Right Wing News’ White Supremacy Propaganda

The following image was shared from Right Wing News on my Facebook timeline by a friend wanting me to debunk it. So I did.

Image

1. “Ask the average school student about slavery and they think that only white people had slaves”

What’s the difference between a school student and a student? Did they mean high school student? Without a source, this claim can be dismissed. I’m not about to conduct a poll to prove it wrong.

2. “In the 16th – 18th century, Africans enslaved 1.5 million white Europeans in the Barbary slave trade.”

Rewritten to be factual and grammatically correct: “Between the 16th and 19th centuries, pirates from coastal cities in North Africa enslaved as many as 1.25 million Europeans during the Barbary slave trade.”

The region of North Africa that we’re referring to, the Barbary Coast, is populated almost entirely by Arab-Berbers (97–99%). Berbers are the indigenous people of North Africa west of the Nile. They are caucasian, not black. Furthermore, not all Europeans are white. The image is promoting a racist agenda by making it sound as if blacks were enslaving whites.

3. “Whites were the first to stop slavery in modern times…”

This is true. It’s also convenient that the time period is restricted to the beginning of the modern era. Even more convenient, of course white-dominated modern societies would be more likely to end slavery. That’s where most of the slaves were! You can’t end slavery in a place that doesn’t have slaves to begin with.

4. “…whereas slavery still continues in Africa to this day.”

The word “whereas” denotes a contradiction or comparison, but there is none. Yes, there is slavery in Africa. There’s slavery on every continent except Antarctica.

A poor boy and his sister

A poor boy and his sister were gathering coins from a wishing fountain so they could buy a meal, when the boy exclaimed, “There must be rich people wishing here because there’s a bunch of quarters!” His sister responded, “No, it’s the poor people who make the quarter wishes; they have more to wish for.”

– Me paraphrasing my girlfriend paraphrasing part of a novel that she read in second grade called From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg.

I pledge allegiance to what?

I wonder if the people who think that children should blindly recite the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools even know what the important words in the Pledge mean.

Can you answer the following from memory?

• What’s a republic?
• What’s a nation, and how is it different from a country?
• What’s liberty, and how does it differ from freedom?
• What’s justice, and how does it differ from retribution?

I’d be willing to bet that most adults can’t correctly answer all four of these questions. So why are we having children pledge to ideas they and most others don’t even understand?

And if advocates insist on including “God” in the Pledge—despite public institutions’ endorsement of religion blatantly violating the First Amendment—I’d ask that they define that word as well. Which god and why?

Just Tax the Rich Already

We’re in a recession because people aren’t spending enough. People aren’t spending enough because they’re not making enough. They aren’t making enough because working- and middle-class wages have stagnated while executive pay has dramatically increased.1 Corporations are making record profits2, and the money isn’t trickling down.

The gap between the rich and everyone else is wider than ever and increasing.3 It makes sense to raise taxes on millionaires and billionaires and redistribute that money to services that help the lower and middle classes. Those services will create jobs. People will spend more money. The economy will improve.

Consider the alternative: spending cuts. What ends up being cut? Public services such as healthcare and education. These kinds of cuts lower the quality of life for the majority of this nation’s citizens.

I’ll take the first option.

They say there haven’t been any healthcare cuts

And they’re right—if they limit the word “cut” to mean only “budget cut.” There have been numerous cuts to healthcare services in the U.S.

Florida Medicaid recipients have all lost dental coverage and a $25 over-the-counter medicine reimbursement. Florida Medicaid has also been paying out decreasing amounts to healthcare professionals, causing patients to have to switch doctors numerous times as more and more providers drop Medicaid coverage.

Why are so many services being cut even as healthcare budgets are increasing?

First, more people are receiving government healthcare. The baby boomer generation is retiring and collecting Medicare benefits. Obama’s healthcare reform has expanded eligibility for Medicaid. And a sagging economy is causing people to reach out for help, such as Supplemental Security Insurance: a social program that provides financial assistance and Medicaid insurance.

Second, healthcare funds are being redirected from non-profit organizations to for-profit businesses. These businesses have higher administrative costs. They also have lower quality scores, probably because more healthcare funding is being packed into fat, for-profit wallets, leaving less money available to actually help treat the patients.1, 2

The future of healthcare in the U.S. looks bleak. Republicans are currently pressing for healthcare cuts in the deficit negotiations. Florida governor Rick Scott is proposing a 17% cut in disability programs. This is the man who was co-founder and CEO of a company convicted of the largest healthcare fraud case in U.S. history, pleading guilty to 14 felonies and paying out over $2 billion in settlements.

He may not have cut healthcare funding, but his company stole healthcare funds under his watch, which is far worse. Two whistle-blowers claimed that Scott was fully aware of the fraud, yet he was never put on trial. His penalty was being forced to resign with a $10 million severance package and $300 million in shares.

Since then he has passed Tea Party-endorsed legislation requiring welfare recipients to take drug tests—a policy deemed unconstitutional and fiscally irresponsible by the ACLU. According to the Department of Children and Families, 96% of recipients have passed the drug test, and the already failing program is costing taxpayers $180 million a year.3

What company is providing these drug tests? Solantic, co-founded by none other than Rick Scott. To avoid an unethical and illegal conflict of interest, he transferred his $62 million in shares to his wife.4, 5 Now they’re raking in taxpayer dollars.

The United States is the only developed nation without universal healthcare. Public healthcare is simply not as profitable as increased privatization to a privileged and dominant subculture that worships wealth and demonizes the poor.

Bad luck?

I recently quoted a line from the documentary Fault Lines: The Top 1%, saying “the reason poor people are poor is because there’s another group of people, rich and powerful people, who generally have a lot of control over social policy.”

A wealthy individual responded, “This brings to mind my favorite quote from Robert Heinlein:”

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
This is known as “bad luck.”

Stranger in a Strange Land is one of my favorite novels. But I disagree with this particular Heinlein quote, though I admit I’m unaware of its context since I haven’t read Time Enough for Love.

The documentary I posted concerns the present economy. And at present we live in a developed nation where poverty is not the normal condition. By definition, developed nations have relatively high standards of living. So I don’t see how a historical paradigm that presumes poverty is normal applies here.

Moreover, I disagree that poverty is the default condition of humankind. Poverty exists only when the available resources are insufficient to meet the population’s basic needs, or when those resources are kept from the people. Humans flourished in their early years because they were not impoverished. Resources were abundant. Human advancement has always been a combined effort of nature and innovation.

Innovation comes from every economic class. Although it’s more likely to arise from the educated, who themselves are more likely to come from wealthy families. This inequality is being addressed in nations such as Sweden, Denmark, and Finland—who leads the world in education. Their public school systems include college, giving academic opportunities to every citizen regardless of their financial background. A more educated population has a greater potential to maximize innovation, because it’s not limited to only a few elite members of society.

History shows us that the only time the elite are despised and cast aside by citizens is when they’ve been oppressing or otherwise taking advantage of those citizens. There has indeed typically been a period of poverty and a degree of chaos afterwards. But the new model that rises up in the aftermath tends to be an improvement upon the one that fell. I call that “progress.”

Why I oppose Republican fiscal policy

When given the choice between cuts to social programs that hurt the lower and middle classes, and tax increases on the upper class and large corporations that inconvenience the rich, Republicans choose to cut social programs. They choose to cut teachers’ salaries. They choose to cut support for the most needy among us, including children, the disabled, and the elderly. Clearly the GOP is putting the interests of the wealthy ahead of the vast majority of Americans.

Add to that Republican politicians like Michelle Bachmann who regularly lie to this country, inventing fictions like “Obama’s trip to India will cost taxpayers $200 million a day.”1 Far more of the GOP is lying to the public when they claim the money will “trickle down” from the millionaires and billionaires. Because it doesn’t. The rich are getting richer. And what I see is a pathetic, deceptive game that is ultimately tearing this country apart. Even John McCain has recognized the folly of his party in present fiscal negotiations, calling the actions of his fellow conservatives “deceiving” and “foolish.”2

This is not a conflict between the left and the right. This is a conflict between the top and the bottom. This is a conflict over money. And for whatever reason, it’s been largely the GOP that has sided with the rich. Surely there are plenty of conservative politicians out there with sane economic agendas. They’re just not the ones in congress.


1 http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2010/nov/04/michele-bachmann/rep-michele-bachmann-claims-obamas-trip-india-will/
2 http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/post/mccain-erupts-conservatives-are-lying-to-america/2011/03/03/gIQAUm2HdI_blog.html