Imgur as a source of information

Martha’s Vineyard immigrants

imgurIn late September, I was perusing a friend’s Facebook page who had posted, “I stand with the Iranian protests.” One of their friends indicated that they had gotten their information about it from TikTok and Imgur because they didn’t trust news outlets.

Oh, I’ll own it. I had no freaking idea what Imgur was. It “is an image hosting and sharing site, favoured by users of social media and social news sites including Reddit, Twitter, and Digg because of its ease of use and flexibility.” At first glance, it looks so… random. Pets, ads, dance videos, and various tweets.

I searched Iran and #Iran, but found nothing pertinent. But Iranian gave me 118 hits, only some of which were relevant.

Still, this fascinated me. I had seen several pieces in the New York Times, such as this one. Women Take Center Stage in Antigovernment Protests Shaking Iran. “Women have been casting off their legally required head scarves, forming the primary image of the protests. But grievances against a repressive regime go far beyond the hijab.”

This is not to say that one can’t find important stories almost anywhere. I just don’t see myself using Imgur as my go-to for the latest news.

DeSantis

On the other hand, Imgur is the answer to the question, “How did an image of a fake Massachusetts flag end up in a brochure for Martha’s Vineyard migrants?”

From the Boston Globe. Two summers ago, Will Bodine of Pittsfield, MA whipped up a flag redesign in “‘upwards of 10 minutes’ on his computer. The concept was simple: a blue shield emblazoned with the official state flower — the mayflower — encircled by six blue stars, all splashed against a white backdrop.

“Bodine… shared it on Facebook. He also uploaded it to Imgur, an image-hosting website, where, until recently, it had only been viewed a few times.

“Before nearly 50 migrants arrived from Texas on planes chartered by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, lawyers said they were handed brochures containing erroneous information about cash assistance and other benefits they would receive in Massachusetts.

“While it remains unclear who created the pamphlets, they included a rudimentary map of the state, a picture of a lighthouse, a photo of a sign reading ‘Massachusetts Welcomes You’ — and Bodine’s obscure reimagining of the state flag, rather than the real one.”

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver noted this event in the first five minutes of his 9/25/22 program.

I suppose this gets to my point about checking reliable sources of information. As Bodine noted, “’No one had seen this flag until some idiot staffer for DeSantis or whoever’ stumbled across it… ‘I cannot fathom why they would use the wrong one.'”

They drive the conversation

fundamentalist

Let me have a go at the question posed by the ever-interesting Kelly Sedinger. BTW, check out his daily poetry posts this month. 

Will the media in this country EVER stop letting the right-wing just define things any way they want and drive the conversation? (Thinking of terror alerts, “family values”, the “immigrant mobs”, CRT)

At a basic level, the media during my lifetime have been fairly conservative. Maybe that’s not the right word. Conventional is the better term. It supported American wars, for instance. I imagine World War II was an easy call. But the technology that brought Vietnam into American homes made the war less defensible. Still, it was a BFD when CBS News’ Walter Cronkite, “the most trusted man in America,” gave the continued presence by the US a thumbs down.

The Shock and Awe was the “brand” for the first Gulf War in the 1990s. Wasn’t stuff blowing up really cool, the audience was supposed to conclude. When the United States fought Saddam Hussein again in 2003, all of America and the world would be behind it, right? Well, yeah, except for the literally millions, including me, who took to the streets, on February 15 of that year to oppose it. Still, Freedom Fries won the narrative war, and the media, by and large, fell in line as cheerleaders until the war wasn’t going so well.

Values voters

I was particularly peeved with ABC News, which suggested back in the early 2000s that “Christian voters” were what some refer to as “fundamentalist.” “Fundamentalist,” I think is a lazy word here. A definition I found: “Fundamentalism is defined as strict adherence to some belief or ideology, especially in a religious context, or a form of Christianity where the Bible is taken literally and obeyed in full.” I believe I try, quite imperfectly, for the former – see Matthew 25: 34-40 And I know that the latter is impossible in this culture because if one started stoning people, they’d run into law enforcement.

Still, let’s go with the term fundamentalists, as I believe most understand it. They thought they elected one of their own George W. Bush. Seeing that political muscle, it must be what most of America wanted, the media in general concluded.

Orange

When djt was running for the White House in 2015, he would alternatingly spout some bigoted remarks with language suggesting that he understood the downtrodden, including the fundamentalists, whose values were supposedly being “buried” by the mainstream media.

Since Trump was perceived as “entertaining” – he HAD been a TV star, after all, and he was rich, right?! – the media covered his campaign with kid gloves. He had suggested he was going to run before dropping out in the past, so naturally, he’ll do it again. But what was past was NOT prologue, as he found his message resonating.

Meanwhile, every other week on ABC News’ This Week, one or another pundit would explain that djt had a “ceiling” of about 30% of the Republican voters, almost until March 15, 2016, when he essentially locked up the nomination. Still, he couldn’t really BEAT Hillary Clinton, who was the experienced candidate, so the press – and specifically NBC’s Matt Lauer – pressed on about her damn emails, while asking him either broad policy questions or puff personal biography.

He was elected. The mainstream media waffled trying to show “respect” to a president who clearly had contempt for them. And it wasn’t really until the last year, 2020, with his COVID “misstatements”, the Big Lie about the election, and January 6, 2021, that they really started to push back.

You asked

There are critics of the mainstream media. One was Eric Boehlert, who unfortunately died in a bicycling accident. Mark Evanier linked to Boehlert’s final piece, “Why is the press rooting against Biden?” which you should read.

This may explain why CBS hired djt sycophant Mick Mulvaney. The Democrats are going to lose the 2022 midterms, it is assumed, and the network needs Republican “access.”

The Problem, With Jon Stewart, addressed Where Does Mainstream Media Go Wrong? on the March 18, 2022, episode. Specifically, it’s in part about Critical Race Theory. The short version: a guy goes on Fox News to bemoan CRT. Sixteen days later, then-president djt echoes the message. Of course, when he says it, it’s echo-chambered all over the place.

All the news that fits

Sometimes journalism amplifies and sometimes reflects. An article in Nation Of Change tries to explain “Why conservative parts of the U.S. are so angry. Republican America is poorer, more violent, and less healthy than Democratic America. But Republicans’ blame is misplaced.”

“The right-wing canard that hardworking White people subsidize welfare-grubbing cities is backward. Democrat-voting counties, with 60% of America’s population, generate 67% of the nation’s personal income, 70% of the nation’s GDP, 71% of federal taxes, 73% of charitable contributions, and 75% of state and local taxes.” Tet the narrative remains.

Also, after a couple of years of COVID, with lots of uncertainty, increased violence, and the like, people are unsettled. They like the safe, the familiar, the “normal”. Certainly not the “immigrant mobs”, unless they look like them, or a potential SCOTUS justice who, it is alleged, wants to support criminals over “regular folks”.

Or probably Nixon

But it’s long been the narrative, going back at least to Reagan, about the welfare queen taking all of “OUR” money. “They” are not worthy. And members of the media are after all part of the community. As Kelly noted, America still has issues regarding race. When Black Lives Matter was “hot”, before Chauvin was convicted, some paid at least lip service to it. But as governors come out with their anti-CRT bills, the culture is perceived to have shifted.

For all the success of inclusion and fairness, there is a real pushback against it. A recent headline in one right-wing online publication was TSA to Get Gender Woke, a discussion about gender pronouns. Despite the notion that the media are “liberal” or, laughably, “leftist,” some journalistic platforms go the way the wind blows.

Modern journalism, more than ever, is tied to profit. Outlets often pinch the pennies when it comes to paying their staff, particularly editors, who are needed even MORE in the Internet age. When some push against the powerful, they risk losing access, which of course has long been true. The “noble tradition” of the fourth estate sometimes wins out. But it may be more subject to propaganda because it’s a lot cheaper to repost the press release or note what’s trending on Twitter rather than to push back against the tide.

Veterans for New Americans

Starting with Lafayette

Veterans for a New AmericaAfter Colin Powell died, I was reminded that there have long been people who have been immigrants and/or non-citizens who have joined the US military. I found a link titled Veterans for New Americans with a Non-Citizens in the U.S. Military Fact Sheet.

“To join the U.S. military, non-citizens must be living permanently and legally in the United States. Non-citizens must also have permission to work in the United States, possess an I-551 (Permanent Residence Card), have obtained a high school diploma, and speak English…

“Between 1999 and 2010, approximately 80,000 non-citizens joined the U.S. military force. Most recent data from the Department of Defense (DOD) showed that 24,000 noncitizens were on active duty in 2012, with 5,000 legal permanent residents (LPRs) enlisting into the U.S. military force each year…

“From FY2001-FY2015, USCIS naturalized 109,321 noncitizen service members. Since 2008, USCIS has also naturalized 2,650 military spouses.”

A 2019 article looked at the 2017 American Community Survey. 697,711 foreign-born veterans lived in the United States, comprising 3.5 percent of all veterans; 190,198 foreign-born individuals were actively serving in the military comprising 4.5 percent of all active-duty service members.

The US Foreign Legion, as it were

An August 2021 Washington Post article reads: “The U.S. government hasn’t protected noncitizen veterans from deportation. That may change.” And “The U.S. military has a long history of relying on foreign recruits.”

But from DHS and the VA comes the announcement of an “Initiative to Support Noncitizen Service Members, Veterans, and Immediate Family Members.”

WaPo: “Noncitizens have played critical roles in every war that the United States has fought. Decades after the Marquis de Lafayette served as an aide to General George Washington during the American Revolution, tens of thousands of Canadians and Europeans joined the Union Army during the U.S. Civil War. And hundreds of thousands of Black soldiers fought in the Civil War, their service all the more remarkable given that the U.S. government denied them citizenship.”

Over time, I’ve noted that a number of black Americans have used serving in the military as a way to “prove” their “worthiness” as Real Americans. This has been true from the Revolutionary War through at least through World War II. Perhaps Powell, as a black from Jamaica, consciously or not, may have used his service in Vietnam in the same matter.

“As modern militaries increasingly field sophisticated weapons systems, countries have also looked to noncitizens to bring much-needed technical skills into the ranks, as well as expertise in foreign languages and cultures in areas where the military operates.

This reminds me of, for instance, the Afghan translators who often risked their very lives working with the US military. I wish them every opportunity to come to this country and have the good chance to become citizens.

Lynching in America: Targeting Black Veterans

861 – Surgical Technician

Henry Flipper
Henry Flipper battled prejudice in the military
In the legitimate complaints about veterans coming home and not getting their due, I have come across a particularly ugly reminder from the Equal Justice Initiative, Lynching in America: Targeting Black Veterans

“The end of the Civil War marked a new era of racial terror and violence directed at black people in the United States that has not been adequately acknowledged or addressed in this country… The violent response to freedom for former slaves was followed by decades of racial terror lynchings and targeted violence designed to sustain white supremacy and racial hierarchy.”

The more than 40,000 black soldiers who died in the Civil War fought to protect a Union that rejected them in the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott ruling of 1857.

“No one was more at risk of experiencing violence and targeted racial terror than black veterans who had proven their valor and courage as soldiers during the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. Because of their military service, black veterans were seen as a particular threat to Jim Crow and racial subordination. Thousands of black veterans were assaulted, threatened, abused, or lynched following military service…”

The great equalizer?

“Military service sparked dreams of racial equality for generations of African Americans. But most black veterans were not welcomed home and honored for their service. Instead, during the lynching era, many black veterans were targeted for mistreatment, violence, and murder because of their race and status as veterans. Indeed, black veterans risked violence simply by wearing their uniforms on American soil.”

Particularly egregious was the Red Summer of 1919, right after WWI. “In Pittsburgh for example, the Ku Klux Klan made their goal of using violence clear with notices that read: ‘The war is over, negroes. Stay in your place. If you don’t, we’ll put you there.'”

Dear old dad

I’ve written before about my father’s complicated feelings about the military, I suspect due in part to his knowledge of history. In the European theater at the close of World War II, he was “861 – Surgical Technician”

“Performs various duties to assist medical officers in rendering surgical treatment. Prepares operating room and surgical equipment for use; assists operating personnel; administers hypodermic injections as instructed; cleans operating room and sterilizes equipment; assists in transporting patients from wards to operating room; sterilizes linens and instruments; performs duties during operation that cannot be done by operating personnel; gives first aid treatment; instructs others in simple surgical duties. Should be at least a high school graduate.”

This seems to have been applicable to him: How the GI Bill’s Promise Was Denied to a Million Black WWII Veterans, “The sweeping bill promised prosperity to veterans. So why didn’t black Americans benefit?”

Our current sin

We Deport Veterans: “For decades, we’ve deported military veterans—legal residents of the United States—while dangling citizenship before them. Congressional Hispanic Caucus estimates there are about 3,000 instances of veterans being deported to other countries.

“We also know that tens of thousands of immigrants serve in the U.S. military. According to Department of Defense statistics, about 70,000 non-citizen people born outside of the United States were serving in the military between 1999 and 2008.

“According to a 2017 report from the National Immigration Forum, about 40,000 immigrants currently serve in the armed forces and about 5,000 non-citizens enlist each year. Furthermore, as of 2016, about 511,000 veterans were foreign-born. And more than 20 percent of Medal of Honor recipients are immigrants to the United States.

“Those immigrants who can enlist in the U.S. military are often promised fast-tracked access to a green card. In reality, however, most of these vets neither apply for nor attain citizenship. Many of these enlisted immigrants will tell you they were promised citizenship by recruiters or that their paperwork has at least been initiated. Many even believe they attained citizenship simply by enlisting and swearing to defend the United States.

“So why doesn’t the U.S. military ensure that immigrants are presented with accurate facts on the possibility of their path to citizenship? Where’s the support system developed to ensure they complete each step when it’s available to them?”

Criminalizing compassion

criminalizing compassionI recently came across this Common Dreams article, ‘Criminalizing Compassion’: Trial Begins for Humanitarian Facing 20 Years in Prison for Giving Water to Migrants in Arizona Desert.

Human rights advocates accused the U.S. Justice Department of “criminalizing compassion” as a federal trial began in Arizona Wednesday for activist Scott Warren, who faces up to 20 years in prison for providing humanitarian aid to migrants in the desert.

I think the prosecution is terrible, of course. But it DOES reassure me that we’re not a Christian nation, despite protestations to the contrary. A Christian nation would follow these familiar tenets of Matthew 25:

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Or the Good Samaritan story in Luke 10:

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

This regime targets trans health care protections, has IRS audit poor taxpayers at the same rate as richest One Percent and other things too numerous to mention here.

Rev. Franklin Graham, among other “Christian leaders”, is asking “followers of Christ across our nation to set aside June 2 as a special day of national prayer” for the regime. He said, “In the history of our country, no president has been attacked as he has. The lies and the deceptions rage on.” The irony is striking.

I do agree with part of Graham’s call, that the regime “will know and understand the power of God in a new way.” But for me, it is different than what we’ve experienced the past 28 months.

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