Malacandra.me

Some things democracy cannot cure by @BloggersRUs

Some things democracy cannot cure

by Tom Sullivan

Some things democracy cannot cure, not alone anyway. Racial/ethnic animus is one. The intractability of traditional power relationships is another.

A trio of right-wing extremists prepared a first strike against an expected Hillary Clinton presidency. Should Clinton prevail in the 2016 election, they planned to murder hundreds of Somali immigrants in Garden City, Kansas. They would set off Timothy McVeigh-style truck bombs in the Muslim community and gun down survivors as they fled, David Neiwert explains in the Washington Post. Authorities uncovered and stopped the plot just weeks ahead of the planned attack.

Neiwert writes the plot arose "amid a national environment in which far-right militiamen had been vowing a violent resistance to a potential Clinton administration." What electing a Methodist white woman from Chicago has to do with slaughtering Muslim immigrants from Somalia is left to more fervid imaginations.

The transfer of power in the House of Representatives to Democrats, Neiwert continues, raises the risk of more extremist violence, possibly aimed at politicians, "especially if Trump singles them out for scorn."

Authorities have already intercepted mail bombs sent by a Trump fanatic to prominent Trump critics — politicians, mostly. A right-wing extremist yelling “All Jews must die!” has already murdered 11 members of a Jewish community in Pittsburgh.

The arrival in Washington of freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 28, has already "triggered" (is that the word?) the fringe right. Christina Cauterucci of Slate considers the comments of a Washington Examiner writer who tweeted a photo of Ocasio-Cortez in business attire walking down a hallway. "I'll tell you something: that jacket and coat don't look like a girl who struggles."

Ocasio-Cortez tweeted back a sharp retort, pointing out nothing she does will satisfy them, and she won't bother trying. But Cauterucci advises she had best stop treating insults seriously because they will not let up. The GOP will:

... squeeze all the mileage it can out of the stereotype of socialists as brainless bleeding-heart idealists. It will try to portray Ocasio-Cortez as a hacky-sack player with a Che Guevara poster in her college dorm room, or a teary-eyed activist who likes screaming incendiary slogans but has never read a policy paper. They’ll hop on her every slip-up; she’ll have to be twice as smart to get half the respect of Republican lawmakers who deny the existence of climate change and don’t know how the deficit works.
But Ocasio-Cortez has become a new bogeyman for the right not just because of her politics, but her gender, class origins, and ethnicity. That is, the "girl" should know her place and watch her back.

Finally, the New York Times examines how intractable the centuries-old Indian caste system remains. India's 1940s constitution tried to address caste prejudice, but the world's largest democracy has had limited success. Affirmative action programs "generated deep resentment among upper castes." Reducing widespread poverty and building new roads, airports and infrastructure that lift all boats threatens the rigid social hierarchy defining who is better than whom. Many "haves" want their development and enforced inequality too.

Higher-caste men from his village 200 mile south of Delhi attacked and scalped Sadar Singh Jatav, a Dalit, for daring to ask for the $80 in back wages his son was owed. The men left him alive, humiliated and disfigured, to send a message:

Dalits must show Gujjars respect. They are not supposed to look Gujjars in the eye or touch their food or water cups — Gujjars would consider it polluted. The two castes have separate water taps, like in the Jim Crow American south.

All of this is illegal.

India’s Constitution specifically prohibits the practice of "untouchability," though recent surveys show many Indians still do it, even in cities.

The same social dynamics are in play in the United States. Gujjars may not be atop the caste ladder, but they know who they are better than and some mean to keep it that way. The militiamen Neiwert describes feel the same. Their opponents are "demon infested parasites," like migrants from the south, and must be stopped.

It was the same in Rwanda. These are perilous times.