Friday, July 07, 2006

Friday Round-Up

US Military Infiltrated by White Supremacists
An article in today's New York Times discusses the growing infiltration of the US military by white supremacists (the intentionalist ones) and racist skinheads resulting from the recruiting shortfalls the Bush-Iraq War has provoked. Although Bill Clinton's second Secretary of Defense William Perry pushed to stamp out any open racist agitation in one of the institutions most frequently cited as a model of American racial integration, there has been no similar response from current Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ("untidiness"). In fact, out of 320 identified white supremacist or skinhead extremists positively identified by a Defense Department investigator, Scott Barfield, only 2 have been discharged. The article suggests there may be more than 1000 extremists among the enlisted ranks, and points out that the racists are successfully using the Internet to organize and galvanize the infiltrators, who've been urged to sign up for "light infantry" training so that they will be adequately prepared for house-to-house "race war" fighting....

GOP Governance Failures Intrinsic to Conservative Ideology?
While I would argue that labeling the Bush administration as "incompetent" misses the true genius of its success at gaming and winning elections and in implementing a range of its most destructive policies, the Republican-controlled government in general, save the Supreme Court, has been a disaster. A few months ago, Princeton historian Sean Wilentz, in a Rolling Stone essay, limned the assessment of a consensus of distinguished historians, who've deemed Bush's tenure among the worst ever in US history. (Steven Pizzo's acute appraisal from 2005 is here. Nobel Laureate economist George Akerlof also slammed the administration as the worst ever in US history back in 2003.) Boston College political scientist Alan Wolfe argues in the current Washington Monthly that the Republican-led conservative Congress's and our conservative president's governance failures may result from conflicts that are intrinsic to their ideology. One perfect quote from his thorough and thoroughly historicized argument, which is worth several rereads:

If government is necessary, bad government, at least for conservatives, is inevitable, and conservatives have been exceptionally good at showing just how bad it can be. Hence the truth revealed by the Bush years: Bad government--indeed, bloated, inefficient, corrupt, and unfair government--is the only kind of conservative government there is. Conservatives cannot govern well for the same reason that vegetarians cannot prepare a world-class boeuf bourguignon: If you believe that what you are called upon to do is wrong, you are not likely to do it very well.

Berlusconi Again on Trial
Silvio Berlusconi
, the media baron, former conservative Prime Minister of Italy, and close friend and ally of George W. Bush, faces a turn of events he'd long been able to avoid because of his deft manipulation of Italian legislation and law: he is set to be tried in Milan for fraud relating to his family media conglomerate, Mediaset. The BBC News reports that this most recent indictment is the result of "an investigation into claims of embezzlement, false accounting, tax fraud and money laundering in TV rights deals between 1994 and 1999." British lawyer David Mills, the estranged husband of UK Culture minister Tessa Jowell, is charged under the same writ. Berlusconi is no stranger to the court system, having faced corruption charges at least six times, and was thrice convicted, though each time the convictions were either canceled on appeal or dropped. In addition, he held immunity from prosecution while serving as Prime Minister, a post he lost narrowly several months ago to a fractious center-left coalition led by former EU chief and Italian Prime Minster Romano Prodi. Berlusconi is claiming innocent--of course!--and it'll be interesting to see if courts can make these newest charges against one of the richest and wiliest politicians in the world stick.

(Is) Sony's new ad racist (?)
Samo samo: Sony's new PSP ads are (being called) racist. The ads are on display only in Holland right now. Sony and fans claim the ads aren't, but the formal composition and symbolic aspects of the images, which refer to larger narratives of violence and domination, colonial relations, and abjection of which the Dutch--and Western Europe--are the central authors, pretty much say it all. Are they going to claim irony or anti-political correctness as the excuse once their denials wear off?

Reggae Stars to Support HIV/AIDS Awareness
Reggae Gold Live 2006 Jump OffIn the same New York Times "Arts, Briefly" column I linked to yesterday, there was another interesting blurb, about an upcoming reggae and dancehall concert at New York's Webster Hall. Scheduled to take place on July 18, 2006, the newspaper describes Reggae Gold Live 2006 Jump Off as "the first reggae HIV/AIDS awareness concert," to benefit LIFEbeat, "a national nonprofit organization that mobilizes the music industry to raise awareness about the disease and provide support." Neither on the flyer, however, nor the purchase page is there any mention of the HIV/AIDS awareness aspect of the program at all. Announced performers include Beenie Man (whose harshly homophobic song "Bad Man Chi Chi Man" led to a canceled concert in Britain), T.O.K., Wayne Wonder, Sasha Kulchadon, and Little Kim.

Rod 2.0 offers a lot more information on the cancelation of dancehall star Buju Banton's concert in Britain. Does Beenie Man know about the true purpose of the concert? Is his appearance supposed to be a form of atonement for his past homophobia and its effects in Jamaica and elsewhere, and has anyone with LIFEbeat or anyone else affiliated with the concert pressed him about his harshly anti-gay songs? Will they? Why did they invite him in the first place, given the aim of the charity?

Briton Seeking Black Americans to Teach Grammar in Britain's Biggest Burgs
Shades of To Sir, with Love? Poet divine Toni Asante Lightfoot sent the following email post to me today; anyone who's interested or knows someone who might qualify can contact Patrick Sampson directly at the email links below:

>>INFO: black teachers needed in uk
================================= writes:
Calling All African American Teachers!

I'm looking for 50 African American teachers for posts in London,
Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool. Is there any help or advice out there.

Who we are OPERATION BIG DOG is a unique project being set up
by a husband and wife team with over 30 years experience in community
development and education. We are seeking to place inner-urban African-American
qualified teachers in UK high schools with a large African-Caribbean intake.

Why we want you?
1. African-Caribbean pupils, particularly boys, are failing and being failed.&n bsp;
2. There is a general shortage of black teachers in inner-city schools.
3. There is a lack of black role models in education.
4. Few black graduates are moving into teaching.
5. British young people respond to US culture.

What's in it for you?
An opportunity to be paid to visit and work in the UK.
Enrich your CV with experience abroad.
The possibility of permanent contracts.
A break from where you are now.
The chance to make a real difference.

Send me an email for further details
From: "patsam"

Indian Prince Comes Out
A gay Indian prince comes out, forfeits his fortune, says he's happy without the money. The premise of a Bollywood film? Perhaps soon, but it really happened. I wonder what effect this will have on the burgeoning local LGBT movements in India.

More Marcellas for Summer 2006
And on the it really happened tip, Marcellas Reynolds (at right, from, the first out Black gay man in the Big Brother house, has been voted back in for CBS's Big Brother 7 (All Stars) show, which is running this summer. I won't be watching. But I may check out Marcellas's blog now and then.

Random Photo

Acrobatic performing trio, in front of the Met


  1. Black American teachers being recruited for the U.K.? Interesting. A few weeks ago, I saw a report about Filipino teachers being recruiting to fill teacher shortages here in the U.S. Perhaps the world needs to pay teachers better and more actively promote it as a viable career option?

  2. Bernie, it is interesting and ironic. In Britain the issue is a lack of Black teachers specifically teaching in urban schools with large Black British populations, while here it's qualified teachers who're willing to work in particular areas. Perhaps some British educators are addressing the need for more Black Britons to enter the teaching pipeline; I don't know. In the US, though the low pay, low respect, strain of testing, and difficult social and economic conditions in public schools keep many talented people away. We both know people teaching in the New York public schools who're very frustrated by their experiences. I loved teaching 7th-9th grade, but found it emotionally draining and financially daunting, and knew I couldn't continue doing it longterm. There are some countries where primary and secondary school teaching is a viable career option, but the US is increasingly not one of them.

  3. hey you two!

    hey glad you posted this. And, I am actually considering it for the 2007-2008 school year.

    You are both right...teaching is a wonderful profession, but it is one that gets NO respect from anyone in this country. NOT AT ALL...

    You know how frustrated I have been with teaching and have been wondering how I can find a good balance between enjoying it and not walking away altogether.

    I love what I do; I really do. But, I won't lie and say that I have been ridiculously frustrated with how teachers are treated in NYC.

    All that said, I am going to email the contact person for this and see about doing it for 2007-2008.

    Who knows..I've been feeling stagnant for a while in NYC and this might be something that could really broaden my horizons in a lot of respects.

    will talk to you both soon..

  4. I thought about the UK teaching gig myself, but I don't have experience teaching at the high school level. But I do hope the education departments in the UK are setting up some incentive programs. As much as Black Briton high schoolers may identify with African American culture, it's not a substitute for either inclusion of Black British cultures and history in the curriculum, or teachers in the schools. BTW the Sony PSP ads turn out to have a "flip side" with a black model dominating a white one. You can see both images here , which doesn't make the ads any less offensive.

  5. Ryan, good luck with it. It seems like an exciting opportunity, though the details are a bit vague. I can't vouch for the guy either. But please do let me know how it turns out.

    Audiologo, have you only taught college? I agree that the real issue is the need for Black Britons and Britons in general to incorporate more Black British and Diasporic history and cultures in the curricula, as well as for there to be more folks familiar with Black British history and culture to be in the schools working with and reaching the children. I did see the second image, which is also problematic. I'll aim to repost my comments from Frank's site.