Welcome to Vidor, a town most famous for its racism

A welcome sign for my hometown that sits alongside I-10. (Michael Corcoran )

When folks ask me where I’m from, I have a stock answer: You’ve probably never heard of it and if you have, whatever you heard probably wasn’t good.

Vidor, Texas, is a little strip of fast food restaurants and gas stations that bisects Interstate 10 at the midway point on its journey from “sea to shining sea.” It’s a place where you stop to stretch your legs, void your bladder, and scarf down something greasy before moseying on to someplace better, like Biloxi.

With a population of about 11,000, Vidor is primarily famous for two things.

The first is country…

Haitian refugees line up for relief at Camp McCalla (U.S. National Archives)

In 2018, Robert Bowers carried out the deadliest antisemitic hate crime in US history, killing 11 Jewish worshippers in Pittsburgh. He chose the Tree of Life synagogue as the target for his massacre because of its work with refugees. Bowers had been whipped into a murderous frenzy by far-right “Great Replacement” conspiracy theories that alleged Jewish billionaire George Soros was the hidden hand behind a caravan of Honduran immigrants.

At the time, liberals said that Donald Trump had blood on his hands. They rightly called out Trump for boosting these false, inflammatory claims and legitimizing them through the presidential office…

Capital freely crosses borders — people should too.

A child collects water in a camp for displaced in Cité de Dieu, Port-au-Prince. (United Nations / Creative Commons)

News about the thousands of Haitian refugees at the Texas border has dominated the national conversation in the past week. On the margins of the standard mainstream discourse about immigration reform, there has been a parallel discussion on the left about abolishing borders altogether. When radical publishing house Haymarket Books posted a tweet calling for border abolition, it sparked some controversy.

While this statement got a fairly positive response from most leftists, there was some pushback from conservatives, liberals — and even some self-identified socialists.

One person wrote that open borders “provide the bosses with an endless supply of…

(Twitter / @moleburps )

The Democrats are the party that stands for immigrants and other marginalized groups — so long as there are no political costs involved. During the presidential campaign, Joe Biden denounced the naked cruelty of Donald Trump’s immigration policy loudly and often. The 2020 election was framed as a choice between a compassionate administration that would treat immigrants fairly and a monstrous nativist who separates families and cages children.

In his campaign literature, stump speeches and public statements, Biden frequently invoked the idea that the United States is a “nation of immigrants.” …

From Satanic panic to critical race theory, one psychological phenomenon helps explain why the right gets so riled up so fast.

Christopher Rufo appears on Tucker Carlson Tonight in September 2020 (Screenshot / YouTube)

A year ago, almost nobody knew what critical race theory was. This arcane academic niche was the dominion of a tiny group of left-leaning legal scholars until very recently. Today, it’s practically all conservatives talk about. Pundits rail against it from their bully pulpits on cable news. Right-wingers shout about CRT at school board meetings and roadside demonstrations.

This is the doing of a single slick reactionary named Chris Rufo, who manufactured the panic out of whole cloth.

In a New Yorker article, Rufo explained how he conjured the right’s new favorite bogeyman. …

Our “awareness” is about as “raised” as it’s going to get. Now what?

(Nrkbeta / CC-BY-SA 2.0)

The designer “Tax the Rich” dress that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wore to the Met Gala sure pumped a lot of fuel into the ol’ discourse machine. Everybody had a take. Conservatives were calling it hypocritical. Critics to her left dismissed it as performative. Others leaped to her defense, arguing that it was a clever provocation intended to start a conversation.

If that was the goal, then mission accomplished. The dress got everybody talking.

But talk is cheap, as they say.

The issue was never a lack of conversations or “awareness” about problems like wealth inequality.

We talk about these things…

People are calling out The Activist, but sadly it’s an accurate portrayal of what “activism” has become these days.

Indian model-actress Priyanka Chopra at the Cannes Film Festival (Joan Hernandez Mir / CC-BY)

CBS just announced it would be coming out with an Apprentice-style competition reality show called “The Activist” in which six contestants will be paired up with celebrities like Usher and Priyanka Chopra to promote their causes. So far, the show has been widely ridiculed online — and for good reason.

It’s really beyond parody.

If it were satire, this utter bastardization of concepts like “movements” and “social change” would be a brilliant commentary on shallow celebrity advocacy and half-assed online pseudoactivism.

Just read this write-up in Deadline:

Activists go head-to-head in challenges to promote their causes, with their success measured…

As we mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11, we should also recognize the terrible cost paid by the Afghan people.

A soldier patrols near an Afghan graveyard. (U.S. Army / CC-BY)

Like anyone else who was old enough to remember the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, I have the memory of that day etched into my brain. What I recall most clearly is sitting on the couch of my little one-bedroom college apartment watching the news that morning. My eyes were glued to the screen and Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” was playing on my stereo:

“I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’”

As I listened to these words and watched the horrific scenes playing on…

All eyes are on the Supreme Court right now, but what’s going on at the appellate level is also terrifying.

(Justin Ward / CanvaPro)

Ever since the Supreme Court functionally overturned Roe vs. Wade last week, national attention has been laser-focused on the ruling’s dire consequences for women’s health. Meanwhile, other horrifying decisions are being handed down one level lower on the judicial hierarchy. These may not have the same far-reaching implications — but they’re pretty goddamn bleak.

While circuit courts may not get as much press as the Supreme Court, they play a significant role in establishing legal precedent under the principle of stare decisis. Their decisions also have binding authority over all the lower federal courts in their jurisdiction.

In the past…

Photo by Bicanski on Pixnio

It’s generally not good a good idea to base 21st century policy on a book written thousands of years ago. That said, we do live in a country where one in four people believe the Bible is the literal word of God Almighty. This group comprises a large and powerful voting bloc, so scripture and its interpretation often enter into the discourse. Like the other day, when the Family Research Council got handsomely ratioed on Twitter for referencing the Bible in support of the Supreme Court’s recent abortion ruling.

The fundamentalist evangelical organization — and SPLC-designated hate grouptweeted

Justin Ward

Journalist and activist. Founder and co-chair of DivestSPD. Bylines at SPLC, The Baffler, GEN, USA Today. Follow on Twitter: @justwardoctrine, @DivestSPD

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