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The NYPD Banged On A Black Lives Matter Organizer's Door, Shut Down His Street, Stayed For 5 Hours, Then Left - Gothamist

Louis Proyect
 


the creation of Japanese thought police with Hirohito's rise to power

Dennis Brasky
 


Song Without a Name | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Louis Proyect
 

Opening today as Virtual Cinema is a deliberately understated, black-and-white, art film titled “Song Without a Name” about a potentially explosive theme, the theft of new-born babies in Peru during the late 1980s in order to be sold on the adoption black market. Slowly paced and staying close to the historical record, it has little in common with Hollywood conventions. If Stephen Spielberg directed such a film, there would be danger lurking behind every corner, especially when an investigative reporter is told that the people running the baby-stealing ring are very dangerous. Whatever “Song Without a Name” lacks in dramatic impact, it more than makes for in authenticity.

full: https://louisproyect.org/2020/08/07/song-without-a-name/


Arise, Lady Fox - Weekly Worker

Louis Proyect
 

The Revolutionary Communist Party has gone on an odd journey, writes Eddie Ford. After emerging from the SWP, it has travelled from the Red Front to the Brexit Party - and now the House of Lords

https://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1311/arise-lady-fox/


Re: The Beirut Explosion - Is It A Bird? Is It A Plane? Is It A Faked Video Of A Missile? - bellingcat

Michael Meeropol
 

thank you, Louis.   Very interesting --- useful pre-emption of types of "trutherism" re 9-11 ....



The Beirut Explosion - Is It A Bird? Is It A Plane? Is It A Faked Video Of A Missile? - bellingcat

Louis Proyect
 


Homage to Charles Bukowski | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Louis Proyect
 

Among my favorite writers, Harvey Pekar and Charles Bukowski share an uncommon distinction. Despite having lowly jobs as a Cleveland veterans hospital file clerk and sorting mail in the post office, they received the highest accolades for their work. In a 1985 New York Times book review, David Rosenthal wrote that “Mr. Pekar’s work has been compared by literary critics to Chekhov’s and Dostoyevsky’s, and it is easy to see why.” As for Bukowski, Jean-Paul Sartre described him as “America’s greatest living poet today,” although his biographer Howard Sounes discounts that as a tale Bukowski circulated. As for me, I don’t need Sounes’s imprimatur to evaluate Bukowski’s literary merits. I regard him as one of our best writers of the past half-century, and the kind of writer that helped me keep me feeling less isolated in a mammon-worshiping nation. Writers who have held down regular jobs like Herman Melville on a whaling ship or Jack Kerouac as a railway brakeman are closer to our reality than those churned out on the Iowa Writer’s Workshop assembly line.

Charles Bukowski died in 1994, not from cirrhosis of the liver but leukemia. Well-known for his alcoholism, it surprised me that he made it to the age of 73. As was also the case with Pekar, it was like losing a friend. As I read all of Pekar’s comic books, I always made time to read a new Bukowski novel. Since both writers mined their workaday lives, disappointments, and loneliness for deeply affecting literature, you felt as close to them as if they were good friends. Moreover, once they became celebrities, you appreciated how ambivalent they were about such glory. Pekar refused to make any more appearances on the David Letterman show, even if it meant cutting into comic book sales.

full: https://louisproyect.org/2020/08/07/homage-to-charles-bukowski/


Eric Bentley, Critic Who Preferred Brecht to Broadway, Dies at 103

Louis Proyect
 

NY Times, August 7, 2020
Eric Bentley, Critic Who Preferred Brecht to Broadway, Dies at 103

Mr. Bentley, who was also a playwright, was an early champion of modern European drama in the 1940s but had little use for American plays.

 
 
The critic, author and playwright Eric Bentley in 1976. His criticism found its way into classroom syllabuses and general-interest magazines.
The critic, author and playwright Eric Bentley in 1976. His criticism found its way into classroom syllabuses and general-interest magazines.Credit...Tyrone Dukes/The New York Times
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Eric Bentley, an influential theater critic — as well as a scholar, author and playwright — who was an early champion of modern European drama and an unsparing antagonist of Broadway, died on Wednesday at his home in Manhattan. He was 103.

His son Philip confirmed the death.

Mr. Bentley was among that select breed of scholar who moves easily between academic and public spheres. His criticism found its way into classroom syllabuses and general-interest magazines.

And more than dissecting others’ plays, he also wrote his own and had some success as a director. He adapted work by many of the European playwrights he prized, especially Bertolt Brecht, whom he first met in Los Angeles in 1942.

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The English-born Mr. Bentley variously walked the corridors of Oxford, Harvard and Columbia, where he taught for many years with faculty colleagues like Lionel Trilling and Jacques Barzun, literary lions in their own right.

 
 
ImageMr. Bentley teaching at Black Mountain College in North Carolina in 1943.
Mr. Bentley teaching at Black Mountain College in North Carolina in 1943.Credit...via Philip Bentley

At Columbia he became engaged in leftist campus politics during the volatile 1960s and surprised everyone when he quit — in part, he said, to experience life as a gay man, having divorced his second wife.

 
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But it was as a critic that he made his first and most enduring impression.

The critic Ronald Bryden, writing in The New York Times Book Review in 1987, said that Mr. Bentley’s 1946 essay collection, “The Playwright as Thinker,” “did for modern drama what Edmund Wilson in ‘Axel’s Castle’ had done for modern poetry; it established the map of a territory previously obscured by opinion and rumor.”

Mr. Bentley published one admired collection of criticism after another, among them “In Search of Theater” (1953) “What Is Theater?” (1956) and “The Life of the Drama” (1964) — “the best general book on theater I have read bar none,” the novelist Clancy Sigal wrote in The New Republic.

Mr. Bentley’s book “Bernard Shaw” (1947) prompted Shaw himself to say that he considered it the best book written about him.

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Mr. Bentley argued that the great serious drama of the modern era had been written in Europe. He pointed to the operas of Wagner and the plays of Ibsen, Strindberg, Chekhov, García Lorca, Synge and Pirandello as well as Shaw. And great drama was still being written, he said in the 1940s, referring to Brecht, Jean-Paul Sartre and Sean O’Casey.

“Experimentalism in the arts always reflects historical conditions, always indicates profound dissatisfaction with established modes, always is a groping toward a new age,” he wrote in “The Playwright as Thinker.”

 
 
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The critic Ronald Bryden said Mr. Bentley’s 1946 essay collection, “The Playwright as Thinker,” “established the map of a territory previously obscured by opinion and rumor.”Credit...Reynal & Hitchcock

Mr. Bentley discerned a new naturalism in the modern voice. “What is it we notice if we pick up a modern play after reading Shakespeare or the Greeks? Nine times out of ten it is the dryness,” he wrote, distinguishing that from dullness — “the sheer modesty of the language, the sheer lack of winged words, even of eloquence.”

Mr. Bentley was less enthusiastic about American playwrights — even, at first, Eugene O’Neill.

“Where Wedekind seems silly and turns out on further inspection to be profound,” Mr. Bentley wrote of the German playwright Frank Wedekind in the notes to “The Playwright as Thinker,” “O’Neill seems profound and turns out on further inspection to be silly.”

As for commercialized Broadway, he judged it to be anathema to artistic theater, a view many readers regarded as tantamount to an attack on American culture. “Condescending and misanthropic,” Cue magazine said.

The drama critic Walter Kerr, writing in The New York Herald Tribune Book Review, said that “Mr. Bentley does not believe in a popular theater” and feels that “the audience is incapable of valid judgment in aesthetic matters.”

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Broadway’s defenders reminded Mr. Bentley that Sophocles, Shakespeare and Shaw had, above all, been popular. To which Mr. Bentley rejoined, “To be popular in an aristocratic culture, like ancient Greece or Elizabethan England, is quite a different matter from being popular in a middle-class culture.”

He eventually became more favorably inclined toward American dramatists, but he never let up in his goading of American theatergoers to pay more attention to Europeans like Brecht. For a time he even wore his hair in bangs like Brecht.

While at Columbia Mr. Bentley turned out a twin series of anthologies, “The Classic Theatre” and “From the Modern Repertoire,” which became standard reading in drama curriculums.

 
 
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Mr. Bentley in 1960. “Experimentalism in the arts,” he wrote, “always is a groping toward a new age.”Credit...via Philip Bentley

In the turmoil of the 1960s, he was a founder of the DMZ, a cabaret devoted to political and social satire whose subjects included the war in Vietnam, and he criticized Columbia’s handling of student political demonstrations on campus. In 1969 he quit his teaching post, shocking his friends and colleagues.

Many thought he had done so in protest, but he later said that he had simply realized that he wanted to be a playwright. “I always dreamed myself the author when I translated,” he said.

There were also personal reasons for resigning. He had decided to leave his second wife and live openly as a gay man, he said, and he thought his Columbia colleagues would not have tolerated that.

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Around the time he began moving away from academia, the theater reporter Pat O’Haire of The Daily News depicted him in his 12-room Riverside Drive apartment, its walls and shelves dense with theater memorabilia:

“Away from campus, or the confines of teaching, Bentley can only be described as a sort of combination establishment-guerrilla,” she wrote. “He goes barefoot and wears jeans, but his shirt, though colorful, is a traditional Brooks Brothers button-down. His hair is long and flecked with gray; he wears a beard that is neatly trimmed in a Captain Ahab style, with the upper lip shaved. It seems as if he is straddling two worlds.”

Eric Russell Bentley was born Sept. 14, 1916, in Bolton, a northern industrial town in Lancashire, England, to Fred and Laura Bentley. His father was a respected local businessman. His mother had wanted Eric to become a Baptist missionary.

Mr. Bentley was a scholarship student at the prestigious Bolton School, where he studied the piano. He then went to Oxford on a history scholarship; C.S. Lewis was one of his teachers. Yet as a merchant-class student surrounded by upper-class swells, he felt out of place.

Shaw became an early hero, Mr. Bentley told The Times in 2006, because he seemed to be a fellow outsider. “‘Pygmalion’ is a great classic in my book because it’s an Irishman’s recognition of the basics of class-ridden Britain,” he said.

He emigrated to the United States after receiving his bachelor’s degree from Oxford in 1938 (he was naturalized in 1948) and received a doctorate in comparative literature from Yale in 1941.

On the strength of his early books, Mr. Bentley was appointed in 1952 to succeed Harold Clurman as drama critic for The New Republic, a position he held until 1956. He also wrote for The Nation, Theatre Arts, The Times Literary Supplement in London and The New York Times.

When he wasn’t writing in the 1940s, he taught and directed at the University of California, Los Angeles; at Black Mountain College in North Carolina; and at the University of Minnesota. From 1948 through 1951 he traveled in Europe on a Guggenheim fellowship, directing plays. In 1950 he helped Brecht with his production of “Mother Courage and Her Children” in Munich. He also directed the German-language premiere of O’Neill’s play “The Iceman Cometh.”

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By then his regard for O’Neill and other American playwrights had risen. His earlier criteria for artistic merit, he conceded, had been “puritanic” and even too “Brechtian.” His celebrated book “The Playwright as Thinker,” he conceded, “reflects more my academic side — a certain degree of excessive authority, even arrogance, you could say.”

 
 
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Mr. Bentley in his Manhattan apartment in 2000. For all his laurels as a critic, he carried a nagging regret: that his plays were not appreciated as much as his criticism.Credit...Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times

In 1952, after his return to the United States, Mr. Bentley took over Joseph Wood Krutch’s course in modern drama at Columbia. The next year he was appointed the Brander Matthews professor of dramatic literature at Columbia, where he stayed until his resignation in 1969, with time off in between as the Charles Eliot Norton professor of poetry at Harvard in 1960-61 and as a Ford Foundation artist in residence in Berlin in 1964-65.

He was later the Cornell professor of theater at the State University of New York, Buffalo, and a professor of comparative literature at the University of Maryland.

Mr. Bentley was known to perform songs from the theater in nightclubs, accompanying himself on the harmonium.

As he concentrated more on his playwriting, he found his subjects in those who had rebelled against established society. He took up the causes of the left in “Are You Now or Have You Ever Been: The Investigation of Show Business by the Un-American Activities Committee, 1947-1958,” first produced in 1972; the astronomer Galileo in “The Recantation of Galileo Galilei: Scenes From History Perhaps” (1973); Oscar Wilde in “Lord Alfred’s Lover” (1979); the sexually inconstant in “Concord” (1982), one of a series of three plays in “The Kleist Variations”; and homosexuality in “Round Two” (1990), a variation on Schnitzler’s play “La Ronde.”

Mr. Bentley discussed his sexual orientation in 1987, in an interview with The Los Angeles Times. “I generally avoid the word bisexual,” he said. “People who call themselves bisexual are being evasive. They don’t want to be regarded as homosexual — or they want to be regarded as supermen, who like to sleep with everything and everybody.

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“Nevertheless,” he went on, “if one can avoid these connotations, the word would be applicable to me, because I have been married twice, and neither of the marriages was fake; neither of them was a cover for something else; they were both a genuine relationship to a woman.”

Those marriages were to Maja Tschernjakow and to Joanne Davis, a psychotherapist. His first marriage ended in divorce, his second in separation (they never divorced). In addition to Ms. Davis and his son Philip, he is survived by another son, Eric Jr., and four grandchildren.

For all his laurels as a critic, Mr. Bentley carried a nagging regret: that his plays were not appreciated as much as his criticism.

“Brecht once told me that he left unpublished a lot of his poetry,” Mr. Bentley said in the 2006 Times interview, “because, he said: ‘If they regard me as a poet, they’ll say I’m not a playwright, I’m a poet. So I don’t publish the poems, so they’ll say I’m a playwright.’

“I feel at times that I should not have written my criticism,” Mr. Bentley continued, “because when I write a play, they say, ‘The critic has written a play.’”


‘Racism Is Pervasive and Systemic’ at Canada’s Museum of Human Rights, Report Says

Louis Proyect
 

NY Times, August 7, 2020
‘Racism Is Pervasive and Systemic’ at Canada’s Museum of Human Rights, Report Says

Even before it opened in 2014, the museum was dogged by controversy. Now, after discrimination accusations, it has been rebuked.

 
 
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is a landmark in Winnipeg, with thousands of glass panels swooping around its limestone walls to resemble the folded wings of a dove.
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is a landmark in Winnipeg, with thousands of glass panels swooping around its limestone walls to resemble the folded wings of a dove.Credit...Aaron Vincent Elkaim for The New York Times
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TORONTO — Black and Indigenous employees say they were disparaged. Female employees say they were sexually harassed. Guides say their managers instructed them to block off an exhibit on same-sex marriage during tours for religious schools.

All this has happened, critics say, at an unlikely place: The Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.

In recent weeks, the museum has been engulfed by accusations of discrimination and harassment. And on Wednesday the museum released a report from an external review, which concluded that “racism is pervasive and systemic within the institution.”

For a museum devoted to documenting the history of human rights, the report was a stinging rebuke.

“This is a tainted place as far as I’m concerned,” said Barbara Nepinak, an elder of the Pine Creek First Nation who is a member of the Special Indigenous Advisory Council to the museum. “But it can be fixed and I strongly believe it will be fixed.”

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In June, museum officials had admitted they had accommodated requests from school groups to exclude, or even hide, content they might find objectionable and issued a public apology. The institution’s president stepped down, too.

After Wednesday’s report, Pauline Rafferty, the museum’s chairwoman and acting chief executive, vowed to take several immediate steps, including the establishment of a diversity and inclusion committee.

 
 
ImageMuseum officials admitted guides had been told to not show the exhibit on same-sex marriage to some school groups. The museum issued a public apology.
Museum officials admitted guides had been told to not show the exhibit on same-sex marriage to some school groups. The museum issued a public apology.Credit...Aaron Vincent Elkaim for The New York Times

“We’ve accepted the report’s findings in full and the recommendations in principle” she said. “The opportunity here is to make systemic changes but it will take time and it will be very hard work.”

Still, the review is the fourth in the institution’s short lifetime, making many people skeptical that systemic discrimination will be corrected, even at a place built to inspire visitors to combat it.

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Armando Perla, a curator who worked at the museum for years, said he was disappointed that the review did not recommend removing a broad swath of the museum’s management but instead focused on training.

“No amount of training is going to fix the managers,” said Mr. Perla, who is now head of human rights at the Montreal Holocaust Museum.

The museum opened in 2014 in Winnipeg — a Prairie city with a large Indigenous population. It is a stunning landmark in the city, with its illuminated “spire of hope” visible from afar, and thousands of glass panels swooping around its limestone walls to resemble the folded wings of a dove.

 
 
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A school group at the museum last month.
A school group at the museum last month.Credit...Aaron Vincent Elkaim for The New York Times

Even before the doors opened, though, the museum inspired protest and heated debate. Several curators and outside experts complained that exhibits had been politically neutered and so watered down as to become meaningless.

“It became an ethical cheerleading triumphalist narrative about Canada, forwarding the notion of Canada, the peacekeeping nation, as a leader in human rights,” said Elise Chenier, a history professor at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, who did not want to be identified by the museum as a creator of an exhibit on same-sex marriage in Canada, saying the institution had oversimplified the “debate in the queer community about marriage.”

The museum’s former curator of Indigenous content, Tricia Logan, wrote in a book that she had been “consistently reminded” to match any mention of state-perpetrated atrocity against Indigenous people with a “balanced statement that indicates reconciliation, apology or compensation provided by the government.”

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Maureen Fitzhenry, the museum spokeswoman, disputed the assertion that the museum had revised content for political or nationalistic reasons.

Many in Winnipeg’s Indigenous community were outraged over the museum’s decision to use the term “genocide” for five overseas genocides officially recognized by the Canadian government — including the Holocaust and the massacres in Rwanda — but not for the treatment of their people in Canada.

At the time, the country’s first Truth and Reconciliation Commission had concluded years of hearings on the government’s longstanding use of residential schools as a pernicious tool of assimilation that had forcibly removed more than 150,000 Indigenous children from their families and cultures.

A year after the museum opened, the commission’s final report described the schools as weapons of “cultural genocide.” But the museum took until 2018 to use the term.

In June, public debate about the institution was reignited by a local anti-racism protest.

A former museum guide and program interpreter, Thiané Diop, 29, wrote on social media that during four years of working at the museum, she had faced racism from colleagues, the public and donors “constantly,” and instead of addressing it, her bosses said she wasn’t a “good fit.”

 
 
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Thiané Diop, a former museum guide, wrote on social media that she’d faced racism from colleagues, the public and donors “constantly.”Credit...Aaron Vincent Elkaim for The New York Times

Others also accused managers of making racial slurs and culturally insensitive remarks.

Shania Pruden, a 23-year-old from Pinamutang First Nation who also worked at the museum, recalled that a manager told her to get “thicker skin,” after visitors pointed to her while talking about the history of “Indians,” making her feel ashamed.

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“When there was a problem, management most likely wouldn’t do anything,” Ms. Pruden said.

Four former female staff members told The New York Times they had reported episodes of sexual harassment and, in one case, sexual assault to management. In all cases, they said managers’ first response was to question their accounts.

Wednesday’s report found that there “are indications that sexual harassment and stalking complaints made by Black women may not have been investigated or addressed adequately prior to the fall of 2016.”

Two of the institution’s previous external reviews addressed sexual harassment, said Ms. Fitzhenry, the museum spokeswoman. The third involved broader concerns by museum staff, she said, declining to offer more specifics.

 
 
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Shania Pruden, a former museum employee, reported experiencing racism while working there.
Shania Pruden, a former museum employee, reported experiencing racism while working there.Credit...Aaron Vincent Elkaim for The New York Times

“It was a culture of violence,” said Gabriela Aguero, a former guide and program developer who took a mental health leave last year because, she said, of the stress of the museum’s workplace culture, as well as its content.

In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Ms. Aguero exposed the museum’s former practice of asking guides to skip the exhibit on the legalization of same-sex marriage in Canada during tours for religious schools and for guests who objected to the content.

“This practice is contrary to the Museum’s mandate, and contrary to everything we stand for,” the museum’s executive team said in a June letter confirming the practice had happened for two years.

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The outside report concluded that L.G.B.T. and queer content was omitted or hidden on six occasions in 2017, and on one occasion in 2015.

It also noted critically the absence of any representation in exhibits of two-spirit people, a term used by some Indigenous people to describe those who have both a masculine and a feminine spirit, despite years of requests for inclusion from that community.

“The censorship was not just around same-sex marriage” said Albert McLeod, a director of the Two-Spirited People of Manitoba, a community group that tried to get the museum to include stories of the struggles of two-spirit people.

 
 
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Gabriela Aguero, a former guide, took a mental health leave last year because, she said, of the stress of the museum’s workplace culture.Credit...Aaron Vincent Elkaim for The New York Times

“Even a human rights institution can be rife with discrimination unless it practices its own teachings,” said Karen Busby, a recently retired law professor and founding director of the Centre for Human Rights Research at the University of Manitoba. “It won’t go away with good intentions.”

After the museum’s announcement that it would conduct an independent review by a feminist lawyer who is Black, Jewish and identifies as queer, former employees reacted with a mix of relief that it was happening, sadness that it was necessary and cynicism that anything would change.

“A lot of us have felt isolated doing this work for a long time,” said Mr. Perla, the former curator, in an interview before Wednesday’s report. “Now we’re realizing we are not alone.”

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When Mr. Perla worked at the Winnipeg museum, he said, there were only three managers from visible minorities in the building — a pervasive situation in Canadian museums, he said.

“When you have managers who are only white,” said Mr. Perla, who is gay and came to Canada from El Salvador as an asylum seeker, “with no visible minorities to challenge the status quo, you will keep doing things as you have done them.”

 
 
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The museum opened in 2014 as the world’s first dedicated entirely to human rights.Credit...Aaron Vincent Elkaim for The New York Times

Some Indigenous staff and advisers said the museum had made strides in addressing their concerns.

In a 2018 speech, the museum's president, John Young, said the “policies and practices of colonialization” in Canada, were genocide. Signage in the museum was changed.

The museum also began to incorporate Indigenous “ways of knowing and being” into its institutional processes, said Jennefer Nepinak, its former senior adviser on Indigenous relations. In 2019, the museum entered into a contract with Carey Newman, an artist from Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation, by taking part in a potlatch — a traditional ceremony.

“Learning is very difficult and change is very difficult,” Ms. Nepinak said, calling the agreement “one of the highlights of my career.”

Glen Murray, the former Winnipeg mayor and Ontario cabinet minister, stepped down from the museum’s fund-raising board. He said he hoped the museum’s internal reckoning becomes a template for other organizations.

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“The museum should be an example now of how to move forward,” said Mr. Murray, the first openly gay mayor of a big city in North America, “to correct this, for how you honestly resolve problems, bring people together and rebuild trust.”

He added, “That could be its own powerful story for change.”


A Family Cries ‘Justice for Hannah.’ Will Its Rural Town Listen?

Louis Proyect
 

NY Times, August 7, 2020
A Family Cries ‘Justice for Hannah.’ Will Its Rural Town Listen?

People in rural areas are killed in police shootings at about the same rate as in cities, but victims’ families and activists say they have struggled to get justice or even make themselves heard.

 
 
“We’re just doing it all on our own,” said Amy Fizer, whose daughter Hannah was shot and killed by a sheriff’s deputy in Sedalia, Mo.Credit...Whitney Curtis for The New York Times
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SEDALIA, Mo. — Seven weeks had passed, and still there were no answers. So once again, a small cluster of friends and family gathered in the leafy courthouse square and marched for Hannah Fizer, an unarmed woman shot and killed by a rural Missouri sheriff’s deputy during a traffic stop.

“Say her name! Hannah!”

“Prosecute the police!”

Their chants echoed protests over police killings in Minneapolis, Louisville, Atlanta and beyond. But this was no George Floyd moment for rural America.

Though people in rural areas are killed in police shootings at about the same rate as in cities, victims’ families and activists say they have struggled to get justice or even make themselves heard. They say extracting changes can be especially tough in small, conservative towns where residents and officials have abiding support for law enforcement and are leery of new calls to defund the police.

“It’s like pulling teeth,” Ms. Fizer’s mother, Amy, said.

The deputy who shot Ms. Fizer has not been charged or disciplined, and Ms. Fizer’s parents say they have not received any updates about the investigation into her June 13 death. They said that investigators never interviewed them, and that the sheriff declined to tell them the name of the deputy who shot her.

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Over the weeks, the rallies for Ms. Fizer tapered from a hundred protesters to a couple dozen. Every Saturday morning, they wave signs and ask passing cars to honk in support of the 25-year-old woman with a big grin and flower tattoo, who loved swimming and Chinese takeout and dreamed of having children, and of a larger life beyond her night-shift job at a gas station. Her family and friends have become her movement.

“We’re just doing it all on our own,” Amy Fizer said.

There are hundreds of stories of law enforcement killings in small towns and rural areas, but scant research into how and why they happen. One analysis by FiveThirtyEight found that between 2013 and 2019 there was a slight rise in shootings by officers in rural and suburban areas and a decline in big cities. Experts say rural shootings may be tied to higher rates of gun ownership, a lack of mental health services, or insufficient training for officers responding to people in crisis.

 
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Ms. Fizer’s parents said they know only the barest facts about what happened the night she died.

 
 
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Jessica Fizer, Hannah Fizer’s cousin, led a march through downtown Sedalia. Activists say they have struggled to make themselves heard in small towns.Credit...Whitney Curtis for The New York Times

She spent the last day of her life splashing around in a kiddie pool with her best friend, Taylor Browder, and Ms. Browder’s young children, talking about life and her future in Sedalia, an old railroad town of 21,000 people that is home to the Missouri State Fair. Ms. Fizer had attended the Sedalia Police Department’s citizen’s academy in 2016 but quickly decided she did not want to become a cop. She sometimes talked about working as a parole officer.

Ms. Browder said that Ms. Fizer headed home to the apartment she shared with her boyfriend to take a nap and shower before her overnight shift at the Eagle Stop gas station on the western edge of town.

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At about 10 that night, a Pettis County sheriff’s deputy pulled her over for speeding. In an interview, Sheriff Kevin Bond said that the deputy “met with verbal resistance” when he walked up to Ms. Fizer’s car and that he told investigators she claimed she had a gun and threatened to kill him.

Ms. Fizer’s friends and family have a hard time believing that. Ms. Fizer’s boyfriend owned a gun, they said, but in a conservative county where the Second Amendment is sacrosanct, Ms. Fizer did not like guns or carry one.

Investigators later found five shell casings by the driver’s side door of her Hyundai, but no gun in her car.

David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, said the prevalence of guns may explain why cities and rural areas have nearly equal rates of law enforcement killings even though murders and violent crime rates tend to be higher in cities.

More than half of the people fatally shot by rural officers were reported to have a gun, according to a seven-year tally by Mapping Police Violence. Ms. Fizer was among the roughly 10 percent who were unarmed.

Ms. Fizer and the deputy who shot her were both white, a common dynamic in shootings that occur in overwhelmingly white, rural parts of the country. Black and Hispanic people are killed at higher rates than white people in rural areas, but the demographics of rural America mean that about 60 to 70 percent of people killed by law enforcement there are white, according to an analysis by Harvard researchers.

Unlike in other cases that have galvanized efforts to change policing, there is no body camera footage of the shooting. The sheriff’s office stopped using body cameras after software problems and a crash on the hard drive that recorded the data. Fixing it was “just cost prohibitive” for a rural sheriff’s office where money is tight and starting pay for deputies is $26,000, Sheriff Bond said.

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Sheriff Bond said there had been no prior use-of-force complaints against the deputy who shot Ms. Fizer. The deputy, who has not been named, was put on paid leave, and the sheriff said he immediately called in the Missouri State Highway Patrol to handle the scene and investigate the shooting.

The Highway Patrol finished its investigation last week and handed over a report to the Pettis County prosecuting attorney, who had a special prosecutor appointed. Ms. Fizer’s family said they have not been told about the results of the report, and have been following developments through the news.

“If this would’ve happened in the city, something would have been done by now,” said Haley Richardson, a friend who said Ms. Fizer was kindhearted and stood up for vulnerable people. “We’re going to stay out here. We just want answers.”

 
 
Image
Hannah Fizer’s gravesite in Marshall, Mo. Her parents said they knew only the barest facts about what happened the night she died.Credit...Whitney Curtis for The New York Times

Ms. Fizer’s relatives said that a divide in money and class between them and authorities in Pettis County had made them feel like second-rung citizens. Ms. Fizer was not rich, and members of her family had been in and out of prison and struggled with drug addictions.

“If you’re on the outer fringes of society you’d know,” Amy Fizer said. “They pull you over. They do what they want, when they want.”

Some of Ms. Fizer’s friends and relatives said they had already been outraged by Mr. Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis police custody, which happened about three weeks before Ms. Fizer was shot. They joined Black Lives Matter rallies as the movement spread throughout small towns across America.

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Continue reading the main story
 

But they also emphasized that they did not want to abolish the police. They supported law enforcement. Just not this deputy, or this sheriff. The aftermath of the shooting led to calls for Sheriff Bond to resign and prompted a police sergeant in suburban Kansas City to challenge the sheriff in November’s election.

“You have law enforcement running around without any body cameras, dash cameras, the minimal equipment,” said the challenger, Brad Anders, who lives in Sedalia. “The investigation, whatever it may reveal, is never going to be enough. There are questions that will never be answered.”

The anger over Ms. Fizer’s death exploded on local Facebook groups. Sheriff Bond said people had threatened to publish his home address and harassed and threatened a deputy and his family, and he warned that “instigators” were using Ms. Fizer’s death to sow “social chaos.”

When a statue of a World War I “doughboy” infantryman honoring veterans was vandalized in July in the town square — an incident unrelated to the protests for Ms. Fizer — his officers opened an investigation and arrested an 18-year-old on vandalism charges.

“Do you want this to continue and cause irrevocable harm to our community?” the sheriff wrote. “Are you willing to allow Pettis County to become the test project for some social justice experiment for rural America?”

Ms. Fizer’s father, John, had complicated feelings about the upwelling of nationwide anger at the police. He was angry. He wanted justice for his daughter. But he counted himself as a conservative Republican and worried that the protests in Sedalia could be co-opted by left-wing outsiders — a pervasive, but largely unfounded fear in small towns after Mr. Floyd’s killing.

In a Facebook post, Mr. Fizer wrote that he did not want “Antifa-type outrage here in our quiet hometown.”

“I love my law enforcement,” he said. “I’d hate to think where we’d be without them.”


A new era begins? – Tempest

Louis Proyect
 

When Sanders put himself forward as one of the first national politicians to oppose defunding police departments, it revealed how political figures who can appear radical in one context can migrate very quickly in the opposite direction. This recalls figures such as Bayard Rustin and Michael Harrington, social democrats of the 1960s who were part of the left wing of the civil rights movement who then shifted rightwards to become defenders of the liberal establishment, and in the process marginalizing themselves from the burgeoning Vietnam antiwar movement.

There is great potential for a different kind of U.S. socialist movement to emerge from this national uprising in the coming years. For one, those who argue that “anti-racism” is the politics of the neoliberal elite or the expression of a professional-managerial class, such as Adolph Reed and his supporters, will be consigned to the proverbial dust bin of history.

https://www.tempestmag.org/2020/08/a-new-era-begins/


Tempest – A magazine of revolutionary socialism

Louis Proyect
 

New zine started by ex-ISOers.

https://www.tempestmag.org/


How Covid-19 Signals the End of the American Era - Rolling Stone

Louis Proyect
 

Anthropologist Wade Davis on how COVID-19 signals the end of the American era

https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/political-commentary/covid-19-end-of-american-era-wade-davis-1038206/


Union threatens 'safety strike' after City Colleges of Chicago falls short on reopening plans

Louis Proyect
 


Denying the Right to Simply Live: The Devastating Explosion in Beirut’s Port Brings Tragedy to Already Strained Conditions | Lefteast

Louis Proyect
 


Lebanon's corrupt capitalism behind Beirut blast

Omar Hassan
 

It's hard not to be furious about the crime inflicted on the people of Beirut and Lebanon by the criminally negligent elites. I hope comrades in Lebanon are safe and starting to organise to hold the murderers accountable.
 
I wrote something to try and explain the situation, I hope people find it useful.

https://redflag.org.au/node/7311  

--
redflag.org.au
marxistleftreview.org


The failings of Finkelstein. Norman Finkelstein has always been a… | by Bob Pitt | Aug, 2020 | Medium

Louis Proyect
 

(No wonder this fucking idiot has no problem being affiliated with Ron Unz's neo-Nazi website.)

Worst of all, Finkelstein saw fit to mount a defence of David Irving — the Hitler-admiring, Nazi-sympathising writer who achieved international prominence twenty years ago over his libel case against US historian Deborah Lipstadt. “David Irving was a very good historian”, Finkelstein declared. “I don’t care what Richard Evans says, he was a very good historian. He produced works which are substantive…. He knew a thing or two. Actually he knew a thing or two or three.”

https://medium.com/@pitt_bob/the-failings-of-finkelstein-4dda984af355


Federal Repression Resources | National Lawyers Guild

Kevin Lindemann and Cathy Campo
 

https://www.nlg.org/federalrepressionresources/

Resources for Resisting Federal Repression

Since June of 2020, activists have been subjected to an increasingly aggressive crackdown on protests by federal law enforcement. The federal response to the movement for Black Lives has included federal criminal charges for activists, door knocks by federal law enforcement agents, and increased use of federal troops to violently police protests. 

The NLG National Office is releasing this resource page for activists who are resisting federal repression. It includes a link to our emergency hotline numbers, as well as our library of Know-Your-Rights materials, our recent federal repression webinar, and a list of some of our recommended resources for activists. We will continue to update this page.

Please visit the NLG Mass Defense Program page for general protest-related legal support hotlines run by NLG chapters.

Emergency Hotlines

If you are contacted by federal law enforcement you should exercise all of your rights. It is always advisable to speak to an attorney before responding to federal authorities. 

State and Local Hotlines

If you have been contacted by the FBI or other federal law enforcement, in one of the following areas, you may be able to get help or information from one of these local NLG hotlines for: 

National Hotline

If you are located in an area with no hotline, you can call the following number:

Know Your Rights Materials

The NLG maintains a library of basic Know-Your-Rights guides. 

WEBINAR: Federal Repression of Activists & Their Lawyers: Legal & Ethical Strategies to Defend Our Movements: presented by NLG-NYC and NLG National Office

We also recommend the following resources: 

Center for Constitutional Rights

Civil Liberties Defense Center

Grand Jury Resistance Project

Katya Komisaruk

Movement for Black Lives Legal Resources

Tilted Scales Collective




Biden: Latino community is diverse, ‘unlike the African American community’ - POLITICO

Louis Proyect
 


H-Net Review [H-Africa]: Wylie on Fincher and Iveson and Leitner, 'Everyday Equalities: Making Multicultures in Settler Colonial Cities' and Prestel, 'Emotional Cities: Debates on Urban Change in Berlin and Cairo, 1860-1910' and Smith, 'Nairobi in the Making: Landscapes of Time and Urban Belonging' and Stanek, 'Architecture in Global Socialism: Eastern Europe, West Africa, and the Middle East in the Cold War'

Andrew Stewart
 



---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: H-Net Staff via H-REVIEW <h-review@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 6, 2020 at 4:24 PM
Subject: H-Net Review [H-Africa]: Wylie on Fincher and Iveson and Leitner, 'Everyday Equalities: Making Multicultures in Settler Colonial Cities' and Prestel, 'Emotional Cities: Debates on Urban Change in Berlin and Cairo, 1860-1910' and Smith, 'Nairobi in the Making: Landscapes of Time and Urban Belonging' and Stanek, 'Architecture in Global Socialism: Eastern Europe, West Africa, and the Middle East in the Cold War'
To: <h-review@...>
Cc: H-Net Staff <revhelp@...>


Ruth Fincher, Kurt Iveson, Helga Leitner.  Everyday Equalities:
Making Multicultures in Settler Colonial Cities.  Minneapolis 
University of Minnesota Press, 2019.  264 pp. Ill., tables.  $27.00
(paper), ISBN 978-0-8166-9464-8.

Joseph Ben Prestel.  Emotional Cities: Debates on Urban Change in
Berlin and Cairo, 1860-1910.  Oxford  Oxford University Press, 2017. 
288 pp.  $93.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-19-879756-2.

Constance Smith.  Nairobi in the Making: Landscapes of Time and Urban
Belonging.  Melton  Boydell &amp; Brewer, Limited, 2019.  223 pp. 
$99.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-84701-233-3.

Lukasz Stanek.  Architecture in Global Socialism: Eastern Europe,
West Africa, and the Middle East in the Cold War.  Princeton 
Princeton University Press, 2020.  368 pp.  $60.00 (cloth), ISBN
978-0-691-16870-8.

Reviewed by Diana Wylie (Boston University)
Published on H-Africa (August, 2020)
Commissioned by David D. Hurlbut

Beyond the Myopia of Privilege: New Directions in Global Urban Studies

Hoping to preempt a retaliatory attack, a Muslim immigrant slips off
her scarf. She is riding a bus in Brisbane and wants no one to
associate her with a Muslim gunman who has just taken hostages nine
hundred kilometers away in Sydney. Her simple act of self-protection
provides one twenty-first-century glimpse of the anxiety that often
comes with living in modern cities: are you safe, do you belong?   

Probing these insecurities may help to strip the veil from the eyes
of the privileged, such as those citizens of the Global North who
define the urban norm by their own affluent and secure experience.
Four recently published urban studies, discussed below, set out to
show their readers what they may have missed seeing. Ignoring
geographical and cultural boundaries, their authors focus on urban
problems shared across the globe. Doing so allows them to reject the
historical experience of Western Europe as a universal model for
urban development. They are interested, too, in the urban experience
of all social classes. The anxiety expressed in the simple act of
removing a head scarf suggests yet another trait the books share:
most of them stress the historical and political significance of
feelings.

In _Emotional Cities, Debates on Urban Change in Berlin and Cairo,
1860-1910_ (2017), Joseph Ben Prestel makes the unusual choice of
focusing, in alternate chapters, on two cities not normally compared.
He is examining a period when life within both cities was
intensifying in the wake of the rapid advent of steam power,
railroads, and the telegraph. The emotional consequences of living in
a time of revolutionized production and communication were profound
and remarkably similar in Berlin and Cairo, at least among the middle
classes. People worried that their social fabric was unraveling.
Nighttime leisure activity like fast dancing and barhopping disturbed
them. Working-class people had even begun promenading for pleasure in
the streets of Berlin; how could the middle class avoid contact with
them and, worst of all, with streetwalkers? Berliners thought they
were losing their moral compass, while Cairenes facing similar
changes feared they were losing their rationality. The city brought
out dangerous, nervous feelings, ones they rejected as alien to
traditional virtues like _Sitte_ (German custom) or '_aql_ (rational
emotions in Cairo). By the early twentieth century these on-edge
citizens were thinking they had found remedies by moving to the new
suburbs and engaging there in physical exercise. The "they" in
question are mainly the middle classes. They are the ones whose
worries are most easily retrievable in the form of books,
periodicals, medical literature, though some concerns of the lower
classes may also be ferreted out of police files and court records.

Prestel wants to take the field of urban history and de-regionalize
it as well as avoid Eurocentric models of normal historical
development, like the ones embedded in the linear modernization
theory of the 1960s. Instead of defining "stages" of development, he
is interested in comparability across the globe. There were, of
course, profound differences between the circumstances of Berlin and
Cairo. They were not always in sync. Most notably, Egypt was subject
serially in the late nineteenth century to control by two different
metropoles--Istanbul and London--while Germany was pridefully
launching its own empire. This difference in power and wealth had a
major impact on people's emotions and debates, leading Germans, for
example, to consider Egyptians backward and medieval, despite the
fact that they were dealing with similarly unsettling experiences
like massive urban migration. Nevertheless, the middle classes in
both places feared a loss of social cohesion, in their eyes glaringly
apparent in innovations like professional matchmaking (Berlin) and
drinking alcohol (Cairo). They both argued that citizenship should be
earned through taking control of one's emotions. As their cities grew
more and more challenging, they increasingly turned to the
countryside and searched for their "true" national identity in folk
custom. Prestel acknowledges that the debates did have a nationalist
cast: Berliners blamed the French ("last but not least the cancan,"
according to one Berliner) for their own moral decay (p. 33);
Cairenes believed they needed to be ultra-rational--following the
reason of the mind and no longer of the heart--as well as physically
fit.  Only then could they compete with robust European nations.
Prestel argues that the urban turn to rural areas for solace and
identity should be seen not only in nationalist or anticolonial
terms, but also as a shared critique of modern city life. Berlin and
Cairo were on a "parallel historical trajectory" (p. 20).

Writing with care, and a remarkable command of four relevant
languages (German, Arabic, French, English), Prestel avoids reductive
statements. He notes, for example, that while "emotional practices"
are not entirely determined by social structures, they are "a
historical product of social changes"; these feelings go on to exceed
and destabilize the structures giving rise to them (p. 18). Prestel
avoids making the two cities seem identical by stressing, rather,
that the debates of their denizens show a "shared understanding,"
including a joint fascination with the new sciences of psychology and
city planning as well as with medical advances (p. 192). He is more
interested in the adoption of urban change than in the origins of
those changes: he has chosen not to explore the impact of religious
faith; nor does he discuss how class struggle and material interests
produced the traits distinguishing and uniting his two cities.

Prestel has written an innovative work that complements the classic
studies of nineteenth-century urbanization, like those by Frederick
Engels and Charles Booth which laid out in meticulous detail the
terrible conditions of housing, sanitation, and diet endured by the
urban poor. In joining the two cities he challenges urban historians
and perhaps even city-dwellers to divest themselves of their myopic
focus on their own cities as unique and on European cities, in
general, as defining the global norm.

Lukasz Stanek builds a different kind of transnational scholarly
bridge in _Architecture in Global Socialism, Eastern Europe, West
Africa, and the Middle East in the Cold War _(2020). Focusing on the
work of Eastern Bloc architects and planners in two different regions
of the Global South, he is trying to unseat not Eurocentrism _per
se_, but a bias toward the impact of Western Europe. There were
other, underacknowledged "geographies of collaboration," he writes,
that had a big postcolonial impact on urban space (p. 2). He joins
scholars who have written recently about "worldwide mobilities of
architecture" by showing how architectural apparatus--blueprints and
master plans, materials and machinery, design details and images,
norms and regulations, teaching curricula and methods--flowed out of
Eastern Europe to sites in Africa and the Middle East, specifically
Accra, Lagos, Baghdad, Abu Dhabi, and Kuwait City (p. 2).

The originality of this book lies in its depiction of the Cold War as
a period when the big drivers of international architectural exchange
came not only from former imperial metropoles like London or from new
ones like New York or Moscow. The interactions of Eastern Bloc and
African and Middle Eastern architects were frequent and manifold and,
as Stanek writes with apparent pride, their projects were often under
local direction. He wants to show that a "socialist world system" did
indeed exist in the form of real and significant trade links. Stanek,
a Polish architectural historian based at the University of
Manchester, rewrites Cold War history by drawing attention to
otherwise ignored players--Bulgaria, for example--that have been
"written out of Western-based historiography of architecture" (p. 2).

This architectural history fits in the classic mold of describing in
great detail the process by which architects and planners developed
their plans, even for projects that were never built. This act of
careful reconstruction took Stanek to many eastern archives, plus a
few in Africa and the Middle East. Abundantly quoting, describing,
and illustrating these plans, he has written a book which almost
constitutes an archive in itself. Regrettably, the text within the
illustrations is not always legible (and never translated).
References to the images are often glancing. What matters most is
"the worlding of Eastern Europe" and the construction of a "world
socialist system" that was neither utopian nor ideological, but an
epiphenomenon of the "reality of foreign trade" (pp. 305, 171). 
Putting his findings in the broadest possible context, Stanek
concludes that the Cold War accelerated the "global mobility of
architecture" and was thus a progenitor of architecture's current
globalization.

What impact did these eastern-inspired plans actually have on
people's lives? Stanek claims that they provided "frameworks for
everyday lives, ... create[d] points of concentration, and ... set
extension vectors for urbanization processes" (p. 2). "New collective
subjectivities" emerged and "global projects of solidarity" were
tested (p. 27). The substantiation of these claims will have to be
sought elsewhere.

How can we know the long- or even medium-term significance of a
particular urban project? That question is impossible to answer if
the users of those buildings or neighborhoods are left out of the
analysis. This point is driven home by Constance Smith in _Nairobi in
the Making, Landscapes of Time and Urban Belonging_ (2019), an
anthropological study based on her residence in Kaloleni, a Nairobi
housing project built by the British colonial government in the 1940s
for families of Kenyan workers. Unlike Prestel's focus on
middle-class urban emotions and Stanek's interest in Eastern Bloc
planners, Smith's eye is trained on slum-dwellers. How do they try to
shape a decent and secure urban life?

The postcolonial Kenyan government has abandoned Kaloleni. There is
no trash collection. Because the population of this mainly Luo
(western Kenyan) neighborhood is now three times greater than it was
created to house, its trash has become prodigious and unhealthy,
especially when it rains and the streets stink like open sewers. The
many people living in each cluster of dwellings--the original
bungalow or block augmented by numerous jerry-built, revenue-earning
"extensions"--share one latrine and one shower room without running
water. Most residents work at informal jobs within the estate. (Only
a quarter of Kenyans are employed in the formal sector.) Given its
poverty, Kaloleni has an unsurprisingly high crime rate, but no
police. Its residents are now facing a different kind of threat to
their security than thieves. The danger is posed by Vision 2030, the
Kenyan government's scheme to jolt Nairobi into becoming a globally
connected, middle-income city. If the plans to raze the slum and
allow two private Chinese companies to build in its place 55,000
apartments actually succeed, the people of Kaloleni will lose homes
they have carefully built up over the decades and thus their own
sense of history and belonging.

Rather than despair, the people of Kaloleni take a wide variety of
creative initiatives to enhance their sense of belonging. They modify
their domestic architecture to emulate the enclaved style of living
in the richer quarters of Nairobi, building perimeter walls and
putting up burglar bars. They not only try to manage the practical
signs of decay by, for example, planting lawns, but they also tell
the area's history in such a way that they become the legal owners of
the land or even assert that their houses still belong to Queen
Elizabeth; they stake claims by telling stories that document-bound
historians would find distorted or simply false. "Kenya grew from
here," they say, as if the run-down housing estate gave birth to
today's independent nation, which, strictly speaking, it did not (p.
79). Asserting the historical importance of Kaloleni is their way of
presenting its identity, and their own, in a positive light. One side
effect of these flights of historical imagination is that the
colonial management of the estate is now remembered for its
orderliness rather than for excessive control.

People adopt words like "digital" (in English) to express their
understanding of a future in which they are actively trying to craft
a place. They do not reject Vision 2030--the glossy and probably
utopian vision of the new Nairobi being peddled by international city
planners, corporate leaders, and local political elites--so much as
worry that they will be left behind, "living in a museum where time
stands still" (p. 172). They are strung up between fantasizing about
what Vision 2030 might bring and fearing what it might take away.
They have long hedged their bets, in any case, by building retirement
homes in western Kenya. These days, however, fewer young people speak
their parents' home language. They are increasingly wedded to Nairobi
as their only home and as the site of all their dreams for the
future. They are on Facebook and read diasporic blogs. The formerly
inspirational power of nationalism and of devotion to one's rural
place of origin is waning in favor of popular dreams of a "digital"
future that can be attained, if at all, only in a city like Nairobi.
When Smith calls for more studies of "global urbanism," she is aware
that these patterns pervade the Global South (p. 182).

Smith has done empathetic and adventurous fieldwork. (Her lodging in
Kaloleni was no bigger than her bed.) She scrupulously avoids making
Manichaean statements by, for example, saying that Nairobi seems to
be simultaneously a place of impossibility and potential; uncertainty
has been made routine. The ambiguities and incongruities of living in
the Global South, she argues, should not be explained away but
recognized for what they are: "generative" (p. 182). By "generative,"
she may mean that, despite the failure of most Kaloleni residents to
live truly "digital" lives, their creative efforts in dealing with
the challenges of home-making have succeeded in generating a sense of
belonging, of life projects, of meaning. These efforts contribute to
the particularity of Nairobi, which is now in danger of being
homogenized by international real estate markets that treat land only
as a financial resource and that frame the city's future as a generic
global city for the elite.

Rather than _faits accomplis_, Smith writes, cities are continually
being made. Urban "belonging is about crafting a place for oneself in
the future" (p. 181). One hopes that future researchers, or perhaps
even Smith herself, will grapple with questions she does not address
about the direction this "making" is likely to take. One feels driven
to ask what the slum-dwellers are _actually_ forging in the material
world, not simply in their imaginations: can they reap any tangible
benefits, or are they simply creating a tenuous sense of belonging?
Further, do they frame their hoped-for benefits--whether tangible or
intangible--mainly in individual or in communal terms? In short, are
the solidary nationalist dreams of the 1960s being replaced by
individualistic hopes for the material rewards of modern urban
inclusion like luxury apartments?

In _Everyday Equalities, Making Multicultures in Settler Colonial
Cities _(2019), four geographers (Ruth Fincher, Kurt Iveson, Helga
Leitner, Valerie Preston) approach the problem of modern urban
anxiety from a decidedly activist point of view. Professing
"progressive ideals" (opposition to racism, support for social
justice), they have co-authored a book with the practical aim of not
only honoring but also promoting public and private initiatives that
will allow people to live together as equals without sacrificing
their cultural differences. A salient example is the Muslim woman
who, after removing her scarf in order to avoid being stigmatized in
public, was joined by a non-Muslim stranger who urged her to put it
back on and then launched an "I'll ride with you" hashtag to offer
protection to other Muslims.

The key words in their title--_equality_, _multiculture_,
_settler--_flag their ethical concerns: that all people living in a
city, immigrants or not, should be treated equally; that modern
cities should be defined as "multicultures" because cities are
inevitably "socially diverse societies" (p. 1); and that even
Melbourne, Sydney, Toronto, and Los Angeles should be understood as
"settler colonial cities" because they were "established through
concerted efforts to dispossess and eliminate indigenous societies"
(p. 2). Another key word--_everyday--_signals their celebration of
the humble.

The immigrants who flock to these cities, mainly from Latin America
and Asia, are being buffeted by the forces of neoliberalism and
neoconservatism raging not just in Australia and North America but
around the globe. The authors envision two enemies. Neoliberals fail
immigrants by advocating individual self-help and resisting the use
of government resources to ease their integration. Neoconservatives,
proposing that the state deploy its powers to defend inherited social
hierarchies, find a dangerously receptive audience among right-wing
populists and white nationalists. Despite this arsenal of
anxiety-provoking forces, the four case studies demonstrate the
situation is not hopeless. Agitation may have the power to spark
progress by orchestrating egalitarian everyday encounters until they
are institutionalized. If people can work hard to forge solidarities
which have political repercussions, a new social order can slowly be
made.

By arguing for the equal treatment of all groups, the geographers are
not arguing for "assimilation," "toleration," or even official
policies of "multiculturalism," because they all fail to tackle "the
inequities associated with cultural difference, particularly
racialized difference" (p. 25). They are situating themselves instead
in the long line of activist-reformers alarmed at injustice and
poverty like Jacob Riis (and of postcolonial theorists like Paul
Gilroy and Stuart Hall). They are thus distancing themselves from
urban designers like Ebenezer Howard and Frederick Law Olmsted who
focused on creating agreeable urban space in which new communities
could gradually be forged. In fact, the geographers find excessively
optimistic, or even naïve, the idea that sheer contact will
inevitably lead to social harmony, preferring to make a simple
statement: popular initiatives matter.

The sequence of the case studies takes the reader serially through
everyday challenges faced by immigrants: making a home (Melbourne),
working for a living (Toronto), moving around the city (Sydney), and
making public space (Los Angeles). The Melbourne case study shows how
very complicated it is to make a home in another culture. "Home" is
not only a house but also a neighborhood. The physical shape of both
is important. Rules laid out by the government in a public housing
project, as well as by developers in private developments, have a big
impact on how "at home" people actually feel. Do recent refugees, for
example, have to live packed together in segregated housing, and can
they get access to a public park? Does the way a particular space is
configured, and even decorated, allow people to feel they belong to a
neighborhood where they can show care for one another and share
jokes?

The Toronto case study pushes the theme of space into the modern
workplace by drawing attention to the isolation of many urban
workers. Cashiers and domestics, among other "low skill and feminized
occupations," typically work alone, enjoying minimal contact with
their peers (p. 132). How can they become aware of their shared
interests if they never speak? Unions and community associations can
galvanize feelings of solidarity when they organize meetings even
outside the workplace, especially in creative ways. One trade union
demonstrated the power of nonstate initiatives by recruiting mainly
Caribbean women hotel workers to sing in a choir. Singing together,
the women were able to forge a sense of solidarity that cannot evolve
among workers, like cashiers, who never share a space. One cleaner,
and proud choir member, observed, "in our last round of bargaining
we're on the news all over, so people are listening to us [sing and
bargain]" (p. 113). Meanwhile, the grievances of the
cashiers--working part-time, in isolation, with unpredictable
schedules--went unaddressed.

By focusing on public transport, the Sydney chapter shows that even
fleeting encounters on a bus can reinforce and challenge hierarchies.
Filming a racist rant, for example, allows the ranter to be publicly
shamed. Posters against yelling or hogging seats can be used to set
standards of appropriate behavior. If religious, labor, and community
organizations can forge a coalition to support, say, asylum seekers,
there is a chance that progressive legislation can be adopted, like a
$2.50 daily cap on refugees' transport fares. This cap was actually
adopted by the New South Wales government after a carefully
orchestrated campaign that included setting up meetings to hear
asylum seekers' stories, then deluging the minister of transport with
used tickets marked "Mobility with Dignity" and finally encouraging
the primate of the transport minister's church to lobby her. All
these behind-the-scenes efforts were designed to avoid making public
demands that could inflame popular resentment against migrant
entitlements. They worked.

The Los Angeles case study lauds the creation of new public spaces
where Asian and Latin American migrants can commune with each other,
bridge their own differences, and forge new associations governed by
progressive rules. The two cases in point are the 2003 Immigration
Workers Freedom Ride to Washington, DC, and the creation of Worker
Centers within L.A. itself. The people traveling by bus to Washington
found their buses to be "mobile classrooms" where they engaged in
instructive storytelling, learned tactics of civil disobedience, and
put the latter to use. At the Worker Centers people identified and
discussed instances of racism and sexism occurring even among
themselves. In both cases, having actual physical space in which to
communicate resulted in the taking of political initiatives. In the
process a new sense of solidarity was born.

By focusing on globally pervasive patterns of discrimination against
immigrants and investigating their possible remedies at a microlevel,
the four geographers are asking their readers to drop the blinkers of
privilege. Their earnest and carefully documented efforts pay close
and respectful attention to what people actually do in their daily
lives in the city. While Stanek's Eastern Bloc architects refer
rhetorically to "solidarity" and "collective subjectivity," these
four geographers and their students actually delve into the quality
and impact of individual, small-scale human interactions in their
cities. They are interested in the _enactment_, more than the
rhetoric, of equality, especially when it occurs on a "microscale."
They document and validate the mundane. They take classic concepts
like "public space" and freshen them up by showing that public space
can exist and have value wherever people encounter one another, not
just in, say, formally designated areas like Central Park. Public
space can be created by popular initiatives, not only by planners and
architects. In the process of putting their sense of justice on
display--by riding, for example, with a woman who feels unequal and
unsafe--ordinary people are redefining the urban norm. 

Citation: Diana Wylie. Review of Fincher, Ruth; Iveson, Kurt;
Leitner, Helga, _Everyday Equalities: Making Multicultures in Settler
Colonial Cities_ and
Prestel, Joseph Ben, _Emotional Cities: Debates on Urban Change in
Berlin and Cairo, 1860-1910_ and
Smith, Constance, _Nairobi in the Making: Landscapes of Time and
Urban Belonging_ and
Stanek, Lukasz, _Architecture in Global Socialism: Eastern Europe,
West Africa, and the Middle East in the Cold War_. H-Africa, H-Net
Reviews. August, 2020.
URL: https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=55354

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--
Best regards,

Andrew Stewart

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