Cementing the relationship between economics and foreign policy decision-making

By Louise Collins in Sydney, Australia

19 December 2014


The blog is currently featuring posts written by post-graduate students from the USSC 6903 Foreign and National Security Policy class, taught by Dr. Sarah Graham. You can see more of their posts here


In October 2012 Robert Zoellick, former President of the World Bank, wrote an article calling for economics to be reinstated as an essential element in US foreign policy. Zoellick was touching on something very important. He was highlighting the relationship of economics to power, influence, and diplomacy. The emerging phenomenon of cyber currency is going to make this relationship even more apparent. This is because cyber currency threatens to shake up the global economy and alter the pattern of international relations.  

Commonly known as Bitcoins, cyber currency is not yet as popular as paper money but more and more people are using it. Take Indonesia for example. There, people can purchase bitcoins at over 10,000 outlets. At the end of June this year, three on-line global companies with at least $2bn in annual revenue started accepting bitcoins as payment: DISH, Expedia, and Newegg.  

There’s one main reason though why cyber currency underlines a need for economics to be on the US foreign policy agenda. It’s because cyber currency, assuming it continues to gain popularity, will rewrite existing notions of how international economies are managed. 

It will happen because of  three very distinct reasons: 

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  1. Governments can’t produce units of cyber currency. In a setting where cyber currency is increasingly popular this has particular resonance for the United States.

    All economies are based on paper currency. Currently, the US Dollar is the global "paper currency" standard. This brings lots of benefits.  It helps US firms avoid the costs and uncertainty of dealing in foreign currencies which, in turn, helps drive domestic consumption. What happens if cyber currency takes over paper currency? Will the US Dollar as the global currency standard still be relevant? What diplomatic relationships are required to ensure that US firms maintain their international competitiveness in a cyber currency economy?

  2. Cyber currency makes capital available to anyone with a connection to the internet. There’s no need to go to a bank. As we move to a world where there are over 7 billion digitally connected humans, the potential for cyber currency to replace accepted theory about the way capital works is overwhelming. Currently, the US provides over 30 per cent of all international capital. This gives the US government considerable leverage in international negotiations. How would this leverage be impacted if there was a major shift to cyber capital raising?
  3. In much the same way that no one owns the technology behind email, nobody owns cyber currency networks. No central authority — like the US Federal Reserve — is required. This potentially changes the way that power, influence and diplomacy must be managed. Especially given that central banks play a key role in setting interest rates and monitoring money laundering activities across international borders.

Considering all of the above, it’s disturbing that, as Robert Zoellick suggests, economics receives scant attention from US foreign policy decision makers.

The US State Department needs to understand this new technology and its potential impact on both the US and global economies. More importantly, it needs to develop a clearer understanding of how cyber currency might shape foreign policy debate over the coming decade. 

Never was there a better time to start taking the necessary steps.

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American Daily: December 18, 2014

By Jonathan Bradley in Sydney, Australia

18 December 2014


During a banal conversation about holiday plans at my grandmother’s last week, her caretaker said she was spending Christmas and New Year’s Eve in Cuba. “Take me with you!” the ninety-year-old said, five minutes after she’d denounced the Castro brothers for “nationalizing” her newly finished house in 1960. The cognitive dissonance aside — she has gradually lost some of her formidable concentration — the incident sums up the basic incoherence of Cuban-American policy, especially how the remittances and increased travel allowed by the Obama administration several years ago have leveled what remained of my genuine solidarity for my parents and grandparents. The caretaker, students I’ve taught over the years, and neighbors, all to a man and woman, voice their disgust with the Castro regime. Almost all of them have a story about a crime perpetuated by the regime against them, showing particular disgust for the quasi-apartheid preventing them from shopping and in some cases visiting tourist hotels. None of them want the Castros in power; at best I sense a kind of abused-wife kinship with the greybeards. But they don’t understand why they can’t have the freedom to spend and travel.

  • Does the timing of Obama's Cuba announcement have anything to do with Russia?

The Cuban revolution in 1959 opened a new chapter in the cold war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The Americans had soldiers and missiles in Western Europe -- Russia's doorstep -- since the end of World War II. A communist state 90 miles from Florida evened out the game a little bit. It's hard to overstate how important the emergence of the Republic of Cuba was to midcentury geopolitics. The Cuban-Soviet-U.S. triangle almost turned the cold war hot; the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 brought the powers perilously close to nuclear war.

So, the Castro regime's very existence is inextricably wedded to enmity between the U.S. and Russia. By making this announcement today, in concert with Castro, Obama took another smack at Putin's blackened eye.

  • US officials believe North Korea was behind the Sony hack.

“North Korea certainly is profiting from the perception that it was responsible for those attacks and threats. Today, another studio made the cowardly decision to kill a separate film that would have been set in North Korea. This week, petty despots everywhere learned how to censor what the rest of us are allowed to read and see, and not only in America,” Joshua Stanton, an attorney and author of the One Free Korea blog told NK News.

In the wake of the Darren Wilson non-indictment, I've only deleted one racist Facebook friend. This friend, as barely a friend as a high school classmate can be, re-posted a rant calling rioters niggers. (She was not a good white person.) Most of my white friends have responded to recent events with empathy or outrage. Some have joined protests. Others have posted Criming While White stories, a hashtag that has been criticized for detracting from Black voices. Look at me, the hashtag screams, I know that I am privileged. I am a good white person. Join me and remind others that you are a good white person too.


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American Daily: December 17, 2014

By Jonathan Bradley in Sydney, Australia

17 December 2014


This whole area of politics is decidedly murky, but incredibly important. The reason this phase is called the invisible primary is not only because no visible voting occurs, but also because it’s very hard for people outside the process to observe. Right now in the Republican Party, the names of at least a dozen senators, representatives, and governors are being bandied about among party elites: activists, donors, officeholders, media figures, and party officials. Pretty much none of the candidates have actually declared that they’re running for president, and quite a few of them never will, but they’re running nonetheless. They do so by meeting with those party insiders, holding fundraisers, giving speeches at party functions, making friends in key early contest states like Iowa and New Hampshire, and trying to generate good press for themselves. In short, they’re trying to impress party elites and win over adversaries.

  • How a Jeb Bush presidential run will be good for the GOP.

What this means is that by being one of the top-tier candidates in the race, Bush instantly changes the immigration debate in the primaries. It isn’t that any of the other candidates are going to move to the left, but the discussion will not just be about who wants to build the highest border fence. There will be at least one person talking about immigrants in human terms.

By all indications, progressive groups genuinely believe there is at least a chance of coaxing Warren into the race under certain circumstances. However, whether or not that ultimately happens, they have an interest in keeping up this push for another reason: Anything that boosts Warren’s visibility might also boost the potential power and influence that Warren may be able to exert within Congress — and over the Democratic Party in general — as their chosen vehicle for progressive policy ideas. That might boost the groups’ own influence over the debate.
The public and the news media still want someone who meets the mid-20th-century ideal for a modern president: a uniting figure who works across the aisle to build support for his agenda and commands public opinion from the bully pulpit. While this image was always mostly a myth — presidents typically struggle to move polls or legislators’ votes — the political realities of the time did allow presidents to build more diffuse coalitions in Congress and attract broad public support when the circumstances were favorable.
  • Should a college education be free?

It is widely agreed that the cost of college is much too high, but few people know how inexpensive it would be for the federal government to cover tuition at every two- and four-year public college in the country. Several estimates are now in circulation, and Robert Samuels’s 2013 book Why Public Higher Education Should Be Free presents the most detailed proposal. According to the most-recent calculations of Strike Debt, the debt-resistance group I work with, the cost would be relatively modest. The federal loan program is propped up by a motley assortment of subsidies and tax exemptions that amount to tens of billions of dollars. Strip these away, along with some other unjustifiable subsidies (GI Bill benefits and Pell Grants that are gobbled up by fraudulent for-profit colleges) and the cost to the government of public college would be as low as $15-billion in additional annual spending. That is little more than a line item in the defense budget, and a small price to pay for meeting the challenge of the 21st-century knowledge economy.


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Does the Bush name help Jeb?

By Jonathan Bradley in Sydney, Australia

17 December 2014


My take on the Jeb Bush run for the Republican 2016 nomination is that the former governor's family name is nothing but a hindrance to his hopes. Big brother George W. might be remembered slightly more kindly now than he was when he left office — when his Gallup approval rating was 34 per cent — but the Bush legacy is nonetheless one few Americans would like their country to carry on. As recently as February of this year, more Americans blamed President Bush for the country's poor economic performance than they did Barack Obama. The Americans have no appetite to repeat the Bush administration's foreign policy adventurism either. That might be unfair, but so too are any positive benefits a well-known political name might bestow upon any contender. 

Jonathan Bernstein, however, makes the best possible case for Jeb Bush benefiting from his family connections:

What we can say is that if he were Jeb Smith, a former two-term governor of Florida who has been out of politics since leaving office in 2007, and who has unorthodox positions in more than one policy area, he would be viewed as a longshot.

But something about the Bush family just makes a certain breed of Republicans go all weak at the knees, and has ever since Jeb’s grandfather, Prescott Bush, was a senator and a possible vice-president. That means Jeb will have easy access to the resources (money, endorsements, expertise, and more) that matter in presidential nomination politics. Republicans haven’t had to live with extreme uncertainty about their nominee for a long time; and some may be very tempted to just settle for the next Bush in line. And by all accounts, Jeb is simply a better politician than either his brother or his father (or, for that matter, his grandfather).

Not bad! And it's true that Republicans have a far more positive memory of the Bush years than the wider population. (Yes, to win the presidency, Jeb would need to triumph in the general election as well as the primary, but if he were to gain his party's nomination, he'd also gain millions of supporters willing to explain to the American public why he's nothing like his brother.) 

I still consider him a non-starter as a candidate, however. His support for Common Core might not be as disqualifying as the sort of people who think American politics is scripted by Aaron Sorkin suppose (where else would federal education policy be such a big deal for conservatives?) but his liberal stance on immigration is both out of step with a party that parted ways with Rick Perry in 2012 over much less and disadvantages him by comparison with another contender, Marco Rubio, who better suits the party's approach to resolving its problems with that issue. On such questions, Republicans tend to prefer representation — which Rubio's Latino heritage satisifes — to policy.

And while the GOP does retain a cadre of Bush family loyalists, the wider party is orienting itself towards the next generation of Republicans: more conservative, less patrician, and less overtly identified with the party establishment. The unlikely Ted Cruz aside, not one candidate in this race will provide all the red meat the base wants, but until Jeb Bush gives a sign that he's able to remake himself for the 2014 incarnation of his party, rather than the 1998 one that existed when he first claimed the Tallahassee governor's mansion, I'm going to consider him yesterday's news.


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American Daily: December 15, 2014

By Jonathan Bradley in Sydney, Australia

15 December 2014


Some photos show American troops posing with corpses; others depict U.S. forces holding guns to people’s heads or simulating forced sodomization. All of them could be released to the public, depending on how a federal judge in New York rules—and how hard the government fights to appeal. The government has a Friday deadline to submit to that judge its evidence for why it thinks each individual photograph should continue to be kept hidden away.

The key dynamic of the CRomnibus fight is in the two words "next Congress". The next Congress is a lot more Republican than this one. Whatever deal Democrats could get in this Congress, with Harry Reid in charge of the Senate, was going to be better than the deal they could get in the next Congress, with Mitch McConnell in charge of the Senate and more Republicans in the House.
The website once known primarily for amassing enormous amounts of traffic through listicles and cat videos, has been breaking huge stories and winning prestigious awards for its journalism, not to mention attracting millions of dollars in venture-capital funding.

But perhaps the surest sign yet that it has arrived as a serious force in media is how, all of a sudden, it seems to have many older media companies rattled.
  • Angela Davis talks police violence, Beyoncé, and race in America.

‘There is an unbroken line of police violence in the United States that takes us all the way back to the days of slavery, the aftermath of slavery, the development of the Ku Klux Klan,” says Angela Davis. “There is so much history of this racist violence that simply to bring one person to justice is not going to disturb the whole racist edifice.”

1989 mall


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American Daily: December 12, 2014

By Jonathan Bradley in Sydney, Australia

12 December 2014


  • The Justice Department should release documents from its own torture investigation.

The steps in question concern a legal battle that is underway between the Justice Department and the New York Times. The Times’ Charlie Savage reports today that Justice is urging a court to reject the paper’s demand, under the Freedom Of Information Act, for the release of thousands of pages of internal government documents that summarize and explain the administration’s decision not to prosecute.

This is one of those things that demonstrates the chasm between political activists and analysts on the one side, and working politicians on the other. If you take a look at the bill, it does indeed have a bunch of objectionable features. People like me, with nothing really at stake, can bitch and moan about them endlessly. But you know what? For all the interminable whining we do about the death of bipartisanship in Washington, this is what bipartisanship looks like. It always has. It's messy, it's ugly, and it's petty. Little favors get inserted into bills to win votes. Other favors get inserted as payback for the initial favors. Special interests get stroked. Party whips get a workout.

  • The New Republic has long shown little interest in African American lives.
For most of its modern history, TNR has been an entirely white publication, which published stories confirming white people's worst instincts. During the culture wars of the '80s and '90s, TNR regarded black people with an attitude ranging from removed disregard to blatant bigotry. When people discuss TNR's racism, Andrew Sullivan's publication of excerpts from Charles Murray's book The Bell Curve (and a series of dissents) gets the most attention. But this fuels the lie that one infamous issue stands apart. In fact, the Bell Curve episode is remarkable for how well it fits with the rest of TNR's history.
  • The flaws in Rolling Stone's coverage of sexual assault at the University of Virginia.
[Friends] also said Jackie’s description of what happened to her that night differs from what she told Rolling Stone. In addition, information Jackie gave the three friends about one of her attackers, called “Drew” in the magazine’s article, differ significantly from details she later told The Post, Rolling Stone and friends from sexual assault awareness groups on campus. The three said Jackie did not specifically identify a fraternity that night.
  • Cheerleading for the Buffalo Bills doesn't sound like a great experience.

For these and more humiliations, and for hundreds of hours of work and practices, Alyssa and her fellow cheerleaders on the Buffalo Jills received not a penny of wages, not from the subcontractor and certainly not from the Buffalo Bills, a team that each year makes revenue in excess of $200 million.


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How do you solve a problem like the CIA?

By Jonathan Bradley in Sydney, Australia

12 December 2014


In plain English: The torture was far more brutal than we thought, and the CIA lied about that. It didn't work, and they lied about that too. It produced so much bad intel that it most likely impaired our national security, and of course they lied about that as well. They lied to Congress, they lied to the president, and they lied to the media. Despite this, they are still defending their actions.

That's how Kevin Drum summarises the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on CIA torture, and if you don't find that alarming enough, the Washington Post has a list of ten of the Central Intelligence Agency's lowlights here.

The troubling aspect of the report isn't just the torture, though that is troubling enough. It's also whether the CIA has the ability to hold wrongdoers accountable, to change the institutional structures that allowed wrongdoing to take place, and to ensure that it isn't susceptible to enabling wrongdoing in the future. On all three counts, there seems good reason to doubt the Agency's willingness or capacity. Even more troubling, however, is the prospect that the US government might be unwilling or unable to hold the Agency to account.

President Obama, whether rightly or wrongly, has decided not to prosecute anyone over torture from the Bush years. It is unclear, though unlikely, whether Congress will respond legislatively to the revelations of the report — and, considering how brazenly the CIA disregarded the Senate's authority during the investigation, it's also unclear whether it would consider itself bound by any legal restrictions Congress placed on it. After all, even during the Senate investigation, the CIA spied on senators and then lied about whether it was doing so. It is now defending its actions and claiming they produced useful intelligence. (Director John Brennan: “I think there is more than enough transparency that has happened over the last couple of days.”)

This all might be slightly more palatable if a previous extraordinary Congressional investigation hadn't already found the CIA wildly abusing its power. The 1975 Church Committee found the Agency had planned assisinations of foreign leaders, plotted to overthrow foreign governments, and illegally spied on Americans. The aftermath of that investigation was supposed to bring the CIA to heel; if it did, it did not do so permanently. Considering it only came into existence in its current form in 1947, the CIA has spent a lot of its history disregarding legal oversight. Throw in Bay of Pigs and Iran–Contra, and, well:

“Every 10 years or so, the dark side of government goes off track,” said Loch Johnson, who during committee hearings in the 1970s was a special assistant to Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho) and is now a scholar of the CIA and intelligence. “Periodically the CIA and other agencies end up doing things they should not” and are much more hesitant to do it again. I suspect in the future, if some president asks the CIA to interrogate prisoners, they will say, ‘No thanks, we’ve already been there.’ ”

Government bodies should not be held accountable by running so wild that, every few decades, a major investigation is held to uncover their worst abuses.

And there is reason to believe things might get worse at the CIA, as Henry Farrell explains

In short, the CIA relies on relationships with a variety of people, and in particular with academics and people with semi-academic skills in a broader ecosystem of information. Many of these relationships are likely to be badly damaged by yesterday’s revelations. Academics will be less likely to want to talk to, or work with the CIA than before. Smart and idealistic young people will be less likely to sacrifice other opportunities to work for what is at best likely to seem a flawed and problematic organization.

This will plausibly have a number of consequences. If my argument is right, the CIA will be intellectually weaker and poorer at intelligence analysis than before, especially in areas where it has previously outsourced a lot of its thinking. In response to this challenge, it will become a more internally focused organization than before, since it will have considerably greater difficulty in getting external experts to engage with it. Moreover, there will be differences between the people who will still work together with the CIA, and those who will not. Those who are willing to maintain a relationship will be more likely to be traditional Beltway contractors, more likely to have some pre-existing military or security orientation, and more likely to be politically conservative. Those who will not will be more likely to be academics, less likely to have a direct security orientation, and will be more likely to be politically moderate or liberal.

Hence, the CIA — like many organizations in difficult times — is likely to face social pressures that tend to reinforce its insularity.

And what did the architects of this current era of CIA abuses think of previous efforts at overseeing the Agency? Here's Mark Danner:

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[Vice-President Dick] Cheney believed in a “unitary executive,” believed quite literally that “the executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.” He believed that the various post-Watergate hearings of the mid-1970s, the Church and Pike committees and others—he had watched their progress as the thirty-four-year-old chief of staff in President Gerald Ford’s White House—and the laws that had followed their exposé—had “neutered” the intelligence agencies, had “put the gloves on,” and that a vital part of the Bush administration’s post–September 11 mission, his mission, was to take those gloves off.

I will not pretend the CIA does not do valuable — absolutely integral — work in regards to keeping Americans safe. Nor will I pretend I have the answers to the problem of its continued law-breaking. As satisfying as it might be to say the whole organisation must be dismantled, that seems unwise. But we should not see the content of this report as something that can be solved with a few safeguards or by allowing the fearfulness of the immediate post-9/11 era to recede into history. The CIA has shown time and time again that it is an organisation with a deeply flawed culture. Radical action needs to be taken to bring it into line.

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American Daily: December 11, 2014

By Jonathan Bradley in Sydney, Australia

11 December 2014


  • Ten of the most harrowing excerpts from the report on CIA torture.
1. Of the 119 CIA detainees, 26 should not have been apprehended. Among them was Abu Hudhaifa, who was "subjected to ice water baths and 66 hours of standing sleep deprivation" before the CIA discovered that he was probably "not the person he was believed to be."
[I]f the program was successful, then why hide it and lie about it? The CIA repeatedly “impeded” oversight from Congress, the White House and even the agency’s own inspector general. It did so by refusing to brief on the program until months after it was already underway (or, in the Office of the Inspector General’s case, only when a detainee died), withholding crucial documents when asked for them, giving inaccurate testimony on the effectiveness of the program in stopping terrorist plots and later destroying evidence of the interrogations, such as the videotapes of the waterboardings of Abu Zubaida. (Wednesday morning, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) revealed that the CIA’s own internal report found that “the CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the Congress, the president, and the public.”) We still don’t even know the extent of the waterboarding, because the CIA won’t explain why there was a photograph of a “well-used” waterboard device at a detention site where the agency claimed there was no waterboarding.

The excuses are many and are sure to proliferate, as will the defensive tone and the apologetics—and, not without some reason, some call for understanding. The defenses are of two kinds, both as false as they are deeply felt. First, there is the truth that the C.I.A. interrogators were, for the most part, following orders and doing what they had been told they were authorized to do; to make them the prime villains is to clear the democratically elected politicians who allowed this to happen—and, more important, to clear the democracy that elected those politicians. We are all implicated, not just those who drowned and froze and tormented prisoners. If blame is to be had, it must not move only upward, to the bosses; it must move outward, to those who chose the top men and to the many who explicitly endorsed their reading of the “war on terror” and the threat of terrorism. (That prospect, one would guess, was at the heart of President Obama’s reluctance to release the report in the first place; to blame no one might be unacceptable, but to blame anyone in particular was to blame everyone.)

Yes, as a matter of morality, prosecutions would be better; the torture program was illegal and the officials who built it should be held accountable. The problem is that—in addition to civil servants and political appointees—this includes a former president and vice president. Prosecutions would immediately polarize the issue—making this a fight over Bush and Cheney, not torture—entrench the pro-torture position in Republican politics, and almost guarantee a return to the “dark side” for a future GOP administration that sees torture as just another partisan football.

The New Republic’s troubles are reflected in the data for its fellow niche news magazines, which all target an elite audience consisting of older, educated and wealthier readers. Looking at three comparable magazines (The Atlantic, The New Yorker and The Economist), the digital side of the business has been making some gains, but single copy sales for this group were down or flat since 2008, according to the Alliance for Audited Media. For the first half of 2014, The Atlantic saw its sales rise 20% from a year before. The New Yorker, however, fell 5% during the same period, while The Economist fell 16%.


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American Daily: December 9, 2014

By Jonathan Bradley in Sydney, Australia

9 December 2014


I had long since come to that conclusion myself. As special agent in charge of the criminal investigation task force with investigators and intelligence personnel at Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, and Iraq, I was privy to the information provided by Khalid Sheik Mohammed. I was aware of no valuable information that came from waterboarding. And the Senate Intelligence Committee—which had access to all CIA documents related to the “enhanced interrogation” program—has concluded that abusive techniques didn’t help the hunt for Bin Laden. Cheney’s claim that the frequent waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed “produced phenomenal results for us" is simply false.
A Staten Island grand jury has voted not to indict a New York Police Department officer in the killing of Eric Garner, who died after being put in a chokehold by the officer. Grand juries, which almost always vote to indict, commonly decline to do so in cases that involve police officers. But there’s another reason the Staten Island grand jury’s decision isn’t surprising: the borough’s politics.
  • Mitch McConnell's "huge mistake" on the latest Obamacare court case.
But even if this isn’t a big “a-ha!” moment, it does lay bare, for any of the justices listening, just how Republicans in Congress will react to an adverse ruling. And that could limit the arguments conservatives resort to when the Court rules in this case next year.
But listening to him describe the factors that produced Eastern’s early success, I realized I’d fallen prey to the same fallacy that had led Milton Gordon to attribute the achievements of Jewish garment workers solely to their industry and ambition, and not the conditions in which their ethic thrived. The self-made mythology has evolved in its 200 years: from an exuberant celebration of opportunity in the young republic to a stern admonition against excess in the antebellum years; from a naive story of pluck rewarded in the post-Civil War-era, to a brazen defense of money-getting in the Gilded Age; from a beacon to the great wave’s huddled masses, to a pep talk for the young women of the digital age. The one constant, however, has been the idea that character trumps circumstance. I’d caught myself buying into it.


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American Daily: December 8, 2014

By Jonathan Bradley in Sydney, Australia

8 December 2014


This has something to do with the way police see things. Police are people, after all, subject to the same flaws and vices as the rest of us. America’s police departments tend to be whiter than the general population, and nearly half of whites believe “many” or “almost all” black men are violent. Whites overestimate the amount of crime, in particular violent crime, involving blacks. Whites are also more likely to ascribe supernatural physical abilities to black people, in particular the ability to resist physical pain, a stereotype that harkens back to slavery. Black children like Tamir Rice are “more likely to be mistaken as older, be perceived as guilty and face police violence if accused of a crime.”
  • Confronting the racial past of the North.
Americans have fewer enduring impressions of the North. It simply stands as the nation’s default region. Most Northerners behave as though they come from America writ large, rather than from a subsection of it. The North seems unremarkable. It holds no dark mystery, no agonies buried deep within. We forget that many parts of the North have an identity, culture, politics and racial history all their own.
The police association released a statement in which it called for "the players involved to be disciplined and for the Rams and the NFL to deliver a very public apology." The organization was incensed when five Rams players — Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, Kenny Britt, Chris Givens and Jared Cook — held up their hands in what has become a well-known sign of support for the Ferguson, Mo. community grappling with the shooting of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson.

My anger as a Black woman fronting an aggressive, politically charged hardcore/metal band with DIY punk ethics is somehow too much for them. White punks screaming about the same politics, the same fucked-up shit, and even about racial issues and injustices they don't even particularly face, are wholeheartedly accepted, never questioned, never told to tone down, and never told to relax. No matter how justified I am, or how down for the cause they are, they're put off by my very valid rage. Why is that? What is it about a Black girl doing the same shit white men do that makes them feel like it's too much? How am I the only one being labeled too aggressive in a genre that is all about aggression?

  • Frank Rich talking to Chris Rock is worth your time.

So, to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years. If you saw Tina Turner and Ike having a lovely breakfast over there, would you say their relationship’s improved? Some people would. But a smart person would go, “Oh, he stopped punching her in the face.” It’s not up to her. Ike and Tina Turner’s relationship has nothing to do with Tina Turner. Nothing. It just doesn’t. The question is, you know, my kids are smart, educated, beautiful, polite children. There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.


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