Politics

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: It’s not just Buffalo

Adam Serwer of The Atlantic writes that “The Great Replacement” passes for much of mainstream Republican politics, nowadays.

At the core of the idea of American democracy is a promise of civic equality, initially extended just to a chosen few. The key political conflicts of American history have been over expanding that promise. The “white genocide” or “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory rests on the ideological principle that certain people should be excluded from that promise, or that extending it to them would constitute a form of bondage for those to whom the promise was originally kept. Because the threat of the interlopers—whether religious, racial, or ethnic—is existential, it justifies violence, in the form of murder, disenfranchisement, or dispossession. The ideology of the Great Replacement is a particular threat to democratic governance because it insists that entire categories of human beings can or should be exempt from democratic rights and protections. Any political cause can theoretically inspire terrorism, but this one is unlike others in that what it demands of its targets is their non-existence.

In 1916, the American immigration restrictionist Madison Grant published The Passing of the Great Race, which argued that immigration was destroying America’s traditional “Anglo-Saxon” population and along with it the tradition of self-governance. Grant’s ideas were popular and influential. They provided the impetus for racist immigration laws passed in the 1920s, which sought to limit not only African and Asian immigration but also that of Eastern and Southern Europeans, who were deemed genetically inferior to their Northern European counterparts. Adolf Hitler cited these racist laws as an inspiration, but some ascendant nativist intellectuals on the right now commonly refer to their repeal as a great catastrophe.

Jean Guerrero of the Los Angeles Times takes a further look at ‘Tucker Carlson Syndrome.’

How did replacement theory become so normalized? Yes, it has been legitimized and used politically by Carlson and other grifters. But it’s important to understand what makes people vulnerable to the lie. Gendron’s alleged Discord logs offer clues. They’re far more detailed than his 180-page “manifesto,” which was partly copied from another white terrorist’s writings.

The foundation of his thinking lies in the belief that demographic change means death. “Diversity is white genocide,” he wrote.

This fallacy, increasingly common among conservatives, confuses population growth and change with population erasure and cultural decay. “We have allowed the weak to interbreed with the strong, and this is dangerous,” wrote the alleged shooter. He was obsessed with declining white birthrates and wrote of photos of biracial children: “Don’t racemix guys come on. […]

The quest for racial purity led to policies limiting immigration from nonwhite countries as well as the legalization of sterilization of those categorized as “unfit,” such as those perceived as idiots or insane. Black and brown women were disproportionately sterilized through the 1970s.

That last sentence…assuming that one of the primary motives behind the probable overturning of Roe v. Wade is to increase the white birth rate, I hope that no one thinks that “the great replacement” is simply about increasing the white birth rate.

Shirin Ghaffary of Vox writes that social media platforms might never be able to entirely stop the spread of real-time video feeds of mass shootings.

…while major social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have, since Christchurch, gotten better at slowing the spread of gruesome depictions of mass violence, they still can’t stop it entirely. Twitch was able to quickly cut off the shooter’s real-time video feed because it’s an app that’s designed for sharing a specific kind of content: first-person live gaming videos. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have a much wider pool of users, posting a much broader range of posts, which are shared via algorithms designed to promote virality. For Facebook and Twitter to stop the spread of all traces of this video would mean that these companies would have to fundamentally alter how information is shared on their apps.

The unfettered spread of murder videos on the internet is an important problem to solve. For the victims and victims’ families, these videos deprive people of their dignity in their final moments. But they also incentivize the fame-seeking behavior of would-be mass murderers, who plan horrific violence that aims for social media virality that promotes their hateful ideologies.

Over the years, major social media platforms have gotten much better at slowing and restraining the spread of these types of videos. But they haven’t been able to fully stop it, and likely never will.

It’s all just another game to some of them, I suppose. (h/t to Kagro in the Morning)

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Nick Shay, a professor of oceanography at the University of Miami, writes for The Conversation that the 2022 hurricane season might look a lot like the 2005 hurricane season.

The Atlantic hurricane season starts on June 1, and the Gulf of Mexico is already warmer than average. Even more worrying is a current of warm tropical water that is looping unusually far into the Gulf for this time of year, with the power to turn tropical storms into monster hurricanes.

It’s called the Loop Current, and it’s the 800-pound gorilla of Gulf hurricane risks.

When the Loop Current reaches this far north this early in the hurricane season – especially during what’s forecast to be a busy season – it can spell disaster for folks along the Northern Gulf Coast, from Texas to Florida.[…]

This year, the Loop Current looks remarkably similar to the way it did in 2005, the year Hurricane Katrina crossed the Loop Current before devastating New Orleans. Of the 27 named storms that year, seven became major hurricanes. Wilma and Rita also crossed the Loop Current that year and became two of the most intense Atlantic hurricanes on record.

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Sharon LaFraniere, Michael D. Shear, and Sheryl Gay Stolberg of The New York Times write that President Biden’s health officials are sounding the alarm about a rapid increase in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.

WASHINGTON — Federal health officials warned on Wednesday that a third of Americans live in areas where the threat of Covid-19 is now so high that they should consider wearing a mask in indoor public settings. They cited new data showing a substantial jump in both the spread of the coronavirus and hospitalizations over the past week.

Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that the seven-day average of hospital admissions from Covid rose 19 percent over the previous week. About 3,000 people a day were being admitted with Covid, she said, although death rates, a lagging indicator, remained low.

More than 32 percent of Americans now live in counties with medium to high levels of virus transmission, compared with about 24 percent the previous week. Dr. Walensky said that local leaders and individuals in those regions should adopt — or at least consider — prevention strategies, such as masking in indoor public settings and more frequent testing.

Helen Branswell of STATnews reports about the first confirmed U.S. case of monkeypox.

The United States confirmed a case of monkeypox infection on Wednesday in a man who recently traveled to Canada. It is not yet clear if the man, who lives in Massachusetts and who traveled to Canada by car, is connected to the growing outbreak of monkeypox cases in Europe.

The case was announced in a statement posted to the website of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Confirmatory testing was done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which had warned earlier Wednesday that cases in this country were likely to begin to be detected.

“Given that we have seen now confirmed cases out of Portugal, suspected cases out of Spain, we’re seeing this expansion of confirmed and suspect cases globally, we have a sense that no one has their arms around this to know how large and expansive it might be. And given how much travel there is between the United States and Europe, I am very confident we’re going to see cases in the United States,” said Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the CDC’s division of high consequence pathogens and pathology.

Some good news about monkeypox, though.

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Moving right along…

Jon Henley of the Guardian reports that Turkey is blocking an early vote on accepting Sweden and Finland into NATO.

The enlargement of Nato must be approved by all 30 members and then ratified by their parliaments, which could take up to a year. The alliance has said it wants to move as fast as possible given the potential Russian threat to Finland and Sweden.

The two countries’ applications represent a radical redrawing of Europe’s security landscape in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and, if successful, would represent the most significant expansion of Nato in decades, doubling the alliance’s border with Russia.[…]

Turkey accuses Sweden and Finland of harbouring members of Kurdish militant groups it considers terrorist organisations, and also objects to their decisions in 2019 to ban arms exports to Ankara over Turkey’s military operations in Syria.

Erdoğan accused Stockholm in particular of providing safe haven to members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK) and to followers of Fethullah Gülen, who Ankara accuses of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt. “We asked them to extradite 30 terrorists, but they refused to do so,” he said.

Finally today, Moisés Naím writes for El País in English about the various reasons that there are fewer democracies in the world

On all continents, democracies are dwindling while undemocratic systems are on the rise, currently accounting for 70% of the world’s population, that is, affecting 5.4 billion people. According to studies by the V-Dem Institute at the University of Gothenburg, a decade earlier the percentage of people without democracy was 49%. Not since 1978 has there been such a low number of countries in the process of democratization.

There are two reasons why this democratic backsliding didn’t cause alarm or provoke a significant reaction. The first is that there were just too many other urgent problems that made it difficult for champions of democracy to successfully compete for the attention of leaders, the media, and public opinion. The pandemic and the global financial crisis are just two examples of a long list of events that left no room for less immediate concerns. The second reason is that most attacks on democracy were deliberately opaque and difficult to perceive, which, as a consequence, made it much more difficult for people to fight back.

Let’s consider the primary cause of this global neglect of democracy, a phenomenon that Larry Diamond, a respected professor at Stanford University, calls “the democratic recession”: how could you mobilize the population to defend democracy while the pandemic was causing millions of deaths around the world? According to the World Health Organization (WHO) between 2020 and 2021 alone, 15 million people died from Covid-19 and its variants.

In the past decade, the effects of global warming have also intensified. Wildfires, extreme heat, floods, hurricanes, typhoons, and melting ice caps became more frequent, deadly and costly.

Everyone have a good day!




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