themcglynn.com

20 Jan

A Foreign Perspective, News and Analyses

English Online International Newspapers

Nearly all of these are English-edition daily newspapers. These sites have interesting editorials and essays, and many have links to other good news sources. We try to limit this list to those sites which are regularly updated, reliable, with a high percentage of “up” time.

Recommended:

The Guardian>>

Irish Examiner>>

France 24>>

Spiegel>>

The Age>>

The Observer>>

View All>>

In Polish capital Warsaw, nationalists want to rewrite history of World War II

Poland’s capital Warsaw suffered massively in World War II. By the end of the conflict, it was in ruins, with hundreds of thousands of its inhabitants killed. No one disputes that. But some Poles claim the reality was even worse: they accuse a combination of Jewish groups and Communists of covering up the existence of gas chambers where mainly non-Jewish Poles were murdered. Yet this theory has been formally disproved. Our Poland correspondent reports.

A programme prepared by Patrick Lovett.

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Read Full Article>>

World Politics

United States

In a break with convention, endorsement by the paper’s editorial board names two candidates as its preferred Democratic nominees for president

Klobuchar and Warren

The New York Times has endorsed both Klobuchar and Warren for the Democratic nomination for president Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

The New York Times has endorsed not one but two candidates for the Democratic nomination for president, Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar from the party’s moderate wing and Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren from the progressive wing.

The paper said on Sunday that it had chosen the two most effective candidates from the moderate and progressive sides of the party without stating a preference for either approach. It praised Warren as “a gifted story teller”.

“She speaks elegantly of how the economic system is rigged against all but the wealthiest Americans, and of ‘our chance to rewrite the rules of power in our country,’ as she put it in a speech last month,” the editorial said.

Klobuchar was described as “the very definition” of midwestern charisma and grit.

“Ms Klobuchar speaks about issues like climate change, the narrowing middle class, gun safety and trade with an empathy that connects to voters’ lived experiences, especially in the middle of the country,” it said.

When mentioning another front-runner, the former vice president, Joe Biden, the Times acknowledged his years of experience but also noted his age, 77, desire, and occasional gaffes.

“It is time for him to pass the torch to a new generation of political leaders,” the paper said, borrowing from President John Kennedy’s inaugural address.

The paper mentioned senator Bernie Sanders’ age, 78, “serious concerns” about his health, and his unwillingness to compromise. The paper praised another of the front-runners, 38-year-old Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, as likely to have “a bright political future”.

The editorial ends with: “May the best woman win.”

The newspaper changed its approach to presidential endorsements this year, airing footage of candidate interviews and details about the endorsement process on a special edition of The Weekly, the FX network series about the Times.

In previous election years it has often chosen a candidate popular with the party establishment. It endorsed Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary in 2016 and over a charismatic but unproven newcomer, Barack Obama, in 2008.

In 2004 the Times endorsed John Kerry and in 2000 chose Al Gore. Each time it chose a candidate who was popular with the Democratic establishment and, except for 2008, the eventual nominee.

We don’t have to choose Biden’s way, which would give Trump a perfect foil

Former vice-president Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event at Simpson College in Iowa on Saturday.

Former vice-president Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event at Simpson College in Iowa on Saturday. Photograph: Jack Kurtz/ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock

Democrats are trying to choose a candidate to beat Donald Trump, the most corrupt president in history. Some think nominating Joe Biden, a moderate white man who calls himself “Middle Class” Joe, makes sense.

But Biden has a big corruption problem and it makes him a weak candidate. I know it seems crazy, but a lot of the voters we need – independents and people who might stay home – will look at Biden and Trump and say: “They’re all dirty.”

It looks like “Middle Class” Joe has perfected the art of taking big contributions, then representing his corporate donors at the cost of middle- and working-class Americans. Converting campaign contributions into legislative favors and policy positions isn’t being “moderate”. It is the kind of transactional politics Americans have come to loathe.

There are three clear examples.

First, Biden’s support for finance over working-class Americans. His career was bankrolled by the credit card industry. He delivered for it by spearheading a bankruptcy bill that made it harder for Americans to reduce their debts and helped cause the financial crisis. He not only authored and voted for that bill, he split with Barack Obama and led the battle to vote down Democratic amendments.

His explanations for carrying water for the credit card industry have changed over time. They have never rung true.

Nominating a candidate like Biden will make it far more difficult to defeat Trump

The simplest explanation is the most likely: he did it for his donors. At a fundraiser last year, Biden promised his Wall Street donors that “nothing would fundamentally change” for them if he became president. Now the financial world is raising huge money for his campaign. It clearly thinks he’s going to be its friend if elected. Most Americans, who get ripped off by the financial sector on a daily basis, aren’t looking for a candidate who has made their life harder.

Second, healthcare. On 25 April, the day he announced his campaign, Biden went straight to a fundraiser co-hosted by the chief executive of a major health insurance corporation. He refuses to sign a pledge to reject money from insurance and pharma execs and continues to raise money from healthcare industry donors. His campaign is being bankrolled by a super Pac run by healthcare lobbyists.

What did all these donors get? A healthcare proposal that preserves the power of the insurance industry and leaves 10 million Americans uninsured.

Third, climate change. Biden signed a pledge not to take money from the fossil fuel industry, then broke his promise. Right after a CNN town hall on climate change, he held a fundraiser hosted by the founder of a fossil fuel conglomerate. He is pushing climate policy that has gotten dismal reviews from several leading environmental groups.

There are plenty of other examples that raise questions, like housing and social security. Big real estate moguls are playing a major role in Biden’s campaign. Unlike his rivals, he has no comprehensive housing plan. When he pushed for cuts to Social Security, was he serving donors or his constituents?

I can already hear the howls: But look at Trump! Trump is 1,000 times worse!

You don’t need to convince me. I have spent my life writing about and fighting against corruption, and in America I have never seen anything like the current administration. In the last three years, I have made combatting Trump’s corruption the heart of my work.

I was on the first lawsuit against him for corrupt constitutional violations and I ran for attorney general in New York on a platform of pointing out just how dangerous he is, and how important unused state laws are to stopping him. My work on corruption was cited in the House judiciary committee’s report on impeachment.

2020 should be about a crystal clear contrast between truth and lies, corruption and integrity, compassion and cruelty

But here’s the thing: nominating a candidate like Biden will make it far more difficult to defeat Trump. It will allow Trump to muddy the water, to once again pretend he is the one “draining the swamp”, running against Washington culture. Trump and the Cambridge Analytica of 2020 will campaign, as they did in 2016, on a message of radical nihilism: everybody lies, everybody is corrupt, nothing matters, there is no truth.

Corrupt politicians always use whataboutism. With Biden, we are basically handing Trump a whataboutism playbook. The comparison won’t be fair, but if you think he won’t use Biden’s closeness to donors as a cudgel to try to keep people home, you haven’t been paying attention. Unlike Democrats, who must give voters a reason to come out, Trump doesn’t need voters to love him. He just needs to convince people the whole game is ugly.

Whether or not Biden is making choices to please donors, there is no doubt his record represents the transactional, grossly corrupt culture in Washington that long precedes Trump. We cannot allow Trump to so lower our standards that we aren’t even allowed to call out that culture, which has not only stymied progress but also harmed the Democratic party.

The good news is that we still have time to break with this culture of corruption. We don’t have to choose Biden’s way, which would give Trump a perfect foil. The 2020 election should be about a crystal clear contrast between truth and lies, corruption and integrity, compassion and cruelty.

We have a rare opportunity to end a larger culture of corruption and we should take it – we will regret it if we don’t.

Iowa’s minority voters to Democrats: reject Trump and tell our story of hope

Biden calls for Sanders to disown ‘doctored’ video on Social Security

Trump legal team calls impeachment ‘brazen’ attempt to overturn election

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19 Jan

False: Female squirrels do all the work while the males laze around

Sound familiar? Female squirrels do all the work while the males laze around

The O’Leary: Read This – Sound familiar? Female squirrels do all the work while the males laze around

*********************************

To The O’Leary:

All is right in my Squirrel Land

Further, I was raised with the squirrels. Early on I became a friend of The Master Squirrel who ran “The School of Listening, Observing, Behavior and Discipline For Female Squirrels”. I became a Master Assistant at the School, enabling me to bring the School to the Human Females (TSLOBDW).

For many years I have had two mess halls for squirrels, on the AuSable River and at Home. I have intensely observed, studied and researched their lives.

My comments are embedded in the article in green.

The McGlynn

*********************************

 

  • Biologists tracked the activity of a group of ground squirrels in Alaska

  • The squirrels wore fitness trackers to monitor their movement 

  • The study found that females spent more time in the burrow rearing pups

  • But data revealed females matched the activity of males above ground.

    They should and should do more than males because they are given shelter, food, clothing by the male

     

Arctic ground squirrels are giving a bad name to small, furry males everywhere.

While females busy themselves with the job of rearing young and gathering food, their other halves may prefer to take a backseat, lazing around outside the burrow instead.

Bullshit, the males are not lazing around; they are thinking serious and deep penetrating matters about their world and how to solve their world problems.

The findings come from a study using fitness trackers to monitor squirrel activity, revealing the industrious females work harder, despite spending less time above ground.

The writer assumes manual labor, cleaning toilets, washing floors, etc. is work but thinking grand thoughts is not work. And working to solve their world problems is exhausting. Mr. Ryan is dead wrong. One wonders about his observing skills.

Taking a breather: Researchers have revealed that while female ground squirrels busy themselves with rearing young and gathering food, males may prefer to take a backseat

A male squirrel in deep thought about solving his world problems.

Taking a breather: Researchers have revealed that while female ground squirrels busy themselves with rearing young and gathering food, males may prefer to take a backseat

The females should busy themselves as such since they are the primary cause of the necessity for the rearing etc.

Researchers at Northern Arizona University monitored the activity levels of more than 40 of the north American rodents over the course of two years, using specially designed collars.

Accelerometers just like those inside a smartphone were used to show when the animals moved, while light monitors captured when they were above or below ground – by logging exposure to daylight.

The group had expected to see differences between males and females during their reproductive cycles, including how much time they spend below ground, but the activity logs revealed a few surprises.

The study found that females spent more time below ground than males, rearing pups.

Of course. No surprise. They get a lot of restful slumber sleeping with the pups.

But far from being stay-at-home mothers, the nursing females also ventured above ground to collect food, with a work rate which put the slacking males to shame.

The researchers are dead wrong. I have been there. The food is put by the door by the males.

The activity logs showed that despite spending up to six hours less above ground each day, females matched the overall activity of males.

The writer is confused about what constitutes activity. Thinking  is more tiring than moving  one’s arms,  hands and feet

What’s more, the researchers are none the wiser as to what the males are doing with their extra free time.

All work and no play: Activity logs revealed that despite taking care of the pups and spending less time above ground, female ground squirrels had a work rate which put the males to shame (stock image)

All work and no play: Activity logs revealed that despite taking care of the pups and spending less time above ground, female ground squirrels had a work rate which put the males to shame (stock image)

This female is on the verge of falling asleep with her pup. Since when is falling asleep work?

Writing in the journal Royal Society Open Science, the group explains: ‘This study indicates that male ground squirrels do not reduce their risk of predation outside of the mating season by spending more time below ground.

‘It is not clear what these animals are doing while above ground, particularly given their [activity] is lower than females during gestation and late lactation.’

Biologist Cory Williams told Science Magazine: ‘[We] saw that females have less opportunity to leave their burrows because they’re caring for their young, but when they do leave, they’re much more active than males are on the surface.

Again, the researchers  must dramatically improve his observing skills.

‘Knowing how the arctic ground squirrels allot their time and energy helps us see how they avoid predators and search for food.’

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19 Jan

A Foreign Perspective, News and Analyses

English Online International Newspapers

Nearly all of these are English-edition daily newspapers. These sites have interesting editorials and essays, and many have links to other good news sources. We try to limit this list to those sites which are regularly updated, reliable, with a high percentage of “up” time.

Recommended:

The Guardian>>

Irish Examiner>>

France 24>>

Spiegel>>

The Age>>

The Observer>>

View All>>

What the five hottest years on Earth look like – in pictures

World Politics

United States

The New York billionaires can be best described as mortal enemies – but that wasn’t always the case

Michael Bloomberg and Donald Trump in New York, New York, on 20 May 2003.

Michael Bloomberg and Donald Trump in New York, New York, on 20 May 2003. Photograph: Djamilla Rosa Cochran/WireImage

These days Donald Trump and Mike Bloomberg can best be described as mortal enemies.

The former New York mayor’s campaign against the president is leveraging Bloomberg’s deep pockets to oust his fellow Manhattan billionaire. Bloomberg has hired hundreds of staffers and organizers across 30 states. Bloomberg’s ads are ubiquitous on TV and his campaign has reserved a 60-second spot during the Super Bowl with an estimated price tag of $10m.

The Trump campaign, in an illustration of the arms race a general election matchup between Bloomberg and Trump would be, announced its own $10m Super Bowl ad reservation after Bloomberg.

On Monday, Bloomberg and Trump squabbled on Twitter, with Trump dinging the former New York mayor on healthcare, calling him “Mini Mike”. In response Bloomberg corrected Trump’s false claim that his administration protected the pre-existing conditions provision of Obamacare.

And recently, the financial news website Marketplace published a scathing op-ed by Bloomberg with the headline “Trump has been great for people like me – but I’ll be great for you”.

But it wasn’t wasn’t always like this.

Bloomberg and Trump, both billionaires from New York, for years kept a cordial and even friendly relationship as they repeatedly ran into each other at charity events, parties and even one of former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani’s weddings.

Michael Bloomberg and Donald Trump at the Trump National Golf Course in Briarcliff Manor, New York, on 20 July 2007.

Michael Bloomberg and Donald Trump at the Trump National Golf Course in Briarcliff Manor, New York, on 20 July 2007. Photograph: Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Along the way they swapped praise. At a 2007 charity golf club event, Trump said it was “my really terrific privilege to introduce a man that I think is one of the great mayors and will go down as one of the great mayors, if not the greatest, in New York City”. In 2013, Trump was asked if he thought Bloomberg is a good mayor. He responded: “Yes!” At a ribbon-cutting ceremony that same year Trump said Bloomberg had “been a great mayor”, adding: “I mean, this guy is fantastic.”

Trump has even praised Bloomberg’s past positions on gun control on Fox News’s Fox & Friends.

Bloomberg has also thrown Trump some kind words. At the same ribbon-cutting ceremony Bloomberg said: “If there is anybody who has changed this city, it is Donald Trump.” In 2004, Bloomberg appeared on an episode of The Apprentice. Trump at the time said he invited Bloomberg on to the show because he had “great respect for him”.

Yet even back then the identities they each fostered as famous billionaires were radically different. They ran in different social circles. Where Trump would go to a dinner party hosted by Jeffrey Epstein, Bloomberg would go to editor Tina Brown’s house.

“I’m sure Bloomberg has no gold toilets at his house,” said Rebecca Katz, a New York-based Democratic strategist. “It’s a different kind of money with less to prove.”

Congressman Peter King, a New York Republican, recalls Bloomberg once telling him that the only time he really interacted with Trump was at a charity golf tournament.

“They were in many ways from different worlds,” King said. He added that before Trump ascended to national office he had only met him a few times while he knew Bloomberg “very well”. Bloomberg and people in his orbit rarely mentioned Trump’s name, King said.

“It wasn’t like they were hugging or talking about ‘Hey, remember the great times we had’ – it was like two guys who knew each other but didn’t seem overly close, they didn’t seem overly hostile,” King recalled.

Donald Trump, Mike Bloomberg and Jared Kushner in New York, New York, on 14 March 2013.

Donald Trump, Mike Bloomberg and Jared Kushner in New York, New York, on 14 March 2013. Photograph: Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

But those days are long gone, leaving the hostility thoroughly overt and the antagonism is only likely to escalate as the two pour more money and time into the 2020 presidential race. Some think their previous social proximity might even make their rivalry more intense.

King, who Bloomberg has raised money for and who backs Trump, predicted that a head-to-head matchup between the two candidates would involve “a huge amount of money, a huge amount of ego on both sides”.

“Each guy would think he’s smarter than the other,” King said, adding that each billionaire would be acting like he’s accomplished more than the other.

The relationship is also extra testy because of Bloomberg’s unique position within the field of over a dozen Democratic candidates vying to face Trump.

Bloomberg has seen his national poll numbers rise within the Democratic primary as he’s poured money into advertising for his campaign. Bloomberg is the only one who hails from the same state as Trump (although Vermont senator Bernie Sanders was born in Brooklyn) and whose background as an outsider billionaire who is still a household name within political circles is similar to Trump’s.

Recently, Trump has reportedly started to wonder how much money Bloomberg could spend to defeat him. And Bloomberg is airing ads promising not to copy Trump’s tweeting habits if elected president.

Bloomberg has toyed with running for president multiple times but Trump’s performance in the White House seems to be the breaking point that has finally tipped him into the race.

Aides to the former New York mayor like to point to recent statements Bloomberg has made lambasting the Republican president. As he’s opened campaign offices across the US Bloomberg has sprinkled his public remarks with apocalyptic warnings of Trump winning re-election.

At his newly opened campaign office in Tennessee, Bloomberg said: “Donald Trump is trying to pull this country apart, and if you want a future we just have to pull it together.” That same day in Philadelphia Bloomberg said pointedly: “Donald Trump does not know how to manage. He’s never been a businessperson. He’s a real estate developer, promoter.”

Trump has criticized Bloomberg as well. In early December, Trump mockingly tweeted that “Mini Mike Bloomberg has instructed his third rate news organization” to investigate “President Trump, only”.

The antagonism goes back through 2016. Bloomberg delivered a speech at the Democratic national convention that summer saying he wasn’t there as “a member of any party” but to urge voters to help elect Hillary Clinton and defeat “a dangerous demagogue”. Trump around that time tweeted: “Little Michael Michael Bloomberg, who never had the guts to run for president, knows nothing about me. His last term as Mayor was a disaster!”

Michael Bloomberg with Donald Trump and Melania Knauss in Washington DC, on 28 April 2001.

Michael Bloomberg with Donald Trump and Melania Knauss in Washington DC, on 28 April 2001. Photograph: Newscom/Alamy Stock Photo

At the beginning of 2019, the Washington Post chronicled the evolution of Trump and Bloomberg’s interactions. At the time Trump told the newspaper that he and Bloomberg used to like each other but the relationship “went strangely haywire once I ran for office”.

Bloomberg, Trump said, didn’t care about his political positions before he ran for the presidency.

“I’m for guns, he’s against guns,” Trump said. Though Trump, in the past, had praised Bloomberg’s positions on guns.

For the same article, Bloomberg told the paper that his “objection to Donald Trump is the way he’s filling his current role, in terms of representing the country, in terms of representing the public. There’s an attitude, and a style, and a lack of civility that I think is bad for the country and I find offensive.”

Using the phrase to land blows on a political opponent could hurt women

Seventh 2020 Democratic Party Presidential Debate, Des Moines, USA - 14 Jan 2020Mandatory Credit: Photo by Edward M PioRoda/CNN via ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock (10526052k) Elizabeth Warren Seventh 2020 Democratic Party Presidential Debate, Des Moines, USA - 14 Jan 2020

‘The term ‘believe women’ was never supposed to mean, believe everything that women say and don’t bother to investigate their claims.’ Photograph: Edward M PioRoda/CNN via ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock

It’s a familiar scenario. An exchange occurs in private. Only the two figures involved – a man and a woman – know what truly transpired. But once they leave that room and start to tell their version of events, the man is given the benefit of the doubt and the woman faces intense scrutiny and skepticism.

This is the basic set up for any number of high profile cases that have dominated the news for years now, stories of rapists and other sexual offenders evading legal prosecution or other consequences for years as their accusers were painted as gold diggers, political operatives, and compulsive liars.

In response to this incredulity, the phrase “Believe Women” emerged from the larger #MeToo movement, and it has inspired serious investigations into the statistics of false reporting, which are lower than commonly thought, and has provided much needed push back against smear campaigns against accusers in high profile cases.

But now “Believe Women” is getting thrown around by political strategists and official opinion-havers to support the Elizabeth Warren’s claim that Bernie Sanders told her, in a private meeting with no witnesses and no evidentiary support, that a woman could not win the presidency in 2020. This is not only a grotesque distortion of what “believe women” is supposed to mean, it undermines the good work the phrase’s use was doing.

The term “believe women” was never supposed to mean, believe everything that women say and don’t bother to investigate their claims. The simplicity of the message has irked many – including this writer – in its ability to be misused and misappropriated since its inception, but many activists have taken it up in good faith to say believing women and believing victims is only the start of a process toward justice. But in the last couple days after Warren’s campaign first made the accusation and then double-downed at Tuesday’s debate (with an unfair and obviously biased assist from debate moderator Abby Johnson), many are using it to try to shut down any debate, investigation, or dissent. When Sander’s campaign denied the accusation and supporters showed interviews going back decades of Sanders saying a woman could be president, plus evidence of Sanders’s wide support of women candidates in various campaigns, commentators remained unmoved. “Believe women.”

The language of abuse and trauma is creeping more and more into political rhetoric, as if every interaction between a man and a woman these days can be understood as a potential violation. Virginia Heffernan wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “Sanders had gaslighted Warren over whether he told her a female candidate couldn’t win the 2020 election.” Gaslighting is a term for one person lying to their romantic partner so effectively and consistently that they start to question their version of reality. Had Heffernan simply said Sanders lied, it would not have given the accusation the melodramatic pull of centuries of stories of women being tormented and abused by the men in their lives. Lying is something politicians do. Gaslighting is something misogynistic monsters do.

The goal is to put the offense on a higher level than one of just lying. That way, if the Sanders campaign decides to point to all of the lies Warren has told throughout her career – that her father was a janitor, that she is Native American – her lies won’t matter as much because she’s just electioneering while his lies are rooted in misogyny. It’s a trick that still works for Hillary Clinton, who has repeatedly complained about the lack of support Sanders gave to her campaign, despite all of the evidence to the contrary. (Clinton, after losing the primary to Obama in 2008, appeared at two rallies with Obama and did ten solo campaign appearances to help him get elected. Sanders, after losing the primary to Clinton in 2016, did three events with Clinton and 37 solo events.) Many of her supporters still claim this supposed lack of support is proof of Sanders’s “problem with women.”

While this is effective dirty politics, the real losers here are the women for whom “believe women” still means something. To turn it from a campaign for empathy to a cheap slogan to siphon off primary voters hurts the credibility of activists who have been trying to use it for good.

Christine Blasey Ford was deemed a liar immediately when she came forward with her story of a sexual assault by Supreme Court then-nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and commentators dug into her past to prove her untrustworthiness. Young gymnasts who complained about Larry Nassar was dismissed as exaggerating or lying. Early accusers of serial offenders Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein were deemed gold diggers, looking for an easy settlement to shut them up. Even when there’s some form of evidence, like when photographs show President Trump with E Jean Carroll, who accused him of rape, even while he insists he doesn’t know her, supporters are still willing to take his word for it.

There was an entire Golden Globe-nominated Netflix series called Unbelievable about a real life case of a woman who was tied up and raped in her own apartment. When police became skeptical of her story, for not behaving in a typical way for a victim, she was charged for filing a false police report. Her rapist – who went on to commit several more rapes – was eventually discovered and found guilty. Her story is far from the only one. Who knows how many offenders across the country were allowed to keep attacking women because police and other authorities disbelieved women trying to report their offenses.

There’s always been an element of “by any means necessary” in American politics, with tactics like George W Bush’s 2000 campaign calling primary voters in South Carolina to insinuate his opponent John McCain had an “illegitimate black child” being surprisingly common. But it’s frankly disgusting to see so-called feminists undercut the work of judicial activists all for a political win. Using “believe women” in a smear campaign can only work to support the big smirk and the eye roll of the people we need most to sway.

  • Jessa Crispin is the host of the Public Intellectual podcast

Trump impeachment: how the day unfolded as House sends articles to Senate – video

Donald Trump faces a trial after the House of Representatives voted to send articles of impeachment against him to the Senate. Here’s how a frantic day on Capitol Hill unfolded

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17 Jan

The 1619 Project examines the legacy of slavery in America.

The 1619 Project examines the legacy of slavery in America.

Four hundred years after enslaved Africans were first brought to Virginia, most Americans still don’t know the full story of slavery.

The McGlynn:

On the first page of The Slave Route Project you will find this quote:

‘We acknowledge that slavery and the slave trade, including the transatlantic slave trade, were appalling tragedies in the history of humanity not only because of their abhorrent barbarism but also in terms of their magnitude, organized nature and especially their negation of the essence of the victims, and further acknowledge that slavery and the slave trade are a crime against humanity, Declaration of the World Conference against Racism (Durban, 2001, Paragraph 13).

This remarkable work tells a transparent and truthful history of the transatlantic slave trade. It brings to light the memory, shared history and heritage of slavery. And today, in the Age of Trump the Dump,  it is indeed needed.

And, for me, it brings a hope for a culture of peace and a much needed intercultural dialogue.

 

The broadside pictured above advertised a slave auction at the St. Louis Hotel in New Orleans on March 25, 1858. Eighteen people were for sale, including a family of six whose youngest child was 1. The artifact is part of the collection of The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Its curator of American Slavery, Mary Elliott, cowrote the history of slavery below — told primarily through objects in the museum’s collection.

Sometime in 1619, a Portuguese slave ship, the São João Bautista, traveled across the Atlantic Ocean with a hull filled with human cargo: captive Africans from Angola, in southwestern Africa. The men, women and children, most likely from the kingdoms of Ndongo and Kongo, endured the horrific journey, bound for a life of enslavement in Mexico. Almost half the captives had died by the time the ship was seized by two English pirate ships; the remaining Africans were taken to Point Comfort, a port near Jamestown, the capital of the English colony of Virginia, which the Virginia Company of London had established 12 years earlier. The colonist John Rolfe wrote to Sir Edwin Sandys, of the Virginia Company, that in August 1619, a “Dutch man of war” arrived in the colony and “brought not anything but 20 and odd Negroes, which the governor and cape merchant bought for victuals.” The Africans were most likely put to work in the tobacco fields that had recently been established in the area.

[Read our essay on why American schools can’t teach slavery right.]

Forced labor was not uncommon — Africans and Europeans had been trading goods and people across the Mediterranean for centuries — but enslavement had not been based on race. The trans-Atlantic slave trade, which began as early as the 15th century, introduced a system of slavery that was commercialized, racialized and inherited. Enslaved people were seen not as people at all but as commodities to be bought, sold and exploited. Though people of African descent — free and enslaved — were present in North America as early as the 1500s, the sale of the “20 and odd” African people set the course for what would become slavery in the United States.

In the 15th century, the Roman Catholic Church divided the world in half, granting Portugal a monopoly on trade in West Africa and Spain the right to colonize the New World in its quest for land and gold. Pope Nicholas V buoyed Portuguese efforts and issued the Romanus Pontifex of 1455, which affirmed Portugal’s exclusive rights to territories it claimed along the West African coast and the trade from those areas. It granted the right to invade, plunder and “reduce their persons to perpetual slavery.” Queen Isabella invested in Christopher Columbus’s exploration to increase her wealth and ultimately rejected the enslavement of Native Americans, claiming that they were Spanish subjects. Spain established an asiento, or contract, that authorized the direct shipment of captive Africans for trade as human commodities in the Spanish colonies in the Americas. Eventually other European nation-states — the Netherlands, France, Denmark and England — seeking similar economic and geopolitical power joined in the trade, exchanging goods and people with leaders along the West African coast, who ran self-sustaining societies known for their mineral-rich land and wealth in gold and other trade goods. They competed to secure the asiento and colonize the New World. With these efforts, a new form of slavery came into being. It was endorsed by the European nation-states and based on race, and it resulted in the largest forced migration in the world: Some 12.5 million men, women and children of African descent were forced into the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The sale of their bodies and the product of their labor brought the Atlantic world into being, including colonial North America. In the colonies, status began to be defined by race and class, and whether by custom, case law or statute, freedom was limited to maintain the enterprise of slavery and ensure power.

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