Archive for the ‘Mark Potok’ Category

Twitter broadens its campaign against hate and abuse – Republica

Twitter announced Tuesday that it is expanding efforts to protect its users from abuse and harassment, the latest milestone in a broader, growing corporate campaign to crack down on online hate.

The social media giant said it has begun identifying people who have been banned for abusive behavior and it will stop them from creating new accounts. The company said its changes, which also include a new safe search feature, will be implemented in the coming weeks.

In July, Twitter banned conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, an editor of the right-wing news site Breitbart News, for participating in or inciting targeted abuse of individuals.

Twitter subsequently suspended the accounts of other prominent figureheads of the alt-right fringe movement, an amorphous mix of racism, white nationalism, xenophobia and anti-feminism.

Twitter has been under fire for failing to address hate and abuse on the site since its founding a decade ago. Balancing its reputation as a free speech haven has come into conflict with efforts to protect users.

Other internet companies have taken recent steps to curb abusive behavior and ban users who violate rules against promoting hate.

Reddit banned a forum for white nationalists from its social news website last Wednesday. A message at the link for the r/altright subreddit attributed its ban to an impermissible proliferation of personal and confidential information.

Hate speech and promoting violence have long been barred under the terms of service of internet and social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook. But in the months leading up to the contentious presidential election, the emergence of the alt-right and high-profile trolling campaigns like one targeting Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones thrust the issue to the forefront.

In November, for instance, AppNexus announced that it removed Breitbart News from its online advertising network because it said the news outlet had violated its policy against hate speech.

The crackdown isnt limited to far-right extremists. In August, Twitter said it had suspended some 360,000 accounts over the previous year for violating its policies banning the promotion of terrorism and violent extremism. But the company says the changes announced Tuesday are unrelated to that and focused on abuse and harassment.

Also on Tuesday, Twitter said its creating a safe search feature that removes tweets with potentially sensitive content and tweets from blocked and muted accounts from search results. The tweets will still exist on Twitter if people look for them, but wont appear in general search results.

Twitter is also making some replies less visible so only the most relevant conversations surface.

Jennifer Grygiel, an assistant professor of communications at Syracuse University, said Twitter still relies too heavily on its users to root out and report abusive material.

Don Black, whose Stormfront website is one of the oldest and most popular internet forums for white nationalists, said PayPal, Facebook and Amazon have cancelled his accounts since he launched the site in 1995. Andew Anglin, founder of neo-Nazi website called The Daily Stormer, also has said on his site that PayPal permanently shut down his online payment account in 2015.

Nobody lasts very long on PayPal if youre pro-white, which is unfortunate because a lot of people want to use PayPal to donate money, said Black, who instead encourages his supporters to donate with bitcoin, an electronic currency. Leaders of the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) say they frequently communicate with online companies to flag users spreading hate on their sites.

This is a game that never seems to end, said the SPLCs Mark Potok. Its a bit of a whack-a-mole thing.

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Twitter broadens its campaign against hate and abuse – Republica

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February 9, 2017   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

Twitter broadens its campaign against hate and abuse – San Angelo Standard Times

BARBARA ORTUTAY and MICHAEL KUNZELMAN, Associated Press 9:08 p.m. CT Feb. 7, 2017

FILE – In this Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, file photo, the Twitter logo appears on a phone post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Twitter says it is taking more steps to clamp down on hate speech and abuse on its social networking service, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017. The company says it is working to identify people who have been banned for abusive behavior and stop them from creating new accounts.(Photo: Richard Drew, AP)

NEW YORK (AP) Twitter announced Tuesday that it is expanding efforts to protect its users from abuse and harassment, the latest milestone in a broader, growing corporate campaign to crack down on online hate.

The social media giant said it has begun identifying people who have been banned for abusive behavior and it will stop them from creating new accounts. The company said its changes, which also include a new “safe search” feature, will be implemented in the coming weeks.

In July, Twitter banned conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, an editor of the right-wing news site Breitbart News, for “participating in or inciting targeted abuse of individuals.” Twitter subsequently suspended the accounts of other prominent figureheads of the “alt-right” fringe movement, an amorphous mix of racism, white nationalism, xenophobia and anti-feminism.

Twitter has been under fire for failing to address hate and abuse on the site since its founding a decade ago. Balancing its reputation as a free speech haven has come into conflict with efforts to protect users.

Other internet companies have taken recent steps to curb abusive behavior and ban users who violate rules against promoting hate.

Reddit banned a forum for white nationalists from its social news website last Wednesday. A message at the link for the “r/altright” subreddit attributed its ban to an impermissible “proliferation of personal and confidential information.”

Also last week, the crowdfunding website GoFundMe removed a campaign for a conservative author and self-described “researcher” on the internet conspiracy theory known as “pizzagate,” which alleged with no evidence that Democrats were running a child sex ring out of a Washington, D.C., pizza shop. Brittany Pettibone had launched her GoFundMe campaign for a video podcast about “traditional values that once made Western Civilization great,” including “love of one’s own culture, race and country.”

GoFundMe spokesman Bobby Whithorne said in an email that Pettibone’s campaign was removed because it violated the company’s terms of service, which include rules against promoting hate, violence, harassment, discrimination, terrorism or “intolerance of any kind.” Pettibone, who declined to be interviewed, tweeted that GoFundMe didn’t specify how her campaign violated its terms of service.

Hate speech and promoting violence have long been barred under the terms of service of internet and social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook. But in the months leading up to the contentious presidential election, the emergence of the “alt-right” and high-profile trolling campaigns like one targeting “Ghostbusters” star Leslie Jones thrust the issue to the forefront.

In November, for instance, AppNexus announced that it removed Breitbart News from its online advertising network because it said the news outlet had violated its policy against hate speech. AppNexus, which connects buyers and sellers of online ad space,” determined that Breitbart “deployed crude racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual slurs in a way that could incite violence or discrimination against minority groups,” a spokesman said at the time.

The crackdown isn’t limited to far-right extremists. In August, Twitter said it had suspended some 360,000 accounts over the previous year for violating its policies banning the promotion of terrorism and violent extremism. But the company says the changes announced Tuesday are “unrelated to that and focused on abuse and harassment.”

Also on Tuesday, Twitter said it’s creating a “safe search” feature that removes tweets with potentially sensitive content and tweets from blocked and muted accounts from search results. The tweets will still exist on Twitter if people look for them, but won’t appear in general search results.

Twitter is also making some replies less visible so only the most relevant conversations surface.

Jennifer Grygiel, an assistant professor of communications at Syracuse University, said Twitter still relies too heavily on its users to root out and report abusive material.

“I have a simple fix: Just hire a lot more humans,” Grygiel said.

Don Black, whose Stormfront website is one of the oldest and most popular internet forums for white nationalists, said PayPal, Facebook and Amazon have cancelled his accounts since he launched the site in 1995. Andew Anglin, founder of neo-Nazi website called The Daily Stormer, also has said on his site that PayPal permanently shut down his online payment account in 2015.

“Nobody lasts very long on PayPal if you’re pro-white, which is unfortunate because a lot of people want to use PayPal to donate money,” said Black, who instead encourages his supporters to donate with bitcoin, an electronic currency.

Leaders of the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center say they frequently communicate with online companies to flag users spreading hate on their sites.

“This is a game that never seems to end,” said the SPLC’s Mark Potok. “It’s a bit of a whack-a-mole thing.”

__

Kunzelman reported from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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Twitter broadens its campaign against hate and abuse – San Angelo Standard Times

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February 8, 2017   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

March catapults Muslim American into national spotlight and social-media crosshairs – Washington Post

It was 4 a.m. on the day of the Womens March that Linda Sarsour and her national co-chairs realized how big the event they had spent 20 hours a day planning for two months might actually be.

Six hours before it was set to begin, in the cold, pre-dawn hours, a crowd of protesters more than a city block deep had already assembled in front of the stage in Washington and a steady stream of people was arriving.

It was the most remarkable thing I have ever seen, Sarsour said.

The Womens March put Sarsour, one of the highest-profile Muslim American activists in the country after climbing the ranks of New York City politics, squarely on the national stage.

Despite a barrage of hateful messages and violent threats targeting her on social media since, Sarsour has continued a punishing schedule of activism as she has sought to bring her heightened profile, and a new sense of what is possible, to a range of resistance movements that are developing in the first weeks of President Trumps administration.

Within 24 hours of returning to New York after the Womens March, Sarsour was meeting with organizers for the Peoples Climate Movement march, scheduled for April, she said.

And since Trump issued an executive order halting travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, Sarsours activism has been highly visible: She joined protesters at the Los Angeles airport days after the ban was announced, marched with Yemeni businessmen across New York last week and emceed a major rally in Manhattans Battery Park to oppose the ban.

[We cant become a dictatorship: Protests erupt against Trump travel ban]

She also became the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit brought by the Council on American-Islamic Relations against the Trump administration. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria on Jan. 30, is one of dozens challenging the ban. A federal judge in Seattle imposed a temporary stay on the ban Friday that was still in effect Tuesday, when a hearing was scheduled to take place before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

The CAIR suit, Sarsour v. Trump , says that the presidents executive order is overtly discriminatory and officially broadcasts a message that the federal government disfavors the religion of Islam.

It lists more than 25 plaintiffs, including a dozen foreign nationals who are unnamed, many of them students or religious leaders directly affected by the ban, separated from spouses or family members abroad or unable to obtain U.S. citizenship under the terms of the order.

Nihad Awad, executive director of CAIR, said it took courage for Sarsour to become the face of a high-profile lawsuit challenging the Trump administration.

We are living in a new era of civil rights advocacy, he said. It takes leaders on the front lines who are willing to be there, to take the pressure, to take the hate along with the spotlight, to make a difference.

Detractors mount

Sarsours role as a co-chair of the Womens March brought with it an onslaught of personal attacks through social media and conservative news outlets. Her critics have attempted to tie her to terrorist groups, called her anti-Semitic and accused her of infiltrating the liberal movement.

My response to the right-wing trolls and the media outlets: I am not going to be silenced, Sarsour, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, said in a phone interview. I am going to continue this work I have done for 16 years.

She called on her fellow Americans to be more-critical thinkers.

Many of her accusers say she is an advocate of sharia, or Islamic law.

That sounds scary to people, she said. But she said she does not think sharia law should supplant American laws, as some suggest.

She, like many other U.S. Muslims, regard sharia as a guide for their private religious practice, she said. I dont eat pork, she said. I dont drink alcohol. I pray five times a day.

She said efforts to make these private worship rules seem more insidious are attempts to criminalize Muslims for following the tenets of their faith.

Last week, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born American author and critic of Islam, appeared on Fox News and called Sarsour a fake feminist and questioned her defense of sharia law.

Theres no principle that demeans, degrades and dehumanizes women more than the principle of sharia law, she said.

Her comments were made in response to a 2011 tweet from Sarsour that resurfaced and was circulating on social media. In it, Sarsour compared Hirsi Ali to Brigitte Gabriel, the leader of Act for America, an anti-terrorism lobbying group. Brigitte Gabriel = Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Shes asking 4 an a$$ whippin. I wish I could take their vaginas away they dont deserve to be women.

Sarsour called it a stupid tweet and said she has no memory of writing it but said she could have. I am a brash New Yorker, she said. Im not going to defend it.

She has debated both women on radio or television, and she called them notorious Islamophobes who are working for the right wing.

At the essence of their conflict, she said, is the idea purported by both women that the Muslim faith is inherently misogynistic.

There are Muslims and regimes that oppress women, but I believe that my religion is an empowering religion, Sarsour said. I wear hijab by choice.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated Act for America a hate group.

Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Montgomery, Ala.-based organization, said Sarsour has been vilified by many groups that claim radical Islamists are trying to infiltrate the U.S. government at every level. The same groups have targeted Huma Abedin, Hillary Clintons longtime aide, and Muslims in many leadership positions, Potok said. They have been emboldened by the Trump administration, and are benefiting from the massive confusion between what is real and not real in the news, he said.

If you want to believe all law enforcement agencies are infiltrated by radical Islamists or that Obama was secretly a Muslim or that theres a plot to impose sharia law in American courts, there are plenty of quote-unquote news sites that will tell you its so, he said.

Of late, Sarsour said, two of her sisters have taken turns monitoring her social-media feeds throughout the day and deleting threatening and offensive posts that appear, she said.

I dont care if someone posts that Islam oppresses women, Sarsour said. But I dont want to see anything vulgar that talks about rape or chopping people up or ISIS members. I dont want to see blood. ISIS is another name for the Islamic State.

Sarsour has received threats in the past and had a personal security detail assigned from the New York Police Department last year after someone published her home address online, she said. She no longer takes public transportation by herself.

But this year, in the days leading up to the Womens March and since, Sarsour has also received a groundswell of public support.

An #IMarchwithLinda campaign started on social media, and support came from organizations such as Human Rights Watch, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center, as well as celebrities such as Susan Sarandon and Mark Ruffalo.

Sarsour said she has also received an outpouring of support from the Muslim community, including one group that raised $3,900 through an online crowdfunding platform so she could take a vacation, something she said she has not done since 2010. She may take one now, she said, and invite some other organizers who work long hours and cant afford a trip.

Many express gratitude for her leadership during a time when anti-Muslim sentiment has been surging. Asifa Quraishi-Landes, a professor at University of Wisconsin Law School who studies Islamic law and has followed Sarsours career, said she was proud to see a Muslim woman at the helm of a movement representing a wide swath of American society.

Sarsour defies stereotypes of Muslim women as oppressed, she said.

Shes strong, articulate, a mom everything that every other woman was at that march, Quraishi-Landes said.

Growing up in New York

Sarsour, 36, grew up in Brooklyn the oldest of seven children. Her Palestinian parents immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. Her father owned a corner store.

Sarsour went to a predominantly African American high school, an experience that informed her political agenda later on, she said. At 17, she entered an arranged marriage.

When the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks occurred, she was a young mother enrolled at Kingsborough Community College, with plans to become a high school English teacher.

The impact of the subsequent investigations and counterterrorism efforts were swift and profound in the Muslim neighborhood where she grew up.

I saw coffee shops being raided and different men being taken by law enforcement, she said.

She started volunteering as an English translator helping Arabic-speaking families get legal services.

She continued down the career path of connecting immigrant and refugee families with services and speaking up for their rights. At 25, she became the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, where she still works.

She has focused advocacy on civil rights abuses and criminal justice issues, calling for an end to unwarranted surveillance of Muslims in New York and the police policy of stop-and-frisk, which enabled police to search people for vague reasons.

She was also part of a coalition that succeeded in getting two Muslim holidays added to the New York City public school calendar.

Some Muslims have criticized Sarsour as a self-promoter. But the activist brushes aside such remarks, saying she has been proud to represent a community who has been silenced and unheard living in a post-9/11 America.

The Obama administration honored her with a Champions of Change award, and she has gained much of her publicity as an activist who also works on issues affecting other groups.

In recent years, she has become active in the Black Lives Matter movement, highlighting similarities in the treatment of Muslim and black Americans by law enforcement.

She helped organize a Muslim response to the 2014 killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, in Ferguson, Mo., by a white police officer.

Last year, she co-chaired a 250-mile march from New York to Washington to call attention to racial profiling and police brutality. She also was involved with Sen. Bernie Sanderss campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

As her work has brought her farther outside the boroughs of New York, she has thought about setting her sights on more national work, including a possible bid for Congress.

In the short term, she wants to write a book and continue organizing, registering voters and helping people become more involved in government. I want to help prove to fellow Americans that democracy works when we participate, she said.

Her main focus now is to be an opposition to Trump for the next four years, she said. That will keep me very busy.

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March catapults Muslim American into national spotlight and social-media crosshairs – Washington Post

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February 8, 2017   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

EDITORIAL: We should never forget – Enid News & Eagle

We will never forget.

Oklahomans made that solemn pledge after the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

Originally assumed to be the work of foreign terrorists, the ammonium nitrate truck bomb detonated by Gulf War veteran Timothy McVeigh is now the subject of an American Experience film titled Oklahoma City. The documentary airs at 8 p.m. Tuesday on PBS following its world premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

Mark Potok, senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said the documentary is accurate, revealing, smart in its analysis.

As the film ruminates on the motive for McVeigh, much of the background in Oklahoma City predates the Murrah bombing. The documentary provides insight on how the New York native was enraged by the 1992 Randy Weaver incident.

McVeigh planned the OKC bombing to occur on the second anniversary of the deadly Branch Davidian raid at Waco, Texas. The documentary includes footage of the 24-year-old Army veteran selling bumper stickers with pro-gun and anti-government messages.

At its heart, Oklahoma City’ is about the dangers of conspiracy thinking of each side demonizing and exaggerating the threat posed by the other, said director Barak Goodman.

A disillusioned veteran angered by Brady Bill registration, McVeigh carried the racist novel The Turner Diaries written by white nationalist William Luther Pierce. It served as a blueprint to accelerate armed militias nationwide in the 1990s.

(McVeigh) thought he was starting the next American Revolution, said Ben Fenwick, a journalist who covered the McVeigh trial. I think he did exactly the opposite because he showed the human face of what it really means to attack a government a government of the people.

Interestingly, McVeighs lead defense attorney, Enids Stephen Jones, is not mentioned in the documentary, but his likeness is seen in several courtroom sketches.

While co-conspirator Terry Nichols is serving a life sentence as an accomplice, McVeigh was convicted and executed for killing 168 people and injuring more than 600 others.

To me it was a counterattack, the war had already started, McVeigh said in a jailhouse interview before being put to death. You think you can be ruthless? Lets see how you like it when the fighting is brought to you.

Ultimately, Oklahoma City serves as a timely cautionary tale. The SPLC, a nonprofit advocacy organization specializing in civil rights and public interest litigation, claims 548 militant white supremacist groups are currently active in America.

When you hear someone using the same kind of rhetoric that McVeigh uses, that should be cause for a gut check, Fenwick told the Enid News & Eagle. When you hear others verbally attacking normal, helpful, government institutions like HUD (Housing and Urban Development) or Social Security or welfare, just remember, the next step was what McVeigh did, and he was emboldened by such talk. And if you hear people say such things about those of another race, nationality or religion, McVeigh thought that too.

While the threat of radical Islamic terrorism is very real, we should never forget that homegrown, extreme ideology fueled the worst domestic terror attack in U.S. history.

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February 7, 2017   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

Armed citizens patrol the Arizona-Mexico border | PBS NewsHour – PBS NewsHour

NICK SCHIFRIN: Tim Foley likes to describe himself and his men as a kind of neighborhood watch. And these 600 square miles along the Arizona-Mexico border are their backyard.

For the last 7 years, the 57-year-old former Army soldier, firefighter, and construction worker has led the Arizona Border Recon. Foley describes it as a surveillance group, but members are armed with military style rifles that are legal in Arizona. Theyre prepared to intercept or capture anyone crossing the border illegally.

TIM FOLEY: When friends come to your house, they come to the front door and ring the bell and announce themselves. They dont wait til youre not home, and then climb through your back window, and make themselves at home.

NICK SCHIFRIN: This desert land is a well-worn route for Mexican cartels. Border Recon members want to try and secure the border because they say the government has failed to do so.

TIM FOLEY: Basically what were trying to do is just hurt the cartels pocket book. This area is pretty much theirs. And were coming back in and going, its not yours. Its ours.

NICK SCHIFRIN: To try and catch the cartels, Foley hides motion-activated cameras.

TIM FOLEY: I can see what times of day they come by, what days of the week, and start to see if theres any type of pattern.

NICK SCHIFRIN: Late last year, Foleys cameras recorded these men dressed in desert camouflage walking from Mexico into Arizona. Smugglers bring in marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines and, sometimes, people. The last man carried a broom to sweep up their footprints.

Some wear these booties with carpet soles to avoid leaving tracks.

TIM FOLEY: So if Im wearing this.

NICK SCHIFRIN: Cant see anything.

TIM FOLEY: Theres nothing there. Theyre actually very good. Its very ingenious.

NICK SCHIFRIN: Foley says this fight is personal. At an early age he started abusing alcohol and drugs, everything from heroin to sniffing glue.

TIM FOLEY: For 30 years I was higher than a kite. And then I came down here, I was going, I know what this stuff does. And I want to keep as many people as possible away from it.

NICK SCHIFRIN: Foley has no interest in being a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent, but he told us he works with them. At one point during our visit, he said this call was from an agent.

TIM FOLEY: You missed the group by about an hour-and-a-half.

BORDER PATROL AGENT: You guys have a good one, and let us know if you see anything.

TIM FOLEY: Roger that, will do.

They know that I have so much intel.

NICK SCHIFRIN: C.B.P declined our request for an interview, but said in a written statement it does not endorse or support any private group or organization from taking matters into their own hands, as it could have disastrous personal and public safety consequences.

In Arizona, there are more than a dozen self-described militia groups. None of which were created or sanctioned by the state.

The Arizona State Militia posts YouTube videos of its training to become quote, the last line of defense against everything from illegal immigration to an outbreak of disease.

CODY SALAZAR-BETZER: I prepare for things such as a pandemic or something of that nature. In a medical situation, we may be required to secure a hospital, so theres not a run on supplies there, so people can get proper treatment.

NICK SCHIFRIN: 30-year-old Cody Salazar-Betzer joined eight months ago. He trains on radios, handguns, and military-style rifles.

CODY SALAZAR-BETZER: Theres a lot of situations you can dream up in your head that may be possible, where you may be called to defend in a situation where just simple hands, hand-to-hand wont do.

BRYAN: Codys our corporal. That was his promotion after his 90 days for all the work he does on our website.

NICK SCHIFRIN: The Arizona State Militia is led by this 42-year-old named Bryan, who wouldnt give his last name. He says he served in the military, but we couldnt verify that.

He and many people here make the unproven assertion that illegal immigration has increased crime and taken away American jobs.

BRYAN: When you got possibly in the hundreds a day coming across. Thats eventually going to have an impact. It spiked.

NICK SCHIFRIN: Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center is one of the countrys leading authorities on militia groups. He calls them out-of-control vigilantes.

MARK POTOK: These people are incredibly dangerous. Theyre running around like a bunch of GI Joes, darting from cactus plant to cactus plant, armed to the teeth, and essentially playing war.

NICK SCHIFRIN: He cites the example of Shawna Forde, the leader of the Minuteman American Defense militia that took it upon itself to patrol the border. In 2009, Ford planned and helped rob and kill a Latino man, Raul Flores, and his 9-year-old daughter Brisenia. Mistakenly thinking he was a drug dealer whose money she could steal to fund her movement. A jury sentenced Forde to death.

MARK POTOK: This is a movement that tends to attract people who are quite unhinged. This is a barrel with a whole lot of bad apples in it.

NICK SCHIFRIN: Foleys heard this critique.

TIM FOLEY: Its politically correct to call us racists and everything else. Thats all right. I prefer the term domestic extremist. Because if getting off the couch and doing something is extreme, then yeah. Im an extremist.

NICK SCHIFRIN: In in Arizona. Today, some kind of barrier covers most of the states 370-mile southern border. The policy is meant to secure: To protect the border, in 2006, the Bush and then Obama Administrations started building new, taller fences like this one.

This border fence was built about four years ago. It goes all the way into the town of Nogales and beyond it. It runs for about four miles until this point. Everything beyond here is just a vehicle barrier. The idea is to force anything illegal, whether people or drugs that are coming across, into these remote, rural areas. But even here, the local sheriff says that those militia groups arent welcome.

TONY ESTRADA: We have no way of vetting these people. We dont know who they are.

NICK SCHIFRIN: Tony Estrada has been the elected sheriff of this county for 24 years. Hes a Democrat. He says Mexican smugglers try and avoid people, and that keeps violent incidents low. He believes aggressive militias increase the potential of violence.

TONY ESTRADA: They may mean well, but its not going to work. Theyre going to put themselves in danger, and its going to create more problems than its going to solve.

NICK SCHIFRIN: 80 miles to the east, Mark Dannels, a Republican, is the elected sheriff of the neighboring county, with six thousand square miles of land and 80 miles of border.

His office also has video of camouflaged drug mules bringing bundles from Mexico into the U.S.

His new surveillance cameras can peer into the Mexican hills two miles away. He says that little black structure on the top of the hill is full of cartel scouts. Dannels says militias dont have enough technology or legitimacy.

MARK DANNELS: When you entrust a law enforcement agency, theyve been vetted through a community. A process. Militias are not vetted. If they want to be eyes and ears like we talk about community policing, let it be. But it always goes to the next level where theyre armed better than my deputies are.

NICK SCHIFRIN: Just down the road, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is completing a four-year-old upgrade of the border fence. Theres a ranch that runs up to the border and its owned by John Ladd. His family has lived here continuously for 120 years. He says despite the fence, drug smugglers cross his property freely.

JOHN LADD: Their backpack is 50-pound pack in the back and 20-pounds in front. Theyll take their dope to the highway, go back and get another load. Theyll do three loads a day. The dope will be picked up by a vehicle on the highway.

NICK SCHIFRIN: He would like to see more Federal border agents, not militia groups.

JOHN LADD: If youre gonna be on the border, its gonna be a legitimate agency that is gonna take care of the problem.

NICK SCHIFRIN: Theres one more layer of criticism. Some local residents told me theyre scared of Foley and the weapons he keeps in his house.

There are members of the community in general who are kind of scared of you, I think. I mean, should they be scared of you?

TIM FOLEY: They shouldnt be. Because we are protecting them. And I told myself when I came down here, I wouldnt leave until it was secure.

NICK SCHIFRIN: In his first week in office, President Trump announced his proposals to secure the border: building a wall, hiring 5-thousand more border agents, and increasing prosecution of illegal immigrants.

DONALD TRUMP: Beginning today, the United States of America gets back control of its borders, gets back its borders.

NICK SCHIFRIN: But Congress still needs to authorize the money and no one knows how much of the wall will be built, how many agents will actually be hired, or how effective the plan might be.

NICK SCHIFRIN: Foley isnt waiting. He vows to continue patrolling, no matter the critics.

TIM FOLEY: Im not doing this for myself. Im not doing it for fame. Im not doing it for fortune, because Im broke as hell. Im doing it for everybody. Because we do not know what is coming through that border.

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February 7, 2017   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

Tuesday on TV: PBS relives horrific ‘American Experiemce’ of … – Salt Lake Tribune

While there were “a few sort of prescient lawmen [and] law women who thought about these things before … it’s worth remembering” that for three days after the bombing “the American people and all the so-called experts out there on national television were saying this is an attack by Muslims. It has all the earmarks of a jihadist attack and so on.”

Potok said it’s also “worth remembering that throughout the ’90s the FBI absolutely refused to classify the murders of abortion providers and their guards and women who worked at clinics as terrorism, which is absolutely clearly was if you look at the FBI’s own definition of terrorism.”

And under the George W. Bush administration “top officials of the FBI testified to Congress that the greatest domestic terrorism threat facing the United States was from so called eco-terrorists. And while those groups “never killed anyone, not for want of trying” in Oklahoma City “we’re looking at a movement that in one fell swoop murdered 168 men women and children, including 19 tiny children.”

It’s horrifying, but extremely well done and very much worth watching.

Elsewhere on TV

“NCIS” (7 p.m., CBS/Ch. 2): The murder of a petty officer prompts NCIS to once again work with “The Sherlocks,” a privately funded investigative team that includes Anthony DiNozzo, Sr. (Robert Wagner).

“The Middle” (7 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4): Frankie learns her child-bearing years are over; Sean Donahue and Sue’s roommate hit it off.

“New Girl” (7 p.m., Fox/Ch. 13): Nick freaks out when Reagan lands him a book signing; Winston tells Schmidt and Cece that he’s proposing to Aly.

“The Flash” (7 p.m., CW/Ch. 30): Barry and the team work together to bring down a criminal meta-human who is methodically killing people by causing them to decompose at an accelerated rate.

“The Haves and Have Nots” (7 p.m., OWN): Veronica confronts Erica.

“American Housewife” (7:30 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4): The Ottos’ house is put up for sale, and Katie is the only one happy about leaving Westport.

“The Mick” (7:30 p.m., Fox/Ch. 13): Chip must choose between snitching on his teammates or taking the fall for them.

“Fresh Off the Boat” (8 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4): Marvin and Honey take Eddie, Emery and Evan to visit a retirement home.

“Bones” (8 p.m., Fox/Ch. 13): The team investigates when the dismembered body of a successful golfer-turned-lumberjack is found.

The rest is here:

Tuesday on TV: PBS relives horrific ‘American Experiemce’ of … – Salt Lake Tribune

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Where did the radical right come from? Television tries to make … – Press Herald

The title of the documentary Oklahoma City is a little misleading. The movie isnt just about the April morning in 1995 when Timothy McVeigh parked a Ryder truck full of explosives next to a federal building and killed 168 people. It also tracks the events that prompted McVeighs homegrown terrorism.

The movie, which airs Tuesday night on PBS, revisits the bloody siege at Ruby Ridge in 1992, not to mention the showdown the following year near Waco, Texas, that led to the deaths of David Koresh and his Branch Davidians.

Theres a tendency to see these sorts of events as one-offs, said the movies director, Barak Goodman, these anomalous breaks from normality where some kind of crazy person takes it upon themselves to perform this terrorist act. But the fact is, much more often, theres a movement behind these lone wolves.

It didnt just start with McVeigh. It also didnt end with him.

The string of causes and effects that led to the massacre in Oklahoma is particularly relevant now. Donald Trumps war on political correctness and his charged comments about Mexicans and Muslims, among other groups, have emboldened the radical right. Extremism is becoming more mainstream.

Though it wasnt Goodmans intent, Oklahoma City (9 p.m. Tuesday) tries to make sense of our current, volatile era. And its not the only thing on television doing that.

On Viceland, the series Hate Thy Neighbor (10 p.m. Mondays) follows mixed-race British comedian Jamali Maddix as he travels the world getting to know members of various extremist groups. The show echoes CNNs similarly themed United Shades of America, which airs its second season this spring, hosted by another comedian, W. Kamau Bell. In one episode, Bell, who is black, hangs out with members of the Ku Klux Klan.

And then theres Escaping the KKK, the A&E series that was supposed to air this year, giving viewers a look inside one of Americas oldest hate groups. But airing this kind of show has its risks. After an uproar, during which critics claimed the series was normalizing racism, the show was canceled.

Oklahoma City is a fascinating and troubling exploration of the way far-right groups sprang up out of distrust for the federal government. Among the inciting incidents was Ruby Ridge. That event involved Randy Weaver, a Vietnam veteran and gun enthusiast, who lived off the grid. He was accused of possessing illegal firearms, and when he didnt show up to his trial, federal agents bungled an attempt to bring him in. In the firefight that ensued, Weavers wife, son and dog were all killed; so was an agent.

Ruby Ridge was a nightmare that resulted in a $3.1 million payout for Weaver, and it reminded far-right extremists of why the government shouldnt be trusted. Such fears were only confirmed when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI went after the Branch Davidians near Waco a year later. A siege ended with a conflagration that killed Koresh and his followers.

Timothy McVeigh in custody after the Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City in 1995. Photo courtesy of the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum

Though the Justice Department ruled that the fire was set by the Branch Davidians, conspiracy theories proliferated.

Now it fits a pattern, said Mark Potok, editor in chief of the Southern Poverty Law Centers journal Intelligence Report. Many who didnt trust the government held the (debunked) idea that the FBI set the fire, which confirmed their world view. Potok was a reporter with USA Today at the time, and he covered the siege. Here is another group of heterodox people, and they were very into guns, just like Weaver was. Thats how the Davidians made their money.

He added: Its hard to overemphasize how much guns are a part of this.

When McVeigh confessed to the bombing in Oklahoma City, he admitted that both Waco and Ruby Ridge had enraged him. He was hoping to spur a revolt against the government, he said.

While Oklahoma City very clearly lays out where the far right came from, Hate Thy Neighbor and United Shades of America are more about understanding the individuals associated with these movements.

Bell shot the first season of his show in August 2014, before the obvious uptick in extreme right sentiments. At the time, he felt that viewers needed a reminder that the Ku Klux Klan still existed. He wanted the Klansmen on his show to spell out their theories as clearly as possible so that people would understand how insidious and crazy these beliefs were.

For most people KKK members are a punchline, like a stand-up comedians joke its not something to be taken seriously for most people, Bell said during an interview last year. But my point with the show is: Whether you take it seriously or not, its here.

Although Bell focused on a different topic with each episode, he noticed a trend over the course of the season. Each show ended up being about one group moving into a place, resulting in another faction feeling as though they were being pushed out.

The Klan, in their theory, theyre being gentrified, he explained.

According to Potok, thats a common argument for extreme right believers.

One thing thats happened with groups like the Klan is they have opportunistically tried to co-opt the language of the civil rights movement, Potok said. That idea has grown on the radical right that white people are being dispossessed.

The Viceland host Maddix, meanwhile, is just a normal dude trying to figure out whats going on, he said over the phone recently. I dont know if Im curious or stupid.

In the episode Americas Far White, Maddix spends time with a Pennsylvania family that has a dog named Adolf and a swastika flag flying atop their house. A couple of interesting trends emerge during his visit. The first is that the white nationalists in the episode are very sensitive to certain descriptors. They balk when Maddix uses terms like racism and nazi.

I prefer National Socialist, the family patriarch, Dan Burnside, corrects. He also blatantly tries to ingratiate himself to Maddix.

Say hi to Jamali, Burnside instructs his children. And he later explains that he wants to teach his kids about the positive impact of some black Americans, including the rapper DMX.

I think we all innately have certain wants and needs and feelings, Maddix said of the strange dynamic. Even a national socialist who advocates for genocide wants to be liked by a black comedian.

It just goes to show that even when television tries to make sense of whats happening in the country, sometimes its just a lost cause.

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Where did the radical right come from? Television tries to make … – Press Herald

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The Scary FBI Prediction About White Supremacists That Came True – ATTN

New information leaked from the FBI suggests that a 2006 prediction about white supremacist groups has now come true; white supremacists and other domestic extremists are “active” in law enforcement. However, one civil rights activist told ATTN: that new information may not represent the biggest problem facing police departments.

The Intercept’s Alice Speri obtained a secret 2015 internal document from the FBI, which reveals that domestic terrorism investigations focused on militia extremists, white supremacist extremists, and sovereign citizen extremists often have identified active links to law enforcement officers.”

The document obtained by Speri confirms a fear outlined in a 2006 FBI document titled “White Supremacist Infiltration of Law Enforcement,” which deemed hate groups’ interest in police departments a “concern” because they can gain access to “restricted areas vulnerable to sabotage and to elected officials or protected persons, whom they could see as potential targets for violence.”

The 2006 document also noted that white supremacist groups have “historically” tried to join and recruit from law enforcement, however the redacted version did not include specific threats or confirmation that these groups had members in police departments.

Southern Poverty Law Center Senior Fellow Mark Potok told ATTN: that infiltration of police departments by members of white supremacist groups is actually less of an active concern than the mainstreaming of radical, white supremacist views.

Potok said, based on SPLC’s monitoring of media reports, white supremacist groups’ infiltration into law enforcement agencies is probably at historically low levels,

“I’m not denying this happens from time to time, but this used to be absolutely normal and there used to be Klan officials from North to South in police departments,” he said. “That is not true anymore.”

Potok said the number of organized group members in extremist hate groups like the KKK have actually declined. There are between 5,000 and 8,000 members of the Ku Klux Klan today but there were about 40,000 in the civil rights era.

In March of 2015, the DOJ released a report about Ferguson, Missouri’s police department, the citywhere Michael Brown was controversially shot and killed by a police officer. Investigators found that the police department showed a “pattern or practice of racial bias.”

The results of a 14-month investigation about the Baltimore Police Department found racial bias and unconstitutional arrests.

“BPD makes stops, searches and arrests without the required justification; uses enforcement strategies that unlawfully subject African Americans to disproportionate rates of stops, searches and arrests; uses excessive force; and retaliates against individuals for their constitutionally-protected expression,” read the August 2016 DOJ press release.

A 13-month investigation into the Chicago Police Department released last month found that officers routinely used excessive force and targeted blacks and Latinos, and made racially inflammatory social media posts.

“What is happening, is without question, the radical right has gotten bigger,” said Potok. He said that the current political discourse is filled with extremist right-wing ideas.

“We’ve never seen radical right wing politics in the political mainstream in the way we’re seeing right now,” he said. “In 50 years since George Wallace ran in ’68, that was the last time something like this happened.” Wallace ran on a racial segregation platform.

Potok also pointed to the example of Dylann Roof, who shot and killed nine people in a black church in South Carolina.

“Dylann roof was never a member of any hate group and really never communicated with anyone,” he said. “We’re seeing people who are just reading things on the internet.”

ATTN: previously reported that Twitter users who support white nationalism overtook Islamic State sympathizers in terms of overall activity.

“On Twitter, ISISs preferred social platform, American white nationalist movements have seen their followers grow by more than 600% since 2012,” J.M. Berger, a fellow at GWU’s Program on Extremism and the author of “Nazis vs. ISIS on Twitter,” wrote in his September 2016 report. “Today, they outperform ISIS in nearly every social metric, from follower counts to tweets per day.”

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The Scary FBI Prediction About White Supremacists That Came True – ATTN

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Gorsuch in His Youth: ‘Fascism Forever’ – AlterNet

Gorsuch in His Youth: 'Fascism Forever'
AlterNet
Did you intend to identify yourself with fascist leaders like Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Augusto Pinochet? What did you think was funny about Henry Kissinger's quiphis willingness to act illegally or his desire to violate constitutional norms

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Gorsuch in His Youth: ‘Fascism Forever’ – AlterNet

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Twitter broadens its campaign against hate and abuse – Republica

Twitter announced Tuesday that it is expanding efforts to protect its users from abuse and harassment, the latest milestone in a broader, growing corporate campaign to crack down on online hate. The social media giant said it has begun identifying people who have been banned for abusive behavior and it will stop them from creating new accounts. The company said its changes, which also include a new safe search feature, will be implemented in the coming weeks. In July, Twitter banned conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, an editor of the right-wing news site Breitbart News, for participating in or inciting targeted abuse of individuals. Twitter subsequently suspended the accounts of other prominent figureheads of the alt-right fringe movement, an amorphous mix of racism, white nationalism, xenophobia and anti-feminism. Twitter has been under fire for failing to address hate and abuse on the site since its founding a decade ago. Balancing its reputation as a free speech haven has come into conflict with efforts to protect users. Other internet companies have taken recent steps to curb abusive behavior and ban users who violate rules against promoting hate. Reddit banned a forum for white nationalists from its social news website last Wednesday. A message at the link for the r/altright subreddit attributed its ban to an impermissible proliferation of personal and confidential information. Hate speech and promoting violence have long been barred under the terms of service of internet and social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook. But in the months leading up to the contentious presidential election, the emergence of the alt-right and high-profile trolling campaigns like one targeting Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones thrust the issue to the forefront. In November, for instance, AppNexus announced that it removed Breitbart News from its online advertising network because it said the news outlet had violated its policy against hate speech. The crackdown isnt limited to far-right extremists. In August, Twitter said it had suspended some 360,000 accounts over the previous year for violating its policies banning the promotion of terrorism and violent extremism. But the company says the changes announced Tuesday are unrelated to that and focused on abuse and harassment. Also on Tuesday, Twitter said its creating a safe search feature that removes tweets with potentially sensitive content and tweets from blocked and muted accounts from search results. The tweets will still exist on Twitter if people look for them, but wont appear in general search results. Twitter is also making some replies less visible so only the most relevant conversations surface. Jennifer Grygiel, an assistant professor of communications at Syracuse University, said Twitter still relies too heavily on its users to root out and report abusive material. Don Black, whose Stormfront website is one of the oldest and most popular internet forums for white nationalists, said PayPal, Facebook and Amazon have cancelled his accounts since he launched the site in 1995. Andew Anglin, founder of neo-Nazi website called The Daily Stormer, also has said on his site that PayPal permanently shut down his online payment account in 2015. Nobody lasts very long on PayPal if youre pro-white, which is unfortunate because a lot of people want to use PayPal to donate money, said Black, who instead encourages his supporters to donate with bitcoin, an electronic currency. Leaders of the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) say they frequently communicate with online companies to flag users spreading hate on their sites. This is a game that never seems to end, said the SPLCs Mark Potok. Its a bit of a whack-a-mole thing.

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Twitter broadens its campaign against hate and abuse – San Angelo Standard Times

BARBARA ORTUTAY and MICHAEL KUNZELMAN, Associated Press 9:08 p.m. CT Feb. 7, 2017 FILE – In this Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, file photo, the Twitter logo appears on a phone post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Twitter says it is taking more steps to clamp down on hate speech and abuse on its social networking service, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017. The company says it is working to identify people who have been banned for abusive behavior and stop them from creating new accounts.(Photo: Richard Drew, AP) NEW YORK (AP) Twitter announced Tuesday that it is expanding efforts to protect its users from abuse and harassment, the latest milestone in a broader, growing corporate campaign to crack down on online hate. The social media giant said it has begun identifying people who have been banned for abusive behavior and it will stop them from creating new accounts. The company said its changes, which also include a new “safe search” feature, will be implemented in the coming weeks. In July, Twitter banned conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, an editor of the right-wing news site Breitbart News, for “participating in or inciting targeted abuse of individuals.” Twitter subsequently suspended the accounts of other prominent figureheads of the “alt-right” fringe movement, an amorphous mix of racism, white nationalism, xenophobia and anti-feminism. Twitter has been under fire for failing to address hate and abuse on the site since its founding a decade ago. Balancing its reputation as a free speech haven has come into conflict with efforts to protect users. Other internet companies have taken recent steps to curb abusive behavior and ban users who violate rules against promoting hate. Reddit banned a forum for white nationalists from its social news website last Wednesday. A message at the link for the “r/altright” subreddit attributed its ban to an impermissible “proliferation of personal and confidential information.” Also last week, the crowdfunding website GoFundMe removed a campaign for a conservative author and self-described “researcher” on the internet conspiracy theory known as “pizzagate,” which alleged with no evidence that Democrats were running a child sex ring out of a Washington, D.C., pizza shop. Brittany Pettibone had launched her GoFundMe campaign for a video podcast about “traditional values that once made Western Civilization great,” including “love of one’s own culture, race and country.” GoFundMe spokesman Bobby Whithorne said in an email that Pettibone’s campaign was removed because it violated the company’s terms of service, which include rules against promoting hate, violence, harassment, discrimination, terrorism or “intolerance of any kind.” Pettibone, who declined to be interviewed, tweeted that GoFundMe didn’t specify how her campaign violated its terms of service. Hate speech and promoting violence have long been barred under the terms of service of internet and social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook. But in the months leading up to the contentious presidential election, the emergence of the “alt-right” and high-profile trolling campaigns like one targeting “Ghostbusters” star Leslie Jones thrust the issue to the forefront. In November, for instance, AppNexus announced that it removed Breitbart News from its online advertising network because it said the news outlet had violated its policy against hate speech. AppNexus, which connects buyers and sellers of online ad space,” determined that Breitbart “deployed crude racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual slurs in a way that could incite violence or discrimination against minority groups,” a spokesman said at the time. The crackdown isn’t limited to far-right extremists. In August, Twitter said it had suspended some 360,000 accounts over the previous year for violating its policies banning the promotion of terrorism and violent extremism. But the company says the changes announced Tuesday are “unrelated to that and focused on abuse and harassment.” Also on Tuesday, Twitter said it’s creating a “safe search” feature that removes tweets with potentially sensitive content and tweets from blocked and muted accounts from search results. The tweets will still exist on Twitter if people look for them, but won’t appear in general search results. Twitter is also making some replies less visible so only the most relevant conversations surface. Jennifer Grygiel, an assistant professor of communications at Syracuse University, said Twitter still relies too heavily on its users to root out and report abusive material. “I have a simple fix: Just hire a lot more humans,” Grygiel said. Don Black, whose Stormfront website is one of the oldest and most popular internet forums for white nationalists, said PayPal, Facebook and Amazon have cancelled his accounts since he launched the site in 1995. Andew Anglin, founder of neo-Nazi website called The Daily Stormer, also has said on his site that PayPal permanently shut down his online payment account in 2015. “Nobody lasts very long on PayPal if you’re pro-white, which is unfortunate because a lot of people want to use PayPal to donate money,” said Black, who instead encourages his supporters to donate with bitcoin, an electronic currency. Leaders of the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center say they frequently communicate with online companies to flag users spreading hate on their sites. “This is a game that never seems to end,” said the SPLC’s Mark Potok. “It’s a bit of a whack-a-mole thing.” __ Kunzelman reported from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Read or Share this story: http://www.gosanangelo.com/story/news/technology/2017/02/07/twitter-broadens-its-campaign-against-hate-and-abuse/97623156/

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March catapults Muslim American into national spotlight and social-media crosshairs – Washington Post

It was 4 a.m. on the day of the Womens March that Linda Sarsour and her national co-chairs realized how big the event they had spent 20 hours a day planning for two months might actually be. Six hours before it was set to begin, in the cold, pre-dawn hours, a crowd of protesters more than a city block deep had already assembled in front of the stage in Washington and a steady stream of people was arriving. It was the most remarkable thing I have ever seen, Sarsour said. The Womens March put Sarsour, one of the highest-profile Muslim American activists in the country after climbing the ranks of New York City politics, squarely on the national stage. Despite a barrage of hateful messages and violent threats targeting her on social media since, Sarsour has continued a punishing schedule of activism as she has sought to bring her heightened profile, and a new sense of what is possible, to a range of resistance movements that are developing in the first weeks of President Trumps administration. Within 24 hours of returning to New York after the Womens March, Sarsour was meeting with organizers for the Peoples Climate Movement march, scheduled for April, she said. And since Trump issued an executive order halting travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, Sarsours activism has been highly visible: She joined protesters at the Los Angeles airport days after the ban was announced, marched with Yemeni businessmen across New York last week and emceed a major rally in Manhattans Battery Park to oppose the ban. [We cant become a dictatorship: Protests erupt against Trump travel ban] She also became the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit brought by the Council on American-Islamic Relations against the Trump administration. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria on Jan. 30, is one of dozens challenging the ban. A federal judge in Seattle imposed a temporary stay on the ban Friday that was still in effect Tuesday, when a hearing was scheduled to take place before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. The CAIR suit, Sarsour v. Trump , says that the presidents executive order is overtly discriminatory and officially broadcasts a message that the federal government disfavors the religion of Islam. It lists more than 25 plaintiffs, including a dozen foreign nationals who are unnamed, many of them students or religious leaders directly affected by the ban, separated from spouses or family members abroad or unable to obtain U.S. citizenship under the terms of the order. Nihad Awad, executive director of CAIR, said it took courage for Sarsour to become the face of a high-profile lawsuit challenging the Trump administration. We are living in a new era of civil rights advocacy, he said. It takes leaders on the front lines who are willing to be there, to take the pressure, to take the hate along with the spotlight, to make a difference. Detractors mount Sarsours role as a co-chair of the Womens March brought with it an onslaught of personal attacks through social media and conservative news outlets. Her critics have attempted to tie her to terrorist groups, called her anti-Semitic and accused her of infiltrating the liberal movement. My response to the right-wing trolls and the media outlets: I am not going to be silenced, Sarsour, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, said in a phone interview. I am going to continue this work I have done for 16 years. She called on her fellow Americans to be more-critical thinkers. Many of her accusers say she is an advocate of sharia, or Islamic law. That sounds scary to people, she said. But she said she does not think sharia law should supplant American laws, as some suggest. She, like many other U.S. Muslims, regard sharia as a guide for their private religious practice, she said. I dont eat pork, she said. I dont drink alcohol. I pray five times a day. She said efforts to make these private worship rules seem more insidious are attempts to criminalize Muslims for following the tenets of their faith. Last week, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born American author and critic of Islam, appeared on Fox News and called Sarsour a fake feminist and questioned her defense of sharia law. Theres no principle that demeans, degrades and dehumanizes women more than the principle of sharia law, she said. Her comments were made in response to a 2011 tweet from Sarsour that resurfaced and was circulating on social media. In it, Sarsour compared Hirsi Ali to Brigitte Gabriel, the leader of Act for America, an anti-terrorism lobbying group. Brigitte Gabriel = Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Shes asking 4 an a$$ whippin. I wish I could take their vaginas away they dont deserve to be women. Sarsour called it a stupid tweet and said she has no memory of writing it but said she could have. I am a brash New Yorker, she said. Im not going to defend it. She has debated both women on radio or television, and she called them notorious Islamophobes who are working for the right wing. At the essence of their conflict, she said, is the idea purported by both women that the Muslim faith is inherently misogynistic. There are Muslims and regimes that oppress women, but I believe that my religion is an empowering religion, Sarsour said. I wear hijab by choice. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated Act for America a hate group. Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Montgomery, Ala.-based organization, said Sarsour has been vilified by many groups that claim radical Islamists are trying to infiltrate the U.S. government at every level. The same groups have targeted Huma Abedin, Hillary Clintons longtime aide, and Muslims in many leadership positions, Potok said. They have been emboldened by the Trump administration, and are benefiting from the massive confusion between what is real and not real in the news, he said. If you want to believe all law enforcement agencies are infiltrated by radical Islamists or that Obama was secretly a Muslim or that theres a plot to impose sharia law in American courts, there are plenty of quote-unquote news sites that will tell you its so, he said. Of late, Sarsour said, two of her sisters have taken turns monitoring her social-media feeds throughout the day and deleting threatening and offensive posts that appear, she said. I dont care if someone posts that Islam oppresses women, Sarsour said. But I dont want to see anything vulgar that talks about rape or chopping people up or ISIS members. I dont want to see blood. ISIS is another name for the Islamic State. Sarsour has received threats in the past and had a personal security detail assigned from the New York Police Department last year after someone published her home address online, she said. She no longer takes public transportation by herself. But this year, in the days leading up to the Womens March and since, Sarsour has also received a groundswell of public support. An #IMarchwithLinda campaign started on social media, and support came from organizations such as Human Rights Watch, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center, as well as celebrities such as Susan Sarandon and Mark Ruffalo. Sarsour said she has also received an outpouring of support from the Muslim community, including one group that raised $3,900 through an online crowdfunding platform so she could take a vacation, something she said she has not done since 2010. She may take one now, she said, and invite some other organizers who work long hours and cant afford a trip. Many express gratitude for her leadership during a time when anti-Muslim sentiment has been surging. Asifa Quraishi-Landes, a professor at University of Wisconsin Law School who studies Islamic law and has followed Sarsours career, said she was proud to see a Muslim woman at the helm of a movement representing a wide swath of American society. Sarsour defies stereotypes of Muslim women as oppressed, she said. Shes strong, articulate, a mom everything that every other woman was at that march, Quraishi-Landes said. Growing up in New York Sarsour, 36, grew up in Brooklyn the oldest of seven children. Her Palestinian parents immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. Her father owned a corner store. Sarsour went to a predominantly African American high school, an experience that informed her political agenda later on, she said. At 17, she entered an arranged marriage. When the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks occurred, she was a young mother enrolled at Kingsborough Community College, with plans to become a high school English teacher. The impact of the subsequent investigations and counterterrorism efforts were swift and profound in the Muslim neighborhood where she grew up. I saw coffee shops being raided and different men being taken by law enforcement, she said. She started volunteering as an English translator helping Arabic-speaking families get legal services. She continued down the career path of connecting immigrant and refugee families with services and speaking up for their rights. At 25, she became the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, where she still works. She has focused advocacy on civil rights abuses and criminal justice issues, calling for an end to unwarranted surveillance of Muslims in New York and the police policy of stop-and-frisk, which enabled police to search people for vague reasons. She was also part of a coalition that succeeded in getting two Muslim holidays added to the New York City public school calendar. Some Muslims have criticized Sarsour as a self-promoter. But the activist brushes aside such remarks, saying she has been proud to represent a community who has been silenced and unheard living in a post-9/11 America. The Obama administration honored her with a Champions of Change award, and she has gained much of her publicity as an activist who also works on issues affecting other groups. In recent years, she has become active in the Black Lives Matter movement, highlighting similarities in the treatment of Muslim and black Americans by law enforcement. She helped organize a Muslim response to the 2014 killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, in Ferguson, Mo., by a white police officer. Last year, she co-chaired a 250-mile march from New York to Washington to call attention to racial profiling and police brutality. She also was involved with Sen. Bernie Sanderss campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. As her work has brought her farther outside the boroughs of New York, she has thought about setting her sights on more national work, including a possible bid for Congress. In the short term, she wants to write a book and continue organizing, registering voters and helping people become more involved in government. I want to help prove to fellow Americans that democracy works when we participate, she said. Her main focus now is to be an opposition to Trump for the next four years, she said. That will keep me very busy.

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February 8, 2017   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

EDITORIAL: We should never forget – Enid News & Eagle

We will never forget. Oklahomans made that solemn pledge after the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Originally assumed to be the work of foreign terrorists, the ammonium nitrate truck bomb detonated by Gulf War veteran Timothy McVeigh is now the subject of an American Experience film titled Oklahoma City. The documentary airs at 8 p.m. Tuesday on PBS following its world premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Mark Potok, senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said the documentary is accurate, revealing, smart in its analysis. As the film ruminates on the motive for McVeigh, much of the background in Oklahoma City predates the Murrah bombing. The documentary provides insight on how the New York native was enraged by the 1992 Randy Weaver incident. McVeigh planned the OKC bombing to occur on the second anniversary of the deadly Branch Davidian raid at Waco, Texas. The documentary includes footage of the 24-year-old Army veteran selling bumper stickers with pro-gun and anti-government messages. At its heart, Oklahoma City’ is about the dangers of conspiracy thinking of each side demonizing and exaggerating the threat posed by the other, said director Barak Goodman. A disillusioned veteran angered by Brady Bill registration, McVeigh carried the racist novel The Turner Diaries written by white nationalist William Luther Pierce. It served as a blueprint to accelerate armed militias nationwide in the 1990s. (McVeigh) thought he was starting the next American Revolution, said Ben Fenwick, a journalist who covered the McVeigh trial. I think he did exactly the opposite because he showed the human face of what it really means to attack a government a government of the people. Interestingly, McVeighs lead defense attorney, Enids Stephen Jones, is not mentioned in the documentary, but his likeness is seen in several courtroom sketches. While co-conspirator Terry Nichols is serving a life sentence as an accomplice, McVeigh was convicted and executed for killing 168 people and injuring more than 600 others. To me it was a counterattack, the war had already started, McVeigh said in a jailhouse interview before being put to death. You think you can be ruthless? Lets see how you like it when the fighting is brought to you. Ultimately, Oklahoma City serves as a timely cautionary tale. The SPLC, a nonprofit advocacy organization specializing in civil rights and public interest litigation, claims 548 militant white supremacist groups are currently active in America. When you hear someone using the same kind of rhetoric that McVeigh uses, that should be cause for a gut check, Fenwick told the Enid News & Eagle. When you hear others verbally attacking normal, helpful, government institutions like HUD (Housing and Urban Development) or Social Security or welfare, just remember, the next step was what McVeigh did, and he was emboldened by such talk. And if you hear people say such things about those of another race, nationality or religion, McVeigh thought that too. While the threat of radical Islamic terrorism is very real, we should never forget that homegrown, extreme ideology fueled the worst domestic terror attack in U.S. history.

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February 7, 2017   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

Armed citizens patrol the Arizona-Mexico border | PBS NewsHour – PBS NewsHour

NICK SCHIFRIN: Tim Foley likes to describe himself and his men as a kind of neighborhood watch. And these 600 square miles along the Arizona-Mexico border are their backyard. For the last 7 years, the 57-year-old former Army soldier, firefighter, and construction worker has led the Arizona Border Recon. Foley describes it as a surveillance group, but members are armed with military style rifles that are legal in Arizona. Theyre prepared to intercept or capture anyone crossing the border illegally. TIM FOLEY: When friends come to your house, they come to the front door and ring the bell and announce themselves. They dont wait til youre not home, and then climb through your back window, and make themselves at home. NICK SCHIFRIN: This desert land is a well-worn route for Mexican cartels. Border Recon members want to try and secure the border because they say the government has failed to do so. TIM FOLEY: Basically what were trying to do is just hurt the cartels pocket book. This area is pretty much theirs. And were coming back in and going, its not yours. Its ours. NICK SCHIFRIN: To try and catch the cartels, Foley hides motion-activated cameras. TIM FOLEY: I can see what times of day they come by, what days of the week, and start to see if theres any type of pattern. NICK SCHIFRIN: Late last year, Foleys cameras recorded these men dressed in desert camouflage walking from Mexico into Arizona. Smugglers bring in marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines and, sometimes, people. The last man carried a broom to sweep up their footprints. Some wear these booties with carpet soles to avoid leaving tracks. TIM FOLEY: So if Im wearing this. NICK SCHIFRIN: Cant see anything. TIM FOLEY: Theres nothing there. Theyre actually very good. Its very ingenious. NICK SCHIFRIN: Foley says this fight is personal. At an early age he started abusing alcohol and drugs, everything from heroin to sniffing glue. TIM FOLEY: For 30 years I was higher than a kite. And then I came down here, I was going, I know what this stuff does. And I want to keep as many people as possible away from it. NICK SCHIFRIN: Foley has no interest in being a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent, but he told us he works with them. At one point during our visit, he said this call was from an agent. TIM FOLEY: You missed the group by about an hour-and-a-half. BORDER PATROL AGENT: You guys have a good one, and let us know if you see anything. TIM FOLEY: Roger that, will do. They know that I have so much intel. NICK SCHIFRIN: C.B.P declined our request for an interview, but said in a written statement it does not endorse or support any private group or organization from taking matters into their own hands, as it could have disastrous personal and public safety consequences. In Arizona, there are more than a dozen self-described militia groups. None of which were created or sanctioned by the state. The Arizona State Militia posts YouTube videos of its training to become quote, the last line of defense against everything from illegal immigration to an outbreak of disease. CODY SALAZAR-BETZER: I prepare for things such as a pandemic or something of that nature. In a medical situation, we may be required to secure a hospital, so theres not a run on supplies there, so people can get proper treatment. NICK SCHIFRIN: 30-year-old Cody Salazar-Betzer joined eight months ago. He trains on radios, handguns, and military-style rifles. CODY SALAZAR-BETZER: Theres a lot of situations you can dream up in your head that may be possible, where you may be called to defend in a situation where just simple hands, hand-to-hand wont do. BRYAN: Codys our corporal. That was his promotion after his 90 days for all the work he does on our website. NICK SCHIFRIN: The Arizona State Militia is led by this 42-year-old named Bryan, who wouldnt give his last name. He says he served in the military, but we couldnt verify that. He and many people here make the unproven assertion that illegal immigration has increased crime and taken away American jobs. BRYAN: When you got possibly in the hundreds a day coming across. Thats eventually going to have an impact. It spiked. NICK SCHIFRIN: Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center is one of the countrys leading authorities on militia groups. He calls them out-of-control vigilantes. MARK POTOK: These people are incredibly dangerous. Theyre running around like a bunch of GI Joes, darting from cactus plant to cactus plant, armed to the teeth, and essentially playing war. NICK SCHIFRIN: He cites the example of Shawna Forde, the leader of the Minuteman American Defense militia that took it upon itself to patrol the border. In 2009, Ford planned and helped rob and kill a Latino man, Raul Flores, and his 9-year-old daughter Brisenia. Mistakenly thinking he was a drug dealer whose money she could steal to fund her movement. A jury sentenced Forde to death. MARK POTOK: This is a movement that tends to attract people who are quite unhinged. This is a barrel with a whole lot of bad apples in it. NICK SCHIFRIN: Foleys heard this critique. TIM FOLEY: Its politically correct to call us racists and everything else. Thats all right. I prefer the term domestic extremist. Because if getting off the couch and doing something is extreme, then yeah. Im an extremist. NICK SCHIFRIN: In in Arizona. Today, some kind of barrier covers most of the states 370-mile southern border. The policy is meant to secure: To protect the border, in 2006, the Bush and then Obama Administrations started building new, taller fences like this one. This border fence was built about four years ago. It goes all the way into the town of Nogales and beyond it. It runs for about four miles until this point. Everything beyond here is just a vehicle barrier. The idea is to force anything illegal, whether people or drugs that are coming across, into these remote, rural areas. But even here, the local sheriff says that those militia groups arent welcome. TONY ESTRADA: We have no way of vetting these people. We dont know who they are. NICK SCHIFRIN: Tony Estrada has been the elected sheriff of this county for 24 years. Hes a Democrat. He says Mexican smugglers try and avoid people, and that keeps violent incidents low. He believes aggressive militias increase the potential of violence. TONY ESTRADA: They may mean well, but its not going to work. Theyre going to put themselves in danger, and its going to create more problems than its going to solve. NICK SCHIFRIN: 80 miles to the east, Mark Dannels, a Republican, is the elected sheriff of the neighboring county, with six thousand square miles of land and 80 miles of border. His office also has video of camouflaged drug mules bringing bundles from Mexico into the U.S. His new surveillance cameras can peer into the Mexican hills two miles away. He says that little black structure on the top of the hill is full of cartel scouts. Dannels says militias dont have enough technology or legitimacy. MARK DANNELS: When you entrust a law enforcement agency, theyve been vetted through a community. A process. Militias are not vetted. If they want to be eyes and ears like we talk about community policing, let it be. But it always goes to the next level where theyre armed better than my deputies are. NICK SCHIFRIN: Just down the road, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is completing a four-year-old upgrade of the border fence. Theres a ranch that runs up to the border and its owned by John Ladd. His family has lived here continuously for 120 years. He says despite the fence, drug smugglers cross his property freely. JOHN LADD: Their backpack is 50-pound pack in the back and 20-pounds in front. Theyll take their dope to the highway, go back and get another load. Theyll do three loads a day. The dope will be picked up by a vehicle on the highway. NICK SCHIFRIN: He would like to see more Federal border agents, not militia groups. JOHN LADD: If youre gonna be on the border, its gonna be a legitimate agency that is gonna take care of the problem. NICK SCHIFRIN: Theres one more layer of criticism. Some local residents told me theyre scared of Foley and the weapons he keeps in his house. There are members of the community in general who are kind of scared of you, I think. I mean, should they be scared of you? TIM FOLEY: They shouldnt be. Because we are protecting them. And I told myself when I came down here, I wouldnt leave until it was secure. NICK SCHIFRIN: In his first week in office, President Trump announced his proposals to secure the border: building a wall, hiring 5-thousand more border agents, and increasing prosecution of illegal immigrants. DONALD TRUMP: Beginning today, the United States of America gets back control of its borders, gets back its borders. NICK SCHIFRIN: But Congress still needs to authorize the money and no one knows how much of the wall will be built, how many agents will actually be hired, or how effective the plan might be. NICK SCHIFRIN: Foley isnt waiting. He vows to continue patrolling, no matter the critics. TIM FOLEY: Im not doing this for myself. Im not doing it for fame. Im not doing it for fortune, because Im broke as hell. Im doing it for everybody. Because we do not know what is coming through that border.

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February 7, 2017   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

Tuesday on TV: PBS relives horrific ‘American Experiemce’ of … – Salt Lake Tribune

While there were “a few sort of prescient lawmen [and] law women who thought about these things before … it’s worth remembering” that for three days after the bombing “the American people and all the so-called experts out there on national television were saying this is an attack by Muslims. It has all the earmarks of a jihadist attack and so on.” Potok said it’s also “worth remembering that throughout the ’90s the FBI absolutely refused to classify the murders of abortion providers and their guards and women who worked at clinics as terrorism, which is absolutely clearly was if you look at the FBI’s own definition of terrorism.” And under the George W. Bush administration “top officials of the FBI testified to Congress that the greatest domestic terrorism threat facing the United States was from so called eco-terrorists. And while those groups “never killed anyone, not for want of trying” in Oklahoma City “we’re looking at a movement that in one fell swoop murdered 168 men women and children, including 19 tiny children.” It’s horrifying, but extremely well done and very much worth watching. Elsewhere on TV “NCIS” (7 p.m., CBS/Ch. 2): The murder of a petty officer prompts NCIS to once again work with “The Sherlocks,” a privately funded investigative team that includes Anthony DiNozzo, Sr. (Robert Wagner). “The Middle” (7 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4): Frankie learns her child-bearing years are over; Sean Donahue and Sue’s roommate hit it off. “New Girl” (7 p.m., Fox/Ch. 13): Nick freaks out when Reagan lands him a book signing; Winston tells Schmidt and Cece that he’s proposing to Aly. “The Flash” (7 p.m., CW/Ch. 30): Barry and the team work together to bring down a criminal meta-human who is methodically killing people by causing them to decompose at an accelerated rate. “The Haves and Have Nots” (7 p.m., OWN): Veronica confronts Erica. “American Housewife” (7:30 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4): The Ottos’ house is put up for sale, and Katie is the only one happy about leaving Westport. “The Mick” (7:30 p.m., Fox/Ch. 13): Chip must choose between snitching on his teammates or taking the fall for them. “Fresh Off the Boat” (8 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4): Marvin and Honey take Eddie, Emery and Evan to visit a retirement home. “Bones” (8 p.m., Fox/Ch. 13): The team investigates when the dismembered body of a successful golfer-turned-lumberjack is found.

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February 7, 2017   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

Where did the radical right come from? Television tries to make … – Press Herald

The title of the documentary Oklahoma City is a little misleading. The movie isnt just about the April morning in 1995 when Timothy McVeigh parked a Ryder truck full of explosives next to a federal building and killed 168 people. It also tracks the events that prompted McVeighs homegrown terrorism. The movie, which airs Tuesday night on PBS, revisits the bloody siege at Ruby Ridge in 1992, not to mention the showdown the following year near Waco, Texas, that led to the deaths of David Koresh and his Branch Davidians. Theres a tendency to see these sorts of events as one-offs, said the movies director, Barak Goodman, these anomalous breaks from normality where some kind of crazy person takes it upon themselves to perform this terrorist act. But the fact is, much more often, theres a movement behind these lone wolves. It didnt just start with McVeigh. It also didnt end with him. The string of causes and effects that led to the massacre in Oklahoma is particularly relevant now. Donald Trumps war on political correctness and his charged comments about Mexicans and Muslims, among other groups, have emboldened the radical right. Extremism is becoming more mainstream. Though it wasnt Goodmans intent, Oklahoma City (9 p.m. Tuesday) tries to make sense of our current, volatile era. And its not the only thing on television doing that. On Viceland, the series Hate Thy Neighbor (10 p.m. Mondays) follows mixed-race British comedian Jamali Maddix as he travels the world getting to know members of various extremist groups. The show echoes CNNs similarly themed United Shades of America, which airs its second season this spring, hosted by another comedian, W. Kamau Bell. In one episode, Bell, who is black, hangs out with members of the Ku Klux Klan. And then theres Escaping the KKK, the A&E series that was supposed to air this year, giving viewers a look inside one of Americas oldest hate groups. But airing this kind of show has its risks. After an uproar, during which critics claimed the series was normalizing racism, the show was canceled. Oklahoma City is a fascinating and troubling exploration of the way far-right groups sprang up out of distrust for the federal government. Among the inciting incidents was Ruby Ridge. That event involved Randy Weaver, a Vietnam veteran and gun enthusiast, who lived off the grid. He was accused of possessing illegal firearms, and when he didnt show up to his trial, federal agents bungled an attempt to bring him in. In the firefight that ensued, Weavers wife, son and dog were all killed; so was an agent. Ruby Ridge was a nightmare that resulted in a $3.1 million payout for Weaver, and it reminded far-right extremists of why the government shouldnt be trusted. Such fears were only confirmed when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI went after the Branch Davidians near Waco a year later. A siege ended with a conflagration that killed Koresh and his followers. Timothy McVeigh in custody after the Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City in 1995. Photo courtesy of the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum Though the Justice Department ruled that the fire was set by the Branch Davidians, conspiracy theories proliferated. Now it fits a pattern, said Mark Potok, editor in chief of the Southern Poverty Law Centers journal Intelligence Report. Many who didnt trust the government held the (debunked) idea that the FBI set the fire, which confirmed their world view. Potok was a reporter with USA Today at the time, and he covered the siege. Here is another group of heterodox people, and they were very into guns, just like Weaver was. Thats how the Davidians made their money. He added: Its hard to overemphasize how much guns are a part of this. When McVeigh confessed to the bombing in Oklahoma City, he admitted that both Waco and Ruby Ridge had enraged him. He was hoping to spur a revolt against the government, he said. While Oklahoma City very clearly lays out where the far right came from, Hate Thy Neighbor and United Shades of America are more about understanding the individuals associated with these movements. Bell shot the first season of his show in August 2014, before the obvious uptick in extreme right sentiments. At the time, he felt that viewers needed a reminder that the Ku Klux Klan still existed. He wanted the Klansmen on his show to spell out their theories as clearly as possible so that people would understand how insidious and crazy these beliefs were. For most people KKK members are a punchline, like a stand-up comedians joke its not something to be taken seriously for most people, Bell said during an interview last year. But my point with the show is: Whether you take it seriously or not, its here. Although Bell focused on a different topic with each episode, he noticed a trend over the course of the season. Each show ended up being about one group moving into a place, resulting in another faction feeling as though they were being pushed out. The Klan, in their theory, theyre being gentrified, he explained. According to Potok, thats a common argument for extreme right believers. One thing thats happened with groups like the Klan is they have opportunistically tried to co-opt the language of the civil rights movement, Potok said. That idea has grown on the radical right that white people are being dispossessed. The Viceland host Maddix, meanwhile, is just a normal dude trying to figure out whats going on, he said over the phone recently. I dont know if Im curious or stupid. In the episode Americas Far White, Maddix spends time with a Pennsylvania family that has a dog named Adolf and a swastika flag flying atop their house. A couple of interesting trends emerge during his visit. The first is that the white nationalists in the episode are very sensitive to certain descriptors. They balk when Maddix uses terms like racism and nazi. I prefer National Socialist, the family patriarch, Dan Burnside, corrects. He also blatantly tries to ingratiate himself to Maddix. Say hi to Jamali, Burnside instructs his children. And he later explains that he wants to teach his kids about the positive impact of some black Americans, including the rapper DMX. I think we all innately have certain wants and needs and feelings, Maddix said of the strange dynamic. Even a national socialist who advocates for genocide wants to be liked by a black comedian. It just goes to show that even when television tries to make sense of whats happening in the country, sometimes its just a lost cause.

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February 7, 2017   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

The Scary FBI Prediction About White Supremacists That Came True – ATTN

New information leaked from the FBI suggests that a 2006 prediction about white supremacist groups has now come true; white supremacists and other domestic extremists are “active” in law enforcement. However, one civil rights activist told ATTN: that new information may not represent the biggest problem facing police departments. The Intercept’s Alice Speri obtained a secret 2015 internal document from the FBI, which reveals that domestic terrorism investigations focused on militia extremists, white supremacist extremists, and sovereign citizen extremists often have identified active links to law enforcement officers.” The document obtained by Speri confirms a fear outlined in a 2006 FBI document titled “White Supremacist Infiltration of Law Enforcement,” which deemed hate groups’ interest in police departments a “concern” because they can gain access to “restricted areas vulnerable to sabotage and to elected officials or protected persons, whom they could see as potential targets for violence.” The 2006 document also noted that white supremacist groups have “historically” tried to join and recruit from law enforcement, however the redacted version did not include specific threats or confirmation that these groups had members in police departments. Southern Poverty Law Center Senior Fellow Mark Potok told ATTN: that infiltration of police departments by members of white supremacist groups is actually less of an active concern than the mainstreaming of radical, white supremacist views. Potok said, based on SPLC’s monitoring of media reports, white supremacist groups’ infiltration into law enforcement agencies is probably at historically low levels, “I’m not denying this happens from time to time, but this used to be absolutely normal and there used to be Klan officials from North to South in police departments,” he said. “That is not true anymore.” Potok said the number of organized group members in extremist hate groups like the KKK have actually declined. There are between 5,000 and 8,000 members of the Ku Klux Klan today but there were about 40,000 in the civil rights era. In March of 2015, the DOJ released a report about Ferguson, Missouri’s police department, the citywhere Michael Brown was controversially shot and killed by a police officer. Investigators found that the police department showed a “pattern or practice of racial bias.” The results of a 14-month investigation about the Baltimore Police Department found racial bias and unconstitutional arrests. “BPD makes stops, searches and arrests without the required justification; uses enforcement strategies that unlawfully subject African Americans to disproportionate rates of stops, searches and arrests; uses excessive force; and retaliates against individuals for their constitutionally-protected expression,” read the August 2016 DOJ press release. A 13-month investigation into the Chicago Police Department released last month found that officers routinely used excessive force and targeted blacks and Latinos, and made racially inflammatory social media posts. “What is happening, is without question, the radical right has gotten bigger,” said Potok. He said that the current political discourse is filled with extremist right-wing ideas. “We’ve never seen radical right wing politics in the political mainstream in the way we’re seeing right now,” he said. “In 50 years since George Wallace ran in ’68, that was the last time something like this happened.” Wallace ran on a racial segregation platform. Potok also pointed to the example of Dylann Roof, who shot and killed nine people in a black church in South Carolina. “Dylann roof was never a member of any hate group and really never communicated with anyone,” he said. “We’re seeing people who are just reading things on the internet.” ATTN: previously reported that Twitter users who support white nationalism overtook Islamic State sympathizers in terms of overall activity. “On Twitter, ISISs preferred social platform, American white nationalist movements have seen their followers grow by more than 600% since 2012,” J.M. Berger, a fellow at GWU’s Program on Extremism and the author of “Nazis vs. ISIS on Twitter,” wrote in his September 2016 report. “Today, they outperform ISIS in nearly every social metric, from follower counts to tweets per day.”

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February 7, 2017   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

Gorsuch in His Youth: ‘Fascism Forever’ – AlterNet

Gorsuch in His Youth: 'Fascism Forever' AlterNet Did you intend to identify yourself with fascist leaders like Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Augusto Pinochet? What did you think was funny about Henry Kissinger's quiphis willingness to act illegally or his desire to violate constitutional norms … and more »

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February 7, 2017   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed


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