Not content with murdering a Black man in front of his partner and her young child, the cops who pulled over Philando Castile handcuffed the terrified woman and then confined her in the back seat of a squad car, separating her from her daughter.

The quotation is from the 4-year-old kid, immediately after the execution—a witness to the casual nightmarish barbarism of American police. The audio here is simply chilling. Heartrending.

In America, 2017, the monsters are no longer under the bed.

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[H/t Canadian Cynic]

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Rebel Media snowflakes

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Canada’s own alt-right hate site, Rebel Media, mewed piteously when it was excluded from the Alberta legislature a while back. “Now I can’t do my job because of what is obviously a problem with either my personal politics or the politics of my employer. Neither one of those is a reason to prohibit me from doing my job,” whined Rebel heavyweight Sheila Gunn Reid.

Rebel sobbed when it was excluded from a UN conference. “We’re not being kept out because we have an opinion. We’re being kept out because they think we have the wrong opinion,” averred Rebel “Commander” Ezra Levant

Free journalism! Free expression!

The Rebel’s tearful moral blackmail moved mountains. The Globe and Mail took Alberta Premier Rachel Notley to task. The Canadian government and three tribal media groups intervened with the UN. Decisions were reversed. A blow for freedom. Another blow for freedom.

Then Rebel Media decided to hold a conference. And it struck a decisive blow of its own. It threatened Canadaland, a well-known media outlet, with trespassing charges if it so much as dared poke its nose into the hall. Apparently Canadaland’s crime was to have expressed critical opinions of Rebel Media a few months ago.

Can’t have that. What good is freedom if the wrong people are allowed to use it?

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Oh. Wait.

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Cowards flinched and traitors sneered. Pundits (in the UK and over here) mined a seemingly inexhaustible supply of smugness. The baronial press was a collective Cassandra.

Jeremy Corbyn? An old, rumpled, past-it relic, with cartoonish ideas and an awkward presence, who couldn’t even keep his own caucus in line. Washed up. A spike driven through the heart of the Labour Party.

Google “historic defeat” and “labour,” referring both to a by-election this past February and to prognostications for yesterday’s election. How the squalid media monkeys loved that phrase. Historic defeat. I can’t help repeating it, over and over, like a mantra. Last night I certainly watched an historic defeat. Austerity. Blairism. The phrase “dustbin of history” comes to mind.

Labour’s over-all vote share rose by 10%. For all of the salacious talk of Labour “anti-Semitism,” Corbyn increased his vote share in the so-called “bagel belt” of Finchley and Golders Green, Hendon and Chipping Barnet by 4%, 4.2% and 11% respectively, over his Jewish predecessor, Ed Miliband. Whoops! But the pundits, spinning like dreidels, claim he “faltered” there. (Google “Corbyn” and “faltered.”)

Corbyn himself was elected for the ninth time, with an “historic” vote in his constituency, the largest any candidate has ever achieved. “Safe” seats?” I’ll see your Copeland and raise you Canterbury, Tory for a century. He “defied the polls,” we are told—another punditish cop-out phrase I adore.

Just watch the pundits now. “Labour would have had a majority if not for Jeremy Corbyn” is the new flavour. One’s jaw drops at the sheer shamelessness of it.

Historic defeat there was. Of cynicism, distortions, spin, smears and outright lies. Of smirking scribblers whose brows have never been furrowed with unconventional thoughts. Of political opportunists in the Labour Party whose knives were always out when the leader’s back was turned. Of the Tory “vision” of incessant austerity for all but the rulers. And of that ruling class who gave all this breath and life.

Theresa May won the election, but lost. Jeremy Corbyn lost the election but won. An extraordinary number of “woke” voters somehow saw through the incessant poisonous fog of journalistic propaganda. Those numbers can only increase—the snowball effect—now that Corbyn has seized the time. I, for one, can’t wait for his next “historic defeat.”

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Beatrice Hunter. Truth and Reconciliation be damned.

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Burritos [updated]

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I thought that I was reading satire, forgetting for a moment that, in 2017, satire is dead.

Two white women from Portland, Oregon, ventured down to Mexico and, while they were there, decided they wanted to learn how to make the perfect tortilla—like the ones they’d been scarfing down for days. So they asked around. Their Spanish was “broken,” and no doubt there was a lot of confusion, but they nailed the ingredients, and tried to get a sense of technique across the language barrier. With what in less fraught contexts would be immediately recognizable as youthful exuberance and hyperbole, they wrote about sneaking around and peering in through the windows of local kitchens. Whatever. They learned the art of tortilla-making.

They returned to Portland and started up a food truck, which evolved into a pop-up shop. They stuffed their tortillas with “California-inspired” ingredients. And then something hit the fan, and it wasn’t refried beans.

“Cultural appropriation,” shouted the Usual Suspects, and the battle was on. It was a short battle. The identitarians shut the two-person business down. Victory!

Some time ago I recall having a chance thought that food would be the next frontier for the silo-progressives, but that was just dark fantasizing, a reductio ad absurdum, and so I put it from my mind. In today’s Left ideological landscape, though, it was probably foreseeable. When the political economy of cultural artefacts and practices is factored in, we can be assured that the latter—be it costumes, painting, yoga, music or food—will become political actors in and of themselves. (Actor-Network Theory, anyone?)

A cigar is sometimes just a cigar, said Sigmund Freud (never), but in the instant case we might ask if a burrito isn’t sometimes just a burrito. Well, all right, let’s not rush to judgement in either direction. Here’s a little sic et non to chew on.

The women didn’t pay anything for their information. They simply went down south and colonized local women, plundered them of their knowledge, and fled up north to make a bundle. What they did stood as nothing less than a metaphor: it was the history of Latin America, its peoples bled to a fare-thee-well by Spain back in the day, and then by the US. Raw materials flowing ceaselessly out. The indigenous people, and the transplanted peasantry, ruthlessly exploited and cruelly oppressed, knowing nothing but poverty, torture and mass slaughter. It’s all there in Eduardo Galeano’s Open Veins of Latin America. Or just about anywhere else you look for information on the subject, actually. Still happening, too. Check out Hillary Clinton’s Honduras, or the current attempted destabilization of Venezuela.

Or…maybe women just asked other women for a recipe.

There are already Mexican food joints in Portland. Run by Hispanic people. Why not patronize them, instead of these white interlopers?

Or…who says those other entrepreneurs were losing any business at all? A market is not zero-sum.

This was “stolen intellectual property.”

Or…is culture really “property?”

And so the battle raged:

“Now that you all boldly and pretty fucking unapologetically stole the basis of these women’s livelihoods, you can make their exact same product so other white ppl don’t have to be inconvenienced of dealing with a pesky brown middle woman getting in their way. Great job.”

“White chefs can do what these two horrid women did: vacation somewhere and ‘get inspired’ and appropriate an entire culture’s cuisine and claim it as their own.”

An “entire culture’s cuisine?” A tortilla?

Some indignant folks even put out a list of “White-Owned Appropriative Restaurants in Portland.” Now, it’s true that white people have made good money off world cuisines, while ethnic chefs have traditionally been expected to cook the food of their own ethnicity, and their businesses tend to be lower on the corporate ladder. There’s already a literature on food vending and racism. But that seems to be changing now. I live in a city where the best pizzas seem to come from Lebanese-owned businesses or franchises. Where fusion cooking is all the rage. Where the staff of one of my favourite Japanese restaurants, other than the sushi chefs, seems to be almost exclusively east Asian. I see a lot of culinary intermingling and borrowing, but that’s not appropriation, or (a term I prefer because it cuts these debates down to size) misappropriation.

The author of the article referenced in my lede, by the way, can’t seem to tell a tortilla from a burrito, or a burrito from a taco. Could that be because she isn’t Hispanic? Nemmind. Whatever those women were selling, it was a capital offence, business-wise. (Why couldn’t they sell white food instead? Whatever that is, and I challenge anyone to define it.) Anyway, let’s be clear: a burrito is not a tortilla. Sometimes it really isn’t even a burrito. Everybody sells those things now, and stuffs all manner of ingredients into them. Why pick on a couple of food-truck women who actually took the trouble to learn how to make a decent wrap for one?

We really need to step back, and we probably should have a long time ago. Was all this cultural warfare really worth it? What lessons were learned? I shudder to think. This can be said with some certainty, however: no one was actually hurt in the making of those burritos, other than, finally, the young women who were making them. Portland ethnic restaurants lost nothing. The abuelitas in Mexico who have apparently perfected the tortilla lost nothing. When it comes to food, the love you take is equal to the love you make. But some folks just had to enact a charivari of virtue-signalling outrage.

We might ask: if the alleged “theft” of Mexican cuisine is really at issue, why settle for shutting down a two-woman business? If folks want to strike a blow against “cultural appropriation,” AND take on the 1%, where are the El Monterey and Old El Paso boycotts? Why not go trash their local Taco Bells? That would at least rise above bad political micro-theatre. For in fact there is something disturbingly fake about this cheap bullying exercise—and perhaps that’s the worst part of this whole sorry affair.

UPDATE: Alerted by constant reader forgottobuytinfoil, I found that the link in my lede no longer points to the delicious article that gave rise to my post, but to the following:

A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR (5/31/17) Dear readers: Due to new information that has recently come to light, we have taken down our blog post, “This Week in Appropriation: Kooks Burritos and Willamette Week.” It was not factually supported, and we regret the original publication of this story.—eds.

Thank goodness for the Wayback Machine, allowing me to replace the link.

This erasure is, in any case, mysterious enough. There was indeed a substantial controversy (see the humongous comment thread under the original article in Willamette Week that sparked it) and much of the same content, by another writer, continues to appear elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the Willamette Week followed up with this opinion piece. I’m not spoiling it here, but suffice it to say that it may be a real-life rejoinder, in more than one sense, to the recent film Get Out.

[Note to commenters: If you want to access the comment thread from the sidebar, change “05” to “06” in the URL displayed with the error message. Thank you, Disqus.]

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Ain't I a woman?

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Maybe not.


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Even for France, whose judicial system is nothing like ours, its latest move in the simmering case of Hassan Diab is unprecedented.

For those who have not been keeping up, Diab, a Canadian citizen, was falsely accused of involvement in the terrorist bombing of a synagogue in Paris in 1980. Although the “evidence” against him was next to nonexistent, the unhealthy combination of a Harper government and a publicity-seeking French examining magistrate, Marc Trévidic, proved enough to have him extradited to France in 2014, where he has held ever since—without charge.

Under the French system, an examining magistrate has four years to delve into a terrorism case and determine if a trial should be held. Diab, whose extradition was based upon what even the extradition judge conceded was flimsy evidence that would likely not stand up in a Canadian court, has been in jail pretty much ever since. The examining magistrates who have been seized of his case since Trévidic stepped down in 2015 have found nothing to warrant his continual imprisonment. Indeed, one of them has turned up strong evidence that Diab was in Lebanon at the time of the Paris bombing.

But now, for the sixth time, an order for his release by the examining magistrates has been overturned—without explanation—by an appeal court in France. The French state wants a sacrificial lamb for the 1980 bombing, and has no wish to appear soft on terrorism. Islamophobia may have been playing a role as well, from the Harper government’s initial move to extradite him to the continued imprisonment by France of this clearly innocent man. Had Diab been named Mike Smith or Jean Lacroix, it is highly unlikely that any of this would have happened.

Hassan Diab must be free. Justice demands it. It’s time for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to demand it as well.

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A little classical music

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Happy May Day, everyone. Solidarity!

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