Category Archives: Racism

Swedish minister of culture’s “racist spectacle” of black female genital mutilation sparks outrage


Minister in ‘racist circumcision outrage’

thelocal.se | Apr 17, 2012

Swedish minister of culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth’s participation in a “racist spectacle” in which she carved up a cake depicting a naked black woman has sparked outrage and prompted calls for the minister’s dismissal.

“In our view, this simply adds to the mockery of racism in Sweden,” Kitimbwa Sabuni, spokesperson for the National Afro-Swedish Association (Afrosvenskarnas riksförbund) told The Local.

“This was a racist spectacle.”

Sabuni’s comments come following Adelsohn Liljeroth’s participation in an art installation that took place at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet in connection with World Art Day on April 15th.

As part of the installation, which was reportedly meant to highlight the issue of female circumcision, the culture minister began cutting a large cake shaped like a black woman, symbolically starting at the clitoris.

Makode Aj Linde, the artist who created the installation and whose head is part of the cake cut by the minister, wrote about the “genital mutilation cake” on his Facebook page.

Swedish town gives ‘Negro Village’ new name

“Before cutting me up she whispered, ‘Your life will be better after this’ in my ear,” he wrote in a caption next to the partially eaten cake.

But images of the event, which show a smiling and laughing Adelsohn Liljeroth slicing up the cake, have caused the National Afro-Swedish Association and its members to see red and issue calls for her resignation.

“According to the Moderna Museet, the ‘cake party’ was meant to problematize female circumcision but how that is accomplished through a cake representing a racist caricature of a black woman complete with ‘black face’ is unclear,” Sabuni said in a statement.

According to Sabuni, the mere fact that the minister particiapted in the event, which he argued was also marked by “cannibalistic” overtones, betrays her “incompetence and lack of judgement”.

“Her participation, as she laughs, drinks, and eats cake, merely adds to the insult against people who suffer from racist taunts and against women affected by circumcision,” he said.

“We have no confidence in her any longer.”

Speaking with the TT news agency, Adelsohn Liljeroth was sympathetic to the association’s reaction, but nevertheless defended her actions.

“I understand quite well that this is provocative and that it was a rather bizarre situation,” she said.

“I was invited to speak at World Art Day about art’s freedom and the right to provoke. And then they wanted me to cut the cake.”

However, Adelsohn Liljeroth said the National Afro-Swedish Association’s anger should be directed at the artist, not at her, claiming the situation was “misinterpreted”.

“He claims that it challenges a romanticized and exoticized view from the west about something that is really about violence and racism,” she said.

“Art needs to be provocative.”

But the minster’s defence of her actions rang hollow for Sabuni.

“It’s extremely insulting for the minister to claim that we’ve somehow ‘misunderstood’ racism,” he said.

According to Sabuni, the incident is “strange” but “not unexpected” in the Swedish context.

“Sweden thinks of itself as a place where racism is not a problem,” he said.

“That just provides cover for not discussing the issue which leads to incidents like this.”

While a museum is certainly allowed to do what it wants as long as the laws are followed, Sabuni argued that a minister needs to be held to “higher standards”.

“To participate in a racist manifestation masquerading as art is totally over the line and can only be interpreted as the culture minister supporting the Moderna Museet’s racist prank,” he said.

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Gingrich fuels more Mideast conflict: Palestinians

Reuters | Dec 10, 2011

By Tom Perry

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) – Palestinian leaders said on Saturday U.S. Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich had invited more conflict in the Middle East by calling the Palestinians an “invented” people who want to destroy Israel.

Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian official, described his comments in an interview as “despicable.” Hanan Ashrawi, another top official, said Gingrich’s “very racist comments” showed he was “incapable of holding public office.”

“This is the lowest point of thinking anyone can reach,” Erekat, a close advisor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, told Reuters. Such comments served only to “increase the cycle of violence,” he added.

“What is the cause of violence, war in this region? Denial, denying people their religion, their existence, and now he is denying our existence,” said Erekat, for years a leading figure in peace talks aimed at the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

In an interview on Friday with the Jewish Channel, Gingrich predictably sided with Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians, who are seeking a state of their own on land occupied by Israel in a 1967 war.

But the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives departed from official U.S. policy that respects the Palestinians as a people deserving of their own state based on negotiations with Israel.

“Remember, there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire” until the early 20th century, said Gingrich, who has risen to the top of Republican polls with voting to start early next year to pick a nominee to challenge Democratic President Barack Obama in the November 2012 election.

NO “CONTRIBUTION TO PEACE”

“I think that we’ve had an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs, and who were historically part of the Arab community. And they had a chance to go many places, and for a variety of political reasons we have sustained this war against Israel now since the 1940s, and it’s tragic,” he said.

There are around 11 million Palestinians around the world, Palestinian officials say. They include refugees and their descendants who left or were forced to flee their homes during the 1948 war that led to the creation of Israel. More than 4 million of them live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The 1948 war erupted after Arab states rejected a U.N. plan that would have divided British mandate-ruled Palestine into Arab and Jewish states.

Gingrich along with other Republican candidates are seeking to attract Jewish support by vowing to bolster U.S. ties with Israel if elected.

He said both the Hamas militant group, which controls the Gaza Strip, and the Palestinian Authority, which receives financial backing from the United States, represent “an enormous desire to destroy Israel.”

While Hamas remains committed to armed “resistance” and will not recognize Israel, the Palestinian Authority based in Ramallah states that only peaceful means can deliver Palestinian statehood and its security forces cooperate with Israel.

Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation Executive Committee, said Gingrich’s remarks harked back to days when the Palestinians’ existence as a people was denied by Israelis such as Golda Meir, prime minister from 1969 to 1974.

“It is certainly regressive,” she said. “This is certainly an invitation to further conflict rather than any contribution to peace.”

“This proves that in the hysterical atmosphere of American elections, people lose all touch with reality and make not just irresponsible and dangerous statements, but also very racist comments that betray not just their own ignorance but an unforgivable bias,” she said.

Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said the Gingrich remarks “were grave comments that represented an incitement for ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians.”

Prince Philip defends ‘slitty-eyed’ Chinese gaffe


Gaffe … Prince Philip. Photo: AP

SMH | May 31, 2011

In the lead-up to his 90th birthday, Prince Philip – known for his sometimes controversial comments – has defended a “slitty-eyed” gaffe made almost 25 years ago during a trip to China.

The Duke of Edinburgh, husband of Queen Elizabeth and the longest-serving consort of any British monarch, celebrates his birthday on June 10 and has agreed to various interviews to mark the occasion.

While being interviewed for a BBC documentary, Prince Philip was asked about a comment he made while on an official visit to China in October 1986, when he told a group of British students living in the city of Xian: “If you stay here much longer you’ll all be slitty eyed.”

The Duke said the resultant public outcry over his comment was disproportionate, Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on Monday.

“I’d forgotten about it. But for one particular reporter who overheard it, it wouldn’t have come out. What’s more, the Chinese weren’t worried about it, so why should anyone else?”

At the time, the palace refuted the comment, and later tried to explain it as “a matter of … fact”, before finally dismissing it as trivia.

The controversial comment is one of many made by the Prince over the years, including his question to an Aborigine during an Australian visit in 2002: “Do you still throw spears at each other?”.

He told a 1986 meeting of the World Wildlife Fund: “If it has got four legs and it is not a chair, if it has got two wings and it is not an aeroplane, and if it swims and it is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it.”

But not all the Duke’s gaffes are racially based, as proven by his comments to children from the British Deaf Association: “If you’re near that music, no wonder you’re deaf.”

The Duke will celebrate his birthday with family and friends during a reception at Windsor Castle on June 12. On June 10, it will be business as usual for the birthday boy, as he attends to a number of official appointments in London.

Officials suppressed WWII report indicating no evidence of Japanese American disloyalty

U.S. official cites misconduct in Japanese American internment cases

Acting Solicitor Gen. Neal Katyal says one of his predecessors, Charles Fahy, deliberately hid from the Supreme Court a military report that Japanese Americans were not a threat in World War II.

LA Times | May 24, 2011

By David G. Savage, Washington Bureau

Korematsu, who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Clinton, died in Marin County in 2005 at age 86. On Tuesday, his daughter Karen said she was grateful that Katyal had acknowledged the mistakes of his predecessor.

Reporting from Washington — Acting Solicitor Gen. Neal Katyal, in an extraordinary admission of misconduct, took to task one of his predecessors for hiding evidence and deceiving the Supreme Court in two of the major cases in its history: the World War II rulings that upheld the detention of more than 110,000 Japanese Americans.

Katyal said Tuesday that Charles Fahy, an appointee of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, deliberately hid from the court a report from the Office of Naval Intelligence that concluded the Japanese Americans on the West Coast did not pose a military threat. The report indicated there was no evidence Japanese Americans were disloyal, were acting as spies or were signaling enemy submarines, as some at the time had suggested.

Fahy was defending Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, which authorized forced removals of Japanese Americans from “military areas” in 1942. The solicitor general, the U.S. government’s top courtroom attorney, is viewed as the most important and trusted lawyer to appear before the Supreme Court, and Katyal said he had a “duty of absolute candor in our representations to the court.”

Katyal, 41, who is of Indian American heritage and is the first Asian American to hold the post, said he decided “to set the record straight” Tuesday at a Justice Department event honoring Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

He said that two of the government’s civilian lawyers had told Fahy it would be “suppression of evidence” to keep the naval intelligence report from the high court.

“What does Fahy do? Nothing,” Katyal said.

Instead, Fahy told the justices the government and the military agreed the roundup of Japanese Americans was required as a matter of “military necessity.” Roosevelt issued the order on Feb. 19, 1942, about two months after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, which plunged the U.S. into World War II.

In 1943, the high court unanimously upheld a curfew imposed on Japanese Americans in the case of Gordon Hirabayashi vs. United States. And in 1944, the court in a 6-3 decision upheld the removal order imposed on Japanese Americans in Fred Korematsu vs. United States. The majority accepted the government’s claim that it was a matter of “military urgency.”

Scholars and judges have denounced the World War II rulings as among the worst in the court’s history, but neither the high court nor the Justice Department had formally admitted they were mistaken — until now.

“It seemed obvious to me we had made a mistake. The duty of candor wasn’t met,” Katyal said.

Korematsu, who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Clinton, died in Marin County in 2005 at age 86. On Tuesday, his daughter Karen said she was grateful that Katyal had acknowledged the mistakes of his predecessor.

“It was a remarkable statement he made,” she said. “It proves what my father believed all along — that removing the Japanese Americans was wrong and incarcerating them was unconstitutional.”

Korematsu was sent to a camp in Utah, one of 10 in the country. California had two, Tule Lake and Manzanar.

Katyal said that last summer he was doing research for several immigration cases when he came upon some ugly, disturbing comments about Asians in 19th century briefs submitted to the Supreme Court. Chinese immigrants were described as “people not suited to our institutions.” People from India were described as a “subject race.”

He then looked into the history of the World War II internment cases, including documents revealed in the 1980s. Peter Irons, a professor at UC San Diego, had found reports in old government files that showed the U.S. military did not see Japanese Americans as a threat in 1942. His research led to federal court hearings that set aside the convictions of Korematsu and Hirabayashi. Congress later voted to have the nation apologize and pay reparations to those who were wrongly held.

Katyal said he decided it was important to publicly acknowledge the mistakes made in the solicitor general’s office. Hiding the truth from the justices, he said, “harmed the court, and it harmed 120,000 Japanese Americans. It harmed our reputation as lawyers and as human beings, and it harmed our commitment to those words on the court’s building: Equal Justice Under Law.”

Hirabayashi is now 93 and living in Canada. His memory of the World War II years has faded, said his nephew Lane Hirabayashi, a professor of Asian American studies at UCLA. “I know Gordon would be very pleased by this. He didn’t know at the time that government prosecutors had distorted evidence. However, he knew in his heart that mass incarceration was unconstitutional,” he said.

“I thought it was good and very long overdue,” Irons said of Katyal’s statement. “This was a deliberate, knowing lie by Fahy to the Supreme Court. For the government’s highest counsel to make that statement now is quite noteworthy and admirable.”

A year ago, Katyal became the acting solicitor general when Elena Kagan was nominated to the Supreme Court. He had made a name for himself in legal circles in 2006 when took on the case of Salim Hamdan, who faced a military trial at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He won in the Supreme Court, which struck down the military commissions because they had not been authorized by Congress.

But that victory in Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld earned him some critics in the Senate — and it may have cost him the chance to win Senate confirmation as solicitor general. This year, President Obama passed over Katyal and nominated Deputy White House Counsel Donald Verrilli Jr. for the post. Katyal said he would step down when the Senate officially confirmed Verrilli.

‘Whites suffer more racism than blacks’: Study shows white American people believe they are more discriminated against


Whites believe that discrimination against them has increased from an average of 1.8 in the 1950’s to 4.7 in the 2000s.

Daily Mail | May 24, 2011

White Americans feel they are more discriminated against than blacks, a new study reveals.

Sociologists from Harvard and Tufts universities asked 209 white and 208 black men and women to rate ‘racism’ against both ethnic groups since the 1950s on a scale of one to 10.

The results showed that while both blacks and whites saw anti-black racism decreasing over the decades, whites saw race relations as a ‘zero sum game’ where they were losing out as blacks ‘gained’ the advantage.

The results, published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, showed that on average blacks saw anti-white bias rising slightly from 1.4 in the 1950s to 1.8 today.

Blacks also perceived that racism against themselves had steeply declined from 9.7 in the 1950s to 6.1 in the 90s.

White respondents, however, saw a very different picture.

For the 2000s, 11 per cent of whites gave anti-white bias the maximum 10 out of 10 rating, compared with only two per cent of whites who did so for anti-black bias.

Whites believed that discrimination against them had increased from an average of 1.8 in the 1950s to 4.7 in the 2000s.

All those surveyed were asked: ‘Indicate how much you think blacks/whites were/are the victims of discrimination in the United States in each of the following decades.’

Responding to the results, researchers Michael Norton and Samuel Sommers said that despite predictions that Barack Obama’s election in 2008 would herald a ‘post racial’ America, this had not in fact occurred.

They concluded: ‘A flurry of legal and cultural disputes over the past decade has revealed a new race-related controversy gaining traction: an emerging belief in anti-white prejudice.

‘Whites believe…the pendulum has now swung beyond equality in the direction of anti-white discrimination.’

‘Whites think more progress has been made toward equality than do blacks, but whites also now believe that this progress is linked to a new inequality—at their expense.’

Citing several studies, researchers speculated that white people tended to see any focus on ethnic minorities as an ‘attack’ on white values.

Nazis likely filmed Jesse Owens in 3D

variety.com | May 16, 2011

Stereoscopic camera was used to record athletes

By Nick Holdsworth

Black American athlete Jesse Owens likely was filmed by the Nazis in 3D as he won four gold medals at the 1936 summer Olympics in Berlin, new research has revealed.

Owens’ fantastic performance was a worldwide sensation at the time — and one that deeply upset the Nazis and their Aryan doctrine.

Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s propaganda chief, writing in his diary, called the wins “a disgrace” that white people should be ashamed of.

Los Angeles-based Australian filmmaker Philippe Mora, who earlier this year revealed the extent to which Hitler’s Third Reich used 3D technology in pre-WWII propaganda movies, has uncovered evidence that a sophisticated stereoscopic camera was custom-made to record athletes as they crossed the finishing line at the Olympic stadium.

The twin-camera Zeiss Ikon system, triggered by the starting pistol at the start of a race, filmed track events from a tall tower.

It was designed to accurately time events and identify winners in photo finishes.

A contemporary report, produced by Gottfried Philipp, a member of the design team from Germany’s Braunschweig U. of Technology, shows that footage was developed within seven minutes for referees to examine.

The report includes appendices with photos of the finishing-line frames for many of the track events, but none in which Owens or other black sports stars competed.

Neither the international Olympic committee nor Zeiss Ikon has been able to track down Owens footage in their archives, but they are actively searching for it, Mora told Variety.

Mora, who in 1973 made controversial Hitler homemovie documentary, “Swastika,” and is working on a 3D film about Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dali, plans to use any footage he finds in a docu, “This is 3D,” he is making with producers Barry Krost and Ray Bank.

Why 13 percent of Germans would welcome a ‘Führer’

Christian Science Monitor | Oct 15, 2010

By Robert Marquand Robert Marquand

Paris – A new survey in Germany shows that 13 percent of its citizens would welcome a “Führer” – a German word for leader that is explicitly associated with Adolf Hitler – to run the country “with a firm hand.”

The findings signal that Europe’s largest nation, freed from cold-war strictures, is not immune from the extreme and often right-wing politics on the rise around the Continent.

The study, released Oct. 13 by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, affiliated with the center-left Social Democratic Party, revealed among other things that more than a third of Germans feel the country is “overrun by foreigners,” some 60 percent would “restrict the practice of Islam,” and 17 percent think Jews have “too much influence.”

The study’s overall snapshot of German society shows new forms of extremism and hate are no longer the province of far-right cohorts who shave their heads or wear leather jackets adorned with silver skulls – but register in the tweedy political center, on the right and the left. Indeed, the study found, extremism in Germany isn’t a fringe phenomenon but is found in the political center, “in all social groups and in all age groups, regardless of employment status, educational level or gender.”

Far-right parties gain power across EuropeThe year 2010 is marking a clear shift toward extremist politics across Europe, analysts say. An uncertain economy, a gap between elites and ordinary Europeans, and fraying of a traditional sense of national identity has just in the past month brought more hard-line politics and speech, often aimed at Islam or immigrants – into a political mainstream where it had been absent or considered taboo.

On Oct. 10, the city of Vienna, a cosmopolitan and socialist stronghold since World War II, voted the far-right Freedom Party into a ruling coalition. The party, which ran on an “anti-minaret” platform in a city with only one mosque, was formerly associated with nationalist Jorg Haider, but has been reinvented by an animated former dental hygienist, Heinz-Christian Strache.

On Sept. 19, Sweden, long a Scandinavian redoubt of social tolerance and openness, put the far-right Sweden Democrats into parliament for the first time.

Further, this week the Netherlands saw the rise to influence, if not power, of the anti-Islam party of Geert Wilders, a social liberal who argues for gay rights – but whose main platform is to ban the Quran and the practice of Islam in the Low Countries. Mr. Wilders’ party will formally participate in the Dutch ruling coalition without specifically joining it.

This new governing architecture – extreme parties that indirectly join a ruling coalition – is now found in Denmark, where the government must rely on the far-right People’s Party to operate. As author Ian Buruma notes, this form of government gives extreme parties “power without responsibility.”

Growing divide over immigrants’ placeTo be sure, German politics, which outlaws extremist parties, has no corollary to events taking place in the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, or Switzerland.

Yet xenophobic rhetoric has crept in. Germany is currently enswathed in debate over comments by Horst Seehofer, president of the Bavarian Christian-Social Union, who stated days ago, “It is clear that immigrants from other cultures such as Turkey and Arabic countries have more difficulties. From that I draw the conclusion that we don’t need additional immigration from other cultures.” The CSU is a sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats.

Mr. Seehofer’s comments are seen as responding to German president Christian Wulff on Oct. 3, German Unity Day, in which he called for a second German unification that would more fully integrate those of immigrant background; he said that “Islam also is part of Germany.”

President Wulff’s statement followed a month of furor over a new book by leftist German central banker Thilo Sarrazin, “Germany Abolishes Itself,” positing that immigrants from Turkey and Arab states are lowering German intelligence quotients due to high birth rates and less education, and “have no productive function except in the fruit and vegetable trade.”

Mr. Sarrazin’s analysis and statistics have been roundly denunciated, and he has resigned his federal banker’s post – but his book quickly sold 1.5 million copies.

Why extreme-right views are coming to the surfaceThe Friedrich Ebert Foundation study that came out this week is based on 2,411 respondents and was conducted in April, prior to the recent emotional immigration debate sparked by Sarrazin, Seehofer, and Wulff.

The rise of racism and intolerance argued in the study contrasts with similar foundation studies, prior to the economic crisis in Europe, showing a decrease in racism or xenophobia. However, today nearly a third of Germans polled would consider a policy repatriating immigrants if the job market suffers further.

The authors of the study urge fellow Germans not to “underestimate” right-wing sentiment.

Oliver Decker, one of the study’s authors, says the findings indicate a new popular willingness to express hardcore opinions.

“In the past the base for extreme-right views in Germany, though present, was more latent in nature. Now these views are being expressed more frequently,” Mr. Decker says. “The economic crisis seems to have allowed aggression come to the surface. Among those looking for a valve, foreigners in general and Muslims in particular fill that role.”