Saturday, May 20, 2023

Things People Blame the Jews For, Volume LXIV: Al Sharpton

Among the more prominent fusions of antisemitism and racism is the idea that Black political leaders are really just mouthpieces of the Jews. It combines a belief in Black inferiority (obviously, they can't think for themselves) with a belief in Jewish conspiracy (they're pulling the strings behind the scene).

I pulled this tweet -- a beneficiary of Elon's "blue check" destruction -- not just because it's a sterling example of the genre, but because its choice of example is positively baffling:

(I don't even know what to make about concluding with the motto for "Survivor". So we'll just move along....)

Again, the core allegation here is not unique. But specifically citing Al Sharpton as the template -- that's a decision. To be sure, I don't think in the year 2023 it's useful to reduce Rev. Sharpton just to his role in the Crown Heights riot. But certainly that rather specific history Sharpton has with the Jews makes him an odd choice to hold out as your paradigm case of a Black voice under Jewish control.

What I'm saying is that racists need to learn better history. Among other things they need to learn.

(Hat tip)

Sometimes It's Who You Most Suspect

A former writer for Mintpress News -- a notorious conspiracy website infamous for antisemitism, Assad-apologism, and overall tankie-ism -- has been arrested after allegedly vandalizing a synagogue and planning to pin the blame on the Azov Battalion.

Apparently, she had been arrested for trying to set fire to a church, was released on bail and given an electronic tether to wear, which she cut off the next day prior to her escapade at the synagogue.

She confessed to the crimes at the synagogue in Royal Oak, police said, and further told them she also painted a swastika on a child’s stroller and on a car at a synagogue in Oak Park. As of Friday no charges had been filed against her in Oak Park’s 45th District Court.

“She said she planned to do as many hate crimes as possible and blame them on Azov,” Royal Oak Detective Dan Pelletier testified at Nord’s arraignment in Royal Oak.

The purpose of the hate crimes was aimed at undermining the U.S. support for Ukraine after the country was invaded by Russia.

Say this for the Mintpress folks -- they don't lack for dedication. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

The Lawlessness is the Point, Part II

The panel of Fifth Circuit judges who will hear the appeal of the bonkers Texas decision that purported to outlaw mifepristone has been announced. Judges Jennifer Walker Elrod, James Ho, and Cory Wilson will hear the case. (In case you're a bit confused: the Supreme Court put the district court decision on hold while the appeals process played out, but did not issue a final ruling; hence why we're still getting a stage before the Fifth Circuit).

From the vantage point of reproductive rights defenders, it's tough to imagine a worse panel draw than this -- and that's saying something, given that there aren't a lot of good panels to be drawn on the Fifth Circuit. But Judges Elrod, Ho, and Wilson are all right-wing reactionaries and anti-abortion extremists who made no pretenses at respecting rule of law in this subject even when Roe still was the law of the land. And without even the presence of a more moderate voice on the panel who could act as a break, we're likely to see a runaway train of ideological one-ups-manship where all three judges push each other to be as aggressive and extreme as possible.

So what will happen here? One possibility is that the panel will accept the signal offered by the Supreme Court in its stay, and reverse the decision (that is, preserve mifepristone's legality). This strikes me as highly unlikely. One enduring quality of the Fifth Circuit in general and these judges in particular is that they do not hesitate to shoot their shot. Their philosophy has consistently been to throw up the most radical, results-oriented conservative fantasy decisions they possibly can, and then dare the Supreme Court to reverse them. Given the composition of the Supreme Court, after all, it's hardly a bad bet. And hey -- you miss 100% of the shots you don't take!

Okay, so "dutifully obeying the law" is probably out. What else? Basically, I think there are two realistic options for what we might see. Possibility one is that the judges try to "write the brief" to the Supreme Court to convince (at least five of) them to ban mifepristone. This could include filing off some of the rougher edges of Judge Kacsmaryk's original opinion, maybe soft-playing some of the more radical insinuations (like with the Comstock Act), purport to address the lower court ruling's disdain for administrative law or standing principles while functionally just replanting it, and basically try to create a fig leaf that, with time and distance, five members of the right-wing supermajority on the Court think  will be large enough to shield the obvious fact that they're imposing their policy preferences and calling it law.

Possibility two is that the judges will not even try to reframe the issues in a way that looks more palatable or reasonable. Forget the fig leaf; they're let it all hang out in naked splendor -- a "eugenics" references here, a twee comparison of President Biden and/or the FDA to King George III there -- and just completely bulldoze any semblance of adherence to the governing legal rules and precedents that govern this case. Wild theories of standing or administrative law review will be asserted with not a care in the world for how they interact with past precedents or the judges' own putatively-held legal principles. The opinion will be a flat "because we can" declaration of unfettered judicial might.

One might think the former choice is more likely. There's a real opportunity here for conservative judges to further shear off the rights of women over their own bodies -- a huge priority for them -- that's more likely to meet with success if they don't let their eyes get bigger than their stomachs. Don't oversell, trim the sails back a bit, and take what would still be a huge W for them (and a huge L for women).

But I think the latter is more probable, and it goes back to the theme I've been hitting on in prior posts: the lawlessness is the point. Critical to the practice of conservative judges in this era is openly asserting and living out the proposition that they are unbound by law. That a given judicial opinion reads as lawless is not a problem, it is a feature; it is a means of demonstrating this freedom from constraint. It is precisely because Judge Kacsmaryk's decision was so universally panned by legal experts that it needs to be affirmed and, if anything, expanded upon -- judges (or at least these judges) assert their power and legitimacy as far as they demonstrate they are not bound by the strictures of professional norms or public commentary. The more one deviates from the professional consensus, the more one demonstrates judicial supremacy. And bizarrely, I don't think being reversed by the Supreme Court really upsets them. What matters, oddly enough, isn't the tangible outcome of the case. What matters is showing that they, personally, have flamboyantly demonstrated how they soar above the mewlings of their lessers.

Judges Elrod, Ho, and Wilson are among the prime instigators of this style of judging on the Fifth Circuit -- jurists completely drunk on their own power, who revel in demonstrating that what was thought to be law will in no way binds them from imposing their will. I predict that their decision in the mifepristone case will be another venue for them to make this point. Yes, it will be lawless. And yes, that's the point.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Who's Afraid of the NoVa Jews

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington has put out a voter's guide for Virginia's upcoming 2023 state legislative primaries (concentrating on races in Northern Virginia). There's nothing too remarkable in it -- the candidates give pretty generic boilerplates about how they'll work hard for the people of Virginia etc. etc., and then link to their websites. Basic stuff. 

But I did notice something interesting.

The guide appears to have solicited statements from candidates in all contested primaries (they did not ask candidates who were running unopposed in the primary). In the Democratic races, all but two candidates dutifully replied with statements to the JCRC.* By contrast, in the Republican races, none of the candidates participated in the Jewish community voter guide.

Now, to be sure, Northern Virginia has shifted decisively blueward in recent years. So unsurprisingly there are a lot more active Democratic races than Republican contests. Republicans only had active primaries in three races -- SD-29, SD-30, and HD-21 -- compared to 14 contested primaries amongst the Democrats. But, at least judging by a quick perusal of their campaign websites, the Republican candidates in these races seem to be actively running and not complete-nobodies. They could have responded to the voter guide. They just chose not to -- apparently deciding that Virginia's Jewish community was not a constituency that was worth their time to appeal to.

* The Democratic no-shows were Saddam Salim (SD-37) and Sreedhar Nagireddi (HD-26). In both of these seats, there was another Democrat running who did participate (Chip Petersen and Kannan Srinivasan, respectively). Hell, even Ibraheem Samirah (running for Senate in the SD-32 after being ousted from his House of Delegates post last cycle) participated, and he has an ugly history with the DC-area Jewish community that includes calling for the expulsion of Jewish groups from progressive organizing coalitions (he didn't, unfortunately, address those comments in his statement). Samirah also has a primary opponent, current House Delegate Suhas Subramanyam.