And they say Germans have no sense of humour

On November 15th, neo-Nazis walked through the streets of Wunsiedel. We could not stop them – but we could make them walk for something meaningful: and that is how for the first time a right-wing memorial march became a charity walk – without knowing of the participants. For every meter they walked, €10 went to EXIT-Deutschland – a Nazi opt-out programme. The result: €10.000 and lots of surprised right-wing extremists.

‘write it on a piece of paper and stick it through a letterbox’

A fascinating elections wonk article by mark Pack on the history of the LibDem approach to campaigning:

Central to this inheritance for the Liberal Democrats was the role of leaflets. If one image can sum up the approach to campaigning taken by the Liberal Democrats across twenty-five years, it would be a piece of paper on a doormat emblazoned with a bar chart and a headline screaming that ‘Only the local Liberal Democrat can beat Party X round here’

Then Liberal Party MP David Penhaligon coined the phrase that many activists have since quoted, ‘If you believe in something, write it on a piece of paper and stick it through a letterbox’. However, it was Chris Rennard, first as the Liberal Democrats’ Director of Campaigns and Elections, and then subsequently as Chief Executive, who turned it into an effective seat-winning tactic at general elections for the party.

What struck me about this is the similarities to the approach the Dutch Socialist Party used to have to elections. The SP started out as a typically sixties Maoist studenty party, then got a foot on the ground in some of the industrial cities of Brabant, especially Oss. There the people running the party took the same sort of pragmatic approach to campaigning, by focusing on local issues year round, not just during elections. It also had the same sort of centrally led election organisation that could throw money and manpower at areas where the party stood a chance of being elected.

Of course, with the Dutch system of proportional representation this was less necessary for parliamentary elections, but the SP always worked bottom up. First get the party established in a new town or district, then get it actively involved in local politics and hopefulyl elected to the council before focusing on national politics.

Mind, it took several decades for the party to grow big and established enough to get its first members of parliament, but since then it has steadily grown from fringe party to serious governmental candidate even if its fortunes have waned during more recent elections.

As with the LibDems, the biggest challenge for the SP has been to keep its ideological vision rather than becoming just an issues party. Said ideology has become much more mainstream over the decades but the core of it still is a proper socialist-democratic vision. What helps is that the party has always been keen for its local branches to be active on national and international issues too.

The culture of poverty does not exist

The importance of the culture-of-poverty approach is that it allows for recognition of the accumulated history of racism and inequality, but posits the ongoing effects of these as mediated through black cultural pathologies. It therefore permits American liberals to identify with opposition to racism while pushing them towards policy solutions geared towards the transformation of black people, and not American society.

With every crisis in Black America the same pathologies the Black community supposedly suffers from — veneration of the criminal lifestyle, lack of proper family structures, abhorrence of education as acting white — are trotted out as an explanation, by conservative commentators as that’s just how those people are, by supposed liberals as the unfortunate end product of Black history in America. There’s just one problem: they’re lies. The culture of poverty does not exist.

Non-consensual technology

Deb Chandra on non-consensual technology:

This week, of course, provided a glorious example of how technology companies have normalized being indifferent to consent: Apple ‘gifting’ each user with a U2 album downloaded into iTunes. At least one of my friends reported that he had wireless synching of his phone disabled; Apple overrode his express preferences in order to add the album to his music collection. The expected ‘surprise and delight’ was really more like ‘surprise and delete’. I suspect that the strong negative response (in some quarters, at least) had less to do with a dislike of U2 and everything to do with the album as a metonym for this widespread culture of nonconsensual behaviour in technology.

Driving while black is real

The Washington Post has confirmed that driving while black is real:

The Justice Department statistics, based on the Police-Public Contact Survey, show that “relatively more black drivers (12.8%) than white (9.8%) and Hispanic (10.4%) drivers were pulled over in a traffic stop during their most recent contact with police.” Or, to frame it another way: A black driver is about 31 percent more likely to be pulled over than a white driver, or about 23 percent more likely than a Hispanic driver. “Driving while black” is, indeed, a measurable phenomenon.

Cue collective “well, duh” from the black community.

Charlotte cops arrest black man for leafletting

The crime rate in Charlotte is so low the cops can waste their time and the taxpayer’s money harassing black politicians distributing voting leaflets:

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA—The stars of North Carolina’s Moral Mondays movement took the stage on Labor Day at Charlotte’s Marshall Park to condemn the state’s record on voter suppression and racial profiling, and urge the community to organize and turn out at the polls this November. Just a few hundred feet away, police cuffed and arrested local LGBT activist and former State Senate candidate Ty Turner as he was putting voting rights information on parked cars.

One does wonder why the vaunted First Amendment doesn’t prohibit anti leafletting ordinances like the one used as an excuse to harass a black politican trying to get out the vote.

UPDATE: indeed, St. Louis had a similar law nixed. (via.)

“White privilege sent me home to my kids”

Matt Zoller Seitz tells the story of that time when he got in a fight with a black man and didn’t go to jail for it:

There’s a much slimmer chance that either of those cops would have patiently listened to the sob story of a drunk brown-skinned man about how he’d ended up on the pavement with his forearm around a white man’s neck, and an equally slim chance that they’d have talked to him for a few minutes and sent him on his way and put the white man in the squad car.

Below are the take home paragraphs:

We have to stop the cycle long enough to realize that what we are really shrugging off is racial inequality. This is not: “Well, if ya factor out race, it’s a class thing.” We all know in our hearts that that is, at best, only partly true. The full truth must include the acknowledgement that if you’re white, different rules apply.

So much of the crosstalk, the shouting, the debate over Ferguson stems, I believe, from an inability to admit this fact of life, which was illustrated so plainly to me that night in front of the deli. I’ve never been profiled. I’ve never been stopped and frisked. I’ve never experienced anything of the sort because of the gift that my parents gave me, and that my son’s parents gave him: white skin. I’ve had encounters with police, mostly during my youth, in which I’d done something wrong and thought I was about to get a ticket or go to jail but somehow didn’t, because I managed to take back or apologize for whatever I’d said to a cop in petulance or frustration; these encounters, too, would have likely gone differently, perhaps ended differently, if I hadn’t been white.

Again, I already knew this stuff. But after that night in front of the deli, I understood it.