Tag Archives: violence

Propaganda week

newsweek pakistan yellow peril xenophobia

by guest contributor Manish, originally published at Ultrabrown

This scare story was loaded with terrorism hype. By the time I finished the story, it seemed like jihadis were on the verge of overrunning not only Islamabad but India too. And yet with all the advantages of Musharraf’s rigging, Islamist parties crested at a tiny minority of votes in the last election.

Check out the photos in the print edition, all foreboding black and white like a cheesy re-enactment by a TV crime show:

  • Cover: Scary, screaming, bearded man
  • First photo: Bleeding man lying on road, pierced with shrapnel from the Bhutto attack, looking directly at the camera. This is the kind of gruesome verité the American media refuse to show about Americans at home or American soldiers in Iraq, but think it perfectly acceptable to show about those not like us. I’m in favor of showing it all, not this disgusting double standard.
  • Second: Osama bin Laden t-shirt vendor
  • Third: Bullet-pocked walls
  • Fourth: Street scene with signs in Urdu / Arabic script
  • Fifth: Bearded mullah and a Koran

Here’s the thing — it’s a milestone that the media are beginning to drop the artificial he-says-she-says between India and Pakistan. They’re beginning to report the ISI and Pakistani military’s continued support of terrorism, and the fact that Islamists in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are far more dangerous than was the tinpot dictator of Iraq. Some of the content of the story is excellent.

But its packaging and tone are yellow journalism at its worst, ignoring everyday life in Pakistan and puffing up a tiny circle of jihadists using the trashiest techniques of propaganda.

Boondocks recap: Stinkmeaner Strikes Back

by Racialicious guest contributor Jasmine

My first recap for this weeks episode of “The Boondocks”, “Stinkmeaner Strikes Back,” was a bit of a mess. A blow-by-blow recap of what happened, I didn’t put in much in the way of commentary because… I was scared. I admit it. Although I lobbied for the gig, the actual task of recapping “The Boondocks” is daunting because it’s a smart, funny show which draws a lot of fire for its routine use of the n-word, among other things. I like to think that I am sharp enough to know and to remember that the show performs cutting critiques on race and class, and I try not to worry too much that other viewers may just be taking the program at face value. If I believe I am laughing for the right reasons, I’d better make sure I reach out and engage those folks who may be laughing for the wrong ones.

At the same time, there’s nothing that makes me feel entitled to watch this show. I’m naturally attracted to any show, good or bad (whatever those words mean when applied to television), that is funny, engaging, and wants to engage in a discourse on race that doesn’t involve “very special episodes” or token characters like the ones often found on mainstream network television.

But what’s right and what’s wrong here? It’s hard to know where to begin, but here is what happens: the Freemans are set upon by the evil spirit of Colonel Stinkmeaner, the mean old man whom Granddad Robert killed accidentally in season one. The Colonel, having thrived on hate in life, is far too evil even for hell, and is sent back to Earth by the devil himself. Stinkmeaner’s spirit makes itself at home in the body of Tom DuBois, instigating bouts of meaningless violence and attacking the Freemans so that they might return to hell with him as his quarry. It takes some advice from the ghost of Ghostface Killah (yes, I know he’s not dead, so that one confused me, too) and a misguided exorcism led by everybody’s favorite Black white supremacist Uncle Ruckus to restore Tom’s spirit to his body, and finish off Stinkmeaner for good. While all this is going on, Granddad is trolling the internet for dates, though not with much success.

What I’ve left out is that each instance of the violence, as instigated by Stinkmeaner/Tom, was described as an example of what was called “a nigga moment”: “a moment where ignorance overwhelms the mind of an otherwise logical Negro male, causing him to act in an illogical, self-destructive manner, i.e. like a nigga.” I cringed every time I heard the phrase, but I didn’t stop watching. But was I accepting the premise of such a phenomenon? Do I believe that all Black men are susceptible to times of ignorance so profound that it clouds their judgement and causes them to act in a self-destructive manner? Of course not, and that’s why I thought the show was funny. It’s that line between the ridicule and stereotype, the gap between the sacred and the profane, on which “The Boondocks” is found. It knows what’s sacred, but is not afraid to use some humor to show its audience that it’s smart enough to know the difference.

Are you wearing red today?

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Learn more about the Wear Red campaign and how you can lend your support:

In a Litany of Survival, Audre Lorde writes, “When we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive.” These words shape our collective organizing to break the silence surrounding women of color’s stories of violence. We are asking for community groups, grass-root organizations, college campus students and groups, communities of faith, online communities, and individuals to join us in speaking out against violence against women of color. If we speak, we cannot be invisible.

Bell Hooks on hip hop

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

This clip is from a 1996 video, bell hooks on Video: Cultural Criticism & Transformation, and in this segment, bell hooks discusses hip hop in the context of patriarchy, white supremacy, and capitalism. It’s fascinating stuff. Thanks very much to Chris for the tip!

HBO’s “Sopranos” and the VT Massacre

by guest contributor Jenn Fang, originally published on Reappropriate

(Hat-tip to reader A.) Last night on HBO’s Sopranos, an episode entitled “Remember When” aired in which the character of Junior Soprano, who has been institutionalized, befriends a young, mentally-ill Asian American man named Carter Chong, and played by Ken Leung (Quill in X-Men: The Last Stand).

According to the Wikipedia write-up of this episode, Carter ultimately feels betrayed by Junior when Junior decides to take his meds, and attacks him.

In A.’s email, he writes:

The internet is already abuzz with the fact that last night’s episode of HBO’s “The Sopranos” featured a young, mentally disturbed Asian male with violent tendencies. People are drawing all sorts of ignorant “parallels” to the Virginia Tech massacre, all weighted on the fact that the character was an Asian male. If it had been a white male or a black male, of course there would be no such “comparisons” made.

Keep an eye on this story. The episode was written and filmed six months ago, and I guess the broadcast timing is unfortunately coincidental ONLY if the viewer connects ALL Asian males with ONE violent Asian male they’ve seen in the news. A lot of ignorance and racism is coming out from many just because of this one episode. Let’s address this.

Of course, this character has nothing to do with the Virginia Tech massacre last week, and Carter Chong couldn’t possibly be a reflection of Seung Cho; as A. points out, this episode was written and shot several months ago and only aired last night due to a coincidence of timing.

And yet, some viewers seem to insist that the episode and the shooting are related, as an eerie “not connected but I insist they are karmically related” kind of way. On the forum, “Television Without Pity”, one viewer summed up the subplot as ”young Asian man with severe anger management problems and a history of gunplay”, while another commented “[t]he Asian having deep seated aggression problems was just too spooky.” Gotta love how in that second quote, Carter Chong is “the” Asian. One viewer commented, “I think most of us, even with no direct link to the horrific shootings, felt a little uncomfortable watching tonight. Whether fiction or not it was reminiscent enough of what happened to serve as a memory cue for an event that is probably hard to stop thinking about even without direct reminders.” However, a fourth viewer wrote:

A member of my immediate family was taken from us this week in the VATech thing, and I debated on whether or not I wanted to watch Sopranos tonight (ultimately I did since I’m a grown man and can realize that this is fiction). I did find the young asian male to be terrifyingly similar to what I envisioned the man who murdered my cousin to be, so it did weird me out for most of the episode. I just kept telling myself that I was overreacting because it’s barely been a week, so this is one of those episodes I’ll probably have to wait a while to rewatch. I’m sure it was unintentional, just unfortunate timing.

Other than both Seung Cho and Carter Chong being Asian: what’s the connection? Oh yes: a racially Asian man with mental illness is automatically associated with violent mass shooting sprees because Asian craziness is a factor of one’s skin colour, whereas the countless depictions of White men with mental illness are non-threatening because White craziness has nothing to do with Whiteness.

Again we see the inability of mainstream america to distinguish between a person of colour’s race and his actions, be the actions positive or negative. Seeing one Black man dunk a basketball or rap a song is proof positive that all Black men are capable of such feats, and an example of one Korean American man who succumbed to the violent nature of his mental illness is evidence that all Asian Americans with mental illness will be Seung Cho re-incarnated. (Even more telling the conflation of a Korean American with a character who is ostensibly Chinese American). Such irrational connections are never made when the targets are White.

I don’t have to watch last night’s episode of The Sopranos to know that Carter Chong and the Virginia Tech Massacre are not related. But, of course, there are those who see one Asian face and think they’re seeing us all.