How the Nazis Were Inspired by Jim Crow

In 1935, Nazi Germany passed two radically discriminatory pieces of legislation: the Reich Citizenship Law and the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor. Together, these were known as the Nuremberg Laws, and they laid the legal groundwork for the persecution of Jewish people during the Holocaust and World War II.

When the Nazis set out to legally disenfranchise and discriminate against Jewish citizens, they weren’t just coming up with ideas out of thin air. They closely studied the laws of another country. According to James Q. Whitman, author of Hitler’s American Model, that country was the United States.

“America in the early 20th century was the leading racist jurisdiction in the world,” says Whitman, who is a professor at Yale Law School. “Nazi lawyers, as a result, were interested in, looked very closely at, [and] were ultimately influenced by American race law.”

In particular, Nazis admired the Jim Crow-era laws that discriminated against black Americans and segregated them from white Americans, and they debated whether to introduce similar segregation in Germany.

Yet they ultimately decided that it wouldn’t go far enough.

“One of the most striking Nazi views was that Jim Crow was a suitable racist program in the United States because American blacks were already oppressed and poor,” he says. “But then in Germany, by contrast, where the Jews (as the Nazis imagined it) were rich and powerful, it was necessary to take more severe measures.”

Because of this, Nazis were more interested in how the U.S. had designated Native Americans, Filipinos and other groups as non-citizens even though they lived in the U.S. or its territories. These models influenced the citizenship portion of the Nuremberg Laws, which stripped Jewish Germans of their citizenship and classified them as “nationals.”

A copy of the Nazi-issued Nuremberg Laws. (Credit: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

A copy of the Nazi-issued Nuremberg Laws. (Credit: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

But a component of the Jim Crow era that Nazis did think they could translate into Germany were anti-miscegenation laws, which prohibited interracial marriages in 30 of 48 states.

“America had, by a wide margin, the harshest law of this kind,” Whitman says. “In particular, some of the state laws threatened severe criminal punishment for interracial marriage. That was something radical Nazis were very eager to do in Germany as well.”

The idea of banning Jewish and Aryan marriages presented the Nazis with a dilemma: How would they tell who was Jewish and who was not? After all, race and ethnic categories are socially constructed, and interracial relationships produce offspring who don’t fall neatly into one box.

Again, the Nazis looked to America.

“Connected with these anti-miscegenation laws was a great deal of American jurisprudence on how to classify who belonged to which race,” he says.

Controversial “one-drop” rules stipulated that anyone with any black ancestry was legally black and could not marry a white person. Laws also defined what made a person Asian or Native American, in order to prevent these groups from marrying whites (notably, Virginia had a “Pocahontas Exception” for prominent white families who claimed to be descended from Pocahontas).

The Nuremberg Laws, too, came up with a system of determining who belonged to what group, allowing the Nazis to criminalize marriage and sex between Jewish and Aryan people. Rather than adopting a “one-drop rule,” the Nazis decreed that a Jewish person was anyone who had three or more Jewish grandparents.

Which means, as Whitman notes, “that American racial classification law was much harsher than anything the Nazis themselves were willing to introduce in Germany.”

It should come as no surprise then, that the Nazis weren’t uniformly condemned in the U.S. before the country entered the war. In the early 1930s, American eugenicists welcomed Nazi ideas about racial purity and republished their propaganda. American aviator Charles Lindbergh, a public admirer of Adolf Hitler’s, received a swastika medal (pictured below) from Nazi leader in 1938.

Once the U.S. entered the war, it took a decidedly anti-Nazi stance. But black American troops noticed the similarities between the two countries, and confronted them head-on with a “Double V Campaign.” It’s goal? Victory abroad against the Axis powers—and victory at home against Jim Crow


double v campaign






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CARTOONIST UNDERSTOOD TYRANTS AND BUFFOONS–Why is the U.S. in 2018 unable to understand tyrants and buffoons in our political system?

It may seem scarcely believable today, but the British foreign secretary then (1939,  before Britain formally entered WWII) personally met the cartoonist and told him to tone it down on Hitler. Low, a staunch socialist with a liberal humanitarian ideal, refused. His reply was: ‘’s my duty as a journalist to report matters faithfully and in my own medium I have to speak the truth. And I think this man is awful. ‘

He continued to skewer the Fuehrer. After Hitler’s defeat it came to be known that he had put the cartoonist’s name high on his kill list, should Germany have defeated and occupied Britain, a nearly realized ambition of Hitler.

But what was it about his cartoons that got to Hitler?

This is what Low himself felt:

“No dictator is inconvenienced or even displeased by cartoons showing his terrible person stalking through blood and mud. That is the kind of idea about himself that a power-seeking world-beater would want to propagate. It not only feeds his vanity, but unfortunately it shows profitable returns in an awed world.

What he does not want to get around is the idea that he is an ass, which is really damaging.I shall always remember Hitler.. not as the majestic, monstrous myth of his propaganda build-up, but as the sissy who whined to the British Foreign Office about his dignity when I ran him for a while as a comic strip.”

He portrayed Hitler no as a villain but as a buffoon, and that really hurt the man’s vanity.

'Very Well, Alone': Sir David Low's Evening Standard cartoon from June 1940, after the German invasion of France

‘Very Well, Alone’: Sir David Low’s Evening Standard cartoon from June 1940, after the German invasion of France. Because of the “America First” movement and Hitler/Mussolini enthusiasts in the U.S., it took until December 7, 1941 for our country to enter the war against Hitler. Delay cost millions of lives on every side.

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TANTRUM THEATER in the White House

‘Throwing tantrums for 72 years’: Trump biographer explains how the president bungled his business deals

Researcher and biographer Michael D’Antonio walked through the decades of bungled “deals,” that President Donald Trump had while negotiating in New York. To make matters worse, he thinks this might be the first time Trump has had to go up against a powerful woman.

“There’s a huge difference between the deals that Donald Trump used to be involved with and deals involving national security and federal employees and hundreds of thousands of people,” remarked CNN reporter and sometimes host Dana Bash.

D’Antonio agreed, noting that Trump came up with this “walk away” negotiation tactic, but it hasn’t actually worked in the past.

“I think in his past, the president actually lost a billion dollar deal on the Upper West Side when he made Ed Koch angry at him,” the biographer told Anderson Cooper Wednesday. “And the mayor wasn’t going to go along with this television city project that had real potential. He did this also with the United States Football League where all the other owners wound up being really angry. Because he pushed something beyond what was constructive.”

When it came to Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, however, D’Antonio thinks Trump is in over his head.

“As I’ve been watching this, I’ve been thinking about the fact that this is a man who has been having tantrums for 72 years,” he continued. “You know, and what Nancy Pelosi is doing is what a good mother does. She doesn’t give in to the kid having a tantrum. Chuck Schumer may not have that impulse because maybe he wasn’t as active a parent as Nancy Pelosi has been. But the last thing you do is give a who’s having a tantrum what he wants. I think this is perplexing the president. I think he’s met his match in Mrs. Pelosi.”

Indeed, Pelosi is the mother to five children and grandmother. Dealing with children isn’t a foreign concept to her.

“It doesn’t matter what people are saying to him,” Dana Bash, CNN’s chief congressional correspondent said. “It’s what he believes and he is firmly confident that this is the right thing to do for him politically. And that’s what a Republican senator who was in the private meeting with him told me today. It’s not that he is necessarily arguing that it’s the right thing to do for national security although he has said that. That he is in a good place politically and that is what is really rankling a lot of people and helping to entrench the Democrats because they see believes this is a political interrogative for him.”

D’Antonio also noted that this is the first time that he can think of where Trump has been forced to go up against a powerful woman and it’s likely difficult for him. He said that people should probably be looking more to Trump’s emotions and personality rather than strategy.


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        As we enter the 2018 Christmas season, it is worth noting that something like a quarter of a billion persons around the world have nothing which can be described as a “home”, no matter how humble. 

     Queen Victoria, when advised that a large part of the urban population of India, then a part of the British Empire, was homeless, responded by ordering colonial authorities to provide a blanket to each person so identified. Britain’s industrial cities, along with London, also had thousands of homeless persons overwhelming the charities tasked with serving them. They didn’t get blankets supplied by royal edict, despite Britain’s brutal weather, press reports on their plight and conspicuous presence, walking distance from Buckingham Palace. 

     John Quincy Adams, President from 1824-1828, was ambassador to Britain from 1815-1817. He was mortified by the extremes of opulence and want he encountered there. He recorded in his diaries the sight of starving beggars who appeared by night at the doors of country estates, who had to be carted away, dead or alive, by the groundskeepers in the morning.

homeless in Victorian London

   The Bible story which forms the foundation of the Christmas observance is based on the plight of humble travelers seeking refuge. One innkeeper, taking pity on them, offered them his establishment’s stable for the night with the explanation that there was “no room at the inn”.

    It’s hard to imagine that persons can celebrate Christmas while ignoring the key element in the foundation story. Besides our own resident homeless population, another group whose plight is hard to ignore presses itself against our southern border. Not even a stable to shelter them.                                                   

  It’s not surprising that migrants piling up at our borders are, because of the actions of Trump, finding themselves unwelcome in Mexican border cities ill-equipped to host them.

    The Trump and Kushner real estate empires were created by clever strategies to force low-income tenants and homeowners out in order to free up space for luxury developments. Similar tactics, for the same reason,  are used by Russian Oligarchs to force tenants from basic, but cheap, Soviet era housing, spiced up in Russia with occasional “unsolved” murders of stubborn occupants.Trump as Uncle Sam

                                     Above, an example of Trump’s portrait on his “wall”.     

It is clear to our southern neighbors that a “wall” high enough to display Trump’s portrait to viewers miles away on both sides is the eventual goal of our President, forever sealing contact with families already in the U.S.  It’s no wonder then that many in Central America rushed to try to plead their cases at our borders before the “wall” in its various iterations, was in place.

    Having been a part of the international back-packing mob of young people testing their limits in the 1950s and 60s around the world, there were plenty of times when “you can’t stay here” cropped up in the various languages encountered along the way. Countering that were vastly more greeting us, especially when we pitched in to harvest and fill needs unfilled due to the deaths of millions just a few years before in WWII, in exchange for a dry place to sleep and a seat at a humble table.

       Those gleefully, in pursuit of profit, evicting, excluding and consigning to lifetime misery the poor among us and beyond our borders will no doubt enjoy their holiday bounty in the coming season. I pity them, don’t you?


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nazi-deportationWhat actually happened to Otto Richter and his wife? They were reported to have been seen in Cuba several years later. Good thing too, since Belgium later fell to Nazi Germany, its Jewish inhabitants paying the price. 

According to the stock photograph repository Alamy, the picture was taken on 12 June 1936 and credited to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and featured a man named Otto Richter and his wife protesting at Ellis Island. A 24 December 1937 report in Seattle’s The Jewish Transcript provides a full accounting of Richter’s remarkable story, which ended with his deportation to Belgium (as opposed to Nazi Germany) after significant pressure from U.S. based-advocacy groups:

In November, 1933, a young German seaman jumped ship In the harbor of Seattle. He was in the truest sense of the word a political refugee, seeking the right of asylum from a regime of tyranny and dictatorship. This young man’s name was Otto Richter; born in Bremen, Germany, he was a worker and an active anti-Nazi. On the night of the burning of the Reichstag, storm troopers apprehended him and, though he had not the slightest connection with that event, beat and tortured him. The next four and a half months he spent hiding from Hitler’s secret police. [He] managed to enlist as a seaman and sail on German boat which was to call at ports in the United States. During the voyage his identity became known and officers of the ship, after abusing him, threatened to turn him over to the police on their return to Nazi Germany. These were the circumstances underlying Richter’s attempted escape from Nazi tyranny to American freedom.

What has happened since? In July, 1934, during the San Francisco general strike, a vigilante raid was made on the Workers Center, and there Otto Richter was found engaged in what the Department of Labor evidently regarded as the heinous offense of helping to feed striking marine workers. He was seized and ordered deported to Nazi Germany on the technical charge that he had remained in the United States illegally. Since that time a long legal battle has been fought by the American Committee for Protection of Foreign Born to save him from deportation. And only the tremendous counterpressure of mass sentiment has secured for Otto Richter the dubious privilege of being deported to a country of his choice -— Belgium -— instead of to Hitler’s sadistocracy.

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        Recent mass shootings in the U.S.:

                                 A timeline

Walmart employees react after shooting in El Paso

Walmart employees react after a shooting at the store in El Paso on Aug. 3, 2019.
(Mark Lambie / El Paso Times)

A list of the worst mass shootings in the United States in the last four years.

A tally of a mass shooting could be written in countless ways.

The term is not a legal one — which means that definitions fluctuate. The Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that tallies gun violence in the United States, defines a mass shooting as four or more victims shot or killed. Some media outlets use three fatalities as a baseline for a mass shooting; others four. The topic is widely debated.

For this timeline, The Times is defining a mass shooting as four or more deaths (which currently leaves the tragic Gilroy, Calif., shooting off the list). What is certain is that these types of shootings — regardless of how they are classified — often play out in a similar way: a gunman, frequently male, frequently working alone or as part of a pair, brings untold grief to the places where people gather: shopping centers and nightclubs and high schools and churches. There is no place that is safe.

Aug. 4, 2019: Dayton, Ohio, 9 dead

A gunman killed nine and injured an estimated 27 people near Ned Peppers Bar in the historic Oregon District of Dayton after opening fire with a .223-caliber rifle. The gunman, who was killed by police, has been identified by a law enforcement official as Connor Betts, 24. The shooter was wearing body armor and had additional high-capacity magazines. If the police hadn’t responded as quickly as they did, said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, ” hundreds of people in the Oregon District could be dead today.” Among the dead was the shooter’s sister.

Ohio Shooting

Witnesses comfort one another at the scene of a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio. It was the second mass shooting in the U.S. in less than 24 hours.
(Associated Press)
Aug. 3, 2019: El Paso, 22 dead

A man armed with a rifle went on a rampage at a Walmart popular with Latino shoppers on El Paso’s eastside that left 22 dead — among them, a U.S. Army veteran and Mexican nationals — before surrendering to the police. The suspect, Patrick Crusius, 21, from Allen, Texas, may be linked to an anti-immigrant manifesto that appeared on the website 8chan in advance of the shootings that warned of an “invasion” of Latino immigrants. The attack left at least 26 people wounded.

May 31, 2019: Virginia Beach, Va., 12 dead

DeWayne Craddock, 40, a civil engineer for the Public Utilities Department in Virginia Beach, opened fire inside a municipal building adjacent to City Hall, killing 12 people before being fatally shot by police. Eleven of those killed were municipal employees who had collectively served the city for more than 150 years; the 12th was a contractor seeking a permit. Six others were also wounded in the shooting.

Feb. 15, 2019: Aurora, Ill., 5 dead

Gary Martin, a 45-year-old factory worker in Aurora, Ill. killed five co-workers at the Henry Pratt Co. manufacturing plant in suburban Chicago during a meeting in which he was fired. One other co-worker was also wounded, as were the first five police officers to arrive at the scene. Martin was able to acquire the .40-caliber handgun he used because a background check didn’t turn up a prior felony conviction for aggravated battery in Mississippi. After a 90-minute manhunt inside the 29,000-sq. ft. plant, he was killed in a shootout with police.

Nov. 7, 2018: Thousand Oaks, 12 dead

A former U.S. Marine burst into the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks on a night when it was jammed with dancing college students, tossed a smoke bomb into the space and proceeded to open fire with a .45-caliber handgun. Twelve died in the attack and 18 were injured, including a Ventura County Sheriff’s deputy. The gunman, Ian David Long, 28, killed himself at the scene.

Mass shooting at Borderline Bar & Grill

People comfort each other after the November 2018 mass shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Oct. 27, 2018: Pittsburgh, 11 dead

Robert Bowers, 46, a Pittsburgh truck driver with a history of posting anti-Semitic material on social media, entered the Tree of Life Synagogue in the city’s quiet Squirrel Hill neighborhood and killed 11 people and wounded six others. He was armed with an assault rifle and three handguns and wounded a total of four officers before being shot and taken into custody. According to the Anti-Defamation League, it was the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history.

June 28, 2018: Annapolis, Md., 5 dead

For years, Jarrod W. Ramos, 38 had obsessively harassed journalists at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md., for publishing a story that outlined the ways in which he had criminally harassed a woman who had rejected his advances. On June 28 , 2018, he burst into the paper’s offices with a 12-gauge shotgun and killed five staffers.Police arrested Ramos at the scene. The paper’s staff nonetheless put out a paper: the next day. On the front page: “5 shot dead at The Capital.”

Capital Gazette reporters

Capital Gazette photographer Joshua McKerrow (left) and reporter Chase Cook work on the next day’s newspaper while awaiting news of their colleagues after a 2018 mass shooting in their offices.
(Ivan Couronne / AFP/Getty Images)
May 18, 2018: Santa Fe, Texas, 10 dead

They had just picked up their caps and gowns and were days away from graduation, but some of the victims wouldn’t live to claim their diplomas. At 7:30 a.m. on a Friday, a 17-year-old junior named Dimitrios Pagourtzis entered Santa Fe High School, in the suburbs of Houston, and proceeded to kill 10 people and injure 13 morewith a shotgun and a .38 caliber revolver he’d taken from his father. Pagourtzis ultimately surrendered and was arrested.

Feb. 14, 2018: Parkland, Fla., 17 dead

Nikolas Cruz, 19, had been expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. for disciplinary reasons. He returned to the campus armed with a semiautomatic rifle and killed 17 students and staff members — seven of whom were only 14. In the process, he wounded at least a dozen others, some seriously. Cruz was ultimately arrested without incident. The attack surpassed the 1999 Columbine High School shooting as the deadliest shooting at a high school in U.S. history.

Parkland shooting anniversary

Students gather on Feb. 16, 2018, at a memorial in Parkland, Fla., to remember those killed and injured in the high school shooting.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Nov. 5, 2017: Sutherland Springs, Texas, 26 dead

Worshipers had just filed in for Sunday services at First Baptist Church in this rural San Antonio suburb when Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, an Air Force veteran with a history of domestic violence, pulled up wearing a bullet-resistant vest and carrying an AR-15-style assault rifle. He killed 26 people ranging from 5 to 72. After being shot in the leg by a bystander, Kelley fled the scene, turned a gun on himself and died. Later reports showed that the Air Force had failed to report Kelley’s court martial for domestic violence to an FBI database, thereby allowing him to pass a background check and buy guns.

Oct. 1, 2017: Las Vegas, 58 dead

In a meticulously plotted attack, Stephen Paddock, 64, opened fire on spectators at the Route 91 Harvest music festival from his suite on the 32nd story of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. He killed 58 people and wounded more than 500. Investigators later found a cache of 23 weapons in his hotel room, including 14 firearms that had been modified with bump stocks, which allow a shooter to fire more rounds at a rapid pace. (These have since been banned.) Paddock, a real estate investor who had once worked for the IRS, was found dead after a SWAT team burst into his hotel room.

Shooting At Mandalay Bay In Las Vegas

People take cover at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival after gunfire from the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in 2017.
(David Becker / Getty Images)
June 5, 2017: Orlando, Fla., 5 dead

After being fired from his job at a Florida awning factory, John Robert Nuemann Jr., 45, a U.S. Army Veteran, returned to the cavernous Orlando manufacturing site with a semi-automatic pistol and killed five people. He then killed himself at the sound of an approaching siren.

Jan. 6, 2017: Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.,5 dead

Esteban Santiago, 26, a U.S. Army veteran based in Anchorage, who had complained that the government was controlling his mind, drew a gun from his checked baggage at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and proceeded to kill five people and wound eight. He was taken into custody after tossing aside his empty weapon.

Fort Lauderdale airport shooting

First responders secure the area outside the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airport after a mass shooting in 2017.
(Mike Stocker / Sun-Sentinel)
Sept. 23, 2016: Burlington, Wash., 5 dead

The plan had been to ambush moviegoers who had gathered at the Cascade Mall theater in Burlington to watch “The Magnificent Seven.” But Arcan Cetin, a 20-year-old fast-food worker, had to abandon that idea when the theater door he had propped open was discovered by someone and closed shut. Instead, he used the semiautomatic Ruger .22 rifle that he had stolen from his stepfather’s closet to shoot five people at close range inside a Macy’s department store. Cetin was found dead in his jail cell in April of the following year — an apparent suicide.

June 12, 2016: Orlando, Fla., 49 dead

It was Latin night at Pulse, a gay dance spot in Orlando, when Omar Mateen, 29, entered the nightclub with an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle and launched an attack that left 49 people dead and 58 injured. At one point, Mateen took 30 clubgoers as hostages. Just after 5 a.m., a local SWAT team moved in and opened a hole in a wall with an armored vehicle; less than an hour later, Mateen was dead. Among the motives attributed to Mateen were racism and homophobia.

The Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla. on Nov. 30

Artwork and signatures cover a fence around the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., in 2016.
(John Raoux / Associated Press)
Dec. 2, 2015: San Bernardino, 14 dead

Before it was a massacre, it was a holiday potluck for county workers. Government health inspector Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, had attended the event at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino with his co-workers. He then left the party and returned with his wife, Tashfeen Malik, 29 — bearing combat rifles and handguns. Together, they killed 14 people and wounded 22 others. Farook and Malik later died in a gun battle with police, who uncovered an arsenal of ammunition, pipe bombs and other weapons in their Redlands townhouse.

Oct. 1, 2015: Roseburg, Ore., 9 dead

Christopher Sean Harper-Mercer, 26, entered his Writing 115 class at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore. — only the second time the class had met — and began firing. He killed nine people and injured another nine, before killing himself during a gunfight with sheriff’s deputies. Law enforcement sources later described him as a “hate-filled” individual with anti-religious and white supremacist leanings. At the time of the shootings, he was armed with six legally purchased handguns and a flak jacket.

Umpqua Community College shooting

A bullet casing is marked at the scene of a deadly shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore. in 2015.
(Michael Sullivan / Associated Press)
July 16, 2015: Chattanooga, Tenn., 5 dead

Armed with an assault rifle, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on two military centers more than seven miles apart in Chattanooga, resulting in the deaths of four U.S. Marines and a Navy petty officer. He was finally killed by police.

June 18, 2015: Charleston, S.C., 9 dead

A man reportedly shouted racial epithets before opening fire inside the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., resulting in the deaths of nine members of a Bible study class, including three ministers. Dylann Storm Roof, 21, fled the scene and was later apprehended 250 miles away in Shelby, N.C. In December 2016, he was found guilty of 33 federal charges, including committing a hate crime; the following month he was sentenced to death. He is being held in federal prison in Indiana.

Charleston shooting

Worshippers embrace across the street from Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston in 2015.
(David Goldman / Associated Press)

For the record:

12:44 PM, Aug. 05, 2019 An earlier version of this story reported that the shooter at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Los Vegas in 2017 used a gun that had been illegally modified with a bump stock. Bump stocks were legal at the time; they have since been banned.

Carolina A. Miranda is a Los Angeles Times staff writer covering a wide gamut of culture, including visual art, architecture and film, not to mention performance art cabaret divas. Her work often looks at how art intersects with politics, gender and race — from the ways in which artists are tackling the U.S.-Mexico border to the ways in which art intersects with development and gentrification. She is a regular contributor to KCRW’s “Press Play” and was a winner of the 2017 Rabkin Prize in Visual Arts Journalism.


guns capable of penetrating bulletproof vests and metals
5mm. of steel is nearly 1/4″.

World Net Daily columnist and former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Sunday insisted that Americans were entitled to armor-piercing bullets because they are “a right in our country.”

The Pennsylvania Republican told an ABC News panel that conservatives “should stick to our guns” and oppose President Barack Obama’s efforts to curb gun violence in the wake of the slaughter of 20 children in Newtown, Connecticut.

Relax, the gun murders you read about are on the other side of town. Besides, you’re working from home or retired, so the likelihood you’ll be on the road when the next freeway sniper unloads his weapon across the lanes is nil.

Another plus is that your kids are grown–but wait–one is in graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin, in a state where getting a driver’s license and a concealed carry permit seem to occur at more or less the same time. Open carry whenever/whomever. Relax again, Texas Tower, scene of the murder of 18 and injury of 31 in the middle of campus is now locked, so bullets raining down on students from its observation deck, as happened in 1966 would, at least, involve a key.

Wait–you have grandchildren–but they’re not in Texas, but in Oregon–no school shootings since 2015 there.

As the clock ticks on, FedEx drops off an order of armor piercing ammo  at a rural homestead in Oregon. In the woods behind it, a pile of bullet riddled targets await their turn at the burn barrel. Inside the sagging double-wide, two tables of dismantled guns await a final wipe-down and reassembly. Their owner, again, ponders his future while reading the final notices from the electric co-op and the the County tax collector spread on the kitchen table. His phone has been off for weeks and he has been “off”, laid off that is, from Burris Mills, its machinery auctioned off a month ago, for nearly two years. The ammunition he just got was paid for with the proceeds of the sale of his chest freezer, empty anyway, and some welding tanks.

If he’s careful, the food left in the refrigerator and kitchen will last another week-the electricity will be off anyway about then, which will take care of the toaster and the stove.  His dog, Max, died a year ago, just as well, as things turned out–at least he didn’t have to shoot him when the money for food ran out.

The truck still runs, and has about half a tank of gas, which will take him a hundred miles more or less in any direction. School has started, and there are about 3 within range, along with half a dozen churches and a courthouse–but that has an armed guard at the door. Decisions, decisions.

bullet chart from Russia

Human targets are the whole point of today’s gun industry. Note the 800 meter (2/3rds of a mile) range of ordinary rifles and carbines–8 city blocks.

School district MRAP for gun protection

San Diego’s School District’s interest in protecting its students from gun attack involved the surplus military vehicle above, eventually returned due to protests–which 40 students (its capacity) would be chosen for protection? What happens to the rest? Who chooses?

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“SO THAT OTHERS MIGHT LIVE” (current Coast Guard motto, updated from the one below)

surfboat at sea, artist rendering

“Breeches Buoy” and cable apparatus, with sectional view of Coast Guard surfboat in use until the 1950s.

Fighting the waves with oars, ship on the rocks, passengers and crew clinging to debri, not for the paycheck, but the duty for those in distress.Surfboat pictures

What is the origin of the saying “You have to go out, but you don’t have to come back”?

A letter to the editor of the old Coast Guard Magazine, written by CBM Clarence P. Brady, USCG (Ret.), published in the March 1954 issue (page 2), stated that the first person to make this remark was Keeper Patrick Etheridge.   Brady knew him when both were stationed at the Cape Hatteras LSS.   Brady tells the story as follows:

“A ship was stranded off Cape Hatteras on the Diamond Shoals and one of the life saving crew reported the fact that this ship had run ashore on the dangerous shoals.   The old skipper gave the command to man the lifeboat and one of the men shouted out that we might make it out to the wreck but we would never make it back.  The old skipper looked around and said, ‘The Blue Book says we’ve got to go out and it doesn’t say a damn thing about having to come back.'”

Etheridge was not exaggerating.  The Regulations of the Life-Saving Service of 1899, Article VI “Action at Wrecks,” section 252, page 58, state that:

“In attempting a rescue the keeper will select either the boat, breeches buoy, or life car, as in his judgment is best suited to effectively cope with the existing conditions.  If the device first selected fails after such trial as satisfies him that no further attempt with it is feasible, he will resort to one of the others, and if that fails, then to the remaining one, and he will not desist from his efforts until by actual trial the impossibility of effecting a rescue is demonstrated.  The statement of the keeper that he did not try to use the boat because the sea or surf was too heavy will not be accepted unless attempts to launch it were actually made and failed [emphasis added], or unless the conformation of the coast–as bluffs, precipitous banks, etc.–is such as to unquestionably preclude the use of a boat.”

This section of the Regulations remained in force after the creation of the Coast Guard in 1915.  The new Instructions for United States Coast Guard Stations, 1934 edition, copied Section 252 word for word as it appeared in 1899.   [1934 Instructions for United States Coast Guard Stations, Paragraph 28, page 4].

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(note from Kilroy–Vidkun Quisling was executed by the restored government of Norway after its Nazi nightmare ended. His previously illustrious family disgraced as its surname became a synonym for infamy. A lesson not well learned by some, apparently).


How Downwardly Mobile Americans are Being Radicalized into Betraying America

Check out the jaw-dropping picture above — which by now you might have seen. Now think about Senators travelling constantly to Moscow for reasons unknown. Then consider a President who’s more loyal to Russian self-interest than he is to any vaguely American ideal.

America today faces a (yet another) crisis that’s as weird and bizarre as it is gruesome. School shootings? Opioid epidemics? Retirees living in their cars and working at Walmart? Insulin which costs ten times what it does in Pakistan or Iran?

Try the quislings of American collapse. Whole groups of Americans — like the fine gentlemen above — seem to be perfectly happy betraying America. By putting Russian oligarchy, repression, and ethnic supremacy, above American democracy, freedom, and civil society. What does it all mean?

What’s happening, to put it bluntly, is that (some) downwardly mobile white American middle class men — at least some of them — are being radicalized. Not by ISIS, by communism. But by a seductive, grandiose kind of authoritarianism. To become something like true believers in the Russian model of society. A patriarchal supremacy. A repressive, ethnically charged patriarchy, in which the state is a mechanism for the pure and strong to dominate the impure and weak, with violence, exclusion, fear, and intimidation. All of which the pure and strong believe vehemently is right, just, noble, and true. But it’s in fact just a tool of oligarchy, to go on enriching itself. Give men in decline someone to hate, it seems, and they’ll let you exploit them to the bone. Who cares if an oligarch owns your energy grid — when you have gays to bash, women to demean, and immigrants to bully?

Doesn’t that sound like where this group of American men are heading today? They’re being radicalized into being true believers in authoritarian supremacy, Russian style. Not quite apartheid, not quite segregation, not quite full on fascism — something more like “strong men arise, and fulfill your destiny, because you are the rightful leaders of a society, and everything in it, whether households, corporations, governments, cities, towns. You have a social license to prey on everyone who is not one of you. Go ahead — the state will look the other way.” Radicalization is what all this is — and we should see it as exactly such a thing.

How did America get here? Indulge me for a moment with a brief history lesson. The word “quisling” refers to Vidkun Quisling. He headed Norway’s puppet government, together with a Nazi “administrator. That government was called the Quisling Regime. Today, we use the word loosely to mean “traitor.” But it has very interesting and weird connotations. Quisling had long craved power, and so today it means something more like a person who sells out their country — and believes in it, too. Quisling didn’t set about protecting Norway — he tried to destroy it as a democracy. So today “quisling” means something like a person who is a kind of traitor in the truest sense, not just for survival, or some morally conflicted notion of right and wrong — but someone who, like Quisling, buys deeply into a hostile ideology, to advance their own naked pursuit of power. Betrayal not for self-preservation, but for self-aggrandizement.

Do you know when someone’s way too friendly? When they flatter, charm, compliment, and praise you, endlessly? Doesn’t that sound exactly like this weird phenomenon at work in America today — the bizarre new relationship with Russia that’s emerged, as America collapses? Friendly is one thing. But this strange mixture of adoration, veneration, reverence and license is quite another.

Hence, there are two classes of American quislings today. One we’ve discussed a little bit — downwardly mobile white men. But then there are elites. The elites seem to be less motivated by ideology than by money and power. That’s ironic, because it’s an effect of predatory capitalism — which America’s long championed. Russia’s oligarchs have the money to, it seems, buy American democracy lock, stock, and barrel. They’ve accomplished in just a few years what the missiles and bombs of the Cold War couldn’t for decades. Cold, hard cash seems to have lured America’s conservative establishment to become something like, in one of the greatest ironies of modern history, Russia’s representatives. America’s leaders aren’t being radicalized as much as they’re selling America out, in a grand irony of capitalism come back to haunt a collapsing society.

But America’s leaders grinning at their gains do legitimize the act of venerating Russia for the rest — the everyday men in decline, who are getting radicalized. (No, “not all men.”) On Facebook, on Twitter, in weird internet forums. This act of radicalization is happening faster, harder, and deeper than I think history’s ever seen before, because these things are like weapons of mass destruction for human minds. Have you ever seen a society develop an epidemic of quislingism spreading like wildfire through a whole social class — in less than a decade? Isn’t it striking? Strange? Dangerous?

So let’s come back to the American quislings who are everyday people. This group of middle class white men isn’t educated or cultured or literate enough to be in the elite. They don’t have the right pedigrees or backgrounds to propel them into riches. They are just thoroughly average men, managers, accountants, plumbers. Who feel cheated, wronged, and thwarted. Wasn’t everything supposed to be theirs? So vehemently, perhaps even violently, they believe that they are the rightful and sole inheritors of society. Hence, they seem to suddenly cherish Russia as a kind of ideal nation — just like American Nazis once admired and revered Hitler’s Germany — because that is exactly what Russia promises uneducated middle class white men, too. They are the rightful inheritors of everything — women, property, money, safety, society itself. Only it’s a con game.

(So it’s obvious to say they prize Russia’s “whiteness”, but I think there’s more to it than that. They seem to adore Russia’s cruelty — it’s contempt of minorities, gays, women, immigrants, Jews, Muslims. They seem to value Russia as a kind of outstanding exemplar of hypermasculine patriarchy. Strong men uber alles. Chest-thumping macho men, leading households with an archaic division of labour, the wife as a baby-rearing machine, marching down the streets, proclaiming their moral purity and strength, bashing gays, beating up anyone that’s a threat to their own massed power. The values they prize cut much deeper than casual racism. It is something more like violent, institutionalized, patriarchal supremacy. “Everything on this land belongs to us!! And we will take it by force, if we have to!”)

In these men, we see the rebirth of an ancient impulse. The one can threaten the most violence controls everyone else. That is what they hope to achieve, at any rate. Will they be successful? They were in Russia. So I think it’s important for Americans to see the endgame. Even if it’s unconscious, championing values of repression, hate, spite, and subjugation is a precursor to a society building institutions which then formalize those values into rituals, collective actions, and even obligations.

Yet this also tells us something that I think matters. People don’t betray their own tribes or families or countries unless, usually, they feel betrayed themselves. And so I think that these men feel deeply betrayed. Not just because they are “becoming a minority” and so on. But because they are the most downwardly mobile of all. White men in this group are the ones in society who have the biggest gap between the life they expected — and the life they live. They expected to live like their fathers — comfortable, stable lives where they sat atop old systems of racism, greed, oppression, and misogyny. But those systems have cracked apart, too, as America has collapsed. Everybody’s life is falling apart, more or less, unless you’re Jeff Bezos. So American collapse has left the very people who felt they were its true inheritors without the Dream — mediocre, downwardly mobile, middle class white men — and so they are betraying America, just as America betrayed them.

Who promises them that old, broken Dream — largely unaccomplished, uneducated men of a certain ethnicity, sitting atop a society, as its rightful inheritors, over which they exert a kind of repressive dominance, control through violence, intimidation, cruelty, the state wink-wink looking the other way, when they keep everyone else in line? Russia does, of course. But — and it’s a crucial but — as a kind of instrument that oligarchs use to keep the masses themselves under their thumbs. That old story: give men in decline someone to hate, and they’ll give you everything they have.

(That isn’t to say that you must “have empathy” for them. If you want to, be my guest, if you don’t, don’t. We’re just trying to understand the phenomenon of quislingism as a kind of social epidemic.)

What does a country do about that, anyways? Can a democracy survive whole classes of people being radicalized to the point that they become quislings? Let’s think about that, too. Russia’s hardly the only patriarchal supremacy in human history. In fact, America’s long been a patriarchal supremacy, too, hasn’t it? It only stopped being one formally in 1971, when segregation ended — and it never passed the Equal Rights Amendment. So America made it easy for Americans to get radicalized by Russia. Russia didn’t have to sell Americans new values to believe in. It just had to resurrect ones that were as American as apple pie.

And yet, for the last few decades, it seemed, America was winning the fight against patriarchal supremacy. Have the tables turned now? I don’t know. No one does, really. I think what we should see, though, is the irony. Both of these nations fought one another for decades. And yet, beneath the surface of economic ideology, they were much the same. Nations with deep, enduring values of patriarchal supremacy, both cherishing strong men, cruelty, violence, fear, and conformity. And in that way, the quislings of American collapse are no surprise at all.

Umair Haque (courtesy of MEDIUM)
August 2018

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(posted on DAILY KOS, July 28, 2018)

In the comments on an editorial, one struck me in particular. I’m am posting it here because it is a look at the US from the outside, and it possesses a clarity that America seems to have lost. I’m putting it in large type, the better for it to be seen.  Memphrie et Moi, writing from Betwixt Gog and Magog, has this to say:

It has been thirty two years since the anti-American Antonin Scalia was given a seat on the Supreme court.

I am a 70 year Canadian who knew the USA when it was committed to the values and ethics of the founders. I have read Jefferson when he warned about the corporate take over of your country.

Back in 1980 if you had told me that in 38 years the average Canadian would be wealthier, healthier, better educated, happier and more secure than the average American I would ask you what you were smoking.

The conservatives were right about one thing neoliberalism would provide maximum economic growth. Low taxes and small government would make the richest most powerful country in the world richer and more powerful. The conservatives never told you that for most Americans conservative economics would do exactly the same thing it did in the 19th century. Most Americans would see less opportunity, stagnant income and a dramatic drop in their personal security.

Nafta saw your GDP grow at twice the rate as ours but as we invested in the health, education of our citizens. Your citizens became consumers and those that could afford to consume the most became the new aristocracy.

The Canadian historian, writer and philosopher John Ralston Saul says America is the most European country on the planet. Saul is an historian and he means 18th and 19th century Europe like the Europe that saw three million Irish starve to death or deported from a land where food was plentiful except for potatoes.

(Note from Kilroy: 18th, and well into the 19th century Europe was “owned” by the hereditary aristocracies running each country–to the point that working people could not imagine owning land–subsisting as tenants on vast estates. Escaping one’s fate as a laborer or craftsperson–usually following several generations at the same tasks, was only a fantasy for most. “Safety nets” for the unfortunate or diseased, barely existed. No wonder then that revolutionary ferment or migration was so popular, despite the perils of being on the losing side or chancing sea voyages on “coffin ships” to unfamiliar lands.)

‘Nuff said? Let’s make this go viral.

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Why Don’t Americans Care More About Their Society Imploding? This is not normal!

Why are we not surprised? Does it have something to do with the person depicted?
heads in the sand humans


wisdom from Umair Haque, courtesy of  MEDIUM

Journalists being massacred…after a President declares the press the enemy of the people. Infants being tried…alone. Government agents knocking down a door during an interview about…their abuses.

This is not normal, my friends. No, not just that part — but also the next part. The response of Americans to all the above. Forgive me. I want to point out what seems to me an inconvenient truth. They just don’t seem to care. At least not enough, or genuinely, often, or intensely. You’ll protest, I’m sure. “How can he say we don’t care?!” So let’s consider it. I don’t mean it in a judgmental or angry way. Just in the way of quiet understanding.

Even in poor countries, when, for example, journalists are massacred, do you know what tends to happen? Their fellow journalists, often, together with civic organizations, professors, lawyers, and just regular people, protest. Sometimes for days. They mass in front of parliaments or supreme courts, and demand some kind of justice — or justice cannot be done, at least some kind of reform, attention, interest. Yes, really. The very next day, usually. In other words, people do three critical things. They stand together, when they are harmed. They demand accountability for those harms. And they call attention to those harms. They do this even when there is a steep price to pay — they’ll be beaten, go on watchlists, be shunned, and so on.

But Americans just don’t do any of this — even though they won’t face those consequences (yet, anyways). They have a moment or two of shared lamentation — and then, a day or two later, go back to the long forgetting. That endless cycle of make-believe, the numb denial that characterizes life now. Or maybe, once or twice a year, there is a big march. But that is the same thing as saying: there is no real reaction except detachment, or maybe resignation, mostly. Do you even remember where the last school shooting was? How about what happened last month? What about the last scandal, outrage, transgression — can you even name it? It’s just one long, endless grey haze now, isn’t it? Ah, but that haze — what is it made of?

The name of that haze is indifference. So the question is this. Why don’t Americans care, enough of them anyways, even at this bleak point, about the dismal fate of their own society? Really care? Not just tap out mournful tweets? To care isn’t just that, because it costs nothing. To care is to pay a price, isn’t it? We say “self-sacrifice”, often, but that hides a deeper truth. To care is to invest in something greater than yourself, which is why you must pay a price to really care — just like those poor journalists protesting will.

When I think about all that carefully, what it really means to me is this. Americans think caring for another is morally wrong. Not just dangerous, or risky — but wrong. Bad. Unhealthy. Toxic. It might make people less well off if I care about them, therefore I mustn’t — that’s what the American mind’s fundamental idea appears to be (even if it doesn’t know it). But how could that be? How could it be wrong to care — not wrong not to?

It makes perfect sense, if you think about it.

The American ideal is rugged self-reliance, independence, but in a curious and hypocritical way. The ruggedly independent person isn’t making his own bullets, axe, or gun. He didn’t build the road into the woods, or blaze the trail into the forest, or even read the book about engineering the road. He is just pretending at independence and self-reliance. But he is pretending precisely because he can. He does not have to care, because he is at the top of a hierarchy. Being at the top, and not having to care, is another way of saying that one does not have to invest in anyone else, because one has the power not to. And in that way, the American ideal, therefore, is about having a very specific kind of power — the power not to invest in anyone else at all.

What do we do in American life? We compete to fulfill this ideal, don’t we? We don’t think of ourselves as “successful” anymore because we have invested in anyone or anything else — whether with money, time, ideas, attention, energy, thoughtfulness, gentleness, support. I would go so far as to say we never did. For us, success is the precise opposite. It is reaching the position at the top of the hierarchy that I just discussed — the one that the patriarch occupies. The place of not having to care, where one can feign self-reliance. Then one thinks to one’s self, in modern American life, that one has made it. One can relax and rest easy now. One has fulfilled one’s self as a moral being.

Make that concrete, if it helps. If I say, “ a successful life”, what does it mean? Probably a big mansion, maybe a big loft, a fleet of fine cars, designer everything, a partner many people envy you for having, and so on, even if I exaggerate a little. What all this means to you, psychologically, though, is just that ideal: “self-reliance” is what your unsaid thoughts say, and you probably think, wistfully — “ah, if I just had all that! Then I could finally relax! I would be fulfilled!!” So you are contesting a position in a hierarchy made of individualist materialism — where success is precisely reaching the point of not having to care about anyone or anything else. That is your moral aim in life — or at least the one you’re told to have.

A successful life to us isn’t one in which we become full human beings, capable of intensely and genuinely caring for anyone or anything beyond ourselves. In other words, we paint success as material — not moral. But if that’s the way that we’re living our lives, then it’s no great surprise that caring about anyone else — which means investing in them, paying a price of some kind to stand with them — is felt as morally wrong.

(The key word is felt. Moral rights and wrongs are mysterious things to us. We feel about things, quite often, precisely the opposite way that we think we should, hope we will, or believe we do. What do you feel when I say: “you don’t care about society enough?” You probably feel angry, don’t you? You want to lash out at me, a little, somewhere, deep inside. Go ahead — it’s OK. We’re just trying to understand ourselves, I’m not judging you. And adding to your anger, I’d bet, there is a sense of shame. What do those two emotions, anger and shame, tell us? You’d only feel those emotions if my image of you was in conflict with your self-image. So they tell us that you are repulsed by the idea of genuinely caring for society — not that you are failing to live up to your own ideal. Thus, you feel that my ideal, that the definition of a “successful” human being is someone who can genuinely care for another, is morally wrong. It’s unbearable for you to hold that thought. “I’d be weak if I cared!”)

Deep down, I think, Americans, whether they know it consciously or not, subscribe to a theory of human life that goes like this. Everything is a hierarchy — and the aim of life is to claw your way to the top. At the peak lies the luxury not to have to invest in anyone or anything else, which is what the great myth of “self-reliance” really is. A myth, because there is not a soul in human history, nor will there ever be, who can fulfill all their own wants, needs, and desires, but only pretends to. Hence, unconsciously, there is the belief that it is profoundly and deeply morally wrong to really care about anyone. It’s a sign of weakness. It makes people lazy and helpless. It corrodes the self and society both to care about anything but one’s self.

But it’s no surprise that Americans have been left impotent by this unconscious belief, either — because if you can’t care about anyone else, what are you? You are a narcissist. Empty inside — always looking for admiration and validation, never able to give love and warmth. (I don’t mean you, of course. I just mean in the general way we are talking about life.)

And perhaps that’s no great surprise. After all, all that is exactly what predatory capitalism, supremacy, and patriarchy tell us to be. Narcissists, incapable of investing in anyone else. These three ideologies, which have always defined American life, have, I think, molded the American unconscious into a perfect vessel for them. You must never care, each one says. Capitalism says: you must never care for anyone, period — only use them. Patriarchy says: you must never care for the weak, only trample them. Supremacy says: you must never care for the inferior, only despise them. All of them say: you are just an insatiable appetite — an emptiness to be filled up, with nothing to give.

And so here we are. With nothing left to give. At precisely the time we need each other most.

But that, my friends, is not normal. Not the collapse. The collapse is perfectly normal. Societies collapse every day, in history’s eyes. What’s not normal is how Americans seem to feel about the collapse of their society. Somewhere between indifferent, aloof, resigned, and detached. How little Americans seem to care, in a genuine way, about each others’ lives falling into the hands of tyrants and monsters. And sadly, funnily, that is, if you ask me, because they have been taught, all their lives long, to think that it’s morally wrong to.

June 2018

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