaimers:

Two institutions exist in almost every midsize or large hotel in China that show the radical changes in public morality. One is known as the “sauna massage” facility, which, as its name suggests, provides every type of sauna and every type of massage, often I’m told, at the same time. The other is the karaoke bar….I have interviewed several Chinese prostitutes during my years in China. These women frequently have the most compelling and tragic stories about life at the bottom of Chinese society. But I still feel slightly uncomfortable going to the karaoke bars where they work. There is something about looking for a prostitute, even just to interview, that annoys me, because doing so only feeds the Chinese stereotype of Western men as sexual predators. I always call my wife in Beijing to tell her what I am doing in case I get detained by the police (pp. 80-81)

You will note that in all four of the books under review in this essay, it is never the hotel staff, truck drivers or other Chinese acquaintances that have any hesitations about proposing a tryst with a sex worker. Only our respective authors have moral qualms. Gifford chooses the karaoke bar over the sauna, naturally, since the latter would require the removal of his clothes, something British and American journalists aren’t in the habit of doing outside of the domestic hearth, even if in neither the sauna nor the karaoke bar is sex a foregone conclusion. His fail-safe solution is to pay his bar hostess just to talk to him about her job (a method more commonly used by female sociologists interviewing prostitutes for academic research). He leaves once he receives a nugget or two of not very enlightening information: sex would cost another $40, and her arms have scars from a suicide attempt over a tangled relationship. Gifford’s concluding point from the episode is instructive: “We often fail to see that Chinese people are living, breathing, loving, hating individuals, who do things for complex psychological reasons, just like Westerners” (p. 84).

Surely he can’t really mean to say something so platitudinous, or worse, racist—the assumption that the Chinese aren’t quite human, at least not as much as the rest of us (even as he tries to correct this assumption). What we have here is the false stance, the double-voiced quality popping up again, when two inconsistent narrative voices co-exist uneasily in the same persona.

Let’s unpack this a bit with the help of Russian literary critic Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of ventriloquism or “ventriloquation” (The Dialogic Imagination). To ventriloquize is to pretend to assume the voice of the Other. Of course, this is something creative writers do all the time; fiction and drama depends on the ability to capture a multiplicity of voices (what Bakhtin calls “heteroglossia”). In the case of nonfiction, however, the writer is bound by a compact with the reader to tell the truth, and by other constraints as well—ethical, legal, financial, etc., as mentioned above. These constraints are amplified in the case of journalists writing for the big publishers, where power and monetary interests are at stake. Here the writer’s relationship with the reader is more complex and bi-directional. He or she is no longer merely the author ventriloquizing the Other, but is just as likely being ventriloquized as the subject and instrument of power.

Thus we have Gifford mouthing the words of his dummies, the Chinese subjects he meets along his trip—authentic words, to be sure, but carefully selected and edited nonetheless—while he is at the same time himself a ventriloquist’s dummy, speaking the barely disguised ideology of his publisher, who shapes and determines what he must finally say (we won’t go into how his Chinese subjects are also mouthing him in turn). When Gifford says, “[t]here is something about looking for a prostitute, even just to interview, that annoys me” (why should interviewing a prostitute “annoy” one?), we suspect he is referring to his publisher’s or editor’s thoughts, not his own.

When the tension between the authentic voice and the assumed voice (whichever is which) is stretched to the extreme, it oscillates and ambivalence results. Is Gifford truly the sanctimonious journalist? Or does he regret not being able to rough it with the girls instead of only with the guys? Here is where we recognize the voice of the dummy at its most distorted and uncanny. At the very moment the author thinks he is ventriloquizing but realizes he is being ventriloquized, he stumbles in the space of this reversal. What comes out instead is the non sequitur or the cliché (“We often fail to see that Chinese people are living, breathing, loving, hating individuals…”). ..

The shops are all scams, set up to entrap customers into believing they are at fault for destroying the rocks and forcing them to pay for them. Not that this kind of thing is unknown to me, but one must be ever vigilant for the infinite variations of Chinese-style cheating.

Being a youngish, good-looking guy, though married (to the Chinese American Leslie Chang, author of Factory Girls), Hessler’s inexorable encounters with the Gorgon’s face are dispatched with dour finality almost as soon as they crop up. This is where his impeccably controlled voice begins to wobble. At one point he meets a group of truckers who are delighted at the idea of the American having sex with a Russian prostitute who works the rest stop they frequent:

His companion laughed and said, “She’s a prostitute!”
Oh God, I said to myself. If there was anything more depressing than a four-bed room in a Gansu trucker’s dorm, it was the knowledge that a Russian woman was turning tricks upstairs.
“Do you want to go see her?” the man said.
“No,” I said. “I’m tired. I just drove five hours without stopping.”
“Come on, let’s go! She’s a foreigner, too. You guys can talk!”
I’m sure she had a story….But I couldn’t bring myself to hear it, or gawk at the woman; and finally the Sichuanese truckers gave up. Sometimes all you want from a two-dollar bed is a little sleep. (p. 111)

Granted, sleeping with a prostitute, like gambling, rock climbing, or bird watching, is not everyone’s cup of tea, and two-dollar beds in China involve a mere plywood board with a sheet. Understandably he was concerned about getting a good night’s sleep. But notice that this garrulous guy is always willing to chat up any Chinese who comes his way. With the glaring exception of sexually threatening women. Moreover, the truckers don’t insist he sleep with her, only talk with her, as he does with them.

Come to think of it, I find the idea of a Russian sex worker hacking out a living all by herself in an isolated spot in Sichuan Province, and maybe even enjoining her life, rather exotic and intriguing and not in the least “depressing.” Fearless women who are not afraid of men turn me on, as a matter of fact. I would have wanted to talk with her, just to see human creativity in action at the margins. Why not too our intrepid journalist?

At another point, Hessler meets an enigmatic Chinese tour guide of Mongolian ethnicity in Inner Mongolia. She appears to have had a few drinks on the job and is tipsy enough to cut through the formalities and try to seduce him:

On the bench she had edged closer, and now I could feel her leg against my thigh.
“Actually,” she said, “I don’t like my boyfriend very much.”
It seemed like a good time to change the subject, but I couldn’t think of anything to say. She studied my face closely, looking into my eyes, and finally she spoke. “Are you a spy?” she said.
“No,” I said. “I’m a writer. I told you. I write articles and books.”
She pressed closer. (p. 88)

He escapes. We’re supposed to experience a sigh of relief, but somehow I feel cheated at this lost opportunity. Perhaps because I’m getting on in years and sexually aggressive women are making fewer appearances in my own life, I sort of miss them. If one is writing a travelogue, this kind of fleeting prospect is ripe for amplification. If this were a novel, the Mongolian might turn out to be an important character. Any person you sleep with in a foreign country is a precious window into the culture, which you reject at your peril.

The most intriguing and poignant encounter with the scary Other occurs when the author gets lost on a country road in Hebei Province and is finally flagged down by an unaccompanied female looking for a ride:

I turned a corner and saw a hitchhiker. She could have been a mirage: high heels, short skirt, pale tights.
“Where are you going?” she said. “Are you alone?”
“Why are you here?” she asked.
Wanr,” I said. In Chinese the phrase is so common that it comes out automatically: For fun. But it’s probably the wrong thing to say on a creekbed in Inner Mongolia. The woman removed her foot from the car.
“I think I’ll wait,” she said.
And that was where I left her, standing on the broken rocks – the only hitcher I met who turned down the City Special [the brand of his rented car]. (pp. 46-47)

Wanr” is indeed a loaded term in Chinese. It literally means “to play,” as something children do and by extension adults as well, in the sense of going out for leisure activities. In certain contexts it is slang for sex. One would never propose to “wanr” with a Chinese female stranger unless she was a prostitute or assumed to be one. This woman was not a prostitute, despite her clothing, much less the unlikely location. Hessler admits as much, and generally about the hitchhiking women he encountered in the area:

Most people I picked up were women who looked almost as out of place as I did. They tended to be of a distinct type: small-town sophisticates, girls who had left the village and were on their way to becoming something else. They were well dressed, often in skirts and heels, and their hair was dyed in unsubtle shades of red. Invariably they were migrants on a home visit. They worked in factories, in restaurants, in hair salons, and they didn’t say much about these jobs. (pp. 44-45)

Yet he addresses the woman as if she were a prostitute; how else might she have interpreted his words? She is understandably taken aback and intimidated by this bizarre specter of a foreign man rudely propositioning himself to her. I suppose he uses the word “wanr” to get rid of her, and it works. On this occasion, Hessler’s accustomed courtesy and altruism suddenly evaporates. The same author who bends over backwards to secure a life-saving blood transfusion for the boy of one of his neighbors in Sancha village (with financial and medical help from the US) is quite crotchety with the women he encounters in his China sojourn, when he reverts to the prototypical imperious Westerner, traveling in the only way the Orient can be made bearable, which is to just be passing through.

Meanwhile, we can’t help wondering what would have transpired in the awkward event the woman had hopped in, and instead of his dummy in the passenger seat mouthing the cornball comment, “the only hitcher I met who turned down the City Special,” as the ventriloquist gets the car back on the road (but not before getting directions from her), he had her in the seat, this woman he had pulled over for in the first place and then repelled. Maybe she did get in and we’re not being told the truth. Or maybe not, and he regretted it. Whatever the case, the scene doesn’t jive. It represents, once again, the jostling voices, the fraught ambivalence of a talented author penning books at a time when American travel writing is at its most banal...

Pomfret has also penetrated the country more deeply than the aforementioned authors in another sense: he is the only one to admit to having sexual involvements with Chinese women. This honesty and willingness to take risks with people make his relations ring with authenticity and interest, though once again the same does not extend to the prostitute. It’s common for Chinese men out on the town to finish off the evening with a massage at the sauna; the sex industry was already in full swing back in 1999 when he relates the scene. But Pomfret opts out of his friends’ invitation and “left them to it” (p. 199). Later in his hotel room we have a bit of déjà vu, that of the vacillating and inarticulate Anglo teetering on the edge:

The phone rang. “Mister, are you lonely?” a smoky voice croaked from the other end of the line. “Would you like someone to come upstairs and play?”
“How much?” I inquired.
“The best are twenty dollars,” she said. Apparently, I was not going to get a discount.
There was a knock on my door. I opened it and a thin girl in a shiny chartreuse tank top, dyed red hair, and stonewashed jeans greeted me with a blast of cigarette smoke.
“You want to play?” she asked, her arms akimbo.
I mumbled an apology and closed the door. (p. 240)

Pomfret met his first girlfriend in China in 1981, at a time when it was prohibited, and would remain so for at least another decade, for Chinese women to date, let alone sleep or cohabit with foreign men. Even on the street women seen with a foreign male could be arrested, and those caught in real or supposed sexual relationships were charged with the same crime as bona fide prostitutes, “hooliganism,” and sent off to re-education camp for several years.

This lends an air of excitement to Pomfret’s trysts with Fay, whom he met at a bar frequented by foreign students. He describes their delicate courtship, more out of caution than bashfulness, their excursions to hidden nooks and crannies, out of sight of prying eyes (though a man, possibly a spy, once took them by surprise and snapped their picture while holding hands); their making love in alleys perched on his bicycle seat disguised in Mao attire; their lengthy trip to the southwest of the country when they had to pretend not to know each other on trains and couldn’t share the same hotel room (Fay was caught by the police trying to get into Tibet with him though fortunately released); her understandable falling for this tall, young handsome foreign man fluent in Chinese and her wishes to marry him, which came to nought.

His next relationship, or fling rather, was in 1988 (when puritanical restrictions on sex were beginning to thaw), with a divorced former actress, Nana, who managed to smuggle Pomfret into her PLA compound residence where she lived and worked. Actors in China have a long tradition, going back centuries, of association with the realm of vice, and she seemed to fit this mold for the author, with her frank sexuality and open relationships with other Chinese men (even flirting with one of them on the phone while having sex with Pomfret):

Nana’s impetuous passion mirrored the society around her, single-mindedly focused on sating various appetites. She approached the world with ferocious hunger; befuddling at times and awesome at others. She acknowledged she had continued to sleep with her ex-husband [and] explained that without her, he would be unable to find anyone with whom to have sex….I continued to see her. She referred to herself as a huli jing (a “fox spirit”) – a demon who inhabits the body of a beguiling woman. (pp. 139-43)

A decade later he meets Zhang Mei, a Harvard-educated Chinese returnee from a long spell in the US, fully conversant in the English language and Western culture. He describes the “love of my life” who would become his wife:

Mei was impressed with my Chinese but also found me arrogant, another one of those know-it-all foreigners who think they understand China better than the Chinese. As for me, my interaction with Chinese women had been pretty much limited to floozies and opportunists. Mei definitely didn’t fit either category. And just as I no longer needed a Chinese woman to get into Chinese society, Mei had no need of a foreigner to get out. (p. 271)

The “floozies and opportunists” refer of course to Fay and Nana (or are other affairs being hidden from the reader?). Of the three princesses, I’m most drawn to the bad ones, the two earlier, remarkably liberated women, than to the good one who wins the prince, Zhang Mei, who comes off as a bit too normal and flat to be of interest, though appropriate for a fairytale ending. Floozies are interesting; their personality is externalized, in technicolor, unless the floozy is a dummy, her voice distorted by a ventriloquist eager to justify his choices under the regime of monogamy that permeates Anglo travel writing as thoroughly as PG-rated Hollywood. We are led to suspect the only reason the Fay and Nana affairs are legitimated and inserted into the narrative at all is Pomfret was young and single at the time. It’s too bad, as he is a good writer, one who allows his characters to breathe. Somehow I just wish his book was a novel and Fay and Nana came back to cause trouble.

In conclusion, let me stress that my objection to these four books is not that I felt cheated out of the expectation I would be lasciviously entertained or that travel writers are somehow under obligation to raise the subject. On the contrary, there is no reason why sex need come up at all in a travel account, any more than the local cuisines or a country’s religious practices. The pattern I began to notice, however, was that the subject did indeed keep cropping up in all four accounts, though in a fraught or frivolous, insinuating, pejorative way, with the spotlight falling on the pathetic figure of the prostitute. The characteristic disingenuous manner of broaching the topic of sex, the implication that any extramarital sexual contact with a Chinese woman is somehow tainted or suspect (possibly on their part, always on ours), called attention to itself and demanded deconstructing. At the same time, I’m sure there are travelogues I have missed, on China or other countries, which would offer a more lively and complex exploration of the erotics of traveling, while others would continue to fit the pattern I’ve described.

That said, China does present a special case, and this is likely why most travelogues on the country can’t ignore it: it is everywhere. China’s sex industry is on a scale that is beyond the comprehension of most Westerners (particularly Americans not living in Las Vegas or New Orleans); they stumble upon it but struggle to take it all in. Consequently they are missing a huge social realm, one that the Chinese themselves take for granted.

Along with the grueling banqueting and drinking regimens with colleagues and clients, white-collar workers are routinely compelled to visit “business” or “relaxation” centers (saunas, bathhouses) as part of their job. One would think some foreign travel writers would want to know more about this vast underworld. Beyond encounters with sex workers, there is the extensive mistress culture of kept women as well. Meanwhile there are hundreds of thousands of foreigners presently living in China, many of whom are in sexual relationships of all types with locals, running the gamut from paid sex to one-night stands to marriage. There is no clear dividing line between the proper and the improper relationship. Those who insist on viewing everything through the lens of vice are blind to a much larger phenomenon.

Over the coming years, I expect we will see a plethora of fiction and nonfiction books, studies, articles and blogs coming out on the topic, not to mention what the Chinese themselves have to say about it, as we leave behind our current quaint neo-Victorian phase of travel writing on the Orient.

The main factors that have thus far conspired to delay this up till now, and to inhibit writers such as the four reviewed above from delving into it more than superficially, is the intersection of two prohibitory gray areas. First, the illegal or semi-legal status of sex work in China (and of all non-monogamous sex up until a decade or two ago), despite its ubiquity. Second, the ethics and legality of Western publishing on sex in foreign countries. While the “legality” of sex work operates very differently in China, being largely a matter of the economics of police and protection money, foreign writers and journalists are still technically committing a crime if they pay for sex with a sex worker, jeopardizing their ability to stay in the country. An American or British press likewise implicates itself by publishing any account detailing such activity. The same applies to non-monetary sexual relations with Chinese, e.g., involving an adulterous affair, a relationship with a superior (a boss or teacher), or ambiguous behavior that could be interpreted as harassment in one country but not in the other, and so forth.

Sexual relations even in the most egalitarian sense are messy enough, all the more sensitive and volatile in asymmetrical contexts. Though this is all very much a reality of today’s China, Anglo publishing isn’t quite ready for it. It’s rough and exciting uncharted territory ahead for the pioneers."


Friday, December 01, 2023

Links - 1st December 2023 (2 - Palestine/Middle East Peace)

Zach Goldberg on X - "1/Strange. Palestinian Christians face the same oppressive occupation as their Muslim peers, and yet they are consistently vastly less likely to support acts of terrorism against Israeli civilians. Such a mystery. Socioeconomic, geographic, and other demographic variables hardly explain the difference. Again, such a mystery. Wonder what it could be."

MEMRI on X - "Gaza Kindergarten Graduation Ceremony: Kids Stage Mock Military Attack and Hostage-Taking (Archival) #Hamas #Gaza #Palestinians #child_indoctrination"
Damn Jews teaching their children to hate Palestinians!

Imtiaz Mahmood on X - "Islam is the fastest growing religion because:
1. Muslim women remain at home and their only job is to make babies.
2. If you leave Islam, you are apostate and can get killed.
3. Anyone marrying a Muslim must convert to Islam.
4. In West, more children you have, you get more state benefits.
5. A Muslim man is allowed upto 4 wives.
6. Muslims are poorer than the world average. Poorer people tend to have more children.
7. Palestine specific. If one of your children dies in Terrorist activity or as a human shield, you get $1500 plus $350 per month pension for life. So women have 'extra' 'disposable' children. Breeding rate per Gazan woman is 3.34."

Visegrád 24 on X - "Why is it that those who want Israel to be “decolonised” by the Jews and returned to the “indigenous” Palestinians, never call for instance for the countries of the Maghreb to be decolonised and returned by the Arabs to the Berbers?"

Hussain Abdul-Hussain on X - "Factoid: Since 1929, not a single day has passed without Arabs killing, or trying to kill, Jews. Even during peak peace (1993 Oslo-2000), Hamas never stopped suicide bombings. Will leave this here for those who argue that Arabs/Palestinians tried peace, but were always rebuffed by evil Zionists."
The cope is that there will never be peace until Israel is destroyed ("from the river to the sea"), but it's Israel's fault. Of course, even if Israel is ever destroyed, everything that goes wrong until the end of time will still be its fault, just like colonialism is still blamed for everything

Time to Stop Toeing the Line - "At the height of Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s seven-week war with Hamas in the summer of 2014, then President Barack Obama imposed an embargo on a shipment of Hellfire missiles to Israel after the Pentagon approved the transfer.  A senior Obama administration told the The Wall Street Journal at the time that Israel could no longer expect automatic resupply of critical munitions in wartime. The decision to embargo the Hellfire missiles, the official averred, amounted to “the United States saying ‘the buck stops here. Wait a second … It’s not OK anymore.’”  The embargo was spurred by an IDF artillery round that fell on a United Nations school Hamas was using as a missile launching site. As is its wont, Hamas placed civilians at the site to serve as human shields.  The Hellfire embargo was meant to teach Israel a lesson.  But what lesson? If the administration wanted Israel to minimize civilian casualties, Obama should have been happy to supply Israel with more Hellfire missiles. Unlike regular artillery shells, the precision guided Hellfire missiles minimize civilian casualties.  By embargoing the Hellfire missiles, Obama was ensuring that all things being equal, more civilians would die. And that was the point. By denying Israel access to Hellfire missiles in the middle of a war, Obama was forcing Israel to choose between fighting Hamas with “dumb” artillery rounds at the cost of more civilian casualties and more U.S. and international condemnation, or standing down. Under the circumstances, the IDF General Staff might have been expected to reevaluate the desirability of maintaining Israel’s dependence on U.S. military assistance over time. But no such reassessment took place then, or since. Over the five decades since the U.S. transformed Israel into a U.S. client state through military aid, the handful of senior IDF officers who opposed the aid found themselves denied promotions, marginalized, and out of the IDF... there are good reasons for the IDF to oppose U.S. aid. The first is the uncertainty of procurement. When Israel jointly developed its Iron Dome and David’s Sling missile defense systems with the U.S., Washington insisted the missile production lines be located in the U.S., not Israel. The position raised few concerns at the time. But during Israel’s miniwar with Hamas in 2021, anti-Israel, progressive lawmakers sought to block supplemental orders.  In 2021, the progressives lacked the political power to get their way. But there is every reason to fear the balance of power will eventually shift to the progressives’ advantage.  There is also the problem of U.S. weapons themselves. While the U.S. remains the most powerful force in the world, its technological advantage over Russia and China is no longer as clear-cut today as it was in the past... Another reason the IDF might have been expected to question the desirability of continued dependence on U.S. aid is because it comes attached to strategic goals which, while perhaps reasonable for the U.S., are often bad for Israel. The U.S.’s strategic goal in the Middle East is to avoid a war. Israel’s goal is to achieve security.  These are two very different goals. Sometimes, they overlap and sometimes they clash. The IDF’s sense of dependence on the U.S. makes Israeli generals toe the U.S. line at all times, regardless of the implications of doing so for Israel’s strategic interests."

Arafat didn't negotiate - he just kept saying no - "Ever since the start of the second Palestinian intifada, a row has raged over who was responsible for the breakdown of the peace process. Now, for the first time, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak has weighed in, accusing Yasser Arafat of being a liar who talked peace while secretly plotting the destruction of Israel... Clinton had "slowly" - to avoid misunderstanding - read out to Arafat a document, endorsed in advance by Barak, outlining the main points of a future settlement. The proposals included the establishment of a demilitarised Palestinian state on some 92% of the West Bank and 100% of the Gaza Strip, with some territorial compensation for the Palestinians from pre-1967 Israeli territory; the dismantling of most of the settlements and the concentration of the bulk of the settlers inside the 8% of the West Bank to be annexed by Israel; the establishment of the Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem, in which some Arab neighborhoods would become sovereign Palestinian territory and others would enjoy "functional autonomy"; Palestinian sovereignty over half the Old City of Jerusalem (the Muslim and Christian quarters) and "custodianship," though not sovereignty, over the Temple Mount; a return of refugees to the prospective Palestinian state though with no "right of return" to Israel proper; and the organisation by the international community of a massive aid programme to facilitate the refugees' rehabilitation.  Arafat said no. Enraged, Clinton banged on the table and said: "You are leading your people and the region to a catastrophe." A formal Palestinian rejection of the proposals reached the Americans the next day. The summit sputtered on for a few days more but to all intents and purposes it was over. Today Barak portrays Arafat's behaviour at Camp David as a "performance" geared to exacting from the Israelis as many concessions as possible without ever seriously intending to reach a peace settlement or sign an "end to the conflict"... "What they [Arafat and his colleagues] want is a Palestinian state in all of Palestine," says Barak. "What we see as self-evident, [the need for] two states for two peoples, they reject. Israel is too strong at the moment to defeat, so they formally recognise it. But their game plan is to establish a Palestinian state while always leaving an opening for further 'legitimate' demands down the road. They will exploit the tolerance and democracy of Israel first to turn it into 'a state for all its citizens', as demanded by the extreme nationalist wing of Israel's Arabs and extremist leftwing Jewish Israelis. Then they will push for a binational state and then demography and attrition will lead to a state with a Muslim majority and a Jewish minority. This would not necessarily involve kicking out all the Jews. But it would mean the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state. This, I believe, is their vision. Arafat sees himself as a reborn Saladin - the Kurdish Muslim general who defeated the Crusaders in the 12th century - and Israel as just another, ephemeral Crusader state."... Barak shook his head - in bewilderment and sadness - at what he regards as Palestinian, and especially Arafat's, mendacity: "They are products of a culture in which to tell a lie... creates no dissonance. They don't suffer from the problem of telling lies that exists in Judaeo-Christian culture. Truth is seen as an irrelevant category. There is only that which serves your purpose and that which doesn't. They see themselves as emissaries of a national movement for whom everything is permissible. There is no such thing as 'the truth'." Speaking of Arab society, Barak recalls: "The deputy director of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation once told me that there are societies in which lie detector tests don't work, societies in which lies do not create cognitive dissonance [on which the tests are based]."  But Barak is far from dismissive of Arafat, who appears to many Israelis to be a sick, slightly doddering buffoon and, at the same time, sly and murderous. Barak sees him as "a great actor, very sharp, very elusive, slippery." He cautions that Arafat "uses his broken English" to excellent effect."
From 2002

Israel’s #1 sketch comedy show : MajorityReport - "Specifically, when you see anti-zionist Orthodox Jews protesting [the existence of Israel], they are almost always members of the Neturei Karta sect; a fringe group smaller than the Westboro Baptist Church.  (Note that by "anti-zionist", I am referring to the strict definition: those who oppose self-determination for the Jewish people and advocate for the destruction of Israel. There are plenty of Jews, Orthodox and otherwise, opposed to specific policies or behaviors of the State of Israel.)"

palestinians are a myth says hamas member "they are just saudis and egyptians" - YouTube

Marina Medvin 🇺🇸 on X - "Did the Jews take land from Arab Palestinians in the 1940s? Was there a “dispossession” of Arab Palestinians by Jews?  No.  But Jews did buy land, legally, from Ottoman/Turkish landowners. Arabs sold the land (above market rate) to Jews. Some of the renters/tenants were upset their landlords sold off the land to Jews. But that’s not dispossession. These are the people who today are known as Palestinians and who claim they have an original interest in Israeli land. They never claim they own it, by the way— they just claim their ancestors lived on it.   BTW Israel keeps all the land purchase records on file in a safe place. All land was lawfully acquired from Arabs under their own laws. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_land_purchase_in_Palestine   Don’t let the Rashida Tlaibs of the world lie to you."

Meme - "Palestinian Answers To Israeli Peace Offers
1937 Peel Partition - NO!
1947 UN Partition - NO!
2000 Camp David - NO!
2001 Taba Clinton - NO!
2005/6 Disengagement/Realignment - NO!
2008 Olmert Plan - NO!
2010- 14 Quartet Negotiations - NO!
2016 Biden Plan - NO!"
How many times can you say no to peace and still pretend you want it?
They don't want peace - they want Israel destroyed

Meme - "we are proud to die for our cause exterminating Israel!"
"nooooo Israel won't stop bombing us!"

Luai Ahmed on X - "As Arabs, we need to understand that Israel and the West are not our oppressors or enemies.  We, Arabs, are our own worst enemies.   We, Arabs, are our greatest oppressors.  We, Arabs, have killed and oppressed a million times more of our people than the West and Israel can ever do.  It is not Israel that married off my mother when she was a child. It is my people who did.  It is not the West or Israel that has been bombing Yemen for the past decade and killed 400,000. It is us, Arabs, who did it.  It is not the Israel that implanted Islamic extremism in the East and the West. It is our mosques, it is the books we worship, it is the Imams we follow, it is what we learn and what we teach.  It is not the West that forces us to treat women like commodities. It is our people.  And most of all, it is not the West or Israel that doesn’t value Arab lives.   It is us, Arabs, who do not value human life.  If we do not admit to ourselves that WE are the problem, that WE are refusing to progress, and that WE need to change – then change will never happen, blood will keep flowing, and we will never know peace.  How do we expect the world and the International Community to respect us, when we don’t respect ourselves?"

Mizrahi Jews in Israel - Wikipedia - "Mizrahi Jews constitute one of the largest Jewish ethnic divisions among Israeli Jews. Mizrahi Jews are descended from Jews in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia and parts of the Caucasus, who had lived for many generations under Muslim rule during the Middle Ages. The vast majority of them left the Muslim-majority countries during the Arab–Israeli conflict, in what is known as the Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries.  As of 2005, 61% of Israeli Jews were of full or partial Mizrahi ancestry. After the establishment of the State of Israel and subsequent 1948 Arab–Israeli War, most Mizrahi Jews were either expelled by their Arab rulers or chose to leave and emigrated to Israel. According to the 2009 Statistical Abstract of Israel, 50.2% of Israeli Jews are of Mizrahi or Sephardic origin"
This doesn't stop the anti-Semites from claiming that Jews migrated to Israel from abroad to occupy it, taking it away from its "original inhabitants"

Meme - "Mia Khalifa:
literally a porn star
boobs are fake
retired from porn but was so bad at everything she went to onlyfans
banned from her home country for thottery
Abigail Shapiro:
Clasically trained opera singer and theatre actress
boobs are real, doesn't need to show them off
dutiful wife and mother

Palestinians: LGBTQ+ not welcome here - "According to Pew Research, 93% of the Palestinian population is completely opposed to homosexuality, a percentage among the highest in the world. Palestine has also been named by Forbes as one of the worst countries in the world for LGBTQ+ travelers.  In recent years, Palestinian authors have been targeted for writing about LGBTQ+ issues, LGBTQ+ NGOs like alQaws have been banned for not being aligned with “traditional Palestinian values” (though this was reversed after international outcry), and individuals continue to be harassed and assaulted for their identity. According to Palestinian law, being gay is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and in Gaza, it’s punishable by death. In 2016, Hamas executed a senior commander by firing squad in Gaza for homosexual activity. LGBTQ+ Palestinians have no legal protections against discrimination, are forbidden from adopting and gay marriage is not recognized in any capacity. In this Pride month alone, the LGBTQ+ community has been threatened and silenced in Ramallah, forcing a concert of east Jerusalem’s Bashar Murad to be canceled when anti-gay activists marched into a concert venue and demanded the organizers cancel the event for the LGBTQ+ community.  The lead activist, the son of a Hamas commander, stated in a now viral video, “don’t test our patience” and warned that the LGBTQ+ community isn’t welcome in Palestine. Over the weekend, cars of participants in an LGBTQ+ event were also vandalized by anti-gay Palestinians. It’s also important to note that this was not occurring in a village in the remote West Bank, but in Ramallah, which is considered to be the most developed and progressive Palestinian city... While the war is being waged against Palestinians in the LGBTQ+ community in the West Bank and Gaza, intersectional activists in the West care more about attacking Israel than they do about Palestinian LGBTQ+. In fact, even Palestinian NGOs like alQaws have been criticized by gay Palestinians for focusing more on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than on supporting the community. Activist groups like the ironically named Queers for Palestine have repeatedly used their platform and that of their activists to obsessively condemn Israel, rather than educating for tolerance and support for the LGBTQ+ community in the Palestinian territories. And while it’s possible to advocate for more than one cause at once, there is no proportionality when it comes to the criticism of Israel versus advocating for the Palestinian LGBTQ+ community. Such obsession is the height of irony, given that many Palestinians flee to Israel due to the fact they are gay and that Tel Aviv is home to the largest Pride parade in the Middle East, with attendance above 170,000 people this last month. The anti-Israel LGBTQ+ activists may stand with Palestine but Palestine certainly doesn’t stand with them. Sadly, it’s the Palestinian LGBTQ+ community which pays the price."

“Mondoweiss” is a hate site (UPDATED) - The Washington Post - "Here is where warmed-over Marxism meets anti-Semitism. The Jews never had much political power in Europe, but after emancipation they were often, on average, more economically successful than the local non-Jewish population. So Jews aren’t proper Marxist victims, because Marxist dogma requires the victims to be of economically lower status than the oppressors. This is a major reason why European Jews faced with violent jihadist anti-Semitism get little sympathy on the far left–they are economically better-off than the local Muslim population, so only the latter can be proper victims. Thus criticizing Islamist jihadists is “punching down.” (Of course, it doesn’t help that the Jews are perceived as “white” and the Muslims not. That seems largely irrelevant in France, where 80% of Jews migrated to France from the same North African countries as most of the Muslims, but maybe I’m attributing some rationality where there is none to be found.)... For centuries in Europe, “Jew” simply represented whatever real or imagined foe needed to be combated. It’s not entirely a coincidence that when the European far-left decided that nationalism, racism, and imperialism were the foci of evil in the world, that it was Israel that came to be the primary target for those sins, even if the Jewish connection was unconscious among many of the targeters... If similar nonsense came from the keyboard of a right-wing Christian like Pat Buchanan, no one would have any trouble identifying the relevant website as a hate site. The fact that this comes from a leftist “as a Jew” (or a “righteous Jew” according to John Mearsheimer’s rather idiosyncratic standard) shouldn’t alter one’s conclusion."

Isa Kamari (mirror) - "IMPOSTORS Dr. Areilla Oppenheim at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, did the first extensive DNA study in 2001 of Israelis & Palestinians, and concluded that the emigrants on ships to Palestine before it became Israel were of Mongol 40% & Turkish 40% genome...there was no Semetic blood associated to the original Hebrews from the Middle East of 4,000 years ago in Jerusalem or Biblical territory. This was confirmed by another DNA project by Dr. Eran Elhaik at the McKusick-Namans Institute of Genetic Medicine at the John Hopkins University of School of Medicine, in 2012. His conclusions were the same!* The Askenanzi so-called Jews did not ever migrate out of the Middle East!*. At the same time extensive DNA evidence found the Palestinians to be 80% more or less, Semetic blood in their ancestors who were found therefore to be the real Israelites. The white Jews whose ancestors embarked on ships in 1882 to Palestine before it was named Israel---aren't Israelites. Truth hurts* once again These White Eastern European descendants of German, Russian, Polish, Austrian, Georgian, etc., are impostors claiming to be Gods Chosen Ones, but are descendants of the old Khazars from the Khazarian Caucus & they have been denying this scientific evidence as they have made up myths of their own histories, which already many Americans believe throughout one whole century, i.e. Schofield Bible. For, the real history of the new established "Israel in 1947" --'is no secret today!* Since Palestinians were found to be almost more or at least 80%Semetic. The So-called people are on the wrong side of history. From Edib Smolo #freepalestine #freegaza #israelterrorist #genocideingaza #genocideinpalestine"
It's telling that whenever they report their fake news studies they never provide links to or names of these studies. Of course, the real 2001 paper (below) by Dr. Areilla Oppenheim (who was actually the last author among 6) says something very different. Not to mention how the Facebook post mischievously conflates Ashkenazi Jews with all Jews, as if half the Jews in Israel today are not actually Middle Eastern in origin (and were ethnically cleansed from the Arab countries)

The Y Chromosome Pool of Jews as Part of the Genetic Landscape of the Middle East - "The investigation of the genetic relationship among three Jewish communities revealed that Kurdish and Sephardic Jews were indistinguishable from one another, whereas both differed slightly, yet significantly, from Ashkenazi Jews... Neither Ashkenazi Jews nor the two Sephardic samples clustered with their former host populations (non-Jewish Eastern European, Iberian, and North African populations)."
Ironically, the paper shows that Palestinian Arabs are more related to all the types of Jews studied than Muslim Kurds, and are more related to Kurdish and Ashkenazi Jews than the Bedouin

Abraham's Children in the Genome Era: Major Jewish Diaspora Populations Comprise Distinct Genetic Clusters with Shared Middle Eastern Ancestry - "In this study, Jewish populations from the major Jewish Diaspora groups—Ashkenazi, Sephardic, and Mizrahi—formed a distinctive population cluster by PCA analysis, albeit one that is closely related to European and Middle Eastern, non-Jewish populations. Within the study, each of the Jewish populations formed its own cluster as part of the larger Jewish cluster. Each group demonstrated Middle Eastern ancestry and variable admixture with European populations...  This time of a split between Middle Eastern Iraqi and Iranian Jews and European/Syrian Jews, calculated by simulation and comparison of length distributions of IBD segments, is 100–150 generations, compatible with a historical divide that is reported to have occurred more than 2500 years ago. The Middle Eastern populations were formed by Jews in the Babylonian and Persian empires who are thought to have remained geographically continuous in those locales. In contrast, the other Jewish populations were formed more recently from Jews who migrated or were expelled from Palestine and from individuals who were converted to Judaism during Hellenic-Hasmonean times, when proselytism was a common Jewish practice"

NYC: Muslim Makes Terrifying Threats Against Jewish People: “I Watch Israeli People Die and I Masturbate With That….I Just Like Killing Jews. I Rape Them First. Then I Kill Them” - "Muslim: I watch Israeli people die and I masturbate with that.
Interviewer: Wow, what do you think about the Jewish people?
Muslim: They are dirty. Heil Hitler.
I just like killing Jews. I’ll rape them first. Then I kill them. That’s the difference. Cutting their fingers,  my God, it was so good.
I’m in the US right now, I’m in Manhattan. The US is fucking evil. One day we will take all US.  All the Muslims will destroy the US and we will rule the world
Interviewer: I wish you find god. I wish you peace.
Muslim: I have god. Allah."

Egypt Canada Islam Said Shoaib | Middle East Media Research Institute - "In a June 29 interview with the Arab-Christian channel Al-Hayat TV, Egyptian-Canadian journalist Said Shoaib called Al-Andalus a "colonialist occupation" and added that it is very sad that the Muslims "take pride in their colonialist crimes." Muslims, he said, have no choice but to reform their religion, rather than continuing to be "a burden on civilization." He pointed out that "our conflict with Israel is mostly religious, otherwise we would be treating Iran the same way we treat Israel," and added that "the reforms in the Jewish religion improved it." He also criticized Egyptian media and public for refusing to admit that the kidnapping and slaughter of Copts by jihadi terrorists is based on religion...
Said Shoaib: "Iran is occupying the Arab region of Ahwaz and oppressing the Sunnis, and it is occupying the UAE islands. Turkey is occupying the Alexandretta province. Is there one occupation that is halal and another that is haram?... nobody cares. They only care about Israel, because the Prophet Muhammad engaged in a political armed and unarmed conflict [with the Jews] 1,400 years ago, and we act as if it happened today. There is another upsetting paradox. We consider Al-Andalus to be a source of pride for the Muslims, although it was, in fact, a colonialist occupation."
Interviewer: "You won't hear France saying today with pride: 'remember how we occupied Algeria and Morocco? Those were the days...'"
Said Shoaib: "Nobody says that except for the Muslims, and this is very sad. The Muslims are the only ones who take pride in their colonialist crimes."
Interviewer: "Because it is a religious matter. They consider this to be sacred."
Said Shoaib: "If you are so proud of the occupation of Al-Andalus, why are you angry at Israel? This is very strange. I once interviewed [former MB Supreme Guide] Mahdi Akef. It was the famous interview in which he said: 'To hell with Egypt.' I mentioned to him that the Ottomans had been occupiers [in Egypt]. 'Occupiers?' he was bewildered and hit the table. 'They were Muslims! Muslims cannot occupy Muslims.' Of course Muslims can be occupiers. The Ottomans destroyed the entire region."
Interviewer: "Sure there can be occupation. What was Iraq doing in Kuwait? Dropping in for breakfast?"
Said Shoaib: "It's insane. The Muslims are the only ones who want to restore their colonialist empire... The reforms in the Jewish religion improved it. The most important aspect of this was that they abandoned the textual understanding of the religion"
Interviewer: "Don't you think that it's too late [for the Muslims], because generations and generations were raised on this? People blow themselves up and kill people in Manchester and in Paris – there is nothing to be done. The cancer has spread. Isn't it too late? Even in the West, in some Western countries, perhaps the time for reforms is gone..."
Said Shoaib: "First of all, you must know the saying 'better late than never.' Second, what choice do we Muslims have? To continue being a burden on the world, on human civilization? I feel that Muslims I know personally – I'm not talking about the Islamists – are upset. They are not pleased. They are angry. My mother is upset. She's not happy... The religious conflicts will continue. One of the things that saddens me in Egypt is that people refuse to admit that the kidnapping and slaughter of Copts is motivated by religion. Even now, the public mind is closed. Even my friends and colleagues, who are senior journalists and excellent people, refuse to admit it. Christians in Egypt are being killed on the basis of religion. Why is that?"

Shrinking Freedoms

From 2021:

Thoughts of Telegram Founder/CEO Pavel Durov : degoogle

We generally assume that the world is becoming a better place every year. But when it comes to individual freedoms, the opposite is true. Most studies show humanity is now less free than several years ago.

20 years ago we had decentralized Internet and a relatively unrestricted banking system. Today, Apple and Google censor information and apps on our phones while Visa and Mastercard limit what goods and services we can pay for. Every year we give up more power and control over our lives to a handful of unaccountable corporate executives we didn't elect.

Most of us willingly carry tracking devices – our phones – and allow corporations to use our private data to target us with content that keeps us distracted with low-quality entertainment. Unlike 20 years ago, we are now surrounded by surveillance cameras, which in countries like China use AI to make sure nobody can hide.

In 2017, China overtook the US as the largest economy in the world by purchasing power, showing the world that individual freedoms are not required for economic development. Looking at China's success, more countries become authoritarian, curbing essential human rights such as freedom of speech, movement and assembly.

Who is going to fix it?

The most active and creative minds of our generation are too busy playing in the rapidly shrinking sandbox called "free enterprise" or producing digital content to keep everyone else glued to their devices for longer. The rest seem to be too distracted with the abundance of cheap digital entertainment to critically assess the trend and take action.

Watching this, I wonder what will become the legacy of our generation. Will we go down in history as those who let free societies turn into dystopian nightmares? Or will we be remembered as those who defended the freedoms that previous generations fought so hard to win?

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